Thursday, September 30, 2004

Norquist Watch

You'll remember about a week ago Grover Norquist was quoted in a Spanish newspaper saying that the Greatest Generation was basically a bunch of socialists he'll be glad to see 6 feet under. Slate continues looking at what the insane Norquist said:

"This is an age cohort that voted for a draft before the war started, and allowed the draft to continue for 25 years after the war was over. Their idea of the legitimate role of the state is radically different than anything previous generations knew, or subsequent generations.

"Before that generation, whenever you put a draft in, there were draft riots. After that generation, there were draft riots. This generation? No problem. Why not? Of course the government moves people around like pawns on a chessboard. One side spits off labor law, one side spits off Social Security. We will all work until we're 65 and have the same pension. You know, some Bismarck, German thing, okay? Very un-American."

To HELL with social justice! Grover just wants to see the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and everyone behave like they're a mountain man! Very effective in the 21st century, that variety of lunatic libertarianism.

What else has Shit for Brains been up to lately?

He's promoting illegal immigration:

Americans for Tax Reform, which is headed by top conservative activist Grover Norquist, also opposes Prop. 200, citing worries about privacy and pressure to raise taxes to meet the referendum's mandates.

They join the Arizona Chamber, Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau and East Valley Partnership in opposing PAN.

The ballot question looks to cut into illegal immigration by denying state welfare benefits and social services to undocumented immigrants. It also requires proof of U.S. citizenship for prospective voters and forces state workers to report illegals to federal authorities.

Defend our borders? Hell no, not when we need poor Mexicans to force wages and benefits down!

He's trying to get the Montreal Expos - moving to Washington next year to play in, of course, a stadium built with taxpayer money - named for Ronny Raygun:

If conservative activist Grover Norquist has his way, the team will be named in the same way he wants every free-standing public structure in America to be named: the Reagans.

He's talking lunacy to a paper in South Carolina:

“OUR GOAL is to inflict as much pain as possible,” Grover Norquist told National Journal of his campaign to defeat Gov. Bob Riley’s effort to restructure Alabama’s tax system to benefit the state’s poor people. “It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We’re sending a message here. It is like when the king would take his opponent’s head and stick it on a pike for everyone to see.”

He was talking about defeating a conservative Christian politician who was acting to address a situation in his state that he saw as inconsistent with the Gospels.

When the head of Americans for Tax Reform came to visit our editorial board last week, he passed out copies of that and two other published profiles of him. Imagine being so full of yourself that you hand strangers these nuggets about yourself:

• The Journal citing others quoting Mr. Norquist: “We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals — and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship.”

• Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth describing his ally in Mother Jones: “From the moment he gets up to the moment he gets to bed, he thinks, ‘How am I going to hurt the other team?’”

• The Washington Post, on what Mr. Norquist told a liberal Harvard classmate at a reunion: “For 40 years we fought a two-front war against the Soviet Union and state-ism. Now we can turn all our time and energy to crushing you. With the Soviet Union, it was just business. With you, it’s personal.”

• The Post, quoting a rubber stamp he keeps on his desk: “Find Him and Kill Him.”

He also said a few provocative things in his meeting with us. Take, for instance, his scoffing at conservatives who want to do away with the National Endowment for the Arts: “You know, it’s like a hundred million dollars, and the National Endowment for the Arts is actually extremely helpful to the conservative movement because they fund ‘Piss Christ’ and irritate the hell out of taxpayers and remind them why they’re Republicans. And if they were to stop this, there would be fewer taxpayer activists.”

His pal, Bush strategist Karl Rove, described him to The Post as “an impresario of the center-right.” He holds court at every-Wednesday gatherings in his Washington office. The S.C. Policy Council’s Ed McMullen, who attends whenever he’s in the capital, says other regulars include Reps. Jim DeMint and Joe Wilson and their staffs.

More relevantly to us, he is the man behind the no-new-taxes pledge that has been signed by President Bush, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Gov. Mark Sanford, Rep. DeMint and other Republicans in our House delegation, 15 members of the S.C. Senate and 51 members of the S.C. House, including Speaker David Wilkins. He’s the guy some leading S.C. politicians check with before supporting tax proposals.

He's ordering around state politicians in Virginia:

The news that Attorney General Jerry Kilgore has in effect told national tax activist Grover Norquist to bug out of Virginia Republican politics is a note of sanity in an otherwise deadly political battle that is shaping up in Virginia’s Republican Party.
In the meantime, House Speaker William Howell, showing a concern similar to Kilgore’s, is creating his own think tank to “institutionalize free-market based approaches for fiscally responsible government reforms." He hopes to bring together the warring Republican factions in the General Assembly in searching for sound fiscal reforms.
Let me recap. The recent General Assembly’s extended sessions this year saw an epic battle over the state’s budget, which had been decimated by the aftermath of the remarkably ill-advised and destructive reduction of the “car tax” by Governor Gilmore and a soft Bush economy. The battle line was drawn between those who supported funding for major state programs such as education and transportation, which would require some increases in taxes, and those opposed to any tax increase whatsoever and who, if truth be known, really want to lower every tax they can get a hand on.

In the end, a large part of Governor Mark Warner’s budget was adopted, with significant help from 19 Republican delegates and 15 Republican senators. These Republicans had not turned into raving tax and spend liberals (actually, there are none of these in either party in Virginia), but were merely acting in the best traditions of Republican fiscal conservatism in opposing significant deficit financing.

This outraged the Republicans who were for tax cuts, regardless of what they did to the deficit. At least that is the way I look at it, since not a single one of these made any serious proposal to cut programs and thus reduce spending. They apparently are borrow and spend - what? Liberals who are not adverse to debt as long as taxes are not raised?

Enter Grover Norquist. His Americans for Tax Reform recently unveiled a poster picturing all 43 Republican miscreants, pegging all of them for defeat in the next election.

Now it is fine to be against any tax increases and even for a reduction in taxes. But a responsible advocate for the anti-tax position must also tell us which programs are going to be cut or reduced. It is the height of irresponsibility to slough the question off on “waste, fraud, and abuse.) Anyone who knows anything about government knows that this will never do the trick.

Fortunately, I think most voters – liberal and conservative - will see through this sophistry. So, apparently, does Jerry Kilgore, and he is rightly afraid that his could seriously hurt his bid to be Virginia’s next governor. Unfortunately for Kilgore (and fortunately for Virginia), Norquist is unlikely to withdraw from the fray, and he has supporters in Virginia who are already organizing campaigns against the Richmond 43, as I call them. In doing so, they are aiming their hatchets at the heart of the Republican Party in Virginia. Unless Kilgore and his supporters can heal this rift and mount a unified Republican campaign next year, it is going to be a very good year for Virginia’s Democrats.

Norquist is a certifiable lunatic. It's easy to laugh at his barf bag collecting and his assortment of queer - and I use that word advisedly - mannerisms. We shouldn't laugh. He's just as dangerous as the limping Goebbels, the fat Goering, the chicken farmer Himmler, and the drunken Robert Ley. Some Germans used to laugh at them, too.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Longtime GOP Rep Against Bush

John Galbraith was a 20 year member of the Ohio House, and I can personally attest that he was very well respected and liked in his district in Maumee, Ohio. Yesterday, John Galbraith wrote this in the Toledo Blade:

I served 20 years in the Ohio General Assembly as a Republican. People have asked me why I oppose George W. Bush for president.My first response is, "He is incompetent." His behavior, his bad judgment, his record, all demonstrate a failure as a president.

He certainly misled the country into a no-win war in Iraq. Following his pre-emptive invasion, he totally misjudged the consequences of his action. He made a bad situation worse, fomenting widespread terrorism, all done with a frightful loss of lives and money.

Relative to this is what the Bush people call "collateral damage," i.e. a wanton destruction of property and killing and maiming of untold thousands of innocents, thus creating a deep and lasting hatred.

Often people vote from habit or party loyalty. I believe that in this election of 2004 there are greater considerations and all voters should ask themselves:

Are we better off than four years ago?

Are we safer?

Is our economy stronger?

To me the answers are clear. That is why I support John Kerry for president.

Thank you, Mr. Galbraith.

Republicans must save their own party. They can make a good start by shitcanning the Shrub.

Speaking of the British... have to seriously wonder what happened to Tony Blair's brain in the three years since 9/11 apparently drove a number of otherwise intelligent people completely around the bend.

Prime Minister Tony Blair responded to anti-war critics within his ruling party Tuesday by acknowledging he had been wrong to claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, but insisting that Britain and the United States were still right to topple Saddam Hussein.

Really? With no justification at all? Yes, Saddam was a vile dictator, but we could spend centuries cleansing the earth of his sort.

Before Blair's speech, organizers handed out leaflets demanding, "Just say sorry, Tony." But Blair refused to comply.

