Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Bush the Capering Idiot

No comment, just check out the photo as our necrophile in chief celebrates Memorial Day.

Correction: This photo was evidently taken at the White House. He still looks like a bloody idiot.

Fit for Fertilizer

Went and saw Star Wars III yesterday. What a stinking pile of crap, and I'm a fan. It's a long toy advertisement masquerading as movie, and it left me utterly and totally unmoved. Shame.

He's a Dick All Right

What a pity that Dick Cheney is offended by claims of prisoner abuse at our charming little luxury stalag at Gitmo:

“Frankly, I was offended by it,” Cheney said in the videotaped interview. “For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don’t take them seriously.”

You know, I'm offended too. I'm offended that that place exists. I'm offended by the way we treat prisoners, there and in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than that, I'm ashamed. Not a feeling that ever afflicts Dick Cheney.

What a Surprise

Just as the Downing Street memo prompted little response from the mainstream press, the "RAF memo" I mentioned below is receiving none as well. I found all of five mentions - five - on Google News, one of them in a conservative blog denegrating the memo.

Evidently we deserve the horror we are bringing down on ourselves. Atrios reminds us usefully of the inane screeching of the right at a consensual blowjob. Evidently a bit of illicit sex was a hell of a lot more newsworthy than planning aggressive war and torturing prisoners.

Monday, May 30, 2005

We Hanged Germans for This

While our necrophile President went tripping happily amongst the graves of brave men and women at Arlington, more evidence surfaced that George W. Bush and his mindless pal Tony Blair did their level best (via) to fan the Iraq problem into a full-bore war:

THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.
The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive.

The details follow the leak to The Sunday Times of minutes of a key meeting in July 2002 at which Blair and his war cabinet discussed how to make “regime change” in Iraq legal.

Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary, told the meeting that “the US had already begun ‘spikes of activity’ to put pressure on the regime”.

The new information, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, shows that the allies dropped twice as many bombs on Iraq in the second half of 2002 as they did during the whole of 2001, and that the RAF increased their attacks even more quickly than the Americans did.

During 2000, RAF aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone over Iraq dropped 20.5 tons of bombs from a total of 155 tons dropped by the coalition, a mere 13%. During 2001 that figure rose slightly to 25 tons out of 107, or 23%.

However, between May 2002 and the second week in November, when the UN Security Council passed resolution 1441, which Goldsmith said made the war legal, British aircraft dropped 46 tons of bombs a month out of a total of 126.1 tons, or 36%.

By October, with the UN vote still two weeks away, RAF aircraft were dropping 64% of bombs falling on the southern no-fly zone.

Tommy Franks, the allied commander, has since admitted this operation was designed to “degrade” Iraqi air defences in the same way as the air attacks that began the 1991 Gulf war.

It was not until November 8 that the UN security council passed resolution 1441, which threatened Iraq with “serious consequences” for failing to co-operate with the weapons inspectors.

I think we have enough evidence to charge Bush and Blair with at least 2 of the counts used at Nuremberg, viz:

(a) Crimes against Peace: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a Common Plan or Conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;
(b) War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

Crimes against Peace and War Crimes. Why do we tolerate these people, the kind of bastards we once hanged, amongst us?

And the graves at Arlington continue to fill.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Quandary!

What do you do with a dead passenger on an airplane? Much discussion at Airliners.net this morning....

Several Chinese media reports came through yesterday and today, which publicly revealed a passenger [believed to be a Chinese national] was dead during the flight after 'unsuccessful attempts' to save him on United Airlines' flight UA889 from San Francisco to Beijing on 25th May 2005. According to media reports, the incident happened roughly 2 hours after take-off.

Right after the passenger was dead, crew members decided to storage his body in one of rear toilets inflight and blocked that particular toilet by metres long of adhesive tape. During this process, several passengers questioned the crew members on their decision and thought it was unjustifiable for the crew members to treat the dead body in such a manner shows very little respect. However, crew members defended their decision and warned passengers who've questioned them if they continue to do so, they would be considered as 'obstructing inflight order'.

Additionally, the flight was continued its journey onto Beijing and the dead body was only being removed from the rear cabin toilet by the relevant local authority after flight UA889 arrived in Beijing at around 4pm on 26th May 2005 (local time).

Right now, this incident has generated heating public debates in China and it caused some outrages amongst the general public as well. So, just wonder what do you guys think? Should the crew members handled the situation differently?

Gee, what would YOU do?! Read the ensuing chatter; it's pretty wacky.

Ohio Coin Scandal

If the Democrats don't take the ongoing Ohio coin scandal and run with it to victory in 2006, they deserve to lose. This is only the tip of Republican corruption in this state, and it's looking worse every day. The Toledo Blade have been doing a yeoman's job keeping up with the scandal; it's the place for the latest.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Imperial Presidency

The WP figures out what we've already realized; although a lot of us, including myself, reflexively tend to think about Germany 1933 when the Bushies get up to something inane, we're really much closer to the Rome of Octavian Caesar:

The transformation started in the House in the 1990s and intensified with Bush's 2000 election. The result has been a stronger president working with a compliant and streamlined Congress to push the country, and the courts, in a more conservative direction, according to historians, government scholars, and current and former federal officials.

Some of the changes, such as a more powerful executive branch, less powerful rank-and-file members of Congress and more pro-Republican courts, are likely to outlast the current president and GOP majority, they say. The Republican bid to ban the filibustering of judges made it easier for Bush to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court and holds open the threat of future attempts to erode the most powerful tool available to the minority party in Congress.

"Every president grabs for more power. What's different it seems to me is the acquiescence of Congress," said former representative Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.), a government scholar at the Aspen Institute.

Octavian created the Roman Empire by maintaining the form of the Republic. There was still a senate, still consuls. SPQR was still chiseled on every monument. The fact that the system was completely under his control was deferentially not mentioned. Gibbon:

...the system of the Imperial government as it was constituted by Augustus and maintained by those princes who understood their own interest and that of the people, it may be defined an absolute monarchy disguised by the forms of a commonwealth. The masters of the Roman world surrounded their throne with darkness, concealed their irresistable strength, and humbly professed themselves the accountable ministers of the senate, whose supreme decrees they dictated and obeyed."

The founders of our Republic read their Gibbon too and they well knew the dangers of a too-strong executive. So they created our system of government with checks and balances spread among three branches, the executive, legislature, and the judicial. In fact, the president defined in the Constitution is a fairly weak executive. Robert Dahl discusses this in How Democratic is the American Constitution?, which I highly recommend, by the way.

Bush created a top-down system in the White House much like the one his colleagues have in Congress. He has constructed what many scholars said amounts to a virtual oligarchy with Cheney, Karl Rove, Andrew H. Card Jr., Joshua Bolton, himself and only a few others setting policy, while he looks to Congress and the agencies mostly to promote and institute his policies.

"...whose supreme decrees they dictated and obeyed." Indeed.

Owens: A Moron on the Bench

So the egregious and not over-bright Priscilla Owens has been confirmed to a lifetime seat on the Fifth Circuit. Here are the kind of asinine decisions we can expect from this woman stuck somewhere in the ninth century:

She chose opinions overturning rulings in favor of a child born with birth defects, a worker injured on an oil rig, a nurse fired for blowing the whistle on a drug-dealing co-worker, a family with an interest in an oil field that had been drained by a nearby company, asbestos and breast-implant plaintiffs and a student whose school made him cut his hair.

"She represents a part of the Texas culture that is basically a frontier mentality," said Linda S. Eads, a law professor at Southern Methodist University and a former deputy attorney general of Texas who supports Ms. Owen's nomination.

