Saturday, December 3, 2005

The Death Penalty

Since everybody's going on about the 1000th inmate put to death, I though I'd put in my 2 cents.

First off, I don't have a problem executing a person for certain crimes. I believe we should add rapists and pedophiles to the list. The problem I have is in the execution, so to speak. Personally, I'm for harsher sentences rather than more lenient ones. But if we're gonna put people to death, let's be honest about it. Let's just say some crimes are so bad you deserve the ultimate punishment if you commit them. The death penalty, the way it's practiced in the U.S., it's no deterrent.

If you want a deterrent, do it the way it's done in countries where it works. The death penalty works when the public makes the connection between the crime and the punishment. How many people really remember the headlines when Tookie Williams was arrested 26 years ago? They're gonna torch his ass any day now. How many people remember what this last guy did? There's no connection. If you want a deterrent, you gotta put 'em down sooner.

Take this guy in Florida who abducted, raped, and killed the little girl. By the time they stick the needle in his arm, the only ones who'll remember is the girl's family. If you want to make the cause/effect relationship stick, ya gotta do it soon. Like next week, while it's still fresh in people's minds. Ya also gotta do it publicly.

Fuck this middle of the night thing with 10 witnesses. Do it in prime time, like right before Monday Night Football. Make it good too. Shit, the kids are desensitized from playing Grand Theft Auto, let's go back to hangings. Nothing brings the point across like seeing somebody twisting at the end of a rope. Beheadings are good too, just ask the Arabs. Put it on every channel too, so everybody has to watch it. It's like the Lotto drawings. Once a week, every Monday, just before Al and John 'git ya ready fer some football', there'll be the weekly hangin' hour. And then people will make the connection.

Kill a cop = Monday night
Rape and kill a little kid = Monday night.


Until that happens, let's call it what it is. It's not a deterrent, it's just a way for the powerless to believe they have some measure of retribution.

Note: I gotta stop waxing satirical. Judging from the comments I received over night, either I do satire really badly or you folks don't get it. I'm going for the former. You guys take me far too seriously sometimes. For the record:

  • As long as human nature is involved, the punishment will never be meted out fairly.

  • As long as police and prosecutors strive for a conviction instead of the truth, innocent people will continue to be put to death.

  • As long as racial and social attitudes in this nation remain the same, the poor and minorities will comprise the majority of death row inmates.

  • As long as support or opposition to the death penalty remain a political issue, it will never be administered fairly.

  • The death penalty is a tool of mostly authoritarian, totalitarian regimes. The United States of America should not be included in that group (present leadership not withstanding).

  • The death penalty is NOT (and never will be) a deterrent.

  • Okay, I'm done now.

    Go see the guy in the fancy suit too.

    Injustice

    A 17-year-old girl went to police at the urging of her friends after she was allegedly gang-raped by three men, including her boyfriend. The men testified that the act was consensual. After reviewing all the information and statements, prosecutors decided they didn't think they could prove a rape allegation, and so declined to prosecute the case.

    Instead, they prosecuted the victim for filing a false police report. Yesterday, she was found guilty.

    ...


    Read the rest but take your blood pressure medicine first.

    Nutless

    Time to make some calls to some old friends at Ford this week. It ain't gonna be pretty.

    More corruption

    If you're gonna have to weather a natural disaster, it's best to live in Florida:

    Government lawyers on Friday released Federal Emergency Management Agency documents, including memos sent to the White House that they had tried to keep secret for more than a year.

    Although portions of the documents were removed, they showed that FEMA early on decided to give Florida a significant increase in the usual reimbursement costs of a disaster. [my em]

    ...


    After all, it was an election year and Jeb might wanna be Preznit in a couple. Motherfuckers.

    Hat tip: Susie

    Buying while black

    ...

    "I keep going over and over the incident in my mind," said Reginald Pitts, the 34-year-old human resources manager for the roof material manufacturer's Tampa distribution center. "I cannot come up with any possible reason why I was treated like this except that I am black."

    ...


    Go see Gillard.

    Priorities

    Good lord.

    Thanks: Atrios

    Pond scum

    This via John at AMERICABlog:

    ...

    [President James Buchanan] was the guy who in 1861 passed on the mess to the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. Buchanan set the standard, a tough record to beat. But there are serious people who believe that George W. Bush will prove to do that, be worse than Buchanan. I have talked with three significant historians in the past few months who would not say it in public, but who are saying privately that Bush will be remembered as the worst of the presidents.

    ...


    Worst President EVER.

    A price must be paid

    Dr. Cole:

    From Wednesday to Friday, guerrillas in Iraq killed 18 US troops. The most tragic single incident came on Friday, when guerrillas used old Baath rocket parts to make an enormous bomb that killed 10 Marines near Fallujah and wounded 11. CNN points out that Marine convoys tend to spread out to limit such casualties, so the death of 10 GIs in one incident suggests just a horrific explosion. There were said to be 600,000 tons of munitions stored in Iraq, one of the more militarized societies in the world, and over 200,000 tons are probably still unaccounted for.

    ...


    After the lies, the poor planning, and the outright corruption that are part of every facet of this fiasco, only one thing comes to mind.

    We impeached a President who lied about getting a fucking blowjob!

    As the bodies of American troops pile up, as more corruption and scandal are revealed, it is becoming very clear the only way Bush will pay a price is if there is a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress at this time next year. And a price must be paid.

    The Bush administration cannot be allowed to perpetrate these crimes against this nation and her people, and the world's people, and be allowed to walk away scot-free. This fact has to be made astonishingly clear to the leadership of the Democratic Party as we move into election season.

    This is not a matter of patriotism and it has to be made clear to the public that crimes have been committed. Heinous ones. At the very least, someone must be held accountable for the murder of over 2100 U.S. troops whose lives were squandered for profit.

