Saturday, October 6, 2007

What I know about Europe ...

Via Atrios, what I know after spending half my life in Europe:

...

Beware of stereotypes based on ideological assumptions. As Europe's economy has surged, it has maintained fairness and equality. Unlike in the United States, with its rampant inequality and lack of universal access to affordable health care and higher education, Europeans have harnessed their economic engine to create wealth that is broadly distributed.

...


Either believe what I tell ya or what the conservatives say, but I'm the one who's retiring to Paris. Be nice if the conservatives who malign 'Old Europe' actually left the U.S. and experienced it. You see ladies in burqas shopping right next to ladies wearing the latest Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karan. It works, unlike this dysfunctional mess we have here.

Update:

Demosthenes
(thanks to the lovely Avedon) looks at this too, riffing off the Krugman article Gord linked to the other day:

...

The French's shorter hours would be conducive to greater productivity while they actually are working, and a greater quality of life while they're not. Honestly, aside from a slight hit to GDP--that, in America, principally consists of increased compensation to the already fantastically wealthy and slightly greater pay for those with no time to enjoy it--I honestly fail to see the problem.


Update Zwei:

There's a reason why the dollar is doing so poorly against a currency (the Euro) that, by rights, ought to have been worthless 5 years after its inception.

And, by the way, I thought the U.S. hegemony* would have been accomplished (if you read my books) by a strong dollar as opposed to military might as Bush and the neocons believe. My vision for the future would be Europe and Asia rallying around and accepting the dollar (after the fiscal discipline and growth of the Clinton years, and our 'sole superpower' status) as the 'universal currency'; an economic sphere, as it were, from which a global government (hegemony) would arise sometime (a century or two) in the future. I believed, before Bush gained control, an idealistic sea change in the Mid East and East Asia would come about due to economic pressures, and their entrance into the 'First World', and would signal the beginning of a more progressive direction for the world to take.

Lord, was I wrong. The Chimp managed to fuck it all up.

*I always said I'm more of the king type; progressive but despotic. Heh ...

Beep! Beep! Schwarzewasser comin' through!

Janessa Gans

When the Iraqi government last month demanded the expulsion of Blackwater USA, the private security firm, I had one reaction: It's about time.

As a U.S. official in Baghdad for nearly two years, I was frequently the "beneficiary" of Blackwater's over-the-top zeal. "Just pretend it's a roller coaster," I used to tell myself during trips through downtown Baghdad.

We would careen around corners, jump road dividers, reach speeds in excess of 100 mph and often cross over to the wrong side of the street, oncoming traffic be damned.

One particularly infuriating time, I was in the town of Irbil in northern Iraq, being driven to a meeting with a Kurdish political leader. We were on a narrow stretch of highway with no shoulders and foot-high barriers on both sides. The lead Suburban in our convoy loomed up behind an old, puttering sedan driven by an older man with a young woman and three children.

As we approached at typical breakneck speed, the Blackwater driver honked furiously and motioned to the side, as if they should pull over. The kids in the back seat looked back in horror, mouths agape at the sight of the heavily armored Suburbans driven by large, armed men in dark sunglasses. The poor Iraqi driver frantically searched for a means of escape, but there was none. So the lead Blackwater vehicle smashed heedlessly into the car, pushing it into the barrier. We zoomed by too quickly to notice if anyone was hurt.

Until that point I had never mentioned anything to my drivers about their tactics, but this time I could not contain myself.

"Where do you all expect them to go?" I shrieked. "It was an old guy and a family, for goodness' sake. Was it necessary for them to destroy their poor old car?"

My driver responded impassively: "Ma'am, we've been trained to view anyone as a potential threat. You don't know who they might use as decoys or what the risks are. Terrorists could be disguised as anyone."

"Well, if they weren't terrorists before, they certainly are now!" I retorted. Sulking in my seat, I was stunned by the driver's indifference.