"You don't cry about your hardships, you just keep moving forward," Professor Eads said. "In some ways, it's a very empowering philosophy, and in some ways it can be seen as cold. I guess it depends on which side of the outcome you are."

It's another expression, a particularly brutal one, of the Republican "winner take all" mentality. In one case she delayed and delayed and delayed a monetary award for a crippled young man until he died. With the money and proper treatment, he might have lived, and at least would have lived with more security and comfort. Instead, she made his life, and his family's, a living hell. This is the kind of vicious bitch Bush has appointed and the Democrats made a phony deal to permit her confirmation. What crap.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Grape Juice "Christians"

A Wednesday sermon from Fred Clark over at Slacktivist really points up the gigantic gaps in Bible knowledge that appear universal among the grape juice "Christian" crowd:

...it is hypocrisy and nonsense when contemporary Christians who have sold off and abandoned every vestige of the traditional Christian understanding of wealth turn around and insist that the Christian understanding of sexuality is fixed, immutable and eternal. These people strain at the gnat of same-sex love while swallowing the camel of credit card usury. They are so obsessed with their mistaken belief that they live in the most promiscuous society of all time that they have failed to notice they live in the most affluent, the haughtiest, proudest and least concerned with the poor.

Check it out. Great quotes from the Bible and the Christian Fathers too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A Guarantee that Isn't

The compromise hammered out over the confirmation problem in the Senate last night sounds good until you realise it's no guarantee at all, in spite of what deluded Democrats seem to think:

On the one hand, Democrats view the pact as containing an understanding that would forbid the Republicans from trying to vanquish the filibuster in such an instance, while Republicans asserted last night that they could still move to change the rules if Democrats violated the agreement.

"If an individual senator believes in the future that a filibuster is taking place under something that's not extraordinary circumstances, we, of course, reserve the right to do what we could have done tomorrow," said Senator Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio, another lawmaker instrumental in the compromise.
...
(Frist) said "bad faith and bad behavior" would force him to bring back the nuclear option.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the No. 2 Republican, said, "The way I read it, all options are still available with the timing to be determined."

But Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said the pact had resolved the long-running fight. From his perspective, Mr. Reid said, the rules change is "off the table."

That's great. Once again the Democrats are deluding themselves. These first three idiots, the egregious Priscilla Owens among them, will be confirmed. Then Frist will demand the others be voted on. And then we'll see what this "agreement" is worth. My guess is, it's absolutely worthless.

UPDATE: Senator Russ Feingold agrees (via):

This is not a good deal for the U.S. Senate or for the American people. Democrats should have stood together firmly against the bullying tactics of the Republican leadership abusing their power as they control both houses of Congress and the White House. Confirming unacceptable judicial nominations is simply a green light for the Bush administration to send more nominees who lack the judicial temperament or record to serve in these lifetime positions. I value the many traditions of the Senate, including the tradition of bipartisanship to forge consensus. I do not, however, value threatening to disregard an important Senate tradition, like occasional unlimited debate, when necessary. I respect all my colleagues very much who thought to end this playground squabble over judges, but I am disappointed in this deal.

And Crooks and Liars has links to a bunch of feedback from a wide array of sources. Needless to say, the Repug crazies aren't pleased.

Avedon Carol isn't impressed either:

This is, of course, exactly how the current Republican leadership has handled pretty much every issue. Don't like a treaty? Just pretend it doesn't stand. Don't like a Constitutional right? Ditto. The judiciary doesn't have its own police force, so even a Supreme Court ruling can be ignored (as has been done with regard to the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo) so the Republicans can do what they want.

But what makes this deal a deal? All it says is that if Democrats find judges so extreme that they filibuster, the Republicans will break the rules to override them, so if the Democrats stop filibustering, the Republicans won't break the rule.

There's a vague exception that says if the circumstances are extraordinary, the Democrats will still filibuster, but if one Republican thinks there's a filibuster and it isn't really extraordinary, they'll still pull the nuclear option.

So, to start with, we have raised the bar on what constitutes "extraordinary circumstances", since we now have an agreement not to filibuster three extraordinarily extreme judges - Brown, Pryor, and Owen.

It's hard to know whether it would have been more insane to refuse the deal, since we don't know where the Republicans in that deal really stood. Would they really have agreed to go along with the "nuclear option" if the Democrats had refused the deal? And if that happened, would the imperial Republicans have gone on to be even more insane than they have already been? They don't appear to recognize any limits, so you have to ask yourself if you're really, really sure they'd draw the line at, oh, making lampshades out of people.

But then, what's to stop them anyway? When do the Democrats get to draw the line, and if they do, what makes us so sure the Republicans would decide the situation was "extraordinary" enough that they'd accept it?

Exactly. This is one "piece of paper," to borrow a term from Preznit Wit, that's truly "worthless."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Lies Come Back to Haunt Army

Pat Tillman's parents are understandably furious having learned that the story the Army told them about the death in action of their son was just that - a story:

Patrick Tillman Sr., a San Jose lawyer, said he is furious about what he found in the volumes of witness statements and investigative documents the Army has given to the family. He decried what he calls a "botched homicide investigation" and blames high-ranking Army officers for presenting "outright lies" to the family and to the public.

"After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this," Patrick Tillman said. "They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy."
...
Mary Tillman says the government used her son for weeks after his death, perpetuating an untrue story to capitalize on his altruism — just as the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was erupting publicly. She said she was particularly offended when President Bush offered a taped memorial message to Tillman at a Cardinals football game shortly before the presidential election last fall. She again felt as though her son was being used, something he never would have wanted.

And the Army wonders why their recruiting has gone down the toilet. Abu Ghraib, lies about Tillman's death, massacres of civilians - it just doesn't suit the Army of One.

Norquist Watch

At long last, the press is starting to take a closer look at the disgusting figure of Grover "Barf Bag" Norquist, a man in large part responsible for the fiscal disasters afflicting not only the federal government, but state and local governments as well. Maybe this time enough dirt will stick to bring this creature down for good:

In Republican Washington, Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist worked all the angles.

One was a $750-an-hour lobbyist, the other an antitax activist, and they helped drive the Republican takeover of the capital and cement the party's power. Both had a close ally in the House majority leader, Tom DeLay. And they shared a conservative ideology and a friendship going back to their days in college.

Now, with widening Congressional and criminal inquiries in the capital into Mr. Abramoff's dealings, they are sharing trouble, too.

While Mr. Abramoff has been under scrutiny for more than a year, Mr. Norquist has attracted unwelcome attention in recent weeks. A Congressional committee investigating whether Mr. Abramoff defrauded Indian tribes has subpoenaed records from Mr. Norquist's group, Americans for Tax Reform, after he refused for six months to turn them over voluntarily.

The Justice Department is reviewing records of an advocacy group Mr. Norquist started with Gale A. Norton, now secretary of the interior, after reports that Mr. Abramoff instructed Indian tribes to give it $250,000. And Mr. Norquist's name appears over and over in newly disclosed documents outlining Mr. Abramoff's work in the Northern Mariana Islands, an American protectorate in the Pacific, which Democrats are agitating to investigate.

In interviews, Mr. Norquist dismissed any suggestion of wrongdoing on his part and said that the only reason he is "getting dragged into this" is because Senator John McCain, the head of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which is investigating Mr. Abramoff, holds a grudge against Mr. Norquist for campaigning for President Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries.

"McCain hates me," he said.