That's because there's no such thing as "sorry" in the world of the chimp. Hopefully British voters will shitcan Labour next election and teach them a lesson they won't forget.

A British Mother Writes

It's easy to forget, as coffins covered with American flags come home from the Mess in Mesopotamia, that the British are over there too, and British mothers have reason to grieve as well as their children die, like ours, for a bloody lie:

Tony Blair says we are now fighting a "new war" in Iraq. That may suit him, to distract people from questions about the "old war" there. The one which killed my son Gordon at the age of 19. Sent to Iraq with just six months training at Catterick, with inadequate protection, he was killed by a bomb in Basra in June.

Gordon wanted to be a soldier to defend his country. Not to die in a war of aggression. My family is one of nearly 70 grieving for a lost son because of this war. Two more families joined the list yesterday. Many more of our soldiers are suffering from serious injuries.

Some people say that soldiers have to expect to die or be injured when they sign up for the armed services. Maybe so. But they also have the right to expect that they will only be sent to fight for a proper cause, by a government which tells the truth.
It seems to me that Blair cares more about George Bush than about British soldiers. He made secret promises to the president behind our backs, without a thought for people like Gordon, or like my daughter Maxine, deprived of her brother.

If he cares, why doesn't he bring our troops back home before more are killed? After all, power is supposed to have been handed over to the Iraqi government. There are no more weapons of mass destruction to look for. The Iraqis should be allowed to sort out their own problems now.

Instead, I heard Geoff Hoon talking about sending more of our lads and lasses over to Iraq. That will mean more dead, more injured, to stop the government facing up to what it has done. I am working with other service families to ensure that our voice can be heard too. Many have already got in touch.

I grieve also for all the Iraqis who have died in this war. It all seems to have been completely unnecessary.

Blair may be let off the hook by Lord this and Justice that in their inquiries. The establishment will stick together. But I do not believe the ordinary people will forgive him so easily.

I want the government to be held to account. The prime minister says he wants a democracy for Iraq. If we had a proper democracy here, we would never have got into this war. And Gordon would be with us at Christmas.

We have the chance to hold our moron accountable in November. Let's not waste it. The Brits will deal with their own fool.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Red States = Parasites

While those red-blooded NASCAR-loving red staters bitch and cry about those blue state latte liberals turning Amerika into a decadent wasteland, those same red staters are eagerly sucking the governmental teat:

The Tax Foundation has released a fascinating report showing which states benefit from federal tax and spending policies, and which states foot the bill.

The report shows that of the 32 states (and the District of Columbia) that are "winners" -- receiving more in federal spending than they pay in federal taxes -- 76% are Red States that voted for George Bush in 2000. Indeed, 17 of the 20 (85%) states receiving the most federal spending per dollar of federal taxes paid are Red States.

Check it out. There's a handy map, too. Send to your favorite red state anti-tax Repug (via).

Monday, September 27, 2004

Light Blogging

Light blogging until I manage to end the current popup attack on my computer. It was pointed out in Slate not too long ago that it's far more cost-effective to execute hackers than it is to execute murderers, and I heartily agree. The fact is, the death penalty is almost too good for these bloody pests.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Where are the Stupid, Drunken Bush Twins?

While the useless Bush twins continue whoring their way around the country, partying drunkenly while Americans die in Iraq, another scion of a well-known and powerful family - who has had his own escapades - prepares to serve his country:

Prince Harry will join the Army in early 2005 after passing his Sandhurst entrance exams, Clarence House has said.

Obstacle courses, medicals and planning exercise were included in the Regular Commissions Board four-day test.

The 20-year-old, who is third in line to the throne, will begin training to be an officer after taking up his place.

Sandhurst is the Army's most prestigious college.

The prince said he was delighted to have passed his exams.

"The last four days have been very challenging, both mentally and physically, but it's also been an enjoyable experience.

"I have set my sights on joining the Army and I am really looking forward to going to Sandhurst next year."

And Prince Harry is far from the first member of his family to serve. His father was an officer in the Royal Navy, and his uncle Prince Andrew saw action as a helicopter pilot in the Royal Navy during the Falklands War. His grandfather, King George VI, saw action at Jutland as an officer trainee in the Royal Navy. His elder brother Prince William is also considering a military career.

No sign of the Bush twins near any recruitment office.

The Bushes and Hitler

While Dubya claims to hate dictators - while at the same time acting like one - his grandfather, Senator Prescott Bush, was instrumental in helping finance the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP in Germany; this has been long known but not talked about nearly enough, at least in this country. As is all-too-typical of Repugs, Prescott Bush was in it for the cash, not giving a crap about the morals of the monster he was dealing with. The Guardian has the scoop this morning.

The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator's action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

The debate over Prescott Bush's behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the "Bush/Nazi" connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis' plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.

Remarkably, little of Bush's dealings with Germany has received public scrutiny, partly because of the secret status of the documentation involving him. But now the multibillion dollar legal action for damages by two Holocaust survivors against the Bush family, and the imminent publication of three books on the subject are threatening to make Prescott Bush's business history an uncomfortable issue for his grandson, George W, as he seeks re-election.

While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen's US interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered the war.

It's a long and detailed report. And remember this the next time you hear some rube refer to the Bushes as "classy." It's not classy to do business with the Nazis.

Support Brad Carson

I know we've all been doing our best to support progressive candidates this year, but if you have some turkee left to give, as Atrios would put it, Brad Carson is a good man to give it to. Carson, a two-term congressman, Phi Beta Kappa at Baylor, a Rhodes Scholar, and a member of the Cherokee Nation, is running for the open senate seat in Oklahoma against a bloody minded lunatic, Tom Coburn. One of Coburn's many charming opinions is that doctors who perform abortions should be killed. He refers to the Oklahoma state government as "crapheads." He claims that Indian treaties are "primitive agreements" that "hold up the state's progress." His idea of cutting "pork barrel spending" would harm Oklahoma's many farmers and many poor citizens. National Review referred to Coburn as "something like Jesse Helms and Phil Gramm rolled into one." Kos has lots more here.

Go here and please help Brad Carson in his battle to be a progressive voice for Oklahoma.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Beaning Barry

I know that Barry Bonds is a remarkably unlikable specimen of a baseball player, but, that said, he's a damn good baseball player. And my opinion is this: if you're not man enough to pitch to Barry Bonds, you should not, as a pitcher or manager, be in the major leagues. Here's the Barry report from yesterday:

There were no punches or ejections in the third inning after Brandon Backe’s 3-0 pitch nearly hit Bonds in the leg. It was called a strike when Bonds spun forward while avoiding the ball.

I'm also a little tired of dumbass umpires calling a strike when someone is trying to avoid being hit. I've seen it happen twice this week personally.

Bonds, who has 701 career homers, gestured emphatically toward Backe and nearly stuck his fingers into the mask of plate umpire Mike Reilly while his teammates held him back. Bonds was hit by a pitch earlier in the series, and brushed back at least two more times.

Moments later, Bonds drew his sixth consecutive walk from the Astros. The first five, including a first-inning walk, were intentional. Bonds finished 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored.

If you're afraid to pitch to Barry, you're not a man. Period.

Welcome to the Country of the Blind

Bob Herbert is always a breath of fresh air. Today, Bush and his blindness:

George W. Bush was a supporter of the war in Vietnam. For a while.

As he explained in his autobiography, "A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the White House":
"My inclination was to support the government and the war until proven wrong, and that only came later, as I realized we could not explain the mission, had no exit strategy, and did not seem to be fighting to win."

How is it that he ultimately came to see the fiasco in Vietnam so clearly but remains so blind to the frighteningly similar realities of his own war in Iraq? Mr. Bush cannot explain our mission in Iraq and has nothing resembling an exit strategy, and his troops - hobbled by shortages of personnel and by potentially fatal American and Iraqi political considerations - are certainly not fighting to win.

As the situation in Iraq moves from bad to worse, the president, based on his public comments, seems to be edging further and further from reality. This is disturbing, to say the least. The news from Iraq is filled with reports of kidnappings and beheadings, of people pleading desperately for their lives, of American soldiers being ambushed and killed, of clusters of Iraqis being blown to pieces by suicide bombers, and of the prospects for a credible election in January tumbling toward nil.

The war effort has deteriorated so drastically that the administration is planning to take more than $3 billion earmarked for crucial reconstruction projects and shift them to security programs designed to ward off the increasingly deadly insurgency. A classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for the president contained no really good prospects for Iraq. The best-case scenario was a country with only tenuous stability. The worst potential outcome was civil war.

The intelligence estimate was prepared in July, and the situation has only worsened since then.