One of these days, and I'm not givin' anybody any ideas since I'm sure they've already thought of this, Iraqi locals, not necessarily organized insurgents but just pissed-off homies, are going to shove a bunch of old cars filled with cement in front of a Blackwater convoy, knowing the lead driver will try to bust through a roadblock at high speed, and let those macho (Spanish for 'mule') thugs run smack dab into the barrier and come to a crumpled halt, like an accordion daisy chain. Then they're gonna out with their household AKs and RPGs and waste 'em all. I can't say I'll blame them. It'll be like a Neighborhood Watch taking their street back from dope dealers and hoods.

If the Iraqi homeboys are smart, and I think they are, they'll then hide their guns, put on big shit-eatin' grins, and sell lemonade to the actual GIs who come to pull what's left of the mercs and their clients' fat out of the fire.

A wide stance, a bag of go-fast, and thou...

KESQ, Palm Springs

The male escort responsible for the downfall of Christian evangelist leader Ted Haggard is now alleging that embattled Senator Larry Craig also came to see him.

True? ¿Quien sabe? Who cares? It's fun!

Where's the profit in compassion for children?

Blow in his ear Click to inflate


Eugene Robinson

To say that George W. Bush spends money like a drunken sailor is to insult every gin-soaked patron of every dockside dive in every dubious port of call. [...]

Having done a modicum of, er, research in that field in a previous life, I like that line!

So for Bush to get religion on fiscal responsibility at this late date is, well, a joke. And for him to make his stand on a measure that would have provided health insurance to needy children is a punch line that hasn't left many Republicans laughing.

That's cuz it ain't funny, Gene. Mean, petulant, and petty, yes. Bush is a sore-headed loser. He really doesn't want to see anybody actually getting anything useful for all the money he throws at Big Biz, Heaven should only forfend! Maybe the little voices he thinks are God told him to do it...

The program Congress voted to expand provides health insurance for children who fall into a perilous gap: Their families make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but don't make enough to afford health insurance. The cost of covering an additional 4 million children was estimated at around $35 billion over five years. That's a lot of money. But in the context of a $13 trillion economy -- and set against Bush's history of devil-may-care, "buy the house another round" spending -- it's chump change.

It's hard for me to get my head around $35B as 'chump change', but in context it is. The Chimp's doing it 'for the children'. They're too young to drink, and he doesn't want them to end up a wet-brained dry drunk like him. Unless, of course, their parents pay the enablers of Big Med. Then they can have all they want until they get too much 'health care' and get cut off. Then they can just fucking die if it affects the bottom line.

Bush's stated reasons for vetoing the SCHIP bill left even reliable congressional allies -- such as Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Charles Grassley of Iowa, both of whom supported the legislation -- sputtering in incomprehension. As for me, I don't know what to call the president's rationale but a pack of flat-out lies (my em).

The president said Congress was trying to "federalize health care," even though the program in question is run by the states. The president said that "I don't want the federal government making decisions for doctors and customers," even though the vetoed bill authorizes no such decisions -- the program enrolls children in private, I repeat, private, health insurance plans.

Bush seems to be upset that Congress didn't adopt his pet idea to tackle the health insurance issue through -- guess what? -- tax breaks. None of the major players on Capitol Hill thought this would work. When the White House persisted, Congress moved ahead on its own.

Hatch said he believed Bush had been given bad advice by his staff. He didn't take the next step and draw what seems to me the obvious conclusion: Either Bush didn't understand the bill he vetoed or he's just being petulant -- with the health of 4 million children at stake.

"I hope the folks at home raise Cain," Hatch said. Oh, I think they will.

I sure hope they do. I think that until this country sees the light, private health insurance should come out of our tax money instead of on top of it.

Bush is scared pissless of 'socialized' health care. As a corporate whore, he should be. When we finally get universal single-payer health coverage for all, the private insurance companies are by and large going in the shitcan and good riddance.

It's coming, trust me. Health care for profit is getting to be an obscene notion and is on its way out. It's way past time we caught up with the world.

I don't think so ...

I don't often disagree with Jane Hamsher, and never enough to do a blog post about it, but I have to say something here because I don't want him let off the hook. Lardass Matthews came out this week and talked about the pressure put on him by the White House (and others) not to criticize Republicans on his Noballs show. Jane gives him credit for being 'courageous'.

...

