Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Wes Clark was Right

Retired General Wesley Clark has taken a number of hits from the right for stating that shortly after 9/11 he was informed by sources in the Pentagon that after Iraq, Syria was next. Well, guess what! General Clark was, as usual, telling the truth:

President George W Bush was sent a public manifesto yesterday by Washington's hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites.

The manifesto, presented as a "manual for victory" in the war on terror, also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.

Jesus, what a bunch of f$%#ing loonies. We do need regime change, friends - regime change at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Ashcroft Recuses Self - Special Counsel Appointed!

Attorney General John Ashcroft has recused himself from the Valerie Plame investigation, and has recommended that a special counsel be named. US attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald has been named to the post. This is important news indeed.

Bush Hatred

Here's a good one from Robert J. Samuelson in the Washington Post today:

If he succeeded less, he'd be hated less. His fiercest detractors don't loathe him merely because they think he's mediocre, hypocritical and simplistic. What they truly resent is that his popularity suggests that the country might be more like him than it is like them. They fear he's exiling them politically. On one level, their embrace of hatred aims to make others share their outrage; but on another level, it's a self-indulgent declaration of moral superiority -- something that makes them feel better about themselves. Either way, it represents another dreary chapter in the continuing coarsening of public discourse.

Hey, Bob, maybe you can explain just what Dubya has succeeded at. Let's see. 3000 dead people in New York and Washington, Afghanistan rapidly reverting to Taliban control, Iraq a total cock up in every way, Osama bin Laden still wandering around loose, 3 million jobs down the toilet, America hated almost universally...wow, now THOSE are achievements!

Bob, the Repugs started this with their insane vilification of Bill Clinton - by all measures, and in spite of his many personal faults, a much more successful president than the midget currently occupying the office. And I believe you'll find that a lot more people hate Bush than the tiny minority you cite. After all, Bush's maxim is the same as Caligula's: Let them hate, so long as they fear.

The Hollow Boom

The redoubtable Paul Krugman takes on the so-called "economic boom" that appears to be almost entirely an illusion of some kind....

It was a merry Christmas for Sharper Image and Neiman Marcus, which reported big sales increases over last year's holiday season. It was considerably less cheery at Wal-Mart and other low-priced chains. We don't know the final sales figures yet, but it's clear that high-end stores did very well, while stores catering to middle- and low-income families achieved only modest gains.

Based on these reports, you may be tempted to speculate that the economic recovery is an exclusive party, and most people weren't invited. You'd be right.

Yep. Job One for the Democrats is explaining this to the public. The approach has to be: Are you better off than your parents? Your grandparents? No, and here's why....

Monday, December 29, 2003

What Conservatives Really Think

Here's a sweet quote from Jonah "Nepotism" Goldberg this morning as like all conservatives he faithfully defends the Constitution:

Now, as a conservative I don't mind that Americans aren't consumed with political fervor. In fact, I tend to like low voter turnout on the principle that the people not voting are probably the people I don't think should vote.

Hey, Jonah, why not suggest in your next column that certain people just be officially disenfranchised? We know that's how you bastards think.

Sleeping Our Lives - and Jobs - Away

Bob Herbert wonders this morning in the NYT why American workers seem to be asleep at the wheel as their jobs are shipped off to Bangalore and assorted other places east. Evidently Americans have forgotten the useful adage, you snooze, you lose. Big time.

I am surprised at how passive American workers have become.

A couple of million factory positions have disappeared in the short time since we raised our glasses to toast the incoming century. And now the white-collar jobs are following the blue-collar jobs overseas.

Americans are working harder and have become ever more productive — astonishingly productive — but are not sharing in the benefits of their increased effort. If you think in terms of wages, benefits and the creation of good jobs, the employment landscape is grim.

Unless, of course, you truly aspire to work for McDonald's, assuming of course that they don't go under once Mad Cow Disease really takes off...

We've already witnessed the carnage in manufacturing jobs. Now, with white-collar jobs at stake, we've got executives at I.B.M. and Microsoft exchanging high-fives at the prospect of getting "two heads for the price of one" in India.

It might be a good idea to throw a brighter spotlight on some of these trends and explore the implications for the long-term economy and the American standard of living.

"If you take this to its logical extreme, the implications for the entire middle-class wage structure in the United States are terrifying," said Thea Lee, an economist with the A.F.L.-C.I.O. "Now is the time to start thinking about policy solutions."

I've suggested tariffs equivalent to twice the wages and benefits of each lost job. It sounds harsh, but we cannot - cannot - flip burgers at one another. The end result of globalization is not, as the pundits (and many lefties) would have it, a levelling up. There are simply too many people on earth and not enough resources for that. It's a levelling down - down, down, down, to a world of hovels and half-empty rice bowls and invincible ignorance, lorded over by a few wealthy monsters living high off of our struggles. Think the Dark Ages, friends. It's time to choose. I pick us and our standard of living. It's time for you, left or right, to do the same.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Adam Yoshida is an Idiot

Noooo question of that, and Demosthenes over at Shadow of the Hegemon is the latest blogger to whack nitwit boy over the head with intelligence and logic.

Yoshida's Canadian heritage has done him a disservice, because he forgets one word that every Canadian would know should lend him caution: CUBA. The whole reason Cuba's economy has been able to survive being completely cut off from the enormous American market is because other countries are willing to trade with it, and this is no doubt what would happen were the United States to cancel its Chinese debt. The loss of trade to the United States would be quickly made up by trade with other countries, especially when the price of Chinese goods and labour drops like a stone. The "New Economy" that really matters- that of ideas and skilled labour- won't go anywhere, and neither will the factories and workshops that have made China such a powerful trading country. Yes, the loss of foreign assets will hurt, but it won't cripple them, especially with the dominance of the government over the economy. They'll be able to buy other stocks and bonds in other markets in other currencies.

On the other hand, the United States economy will suffer a massive blow, due to the loss of billions of dollars in real investment and a staggering loss of credibility, one that would make history. How does Yoshida propose to deal with that? Unbelievably, he's going back to the gold standard.

WHACK! Go away, Adam. Go away.

Cyanide Bombs

It's quite remarkable that a domestic terrorist - you know, one of those Friends of the Repugs who take it just a bit farther than they do, but not much - made cyanide-filled bombs capable of killing dozens, perhaps hundreds of people, and the reaction of the press has been SNNNOOOOORRRRRRE. David Neiwert, thankfully, has been on the case and has a long post on the subject today.

Considering that Ashcroft leaps to the podium at nearly every turn in announcing the arrests of potential Al Qaeda-oriented terror suspects -- not to mention the readiness of the Department of Homeland Security to raise the "threat" level to Code Orange -- the silence in the Texas case is disturbing.

At the very least, the DoJ owes the public -- for ethical reasons alone -- an open assessment of the threat posed by the potential presence of cyanide bombs in the hands of domestic terrorists on American soil. If William Krar indeed manufactured and distributed more of these bombs, then shouldn't the public be both thoroughly alerted, informed and watchful? There are sound investigatory reasons not to reveal too much in the way of details, but utter public ignorance and indifference can be harmful as well, since it can in many regards make the terrorists' ability to act that much simpler.

Read the entire post. It's necessary. David's permalink to this post brings up another, so I've just linked his blog address; the title of the post in question is Marketing Terror.

25 Ways to be a Republican

Check it out. It's not only funny, but true!

Irregular Blogging Likely

I have guests in my computer room. Irregular blogging may be a side effect...back to normal by next Saturday, I hope....

How Many Will Die?

How many Americans will die horrible and preventable deaths because our government is run by and for business interests? Of course, thousands already do, every year - in the workplace, in avoidable accidents, by defective products, by pollution. But how many will die the vile living death of CJD because our congressional representatives prostituted themselves to agribusiness?

Though some scientists had long warned that mad cow disease would eventually appear in the United States, cattle owners and meatpackers repeatedly resisted calls for a more substantial program to test for the disease, and the Agriculture Department went along with them. Congress came close three times to banning the sale of meat from downer cows — ones that are too sick or hurt to amble into slaughterhouses — only to see the industry's allies block each of the bills at the last moment. And proposals for systems to track which farms produced sickened cattle — now required in Europe, Canada and Japan — also languished for years here.

"This is one of these times when unrealistic optimism triumphed over responsibility to the public," said Carol Tucker Foreman, a consumer advocate who ran the Agriculture Department's food-safety programs in the Carter administration.

If a number of countries stick with hastily announced plans to ban American beef, she added, "I think the damage to the American meat industry costs infinitely more than anything U.S. cattlemen would have had to pay to do this thing right."