Even smart Republicans like Chuck Hagel and John McCain, both decorated veterans who went to Vietnam and got shot at, unlike the Commander in Chief, can see that things are going badly. But not President Caligula. Everything is hunky-dory when you're as stupid and blind as he is:

President Bush does not share their sense of alarm. He acknowledged that "horrible scenes" are being shown on television and the Internet, but he was unmoved by the gloomy intelligence estimates. According to Mr. Bush: "The C.I.A. laid out several scenarios. It said that life could be lousy, life could be O.K., life could be better."

Que sera, sera.

The president said he is personally optimistic and he delivered an upbeat assessment of conditions in Iraq to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. Iraq, he said, is well on its way to being "secure, democratic, federal and free."

Optimists, in my experience, tend to be either deluded or blind. Bush is both, and in addition he's just not real bright. None of these are qualifications for the office he stole.

Repug Dirty Tricks

Repugs can't win without lying. They claim to be the "party of God" when in fact they're for the rich. They claim to be the party of the little guy when in fact they're for the rich. They claim to stand for fiscal discipline when in fact they're for giving your tax dollars to the rich. And so on. Recently the Repugs tried to fortify their asinine "party of God" label by sending out a mailing claiming that liberals plan to ban the Bible. How funny. I'm a liberal, yet I have at least two Bibles, a Book of Common Prayer, and several Bible study books in my house. No sign of a ban here! Here's a dirty trick the Repugs had to own up to:

The Republican Party acknowledged yesterday sending mass mailings to residents of two states warning that "liberals" seek to ban the Bible. It said the mailings were part of its effort to mobilize religious voters for President Bush.

The mailings include images of the Bible labeled "banned" and of a gay marriage proposal labeled "allowed." A mailing to Arkansas residents warns: "This will be Arkansas if you don't vote." A similar mailing was sent to West Virginians.

A liberal religious group, the Interfaith Alliance, circulated a copy of the Arkansas mailing to reporters yesterday to publicize it. "What they are doing is despicable,'' said Don Parker, a spokesman for the alliance. "They are playing on people's fears and emotions."

In an e-mail message, Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, confirmed that the party had sent the mailings.

"When the Massachusetts Supreme Court sanctioned same-sex marriage and people in other states realized they could be compelled to recognize those laws, same-sex marriage became an issue,'' Ms. Iverson said. "These same activist judges also want to remove the words 'under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance."

The mailing is the latest evidence of the emphasis Republicans are putting on motivating conservative Christian voters to vote this fall. But as the appeals become public, they also risk alienating moderate and swing voters.

An editorial on Sept. 22 in The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, for example, asked, "Holy Moley! Who concocts this gibberish?"

Gibberish indeed. They need to lie to get fools to vote for them.

Good Deed!

I've done my good deed for the morning by returning a loose dog to his home. Now, let's blog.

And here's yet more proof of how great dogs are!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Hollow Man

No matter what happens, George W. Bush remains brainlessly optimistic. What is he on? Sydney Blumenthal:

In his stump speech, which he repeats word for word across the country, Bush explains that he invaded Iraq because of "the lesson of September the 11th". WMD goes unmentioned; the only reason Bush offers is Saddam Hussein as an agent of terrorism. "He was a sworn enemy of the United States of America; he had ties to terrorist networks. Do you remember Abu Nidal? He's the guy that killed Leon Klinghoffer. Leon Klinghoffer was murdered because of his religion. Abu Nidal was in Baghdad, as was his organisation."

The period of Leon Klinghoffer's murder in 1985 on the liner Achille Lauro (by Abu Abbas, in fact) coincided with the US courtship of Saddam, marked by the celebrated visits of then Middle East envoy Donald Rumsfeld. The US collaborated in intelligence exchanges and materially supported Saddam in his war with Iran, authorising the sale of biological agents for Saddam's laboratories, a diversification of his WMD capability.

Why oh why doesn't the Kerry campaign run a bunch of ads demonstrating the ties of the administration to Saddam? Hell, Cheney was doing business with Saddam up until he left Halliburton to run for VP.

But the real weirdness of this campaign is Bush's relentless and brainless insistence that everything is just great:

Bush's campaign depends on the containment of any contrary perception of reality. He must evade, deny and suppress it. His true opponent is not his Democratic foe - called unpatriotic and the candidate of al-Qaida by the vice-president - but events. Bush's latest vision is his shield against them. He invokes the power of positive thinking, as taught by Emile Coue, guru of autosuggestion in the giddy 1920s, who urged mental improvement through constant repetition: "Every day in every way I am getting better and better."

It was during this era of illusion that TS Eliot wrote The Hollow Men: Between the idea/ And the reality/ Between the motion/ And the act/ Falls the Shadow."


"Stupid" and "Corrupt"

Grover Norquist recently implied that Ohio Governor Bob Taft is, among other things, "stupid" and "corrupt." Actually, while Taft isn't the brightest bulb in the Taft family, he's not discernably corrupt and although I don't agree with most of his policies, obviously, he strikes me as rather likable in a somewhat goofy way. If you want a "stupid" and "corrupt" politician in Ohio, it's Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell you're after.

But of course Grover loves J. Kenneth, because Blackwell is a tax slashing drown the government in a bathtub Repug sort. He's also corrupt. Example? Certainly. In Ohio, Ralph Nader's campaign committed some minor improprieties in their drive to get Nader on the ballot. J. Kenneth decided that this should result in Nader not getting on the Ohio ballot. When supporters of the state's egregious anti-gay marriage amendment committed improprieties, this was OK, and their piece of shit legislation will be there for Ohio bigots to vote on:

A bid to block a proposed amendment to the Ohio state constitution that seeks to outlaw same-sex marriage has failed. Opponents of the amendment sought to have a state appeals court throw out petitions bearing the signatures of people calling for the measure.

"Even though this initiative is short, it is filled in its second sentence with incredible ambiguities," said John P. Gilligan, lead attorney for the amendment opponents.

Gilligan said that Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell should never have submitted petition signatures to the 88 county elections boards for validation because the forms violate Ohio law by failing to include a summary of the amendment's intent.

Instead the petitions include only the 55-word proposed amendment as it would appear on the ballot.

In a two-sentence statement a three-judge panel in Franklin County Monday said opponents of the proposal did not "demonstrate their right" to get a court order rejecting the petitions.

Business as usual in Repug Ohio.

J. Ken wants to be the first black governor of Ohio. Everyone in Ohio needs to tell this Uncle Tom to take a hike.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Credit Scoring

Fred Clark over at Slacktivist has a great post about the plan of TXU Energy - and undoubtedly other companies - to use credit scoring in determining the rate people pay for products and services. The intent, of course, is to screw the poor and unfortunate, and Fred lets loose a blast:

I often turn for ethical guidance to the great Hebrew prophets. Usually when I do so I have to abstract general principles of fairness and justice from their denunciations of the specific evils of the ancient world in which they lived. Yet here, in the case of TXU and the many insurance companies and others rushing to embrace credit scoring, I find the literal words of the prophets to be precisely accurate:

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. (Isaiah 10:1-2)

Do not have two differing weights in your bag-one heavy, one light. Do not have two differing measures in your house-one large, one small. You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. For the Lord your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly. (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)

Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, "When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?" -- skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat. The Lord has sworn by the Pride of Jacob: "I will never forget anything they have done." Will not the land tremble for this, and all who live in it mourn? (Amos 8:4-8)

Amen, brother Clark.

The Red Baron

Neuropsychologists Daniel Orme and Tom Hyatt theorize that an earlier head wound led Manfred von Richtofen, the famous Red Baron of World War I, into an uncharacteristic tail chase that led to his death in April 1918:

"He was a very reserved character all his life, but he is described as much more immature after the injury, and we have found that is common with this type of brain injury," Missouri's Daniel Orme said Tuesday.

During his final, fatal dogfight, von Richthofen was seen pursuing a fleeing plane across enemy fire in an uncharacteristic display of "target fixation." The pursuit broke Richthofen's own rule to "never obstinately stay with an opponent," said Orme.

The two researchers comment that the effects of head wounds are often underestimated, and I agree, and advance another case from history: during the battle of the Nile, Nelson was hit in the head and wounded. Afterwards, his behavior changed; he became involved with Lady Hamilton and the horrible events surrounding the recapture of Naples. Historians have ignored or denegrated the possibility that Nelson's head wound changed his personality; perhaps this would be another good case from history for Orme and Hyatt to examine.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Colonel Kurtz is in Control

According to Ronald Dumsfeld:
At some point the Iraqis will get tired of getting killed and we’ll have enough of the Iraqi security forces that they can take over responsibility for governing that country and we’ll be able to pare down the coalition security forces in the country.

I'd like to point out to Rum Dum that the Vietnamese never got tired of getting killed, and that was their secret. They would pour hundreds, thousands of men into human wave attacks, watch them get slaughtered, and do it again. And again. And again.