I understand the knee-jerk reaction is to say “what took you so long” but the fact of the matter is that it’s going to be awfully difficult to unravel this situation unless journalists start speaking up about the strong-arm tactics that have been used on them, fostering Paul Krugman’s climate of “asymmetrical intimidation” (where no penalty is paid for ridiculing Democrats but you get your ass handed to you for saying anything untoward about the GOP). I also think it took more guts, not less to say it in front of the Pale & Male Club who have been the ones engaging in this charming little game that has landed us in the middle of such a toxic journalistic climate.

Of course there will be times when it looks like people are just trying to catch the next wave, but Matthews actually did speak out at the time and told Joe Wilson that Karl Rove had said his wife was “fair game.” I really do think he should be applauded for speaking out here. Hopefully others will follow suit.

...


If Matthews wants applause from me, he could say this shit on his show, something (for now) people pay attention to. Do you think his comments at this shindig will make it anywhere past the lefty blogs? He could come on and say, "I want to report [whatever] but the White House has put pressure on my boss to silence me." He could have resigned and gone public with the reasons why. He certainly doesn't have to fellate every Rethug who appears. If someone told me to compromise my principles to do my job, I wouldn't have that job.

No, Jane, he gets no credit, no applause from me because he was one of the many who looked the other way when his voice could have made a difference when it counted.

Lessons ...

Barry Bonds and other 'role models' could learn something from Marion Jones. So can children who look up to 'people of celebrity'. What this young woman did yesterday was probably the most difficult thing she ever had to do in her life. She stood up and accepted responsibility for her actions. God bless her and I wish her well. This is a good start on the journey to reclaim her credibility and integrity.

Too bad it took until now ...

I had this same epiphany almost 20 years ago, at the time when being Republican was beginning to mean being 'Christian':

...

Screw them. I got out. They can have their party. I will vote for Democrats and little L libertarians and isolationists until the crazy people aren’t running the GOP. The threat of higher taxes in the short term isn’t enough to keep me from voting out crazy people and voting for sane people with whom I merely disagree regarding policy. Hillarycare doesn’t scare me as much as Frank Gaffney having a line to the person with the nuclear football or Dobson and company crafting domestic policy.

...


Link via Greenwald.

Saturday whorage

Saturday means there's another chapter of Thirty Days at Zeta up at The Practical Press.

As always, whore yourself in comments.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Stupid's hard ...

Cliff Schecter:

...

It seems to be a race to the bottom with these cerebrally ill-clad, Abramoffian imbeciles. After Dan Quayle, for obvious reasons (potato-E) they had to search far and wide for a bigger mumbo-brain. They found one in the persecuted personnage of George W. Bush. A guy who has trouble finding an unlocked door after press conferences or chewing pretzels without the White House taster present.

But finding someone even more mentally handicapped this time around was going to be quite a challenge. They had good 'ole country boy George Allen, if by "country boy" you mean a spoiled-brat, rich-kid from Los Angeles who liked to torture his sister. But he too openly hated black people, instead of hiding it among metaphors and code words like the rest of his klan...er, party.

...

Democratic Presidential Candidate Does The Right Thing! Shocking!

BradBlog

A Democrat does the right thing for a change! What are the odds these days? And will it hold?

Senator and Presidential Candidate Barack Obama (D-IL), had recently (and correctly) called on Bush to send up an "acceptable" nominee to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), instead of the anti-Democracy, anti-voter villain Hans von Spakovsky.

"His record of poor management, divisiveness, and inappropriate partisanship makes him an unacceptable nominee to the FEC," Obama had previously said. "I am particularly concerned with his efforts to undermine voting rights at the Civil Rights Division during his tenure at the Department of Justice."

And for a change, we have a Democrat who has decided to put his money where his mouth is! For now.

It only makes sense for Bush to try and install an FEC head that will try to disenfranchise as many Democratic voters as possible to lessen the margin of the upcoming Repug trounce in '08.

It also makes sense that the Dems try to stop it. It's refreshing that an actual candidate, the one for change, did it.

Good on yer, Senator Obama.

"Look at the poor little sick kid! Hahahahaha!"

Paul Krugman on the 'compassion' of conservatives. Shorter: Not. If you're poor or sick, they think it's funny.