That's 'cause John McCain is smart. Check it out, and hope to see more following along. Norquist strikes me as the sort whose life could not stand a great deal of scrutiny.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Sunday

Ah, Sunday, the day the grape-juice Christians - my new name for the brainless fundies - wander off to the mega church to sing along to PowerPoint and hear very carefully chosen selections from the Bible along with a politically spun sermon delivered by one of those guys with close-set eyes wearing a $3000 suit. If it's the rare day they celebrate the Lord's Supper - the way Jesus asked his disciples to remember him and the central feature of services of the apostolic churches - they'll celebrate with grape juice (?!) and a cracker. Uh huh! Then they'll hop into their SUVs littered with American flags and "Support our Troops!" magnets and drive home to watch Fox and feel satisfied with themselves.

Truly an inspirational thought. Hm.

Yeah, I don't like 'em.

Update: Great discussion of grape-juice "communion" at Slacktivist as a by-product of his latest Left Behind post. Check it out!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Hilarious

Now boys, do as we say, not as we do!

These previously undisclosed U.S. military records documenting Iraqi mistreatment of detainees, often accompanied by photos showing prisoners bruised or cut, highlight what U.S. commanders are calling a high-priority concern. As Iraqi's military and police assume greater responsibility for fighting insurgents, senior U.S. officers say they have cautioned Iraqi authorities repeatedly -- in formal letters from commanders and in face-to-face encounters at detention centers and elsewhere -- against abusing prisoners.

That's right, damn it! We're the only ones allowed to make human pyramids and beat people to death, and you Iraqis remember that!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

No Nukes Yet

Perhaps the Repugs will today whack in that last nail. Meanwhile, Josh Marshall comments:

For all the chaos and storm caused by this debate, and all that is likely to follow it, don't forget that the all of this will be done by fifty Republican senators quite knowingly invoking a demonstrably false claim of constitutionality to achieve something they couldn't manage by following the rules.

This is about power; and, to them, the rules quite simply mean nothing.

Indeed. The Republicans have proven for some time now that they fully believe that the rules simply do not apply to them. They could persecute President Clinton for a consensual affair while a large number of them were doing and/or had done the same thing. They could baldly steal a presidential election. They could lie their way into a stupid and unnecessary war. And now they want to pack the courts with right wing lunatics. But then the party is full of people to whom the rules have never applied. People, for instance, like George Bush, who dodged the draft and shirked his National Guard obligation and before he entered politics was a completely unsuccessful businessman propped up by his father's friends. In a meritorian society, George Bush would be, maybe, running the night shift at McDonald's. In this world, he's running the US into the ground.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Another Nail

The Repugs intend to put another nail into democracy's coffin today. We will see if there are any Republicans with courage who will stand up and stop this. Likely there will be a few. Probably not enough.

All in all, it's obvious to me that the Repugs are planning to never lose control of the House, Senate, and presidency, because Democratic revenge would be awful.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Convenient

Has it occured to anyone else that the Newsweek "scandal" exploded just in time to save Preznit "My Pet Goat" from questions about his biking while Washington was in danger fubar? Hm?

Horror

The more I read about the Newsweek case, the more horrified I am. Suggestion: go to Google News and read some of the stories about Newsweek's "apology." Even ones in liberal publications like the SF Chronicle echo the Administration's talking points and completely ignore the fact that the story is true. The bastards are winning this. It hardly matters that we know they're lying.

And, by the way, the constant use of "Koran being flushed down a toilet" is wrong also. The inmates claim that guards threw the Koran in a toilet bucket, which is all they are allowed to use.

An Unedifying Spectacle

The events of the last few days have proven that the final nails have been driven into the coffin of American freedom. President Caligula and his minions now have complete and total control over an abject, slavering press:

After a drumbeat of criticism from the Bush administration and others, Newsweek magazine yesterday went beyond an apology it issued Sunday and retracted an article published May 1 that stated that American interrogators at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had tried to rattle Muslim detainees by flushing a Koran down a toilet.

The original article was blamed for inciting widespread protests and riots in the Muslim world, where desecration of the Koran is viewed as an incendiary act, and where at least 17 people were killed in the ensuing violence.

"Based on what we know now, we are retracting our original story that an internal military investigation had uncovered Koran abuse at Guantánamo Bay," the statement from Newsweek said.

Ordered to retract a story by the White House that was true. There have been reports all along of Koran desecration being SOP at Gitmo, as the NYT article has the courage to point out, at least until Scott "Josef Goebbels" McClellan tells them to retract, presumably later today:

In fact, complaints from released inmates that the Koran had been thrown into a toilet go back at least two years.

Among the more detailed accounts of United States soldiers mishandling copies of the Koran were depositions from three Britons who were released from Guantánamo in the summer of 2004. Asif Iqbal, one of the men, who were from Tipton, England, and had been captured in Afghanistan, said that guards "would kick the Koran, throw it in the toilet and generally disrespect it."
...
The official accounts of Guantánamo began fraying in later months, as the International Committee of the Red Cross charged in a confidential report in November that the procedures at Guantánamo amounted to torture, and F.B.I. memorandums disclosed in December portrayed harsh and abusive treatment by interrogators. The F.B.I. memorandums, disclosed in a lawsuit, did not mention any mishandling of the Koran.

Last month, a former American interrogator confirmed to The New York Times an account given in an interview by a former Kuwaiti detainee, Nasser Nijer Naser al-Mutairi, who said that mishandling of the Koran once led to a major hunger strike. The strike ended only after a senior officer expressed regret over the camp's loudspeaker system, which was simultaneously translated by linguists at the end of each cell block, the former interrogator said.

We should face facts; a little over 225 years, and the American experiment is officially over. When the government tells the press to play dead and they not only do so but dig their own graves, democracy is finished.

Keith Olbermann is a little more hopeful:

Last Thursday, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Donald Rumsfeld’s go-to guy whenever the situation calls for the kind of gravitas the Secretary himself can’t supply, told reporters at the Pentagon that rioting in Afghanistan was related more to the on-going political reconciliation process there, than it was to a controversial note buried in the pages of Newsweek claiming that the government was investigating whether or not some nitwit interrogator at Gitmo really had desecrated a Muslim holy book.

But Monday afternoon, while offering himself up to the networks for a series of rare, almost unprecedented sit-down interviews on the White House lawn, Press Secretary McClellan said, in effect, that General Myers, and the head of the after-action report following the disturbances in Jalalabad, Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, were dead wrong. The Newsweek story, McClellan said, “has done damage to our image abroad and it has done damage to the credibility of the media and Newsweek in particular. People have lost lives. This report has had serious consequences.”

Whenever I hear Scott McClellan talking about ‘media credibility,’ I strain to remember who it was who admitted Jeff Gannon to the White House press room and called on him all those times.

Whenever I hear this White House talking about ‘doing to damage to our image abroad’ and how ‘people have lost lives,’ I strain to remember who it was who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up just after the Holy Grail will - and at what human cost.

Newsweek’s version of this story has varied from the others over the last two years - ones in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, and British and Russian news organizations - only in that it quoted a government source who now says he didn’t have firsthand knowledge of whether or not the investigation took place (oops, sorry, shoulda mentioned that, buh-bye). All of its other government connections - the ones past which it ran the story - have gone from saying nothing like ‘don’t print this, it ain’t true’ or ‘don’t print this, it may be true but it’ll start riots,’ to looking slightly confused and symbolically saying ‘Newsweek? Newsweek who?’

Whatever I smell comes from this odd sequence of events: Newsweek gets blasted by the White House, apologizes over the weekend but doesn't retract its story. Then McClellan offers his Journalism 101 outdoor seminar and blasts the magazine further. Finally, just before 5 PM Monday, the Dan Rather drama replaying itself in its collective corporate mind, Newsweek retracts.
...
this one went similarly to the way the Killian Memos story evolved at the White House. The news organization turns to the administration for a denial. The administration says nothing. The news organization runs the story. The administration jumps on the necks of the news organization with both feet - or has its proxies do it for them.