And eventually France got tired and went away. And eventually America got tired and went away. And Vietnam is still there, united under the government founded by Ho Chi Minh and his comrades.

These people are insane (via)


I couldn't resist:

Kurtz: Did they say why, Willard, why they want to terminate my command?

Willard: I was sent on a classified mission, sir.

Kurtz: It's no longer classified, is it? Did they tell you?

Willard: They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.

Kurtz: Are my methods unsound?

Willard: I don't see any method at all, sir.

Neither do I.

Brownshirts Attack Democratic HQ in Lafayette

As we get closer to the election, I expect to see a lot more of this kind of thing, and worse:

Vandals set fire to signs and wrote pro-President Bush messages on the front of Lafayette’s Democratic Party Headquarters, the second time the office was hit by vandals.

The remnants of a small fire fueled with John Kerry/John Edwards campaign signs remained on the front steps of the headquarters at 310 Buchanan St. in downtown Lafayette on Thursday morning.

A mixture of ash from the fire and what appeared to be motor oil was used to smear “4+ GWB” across the front windows and “W” on the headquarters’ door.

The office was closed Thursday because of Hurricane Ivan. The building’s owner found the damage Thursday morning when he checked on the building, said Lexi Thompson, state director of the National Coordinated Campaign.

“Obviously, this vandalism is an attempt to intimidate volunteers and the Democratic effort,” said Mike Skinner of Lafayette, chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “This is not Iraq. This is Louisiana. Issues will decide this election, not intimidation.

”The situation could have been even more dangerous because the fire was set at the front door of the headquarters, Thompson said.

“Thank God we didn’t have anybody here this morning,” she said. “They were trying to harm us.”

Yes they were. Via that avid defender of liberty, David Neiwert.

Good ol' South Knox Bubba

His take on the CBS memos here.

Norquist Watch

Grover Norquist is a real lunatic piece of work. Last week he was castigating Ohio's Governor Bob Taft who, while fairly useless, does not appear to be "corrupt," one of Grover's charges. This week, Grover claimed in an interview with the Spanish paper el Mundo (original here, partial translation here) that the Greatest Generation, the Americans who lived through and fought World War II, are un-American, and thank God they're dying off:

Each year, 2 million people who fought in the Second World War and lived through the Great Depression die. This generation has been an exeception in American history, because it has defended anti-American policies. They voted for the creation of the welfare state and obligatory military service. They are the base of the Democratic Party. And they are dying. And, at the same time, all the time more Americans have stocks. That makes them defend the interests of business, because it is their own interest. Because of that, it's impossible to bring to the fore policies of social hate, of class warfare.

Calling Norquist a stupid lunatic hardly covers it because, like Hitler, he's a dangerous stupid lunatic.

Sunday, Brad Warthen published this editorial on The after the paper's editorial board met with Norquist:

He also said a few provocative things in his meeting with us. Take, for instance, his scoffing at conservatives who want to do away with the National Endowment for the Arts: “You know, it’s like a hundred million dollars, and the National Endowment for the Arts is actually extremely helpful to the conservative movement because they fund ‘Piss Christ’ and irritate the hell out of taxpayers and remind them why they’re Republicans. And if they were to stop this, there would be fewer taxpayer activists.”

His pal, Bush strategist Karl Rove, described him to The Post as “an impresario of the center-right.” He holds court at every-Wednesday gatherings in his Washington office. The S.C. Policy Council’s Ed McMullen, who attends whenever he’s in the capital, says other regulars include Reps. Jim DeMint and Joe Wilson and their staffs.

More relevantly to us, he is the man behind the no-new-taxes pledge that has been signed by President Bush, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Gov. Mark Sanford, Rep. DeMint and other Republicans in our House delegation, 15 members of the S.C. Senate and 51 members of the S.C. House, including Speaker David Wilkins. He’s the guy some leading S.C. politicians check with before supporting tax proposals.

For all of this, he is an unimposing figure, until you look into his eyes — and hear his words. He’s 47, but doesn’t look it. He’s a cherubic little round-faced guy who sports a brown beard that fails to make him look older. With his youthful, gray-free plumage, his rosy cheeks and the zealot gleam from behind his spectacles, he reminds me of Saul of Tarsus before the trip to Damascus. I could seem him holding the coats of the men who stoned Stephen — if Stephen were a liberal.

His purpose in visiting us, along with S.C. Association of Taxpayers leader Don Weaver, is, as near as I can tell, to persuade us to stop hammering S.C. pols who sign his loyalty oath.

(We believe elected representatives should go into office prepared to engage in debate with open minds. They should not tie their hands in advance with an oath never to do one thing or always to do another. This out-of-state group’s pledge is used as an excuse by our change-averse lawmakers not to reform our unfair and ineffective tax system.)

The message of Messrs. Norquist and Weaver was that this pledge is not to some Washington megalomaniac, but to the voters of South Carolina.

“The pledge is made to the citizens, the voters of the district. It’s not made to me; it’s not made to SCAT,” says Mr. Norquist, in a poor imitation of a humble man.

Obviously the editors were not impressed.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Lots of Phony Arrests During Hatefest on the Hudson

Just as the Bushies are having to release lots of people they're holding who aren't terrorists after all, the NYPD did not exactly cover itself with glory during Nuremburg on the Hudson:

Most of those arrested were held for more than two days without being arraigned, which a state Supreme Court judge ruled was a violation of legal guidelines. Defense attorneys predict a flood of civil lawsuits once protesters have settled the misdemeanor charges lodged against them.

"The overriding problem during the convention was the indiscriminate arrests . . . of people who did nothing wrong," Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said at a City Council hearing last week. "They were arrested because they were . . . participating in a lawful demonstration."

Hopefully this will turn into an expensive legal disaster for New York. Should teach them a lesson about cooperating with the Repugs.

An Important New Series

David Neiwert is starting an important new series over at Orcinus (and cross-posted at The American Street) on the rise of what he calls pseudo-fascism.

The "conservative movement," in the course of this mutation, has become something entirely new, a fresh political entity quite unlike we've ever seen before in our history, but one that at the same time seems somehow familiar, as though we have seen something like it.

What's become clear as this election year has progressed -- and especially in the wake of the Republican National Convention -- is the actual shape of this fresh beast.

Call it Pseudo Fascism. Or, if you like, Fascism Lite. Happy-Face Fascism. Postmodern Fascism. But there is little doubt anymore why the shape of the "conservative movement" in the 21st century is so familiar and disturbing: Its architecture, its entire structure, has morphed into a not-so-faint hologram of 20th-century fascism.

Vital reading. Check it out.

Hastert Joins the Threat Brigade

Over the weekend I saw an editorial cartoon of Dick Cheney promising that if you don't vote for Bush, al Queda will kill the puppy he's holding. That was a slight exaggeration, but that kind of Repug fearmongering continues:

At a campaign rally Saturday in his Illinois district with Vice President Dick Cheney, Hastert said al Qaeda "would like to influence this election" with an attack similar to the train bombings in Madrid days before the Spanish national election in March.

When a reporter asked Hastert if he thought al Qaeda would operate with more comfort if Kerry were elected, the speaker said, "That's my opinion, yes."

Considering how badly, how ineptly, the administration has conducted the war on terror, Osama bin Laden has probably been sending Bush campaign contributions. Why on earth would he want someone competent in office?

A Portrait of the Dubya as a Young Man

The NYT this morning takes a look at the mysterious "missing year" in George Bush's life. Prior to 1972, Bush was a very well-regarded pilot in his Air National Guard unit, flying the F-102 interceptor. His superiors considered him a skilled pilot and a natural leader. Then, something happened.

He abandoned his once-prized status as a National Guard pilot by failing to appear for a required physical. He sought temporary reassignment from the Texas Air National Guard to an Alabama unit but for six months did not show up for training. He signed on as an official in the losing campaign of a Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, and even there he left few impressions other than as an amiable bachelor with a good tennis game and a famous father.

"To say he brought in a bunch of initiatives and bright ideas," said a fellow campaign worker, Devere McLennan, "no he didn't."

And he participated in a campaign rife with dirty tricks that would make Karl Rove proud:

Mr. Bush, while missing months of the Guard duty that allowed him to avoid Vietnam, was the political director of the Blount campaign, which accused Mr. Sparkman - a hawk on the war - and the national Democrats of supporting "amnesty for all draft dodgers" and of showing "more concern for coddling deserters than for patriotic American young men who have lost their lives in Vietnam." In the last week of the race, the Blount campaign ran a radio advertisement using an edited recording of Mr. Sparkman that made him appear to support forced busing of schoolchildren, which he opposed.