Of course, minimizing and mocking the suffering of others is a natural strategy for political figures who advocate lower taxes on the rich and less help for the poor and unlucky. But I believe that the lack of empathy shown by Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Kristol, and, yes, Mr. Bush is genuine, not feigned.

What’s happening, presumably, is that modern movement conservatism attracts a certain personality type. If you identify with the downtrodden, even a little, you don’t belong. If you think ridicule is an appropriate response to other peoples’ woes, you fit right in.

And Republican disillusionment with Mr. Bush does not appear to signal any change in that regard. On the contrary, the leading candidates for the Republican nomination have gone out of their way to condemn “socialism,” which is G.O.P.-speak for any attempt to help the less fortunate.

So once again, if you’re poor or you’re sick or you don’t have health insurance, remember this: these people think your problems are funny.

I like Mr. Krugman. He speaks great truths in the most polite way I can imagine. If it was left to the boorish likes of me to describe the Repugs' attitude toward everyone but themselves, it would be more on the order of: they're mean, cruel, heartless, greedy, selfish, elitist, clueless, hooray-for-me-and-fuck-you warmongering dickless motherfuckers and suckers of corporate cock who have deluded themselves into thinking they are morally superior because of their own propaganda. The Repug Masters know it's not true of course, but if they ever admitted their own lies and mistakes their house of rotten cards would collapse even more quickly than it's going to very soon anyway.

The party of 'moral values' ...

Is a moral failure. Swopa:

...

When you fail on this scale, it’s not just incompetence — it’s an ongoing betrayal of trust, the abandonment of one moral responsibility after another.

...

That’s why MoveOn.org’s recent campaign on this theme is such a threat to the Republicans; it plants an idea in people’s minds that maybe the GOP doesn’t deserve that aura of morality that they’re always claiming for themselves. And once people are cued to start looking for proof of the Republicans’ moral failure, they’re likely to find more evidence every day.


I don't know how it wasn't obvious to the majority of the population until recently, but I'll be satisfied that most Americans have their eyes open now. The imperative now is getting congressional Dems to do the same thing.

Update:

Speaking of 'moral values', how surprised are you to find out another Rethug has an affinity for public restrooms? Our pal Scout Prime:

...

Early Thursday Republican Joey DiFatta dropped out of the Louisiana State Senate 1st District race claiming he had been having chest pains and "might have had a minor heart attack in the past few days." Tonight the Times Picayune reports DiFatta, (a former member of the Republican State Central Committee--1996-2004), was twice detained for suspicion of lewd conduct in mall restrooms.

...


Times-Picayune link on her post.

Foot, meet bullet...

Radio Iowa quoting Fred Thompson on Iran:

I'm afraid that the Soviet Union & China are not ever going to do anything that's going to hurt them that badly but we need to ratchet those up if at all possible.

While that statement is literally true, yer gonna have to do a helluva lot more than ratchet up the Soviet Union, Einstein!

I guess we should be thankful that a presidential candidate didn't mention that the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires ain't likely to be much help either.

I am praying that this moron becomes the Repuglicant nominee.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

FNG*

Click to make it even worse

*Fuckin' New Guy

Dippin' the Bishop

I read this at Yahoo!News:

Bishop would deny Communion to Giuliani

ST. LOUIS - Roman Catholic Archbishop Raymond Burke, who made headlines last presidential season by saying he'd refuse Holy Communion to John Kerry, has his eye on Rudy Giuliani this year. Giuliani's response: "Archbishops have a right to their opinion."

Burke, the archbishop of St. Louis, was asked if he would deny Communion to Giuliani or any other presidential candidate who supports abortion rights.

It got me to thinkin' (!!!).

First of all, this clown priest is just looking for publicity. If he'da thought this through, he would realize, if he really believes his own Catholic misinformative oppressive crap, that Giuliani is going to go to Hell anyway just for taking communion. If Giuliani is as good a mackerel snapper as he claims he is, he won't even try. If he takes communion just as a photo-op to show how religious he is, he compounds his 'sin'.

I ain't exactly worried about what happens to JulieAnnie's soul. He ain't got one, near as I can figure.