That’s beyond shameful. It’s treasonous.

True, and Olbermann thinks McClellan should resign. But I'm not as optimistic. In spite of the fact that Newsweek printed the truth, in spite of the fact that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has been hung out to dry and made to look a fool, I suspect the Bushies will win this one too. Which means we all lose.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Who's Lying Now?

The Right are crowing and sneering about Newsweek "having to retract" their riot-inducing story about American interrogators desecrating the Koran at Gitmo. There's just one GD problem here, folks; Newsweek's story is TRUE. Human Rights Watch reported in October 2004 (via):

Detainees also complained about the interference with their ability to pray and the lack of respect given to their religion. For example, the British detainees state that they were never given prayer mats and initially were not provided Korans. They also complained that when the Korans were provided, the guards “would kick the Koran, throw it into the toilet and generally disrespect it.”

They can't handle the truth, so they lie, they lie, they lie.

And how many thousands - millions? - of Americans will die because of it.

Kansass

Why, one wonders, are the people of Kansas such a bunch of cretins when their own state in its soil and rock displays the glories of evolution for all to see? PZ Myers does some great paleontology blogging over at The American Street:

What do you think of when someone mentions the word “Kansas”? Maybe what leaps to your mind is that it is a farming state that is flat as a pancake, or if you’ve been following current events, the recent kangaroo court/monkey trial, or perhaps it is the drab counterpart to marvelous Oz. It isn’t exactly first on the list of glamourous places. I admit that I tend to read different books than most people, so I have a somewhat skewed perspective on Kansas: the first thing I think of is a magic word.

Niobrara.

Late in the 19th century, there was a stampede to the American West to search for fossils of those spectacular beasts, the dinosaurs. Entrepreneurs everywhere were in on it—P.T. Barnum bought up old bones for his shows—and even scientists got caught up in the bone fever. Edward Drinker Cope of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences and Othniel Charles Marsh of Yale were famous rivals in the bone wars, sending teams of men to Wyoming and Utah and Colorado and other Rocky Mountain states to collect the bones of the extinct terrestrial behemoths of the Mesozoic. Kansas was also a target, most famously by the Sternberg family, but it had a different reputation: Kansas is the place to go to find sea monsters.

There is a geological formation in Kansas called the Niobrara Chalk. Actually, it’s not just in Kansas; it extends all the way up into Canada, but the Niobrara has been exposed by erosion over much of northwestern Kansas, making it easy to dig into. And this is where the Sternbergs and Cope and Marsh went hunting for sea monsters.

And found them, too, mosasaurs and plesiosaurs and all sorts of wacky and wonderful beasts. Odd and sad that a place so important to American paleontology - a maritime Hell Creek - is covered with people who appear to be, at best, simple and easily led, at worst, just not very damn bright.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

What's Coming

Ken MacLeod on Abu Ghraib:

You know how this stuff ends? It ends with your cities in rubble, your capital occupied, and your leaders hanged.

Yes it does. Nowhere does it say that America is different. We are not. We cannot behave like Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan or Fascist Italy - countries we now resemble in all but degree and we're working on that - and escape the consequences. We are guaranteeing ourselves a rather bad end unless we do the punishing ourselves.

Making Light of the Holocaust

The Repugs are insane, we all know that. We've had, for example, Norquist compare the estate tax to the holocaust. Now, according to Novak, filibusters are just like the holocaust too:

HUNT: Bob, why would Senator Frist refuse an offer to break the deadlock?

NOVAK: Because the whole system (INAUDIBLE) you're not going to have -- like going to a concentration camp and picking out which people go to the death chamber. You're not going to let the Democrats do that, say, We're going to -- we're going to confirm this person, we're not going to confirm the other person. They're going to -- they're going to say that this is not the way we're going to do it. They've had all kinds of different offers of that kind.

Now, who are the adults around here?

It's All Coming Apart

Opposing Kindasleezie below, the unpleasant truth can be read here (via the watchful Avedon Carol). Long, but very, very important. If the British couldn't bash democracy into the Iraqis, don't expect us to.

Kindasleezie Liar Goes to Irag

Ah, the Bushies. They wouldn't know the truth if it hit them in the head, and Condi Oil Tanker carries on the hard work of lying in Baghdad:

"I want you to keep focused on what you are doing here," Rice told the diplomats and troops who gathered in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. "This war came to us, not the other way around."

Uh huh! Keep hopping into the body bags, boys, you're fighting for freedom and the American way, and please forget that 15 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis and none of them Iraqi. And remember, if you survive, your VA benefits are toast too. Gosh, I bet Hitler said something along these lines to his troops trapped in Stalingrad.

Ah, for a new Nuremburg.

Bobo Meets the Deluded Republicans

To be poor and Republican is an oxymoron on the level of being Jewish and a card-carrying member of the NSDAP. The tiresome David Brooks thinks it's because these poor people believe in self-reliance. In fact, it's because they're deluded:

These working-class folk like the G.O.P.'s social and foreign policies, but the big difference between poor Republicans and poor Democrats is that the former believe that individuals can make it on their own with hard work and good character.

According to the Pew study, 76 percent of poor Republicans believe most people can get ahead with hard work. Only 14 percent of poor Democrats believe that. Poor Republicans haven't made it yet, but they embrace what they take to be the Republican economic vision - that it is in their power to do so. Poor Democrats are more likely to believe they are in the grip of forces beyond their control.

The G.O.P. succeeds because it is seen as the party of optimistic individualism.

Heh. Sure. The fact is, the Democrats are living in the real world. The poor Repugs think lightning will strike and they'll wake up rich. But, strangely, the poor Republicans still have weird moments of clarity that suggest we can win them back to the real world where hard work needs to join with realism and the knowledge that not everyone wins, and winner-take-all is just wrong (and un-Christian):

...these Republicans are disproportionately young women with children. Nearly 70 percent have trouble paying their bills every month. They are optimistic about the future, but their fear of their lives falling apart stalks them at night.

Poorer Republicans support government programs that offer security, so long as they don't undermine the work ethic. Eighty percent believe government should do more to help the needy, even if it means going deeper into debt. Only 19 percent of affluent Republicans believe that.

These people are only nominal Republicans. If we can educate them, if we can drag them away from listening to Bush's lies and the lunacy spouted at their local Fundie church, if we can show them that their children come home in body bags because of the Repugs and their job was shipped overseas by the Repugs, they'll vote according to their needs, not according to the belief that they might suddenly wake up a lotto winner.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum's take:

...In the face of this, Brooksian paeans to the hardworking Republican poor are little less than appalling. Clap your hands and you can be rich!

What this faux optimism masks is the astonshing real-life pessimism of modern conservatism. Among advanced economies, the United States is by far the richest, youngest, and fastest growing country in the world. By far. And yet, we're supposed to believe that an increase in Social Security costs from 4% of GDP to 6% over the next 50 years is cause for panic. We're supposed to believe national healthcare would bankrupt us — never mind that our current dysfunctional system is the most expensive and most unfair on the planet. We're supposed to believe that broader unionization would ruin American industry, home of the highest profits and most highly paid executives in the world. We're supposed to believe that the nation's millionaires, having already had their tax rates slashed by a third over the past two decades, are still being bled to the bone by federal taxes.

It's a grim view. But then, modern conservatives are grim people, with little hope that things can ever be made better than they are today. I guess that's why I'm a liberal.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Today's Poem

A poem for George and the Terrible, Stupid, No Good, Very Bad War:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori
.