What a surprise. But Bush's participation in the campaign was not exactly major:

"I asked Jimmy, 'What does Georgie do?' '' Mrs. Allison, 73, said in an interview, repeating the account she had given to Salon, the online publication. "He just said George had called him and told him that Georgie was having some difficulties in Houston. Big George thought it would be beneficial to the family and George Jr. for him to come to Alabama to work on the campaign with Jimmy."

There's nothing new or startling here. But it's good to see it in the NYT, all in one place.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Louisiana: Yet Another State Full of Dumb Bigots

So Louisiana, one of the third world nations that masquerade as states of the union, has joined the ranks of dumbass bigots by adding a gay marriage ban to their state constitution, proudly enshrining their bigotry for everyone to see. How long, I wonder, before straights realize that the way these laws are written are guaranteed to eventually bite them in the ass too?

John Rawls, a lawyer for Forum for Equality, reiterated the group's contention that the amendment does far more than stop gay marriage and that it could affect many private contracts between unmarried couples, gay or straight.

Almost all of these bigotry amendments are written in a similar way that essentially bans people who are not married from, for example, getting power of attorney for one another.

"Land of the free, home of the brave?" Uh uh. Land of the dumb, home of the bigots. Gosh, I'm so proud to be an American.

Arnie Tells Girlie Men Poor to Go Screw Themselves

What a surprise that the Gropenfuhrer would veto an increase in California's minimum wage. After all, if those girlie men poor people would just work harder, they'd all be wealthy bad actors like him, right?

Bill supporters said the minimum wage hasn't kept up with inflation, but Schwarzenegger said the legislation would have discouraged economic growth.

"Now is not the time to create barriers to our economic recovery or reverse the momentum we have generated," he said in a veto message. "I want to create more jobs and make every California job more secure."

Sure you do, Arnie, sure you do. When will the people of California wake up to the viper they've placed in their midst?

Scrap Voting Machines - Totally

When push comes to shove, the good old fashioned hand-marked ballot (either in its classic form or read in a new-fangled way by electronic scanners) wins hands-down for accuracy and resistence to election theft against the e-voting scam that has been shoveled down the throats of the American people.

After the 2000 election, a study by the Voting Technology Project, a joint effort by the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, took a hard look at the nation's voting systems. Using a measure of what they called "residual votes" - overcounting, undercounting or not counting votes for any reason - researchers found that two existing voting methods had produced relatively low error rates in the last four presidential elections: old-fashioned hand-counted paper ballots and optical scan systems.

But these two methods are remarkably resistent to scamming, so companies like Diebold - headed by a man who promised to deliver Ohio to Dubya - convinced Repugs everywhere that e-voting, a method of easily stealing elections and selling overpriced equipment to the taxpayers, was the way to go.

And so will go the 2004 election, very likely. Bush is behaving like the fix is in. It probably is.

Saturday, September 18, 2004


It was inevitable once the Repugs realized that the dumb, amiable, Nazi-sired Schwarzenegger could win an election; they want to run the bastard for President. But first, of course, they need to amend the Constitution using the whiny claim that the requirement that a president be native born is just soooo unfair to all those "noble" immigrants we have flooding in. Don't be fooled by the "fairness" plaint. STAMP THIS DOWN:

Currently, the Constitution bars foreigners from making a run for the White House.

That would change under an amendment introduced by California Republican Dana Rohrabacher. The congressman's proposal would allow anyone who's been a U.S. citizen for 20 years to run for the nation's highest office.

That would include California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He became a citizen in 1983, and has said he supports amending the Constitution so foreign-born citizens can run for president. But he's sidestepped questions about whether he might want to run.

But Rohrabacher insists it’s not a ploy and that the candidate he really wants to see is a 76-year-old House Democrat from Hungary.

Rohrabacher said he believes Tom Lantos should be able to seek the highest office in the land. Lantos has served in the House for more than two decades. He said he is flattered but sees no need to amend the Constitution.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

And if you believe Rohrabacher, I have a bridge to sell you. Stamp it out. Stamp it OUT. (via)

Tax Breaks for Wealthy Parasites, Not for Teachers

While the rich get richer and filthier in the smoking remains of the United States, President Caligula tells teachers and students to go to hell:

If Doreen Seelig pocketed all the money she has spent on classroom supplies over 35 years as a teacher -- the printer cartridges, the paper, the pencils and the paperback books lent to her Venice High School students -- she figures she would have a new car by now.

Now, as the new school year gets under way, the burden on Seelig and other teachers around the country is even heavier.

Because of a budget crunch, California has suspended a tax credit that reimbursed teachers up to $1,500 for classroom supplies. Meanwhile, a $250 federal tax deduction for teachers that helped defray out-of-pocket spending expired this year.

This is the truth of what the sneering, smirking, posing, capering Chimp says when he shrieks to the Repug faithful that the rich cheat on taxes and the rest of us pay. He's right. The filthy rich support his campaigns, and the rest of us, schoolkids included, get screwed.

The tax rate should be what it was under Eisenhower. Top rate: 90%. And we still had plenty of rich people.

Americans are Butt Stupid

The American Revolution was a bloody tragedy, and it gets more evident by the day. How else to explain the monstrous, stinking stupidity that infects the body politic?

In one particularly troublesome sign for Mr. Kerry, a majority of voters said he was spending too much time attacking Mr. Bush and talking about the past, rather than explaining what he would do as president. In contrast, half of the registered voters said Mr. Bush had offered a clear vision of what he wanted to do in a second term.

In fact, it's just the opposite. Kerry has talked a great deal about second term plans, while his stupid opponent keeps offering vague generalities about his "ownership society" (i.e., the rich own the rest of us).

More than 60 percent of respondents said Mr. Kerry was either "hiding something" or "mostly lying" in discussing his service in Vietnam.

Incredible. The Swift Boat Bullshit stuck. These dimwits will literally accept anything.

Sixty percent of respondents said they did not have confidence in Mr. Kerry to deal wisely with an international crisis; that is a jump from 52 percent in June. By contrast, 48 percent said they were uneasy with Mr. Bush's ability to manage a foreign crisis.

This in spite of the fact that Bush's ability to "manage a foreign crisis" consists of stalking around in a flight suit and barking "Mission accomplished!" and "Bring 'em on!" while the children of the poor are butchered in the streets of Iraq.

About 80 percent of respondents said that Mr. Bush was either "hiding something" or "mostly lying" in talking about the war in Iraq.

Then why are you voting for him, dumbshits?

Save money. A lot of us may have to leave the country come November. If Americans will fall for Bush's crap, they'll fall for anything. Death camps. Endless war. You name it. It happened in Germany 71 years ago, and it's happening again here.

And yes, I feel hopeless.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Bush and Laura - Still Smoking?

We know that the Bushies were heap big dopers before they "found God" and "cleaned up." But are they still smoking the wacky weed? Historian Frances Fukuyama thinks so:

"I think that anybody that thinks that you can hold elections in the Sunni Triangle by the end of January is really smoking something," military historian Frank Fukuyama said.

Wooooo, that's good stuff.

Bush has been told that the lid is coming off, but he doesn't care, and the evidence is increasing that the American people - fat, dumb, lazy, greedy - don't either, or at least won't until the hill of corpses the Iraq war has so far produced turns into Everest:

And the Pentagon also admits the insurgency in Iraq is growing in both size and sophistication, and as a result, the number of U.S. war dead -- now over 1,025 -- is climbing at a faster rate than any time since major combat ended.

But the pipe keeps circulating. This administration has the same kind of inability to face reality that infected the Fuhrerbunker:

The Bush administration, however, continues to argue publicly the U.S. is making good progress in Iraq, with the President saying Thursday that "freedom is on the march" in Iraq, citing scheduled elections in January next year.

Cheech and Chong, the White House is calling.

"Defiant Trespass"

Since when has telling the truth become a crime in the United States? Bingo, since the Chimp stole the election. Yesterday while his wife, vehicular homicide dope-source Laura, was speaking, someone dared to stand up in opposition and was treated like a criminal by the bully boys who surround Caligula and his worthless family:

The mother of a soldier killed in Iraq was arrested Thursday after interrupting a campaign speech by first lady Laura Bush. As police hauled her away, she shouted, "Police brutality."

Wearing a T-shirt with the message "President Bush You Killed My Son," Sue Niederer of nearby Hopewell screamed questions at the first lady as the audience tried to drown her out by chanting, "Four more years! Four more years!"

She pressed on, refused to leave and eventually police removed her from the firehouse rally.
The first lady finished her speech, praising the administration's achievements in the war on terror and the economy.

Outside, Niederer said she wanted to ask Laura Bush "Why the senators, the legislators, the congressmen, why aren't their children serving?"

That's a damn good question, isn't it? But the chickenhawks, the morons chanting "Four More Years!" don't go, they just sit on their fat asses watching other people's children die to provide their entertainment.