Now, according to Cat'lick occultism ritual dogma, handed down to keep the faithful in line for centuries, in order to properly cannibalize the transubstantiated Lord by means of the most tasteless little cookie ever devised, your soul has to be in a state of grace, i.e. free of sin. You do this by confessing your sins to a priest, out loud, in person, upon completion of which he makes you pay a small fine in the form of a penance, usually some rote prayers. I can't imagine what sins old Italian and Mexican ladies could commit, but I've seen them flat fuckin' melt their rosaries doing this.

There's a lot of funny jokes about penances, like gargling with holy water to pay off for giving a blow job, but I digress...

Think for a moment of the priest who has to sit, usually on Thursday or Saturday nights, in a small confessional booth, in the dark, and wait for people to come tell him the weirdest shit so he can absolve them. I wonder what politicians confess to? They never tell the truth anyway. Can you imagine listening, to Repugs in particular, tell you about their sins? No wonder these guys are horny for young boys!

The priests know what's going to happen. In preparation, to help avoid the occasion of sin, they should put about forty pounds of ice in the holy water font ahead of time. After they get all worked up listening to the sleazy details of their parishioners' foibles and need a 'cooling-off period', they should take their Standing Bishops and dip them in it.

Come to think of it, the 'weenie shrinker' penance is something the priest and his political parishioner could do together. It would help keep sleazy hypocritical behavior off the streets and in churches and the Capitol where it belongs.

Update:

It's funny how things work sometimes, but I swear I didn't see this article in Time until after I took my my tongue out of my cheek from dashing off the above.

Increasingly, it seems the only thing U.S. Catholics confess these days is that they rarely if ever confess.
...

The fading away of one of Catholicism's best-known traditions has finally gotten alarming enough that bishops have begun turning to modern marketing tools to reverse it.

Any revival effort has a long way to go. Confession has been in steady decline for decades. Reasons range from long-standing doubts about church teachings to the current obsession with public mea culpas that have largely supplanted the confessional booth. [...]

The church's sexual-abuse scandal has also taken its toll. Catholics felt that the bishops--many of them accused of enabling pedophile priests--were arrogantly evading the same kind of penance they demand from their flocks.

I'm glad a big outfit like Time got my point...

...and some priests are even hearing confessions in venues likes shopping malls.

Near Victoria's Secret I hope...

Who says irony is dead? Ha!

National Guard Troops Denied Benefits After Longest Deployment Of Iraq War

WCSH6, Portland, Maine

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (NBC) -- When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush's surge.

1st Lt. Jon Anderson said he never expected to come home to this: A government refusing to pay education benefits he says he should have earned under the GI bill.

"It's pretty much a slap in the face," Anderson said. "I think it was a scheme to save money, personally. I think it was a leadership failure by the senior Washington leadership... once again failing the soldiers."

Anderson's orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.

Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.

This is about as chickenshit as it gets. So far. Just when you think the Pentagon has topped out on egregious fucking over of the troops, they never fail to top themselves with a new low.

22 months is a looong overseas deployment for a Regular, let alone for supposedly part time Citizen Soldiers who have left home and career to get participated in the Iraq clusterfuck.

I guess the (Br)asshats feel they need to stiff a couple thousand guys who did their duty out of a few hundred bucks a month so they can pay 'defense' contractors whatever they want. If they bothered to audit Cheneyburton's or Darksmellyliquid's billings, they could come up with the bucks in a New York minute, but nooooo...then there wouldn't be the high-dollar do-nothing jobs for retired Flags.

Minnesota's senators are looking into this. I hope they can do something. All the GIs are being horribly misused by this administration, and we owe them.

"Like fascism, I fear fascism,"

In case you missed it, watch Matthews get his lard ass handed to him:



More commrmtary at Editor & Publisher.

This was worth waiting a decade for.

Heh.

Update:

Kos

Apparently Tweety has a new book about how life is like a political campaign. Stewart committed the ultimate lapse of judgment and read the fucking thing before having Matthews on.

Well the gist of the book, according to Jon (who I tend to trust on such things) is that life is that the way to be successful in life is to be duplicitous and cut-throat, or at least calculating. Instead of playing along with this shit, Jon called him on it.