    Iraq, the reasons for it and the process used to initiate it, is an illegal action brought about purely for the enrichment of large corporations. It is obvious at this point and only the people making a profit from it (directly or indirectly) are denying it. Our credibility in the eyes of world counts on an unequivocal act of contrition. If we are ever to be recognized as the moral leader of the free world again (and we were at one time) we have to take the high road, and continue to do so until we are once again seen as the beacon of freedom and democracy.

    Without our credibility, any diplomatic initiative will be suspect. We are alone on this tiny ball of rock known as Earth that is getting smaller every year. We have to get along with those around us because we are the anchor. We have to be the ones who 'do the right thing', for no one else has the power we do, military, economic, and moral. By letting Bush and the Republicans get away with murder (literally) we will have abdicated our position, earned by the sacrifice of previous generations.

    Yes, a price must be paid and apologies must be given. It is up to the Democratic Party to grow the backbone to do it. It's up to us to remind them of their responsibility and help them get their heads around that fact. Bush must pay, Cheney must pay, and their accomplices must pay. They should at least face trial. We have to show the world we know the difference between Right and Wrong. We are all responsible for our actions and this administration, and their hangers-on, must be held accountable for theirs.

    A price must be paid.

    Hostages

    My prayers go out to those kidnapped in Iraq...but (there's always a 'but', ain't there?)...

    I have one question. What the fuck are you people doing in a fucking war zone?

    ...

    Iraq war opponent Mr Kember, 74, of London, was seized in Baghdad.

    A British anti-war campaigner is due to arrive in the Iraqi capital later to appeal directly for his release.

    ...

    Mr Kember has been held since Saturday along with three other peace activists - American Tom Fox, 54, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32.

    ...


    Now, I'm as much against the war as these peace activists, but being in Iraq ain't gonna bring about the end of the war. 150,000 U.S. troops can't seem to do it, what makes you think you can? As many of we veterans have said over the past 2 1/2 years, this war will be ended politically and the best way to do that is agitate our governments at home.

    Checking out the group these unfortunate folks belong to, it seems they are actually committed to doing good in many places, not just proseletyzing.

    What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war?


    I admire their efforts (and many of our so-called 'christians' could learn from them), but Jesus H. Christ, the situation on the ground there is too unstable. A white (especially those from the U.S. and U.K.) person on the street in Iraq is too tempting a target to those whose mission is to destabilize the situation even more.

    Take a little advice from a guy who's dodged his share of bullets. A war zone is not the place (especially one where your countrymen are part of an occupying force) to do your thing. You're only providing fodder to those whose intentions run counter to yours. You're also condemning your people to a horrible death if they are captured. If you want to stop this war in Iraq, get your fellow Christians in this country to see the light. I mean, they are the ones who got us into this thing in the first place. May God protect your people.

    Update:

    And then there's Rush Lintball.

    Friday, December 2, 2005

    Career Day at the General's

    Help make a boy's dream come true...

    They're all goin' down

    Related (somewhat) to Gord's post below:

    Don't forget that Jack Abramoff's own secretary, Susan Ralston, became Karl Rove's Personal Assistant, and that Abramoff said he contacted Rove personally on relieving his client Tyco from having to pay some taxes and still be able to get federal contracts. Abramoff said "he had contact with Mr. Karl Rove" on Tyco.

    But that's not the half of it! It was only revealed this August that in 2002 Bush himself fired a prosecutor investigating Abramoff over a scandal in Guam. Rove recommended the replacement! [my em]

    ...


    Do I detect an Archibald Cox moment?

    Hat tip: Maru

    DeLay's redistricting ruled illegal, finding suppressed

    WaPo

    Justice Department lawyers concluded that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay (R) violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo obtained by The Washington Post. But senior officials overruled them and approved the plan.
    The memo also found that Republican lawmakers and state officials who helped craft the proposal were aware it posed a high risk of being ruled discriminatory compared with other options.
    The 73-page memo, dated Dec. 12, 2003, has been kept under tight wraps for two years (mine). Lawyers who worked on the case were subjected to an unusual gag rule. The memo was provided to The Post by a person connected to the case who is critical of the adopted redistricting map. Such recommendation memos, while not binding, historically carry great weight within the Justice Department.
    In their analysis, the Justice Department lawyers emphasized that the last-minute changes -- made in a legislative conference committee, out of public view -- fundamentally altered legally acceptable redistricting proposals approved separately by the Texas House and Senate.

    More info at Lone Star Project with a link to the full memo.

    Hopefully, we'll be runnin' my twelve-rope gallows 24/7 until it crumbles to dust. There may not be any Republican politician or appointee anywhere who is not totally immersed in undermining and subverting Democracy, let alone breaking the law.

    Oh, tough guy, huh?

    Go check out Cleek's "Top Thirty Facts About Chuck Norris". Mr. T and Vin Diesel too.

    Chuck Norris is 1/8th Cherokee. This has nothing to do with ancestry, the man ate a fucking Indian.

    I'll have a rum 'n politics with a big shot of history, please...

    AlterNet

    The author of a history of our favorite Caribbean libation discusses how rum affected slavery, Indians, and culture as a whole.
    I don't really regret to say that a lot of the research I did was absolutely irrelevant to the book, but it taught me a lot about rum. It was fascinating because it took me into a lot of history -- particularly about the American Revolution. I developed an appreciation for how the modern world developed the way it did around the Atlantic seaboard.

    Rum was such an integral part of it. This has been written out because of Prohibitionism and temperance. The founding fathers' connection to booze was omitted from American history books, along with the whole role of rum in the American Revolution, the development of the northeast colonies, and its tie-in with slavery. We all in the north look down on the south as the old slave-holding stronghold, but the north actually transported most of those slaves and paid for it with rum.

    It's an interesting article. Here's my favorite part:

    What about rum's connection to the navy?

    The British instituted rum by giving rum rations to the sailors. At the height of the British Empire, British sailors were given over half a pint of rum every day. It's always been a great mystery to me how they got the ships out of port, let alone won battles.

