Saturday, December 4, 2004

NY's Finest

(New York-WABC, December 3, 2004) — President Bush made it official just before 10:00 a.m. He named Bernard Kerik as his nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security. New York's former top cop has what may be the ultimate resume for the job, having managed the city's response to the 9/11 attacks.

[. . .]

Kerik currently works for Giuliani. He has worked in Iraq, helping to establish and train their new police force. That followed his 16 months as police commissioner and an earlier stint as corrections commissioner.

His confirmation hearings may not be tranquil. There will be questions about $800,000 dollars that vanished during Kerik's days at the corrections department. And in Iraq, he agreed to serve eight months but left after just four.

[. . .]

This man is nothing more than a dumb street cop, overpaid bodyguard, and the luckiest motherfucker on 9/11. I don't care what Schumer and Hillary say, this is not good.

Update: 13:45:

Josh Marshall

Update: 06:45 Sunday:

Lambert at Corrente has more:

[. . .]

Appointed by President Bush to train a new Iraqi police force in 2003, Kerik came under criticism for inadequate screening of recruits as U.S. authorities rushed to deploy the force. It has been plagued by desertions and by allegations that insurgents have infiltrated the ranks.

Kerik quit four months into his six-month tenure in Iraq, telling New York reporters later that he needed a vacation.

[. . .]

A couple things

Light blogging again today. Gotta go with the Mrs. to pick out a new microwave this morning, as well as the TVs. Thanks to the Mrs. crawling up Liberty Mutual's ass yesterday evening, they've given us authorization to replace most of the stuff. Still waiting for their deterimation on the computers.

And the guy's gonna be here between noon and 5 to look at the fridge and oven. So my day is shot before it begins. This post will probably be my contribution to the Blogosphere today. I did, however, post Chapter 3 of Empires over at creativity, for those who give a shit.

And on a technical note, I finally made the switch to Mozilla's Firefox browser yesterday, thanks to Melanie's advice. I'm still trying to figure it out (only used it for an hour or so), but I already like it better than Internet Explorer. I still gotta tweak a few things but I'm impressed.

Also, no Cattle Dog blogging today. One of the computers that went down was the one that held all my pics. Unfortunately, I didn't have any on a backup disk. Fortunately, the really important shit was. Hopefully, Princess Shayna will return next week at her regularly scheduled time.

Friday, December 3, 2004

Blue State Booze

Small-batch likker-makin' ain't just for hillbillies anymore. Charles Perry of the LATimes goes into quite a bit of detail about an emerging West Coast craft.
Who makes whiskey? A laconic Scot tending a still in the Highlands? A good old boy nursing his sour mash in Kentucky? A moonshiner brewing sneaky Pete up yonder in the holler?

They're not the only kinds of whiskey makers anymore. Lately there's been an explosion of handmade whiskey here on the West Coast. Forget Scotland and Kentucky — we have a crop of eager Western dudes who want to create a distinct Western style of whiskey.

They're taking this nouvelle whiskey idea in wildly differing directions — rough and powerful, sweet and fruity, gnarled and smoky, mellow and harmonious. The result is whiskeys with very distinct personalities, whiskeys you don't find anywhere else.

Easterners may be puzzled. The West Coast is known for lighter drinks — beer and wine. In fact, that may be exactly why small-batch whiskey is happening here. "West Coast consumers are more receptive to craft whiskey," says Lee Medoff of Edgefield Distillery near Portland, Ore. "They've grown up with wineries and microbreweries."

Another San Francisco company, Anchor Brewing Co., made the first of these West Coast whiskeys: Old Potrero. Anchor's owner, Fritz Maytag (whose family created both Maytag washers and Maytag blue cheese), has a track record of turning out excellent products by revitalizing old-fashioned, small-scale production techniques. His Anchor Steam beer was instrumental in reviving craft beer brewing in the 1970s.

Good shit, too! Go read about it. Unique, even in this age of microbreweries.

Good article. Goes into the heads and tails of making different kinds of spirits and describes several. Long article, but well worth reading. Enjoy.

Fools' Paradise

An inkling of good news yet to come. Jonathan Chait in the LATimes:
The news has been filled with giddy Republican talk of the 2004 triumph as a realigning election — one that ushers in, as Newsweek put it, "political dominance that could last for decades, as FDR's New Deal did."