Ah, but that's the American way, isn't it? Put it off, put it off, put it off, and then when it's a disaster stick your hand out and force the taxpayers to pony up. I believe I am safe in predicting that proposals to do just that will appear in Congress within days.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Kleiman on Clark

Mark Kleiman, an early blogger supporter of General Clark's candidacy, talked about the General in his blog yesterday.

I just came back from another fundraiser, this one featuring the candidate in person, as well as his son (who had been a father – of Wes III – for less than 24 hours).

Listening to the General take unscreened questions on topics from the Israel/Palestine problem to China's manufacturing prowess, I had two thoughts: (1) I’d like to see this guy in the White House and (2) He may lack the intense sociopathy that makes a really great candidate.

An interesting observation, as I think that Bush and the people around him are almost certainly active sociopaths who should be diagnosed and then locked up for good. But does a man or woman need to be a sociopath to be a great candidate? If that is indeed what America is looking for, we have a problem. A problem not only for Clark's candidacy, but for the remaining future of this republic.

Clark’s performance was an impressive intellectual feat (the comparison with Clinton is inevitable, and my impression is that he’s at least as smart, and more self-disciplined and harder-working) but what stuck out his level-headedness, calm, and sanity. He thinks George W. Bush has been and is an incompetent President, but – unless he’s a master of concealment – he doesn’t hate him, not even a little bit. “I don’t want to bash Bush,” he said. “I want to replace him, and get on with the country’s business.”

This was the third time I’ve heard him – twice live at small fund-raisers, once on the conference call – and at each of the three appearances he deliberately resisted an invitation to take a cheap applause line.

Mark is always thoughtful and interesting, so check this out. Mark also recommends this essay by Andy Sabl over at Open Source Politics discussing how he came to be a Clark supporter.

Bottom line: Clark is a throwback, a Rip Van Winkle, a pluralistic, optimistic, Greatest Generation-style politician lost, like Howard the Duck, in a world he never made. He's further outside the mainstream political culture than can possibly be imagined. This is what makes him so striking, so hard to parse, and so clearly the best candidate.

Not just that, Wes Clark can win. Check it out: it's a great piece and well worth sharing with your undecided and your Republican friends.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Smashing Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart seriously needs to be destroyed, and maybe good old fashioned American capitalism is poised to do it, in the form of Costco, according to an article in the LA Times quoted by Ezra over at Pandagon. I can't provide a link right now because my password isn't working, but go on over to Pandagon and check it out!

The Cloud Minders

Mark Kleiman pointed out this post by Tom Spencer over at Seeing the Forest that describes Tom's holiday visit to some relatives of his who are well off Texas parasites and his thoughtful conclusions. It's well worth reading to see how the parasite class lives; here's a little sample....

Recently, a cousin and her husband bought two residences, each worth in excess of a million dollars. Unfortunately, they were forced to sell one of them because, shucks, they really couldn’t afford that second one! They apparently were teetering on the financial edge just a few short months ago. Over the last few months, I’ve listened to several very compassionate descriptions of their predicament from my relatives. Their situation, however, seemed like a ridiculous and quite preventable one to me. Those of us who have houses that cost under six figures often find such stories of woe hilarious actually. The funniest part was when the cousin in question passed by at the Christmas Party wearing a $10,000 Rolex watch. After seeing the watch, my wife leaned over and said “I’ve got an answer to their problems! Can you say “Pawn Shop?”

It's good; check it out.

Why We Need Tariffs

One way to stop outsourcing of jobs would be to slam the companies responsible with tariffs equivalent to two or three times the lost wages and benefits of American workers. There are other possible problems, like companies moving overseas to avoid tariffs, but I've always believed that any company that does business in the US should pay taxes, no matter where they are located. For his part, Bob Herbert doesn't suggest any solutions as yet, but here's his latest report on yet another plan to ravage American workers:

...the workers whose jobs are now threatened at I.B.M. and similar companies across the U.S. are well educated and absolute whizzes at processing information. But they are nevertheless in danger of following the well-trodden path of their factory brethren to lower-wage work, or the unemployment line.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that I.B.M. had told its managers to plan on moving as many as 4,730 jobs from the U.S. The I.B.M. spokesman told me he was sure that figure was too high, but added that no one had complained to The Journal about the number. He said he didn't know how many American jobs would be lost.

I.B.M. officials are skittish to the point of paranoia on this matter, which has powerful social and political implications. Pulling the plug on factory workers is one thing. A frontal assault on the livelihood of solidly middle-class Americans — some of whom may be required to train the foreign workers who will replace them — is something else.

James Sciales was the first of the company spokesmen to respond to my inquiries this week. He was reluctant to even tell me his name and nervously refused to answer any questions. Another spokesman was willing to talk but asked that I not refer to him by name.

In a recorded conference call reported by The Times last summer, a pair of I.B.M. officials told colleagues around the world that the company needed to accelerate its efforts to move white-collar jobs overseas. They acknowledged the danger of a political backlash, but said it was essential to step up the practice.

"Our competitors are doing it and we have to do it," said Tom Lynch, I.B.M.'s director for global employee relations.

"We have to do it." Sure you do, ass. He won't be saying that when his job goes to Bangalore.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

European Mars Lander Silent

The British Beagle 2 lander has not sent any signals after its anticipated landing on Mars today. The Brits may be finding out the hard way that Mars has historically been pretty hard on space probes....

Merry Christmas

Indeed, and let's hope to find Wesley Clark under the tree next year and Dubya on his way out with a lump of coal.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

What Recovery?

Dubya and his minions are prancing around lately yipping that everything is just great! Sodamn Insane is in the bag, the stock market is rising, and the economy is just doing faaaaaan-tastic! Except, of course, that it's not. Part of the proof is in the anemic Christmas sales this year. Harold Meyerson has more in the WP this morning...

Since July the average hourly wage increase for the 85 million Americans who work in non-supervisory jobs in offices and factories is a flat 3 cents. Wages are up just 2.1 percent since November 2002 -- the slowest wage growth we've experienced in 40 years. Economists at the Economic Policy Institute have been comparing recoveries of late, looking into the growth in corporate-sector income in each of the nine recoveries the United States has gone through since the end of World War II. In the preceding eight, the share of the corporate income growth going to profits averaged 26 percent, and never exceeded 32 percent. In the current recovery, however, profits come to 46 percent of the corporations' additional income.

Conversely, labor compensation averaged 61 percent of the total income growth in the preceding recoveries, and was never lower than 55 percent. In the Bush recovery, it's just 29 percent of the new income coming in to the corporations.

Someone with an antiquarian vocabulary might rightly note that this is a recovery for capital, not labor; indeed, that it's a recovery for capital at the expense of labor.

Which, of course, is how the Bushies want it.

There are only a couple of ways to explain how the capacity of U.S. workers to claim their accustomed share of the nation's income has so stunningly collapsed. Outsourcing is certainly a big part of the picture. As Stephen S. Roach, chief economist for Morgan Stanley, has noted, private-sector hiring in the current recovery is roughly 7 million jobs shy of what would have been the norm in previous recoveries, and U.S. corporations, high-tech as well as low-tech, are busily hiring employees from lower-wage nations instead of from our own.

The jobless rate among U.S. software engineers, for instance, has doubled over the past three years. In Bangalore, India, where American companies are on a huge hiring spree for the kind of talent they used to scoop up in Silicon Valley, the starting annual salary for top electrical engineering graduates, says Business Week, is $10,000 -- compared with $80,000 here in the States. Tell that to a software writer in Palo Alto and she's not likely to hit up her boss for a raise.

That software writer certainly doesn't belong to a union, either.

No, and she should. And Americans need to lose their PC fuzziness about immigration and free trade. India and China should be invited to sell their shit to themselves and keep their excess workers. Ditto Mexico. If this keeps going on, none of us will have a job that pays more than minimum wage, because the bosses will always be able to find an immigrant willing to work for less or some poor schmuck living a slum in Bangalore or working in a Chinese prison camp to do it remotely. Orcinus, Pandagon, other lefty bloggers - immigration is part of what's killing this recovery. Stop supporting it.