    It was a big bonding ritual on the ships as well. It was an entitlement. The British admiralty resisted interfering with the sailors' sense of entitlement. The American Navy swapped rum for whisky in the early 19th century, during the Civil War, and then abolished the ration entirely.

    But the British didn't abolish it until the 1970s. One of the convincing things they did for a PR stunt was to breathalyze the people who were driving the nuclear submarines for Britain. After they'd had their rum ration, they weren't fit to drive their cars home from the naval base, but they were being considered fit to drive around with submarines filled with nuclear missiles.

    What was most surprising thing you discovered in your research?

    With the Puritanical, self-righteous image of America, the idea that the founding fathers were a bunch of lushes doesn't sit well. Even when I've done readings, I've said that people think that the standard of American politics has declined, and present-day politicians don't match up to the founding fathers. Well, they do.

    Pour yourself a stiff one and go read. Arrggh, mateys!

    Al in the Family

    This is a very strange news day. Maybe it's just me. From AlterNet:

    CBS is looking at a new project from Paramount Network Television that would feature the Reverend Al Sharpton in his own sitcom. That's right, a sitcom. According to Variety, it's called Al in the Family and will be written by Peter Ackerman with Jamie Widdoes set to direct and exec produce.

    He's a funny guy. He'd probably be good at it.

    You may shoot me now.

    Holy shit, is she still alive?

    If there's any old (I hate that word!) folkies left out there besides me, go read about Joan Baez' new album and what she's thinkin' about these days.

    Peace, joy and happy shopping -- right, Jesus?

    I think we better put Mark Morford of the EssEffChron on suicide watch:

    I shall not argue for the purity of the holidays, for some sort of utopian Christian notion that it used to be all simple and lovely and beatific and that it has now been horribly corrupted by ruthless commercial interests, because the whole damned holiday has been commercially controlled for the past hundred years, and to suggest otherwise is to suck down one too many $5 Starbucks Eggnog Lattes and don the happy blinders.

    And I shall certainly not argue for the sanctity of the idea that Christmas is meant to celebrate the holy and glorious birth of Christ (an iPod-free renegade mystic who was actually born somewhere around July) or the idea that we should all be taking some sort of solace in our national generosity of spirit (a generosity that exists only if you're not, you know, gay or minority or Iraqi or Islamic or mentally ill), nor shall I even defend Christmas as a time of family togetherness, given how, for most people, getting together with family around the holidays is akin to having your fingernails yanked out by a chain saw in an ice storm, naked.

    Go read for a little fun and perspective before you get out amongst 'em.

    This day in history

    Working For Change

    12/2/1823: United States announces Monroe Doctrine: essentially, that the U.S. is entitled to do whatever it wants in the Western Hemisphere.

    So, what else is new?

    Pilot circles globe in grandfather's seaplane

    I forgot all about this. I even went back and read October posts to make sure I really had forgotten to post it. Luckily, it's nothing particularly timely, just enjoyable. From the Sierra Sun.

    Iren Dornier piloted his vintage 1938 seaplane over Lake Tahoe Monday evening, dipping to skim the lake in the dimming light before coming to land in Truckee.
    The week-long stay in Truckee for Dornier and his refurbished aluminum aircraft is part of a two-year global mission to raise money for children in the Philippines. After a year-long mission through Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Dornier is taking the plane throughout North and South America, raising funds for the United Nations Children's Fund chapter in the Philippines.

    Dornier is the grandson of aviation pioneer Claude Dornier, who founded the Dornier line of airplanes. And he is following in his grandfather's footsteps in two respects.

    His global mission has set him on a path that retraces his grandfather's flights in a Dornier Do-X seaplane, which at the time was the largest, heaviest and most powerful aircraft in the world.

    I missed getting over to the airport to see it up close, so it came to me. On its way out of town it flew right over my house. Believe me, I heard it coming and ran out to see what all the racket was! A big, beautiful old-fashioned flying boat. It's magnificent! Photo at the link.

    Friday Cattle Dog Blogging



    Princess Shayna, a.k.a. Little Miss Attitude

    More failures

    For President Utterly Incompetent and his band of thieves. Patricia has the goods.

    ...

    "The report card rates the U.S. government's response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in four key areas: prevention, treatment and care, research and global AIDS. Sadly, the administration and Congressional leadership failed to improve since last year's grades, and even dropped to an F in treatment and care. [my em]

    ...


    Update:

    I was meaning to blog about this since Paris. While there, the only English-speaking channel we got at the hotel was the Beeb, and they ran a great series on living with HIV. Fortunately, their website has great links all on one page.

    Why we should leave Iraq

    That Colored Fella puts his finger on it. One paragraph says it all:

    ...

    Those on the Right also want us to believe that the inked Iraqi people are unified in their thirst for Western style democracy, and we cannot 'cut and run' until we deliver what we promised. Yet, Murtha enunciated those sober, and no doubt, surprising statistics to many Americans - 80% percent of Iraqis want an immediate withdrawal of Coalition troops, while 45% percent believe it's perfectly fine to kill any of them, in the meantime. [my em]

    ...


    80% of them want us out; almost half of 'em think it's fine to kill us. Fuck what American public opinion says, it's their country. That's good enough for me.

    Update:

    And Neil explains why we won't:

    ...

    There's not much blood in a human body; a little over a gallon. There are 112.5 billion barrels of "proven reserves" under Iraq. So that's only about 2,000 gallons of blood we're trading for 4 trillion 725 billion gallons of oil. That's a mere 1 gallon of American blood for every 2.375 billion gallons of oil. To these oilmen that's the Deal of the Century. That's better than the Louisiana Purchase. That's better than beads for Manhattan.

    ...

    The American Bush Plan #2

    Krugman:

    ...

    The National Security Council document released this week under the grandiose title "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" is neither an analytical report nor a policy statement. It's simply the same old talking points - "victory in Iraq is a vital U.S. interest"; "failure is not an option" - repackaged in the style of a slide presentation for a business meeting.