The Republicans are living in a fool's paradise. It's true that over the next few years Republicans will have enormous power. In the long run, however, they're doomed. Doomed, I tells ya! Doooomed! OK, I may have gotten slightly carried away there. Perhaps "doomed" overstates things a tad. But President Bush's political formula does carry the seeds of its own demise.

Republicans have social fissures of their own. A huge part of the GOP base (the religious right) votes Republican in the hope of enacting a radical social agenda that another part of the GOP base (suburbanites and the business elite) has no intent or desire to carry out. And it's also possible that Republicans will suffer a Vietnam-style external shock of their own — a severe recession or a bungled war. (Can't possibly imagine where the latter could happen, can you?)

When conservatives are confronted with Bush's record on spending and deficits, they usually reply by admitting that it's a terrible shame the president hasn't slashed spending and he really ought to do something about it. Many hoped that Bush, having bribed enough voters to win reelection, would use his second term to enact a single-rate tax code and privatize Social Security. These are ways to get voters to swallow middle-class tax hikes and cuts in popular social programs, both of which are ultimately unavoidable if the rich are going to pay a permanently lower tax rate. Casting the debate as "simplification" (the flat tax) or "ownership" (privatized Social Security accounts), the thinking goes, will make them forget that they're paying a larger portion of the bill for government and getting less in return.

But even a few weeks after Bush's reelection those hopes are all but dead. First, Bush administration officials leaked that they would hold off on tax reform until 2006. Given that by then Congress will be facing elections and Bush's political strength will be on the wane, tax reform advocates agree that enacting tough changes will be impossible.

As for privatizing Social Security, the Republicans have floated the prospect of paying for that not with cuts in benefits or tax hikes but with enormous new borrowing. We would enjoy the benefit — spiffy new accounts — today. The bill comes later.

The upshot of both these developments is that a second Bush term means more of the same. Even with full control of the federal government and a president freed of the constraints of reelection, Republicans lack the political will to raise middle-class taxes or cut large spending programs.

Which means that eventually one or all of the following will happen: The budget deficit will drag the economy down; Republicans will have to inflict significant fiscal pain on major elements of their coalition; voters will elect Democrats to tame the deficit. It may take years before the "realignment" falls apart. But it won't take decades.

Good thing, too. I have years left, but not too many decades.

Voices of reason

From via RUFNKM. Lt. Col. Kwiatkowski is an ex-Air Force weenie who was one of the first to call attention to the clusterfuck in Iraq.

[. . .]

What of the retired military analysts? From traditional conservatives and retired Army Colonels Bill Lind and David Hackworth, we heard early, consistent cautions regarding our backfired boutique war in Iraq. Their wise words ignored by the administration and the Pentagon, Hackworth and Lind in different ways have provided words of clear constant advice on how to successfully deal with what we have wrought in Iraq. Lind’s latest includes "The Last Dignified Exit" and for The American Conservative, the November 22 cover article "Strategic Defense Initiative." Both address the abject failure of our strategy in Iraq, military to be sure, but in a more substantial way, our politics of war. The Bush administration planners have much to answer for, as Colonel Hackworth’s archive indicates. Retired generals from Tony Zinni to William Odom to Brent Skowcroft and a host of others agree with the battle hardened soldier’s concern about administration intent, objective, strategy and Iraq exit possibilities. Yet, truly, these men have had their chance, and no longer serve in the active force.

The litany of stakeholders in American military strategy would be incomplete without the words of the soldiers on the ground in Iraq, or those recently returned. Our soldiers, as do all soldiers in all stupid wars, fight for their brothers in arms, and only for them. Period.

The Bush administration ignores or discounts these critical and honest observers from all parts of the American defense spectrum. Navel gazing groupthinkers to a man (and one woman), the current administration fails to recognize American strategic gains in Iraq – a dominant military presence in the heart of the Middle East, permanent basing, guaranteed petro-dollars, unquestioned control of Iraqi economic development in a post-Saddam environment, and an Iraqi state that will not rise again as a regional power – are simply not well understood by most Americans.

[. . .]

While it might take a little time, the tipping point will come when some of the active duty (and recently retired) flag officers start speaking up or letting shit leak(if our inept press can pick up on it). When enough of them do, even the Jesuslanders will realize Bush & Co are using their children as cannon fodder. If not, then the eventual draft will do it.