- Wilfred Owen

True then. True now. How little we learn.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Laughable

In a time when the military can barely meet its obligations and is getting well and truly beat up in Iraq, the usual bunch of Repug nitwits, cretins, and morons shows up in the Unreality Bus to make things worse. Army Reservist Phil Carter at Intel Dump:

This morning's Washington Post reports on an amendment passed yesterday afternoon by the House Armed Services Committee which would bar women from service in "forward support companies" — defined very broadly — that have any chance whatsoever of seeing ground combat. Rep. John McHugh introduced the amendment (PDF), saying it was simply designed to enforce existing law, and that it was not a "Neanderthal initiative to keep women out of the Army." However, senior Army officials felt differently, firing last-minute faxes off to HASC in an effort to stall or defeat the amendment, which passed with the support of Chairman Duncan Hunter.
...
In a nutshell, it places the political and sexual politics of a few conservative political activists over the demands of military readiness — and ignores all of the record evidence that women have done well in the tough combat they've seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those who support this legislation will argue that they are, in fact, advancing military readiness by restricting combat billets to the men who can do the job. I couldn't disagree more. This is simply sex discrimination masquerading as readiness legislation. If you truly care about enforcing combat standards, then set a standard and enforce it. Once you sift through all the stereotypes and gender generalizations, there is nothing about sex per se which ought to make it a disqualifying condition for combat duty. It may be true that many women cannot meet the standard — but that is also true of many men. I led female MPs and served with female soldiers who were more than capable of doing their duty. Let's put the focus on combat readiness, not on gender.

I think this sends a terrible message to the women currently serving in the military — especially those who have seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and done well there. How do you explain this to them? How do you think these talented combat veterans are going to respond to the new restriction which places a giant roadblock in the middle of their career paths? I'll bet they vote with their feet. When that happens, our military's readiness will suffer.

Not that the Repugs care. Keeping women barefoot and pregnant is part of the plan, after all, and having women learn courage and self-reliance in the hard school of combat is just a no-go. What crap.

Those Who Forget History Are Just Stupid

...for example, holocaust-denying dingbat Pat Buchanan, who now is blaming the allies for World War II. Of course! We should have known all along that the bad British, the bad French, and us evil Americans were behind the fifty million dead, the death camps, the innocent countries invaded, etc. All our fault, 'cause Pat says so! And if we hadn't jumped in, why Stalin would have left Eastern Europe alone! And I have some lovely swampfront property you may be interested in, too.

True, U.S. and British troops liberated France, Holland and Belgium from Nazi occupation. But before Britain declared war on Germany, France, Holland and Belgium did not need to be liberated. They were free. They were only invaded and occupied after Britain and France declared war on Germany - on behalf of Poland.

When one considers the losses suffered by Britain and France - hundreds of thousands dead, destitution, bankruptcy, the end of the empires - was World War II worth it, considering that Poland and all the other nations east of the Elbe were lost anyway?
...
If it was to keep Hitler out of Western Europe, why declare war on him and draw him into Western Europe? If it was to keep Hitler out of Central and Eastern Europe, then, inevitably, Stalin would inherit Central and Eastern Europe.

Was that worth fighting a world war - with 50 million dead?

The war Britain and France declared to defend Polish freedom ended up making Poland and all of Eastern and Central Europe safe for Stalinism.

One of the really remarkable features of this mindless rant, and one I haven't seen anyone else comment on yet, is that Buchanan is evidently either forgetting about or strategically neglecting to mention the Hitler/Stalin pact by which those two bastards agreed to invade and divide Poland in 1939. It's not talked up loudly in the history books most American students read, but Stalin invaded Poland from the east as Hitler invaded from the west. Look up something called the "Katyn Massacre" for more details on Stalin's love for Poland. The loss of Poland was de facto before the British and French entered the war, and the rest of Eastern Europe was under either German or Soviet hegemony anyway.

Of course this could have been fixed, at the cost of rearming the Wehrmacht, ignoring the death camps, and doing what Patton wanted to do - turn on the Soviets after VE day. I suppose it could have happened, but at what cost? Looking back, fifty years of tense, armed vigilance looks to have been a better solution than another fifty million corpses. Not that Pat knows, of course. For someone who is supposed to be a smart man, he's really a dumbass.

Public Treasure Sold to Parasite

There are few wealthy families more thoroughly parasitic than the heirs of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart. Their fortune is truly a pile of gold resting on top of a mountain of suffering, here in Wal-Mart's stores and abroad in sweat shops and Chinese concentration camps. Now a painting by Asher Durand, one of the masters of the nineteenth century Hudson Valley School, has been sold by the New York Public Library to Walton's daughter Alice Walton:

The sale ended suspense over whether the painting, the 1849 Hudson River School landscape "Kindred Spirits," would remain in New York. When the library, citing a need to increase its endowment, offered the work for sale last month, it indicated that it would give New York institutions preferential purchase terms.

Sotheby's acted as the library's agent for the sale, holding a silent auction for which interested parties were asked to submit sealed bids.

Although the auction house declined to confirm the exact purchase price, it said the price far eclipsed the previous auction record for an American painting, which was set in 1999 when Bill Gates bought George Bellows's "Polo Crowd" for $27.5 million. A dealer in American painting and someone familiar with the transaction, both speaking on condition of anonymity, said the cost exceeded $35 million.

The price was also substantially higher than a sealed bid made jointly by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, according to Harold Holzer, the Met's spokesman. He said yesterday that the two institutions had "bid collaboratively in an effort to share the financial burden and the public opportunity of owning and displaying the picture."

Shame.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What is it About Repugs and Sex?

While Republicans pose heroically as the avatars of all goodness and light and persecute President Clinton for a consensual blowjob, behind the scenes they're a bunch of truly sick fucks. Excuse my Anglo-Saxon, but it's the only term that fits. Just to mention a few examples, we have Arianna's former husband Michael who turned out to be gay. We have the former husband of "Six of Nine" Jeri Ryan taking her to sex clubs and trying to get her to perform in front of others. We have Spokane's gay bashing mayor Jim West who turns out to be, surprise surprise, a closeted gay himself. And on, and on, and on, ad infinitum. Now we can add to this long and puke-worthy list of hypocrites Dr. David Hager, W's favorite Ob-Gyn who he tried to appoint to be head of the FDA. What did this sick Repug fuck do?

When Hager's nomination to the FDA was announced in the fall of 2002, his conservative Christian beliefs drew sharp criticism from Democrats and prochoice groups. David Limbaugh, the lesser light in the Limbaugh family and author of Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging Political War Against Christianity, said the left had subjected Hager to an "anti-Christian litmus test." Hager's valor in the face of this "religious profiling" earned him the praise and lasting support of evangelical Christians, including such luminaries as Charles Colson, Dr. James Dobson and Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham.

Back at Asbury, Hager cast himself as a victim of religious persecution in his sermon. "You see...there is a war going on in this country," he said gravely. "And I'm not speaking about the war in Iraq. It's a war being waged against Christians, particularly evangelical Christians. It wasn't my scientific record that came under scrutiny [at the FDA]. It was my faith.... By making myself available, God has used me to stand in the breach.... Just as he has used me, he can use you."

Up on the dais, several men seated behind Hager nodded solemnly in agreement. But out in the audience, Linda Carruth Davis--co-author with Hager of Stress and the Woman's Body, and, more saliently, his former wife of thirty-two years--was enraged. "It was the most disgusting thing I've ever heard," she recalled months later, through clenched teeth.

According to Davis, Hager's public moralizing on sexual matters clashed with his deplorable treatment of her during their marriage. Davis alleges that between 1995 and their divorce in 2002, Hager repeatedly sodomized her without her consent. Several sources on and off the record confirmed that she had told them it was the sexual and emotional abuse within their marriage that eventually forced her out. "I probably wouldn't have objected so much, or felt it was so abusive if he had just wanted normal [vaginal] sex all the time," she explained to me. "But it was the painful, invasive, totally nonconsensual nature of the [anal] sex that was so horrible."