    It's an embarrassing piece of work. Yet it's also an important test for the news media. The Bush administration has lost none of its confidence that it can get away with fuzzy math and fuzzy facts - that it won't be called to account for obvious efforts to mislead the public. It's up to journalists to prove that confidence wrong. [my em]

    ...


    With idiots like Lardass and Mrs. Greenspan running around, I don't have much faith that they will.

    Read the whole thing at Uniongrrl's place.

    Where are those WMDs?

    Capt. Jeff Pirozzi
    Camp Taqaddum, Iraq:

    Weapons of mass destruction? I'm still looking for them, and if you find any give me a call so we can justify our presence in Iraq. We started the war based on a lie, and we'll finish it based on a lie. I say this because I am currently serving with a logistics headquarters in the Anbar province, between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. I am not fooled by the constant fabrication of "democracy" and "freedom" touted by our leadership at home and overseas.

    ...


    Read the rest in Stars and Stripes.

    Hat tip: Jillian

    Thursday, December 1, 2005

    Yeesh

    Mama said there'd be days like these...

    Like it or not, you're funding Right-wing Rock

    This makes me sick to my stomach, but I can take it. From Think Progress under "Radical Right-wing Agenda".

    Another "educational" conservative band, Junkyard Prophet, has been busy touring high schools across the country. But these rockers aren't stickin' it to the man - they're being funded by him. The band apparently receives about $1500 per appearance - an amount that several schools have paid out of their drug-free schools funding from the Department of Education. (Junkyard Prophet says it helps students resist peer pressure and "understand the value and beauty of the moral absolutes on which their country was founded.")

    Our sister site, CampusProgress, has details:

    The Des Moines Register reported that after one 2004 performance, Junkyard Prophet handed out CDs to a few random students that bore this message: "the death sentence [is] on you due to your sins! The very evidence of your sin will be your death! It is appointed to you to die and after that you will be judged according to your ways! His judgment is so thorough every thought will be brought to the light. When all your sin against God is exposed, how will you escape the damnation of hell?" [...]

    [Prophets frontman Bradlee] Dean has also told students that "there is nothing in our Constitution or founding documents about separation of church and state" and criticized the theory of evolution.
    According to the band's website, it has appeared at over 220 schools over the last few years. (Experience Junkyard Prophets for yourself - their music videos are here.) In some instances turned up by CampusProgress, students were told that attendance at the assembly was mandatory and that they would be suspended if they skipped out.

    One of the comments says a mouthful:

    Must suck to be a Young Republican. No wonder they drink so much.

    I'd rather my tax money went to buy 'em enough booze to drink themselves to death.

    This whole deal is an unconscionable and illegal use of public funds being filtered through school boards for religious purposes.

    Will someone please punch this asshole's lights out...

    Under the heading "Braindead Media", from Think Progress, with a video link.

    On Today Show, O'Reilly Compares Murtha With Hitler Sympathizers

    Bill O'Reilly on the Today Show this morning:

    These pin-heads running around going, "Get out of Iraq now" don't know what they are talking about. These are the same people before Hitler invaded in WWII that were saying, "He's not such a bad guy." They don't get it.

    Jesus fucking Christ, mention Hitler in the same sentence with the Republican of your choice and watch what happens! I guess IOKIYAR.

    And from Media Matters on the "Liberal War on Christians", with an audio link if you can stand listening to his bullshit:

    According to O'Reilly, the "secular progressive" movement has three elements:

    * First, progressive financiers George Soros and Peter Lewis "pour money into the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union], they pour money into the smear websites, you know, they buy up a lot of media time."
    * Second, "the ACLU is their legal arm. ... [T]he ACLU runs around the country suing everybody and intimidating people."
    * Third, "the smear websites are their media arm."

    O'Reilly said these three elements operate "in tandem":

    O'REILLY: [Y]ou use your left-wing smear websites to go after anybody who stands up for Christmas. If you stand up for Christmas, they come after you. So the tandem intimidates. The tandem intimidates. Suing on one hand; smearing on the other hand.

    The result? According to O'Reilly:

    O'REILLY: In every secular progressive country, they've wiped out religion ... Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, all of them. That's the first step. Get the religion out of there, so that we can impose our big-government, progressive agenda.

    He got the last sentence kinda backwards. It should have been "Get the religion IN there, so that we can impose our big-government fascist agenda". And since when are the Soviet Union, Red China, the Third Reich and Castro's Cuba "progressive"? What a fucking dipshit!

    But wait! There's more! From Free Democracy:

    FOX News and Bill O'Reilly Selling "Holiday Items" While Crying about "The War on Christmas"

    Bill O'Reilly and FOX News have been CRYING about a "War on Christmas" and how the LEFT is using the word "Holiday" instead of "Christmas".

    Well if you go to FOX News here is what you'll find:

    FOX News Channel Ornament Set - 3 pack - Product #:FOX21000700
    Make your holiday tree really festive with a set of 3 ornaments from your favorite Fair and Balanced news channel

    What a buncha hypocritical lyin' money-grubbing bastards! GRRRR!

    Service

    Mike from the waterbed place called. My new mattress is in. Yay! I'm heading out to pick it up. I guess I should throw 'em a plug for the service:

    Atlantis
    514 Rte. 25
    Coram, NY 11727
    631-736-2944

    If you live in NYC Metro and have a waterbed, take down the info.

    Screw Baghdad! Drill it, Sven...

    From the LATimes:

    A controversial oil exploration deal between Iraq's autonomy-minded Kurds and a Norwegian company got underway this week without the approval of the central government here, raising a potentially explosive issue at a time of heightened ethnic and sectarian tensions.

    The Kurdistan Democratic Party, which controls a portion of the semiautonomous Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, last year quietly signed a deal with Norway's DNO to drill for oil near the border city of Zakho. Iraqi and company officials describe the agreement as the first involving new exploration in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

    Drilling began after a ceremony Tuesday, during which Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdish northern region, vowed "there is no way Kurdistan would accept that the central government will control our resources," (my em) according to news agency reports.
    "This is unprecedented," said Alaa Makki, a leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab group. "It's like they are an independent country. This is Iraqi oil and should be shared with all the Iraqi partners."