Pious Hogwash

James Wolcott has a few thoughts on the matter:
I'm really getting fed up with all the pious hogwash we're supposed to accept now about faith and belief and the need for God in our lives. "There is, in fact, nothing about religious opinions that entitles them to any more respect than other opinions get," wrote H.L. Mencken in 1929, and oh were he with us in this hour. Most people use religion to justify what they were inclined to do anyway, picking and choosing the Biblical passages that best feather their proud modesty. We're cautioned now that snickering over Bush's choice of Jesus as his favorite philosopher only reveals how snobby and elitist we are. Well, too bad. For all his compassion for the poor and lame, Jesus also possessed a punitive mean streak, and as a philosopher he was a primitive compared to Eastern thinkers such as Buddha, Shankara, and Longchenpa, a point Sam Harris drives home in The End of Faith: "Even the contemporary literature on consciousness, which spans philosophy, cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience, cannot match the kind of precise, phenomenological studies that can be found throughout the Buddhist canon."

But now David Brooks is enjoining us to pay heed to evangelical theologian John Stott. I'll leave the last word to Mencken: "The average theologian...disseminates his blather, not innocently, like a philosopher, but maliciously, like a politician. In a well-organized world he would be on the stone-pile. but in the world as it exists we are asked to listen to him, not only politely, but even reverently, with our mouths open."

I like this guy. I just wish he'd learn not to mince his words.


I'm not gonna go into how I can't stand Barry Bonds, and this is the only post I'm gonna write about this, but I just have to say something about this BALCO scandal.

If you use performance-enhancing drugs, you're cheating, period. If you're caught cheating, your records should be voided and you should be barred from continuing to play your particular sport. That's all. Unfortunately, the prevailing wisdom in this country forgives cheaters if they win. Another sad commentary on the state of our nation.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

He's had it

Stole it from yelladog who stole it from Thesaurus Rex:

In a move that has taken many by surprise, Jesus Christ of Nazareth has resigned his cabinet post as National Lord and Savior. Long believed to have been a voice of tolerance and restraint within the administration, sources close to the Lord have said that frustrations with the president and members of the White House inner circle have led to His decision to tender His resignation.

Publicly, Christ has never officially broken ranks with the White House nor openly criticized the war in Iraq, but in off-the-record conversations, He has been overheard referring to Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as “f*cking crazies". There is no word yet who will be appointed as His successor or what Jesus’s plans are beyond “taking some time off” and spending time with His Apostles.

As of press-time, Christ could not be reached for comment.

Slow News Week In The Hills

While we sit around waiting for Bush&Co.'s next Stupid Political Trick, occasionally we check local news to see who's trying to get over on us nearer to home. Well, this is a really slow news week if the front page story in the Sierra Sun is any indication. Welcome to Mayberry, folks. Oh yeah, I've known Kenny for twenty years.

Jesus in business

I stole this whole thing from David at 42. I don't get this much, being I live and work in New York, but Mrs. F gets this a lot. Her business takes her to red states on a regular basis.

John by the bayou writes about fa-reeky Christian junk mail, which reminded me of something that happened last year at work: I was investigating a particular type of industrial equipment; wanting to know more about it I arranged to visit a local manufacturer of said equipment. I met the CEO and a few flunkies and we visited a factory that was using their equipment. They seemed like OK people til we went to lunch. When the food came the CEO looked at me and said “would you like to join us in saying grace?” or something like that. “Um, no thanks, I’ll just wait til you’re all done” which I did without any smirking or smart-assed remarks so shaddap. Damned if those guys didn’t prattle on and on thanking God and Jesus for this bountiful feast… come on, it’s just Olive Garden.

As I was leaving the CEO said “…blah blah blah, thanks for coming, and BE BLESSED!” “Uh… yeah, thanks for your time, I’ll be in touch.” And that was pretty much that because the budget was cut and we decided not to buy that equipment, and I was reassigned to my current project early this year so I forgot about it, until about two months ago. One of the guys from that project forwarded an email from Mr Godly CEO claiming I’d been really impressed with their stuff and that I had done some sort of technical review and “approved” their equipment. Natch it ended with “BE BLESSED!” Sptoo!