As the Hamilton police and Secret Service agents surrounded her and reporters pressed her with questions, she held her ground, claiming "I had my ticket" to attend the speech by the first lady.

Police subsequently handcuffed her and she was led away to a nearby van. As she was escorted, she repeatedly shouted "Police brutality" and demanded to know her rights and the charges.

Later, she was charged with defiant trespass and released.

In other words, don't tell the truth around the Chimp and his family. They can't handle it.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

New Debris Found

A new piece of debris from Columbia has been found near Lufkin, Texas, and evidently is part of the crew cabin. More debris undoubtedly remains to be found in the future, including at least two fuel tanks that should have survived reentry but were never located, and the right main gear strut, which also probably should have survived but was never found.


This morning I mentioned that a retired American general had compared Iraq to Stalingrad. Today, the well known Socialist lefty rag Financial Times prints this:

US military officers in Baghdad have warned they cannot guarantee the security of the perimeter around the Green Zone, the headquarters of the Iraqi government and home to the US and British embassies, according to security company employees.

At a briefing earlier this month, a high-ranking US officer in charge of the zone's perimeter said he had insufficient soldiers to prevent intruders penetrating the compound's defences.
The US major said it was possible weapons or explosives had already been stashed in the zone, and warned people to move in pairs for their own safety. The Green Zone, in Baghdad's centre, is one of the most fortified US installations in Iraq. Until now, militants have not been able to penetrate it.

But insurgency has escalated this week, spreading to the centre of Baghdad. The zone is home to several thousand Iraqis, and on Sunday it came under the heaviest attack since it was established. Up to 60 unexploded rockets were found inside its perimeters after a five-hour barrage.

An attack killing hundreds of Americans in the Green Zone is now not possible but probable. And let's see Caligula explain that. (via Dan Drezner, who continues to drift towards Kerry, dismayed).

Good Lord

German radio has started a service in, get this, Klingon:

The German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) is celebrating 10 years of its online service by adding a new language to the 30 it already publishes - Klingon.

The language was developed for the Star Trek television and film series and is spoken by a warrior race of alien bad-guys from the planet Qo'noS.

In a futuristic leap, the Klingon pages appear on DW's web site under the date "September 2379", and describe Germany and the radio station at the start of the 21st Century.

The Berlin Wall has fallen, the Cold War has ended and Klingons - once the sworn enemies of Star Trek hero Captain Kirk - are now accepted as allies in the new world order.

And it is in this spirit that DW has launched its Klingon service.

And, for those of you who speak Klingon, here's the link.

Acting Like Stormtroopers

This kind of Gestapo garbage does not help win hearts and minds:

The Iraqi known as "The Source" slipped the borrowed U.S. military fatigues over his clothes in the back of the armored personnel carrier. He donned a black ski mask that covered everything but his eyes.

He stepped out of the back of the vehicle and addressed the interpreter who would in turn address the company commander who would lead the search for terrorists this day.

"The village. He wants you to arrest all the men in the village," the interpreter told Army Capt. Eric Beaty, commander of Company C, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment.

"They're all bad?" Beaty asked.

The interpreter consulted The Source. "Yes, all bad," he said.

Yes, all bad, probably all opposed to the incoming puppet government. It gets worse:

The men fanned out and headed for buildings on the other side of the field. A half-dozen soldiers punched through the door of a two-room mud house. Nineteen women and children huddled together in the shade of the courtyard while the soldiers searched for weapons.

Two soldiers came to a large cabinet containing scattered clothes, small teacups, a small Winnie the Pooh doll and a large stack of blankets. The men poked their guns into the blankets on the top shelf and they began to fall. The soldiers scoured the jumble, then left.

Outside the house, other soldiers had seven men lined up facing the mud wall surrounding the house. Two of the detainees massaged prayer beads as the soldiers fitted them with plastic flexible handcuffs and blindfolds. Some wore trousers, others white gowns.

"You have the right to remain silent," one soldier told an uncomprehending detainee in English. "Anything you say will result in a punch in the face."

Ha ha, just like a movie with Arnie! It gets worse:

"All of the village, they are terrorists," The Source told two journalists after he finished.

Asked how he knew, he said: "I have one guy here, and he passed along the information to me."

Asked how he could be sure, he said: "Yes, they are terrorists. They all have the long beard. They had the beard, but some of them they shaved."

The Source declined to give his name. He then asked: "Is the commander going to pay me any money? If you are an informant, they are supposed to give you money."


CNN Gets Caught

Get this:

Bush received an honorable discharge, which has not been in dispute.

In fact it is in dispute, because as the records stand Lt. Shirker didn't rate one.

Street Without Joy

A friend of mine who is in military intelligence argues that the situation in Iraq isn't as bad as it seems. I'd trust his information a little more if he wasn't a die-hard conservative, because it becomes more evident every day that Iraq is not Vietnam, it may be worse. Sidney Blumenthal:

...according to the US military's leading strategists and prominent retired generals, Bush's war is already lost. Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, told me: "Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost." He adds: "Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends."

Retired general Joseph Hoare, the former marine commandant and head of US Central Command, told me: "The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options. We're conducting a campaign as though it were being conducted in Iowa, no sense of the realities on the ground. It's so unrealistic for anyone who knows that part of the world. The priorities are just all wrong."

Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College, said: "I see no ray of light on the horizon at all. The worst case has become true. There's no analogy whatsoever between the situation in Iraq and the advantages we had after the second world war in Germany and Japan."

Indeed there is not, and recommended reading for you is The Conquerors by Michael Beschloss, a really fascinating in-depth account of the infighting within the Roosevelt administration on what to do in Germany after World War II was won. It's pretty evident - brutally so - that no thinking on the occupation whatsoever occupied the tiny minds of the morons who planned this unnecessary and foolish war.

After the killing of four US contractors in Fallujah, the marines besieged the city for three weeks in April - the watershed event for the insurgency. "I think the president ordered the attack on Fallujah," said General Hoare. "I asked a three-star marine general who gave the order to go to Fallujah and he wouldn't tell me. I came to the conclusion that the order came directly from the White House." Then, just as suddenly, the order was rescinded, and Islamist radicals gained control, using the city as a base.

"If you are a Muslim and the community is under occupation by a non-Islamic power it becomes a religious requirement to resist that occupation," Terrill explained. "Most Iraqis consider us occupiers, not liberators." He describes the religious imagery common now in Fallujah and the Sunni triangle: "There's talk of angels and the Prophet Mohammed coming down from heaven to lead the fighting, talk of martyrs whose bodies are glowing and emanating wonderful scents."

"I see no exit," said Record. "We've been down that road before. It's called Vietnamisation. The idea that we're going to have an Iraqi force trained to defeat an enemy we can't defeat stretches the imagination. They will be tainted by their very association with the foreign occupier. In fact, we had more time and money in state building in Vietnam than in Iraq."

General Odom said: "This is far graver than Vietnam. There wasn't as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we're in a region far more volatile, and we're in much worse shape with our allies."

Terrill believes that any sustained US military offensive against the no-go areas "could become so controversial that members of the Iraqi government would feel compelled to resign". Thus, an attempted military solution would destroy the slightest remaining political legitimacy. "If we leave and there's no civil war, that's a victory."

General Hoare believes from the information he has received that "a decision has been made" to attack Fallujah "after the first Tuesday in November. That's the cynical part of it - after the election. The signs are all there."

He compares any such planned attack to the late Syrian dictator Hafez al-Asad's razing of the rebel city of Hama. "You could flatten it," said Hoare. "US military forces would prevail, casualties would be high, there would be inconclusive results with respect to the bad guys, their leadership would escape, and civilians would be caught in the middle. I hate that phrase collateral damage. And they talked about dancing in the street, a beacon for democracy."

These are not flakey lefties Blumenthal is quoting, they're military men, guys who really have gone and got shot at, unlike the Bush and the fools around him. General Odom compares it to Stalingrad.

Alabama Gets Whacked

They voted not to raise taxes on the rich to help themselves, this third world nation within America. Seems God is displeased. Say hello to Ivan, Alabama.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Hi, I'm a Hick!

Eric Alterman doesn't do himself any favors when he writes whiny bullshit like this:

You people in the Midwest are very nice, and friendly, and I appreciate your hospitality, but why do you not have Internet connections in your airports? You say you have wireless but that's a lie. Would it really be so hard to set up a few computers? Wouldn’t you even make a little money on it? Given how far away you all seem to live from the airport, you probably find yourselves spending a lot of time there, what with having to factor in traffic and all, and not being able to take off because there’s a little bit of fog. They tell me Minnesota is a swing state. If that’s true, then Kerry really is screwed.

Gosh, it's just not New York! Waaahhh, life is so flipping haaarrrrdddd out in the boondocks. Get a life, Eric. I live in the Midwest, and I like it here.