Repugs and the Truth

Evidently the Bushies, like all dictatorial wannabes of whatever political stripe, just can't handle the truth:

UNLESS WISER HEADS in the upper reaches of the Bush administration prevail, underlings in the Interior Department are about to deliver a low blow to honesty and integrity in government. For responding with the truth to questions from The Post and other news outlets about staffing in her department, U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers has been placed on leave and notified that superiors in the National Park Service and Interior want her fired. And what was the chief's transgression? She said her understaffed department had to curtail critical patrols in Park Service jurisdictions beyond the Mall, such as major parkways and crime-ridden U.S. parkland in neighborhoods, because of Interior Department orders requiring more officers to guard downtown national shrines. The impending action ought to be reversed. Ms. Chambers should be commended for speaking up for public safety. The Interior Department underlings trying to muzzle her are the ones who should be on their way out the door.

What a surprise, right? No wonder people like Adam Yoshida and zillions of other right wing loonies want free speech curtailed - they just can't handle it.

'Tis the Season...

...to seriously consider becoming a vegetarian. Government disclaimers aside, mad cow is bad news, and CJD, the human vector, basically rots your brain from the inside out. Eat pork, eat chicken. Eat vegetables. Time to give beef the heave-ho.

And, of course, thanks to the Repugs for cutting the guts out of food inspection in this country.

More Royal Madness!

If it isn't a new Princess Di rumor or Camilla Parker-Bowles hanging around looking grumpy, it's Princess Anne's dog putting the chomp on one of Mum's corgis....

One of the Queen's corgis has been bitten so badly by an English bull terrier owned by Princess Anne it has had to be put down, it is reported.

The corgi, Pharos, was attacked by the princess's dog Dotty at Sandringham on Monday, according to newspaper reports.

Princess Anne became the first Royal Family member to be convicted of a criminal offence when Dotty attacked two children last year.

In the old days the Princess Royal would probably be staring at four walls in the Tower right now.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Coleman Endorses Clark

Mayor Michael B Coleman of Columbus has endorsed General Wesley Clark's presidential bid. As a resident of Columbus, I respect and admire Mayor Coleman a great deal and am very pleased to see him make this wise decision. Mayor Coleman becomes the head of Clark's Ohio campaign and will shortly be on his way to South Carolina to assist in campaigning.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Two Questions

1. If this is indeed the most dangerous terrorism threat since September 11, why level Orange instead of Red? Why tell everyone to go ahead and fly, shop, etc? Is this to pump up Dubya's ratings? One thing is for sure, expect constant terrorism alerts once the election begins in earnest... I wish I didn't have to be cynical about this. I'd far rather trust Tom Ridge, because I think he's basically a good man.

2. This is going to make me unpopular with the left, but too bad. There are certain ageless truths that have not changed with the passing of the centuries. If this is true and there is another big attack in the works, isn't it time to remind these people that Afghanistan and Iraq got off very, very light? Yes, for all the whining and handwringing, there was not much punishment involved. Someone - and Dubya is the wrong person for obvious reasons - needs to remind Islam what happened to the last people who seriously pissed us off. The ones in the west had their cities bombed to powder and then we turned the Russians loose to rape, loot, and slaughter. The ones in the east, we burned their cities with napalm and white phosphorus, we killed them by the hundreds of thousands, and when they wouldn't quit, we used the atomic bomb. That is the western way of war: we win, you lose. You always, always lose. Either live in the 21st century, or get ready for the same treatment.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Saddam Found in Septic Tank?!!!

Major Derek Schneider writes over at Soldiers for the Truth that Sodamn Insane wasn't in a spider hole, he was hiding in, get this, a septic tank! Good Lord, how appropriate can you get?!

In rural Iraq where Saddam was captured, there is no sewage treatment available. Most Iraqis build their own version of a septic tank to dispose of their waste. These are built by first digging a hole in the ground about 1-2 meters deep. The hole is then lined with bricks or concrete cinder blocks to form walls. In areas where there are no vacuum trucks to suck up the sewage, the bottom of the tank is not sealed with bricks but left open to the dirt.

This allows for the liquid waste to soak into the ground as a form of leach field. Often salt is added to the dirt bottom to assist in the break up of the waste material. The bricks are covered with mortar to form a smooth waterproof surface to keep the waste from sticking to the walls.


Steel beams are placed over the hole and the spaces between the beams are filled with bricks, which are placed in a slight arch with gypsum instead of mortar as a binding agent, as it dries faster.


A small hole is left in the top of the septic tank to allow it to be emptied as it fills up. Often a pipe is run to the tank to allow sewage to be poured into the tank without having to remove the access cover.


In photos of Saddam’s hideout, the mortar-over-brick construction is easily seen. In fact, the bricks are exposed in some spots where the mortar covering is worn away. In the roof of the hole, the support beams can be seen. Around the ventilation fan new gypsum is apparent which means that this was added after the hole was built. It was not needed for the original design or it would have been mortared into place.


The location of the hole near a hut only reinforces the idea that this was originally a locally-built septic tank. Most likely, the hole was emptied of sewage and the dirt bottom expanded horizontally to allow for better hiding.

Pheeee-ooooo!

It's More Important to Make the Rich Richer than to Help Children in Poverty

That's the policy of the US government in a nutshell. While brainless morons like Paris Hilton live like wastrals on the fruits of their ancestors' labor and/or luck, people in America are poor. More people, percentage wise, than in any European country, or Canada. They've been poor for generations. They stay poor. Basically, these people literally never have a chance. And as they remain poor, the bastards running this country cut taxes for people who could not possibly spend what they already have, and work to eliminate the estate tax so wealthy parasites like Paris Hilton - there is literally no other word than "parasite" for her - will stay rich, get richer, and pass down their non-worked for wealth intact to their wastral children, while the Social Darwinists, secure in their wealth, will claim that the poor stay poor because it's their own fault. Timothy Smeeding addresses our insanity in the Washington Post today:

According to data in the Luxembourg Income Study, child poverty is significantly higher in the United States than in wealthy European nations and in Canada and Australia. In 1997 -- in the midst of a robust economy -- one in five American children lived in poverty. This is about double the rate in other wealthy industrialized nations, such as France, Germany and the Nordic countries.

We in America have high child poverty rates because we choose to, not because we cannot do anything about it. Other nations make different choices and get different results. For example, Tony Blair lifted Britain's spending on poor families with children by 0.9 percent of GDP. The result? Britain's high child poverty rate is ebbing as ours continues to climb. The United States could commit half the effort of Tony Blair's government and see a seismic shift in the well-being of millions of children.

The truth is that America tolerates -- even accepts -- persistent child poverty. Our education system reflects it, as do our tax policy, child care policy and child support policy.

This country - this country that claims to be Christian and godly - tolerates this garbage year in and year out. It can't go on forever. Someday the poor will wake up.

And one thing most of them have is guns.

Return of the King

Go see it. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Max Hastings Gives Dubya a Whacking

Eminent military historian Max Hastings, writing in The Guardian, argues against Dubya's enthusiastic wish to hang Sodamn Insane from the nearest tree.

...it is hard not to hate George Bush. His ignorance and conceit, his professed special relationship with God, invite revulsion. A few weeks ago, I heard a British diplomat observe sagely: "We must not demonise Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz." Why not? The US defence secretary and his assistant have implemented coalition policy in Iraq in a fashion that makes Soviet behaviour in Afghanistan in the 1970s appear dextrous. The British are hapless passengers on the Pentagon's juggernaut.

The president's personal odyssey touched a new low this week, when he asserted publicly that Saddam Hussein should die. After a fair trial, he says, Iraq's former dictator should swing or be shot, though Washington thinks it expedient to delegate Iraqis to do the business.

There will be no trouble with the British government about this scenario. Downing Street's line suggests a script originally written for Pontius Pilate. Tony Blair declares that what an Iraqi administration chooses to do with Saddam is absolutely no business of Britain's. If the powers-that-will-be in Iraq decide he should take an early bath on the scaffold, then what can Britain's prime minister do, save shrug?

This posture seems less worthy of respect than that of the US president. Bush is a long-standing enthusiast for capital punishment, who believes there is nothing like a good hanging to purge the soul. Blair is alleged to be an opponent. Surely this is an indivisible position. If one believes judicial killing is wrong, then how is it possible to make exceptions? What price Ian Huntley's neck if especially horrible crimes justify temporary suspension of principled objections to execution?

It's incredibly embarrassing for those of us who respect Britain to see Tony Blair playing Dubya's lap dog; more so, I imagine, for intelligent Britons. Even though the age of empire is past, there's no reason for Britain to grovel, and if Blair had a backbone, he might have proved a useful restraint to Dubya's insanity. Hastings goes on to make a good point:

...the Americans' tactical conduct of anti-guerrilla operations compromises this objective, by showing how little the US army esteems the lives of innocent Iraqis.