    I don't think the Kurds give a rat's ass about "all the Iraqi partners". There are Kurds in every nation that borders Northern Iraq, and in every nation they are looked down upon and suppressed as a minority. They really, really want to consolidate all their people into one nation, which is not in the best interests of neighboring countries, Turkey in particular.

    Here's how I think it might go down as soon as the U.S. pulls out:

    Iraq will split into three nations. Southern Iraq will become the West Iranian Theocratic Mullah's Republic (they'll figure out a name for it later). Central Iraq will become a more secular Shiite democracy of sorts, largely Sunni-free due to revenge genocide. It won't amount to much, and may go with Iran eventually. This split will come about as soon as the current civil war is allowed to blossom by our departure. Have at it boys, it's yours to do. It'll be a bloody three-way motherfucker but I think in the end it'll come out the way it comes out. OK by me, whatever.

    The Kurdish Peshmerga are tough, nationalistic, highly motivated soldiers. They will give their all for their own nation of Kurdistan after centuries of suppression by a string of dominant powers. They have like-minded political leadership. I think they are perfectly capable of sealing their own border from incursions from their southern flank. They may have some internal dissent from Arabs who don't want to go along with the program, but the Arabs will lose. They'll move south or die, or live with it.

    I think the Kurds are smart enough not to fuck with Turkey's borders, but Syria will lose territory after a short war. I'm not sure about Iran, but there may be a war there as well. The end result will be a larger, clearly defined Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. I'm on the Kurds' side (that oughta do it for 'em!) and I wish them well. They're the one group we've helped out over there in fifty years that deserves it.

    Kurdistan, not Iraq, may become the force for Democracy in the Middle East. I hope so.

    This process will take years and a lot of nasty business, but it may be the only good thing to inadvertently come out of Bush's War. Like diggin' through six feet of shit under an outhouse to find a ham sandwich.

    Update:

    Read Robert Parry on "Bush in Iraq, Slouching Toward Genocide". Damn, I'm good!

    Told ya so

    See, Gord, it's only a matter of time before they come for me. Sooner rather than later I believe. They'll be lookin' for yer old ass soon too.

    ...

    The Army this month began contacting 78,000 people who previously served in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to pitch them on the idea of leaving behind their civilian lives and returning for another stint in uniform, said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.

    ...


    Details at the Flyin' Squid's place.

    H.R.550 Update

    Diebold Loses NC Lawsuit: Must Comply With Law

    Lardass

    Matthews annoys me. I think it's because I feel he should know better. If he's that obtuse, he should retire.

    ...MSNBC's Chris Matthews fakes wonderment then spins, "Everybody sort of likes the president, except for the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left"...


    They like the President the way the King's Court liked the Jester, Chris, you bleedin' asshole. To quote one of my favorite pompous asses of all time, Charles Emerson Winchester III:

    He has a certain pet-like, demeanor.


    Update:

    The beautiful Jane is of the same mind.

    The American Bush Plan

    David simplifies...

    Update:

    JJ Oats has another take.

    Liberalism does equal family vaules

    From the great Bob Geiger:

    ...

    Gee, let's see, just off the top of my head, these are some of my values:
  • Number One: Treating others the way you yourself would want to be treated
  • Equality for all
  • Protection of privacy
  • Security for the country
  • A healthy environment
  • Telling the truth
  • Caring for others, especially those less fortunate than you - giving to charities like Habitat for Humanity
  • Health care for all
  • A fair and balanced government
  • Separation of Church and State
  • Freedom of Religion
  • The right to dissent
  • Freedom of Speech
  • I'd like to know which of these are not family values, and why.

    ...


    Conservative 'Family Values' = Fuck everybody but me.

    And just a note: Didja ever see somebody and swear you know 'em from somewhere? I know I recognize Bob from somewhere and it's making me nuts. I'm praying it wasn't that gay bar in ... never mind.

    Tribute to Rosa

    NEW YORK -- Bus systems in the city and suburbs will be among dozens nationwide to pay tribute to civil rights icon Rosa Parks on Thursday, the 50th anniversary of the day she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus to a white man.

    On Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses in New York City and Long Island, the seat behind the driver will be symbolically reserved for the late Parks, whose act of disobedience and subsequent arrest prompted a bus boycott and proved a major turning point in the country's civil rights movement. [my em]

    ...


    We've come a long way but there's a LOT more to do.

    Ve haff qvestions

    From my friend Philippe:

    ...

    The Guardian reported on Thursday (1 December) on the basis of flight logs that more than 300 stopovers were made in European airports by planes used by the American intelligence agency.

    ...

    State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the administration would respond "to the best of our ability" to a letter sent to Washington by UK foreign minister Jack Straw on behalf of the EU, expressing concern about possible "violations of international law".

    ...


    The Euros who went along with the Bush 'War on Terra' are realizing they've been played for fools. To wit: Spain and Poland. Even the new conservative government of Angela Merkel in Germany refuses to back the Iraq initiative by sending troops although she certainly wants to.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    I ain't dancin' either

    Arnold at Demagogue:

    Yes, we were right about Iraq. And while a there's a solid minority of the public that still thinks the war was a good idea and has very strong views on the subject, it is a minority. And, similarly, most folks have now figured out what we have been saying for years, namely that Bush and his administration lie regularly and have hardly "restored honor" to the Oval Office. The insane fiscal policy isn't so popular anymore, either. So now that Lincoln's adage about fooling all of the people all of the time is being borne out, we should be gloating, right?

    Except I don't feel like it Bush has been an utter disaster, and he's been so in ways that continually demonstrate that I and others like me were right when most Americans were wrong. Much as I'd like to say, "I told you so," I'm too devastated by what he's done to my country...this is supposed to make me feel good?