A typist who worked for the Texas ANG comments that the questioned documents - there's really only one that's dubious in appearance - weren't typed by her but, get this, they reflect documents she did type. Now there's a thing that makes you go hmmmm (free subscription required).

The former secretary for the Texas Air National Guard officer who supposedly wrote memos critical of President Bush's Guard service said Tuesday that the documents are fake but that they reflect documents that once existed.

Marian Carr Knox, who worked from 1957 to 1979 at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, said that she prided herself on meticulous typing and that the memos first disclosed by CBS News last week were not her work.

"These are not real," she told The Dallas Morning News after examining copies of the disputed memos for the first time. "They're not what I typed, and I would have typed them for him."

Mrs. Knox, 86, who spoke with precise recollection about dates, people and events, said, "I remember very vividly when Bush was there and all the yak-yak that was going on about it."

She added that she does not support Mr. Bush as president, deeming him "unfit for office" and "selected, not elected."

And, as a good typist should, Marian Knox knows her typewriters:

She said the typeface on the documents did not match either of the two typewriters that she used during her time with the Guard. She identified those machines as a mechanical Olympia typewriter and the IBM Selectric that replaced it in the early 1970s.

She spoke fondly of the Olympia, which she said had a key with the "th" superscript character that has been the focus of much debate in the CBS memos.

Beyond that issue, experts have said that the Selectric and mechanical typewriters such as the Olympia could not produce the proportional spacing found in the disputed documents.

Mrs. Knox said she was sure the documents were not direct transcriptions because the language and terminology did not match what Col. Killian would have used.

For instance, she said, the use of the words "billets" and a reference to the "administrative officer" of Mr. Bush's squadron reflect Army terminology rather than that of the Air National Guard. Some news reports attribute the CBS reports to a former Army National Guard officer who has a long-standing dispute with the Guard and who has previously maintained that the president's record was sanitized.

Mrs. Knox also cited stylistic differences in the form of the notes, such as the signature on the right side of the document, rather than the left, where she would have put it.

Mrs. Knox said she did all of Col. Killian's typing, including memos for a personal "cover his back" file he kept in a locked drawer of his desk.

She said that the culture of the time was that men didn't type office-related documents, and she expressed doubt that Col. Killian would have typed the memos. She said she would typically type his memos from his handwritten notes, which she would then destroy.

She said that although she did not recall typing the memos reported by CBS News, they accurately reflect the viewpoints of Col. Killian and documents that would have been in the personal file. Also, she said she didn't know whether the CBS documents corresponded memo for memo with that file.

"The information in here was correct, but it was picked up from the real ones," she said. "I probably typed the information and somebody picked up the information some way or another."

Now the Repugs are screaming with joy over this, but reread what Knox said: "The information in here was correct, but it was picked up from the real ones. I probably typed the information and somebody picked up the information some way or another."

Which means, of course, that the real memos - memos just as damning, maybe more so - are still waiting out there. And that the Shrub is still a shirker.

UPDATE: The NYT now has an article up about this as well. It occurs to me that what we may be looking at are copies, of a sort. It's not impossible that someone who didn't have easy access to a copy machine might have sat down at a typewriter or computer and copied/summarized the documents he wanted to have records of, or summed them up from notes. That person may have been Bill Burkett, who has surfaced in the Shrub TANG story before. He claims to have been present when Bush's files were being "purged." Is this information from some of the documents that were thrown out, copied and summarized in a hurry?

Kristof on the Bush Guard Issue

Nick Kristof writes well today on the arguments over Dubya's service in the National Guard:

President Bush's paramount problem with his National Guard years is not that he took shortcuts in 1972. The problem is that he still refuses to come clean about it.

Indeed. He's hardly the only person who took that route during Vietnam. Kristof goes on, in a digression, to claim that the CBS documents are "suspicious." I would argue that one thing that makes them not suspicious is that they merely confirm what everyone already knew. Surely if someone wanted to forge a document about Dubya's Guard career, they would have made it absolutely damning. But I digress too.

It's pretty clear that Mr. Bush got into the Guard because of his name but did a fine job in his first few years. "He was rock-solid as a pilot," Dean Roome, a pilot in the same unit who was briefly Mr. Bush's roommate, told me. Mr. Roome adds that Mr. Bush inquired in 1970 about the possibility of transferring to Vietnam but was turned down - and, if so, that's a credit to him.

Then, in 1972, something went badly wrong. My hunch is that Mr. Bush went through personal difficulties that he's embarrassed to talk about today. In addition, Mr. Roome suggests that changes at the Texas air base were making it more difficult for junior pilots, so sometimes Mr. Bush's only chance to fly was as a target for student pilots - not the most thrilling duty.

For whatever reason, Mr. Bush's performance ratings deteriorated, he skipped his flight physical, he stopped flying military planes forever, he transferred to Alabama, and he did not report to certain drills there as ordered. The pilots I interviewed who were in Alabama then are pretty sure that Mr. Bush was a no-show at required drills.

The next year Mr. Bush skipped off to Harvard Business School. He still had almost another year in the Guard he had promised to serve, but he drifted away, after taxpayers had spent $1 million training him, and he never entirely fulfilled his obligations.

Kristof concludes that a Bush living in a glass house shouldn't be throwing stones - particularly not, I might add, at a man who went and shed blood for his country. Dubya could do a lot to put this behind him by simply being upfront and honest.

But that's not his style. Never has been.

Taxing Work, Rewarding Parasitism

If you think Bush's love of oligarchy is just a pose, check out his "ownership society." This is truly part of his plan to dig a tunnel back to the Ninth Century. A small percentage of the population will "own" everything - including you, twenty first century peasant. The NYT is not impressed:

But in tax terms, "ownership society" means only one thing: the further reduction, if not the elimination, of taxes on savings and investments, including taxes on dividends and on capital gains on stocks, bonds and real estate. That, in turn, means - by definition - a shift in the tax burden onto wages and salary - or, put more simply, a wage tax.

The regressive results would be appalling. The richest 1 percent of Americans earn just about one-tenth of total wages and salary, but almost half of all income from savings and investments - income that would be largely, perhaps entirely, untaxed in an "ownership society." In contrast, taxable wages and salary make up almost all of the income of most Americans.

The Bush camp has been floating the idea that what the president is getting at is a consumption tax. But the administration is not talking about a true consumption tax, which would apply to spending regardless of where the money comes from - from your paycheck, cashing in your stocks and bonds, selling your house, or borrowing. It is, in effect, talking about a tax on wages.

Properly understood, a consumption tax is intended to increase national savings by making it relatively more attractive to save than to spend. The main argument against it is that it hits hardest at low-income and middle-income families, who tend to spend most of what they earn. But as Peter Orszag, an economist at the Brookings Institution, pointed out in a recent speech at Georgetown University, Mr. Bush's de facto wage tax would be the worst of all worlds: it would have all the regressive aspects of a consumption tax and none of its potential for increasing national savings.
In the past nearly three years of economic recovery, the distribution of economic growth has become more skewed than at any other time in modern memory. Currently, 47 percent of growth is flowing to corporate profits, by far the largest share during any of the other eight post-World War II recoveries. Fifteen percent goes to wages and salary, the smallest share of economic growth in more than 50 years. To make matters worse, the share of compensation that is devoted to health and pension benefits is far larger during this recovery than any other, representing a further squeeze on the wages and salaries of ordinary Americans. In 2004, take-home pay as a share of the economy dropped to its lowest level since the government started keeping records in 1929.

All of this would make the drive for a wage tax laughable, if only it were a joke. And yet, when he says "ownership society," a wage tax is exactly what Mr. Bush is driving at.

We don't need a rentier class in this country. That's one of the things we fought a Revolution over. Show Bush the door or be owned. It's simple.

Do Americans Want a Blow-Up Dummy?

It's increasingly being argued that this election is a referendum - perhaps the only referendum, if Bush wins or resteals - on American democracy. Evidently, there are a stunning number of Americans who prefer a benign dictatorship, like that of Caesar Octavian, who was called, for reasons of flattery, Augustus. After killing all of his rivals in the civil wars that followed the murder of his uncle Julius Caesar, and incidentally getting rid of tiresome supporters of the Republic like Marcus Tullius Cicero, Octavian established a government with the forms and names of the old Republic, but which was in fact a dictatorship. This is what Bush and those around him clearly plan. Their new Amerika will still be called a Republic, will still have the forms of the Republic, but will be an oligarchy with a not over-bright figurehead like Dubya in charge (it's wacky but true that Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy theorized that a president should draw attention away from the true sources of power).

If you want a Republic that truly is a Republic, however flawed it is in execution, you will vote for John Kerry. If you want a dictatorship headed by a blow-up doll with a string-pull voicebox that on command produces platitudes like "Bring 'em on!" and "Mission accomplished!" and sends young people overseas to die in wars for profit, you will - foolishly - support Bush.