Every British soldier deemed responsible for unjustifiably causing death by his own actions on opera tional duty faces at least disciplinary charges, and not infrequently criminal prosecution. American soldiers, by contrast, are granted a wide-ranging dispensation for silly mistakes when they get their licences to kill.

A friend in the counter-insurgency business recently met some spooky friends in Washington whose organisation was responsible for the Predator strike in which a guided missile killed a group of innocent Afghans, in the mistaken belief that they were Osama bin Laden. "Who faces the murder charges?" my friend teased the spooks. They looked blank. Nobody does, of course.

This is something that simply has to stop, but there's no sign that it will. It is only reinforced when trigger happy idiots kill Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and instead of being made an example of are pretty much absolved of responsibility. Hastings points out that the neocons do have one thing right; that only democracy can drag second and third world countries out of the morass they are in. But to impose democracy by force is sheer insanity, not to mention hubris. As Hastings says, "US policy since the war ended has emphasised firepower and cash, rather than hearts and minds." To our future cost, I might add.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Whew!

Poor Dan Drezner! He posts something on Slate mildly critical of President Caligula and his minions and WHAM! Suddenly conservative Dan is the new Howard Dean! Bravely, he posts some of the wackier comments on his site...

"Sedition is any act, writing or speech, etc., directed against state authority, the government, or the constitution, or calculated to bring it into contempt or to entice others to hostility or disaffection. Mr. Drezner, You sir are a seditious traitor. Your reason: political advantage; pitiful and pathetic."

Hey, it's the friendly right wing loony calling anyone who disagrees a traitor! Here's another good one:

"You are the very foundation of troubles in this country. Your 'freedom' to speech that allows you to write just reinforces why I would vote for this President again. Your "freedom" alone kills soldiers. Your words tell rulers around the world that America is disjointed and vulnerable. I never liked President Clinton but I never spoke badly of him. As citizens of this country and under democratic system - win or lose - we support our president."

Guess these folks don't know Dan too well. And I imagine it's been an eye-opening experience for him too.

So, Which Idiot Are They Going to Find to Work There?

A 1,776 foot tower - ha ha, 1776, get it? - is slated to replace the twin towers of the World Trade Center. That's fine, but where are the morons willing to work there? My guess is unless rent is free there's going to a reeeeealll problem getting anyone in this giant white elephant.

Necessary Krugman

Paul Krugman writes in The Nation about the disintegration of the American Dream. This is a country that fought a war to supposedly free itself from aristocracy and privilege (in reality the Revolution had a lot more to do with slavery, Indian rights, and John Hancock's happy little smuggling business, but I digress), and is busily creating the same kind of society, with an aristocratic rentier class sitting on their dead butts watching the little people work and die.

The other day I found myself reading a leftist rag that made outrageous claims about America. It said that we are becoming a society in which the poor tend to stay poor, no matter how hard they work; in which sons are much more likely to inherit the socioeconomic status of their father than they were a generation ago.

The name of the leftist rag? Business Week, which published an article titled "Waking Up From the American Dream." The article summarizes recent research showing that social mobility in the United States (which was never as high as legend had it) has declined considerably over the past few decades. If you put that research together with other research that shows a drastic increase in income and wealth inequality, you reach an uncomfortable conclusion: America looks more and more like a class-ridden society.

And guess what? Our political leaders are doing everything they can to fortify class inequality, while denouncing anyone who complains--or even points out what is happening--as a practitioner of "class warfare."

It's necessary reading. From the other side of the aisle Kevin Phillips made much the same argument in his book Wealth and Democracy. Check that out too.

Clark Houseparty

Kevin Drum reports on the Clark houseparty hosted by fellow blogger Mark Kleiman. Wes Clark Jr. spoke and the visitors watched General Clark's new biographical video American Son.

Why Should Halliburton Turn Over Documents When Ex-CEO Cheney Won't?

Taking a page from the playbook of Bunker Boy, Halliburton, who have been enthusiastically playing that fun game "Screw the Taxpayers" for years and even more so in Iraq, are stonewalling Pentagon attempts to find out how much they ripped us off for fuel:

The Pentagon has accused Vice President Dick Cheney's former firm, Halliburton Co., of refusing to turn over internal documents that show the company knowingly overcharged taxpayers $61 million for work in Iraq, a published report said Friday.

What a surprise.

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Bob Herbert, as he often does, hits one out of the park this morning in the NYT. He points out how we Americans are experts at ignoring what's really going on while we rot in front of the tube and wonder who's going to be voted off the island or what goofy thing Ozzy Osbourne is going to say next as he dodders around the house. Meanwhile, Rome burns.

Americans are the best-informed people in the history of the world. But we are experts at distancing ourselves from any real unpleasantness. Most of us behave as though we bear no personal responsibility for the deep human suffering all around us, and no obligation to try and alleviate it.

Paris, Jacko, Saddam. The world is like one big media show, a made-for-TV spectacular. We can change the channel if things get too ugly. Or just turn the television off. Genuine social consciousness is for squares.

Example: The nation's at war. Is there any reason to share in the sacrifices wars usually require? Nah. The grunts can do the fighting and the dying. And we can put the costs on a credit card. Future generations will pay for it.

And here at home? The headlines tell us things are pretty good. The economy's turned around and the president's poll numbers are up. Let's head for the mall.

The problem is, if you peel away the headlines and look more closely at reality, you'll see some things that aren't so amusing. In New York City, which is just now emerging from the recession, there are more homeless people than at any time since accurate records started being kept in the late 1970's.

Yup. As I pointed out to my partner, if we could get people as stirred up about the crap President Caligula and his minions are up to as they were about Sammy Sosa's corked bat, we could change everything. But no. The tube, plenty of cheap, fattening junk food, pornography on demand, easily available illegal drugs, sports...the American version of bread and circuses, keeping the people fat, dumb, and happy - and keeping the monsters in control. It's the way they want it.

Typical

Even as Dubya covers up and the head of the investigation commission wonders why no heads rolled, relics of 9/11 are being allowed to rust away in a hangar at Kennedy International Airport, ignored by the arty freaks who designed the exceptionally stupid memorials chosen as finalists in New York's competition.

"The eight finalists are using materials that could be in hotel lobbies or corporate plazas," said Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, an assistant professor of history at Fairfield University in Connecticut and the author of "Munich and Memory: Architecture, Monuments, and the Legacy of the Third Reich." "When you turn to art to commemorate something this dramatic, it ends up diminishing the horror and distancing one from the actual authenticity of the event."

No kidding. Everyone thinks they're the next Maya Lin. In fact, the designs all stink (so does the dumbass memorial they're doing at the Pentagon, a kind of repeat of the cheesy empty chairs thing they did in Oklahoma City). This is what is happening to the collection of artifacts:

Rust is eating away at the twisted beams. Crushed fire trucks are corroding. Flakes are falling from the last column pulled from ground zero.

"This is a textbook example of how bad storage conditions can affect the preservation of an object," said Tom Chase, president of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, and a specialist in the conservation of metals. "It is just awful."

Yes it is.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

SCLM Whitewashes Dubya

Watching CNN Headline News last night, I was appalled to see them announce that Dubya was going to Walter Reed Army Hospital to "visit wounded soldiers and Colin Powell" and mention at the end of the piece that oh, by the way, since he's going to be there anyway, he's going to get MRIs done on his knees too. What a load of unmitigated crap. Dubya is going for the sole reason of his MRIs. No doubt Karl Rove had the brainwave that at the same time he should do a photo op with some carefully picked - i.e. no limbs missing, no horrible disfigurements - wounded soldiers. SCLM!

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Bush - Worse Than Nixon

Rev. Brill over at The Right Christians watched Dubya's press conference with the same horror as most Americans. The most incredible thing about our presidential midget is the fact that he simply cannot talk intelligently without a script, which suggests to me that he is very, very stupid indeed, although others have suggested some kind of sociopathy, noting that when it comes to blood and death he's very eloquent, a scary thought. Allen concludes:

I had no use for Richard Nixon. His bitterness, ruthlessness and paranoia made him a terrible leader who helped put this country on a reverse course for more than a generation. I never thought I would see a worse President than Tricky Dick. My expectations have been exceeded -- negatively -- by George W. Bush. We are now led by a man whose cynicism and hubris combine to put at risk the future of the most powerful nation in history in a way that even Richard Nixon would never countenance.

Actually, for all of his faults, Nixon did some good things. What has Dubya done? Presided over the creation of gigantic deficits, fiddled while 3 million jobs went up in smoke, read to children while terrorists killed 3000 people, and started a war for the sole reason of enriching Halliburton and Bechtel. Nixon was flawed; Dubya is a monster.