    ...


    Much as I was against the war, I didn't want it to be a complete failure.

    Aaaaarrrggghh!

    Waterbed springs a seam. Can't be fixed. New mattress coming in 3 days. Must sleep on piece of shit pullout couch in den. Aaaaaarrrggghh!!!!!!

    For Whom the Bell Tolls

    American Prospect has an epitaph for the Repubs in the wake of Scanlon's plea bargain.

    The Scanlon deal has sounded a death knell for the Republican Revolution of 1994.
    We could be on the verge of one of the most rancid tales to course through our political veins in a long time. And it happened because these masters of the universe regard themselves as immune, because of all the political capital in their pockets.

    But the revolution seems over, and the revolutionaries were right about at least one thing: Their power was momentary and their opportunity was limited. The questions now are, how much did they use that opportunity to help themselves? And how much did they hurt the country in the process? The witness may answer.


    In a related vein, U.S. News & World Report has this:

    As the Abramoff-Scanlon lobbying scandal unfolds with greater speed, congressional Republican advisers are urging leadership officials to call on those linked to it to consider resigning long before the 2006 midterm elections.

    Yeah, better if you leave now rather than gittin' rode outta town on a rail. Besides, there's that pesky EIS on the tar an' feathers.

    No, shit-fer-brains, here's the scoop...

    It's rare to see a military man contradict Rumsfeld in public, so this dialogue between him and Gen. Peter Pace USMC, the first ever Marine Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is notable. From DoD News:

    GEN. PACE: It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it. As an example of how to do it if you don't see it happening but you're told about it is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago. There's a report from an Iraqi to a U.S. commander that there was possibility of inhumane treatment in a particular facility. That U.S. commander got together with his Iraqi counterparts. They went together to the facility, found what they found, reported it to the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi government has taken ownership of that problem and is investigating it. So they did exactly what they should have done.

    SEC. RUMSFELD: But I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it.

    GEN. PACE: If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.

    What is it about Marines? First Colonel Murtha, now General Pace, disagreeing publicly with the High Command! Those guys make me proud.

    U.S. Military Covertly Pays to Run Stories in Iraqi Press

    From the LATimes:

    WASHINGTON - As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

    The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

    It's an old tactic, but the administration didn't even have to pay the New York Times. Them Iraqis are catchin' on.

    MoDo tears the Dick a new one...

    Do not miss Maureen Dowd.

    Vice is fed up with all the whining and carping - and that's just inside the White House. The only negativity in Washington is supposed to be his own. He's the only one allowed to scowl and grumble and conspire.

    The impertinent Tom DeFrank reported in New York's Daily News that embattled White House aides felt "President Bush must take the reins personally" to save his presidency.

    Let him try, Cheney said with a sneer. Things are nowhere near dire enough for that.
    Why do Harry Reid and his Democratic turncoats think they can call the White House on the carpet? Do they think Vice would fear to lie about lying about the rationale for going to war? A real liar never stops lying.
    And now John Warner wants Junior to use fireside chats to explain his plan for Iraq. When did everybody get the un-American idea that the president is answerable to America?

    Vice is fed up with the whining of squirrelly surrogates like Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Wilkerson on behalf of peaceniks like George Senior and Colin Powell. If Poppy's upset about his kid's mentor, he should be man enough to come slug it out.

    Old man Bush would kill the Dick with one punch, which is probably why no one has done it.

    I love ol' MoDo, and yes, I do have fantasies...

    Update:

    D-Day has the scoop on the Dick's "undisclosed new bunker" mentioned by MoDo. Heh.

    Reminder

    H.R. 550. Sign it.

    Big congrats

    Our pal Yelladog is 3 years old today. Wish him the best.

    Plan for (cough) 'victory'

    WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush will confront doubts about his war policy Wednesday, asserting more Iraqi security forces are taking the lead in battle but saying it's still uncertain when U.S. forces can be withdrawn.

    ...

    Facing criticism and impatience about the conflict, Bush is expected to go on the offensive with the release of a 35-page plan titled "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

    ...


    So it's 'campaign season' again, trying to convince us the Chimp administration actually knows what it's doing. Seems to me, you should have had a plan for victory before you said 'Mission Accomplished'; before the balloon went up.

    Bite me!

    That's what Spain and Venezuela said to the Chimp this week.

    CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Spain and Venezuela signed Monday a $2 billion arms deal in which Madrid agreed to supply Caracas with 12 transport planes and eight navy patrol boats.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the United States had attempted to block the deal saying it was another effort by Washington to meddle in regional affairs.

    ...


    So sorry, U.S. influence in South America is going by the wayside. I guess they're tired of being played for fools.

    Where did America go?

    The fall of Empire.

    Jetlag

    Went to sleep at 10. It's 3:30 now and I'm wide awake. Wonderful.

    So I wanted to go over some thoughts I had while in Europe. I got absolutely no news from the States, just a snippet of Chimpy's speech to the Border Patrol on the Beeb. I saw an Arizona state flag so I guess it was there. But I was exposed to Americans.

    While I'm in Europe, I try to avoid Americans at all costs. It isn't hard. They're usually the loudest, most obnoxious and stand out among tourists of many a stripe. I'm sure the natives look at us the same way. A hint: Just because you are yelling "DO - YOU - TAKE - CREDIT - CARDS?" over and over, louder and more slowly each time, at the store clerk, it won't make him/her understand you any better. You just look like an idiot. Whip out your Visa and lay it down, it's a modern country, trust me.

    Next, when you're in arguably the most romantic bistrot in the 7eme Arrondissment and you're eating the most increible meal you'll probably have in your miserable life, don't be going on about how the French hate us and are a buncha assholes for not going to Iraq. There's something called class, what the wait staff treated you with even though they understood every word you said. Trust me, they did. Also, the rest of the patrons who are enjoying the romance of the moment don't need to hear it.