That's right. This particular sick Repug bastard, who wears his fake Christianity like a cloak of purity, sodomized his wife without her consent and abused her in other ways. Read the entire article, have a bucket handy, and wonder why these people, who claim to be able to dictate morality to my partner and me, are so thoroughly screwed up sexually. (Atrios here, lorraine at Daily Kos here, Digby here)

UPDATE: I'd forgotten about the anti-abortion zealot who admitted to bestiality (!). Just too darn many pervs to keep track of, y'know? OrangeClouds 115 at Daily Kos updates us here.

Snore

I was in an all-day, off-site meeting today. Cripes, talk about cruel and unusual punishment....

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

They're Planning Never to Lose Again

Digby comments, as others have before him:

No, you really do have to wonder how they think they can get away with such radical changes that have no constitutional or even popular support. It really does make you have to at least consider the possibility that they know they will not lose elections.

Well, they've successfully stolen the last two presidential elections, the first by judicial fiat, the second by outright vote manipulation, as pretty solidly proven by exit poll results. Jim Lampley over at the new Arianna group blog:

We know that professionally conceived samples simply do not yield results which vary six, eight, ten points from eventual data returns, thaty's why there are identifiable margins for error. We know that margins for error are valid, and that results have fallen within the error range for every Presidential election for the past fifty years prior to last fall. NEVER have exit polls varied by beyond-error margins in a single state, not since 1948 when this kind of polling began. In this past election it happened in ten states, all of them swing states, all of them in Bush's favor. Coincidence? Of course not.

That's been pointed out before, but it doesn't hurt to repeat it, and keep repeating it. Exit polls historically have proven remarkably accurate - but, starting with the midterm elections of 2002, they suddenly stopped working. Witness the case of Georgia, where the Democratic candidates for governor and senate were leading in both regular polls and exit polls by a good margin and then lost. In the days leading up to the presidential election of 2004, polls were showing Kerry with a small but significant lead. Exit polling in important states like Ohio appeared to show him winning. Mysteriously, the final result went the other way and we were hammered with four more years of the murderous Chimp and his manic crew.

Now they're trying to push through a wide variety of unpopular crap that benefits the rich and powerful - privitizing the national parks, destroying social security, doing away with the filibuster, even ending judicial review, not to mention running a war they started using methods we hanged certain Germans for sixty years ago. They don't plan on losing ever again. Evidence suggests they have good reason for confidence, not only that they've successfully stolen elections, but that the American people have just rolled over and taken it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Odd, This

Although the USGS has rated Yellowstone a "high risk" for volcanic eruption, they're telling everyone "not to worry." Oh, really?

Recurring earthquake swarms, swelling and falling ground, and changes in hydrothermal features are cited in the report as evidence of unrest at Yellowstone.
...
The USGS report recognizes Yellowstone as an unusual hazard because of the millions of people who visit the park and walk amid features created by North America's largest volcanic system, Smith said, a status he has been advocating for years.

Smith does not paint the devastating picture portrayed in a recent TV docudrama but said smaller threats exist. For example, a lower-scale hydrothermal blast could scald tourists strolling along boardwalks.

Emissions of toxic gases from the park's geothermal features also pose a threat. Five bison dropped dead last year after inhaling poisonous gases trapped near the ground due to cold, calm weather near Norris Geyser Basin.

Someone has their head firmly up their butt. Minor threats are hardly the problem at Yellowstone; the thing is a supervolcano. When it erupts, you can kiss more than five bison and a few tourists goodbye. The National Geographic Society observes:

When the volcano in Yellowstone National Park blew 6,400 centuries ago, it obliterated a mountain range, felled herds of prehistoric camels hundreds of miles away and left a smoking hole in the ground the size of the Los Angeles Basin.

Modern Yellowstone doesn't dwell on its cataclysmic past—or its potential for another monster eruption.

Scientists suspect the Yellowstone hotspot may be slowly sliding under the Rockies and its potential for a truly gigantic eruption may be lessening. But an eruption big enough to erase US superpower status is still very much a possibility, and makes the USGS softpedaling look pretty pathetic.

Go Away

If there was ever any question as to whether John Kerry should run again in 2008, he's been rapidly putting it to rest as he ranges around the South talking and acting like a Repug, pandering to the yahoos:

In Louisiana, the senator also repeated his disagreeable habit of pandering, telling his red state audience that Massachusetts Democrats should not install a plank endorsing gay marriage in the party's platform because it would be divisive. State Democrats should ignore that advice, and Mr. Kerry would have been wiser to point out that gay marriage has proved to be anything but divisive in Massachusetts.

Go away, John. Go the hell away.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Prince Harry Joins the Army

Britain's Prince Harry has joined the British Army and reported for duty at Sandhurst, the British equivalent of West Point. Presumably the Army will get right to work shaping him up:

His arrival at Sandhurst came just 24 hours after yet another appearance in the tabloids after his limousine allegedly failed to stay at the scene of an accident when it scraped a parked car in London after the Prince had emerged from a London nightclub with a friend in the early hours of Friday.

Since finishing at Eton in June 2003, where he achieved the worst A-level results in his year (B in art and D in geography), the Prince has been involved in a series of embarrassing incidents, including punching a photographer and his appearance at a party dressed in a Nazi uniform. He has also been endlessly photographed holidaying with his bikini-clad South African girlfriend, Chelsy Davy.

He will now undergo pre-dawn starts, night exercises and sleep deprivation in what is known as the five week "breaking-in" period.

Meanwhile, the drunken Bush twins continue to be useless, and the children of the ruling party continue to avoid military service. It's such a drag, y'know.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Trump Stands Up for the Twin Towers

Donald Trump has thrown his support behind the replacement of the awful "Freedom Tower" plan for Ground Zero with new Twin Towers:

Regardless of your views of billionaire Donald Trump... the guy is a leader. And he has proven it once again. With New York politicians including Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Rudy Giuliani, and others afraid to state the obvious about Governor Pataki's problem plagued Freedom Tower, there was Trump today in the New York Post. "The design for the Freedom Tower is an egghead design... which has no practical application and which, frankly, didn't look very good." Trump went on to say that the Twin Towers should be rebuilt. "I think the World Trade Center should be rebuilt on the site, only stronger and a little bit taller, even if it's only one story taller."

Trump also provided a life raft to Larry Silverstein, the man in charge of developing the site. Trump called him a "wonderful professional who sort of got roped" by Pataki into the freedom tower plan. "I don't think this is something he (Silverstein) really wanted."

The impact of Donald Trump should not be underestimated. He has just pushed a gigantic boulder downhill. The only question now is whether New York's politicians get behind this or whether they get flattened. The fact is, Donald Trump has just made it clear to everybody that the Freedom Tower is dead and that some version of the Twin Towers is, sooner or later, coming back.

Indeed, let's hope so. As an MSNBC.com reader aptly put it, "I worked in tower 1 for five years... What's this freedom thing? Freedom is putting those towers back."

Indeed it is. Two raised middle fingers towards the primitives of the Middle East.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Word Woes

Volokher Randy Barnett gripes about Microsloth Word:

...have I ever mentioned how much I detest Microsoft Word? Word reformats paragraphs and everything else as it wishes and it is sometimes next to impossible to trick it into keeping it to the format you prefer. I assume that someone somewhere knows how to make all this work, but I have been word processing since I paid $4500 for an NBI standalone word processor in 1981, and word processing programs are simply not supposed to be that hard to figure out and control.