New Boeing Jet

Just in time for the 100th anniversary of flight comes news that Boeing have decided to produce an entirely new addition to their unparalled line of successful passenger jets, the 7E7, billed as a more efficient, roomier airliner. The twin engined 7E7 will burn up to 20% less fuel, have wider aisles and even larger windows! It's darn pretty, too, with a tail reminiscent of the Caravelle and beautifully blended winglets.

100 Years of Flight

In the last few months we've heard lots of stories about various poseurs who claim to have beaten the Wright brothers to flight. The fact is this: Orville and Wilbur Wright built the first controllable airplane, and it is their principles that guided the design of every airplane built after them. Their story is a remarkable, yet very American one.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

We're Not Only Overpaying, We're Getting Screwed

Paul Krugman today looks into the rancid activities of Halliburton, Bechtel, and their subsidiaries in Iraq, which has been turned into a playground for Republican campaign contributors. Trouble is, not only are these greedy bastards ripping us off, they're endangering the lives of our troops and innocent Iraqis:

Meanwhile, NBC News has obtained Pentagon inspection reports of unsanitary conditions at mess halls run by Halliburton in Iraq: "Blood all over the floors of refrigerators, dirty pans, dirty grills, dirty salad bars, rotting meat and vegetables." An October report complains that Halliburton had promised to fix the problem but didn't.

And more detail has been emerging about Bechtel's much-touted school repairs. Again, a Pentagon report found "horrible" work: dangerous debris left in playground areas, sloppy paint jobs and broken toilets.

Are these isolated bad examples, or part of a pattern? It's impossible to be sure without a broad, scrupulously independent investigation. Yet such an inquiry is hard to imagine in the current political environment — which is precisely why one can't help suspecting the worst.

Isn't this wonderful?

Yawn

The usual whiny losers were on hand yesterday for the opening of the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, crying about the display of the B-29 Enola Gay.

"If you're going to display it at all, you have to display it with what it did to human beings," said Joseph Gerson, program coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee.

To me this is all very freakish. The United States Air Force Museum has for years displayed the B-29 Bocks Car, used to drop the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. No protests, no pictures of dead bodies, no whining. I have seen the airplane dozens of times and never heard a word of complaint from the other museum visitors.

It happened, the Japanese brought it on themselves. Get over it.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Economy

The Republicans are celebrating the rising economic indicators, believing that they and the capture of Saddam make President Stupid a shoo-in. Don't believe it. Things are a lot worse than the media make them seem. 3 million jobs have simply disappeared, and there is no evidence - none - that new jobs are being created to replace them. In fact, more jobs than ever, including middle class, white collar jobs, are being shipped overseas, leaving Americans to flip hamburgers and stock shelves at Wal Mart. Bob Herbert points out...

The problem is that we are not creating many jobs, and the quality of those we are creating is, for the most part, not good. Job growth at the moment is about 80,000 per month, which is not even enough to cover the new workers entering the job market.

And when the Economic Policy Institute compared the average wage of industries that are creating jobs with those that are losing jobs, analysts found a big discrepancy. The jobs lost paid about $17 an hour, compared with $14.50 an hour for those being created.

The Bush administration and its corporate allies give the impression that they would welcome a big surge in employment that would raise the wages and quality of life for all working Americans and their families. But their policies tell an entirely different story. A fierce and bitter war — not bloody like the war in Iraq, but a war just the same — is being waged against American workers. And so far, at least, the Bush administration has been on the wrong side.

The war is being fought on several fronts. For example, after years of shipping manufacturing jobs out of the U.S. to absurdly low-wage venues, we are now also exporting increasing numbers of technical and professional jobs.

Another example: Despite the loss of more than two million jobs over the past three years, and the fact that nearly nine million Americans are officially unemployed, the Bush administration has refused to support a Christmastime extension of crucial unemployment benefits.

Worse, the administration is trying to implement a regulation that would deny overtime protection for more than eight million men and women.

Efforts to get an increase in the pathetic $5.15 minimum wage continue to fail. The benefits from productivity increases that have resulted primarily from an incredible squeeze that employers have put on workers are not being shared with workers. Health and pension benefits are in a downward spiral.

And so on.

There you go, Democratic candidates. Don't let the Repugs intimidate you with phony economic good news. Run with it.

Saddam

Obviously a lot of chatter about Saddam this morning...I couldn't help thinking watching the celebrating crowds in Iraq that these were the same people who would have celebrated Saddam's return with equal enthusiasm. While it's not certain what will happen next, I suspect we will see the Baathist insurgency subside, and be replaced by Sunni and Shiite insurgencies as they fight over control of the non-Kurdish parts of the country. It's by no means over yet.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

SADDAM CAPTURED! Is This the Turning Point?

Saddam Hussein has been captured alive near his hometown of Tikrit by American forces. Needless to say, this is an important, indeed vital moment in the fraught history of the war. Will the capture and inevitable trial of Saddam lead to a final breakdown of Baathist resistence? Only time will tell, but this is a very important development.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Terrorists at Home

The discovery of a right wing nut making cynanide bombs has pretty much been buried by the news media. Daniel Levitas, who has written a book on our right wing domestic loonies, opines

Americans should question whether the Justice Department is making America's far-right fanatics a serious priority. And with the F.B.I. still struggling to get up to speed on the threat posed by Islamic extremists abroad, it is questionable whether the agency has the manpower to keep tabs on our distinctly American terror cells. There is no accurate way of analyzing the budgets of the F.B.I., Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security to discern how much attention is being devoted to right-wing extremists. But in light of the F.B.I.'s poor record in keeping tabs on the militia movement before the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, one wonders whether the agency has the will to do so now.

"Unfortunately, keeping track of right-wing and neo-Nazi hate groups isn't necessarily a path to career advancement in the Bureau," a Justice Department official told me not long after the Oklahoma City attack. "Agents get ahead by solving real crimes, like bank robbery, espionage and murder."

Not to mention that these kinds of crazies are pretty close to home in the modern Republican party. There's almost no doubt that an American promulgated the anthrax attacks, and it's pretty certain who the man responsible is. The fact that he's a right wing loony seems to be protecting him. Very, very strange.

If You Believe This...
...I have some swampfront property for you to look at. President Caligula professes to be shocked at claims that Halliburton might be screwing the American taxpayer and promises they'll pay up. HA!!! Read the whole article; turns out that Halliburton are screwing us for food service too. What the hell happened to the days of KP? Why do we need contractors to feed our troops? What a load of crap.

Friday, December 12, 2003

"Evidence of Overcharging"

The government admits that Halliburton may have overcharged them for gas, but guess what, it's not their fault and they didn't make any money on the deal. And if you believe that, I have some primo swampfront property you might want to have a look at, not to mention a slightly used bridge in New York City.

Military officials said the Pentagon was negotiating with K.B.R. over how to resolve the fuel charges. But Michael Thibault, deputy director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, said in a telephone interview that a draft report by the agency had recommended that the Army Corps of Engineers seek reimbursement.

The officials said Halliburton did not appear to have profited from overcharging for fuel, but had instead paid a subcontractor too much for the gasoline in the first place.

Rrrrrriiight.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

More Monkey Hoots

Evidently the "American Daily" is a pretty good source for reading right wing monkey hooting. Just poking around with a trash bag handy in case of digestive upset turned this wonderful piece of commentary up:

Tolerance, inclusion, sensitivity, are all words used repeatedly by Liberals to express their desire to never, ever, hurt anyone’s feelings. Yet they seem to hold no concern for the feelings of most Americans.

For those who are hurt by moronic zero-tolerance policies in our schools there is no pity from the left. For millions of Southerners there is no sensitivity when their beloved Confederate flag is trashed, banned, and taken away. For Christian children desiring to pray in school there is certainly no compassion

"Their beloved Confederate flag." Hey, aren't you Repugs supposed to be against treason? Oh wait, treason intended to continue the enslavement of an entire race of people is OK, right?

It's always worth finding out what the other side is thinking - if "thinking" is the correct term, which I doubt - and it certainly can make you feel more secure in your own intelligence and judgment. No monkey hooting here, friends. That's the other side.

Another Right Wing Nazi

Joining the ranks of cretins and idiots who forget that dissent is protected in the Constitution, the not over-bright Jon Alverez whines over at the inaptly named "American Daily"...