And someday you will regret it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Brownshirt Tactics

As the Bushies march on, lustily singing the Horst Wessel song, they continue to shit on democracy. Not that they care. They're busy trying to establish a permanent oligarchy in this country, insulated from taxes and other responsibilities, and slamming the rest of us back into peasantry. If you disagree, your job may be in danger:

Lynne Gobbell never imagined the cost of a John Kerry-John Edwards bumper sticker could run so high.

Gobbell of Moulton didn't pay a cent for the sticker that she proudly displays on the rear windshield of her Chevrolet Lumina, but said it cost her job at a local factory after it angered her boss, Phil Gaddis.

Gaddis, a Decatur bankruptcy attorney, owns Enviromate, a cellulose insulation company in Moulton.

Gaddis did not return phone calls from THE DAILY about the alleged Thursday firing.
"We were going back to work from break, and my manager told me that Phil said to remove the sticker off my car or I was fired," she said. "I told him that Phil couldn't tell me who to vote for. He said, 'Go tell him.' "

She went to Gaddis' office, knocked on the door and entered on his orders.

"Phil and another man who works there were there," she said. "I asked him if he said to remove the sticker and he said, 'Yes, I did.' I told him he couldn't tell me who to vote for. When I told him that, he told me, 'I own this place.' I told him he still couldn't tell me who to vote for."
Gobbell said Gaddis told her to "get out of here."

"I asked him if I was fired and he told me he was thinking about it," she said. "I said, 'Well, am I fired?' He hollered and said, 'Get out of here and shut the door.' "

She said her manager was standing in another room and she asked him if that meant for her to go back to work or go home. The manager told her to go back to work, but he came back a few minutes later and said, " 'I reckon you're fired. You could either work for him or John Kerry,' " Gobbell said.

"I took off my gloves and threw them in the garbage and left," Gobbell said.
"I would like to find another job, but I would take that job back because I need to work," she said. "It upset me and made me mad that he could put a letter in my check expressing his (political) opinion, but I can't put something on my car expressing mine."

She was referring to a flier that she said Gaddis placed in employee envelopes to remind them of the positive impact that President Bush's policies have had on them. An employee at the plant who would not identify himself confirmed the contents of the letter.

Gobbell provided a copy of the flier. It says:

"Just so you will know, because of the Bush tax (cut):
I was able to buy the new Hammer Mill
I was able to finance our receivables
I was able to get the new CAT skid steer
I was able to get the wire cutter
I was able to give you a job"
It further says:

"You got the benefit of the Bush tax cut. Everyone did."

Sieg heil!

This is what average Repugs think about free speech: it applies to them. If you have friends who you're having problems getting out to vote, send them this article. Then ask if they want to live under people who will determine what they say, what they think, what music they listen to. They may think that politics does not affect them. It does. (via)

Monday, September 13, 2004

As Usual, David Neiwert Has the Goods

The redoubtable David Neiwert, always an active defender of liberty from the brownshirts, has the goods on the phony "forgery" scandal over at Orcinus. Here are a few tasty bits to get you to go over there and check it out:

The frantic nature of these claims is essentially a concession to the deeply damning nature of the documents in question. What all their frothing is intended to do, of course, is give them something, anything, to talk about other than the contents of the Killian memos. (See, for instance, the preoccupation of certain bloggers with the "forgery" claims, and the distinct lack of interest in the documents' actual content.)

I was especially amused by tuning in to local right-wing radio in Seattle. When Kirby Wilbur of KVI-AM denounced the documents Friday as "a fraud" and "a scam," you could practically hear the veins popping in his forehead. Dori "I never heard right-wing bullshit yet that I wouldn't swallow whole" Monson of KIRO rhapsodized at length about how blogs had done such a great job of "fact checking" the story, while of course neglecting to mention that it was blogs like this one that had kept the story about Bush's Guard service alive in the first place. Funny, too, how quickly guys like Monson were willing to pick up on data from right wing blogs regarding this story, while those on the left side of the aisle who've been blogging about this matter for more than a year have gone largely unnoticed.

That's pretty much a Barry Bonds homer there, but it gets better:

One of the problems with the critics' claims that really leaps out at anyone familiar with document authentication is the fact that every single one of the "experts" they cite has only been able to work from computer-generated copies of the documents available on the Web. That these "experts" are willing to make these condemnatory pronouncements of "forgery" without examining the original documents from which CBS worked is just a stunning piece of unprofessional behavior, and strongly suggestive of a partisan motivation. As Lambert at Corrente points out, these "experts" are clearly stepping beyond the ethical code governing their profession.

Moreover, there really shouldn't even be any reason to doubt the existence of certain of the CBS documents in question, especially the document showing the orders for Bush's suspension dated Aug. 1. This document almost certainly should exist, since previously released documents (referrring, in fact, to "verbal orders of the Comdr on 1 Aug 72") demonstrate with utter clarity that Bush was suspended from flying early August, including paperwork generated by the suspension.Another of the documents shows that Killian issued a direct order to Bush to obtain his physical. Again, the existence of this document shouldn't be controversial, since obtaining such an exam is in fact a standing direct order for all Guardsmen anyway, and Killian was obligated to issue a direct order of this sort when Bush failed to do so.

Exactly. As I've argued too, these documents are not smashing in their originality, as forgeries probably would be, they are confirmation only. And, as David adds, MS Word was designed, surprise, to mimic the IBM Selectric, so its no surprise at all that the documents involved can be mimicked pretty efficiently in Word.

Check it out, and make Orcinus one of your regular blogstops. You won't be sorry.

And What's Really Weird... the post I just put up on TNR published in Verdana. OK, whatever, or, as South Knox Bubba says philosophically, OK, then.

Changing Typefaces

I've been publishing my posts in Verdana, which is an easy to read face designed for the Web, but for now I'm going to be posting in Times New Roman not out of solidarity with the Bush is a Deserter memos, but because Blogger's choice of typefaces feature creates so much junk HTML that proofing posts is damn near impossible. I just spent half an hour on flipping Bill Safire, and the bastard isn't worth it.

If It's Against You, It's a Forgery. If It's For You, It's Obviously True!

The right wing have been busily placing their trust in the asinine squad of Swift Boat Asswipes while denying that documents that basically do nothing other than prove what everyone knows about President Shirker just HAVE to be forgeries because of their lese majeste against His High Mightiness, the Chimperor Who We Must Pretend is Clothed. Former Nixon speechwriter William Safire - and HE can tell a lie from the truth?! - is the latest to weigh in:

Alert bloggers who knew the difference between the product of old typewriters and new word processors immediately suspected a hoax: the "documents" presented by CBS News suggesting preferential treatment in Lt. George W. Bush's National Guard service have all the earmarks of forgeries.

Sure, if you're dealing with lunatic right-wing bloggers. How about talking to PC Magazine about that?

The copies of copies of copies that formed the basis for the latest charges were supposedly typed by Guard officer Jerry Killian three decades ago and placed in his "personal" file. But it is the default typeface of Microsoft Word, highly unlikely to have been used by that Texas colonel, who died in 1984. His widow says he could hardly type and his son warned CBS that the memos were not real.

Of course Times New Roman is a typeface available in MS Word. It was also an available typeface on the IBM Selectric typewriters of the time (see PC Magazine, above). As for Colonel Doofus not typing, HELLO, HE HAD A SECRETARY. And my dad, who was in the National Guard at the same time, was a pretty good single-finger typist. Killian may have been as well.

The Associated Press focused on the suspicion first voiced by a blogger on the Web site about modern "superscripts" that include a raised th after a number. CBS, on the defense, claimed that "some models" of typewriters of the 70's could do that trick, and some Texas Air National Guard documents released by the White House included it.

Oh yeah, I'll trust the frigging Freepers ANY DAY. Guess what, Bill; IBM Selectrics could indeed form superscripts. Superscripts are not a modern invention, believe it or not. Here's an IBM expert quoted in TIME Magazine, via Daily Kos:

Bill Glennon, a technology consultant in New York City who worked for IBM repairing typewriters from 1973 to 1985, says those experts "are full of crap. They just don't know." Glennon says there were IBM machines capable of producing the spacing, and a customized key -- the likes of which he says were not unusual -- could have created the superscript th.

What's funniest is Safire ought to know better, and probably does, except that all the Repugs are required to lie for the Shirker; like many professional writers, he probably used an IBM Selectric. That, my friends, and take it from one who did a lot of typewriting, is the Cadillac of typewriters, and a lot of pros used it by choice.

Hate to bring this up, Bill, but the documents have a decent chance of being genuine, and Dubya was - and is - a bloody minded liar and coward.