    Next, contrary to popular belief, the French don't hate us. Most speak English and don't demand you speak French. A simple "bon jour" when you enter an establishment will garner a smile. They'll figure out how to help you and do it gladly. In several trips to the city, I have yet to encounter a cross word or a superior attitude. Don't come with one and you'll have no problems.

    After spending a good part of my life in Europe, I've come to see the change in the perception of Americans over the past 35 years. When I was young, America was a society to be emulated. I saw it in the eyes of friends and relatives when they spoke of our great nation. Now we're seen as obnoxious bullies, most of us anyway, and need to be handled rather than respected. It's respect that we're lacking; a respect for cultures thousands of years older than ours. Take it from me, ladies and germs, they must be doing something right to last so long.

    And just a note to the idiot who left his bag outside the bathroom in Charles DeGaulle Airport when he went in to take a leak. You're a fucking ASSHOLE!

    Tuesday, November 29, 2005

    Back in the New York groove



    Just got in and I got about a million emails. I'll be up here tomorrow. Short version: Vacation was great, getting home was a bitch - including an evacuation of the terminal at Charles DeGaulle Airport for an unattended bag - but we're home. I'll post more in depth and put up a couple more pics. We had a snowstorm the other day too. Ausgezeichnet, as you'll see. Thanks for taking up the slack, guys.

    Update:

    I'm trying to stay up late to beat the jet lag and get my body back in the proper time zone. I fully planned to post while I was there, bringing my laptop and all accoutrement. Unfortunately 2 problems arose. One, my battery in the laptop is shot and I didn't know it until I tried to use it. Okay, I got a charger and I could run it on AC power. And then the second problem arises, I forgot to load my wi-fi software. That was a surprise. Couldn't find a place with a hardwired connection. At least I could download the pics I took every day. To wit, in no particular order:

    Paris - Part 1
    Paris - Part 2
    Paris - Part 3
    Retirement Home

    Ah, History...

    From The Guardian (UK):

    There is a remarkable article in the latest issue of the American Jewish weekly, Forward. It calls for President Bush to be impeached and put on trial "for misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC sent his legions into Germany and lost them".

    To describe Iraq as the most foolish war of the last 2,014 years is a sweeping statement, but the writer is well qualified to know.

    He is Martin van Creveld, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the world's foremost military historians. Several of his books have influenced modern military theory and he is the only non-American author on the US Army's list of required reading for officers.

    The articles go on at great length (you know how historians are) to basically state that Bush, not content with merely stepping on his own dick, has stepped on the whole world's pecker, and the Guardian piece ends thus:

    The inescapable fact is that the processes Mr Bush unleashed on March 20 2003 (and imagined he had ended with his "mission accomplished" speech six weeks later) will take a decade or more to run their course and there is little that anyone, even the US, can do now to halt them.

    In his eagerness for regime change in Iraq, Mr Bush blundered into a trap from which in the short term there is no way out: the Americans will be damned if they stay and damned if they leave.

    Impeachment would be a start.

    Update:

    There's a fine interview with Dr. van Creveld at Sonshi.com.

    As you will see in our interview with him, he did not mince words with us. And we wouldn't want it any other way. When we informed him of a news article about how Bush officials bristle at the suggestion the war in Iraq looks like Vietnam, he replied, "Well, let them do some bristling. These people should be impeached, tried and punished for misleading the American people into a senseless war. They can then spend their time in prison reading Clausewitz and Sun Tzu." (my bold) Whether you agree or disagree, Martin van Creveld's words have substance and are not mere conjecture. Dismiss them at our nation's peril.

    Go read all of this stuff. Give yourself as many History credits as you want.

    Bye Bye Cdr. Crotchrocket...

    Democratic Veteran, a former Naval Aviator his own self, takes a look at Richie Randy Cunningham:

    Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a Navy "ace" so close to being booted out of the Navy for being a piss-poor officer, before he shot down his last MiG is finally reaping the fruits of his own stupidity. Met Duke as a passing acquaintance when he was the (no shit) senior pilot in his squadron flying Phantooms off the Coral Maru. He was a legend in his own mind. A hell of a pilot though...unfortunately for him, being a hell of a stick is not always enough to build a successful Navy career on...
    I'd be in a more celebratory mood about this one, but Duke was never the sharpest tool in the shed. He wasn't even a really nice guy...he just cut a swath with all his bullshit and bravado, and hoped to coast on his rep for life, without ever accomplishing anything meaningful.

    I guess you can say this about Duke ... he'll probably be "born yet again" in prison, and have a felony conviction in common with his son...

    I guess we can add crime to the list of father & son activities right after riding dirt bikes. You can crash & burn doing either one.

    Oops. Heh.

    From AlterNet:

    Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, flubbed Monday and referred to Iraq as Vietnam while commenting on Fox News against an immediate troop withdrawal.
    "The Democratic Party seems to be taken over by the Michael Moore contingent in their attitude toward Vietnam, and they continually call for a withdrawal of troops at a time when we haven't finished the job," Hatch said on the network's morning show. Hatch's spokesman acknowledged the error, which was first reported on the American Prospect Web log.

    Apparently Faux News didn't call him on it. That doesn't surprise me as they neither know what's going on, nor would they ever contradict a Republican.

    Cheer up, Senator. It's not quite as bad as calling your wife by your mistress's name!

    Oh Boy! Another special election!

    I thought Ah-nold could appoint someone to fill Cunningham's House seat. I was glad to see this in the LATimes.

    SAN DIEGO - Once Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger receives official notification of the resignation of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe), he has two weeks to call a special election in the 50th Congressional District. Unlike a Senate vacancy, he cannot appoint a successor.

    The law allows the governor to tack an election onto a previously scheduled election, so a special election to complete Cunningham's term could be held in June, when a primary will be held anyway for candidates seeking a full two-year term in Cunningham's old district.

    It remains to be seen what he will do. In the meantime, I wonder if the folks in that district will even notice they don't have a congresscritter.