We've witnessed the bowing of the Democratic Party to the anti-war radicals in this country, what many Americans aren't aware of is how the Democratic Party has become the Party of Islam. As we approach the election of 2004, Muslim organizations such as CAIR and the AMC have vowed to throw their support behind any Democratic candidate in order to defeat President Bush and his war on terror.

Of course, Al-Quada and every other major terrorist organization are also rooting for a Democratic victory over President Bush. Do we see a disturbing pattern here? A vote for the Democrats in 2004 is a vote for Al Quada.

Here comes the short bus, Jon.

Hate Crimes and the Hateful GOP

David Neiwert is really on a roll these days. Check out his contribution on the evolution of hate crime legislation and Repug efforts to warp the entire concept by branding dissent as "political hate speech." Whew! It's good; check it out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

More on Eliminationist Rhetoric at Orcinus

David Neiwert is taking the ball and running with it on the subject of right wingers who want to hang people they call "traitors" - i.e. people who disagree with President Caligula. Check it out and stay tuned.

Reading Between the Lines

Here's a letter to the editor in the Washington Post this morning:

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) criminalizes sodomy. Whether that is right or wrong is not for the military to decide.

Congress may revise the UCMJ; the Supreme Court or other courts might hold that the article forbidding sodomy is unconstitutional. Until either event transpires, "don't ask, don't tell" is about as far as the Department of Defense can go without setting civilian control of the military at naught. To go further would be to refrain from disciplining soldiers whose conduct openly contravenes the criminal code imposed by Congress. Such neglect also would be corrosive to an organization founded on discipline.

It would be foolish to argue that the military as an institution does not support the ban on homosexuals. But the preferences of the military, individually and institutionally, are insignificant beside the issue of law.

WADE MARKEL

Alexandria

Now what Wade Markel, whoever he is, isn't telling you is this: the UCMJ criminalizes both homosexual and heterosexual sodomy. Now, tell me how many straights have been kicked out of the military for having oral or anal sex? After all, the "preferences of the military are insignificant beside the issue of law"!

Operation Taxpayer Looting

More proof, as if any were needed, that Operation Iraqi "Freedom" is nothing more than a cover to permit Dubya's pals and contributors to loot the taxpayers they secretly despise:

The government's accounting shows that Halliburton paid its Kuwait subcontractor $1.17 a gallon, when it was selling for 71 cents a gallon wholesale in the Middle East.

In addition, Halliburton is paying $1.21 a gallon to transport the fuel an estimated 400 miles from Kuwait to Iraq, the documents show. It is paying 22 cents a gallon to transport gas into Iraq from Turkey.
***
Iraq's state oil company, SOMO, pays 96 cents a gallon to bring in gas, which includes the cost of gasoline and transportation costs, the aides to Mr. Waxman said. The gasoline transported by SOMO — and by Halliburton's subcontractor — are delivered to the same depots in Iraq and often use the same military escorts.

The Pentagon's Defense Energy Support Center pays $1.08 to $1.19 per gallon for the gas it imports from Kuwait, Congressional aides said. That includes the price of the gas and its transportation costs.

The money for Halliburton's gas contract has come principally from the United Nations oil-for-food program, though some of the costs have been borne by American taxpayers. In the appropriations bill signed by Mr. Bush last month, taxpayers will subsidize all gas importation costs beginning early next year.

Bend over. That's the position the Repugs like to see us all in.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Orcinus Deals with Adam Yoshida

The redoubtable David Neiwert deals rather harshly with Adam "Fascist Boy" Yoshida by appropriately bringing up the charming anti-Japanese hysteria of WWII. Oh Adam, were your grandparents stuffed into a camp because some fellow fascist of yours thought they were traitors? Just wondering!

Another Fascist

There are evidently a lot of young Republicans who seem to have brought up in the Hitler Jugend. Claiming to love America, love the flag, love the military, love the Constitution, in fact these little lunatics have no clue what America stands for, use the flag for toilet paper, think the military is kewl as long as only poor people join, and evidently believe that the Constitution was written by Adolf Hitler. Here's yet another example of this charming breed. He is, by the way, too stupid to figure out how to do permalinks to his comments, so scroll down to "Defeat is Not Unthnkable." Here's our little fascist pal Adam Yoshida:

In these days of danger, the old divisions of party and ideology have become almost meaningless. There are but two parties now: patriots and traitors. Active opposition to this war is treason, and nothing less. Those who seek to obstruct all just and necessary efforts for the defense of the nation are, thereby, giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

I fully realize that my assertion of this doctrine will set some to screaming about the right of ‘dissent’. Well, as to that, let me say this. The right to ‘dissent’ is the right to remain silent, to disagree, to not participate. That is a natural right which is retained by every single human being under any condition. There is no right, however, to attempt to incite others to join you in undermining the efforts of a national at war. That is not dissent: it is sedition. There is no right to speak out in support of an enemy of the nation. That is no dissent: it is treason.

We have seen this before, in Vietnam. Those who we fight here at home will abuse freedom in order to destroy it. They claim the mantle of liberalism and the protections that it affords in order to attack liberal society. That is the question before us now: can we allow those who mean to destroy the Constitution to cloak themselves in it?

The enemy at home is well-entrenched and means to fight us to the death. Will we allow them to betray freedom again, as they did in Vietnam? Never! When I think of Vietnam, I can hear but two words echoing in the distance, ‘never again.’ Never again will we allow our forces to win a war on the fields of battle only to see that victory thrown away by the traitors and cowards at home and never again will we allow the shame of defeat to stain American honor.

Under the cover of darkness the enemy is on the move. They will strike at dawn. We have no option but to fight them, meet them, and ultimately destroy them. Our soldiers over there are doing there job, why do we not do our job? They have the courage to march into Islamist guns. Have we not the courage to deal with the traitors and seditionists who would stab our brave forces in the back?

Sometimes I think that the treason is so deeply ingrained in our society that nothing short of martial law, the suspension of habeas corpus, and the repeal of Posse Comitatus will do. Sometimes I think that we will need to think to the Revolution, where Tories and other traitors were dealt with harshly by a righteous people. I hope that I am wrong, but I do not deny the possibility.

Where do you begin dealing with a moron of this stripe? You can't really. You can only observe and point out to others that people like this are really, really dangerous. The end of the American Republic is visible in his words. There are a lot more out there just like him. We ignore them at our cost.

Typical

Too bad Bill Janklow had to kill someone before his driving record caught up with him. Will someone, anyone, please raise the penalties for murder by car to the equivalent of murder by gun or knife? Maniacal driving, on the mad upswing, won't stop until we start putting these idiots away for life.

Throwing Away the 2004 Election

The Democrats roar on ahead to electoral destruction as today an evidently less-bright-than-we-thought Al Gore endorses the unelectable Howard Dean. Unbelievable. Do any of these people sit down and think these things through, or have they all been bamboozled by Dean's Internet based campaign? Do they realize that outside of Dean's Internet based campaign he has very few supporters? Do they realize that apart from the loony left base no one is particularly interested in him? Come on, people...the candidate the Republicans fear, the man who is electable, is Wesley Clark. You nominate Dean, you've thrown away the election and guaranteed another four years of President Stupid and the evil men around him. This is just as disgusting, just as irresponsible as Nader's egotistical spoiler run in 2000. Maybe this Clark supporter is right:

One person close to General Clark suggested that Mr. Gore was supporting Dr. Dean in the calculation that Dr. Dean would lose to Mr. Bush in November and that Mr. Gore would then enjoy the good will of Dean supporters "when he runs against Hillary Clinton in 2008."

If this is truly Gore's thinking, he should be taken out and flogged.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Captain Al Haynes Saves More Lives

You may not recognize the name of retired United Airlines Captain Al Haynes, but you will when I jog your memory a little bit. In 1989, Al Haynes was the pilot of United Airlines Flight 232. A little over an hour after takeoff from Denver, the center engine of the DC-10 aircraft suffered a catastrophic failure and the resulting spray of engine parts and shrapnel disabled the aircraft's hydraulic control systems. With no controls, Captain Haynes found he could use the aircraft's two remaining engines to roughly steer the airplane. He was able to turn the aircraft towards Sioux City, Iowa, where the DC-10 crashlanded. Although 112 people tragically lost their lives, 183 people survived thanks to Captain Haynes, his crew, the air traffic controllers, and the rescue efforts at Sioux City.