I wrote and re-wrote a reply probably a dozen times before settling on something like “…Mr Godly CEO is indulging in wishful thinking as I never approved anything and never stated an opinion of the product, but as I’m not part of this team anymore, my only recommendation would be to use your best judgement in dealing with him.”

In other words, Mr Godly CEO lied to my colleague in hopes of making a sale.

Free hint, Christian business people: leave Jesus at home. Anyone who flaps their religion in my face is not going to make a sale to my employer if I have anything to say about it. It’s Generally-Recognized Good Business Sense® to leave religion and politics out it which is something everyone ought to know, but I’m repeating it just in case your brain was checked at the door of the church and you forgot to pick it up on your way out.

Changing the subject, the cat is attacking his tail. He’ll sit there staring at it and just barely twitch the tip of it, then he pounces. Funniest goddam thing I’ve seen all year.

What’s on: Be Wild, M83, Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

First It Was Tinky Winky...

I read a lot of stuff every day in my never-ending quest to bring you the latest and most newsworthy items as you're a discriminating, intelligent bunch. Sometimes I find things that are so ludicrous that I simply can't pass them up. From Media Watch:
Want to see what the Religious Right has done with its new found power in being the organization solely responsible for giving Our Glorious Leader his mandate?

They have taken on the task of protecting our children from the rampant homosexuality found in the movie "Shark Tale," which was released recently from the pro-gay team at Dreamworks.**

The American Family Association has just sent out a newsletter with the bold headline: SOMETHING'S SWISHY ABOUT SHARK TALE.


The main character, Lenny, has all the "mannerisms and voice" that tend "toward the effeminate." Get where they learned of Lenny's mannerisms?

Lenny's mannerisms and voice tend toward the effeminate, notes a review by Scott Tobias in The Onion A.V. Club, but that's not the worst of it. For in sharkdom, masculinity is measured by one's proficiency as a meat-eater.

That's right--"The Onion," that stalwart of professional journalism.

But there is more. Later in the article, the AFA asks the question: Cross Dressing Shark?

I left that last line in for a tease. Go read the newsletter. Don't be drinking anything, it'll likely exit your nostrils.

Don't these "Christians" have any better things to do? Aren't there any hungry, homeless, sick or shut-in folks that they could use all this energy to go help? Or would their agenda simply be to attack the "moral values" of that bastion of Liberalism, the animated movie? I hope they never see any anime. It'd blow their feeble little minds.

Personally, I hope these Right-wing Retards keep this shit up. It makes them, their "moral values", and, by inference, that fool they helped elect, look ridiculous. Besides, it's entertaining.

We needed them here

(New York-WABC, November 30, 2004 ) — Two New York City firefighters who joined the military to fight in Iraq hit a roadside bomb, killing one and injuring the other.

[. . .]

These guys were in the World Trade Center on 9/11, barely making it out before the towers came down. They were dedicated men who thought nothing of giving, whether to their city or their country. Thanks, (p)resident Cowardly Liar, for getting everything you could out of them.

Light to no blogging

Big windstorm here today and a power line came down. The Mrs. was home when the power surge shot through the house. Scared the shit out of her and the mutt. The tally so far:

2 TVs
2 IBM desktop computers
1 oven
1 microwave
4 Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

Fortunately our laptops didn't buy it, but now I gotta fight with my insurance company so my afternoon is probably shot.

On a funny note, I was coiling up the wire that fell in front of the house. I checked first to make sure both ends were disconnected. As I'm doing this, the Long Island Power Authority guy pulls up. You should have seen the look on his face when he sees me with this power line in my hand.

"Hey, buddy, you can get 7600 volts of backflow in that line. Drop it!"
"Not when both ends are disconnected," I said. "Is this yours?" I ask him, laughing my ass off.

Oh, also the heater on my waterbed bought it, so the Mrs. and I are gonna have to live out the guest room until I can replace it. That means draining most of the bed (it's under the mattress). Just fucking wonderful.

Update: 15:25:

Add a VCR to the list. I feel sorry for the folks at Liberty Mutual (my homeowners carrier). Did I mention the Mrs. is an insurance executive?

Update: 16:10:

Fax machine's done too. Fuck me.