In contrast, WordPerfect is an amazingly elegant and transparent way to write. I know all about how it lost its market share. WordPerfect for Windows was initially awful (though some blame that on Microsoft too). I stuck with WordPerfect for DOS (requiring me to reboot into DOS whenever I wanted to word process) until WordPerfect for Windows 95 came along. From then on it was sweet and had gotten sweeter ever since.

The only thing that Word does better than WordPerfect (and it is substantially better) is "track changes" when editing a document. Here Word really shines. But I write all my articles and correspondence in WordPerfect and convert to PDF (which WordPerfect includes at no charge!) or Word when necessary. Thanks to PDF, I rarely need to convert to Word. I only use Word to read the documents of others, and deal with articles in press.

Do not bother to write with ways to learn how to make Word work properly. I know from experience that a word-processing program should not require any more time than I already have invested over the years to do simple document creation and formatting.

No kidding. Word is absolutely riddled with bug-like "features." I was a big fan of Lotus Ami Pro back in Windows 3.1 days, but when Lotus redid it as "Word Pro" it became rather Word-like. I've never tried WordPerfect. Perhaps I should, but I'd still be forced to use Word at work....

Another Repug Closeted Phony

Some in the gay community believe that people who conceal their true sexual orientation should not be outed. This lesbian doesn't agree, and the more of a bloody minded hypocrite they are, the more they deserve to be paraded before their followers. One such is gay bashing Spokane mayor Jim West who is, guess what, queer as a $3 bill:

Spokane Mayor Jim West, who championed an anti-gay agenda during his tenure as one of the most powerful Republicans in the Legislature, yesterday admitted to using the trappings of his current office to entice what he thought was a young adult man but denied allegations that he molested two young boys more than 20 years ago.

West confirmed to The Spokesman-Review of Spokane that he offered gifts, favors and a City Hall internship during Internet chats with a man he believed was 18. The online pen pal was actually a forensic computer expert working for the newspaper. After the story hit the newsstands yesterday, West sent city staffers a remorseful e-mail.

"I want to sincerely apologize to you personally for the shame I have brought to the Mayor's office and the city," West wrote. "I stumbled and let you down."

The accusations of child molestation stem from The Spokesman-Review's three-year investigation and interviews with two felons who said West fondled them and forced them to perform sexual acts on him when they were Boy Scouts.

The accounts have not been confirmed or dismissed by law enforcement officials, and no investigations are planned.

Nonetheless, West's tacit acknowledgement of gay sex sent political shock waves across the state.

In more than 20 years in the Legislature, West had initiated legislation to outlaw sexual contact between consenting teenagers; supported a bill that would have barred gays and lesbians from working for schools, day care centers and some state agencies; voted to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman; and, as Senate majority leader, allowed a bill that would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians to die in committee without a hearing.

As Spokane mayor, West threatened to veto a measure extending benefits to domestic partners of city employees.

"It's a pretty egregious case of hypocrisy," Washington State University political scientist Lance LeLoup told The Associated Press.

No kidding. I would recommend to my gay brothers to treat this idiot to the Lysistrata treatment and make sure he doesn't get any for the rest of his natural life. After all, gentlemen:

During a Feb. 26 online conversation published in the Spokesman-Review, West wrote to someone posing as a teenager.

"Remember, Im very closeted. No one knows I like guys. Except the few guys Ive been with and highly trusted," West wrote.

"Its just that the openly gay guys are a little over the top for me. I dont really like the in-your-face attitude some guys have. And the massive political agenda either. I say live and let live. Most gay guys turn me off, too."

And Repug hypocrites turn me off. What crap.

Fundie Lunacy Continues

Living up to the Gospel - not! - a Baptist Church in North Carolina has excommunicated all of its members who are, not Satanists or Atheists or blasphemers of one sort or another, but who are Democrats. And so the religious war begins?

My Mom just emailed me the news. There's no link yet.

She said WLOS tv just broke in to report that the East Waynesville Baptist church has officially excommunicated all its democratic members.

She said that before the election, the preacher told the congregation from the pulpit that if they didn't vote for * they had to come to the altar to confess their sins and repent. they couldn't be members. (My Mom doesn't attend that church--she's United Methodist, but I know of lots who do attend).

From Mom's email: "One of the local women who got excommunicated said on TV that it was like a cult. Another man who got excommunicated said that the rest of the congregation stood up and applauded as the Democrats were told to leave."

Okay, I'm officially freaked out.

Does it ever occur to anyone else that if Jesus did return to earth, these same idiots would kick him out of church? "What the hell you talkin' 'bout the poor, boy? Turn the other cheek? What?" and "Dueling Banjos" from Deliverance playing in the background (via)....

UPDATE: The religious war continues. Edward at Obsidian Wings:

Just yesterday I noted that despite the rising power of the Christian Right in the US, we're not seeing anything that warrants the comparisons between these folks and the Taliban. I'll stick with that, but I definitely need to qualify it. What we're seeing in some quarters is actually much more insidious in some ways. Consider this bit of dog whistle rhetoric gaining ground (from a speech Vice-President Cheney gave at a "Town Hall Meeting" on "Strengthening" Social Security at Campbell High School in Smyrna, Georgia):

If we don't do anything at all, if we just stay where a lot of people have said we ought to stay -- there are a number of members of Congress of the other faith who have said that we don't need to do anything -- well, if you don't do anything, the net result will be, for somebody today, say, in their 30s, by the time they get to retirement age, their benefit levels are going to be cut some 26 percent or 27 percent.

The "other" faith? What does this mean? "Other" than what?

It wasn't a misstatement of any sort either. Some of the "town folk" who asked "questions" (and if anyone really talks this way, I'll eat my hat), used it as well:

Q Mr. Vice President, thank you for coming to Georgia, and thank you and the President for your leadership in the war on terror. Millions of Americans appreciate that.

My question is, I watched the press conference the other night with the President, and it seems like when the two of you come up with serious ideas that those from the other faith, in the other party, all they do is demonize and, in many cases, just lie and try to divide the older generation, our grandparents from us, those in our 30s.


WTF?!!!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Passing of a Hero

Retired Colonel David Hackworth has passed away at the age of 74, his death caused by a form of bladder cancer that is suspiciously common among Vietnam vets who, like Hack, were exposed to chemical defoliants. Although a conservative military man, Hack was admired by many who disagreed with some of his positions, because above all, Colonel Hackworth told the truth and nothing but. Even in the last few weeks of his life, Hack was still keeping up with developments in Iraq, a war he obviously thought ill-advised and poorly fought. Hack was an officer for the common soldier; his insight and sense of honor will be sorely missed. He will be buried at Arlington amongst the men he served with.

God bless you, sir.

What the Founders Really Thought

Mark Adams of Dispassionate Liberalism puts together some great quotes on religion from our oft-cited yet rarely quoted Founders that don't quite fit the "Judeo-Christian" meme of the lunatic Fundies. Here's a taste, from George Washington:

"If they are good workmen, they may be of Assia, [sic] Africa, or Europe. They may be Mahometans, [Muslims] Jews, or Christian of any Sect - or they may be Atheists ..."

Check it out; it's great ammunition.

Chimpeach

It's been time to impeach the Chimp for years now. The inimitable Greg Palast covers the latest impeachment-worthy evidence here:

Here it is. The smoking gun. The memo that has, "IMPEACH HIM" written all over it.

The top-level government memo marked "SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL," dated eight months before Bush sent us into Iraq, following a closed meeting with the President, reads, "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WDM. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Read that again: "The intelligence and facts were being fixed...."