Afterwards, Captain Haynes was interviewed by the NTSB, by NASA, and other authorities, and helped develop procedures for flying aircraft by using engine power alone (NASA test pilot Gordon Fullerton was instrumental in this work). On November 22 last, these techniques saved three lives and perhaps more on the ground. On that date, a DHL Airbus A300 aircraft, flying out of Baghdad after delivering mail for the American forces, was struck by a hand-held surface to air missile. The missile struck the left wing outboard of the engine, causing a fire and resulting in total hydraulic failure. By utilizing the emergency procedures pioneered by Captain Haynes, the crew of the Airbus were able to successfully land their crippled aircraft with no loss of life; the aircraft, damaged by the explosion and somewhat in landing, is also believed to be repairable. This is a remarkable and inspirational story.

A speech by Captain Haynes at NASA's Dryden Research Center is here.

The Dean Disaster

Josh Marshall ponders the Democratic presidential race and sees the horror that a lot of us do; that Dean will be nominated, and in November Dean will lose, leading to another four years of President Stupid. I'm with Josh; we can't afford this. The DNC need to wake up and figure out a way to derail Dean before he's a shoo-in.

Don't get me wrong. I like Dean. He's a good man. He'd be a good president. He's also unelectable. The current method of letting a teeny tiny percentage of very liberal voters select the Democratic nominee has led to disaster more often than not (the egregious ass Walter Mondale...the hapless tank-riding Michael Dukakis...), and the DNC needs to reform the process for the future and figure out a way of working around it until then.

Monstrous Boondoggle II

The Sci-Fi Channel's "reimagining" of Battlestar Galactica premieres tonight. Do yourself a favor and don't watch. For those of you inclined to shrug, including the Trekkers amongst you, think long on what Ron Moore and David Eick would do if they got hold of the original Star Trek.

Monstrous Boondoggle

Bob Herbert does as good a job as anyone I've seen in summing up the horror that is the new Medicare "drug benefit," which in fact is simply a faucet to pour taxpayer money into big drug companies.

The bill that President Bush will sign today is a giant windfall for the drug companies, opening up a huge new market with virtually no effort to restrain prices. It will give Medicare recipients a modest drug benefit, but at a potentially dreadful cost. The bill starts the process of undermining Medicare by turning parts of it over to insurance companies, H.M.O.'s and other private contractors.

The drug benefit will be delivered almost entirely through private insurance plans. It would have been more efficient and cheaper to deliver it the same way other Medicare benefits are delivered. But that's not the idea. The Bush administration has mastered the art of legalized banditry, in which tons of government money — the people's money — are hijacked and handed over to the special interests.

Drug company stock prices soared with the passage of the Medicare bill, a sign that another government vault had been blown open and the big Medicare money was in play. The Republicans are not subtle about these matters. The bill, for example, specifically prohibits the government from negotiating discounts or lower drug prices, and bars the importation of cheaper drugs from abroad.

The president who replaces President Stupid is going to be a busy man, but the among his first acts should be deep-sixing this piece of trash legislation.

Friday, December 05, 2003

This was Inevitable

The Repug tradition of naming everything in sight after Beloved Leader Ron continues; the new target is to have Chairman Ron replace FDR on the dime.

A Glorious Pandagon Tradition

Jesse's annual list of the 20 Most Annoying Conservatives is UP! Check it out!

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Why the Professional Military is Dangerous

I agued below that if you have a professional military, it should be small and preferably out of the country. If you want a big military, it had better resemble your citizenry or you're going to find yourself in the deepest shit possible. Read this charming letter from a self-selected member of our professional military:

I am a United States sailor. I have chosen to defend my country and the freedom some take for granted.
I love my country, my family, my freedom. Only by the blood which was shed by the service members before me did we receive this freedom.

There are some, though, who do not appreciate this freedom. I call these people traitors; they call themselves protesters. They are nothing more than an infectious disease that infests the minds and hearts of the Americans we are defending. It consumes the honor and courage within its host until it kills the very patriotism that made this country.

There is no cure for this disease. Never will everyone be satisfied. But let it be known what this guardian of America's freedom thinks of these protesters: Traitors should be hanged. I hold our enemies in higher standing. At least they are willing to fight for their beliefs and the country they love.

Sonar Technician

Derik L.Jobe

U.S. Navy

Amarillo

Now this young ass took an oath to defend the US Constitution. Evidently he has never read the Constitution or he thinks it resembles something that Hitler might have written. Sonar Technician Shithead is out there defending everyone, not just the know nothings he agrees with, and part of the "freedom" he claims to love is the freedom to dissent.

I suspect that his words may be actionable under the UCMJ. Phil Carter? Jo Fish? How about it?

Know Nothingism Spreads North

You'd think that the most spectacular displays of American pig-ignorance would be limited to places like Louisiana, where a schoolchild was recently written up for using an obscene word ("gay"), but fundamentalist know nothingism is spreading in the north as well, as this article from Maine indicates:

Gary Cole of Washburn, a teacher at Skyway Middle School, sued School Administrative District 1 in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Cole alleged that complaints by "a small group of fundamentalist Christian individuals" led to the creation of a curriculum "which never mentions religions other than Christianity and never teaches the history of civilizations other than Christian civilizations."

"He can't even teach the history of anti-Semitism (or the) history of ancient Greece," said Cole's lawyer, A.J. Greif of Bangor.
***
Cole had been teaching a broader curriculum at one point, but during the past several years members of a church group "had been complaining and attempting to get the curriculum confined to a history of Christian civilization, not the civilization of the Eastern Hemisphere," the lawyer said.

Greif said Cole wasn't trying to teach anything unusual or anything that wasn't being taught in most seventh grades across the state. His lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to allow him to teach "the history of the entire Eastern Hemisphere, as appropriate."

How in the hell can you teach history by teaching only Christianity? How stupid are these people?

Depressing answer: really, really stupid.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Still Waiting...

..for the truth about Samarra. Yesterday I argued we should trust the military's account. Now I'm not so sure. More later, no doubt.

Washington Post Wakes Up!

The WP, a charter member of the SCLM, has suddenly remembered that the military, insanely short of Arabic translators, kicked out a bunch of gay and lesbian translators several months ago!

In the past two years, the Department of Defense has discharged 37 linguists from the Defense Language Institute for being gay. Like Glover, many studied Arabic. At a time of heightened need for intelligence specialists, 37 linguists were rendered useless because of their homosexuality.
...
On average, three or four service members are discharged each day because they are gay. Most are discharged for making statements about their sexuality, and most are younger than 25.

"In the case of some, they get in the Army and they are traumatized by an awareness that the military is 20 years behind the societal curve," said Jeff Cleghorn, a former lawyer with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a gay-rights group monitoring military justice.

No duh. One of the most dangerous things about our military is the fact that it does not resemble America. Past nations have learned this: if you have a professional army, keep it either very small or primarily out of the country to keep it out of politics. If you have a big army, make sure it's vastly conscripts so it resembles your nation. We now have a large, professional, dangerously right-wing army. But I digress. The article is truly damning, and so is the military's stupid policy. It's ironic that Colin Powell was one of the loudest opponents of gays in the military, considering that it was Harry Truman's courage in integrating the armed forces that kept Colin from wiping tables and cleaning officer's rooms.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Cool Google Search

Don't know how long this will last, but check it out: Go to Google, and in the search box type "miserable failure," and search. Check out the top search result! UPDATE: check the second result.

Only in Amerika

Isn't this typical?

Marcus responded he had two mothers because his mother is gay. When the other child asked for explanation, Marcus told him: "Gay is when a girl likes another girl," according to the complaint.

A teacher who heard the remark scolded Marcus, telling him "gay" was a "bad word" and sending him to the principal's office. The following week, Marcus had to come to school early and repeatedly write: "I will never use the word 'gay' in school again."

I want you all to repeatedly write "I'm proud to be an American." Try to force yourself to believe it. See below and consider moving to Canada.

Canadians are Smarter than Us

No doubt about that. Americans are beginning to get grumpy that Canadians are just way ahead of the power curve on social issues. Here's a great quote:

Chris Ragan, a McGill University economist, observed: "You can be a social conservative in the U.S. without being a wacko. Not in Canada."

I love it. Check it out; it's interesting.

Krugman on E-voting

Paul Krugman takes on the brewing scandal of computerized voting machines today in the NYT. The blogsphere has known that this is a disaster waiting to happen, and at last mainstream columnists are waking up to the fact:

Why isn't this front-page news? In October, a British newspaper, The Independent, ran a hair-raising investigative report on U.S. touch-screen voting. But while the mainstream press has reported the basics, the Diebold affair has been treated as a technology or business story — not as a potential political scandal.