States' Rights v. Federalism

From Joe Conason via Working For Change.
No worse example exists of the moral cowardice of the federal government -- implicating all three branches -- than the continuing prohibition of marijuana for medical therapy.
Despite copious evidence that pot has helped to ameliorate the lives of thousands of patients suffering from cancer and AIDS -- and despite burgeoning voter support for legal reform -- Washington officialdom persists in its lethal devotion to prohibition. Even when a blameless woman comes before them to plead for her life, the constituted authorities seem unable to think beyond a law, more than three decades old, that has long since been superseded by science and common sense.

What is most remarkable about this problem is how impervious our politicians (and most of our judges) are to human compassion and scientific data. To enforce marijuana prohibition, they would willingly endanger the health and lives of innocent citizens -- and even cast aside principles they profess to hold deeply.

Messrs. Ashcroft and Hutchinson are devout Christians of a fundamentalist stripe. Both claim to be "pro-life," but they see no contradiction in depriving Ms. Raich and many other patients of the substance that keeps them alive. Both claim to promote "family values," but they are determined to destroy any family with a member who needs this drug. Both would insist on "states' rights" as a cornerstone of constitutional law, but they won't allow any state to experiment with marijuana reform.

In a society that still promotes alcohol and tobacco, as well as many narcotics and pharmaceuticals with severe side effects, the draconian regulation of marijuana is both illogical and cruel. That is why Americans across red and blue states from Arizona to Maine have voted repeatedly to reform those laws for the sake of the seriously ill.

This is going to get better and better. SCOTUS is looking at it as an interpretation of commerce laws. States' Rights seems to be OK for abortion and gay marriage, but not to change the law on a controlled substance that helps people if Big Pharma can't profit from it.

Not to mention the deep-seated Puritan fear that someone, somewhere, might use this particular substance for FUN. It might lead to dancing or some other sin. Oh, the horror!

Congress Approves Of $250 Billion

WASHINGTON, DC—In a near-unanimous vote Monday, 434 members of the House and all 100 senators voiced their approval of $250 billion. "My fellow members of Congress, $250 billion is an incredibly vast sum of money," U.S. Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) said. "That much money is totally awesome." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the lone dissenter, disagreed with Rehberg's assessment, saying that, unless the money was stacked on a table in one-dollar bills, it was "pretty cool," but not "awesome."

From The Onion.

On This Day

On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a black seamstress, defied the law by refusing to give up her seat to a white man aboard a Montgomery, Ala., city bus. Parks was arrested, sparking a year-long boycott of the buses by blacks.

Do As We Say And Not As We Do...

If you're following the state's rights/compassionate use of marijuana v. SCOTUS/War on Drugs/foreign policy proceedings, go see Meyer's Take.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Armies of Occupation

How do you know when you've become the thing you hate the most? The Guardian:

Of all the revelations that have rocked the Israeli army over the past week, perhaps none disturbed the public so much as the video footage of soldiers forcing a Palestinian man to play his violin.
The incident was not as shocking as the recording of an Israeli officer pumping the body of a 13-year-old girl full of bullets and then saying he would have shot her even if she had been three years old.

Nor was it as nauseating as the pictures in an Israeli newspaper of ultra-orthodox soldiers mocking Palestinian corpses by impaling a man's head on a pole and sticking a cigarette in his mouth.

But the matter of the violin touched on something deeper about the way Israelis see themselves, and their conflict with the Palestinians.

The violinist, Wissam Tayem, was on his way to a music lesson near Nablus when he said an Israeli officer ordered him to "play something sad" while soldiers made fun of him. After several minutes, he was told he could pass.

[. . .]

Is this the sterotypical picture you have of Nazis, making a little Jewish man play for their amusement? Yes, there have been atrocities committed on both sides, bit the Israelis have forgotten what it was to be Jewish in Europe sixty years ago. Maybe, instead of making the pilgrimmage to the Wall, they should go back to the camps every year and remember the reasons they say 'never forget'. Israel has become the Germany of the Holy Land. Watch this, ladies and gentlemen, and know that someday this will happen at the hands of American troops in Iraq. It can't help but happen because those are the symptoms of Occupation.

Link via TBogg.

Update: 15:40:

From Steve Gillard.