For years, after each damning report on BBC TV, "Isn't this grounds for impeachment?" Vote rigging, a blind eye to terror and the bin Ladens before 9-11, and so on. Evil, stupidity and self-dealing are shameful but not impeachable. What's needed is a "high crime or misdemeanor."

And if this ain't it, nothing is.

The memo, uncovered this week by the Times, goes on to describe an elaborate plan by George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to hoodwink the planet into supporting an attack on Iraq knowing full well the evidence for war was a phony.

A conspiracy to commit serial fraud is, under federal law, racketeering. However, the Mob's schemes never cost so many lives.

He's right. This isn't lying about a consensual blowjob, this is lying that led to thousands of deaths, a flood of death that's still going on and shows no signs of abating. And yet, as Palast points out angrily, the US media, which enthusiastically covered every tiny bit of scandal they could dig up or invent about Bill Clinton, are sitting back and taking a pass on this:

Now, we have the stone, cold evidence of bending intelligence to sell us on death by the thousands, and neither a Republican Congress nor what is laughably called US journalism thought it not worth a second look.

Shame. And the tide of death and dismemberment rises.

Will Someone Have the Courage to Kill Off the Freedom Tower?

The ridiculous-looking Freedom Tower, the much-vaunted "replacement" for the World Trade Center in New York, faces new and costly redesign to protect it from truck bombs. It's way past time to kill this misbegotten thing off and replace it with what should by rights be there - new Twin Towers, built to an improved and more secure design. MSNBC's David Shuster has been supporting such a move for some time:

Two nights ago, shortly after writing in this space about the latest debacles surrounding the "freedom tower," my in-box got jammed with e-mails from hundreds of you expressing your rage and indignation at New York Governor George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Ground Zero developer Larry Silverstein. Nearly all of you wrote that the Freedom Tower is an embarassment and that America wants the Twin Towers back.

Jeff wrote that rebuilding them would be "a design for the ages, simultaneously telling future generations the story of 9-11 and of America's determination." Sean wrote, "It is shameful that the Twin Towers were not rebuilt immediately." Damir wrote that the newer, safer, stronger Twin Towers, "would illustrate such a powerful American spirit. Man, I get emotional just thinking about it." Maureen wrote about the absence of the Twin Towers and said, "my heart aches... for what the image of America has become."

Many of you asked what you could do to change things. Tonight, for a moment, it seemed part of the battle had been won. I received a call from a friend at another broadcast organization who said, "Did you hear the news? Governor Pataki just announced the freedom tower project has been suspended." It sounded like the entire freedom tower project was being shelved and that common sense and political smarts had finally entered Governor Pataki's mind.

I should have known better. When I finally reached a computer, the AP headline was, "New York Governor: Freedom Tower must be redesigned because of security concerns." The article went on to say that Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein met at Pataki's Manhattan office late this afternoon. While details of their meeting were not released, the trio supposedly addressed a NYPD report last week which found that the location in the pit where the Freedom Tower is planned is too close to two major thoroughfares (and would therefore be vulnerable to truck bombs.) The Pataki quote tonight was, "We believe that a building that meets the NYPD standards can be built consistent with architect Daniel Liebeskind's master site plan." In other words, Pataki and co. think the "problem" with the Freedom Tower can be solved by building the tower in a different part of Ground Zero.

Hello? Earth to Governor Pataki. You can't place the building in a different location. The entire area has to be redesigned. Remember, the site includes the footprints of the Twin Towers that were destroyed, a memorial area, and part of the original pit. In addition, there are "line of sight" issues with the Statue of Liberty. Everybody in New York knows this. Almost everybody also knows the reason most Americans hate the "Freedom Tower" is because it bears no resemblance to the Twin Towers. The issue is simple. If the Freedom Tower is on the table, the terrorists win. Why? Because holding on to Governor Pataki's Freedom Tower means America's enemies will have a gaping hole in New York to admire for at least another 5 years. Then, assuming the tower actually gets built in 5 years (want to bet?) America will unveil a "feeble tower." Why "feeble?" Because in this bizarre windmill/birdcage topped building... human beings will only be able to go as high as the 75th floor. That's right. The building may technically reach 1,776 feet... but that's counting the contraption on top (something that engineers say can't be built anyway.) So, even in the end, the best view of the Statue of Liberty will not be from Governor Pataki's tower... it will be from one of a dozen other office or apartment buildings in Manhattan.

No kidding. That cretinous looking pile is a well-known joke, a 75 story building more suited for Columbus than New York City and an advertisement to al Queda that they won and we are now going to go hide.

Polls show that Americans want the Twin Towers resurrected. A group is ready with plans. Let's lay the misbegotten "Freedom Tower" to rest and give New York her skyline back.

They Lie, They Lie, They Lie

Author and journalist Max Hastings once mentioned that one of the most important lessons he learned as a young journalist was from an older editor reminding him that "they lie, they lie, they lie." That they do, and the US Army has become absolutely expert at it. They just can't handle the truth and when the truth comes out, they create new lies. Pat Tillman was a brave man no matter how he died, but the Army chose to lie and cover up:

A new Army report on the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman in Afghanistan last year concluded that his uniform and body armor were burned a day after he was killed -- and before investigators had determined he was shot by his fellow soldiers.

The yet-to-be-released investigation results, first reported by the Washington Post, concludes that the burning of the clothes and armor amounted to destruction of evidence.

Evidently there would have been no investigation if Tillman's family had not asked questions:

The new report, by Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, was done at the behest of Tillman's family members, who wanted to know why his uniform was burned, and why they were not immediately told he might have been killed by fellow soldiers.

At the time, Tillman's blood-covered uniform and armor were said to have been destroyed because they were considered a biohazard.

Yet the Jones report contains sworn statements from soldiers involved in the incident who said they burned the items because they had taken pictures of the scene, walked around, and knew how Tillman had been killed.

Yet the new report continues the coverup. It concludes:

Army officials said the Jones report concludes that the Tillman family should have been told at once that "friendly fire" was suspected. The report, however, found no official intent by military commanders to hide the truth.

Really? How interesting. If you're a commissioned officer in the US Army, you're apparently not responsible for anything. Not responsible for covering up the uncomfortable truth about Pat Tillman's death, not responsible for your prisoner-torturing troops, only responsible for receiving medals for your "courageous" acts and waiting for your pension to kick in after you put in your twenty. Very interesting. Very much like the Wehrmacht.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Black Bigot

Reverend Ken Hutcherson, who claims to be the man who convinced Microsoft to back off its support for a Washington gay rights bill, is just another boring bigot who believes that civil rights are for blacks, no one else:

"You tell me what I went through as an African-American, when they talk about discrimination, compared to what gays go through with discrimination - it's the difference between night and day, not even close," Dr. Hutcherson said. "I even get upset when people say, 'Well, you got to understand what they go through.' Not when they've chosen to do what they do. They can stop choosing what to do what they do, and they can hide it anytime they want. They can hide their homosexuality. Could I take a 'don't ask don't tell' policy as an African-American? I could try even to pretend I was Puerto Rican, but I'm still going to get blasted for my skin color."
...
Ron Sims, the King County executive, has been a target of Dr. Hutcherson's protests because of his support for gay marriage. Mr. Sims, who is black, said he strongly disagreed with the minister on the civil rights question.

"I don't think that civil rights is the province of any particular group," said Mr. Sims, who earlier this year publicly invited six same-sex couples to sue him for the right to marry in King County, a case that is now being decided by the State Supreme Court and could determine whether gay men and lesbians can marry in Washington state.

"African-American homophobia is just another form of discrimination," he said.

Indeed it is, and thank God for people like Ron Sims who recognize that. By the way, I don't remember when I "chose" to be a lesbian. Do any of you remember the moment you "chose" to be straight or gay? What crap.