This diffidence recalls the treatment of other voting issues, like the Florida "felon purge" that inappropriately prevented many citizens from voting in the 2000 presidential election. The attitude seems to be that questions about the integrity of vote counts are divisive at best, paranoid at worst. Even reform advocates like Mr. Holt make a point of dissociating themselves from "conspiracy theories." Instead, they focus on legislation to prevent future abuses.

But there's nothing paranoid about suggesting that political operatives, given the opportunity, might engage in dirty tricks. Indeed, given the intensity of partisanship these days, one suspects that small dirty tricks are common. For example, Orrin Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently announced that one of his aides had improperly accessed sensitive Democratic computer files that were leaked to the press.

Krugman argues that no hanky panky has happened yet. I disagree, but at least he's on the issue.

Who Do I Believe?

Our military. Iraqis are arguing that there were few casualties in the massive firefight in Samarra over the weekend, while US forces believe they killed at least 54 of the enemy.

But after weeks of suffering casualties from an enemy that detonates roadside bombs from afar and fires mortars under cover of darkness, American military officials seemed to relish the opportunity on Monday to claim credit for dealing the fighters a punishing blow.

"They got whacked, and won't try that again," a senior military official in Washington said. The Pentagon insisted the body count was accurate.

The fight began when two American convoys that carry cash to two banks here rumbled into this hard-line Baathist city on Sunday with tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and armored Humvees. Such convoys had been attacked before, and the Americans were ready.

As if on cue, the guerrillas attacked, but according to American commanders, the Iraqis suffered a devastating defeat. The battle ended, they said, with as many as 54 insurgents dead and only 5 Americans wounded.

The Iraqi insurgents have up to now been suffering few casualties while steadily picking off our soldiers. This battle signals a new phase - try it and we'll smash you like a bug. It's a winner.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Kevin Phillips

Kevin Phillips is always worth reading (and I recommend his new biography of William McKinley highly, btw, so check it out). In the LA Times, the redoubtable Phillps looks forward to the 2004 conventions. While hoping for fireworks and excitement from the Democrats, Phillips suspects that the Repug 9/11 Celebration - er, convention - might not be such a laff riot:

In 2002, the idea of again draping the mantle of 9/11 around Bush at a 2004 nomination convention just a few miles from "ground zero" must have seemed highly opportune to GOP strategists. But many months and embarrassments later, the United States is heading toward 2004 with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein apparently alive and uncaptured, perhaps watching eagerly as the U.S. positions in Iraq and Afghanistan deteriorate and terrorism rebounds on a wave of Islamic hostility toward Bush and the U.S. presence on Iraqi soil. Almost unbelievably, the White House has dissipated the wave of global sympathy for the United States after 9/11 and replaced it with a sullen hostility that reaches beyond Islam into much of Europe, East Asia and Latin America.

But there are other reasons why this could make New York City an anxious place next September. The city has a Muslim population estimated at more than half a million and, according to the Arab American Institute, some 200,000 Arabs, the vast majority of them citizens. Another 150,000 Arabs live in adjacent northeastern New Jersey.

Brooklyn, less than a mile from Manhattan, has the biggest concentrations of Muslims in the city. Many of its Islamic neighborhoods became familiar to FBI agents after 9/11. Given the general animosity worldwide toward Bush's policies, it seems quite possible that the authorities, looking to head off acts of terrorism, could antagonize a huge swath of Islamic New York.

One can easily imagine that the FBI and the military will feel they must take extraordinary precautions for the GOP convention. New York City has 130 mosques and dozens of Arab neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. The Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center in Queens houses North America's largest Shiite Muslim congregation. In the face of the inevitable crackdown, it's quite conceivable the GOP convention could serve as a magnet for terrorists itching to prove the U.S. president's ineffectiveness.

Keep in mind that when Bush was in London recently, Al Qaeda or affiliated terrorists made it a point to bomb the British Consulate and a British bank in Istanbul, Turkey. Even if no attempts are made on Manhattan, the probability of extreme security measures and possibly something approaching martial law in sections of the island could cast a long shadow over the convention. This potential embarrassment is another one of the extraordinary political uncertainties of 2004.

Dubya and the 'pugs celebrating in the middle of a police state I can well imagine. Let's hope someone turns up with a "Mission Accomplished" sign.




Free Sofa!

Kevin Drum has a free sofa! Check it out.

Rumor Has It...

...that Dubya is going to announce a huge initiative to "dominate cislunar space" and then, like Reagan and Bush I, fail to appropriate any money for it. WHAT a surprise.

10 Airplanes Cont.

Back to the MSNBC 10 airplanes...here's the next five and their runners-up:

6. Curtiss JN-4 - MSNBC claims that this was the "first mass-produced airplane." I'm betting that's not true. Maybe in the US, but not in Europe. Hmph. And really not that earth-shattering of an airplane, either. A really bizarre choice. How about the Fokker DVII instead? Not only mass produced, but forward-looking with internally braced wings. Runners-up: Vickers Vimy, which is a weird one too. A Vimy did make the first transatlantic flight, but otherwise was a good bomber that came too late for WWI. Second runner-up: the Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis.

7. Messerschmidt Me-262 - the first operational jet fighter, thankfully produced too late and in too small numbers to change the outcome of the war, thanks largely to Hitler's insistence that it be used as a bomber instead of as a bomber destroyer - something it was terrifyingly good at, being fast enough to outrun escorts and heavily armed with 4 30 mm cannon. This was definitely an epochal airplane, although it had several faults. Runner-up: Boeing B-52. Still in service, older than most of the pilots who fly it, certainly the most effective heavy bomber in history.

8. Cessna single engined aircraft - Oddly enough, the runner up is an airplane that probably did more to bring aviation to the well-off masses, the Piper Cub.

9. Boeing B314 - this may be the strangest choice in the group. The B314 was a transatlantic flying boat, the best of its day - and an aviation dead end. Dead ends probably do not deserve to be on a list of this kind. Runner-up: the Lockheed Constellation, a much more important aircraft, the penultimate piston engined airliner, and simply a beautiful airplane.

10. Lockheed SR-71 - the fastest airplane in the world, and likely to remain so for a long time. One of the most important weapons of the Cold War, its ability to photograph anything, anywhere was a vital tool in our arsenal. Runner-up: the Lockheed C-130, certainly the finest military transport of all time, still in production over 50 years after roll out.

So what do I think of all this? The trouble is, this is the kind of poll you get with public input, when all most people know about airplanes is what they see on the History Channel. Where, for instance, is the greatest plane of all - the 1903 Wright Flyer? How about the first truly effective jet fighters, the F-86 and the MiG-15? Bf-109? DeHavilland Comet? Arado Ar234? Space shuttle orbiter? F-117? Hm?

10 Airplanes

MSNBC has a piece on 10 airplanes that changed aviation. Unfortunately they let their readers pick, so some of the results are flaky:

1. DC-3 - Good God, no argument there. The runner-up was the 747. Wha..?
2. 707 - Another good choice, but number 2?! Runner up was the 737. No mention at all of the 727, which really was an epochal jetliner and my own personal favorite. Oh well.
3. Bell X-1 - Hm. Shouldn't be this high. Oh well. Runner up: X-15.
4. B-17 - For cert. Runner up - B-29. Hey, how about the B-24?!
5. P-51 - Another good choice. The best all-around piston engined fighter, built in huge quantities, and a mainstay in Korea as well. Runner up, the Spitfire, was not nearly as good as an aircraft. Runner up should be the P-47 if we want another fighter.

I'll deal with the bottom five later!

Not an Optimist

Gary Younge writes in The Guardian this morning about the upcoming 2004 election, which he is less than optimistic about:

The good news for the Democrats is that the basic message, that Bush is doing the country more harm than good, is finally getting through. The bad news is that the next election will be decided less by who has the best message than who has the biggest megaphone, whether they know which direction to point it and whether anyone at the other end is listening. On all three counts, the Republicans are ahead.

It's good reading, as usual from Younge; check it out.

New Tactics?

Tough American responses to ambushes in Iraq over the weekend may signal a new and potentially successful American tactic in the fight against insurgency in Iraq. By meeting enemy attacks with the kind of shattering, overwhelming, disciplined force that our troops are capable of, at least 54 of the enemy were killed, with only a few American troops wounded (one American soldier was killed in a separate incident). Local Iraqi residents of course claimed that most of the casualties were civilian, but in this case I'm inclined to take the military more seriously.

Interestingly, the fact that the attack took place appears to indicate that the Iraqi resistence may have useful intelligence sources somewhere close to American planning. The ambushes were against currency shipments being delivered to banks.