Cross-posted from TF&G:

Lost a customer

Lost a customer today, a guy who's been coming to us for 20 years. It wasn't because we fucked something up on his car, wasn't because he thought he was getting ripped off, no, it was because of my big mouth. Well not my mouth, but my keyboard. My boss, Harry, printed out a couple of my posts over at The Brain and left them at the shop. A couple of the ones where I call Bush a Nazi and so forth. This guy read them and lost it, calling me a traitor and a Communist, and said he wouldn't give Harry any more business until he got rid of me. I'm going to work tomorrow. I can't believe a New Yorker would get that 'red state' over some bullshit I wrote. I can't believe he's gonna take his car to one of the other rip-off artists around here. But hey, we're all entitled to our beliefs, right? The amazing thing, and I'm proud of myself, is that I didn't pop him one when he called me a traitor. The Mrs. would be proud of me, I'm maturing.


WASHINGTON - Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has informed the White House and department staff that he has resigned, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

[. . .]


I wonder which lowlife moron and political hack will take his place?

Surfer Has Dubya Figured Out, Eh?

As we all know, the Chimp is going to visit Canada today and tomorrow. There's a surfer in Nova Scotia (Brrr!) who's got him figured. From the Halifax Herald:
Local surfer Lesley Choyce says he has some concerns about George W. Bush's sex life.

"My thoughts about the guy - that amount of belligerence, aggression and hostility - he must have something lacking in his life," the Lawrencetown resident said on Sunday.

"It seems like it could only possibly be two things: he's either not getting enough sex or he's not surfing.

"I can't help him with his sex life, but maybe if we got a surfboard in the guy's hands . . ."

"I already put out the public invitation that we'd give him a surf lesson too, out here in the cold North Atlantic."

Boy, that water up there's COLD. It's a real weenie-shrinker. I'd love to see the video of Condi blowing in Dubya's ass to get his little pecker to come back out.

Monday, November 29, 2004


MSNBC Breaking News

Supreme Court won't review Mass. ruling allowing gay marriage -

I love the farmer

Especially since he and Pete the Deer killed the Devil.

[. . .]

On Friday afternoon, November 26th, in the year of our Great Dithering Godhead, I the farmer do hereby solemnly swear before man and beast and the four winds and the sixed winged Seraphim and the genii's from the fire - and whatever the hell else you'd like to invite to the occasion - that I smote the impish archfiend Old Scratch and thats the end of that. Hokay.

I have photos too. On Friday afternoon, the day after Thanksgiving, I went walking in the vast tangle of virgin forest near my home with my old trusty friend Pete the Deer. Many of you will fondly remember Pete and his girl friend Kitty Deer from some of my earlier blog posts dating back ten or fifteen years. Or at least it seems like ten or fifteen years. Yes. But just in case you've forgotten about Pete (shame on you) here is a picture of Pete catching a frisbee at last summer's Reindeer games. Before I killed the Devil. Well actually both Pete and I killed the Devil but since Pete can't read I'm pretty much gonna take most of the credit myself.

[. . .]

You have to read this. I was peeing myself laughing. Especially when Jesus makes Jerry Falwell's dick shrivel up.

The Politics of Victimization

This article by Mel Gilles at Mathew draws parallels between Democrats and battered spouses. Here are a coupla excerpts, but go read the whole thing.
Watch Dan Rather apologize for not getting his facts straight, humiliated before the eyes of America, voluntarily undermining his credibility and career of over thirty years. Observe Donna Brazille squirm as she is ridiculed by Bay Buchanan, and pronounced irrelevant and nearly non-existent. Listen as Donna and Nancy Pelosi and Senator Charles Schumer take to the airwaves saying that they have to go back to the drawing board and learn from their mistakes and try to be better, more likable, more appealing, have a stronger message, speak to morality. Watch them awkwardly quote the bible, trying to speak the new language of America. Surf the blogs, and read the comments of dismayed, discombobulated, confused individuals trying to figure out what they did wrong. Hear the cacophony of voices, crying out, “Why did they beat me?”

And then ask anyone who has ever worked in a domestic violence shelter if they have heard this before.

They will tell you, every single day.

The answer is quite simple. They beat us because they are abusers. We can call it hate. We can call it fear. We can say it is unfair. But we are looped into the cycle of violence, and we need to start calling the dominating side what they are: abusive. And we need to recognize that we are the victims of verbal, mental, and even, in the case of Iraq, physical violence.