    I hope Cunningham's guilty plea starts a trend. I think all the (mostly Republican) Representatives that are under investigation and indictment do the same. It's win-win. Plead guilty, roll over on a few cronies, spend less time in jail, and we are spared the expense and delay of a trial.

    Longer needles needed...

    I thought this article in the LATimes was apropos after Thanksgiving:

    Fatter rear ends are causing many drug injections to miss their mark, requiring longer needles to reach buttock muscle, researchers said today.

    I bet scientists are standing in line to get that dream research job!

    Monday, November 28, 2005

    Pain and Politics of Ground Zero

    A detailed article on the controversy regarding families of some who died at the WTC on 9-11.

    The Grief Police
    No one says the 9/11 families aren't entitled to their pain. But should a small handful of them have the power to reshape ground zero?

    The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon left us with a total of 2,933 people recorded dead. Liberally speaking, that could mean that as many as 10,000 or 15,000 parents and children and siblings might be inclined to stay involved in the rebuilding of ground zero-this, not including the thousands of survivors of the attacks, the dozens of first responders who made it out alive, and all their families.

    In reality, it's more like 30. Not 30,000, but 30. It's only 30 people like Ielpi who have kept their hands in the game by regularly attending planning meetings, helming Websites, filing lawsuits, and fighting political battles-over the security of new skyscrapers, the burial of unidentified remains, the separate placement of the names of firefighters among the lists of the dead, the size of a memorial. When rallies are held-like the one last month to preserve the human remains from the site that are still stored at Fresh Kills-these 30 people draw at most a few hundred.

    Of the 30 hard-core activists, just half are part of Take Back the Memorial. It's these fifteen people who have come to stand, in the eyes of the public, for the views of all 9/11 families-even though many 9/11 family members supported the IFC and other ground-zero development as well. "I personally do not represent the families," says Paula Grant Berry, who lost her husband, David, on 9/11, and is the only family member to have served on the panel that chose Arad's memorial design. "No family member can. I wouldn't know where to begin. Just because you're a family member doesn't mean you can't be manipulative. And just because you're a family member doesn't mean you can't be manipulated by other family members."

    No one, not even the Take Back the Memorial members' most bitter opponents, denies the families their grief and the substance of at least some of their arguments. But however heartbreaking their stories-and however relevant the concern that future generations remember what happened that September morning-the Take Back the Memorial members are far from the only interested parties at ground zero. Thousands of people who live and work downtown are still waiting for shops and services. Thousands of workers-many of them survivors, too, who saw bodies fall and ran for their lives as the towers collapsed-are pained by the still-gaping pit and are waiting for a new center for international commerce to curb the loss of Wall Street jobs.

    Enraptured of the Rapture

    There's nothing more scary than a fanatic:


    American "Rapture"

    Best-selling author and evangelical leader Tim LaHaye has contacts that extend to the White House. That could spell trouble, since his theology espouses a bloody apocalypse in Israel

    As we walk down from the top of the hill of Megiddo, one of them looks out over the Jezreel Valley. "Can you imagine this entire valley filled with blood?" he asks. "That would be a 200-mile-long river of blood, four and a half feet deep. We've done the math. That's the blood of as many as two and a half billion people."

    When this will happen is another question, and the Bible says that "of that day and hour knoweth no man." Nevertheless, LaHaye's disciples are certain these events—the End of Days—are imminent. In fact, one of them has especially strong ideas about when they will take place. "Not soon enough," she says. "Not soon enough."

    If such views sound extraordinary, the people who hold them are decidedly not. For the most part, the people on the tour could pass for a random selection culled from almost any shopping mall in America. There are warm and loving middle-aged couples who hold hands. There is a well-coiffed Texas matron with an Herm├Ęs scarf. There's a ducktailed septuagenarian and a host of post-teen mall rats. There are young singles. One couple even chose this trip for their honeymoon. A big-haired platinum blonde with a white sequined cowboy hat adds a touch of Dallas glamour. There is a computer-security expert, a legal assistant, and a real-estate broker; a construction executive, a retired pastor, a caregiver for the elderly, and a graduate student from Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. They hail from Peoria, Illinois, and Longview, Texas, as well as San Diego and San Antonio. Most are fans of the "Left Behind" books. Some have attended the Left Behind Prophecy Conference on one of its tours of the U.S.

    And while their beliefs may seem astounding to secular Americans, they are not unusual. According to a Time/CNN poll from 2002, 59 percent of Americans believe the events in the book of Revelation will take place.


    This is an fairly large size article that's worth the read. Keep in mind that Bush at least pays lip service to them.

    Woodward According to Nora Ephron

    Nora Ephron, Hollywood director, writer, and ex-wife of Carl Bernstein writes of her observations of Bob Woodward.

    Nora Ephron, Bernstein's Ex, "Explains" Woodward

    ...four "truths" about Woodward.

    Truth #1: He is not a liar.

    But truth #2: "Bob has always had trouble seeing the forest for the trees. That's why people love to talk to him; he almost never puts the pieces together in a way that hurts his sources."

    Truth #3: Bob is not like other reporters, and it's not surprising he did not tell his editor Leonard Downie about his Plame role: "Woodward spends most of his life reporting. He knows everything. What's more, he has no idea what it adds up to. How could he possibly keep anyone, much less his editor, in the loop? It would take hours and hours of debriefing every week, hours that would undoubtedly be better spent reporting on the after-the-fact thoughts of people in power who are trying to justify the mistakes they've made."

    Truth #4: "If you don't talk to Woodward, you'll be sorry. I mention this not because it's precisely true (look at me), but because it's an operating truth in official Washington. What's more, it's the only explanation I can come up with for why Woodward was foolish enough to trash Fitzgerald's investigation; I suspect that Fitzgerald is the only powerful figure in Washington who does not pour his heart out to Woodward on a weekly basis, and Woodward was telling him that he’d better get on the train."


    A different perspective on Bob Woodward and worth reading.