Listen to George Bush say that the will of God excuses his behavior. Listen, as he refuses to take responsibility, or express remorse, or even once, admit a mistake. Watch him strut, and tell us that he will only work with those who agree with him, and that each of us is only allowed one question (soon, it will be none at all; abusers hit hard when questioned; the press corps can tell you that). See him surround himself with only those who pledge oaths of allegiance. Hear him tell us that if we will only listen and do as he says and agree with his every utterance, all will go well for us (it won’t; we will never be worthy).

And watch the Democratic Party leadership walk on eggshells, try to meet him, please him, wash the windows better, get out that spot, distance themselves from gays and civil rights. See them cry for the attention and affection and approval of the President and his followers. Watch us squirm. Watch us descend into a world of crazy-making, where logic does not work and the other side tells us we are nuts when we rely on facts. A world where, worst of all, we begin to believe we are crazy.

Even if you do everything right, they’ll hit you anyway. Look at the poor souls who voted for this nonsense. They are working for six dollars an hour if they are working at all, their children are dying overseas and suffering from lack of health care and a depleted environment and a shoddy education. And they don’t even know they are being hit.

There is a school of thought that says it's OK to hit back, even OK for a woman to kill her abusive spouse if that's her only way to avoid being being hurt herself.

Of course, I wouldn't want to give anybody any ideas about what they could do to this administration. Moral values and all.

A Recruiter Would Never Lie, Right?

New Army recruits are finding out it ain't all about money for college or learning a trade. I guess they don't follow the news. From the LATimes:
In a dramatic overhaul, boot camp goes beyond the old basics, training even those in normally noncombat jobs to fight in a new kind of war.

The March 2003 ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company from Ft. Bliss, Texas, was a wake-up call for American armed forces. Eleven combat-support soldiers were killed and six more captured — including Pvt. Jessica Lynch — lending urgency to the need to train every volunteer as a warrior.

Pvt. Lynch's rifle wouldn't fire because it was all clogged up with dirt. It's not entirely her fault. She should have been trained to clean her rifle as many times a day as it took to make sure it would fire when called upon to do so. It is unconscionable of the Army to assume support troops will never have to fight.
After the 507th ambush, a task force spent a year brainstorming ways to avoid another such catastrophe. The members came up with a set of new tasks and battle drills considered essential for survival, and suggested adding an extra three weeks of training to teach them. But each day of added training meant a decline in the number of soldiers available for combat. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker ordered the command to find a way to fit the new curriculum into the existing nine weeks.

Instructors prioritized. The traditional marching competition was dropped, and protocol lessons were shortened. Standard courses were made more relevant to today's war. Basic radio communications now includes ways the enemy uses cellphones to detonate bombs.

For the recruits, it wasn't exactly what they expected when a bus deposited them at the gate nine weeks ago. The plan for many had been to learn an Army trade, to make an important contribution and still keep a safe distance from enemy lines. Instead, before they knew it, they were learning to avoid landmines, survive an ambush and spot roadside bombs disguised as cans of Coke.

The infantry soldiers — those who specialize in combat — complete their course in 14 weeks. The combat-support troops train for nine weeks before learning a specific job. But under the Army's new philosophy, they all must be warriors first (my emphasis).

This is new? That explains a lot to this old Jarhead. It never once crossed our minds that we might not get called upon to fight. The Corps' motto was, and is, "Every Marine a rifleman", and that was how we were trained. I was a Ground Radio Repairman, but I shot Expert at the rifle range, got to go on all the "camping trips", climbed down (and back up!) a cargo net into a Mike boat, ate "C's" and dug holes, just like a real infantryman. I probably wouldn't have been in the first wave of a "forced entry" (as they call it now), but I wouldn't have been too far behind, either. Also, I think it behooves anyone in a combat zone to know how to defend themselves, and practice it.
They become proficient with their M-16s, carrying them everywhere except the chapel and the clinic. But — in another new feature of basic training — now they are also taught to load, clear and shoot just about any weapon their unit might carry.

"If the machine-gunner is hurt or killed, they can lay down fire against an enemy," said Col. Kevin A. Shwedo of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command in Virginia. "You don't have to be real good at it to have one hell of an effect."

No shit. In the old days, I fired (and cleaned) every weapon that was organic to an infantry company, and some that were not. I didn't have to be real good with them, just be able to load 'em and hurl hot metal in the right direction. My philosophy on the M-60 machine gun was "another belt, another barrel". I was a terror with a 3.5-in. rocket launcher, too. Hell, it was fun.
"I can't help wondering how many parents understand what their son is getting into," he said.

A few yards away in the parking lot, Becky Price, 49, of Willow River, Minn., held her boy in her arms and cried. He must have looked very different — the hair, the gleaming shoes, the starched green shirt.

"I have faith he'll be fine," she said, certain that wherever he ended up, he would remain safely "on base."

But Pvt. Troy Price, 19 years old, knew better.

Yeah, well, don't tell your mom. She'll worry too much anyway.

The Marine Corps had signs , gold on red, at the Infantry Training Regiment (which all Marines attended after recruit training) which read, "Let No Man's Ghost Ever Say We Failed To Do Our Job".

Remember your training, young soldiers. We want you back home. Best of luck.

Did Saudi Money Rig The Election?

Damned if I know. This report by Wayne Madsen at the Online Journal says so. So does the follow-up piece.
November 25, 2004—According to informed sources in Washington and Houston, the Bush campaign spent some $29 million to pay polling place operatives around the country to rig the election for Bush. The operatives were posing as Homeland Security and FBI agents but were actually technicians familiar with Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S, Triad, Unilect, and Danaher Controls voting machines. These technicians reportedly hacked the systems to skew the results in favor of Bush.

The leak about the money and the rigged election apparently came from technicians who were promised to be paid a certain amount for their work but the Bush campaign interlocutors reneged and some of the technicians are revealing the nature of the vote rigging program.

I'll let you read all the sordid details. This is the kind of story that rarely makes it to the consumer media because it's extremely convoluted and Machiavellian. No sizzle. Way more thrilling to accountants than to Joe Six-pack. It's the way things are done at high levels, though.

I'll be relieved to find out the presidential election was rigged. That'd be better than thinking that 59 million of my fellow citizens are bone stupid.

Oh, and if it does turn out to be true, who's the fool? After spending $29 mil to do the dirty work, they shoulda paid the grunts!


And Gordon thinks I'm crazy when I say they're gonna call me up:


In 1992, Tonya Stewart left the Army after serving 13 years in uniform, believing her service to her country was over.
Now, 12 years later, she's been recalled to active duty.

"I leave for an 18-month tour of duty in two weeks," the 43-year-old Hellam Township resident said. "And that's about all I really know."

[. . .]


FORT JACKSON — Chief Warrant Officer Margaret Murray, who describes herself as “over 50,” says her small frame and some old back pain made it difficult to fire her M-16 in a marksmanship refresher course.

“With my stature, it was a challenge,” said the 4-foot-10, 95-pound, gray-haired personnel specialist from Schenectady, N.Y. “But I can hit the target now.”

[. . .]

The Post-Gazette:

GREENVILLE, Pa. -- Three years after he was honorably discharged from the Army, Frederick Pistorius was surprised to learn he was a deserter.

But there it was, on his doorstep: a letter from Barry W. Kimmons, Deputy Chief, Deserter Information Point Extension Office of the Army Reserve Personnel Command.

[. . .]

Nah, we won't have a draft. Ha! When I get to Iraq, I'll send pictures. If they're taking these folks, my ass has gotta be on a list somewhere.

All links via Melanie.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Nicole's travels

Another reality-based blogger living and working in Turkey. I found her site while going over my traffic stats. Not really a political blog, more of a travel log of her adventures. Good info, cool pics, and some recipies from the area. Go see.

The Reichstag Fire

WaPo via WTF:

In scuttling major intelligence legislation that he, the president and most lawmakers supported, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert last week enunciated a policy in which Congress will pass bills only if most House Republicans back them, regardless of how many Democrats favor them.

Hastert's position, which is drawing fire from Democrats and some outside groups, is the latest step in a decade-long process of limiting Democrats' influence and running the House virtually as a one-party institution. Republicans earlier barred House Democrats from helping to draft major bills such as the 2003 Medicare revision and this year's intelligence package. Hastert (R-Ill.) now says such bills will reach the House floor, after negotiations with the Senate, only if "the majority of the majority" supports them.

[. . .]

Maru says it best:

Arrogant #ucking bastards. And #uck all of you who believed things were going to be different this time around. Honor, integrity, values... if this is the kind of bullshit you believe in, you can kiss my ass. You make me sick.

Nuff said.