Tweety was stunned, of course. Visibly shocked that Jon wasn't just glad-handing him. Tweety made a huge tactical mistake and asked him point-blank what he thought of the book. "I thought it was a recipe for sadness."

By the end I think Jon felt badly about it, but he shouldn't. It was great television and great for Tweety to hear.

It didn't hurt me to hear it either. Well, my sides hurt a little bit afterwards.

It wouldn't hurt even a little bit for more of the inside-the-Beltway gasbags to hear more of this stuff, either.

Now I get it ...

Americans are just celebrity whores. TRex made me see the light:

...

Ryan, I am sure you are a very sweet person, but you and your friends need to be a little more discerning about who makes you guys squeal like a bunch of star-struck little girls at a Justin Timberlake concert. Ann Coulter is serving an agenda that’s about as healthy for the gay community as crystal meth.

I’m appalled that a bunch of grown men in a marginalized population would just drop their principles to fawn over that cracked-out basilisk. I don’t care if her private beliefs are vastly different than the toxic spew she emits on television and in her books.

...


The fact she takes diametrically opposed positions privately and publicly is reason enough to dislike her. I don't know about anyone else, but taking money to preach what you don't believe is disgusting as well as hypocritical.

Off to the shop ...

Yeah, what happened?

From the "How I know the Dems aren't serious" Department:

...

Oh, they can hold a vote condemning Moveon's exercise of it's free speech rights (and get it to the floor in record time). That's easy. But actually schedule a vote on contempt of Congress by Bush administration officials whose actions have deliberately obstructed a congressional investigation into the improper and potentially unlawful firing of US Attorneys by the Bush administration, the suborning of the Department of Justice into just another arm of the Republican Party's voter suppression efforts by forcing US Attorneys' to bring phony charges of voter fraud against Democrats, and allegations of potential White House meddling in prosecutions of corruption by Republican lobbyists and lawmakers in an election year? That's an "uphill struggle." Then again, getting the Democrats to use their political capital to actually oppose Congressional Republicans and/or the White House on anything seems like an uphill struggle most days.

...


And the question Steven D asks is one of mine as well:

... Explain to me why I voted for these clowns in 2006. Better yet, tell me again why I should vote for these clowns in 2008? ...


Because they give the Chimp whatever he wants, just like the Rethugs did in the last Congress. The time for talk is over. Shut up and do what we sent you there to do.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Loved by my people ...

Today, my birthday, is a national holiday in Germany. I would like to thank Herr Kohl, Frau Merkel, and the members of the Bundesrat and Bundestag for bestowing such an honor ...

Quote of the Day - Zwei

August:

So just for the record, the "compassionate conservative" has vetoed only four bills in his entire reign as President. Two of them would have helped advance research into life-saving medical procedures. Another would have started bringing troops home from Iraq. This morning, he vetoed a bill that would have given millions of children health coverage.

There is something very disturbing about Bush having such a high standard for vetoing a bill, and that standard being that it might let people live longer and happier lives.

...

Double-secret probation for you, guvnah ...

Seems the Brits are no longer our best friends (2nd Digby link of the day, BTW. I think C&L is the only other with that honor.):

...

The Daily Telegraph reports today that a senior White House official has revoked Britain’s status of being “the closest Bush ally“:

...

The administration isn't getting the kind of doglike devotion they are accustomed to from the British PM so have turned to ... France and Germany.

...


I thought the French sucked?

"...nursing the boils on his ass."

From Digby (a 'recommended read') on the whole Rush deal on 'phony soldiers', a response from Brian McGough on being called a 'suicide bomber':

So, Rush Limbaugh called me a "suicide bomber." More slander from the high and mighty sitting in his chair nursing the boils on his ass. I can assure you that I am no suicide bomber and that I can think for myself.

Rush, your phony soldier comments pissed me off. The audacity of someone like you who never had the courage to stand and fight for what you believe in makes my head spin. That is what made me stand up and state my convictions in front of a camera. I wanted to point out that you are wrong. I am not a phony soldier. I believe that we are not doing the right thing for national security by staying in Iraq. We are putting too much strain on our military by extending tours and not giving people enough time at home to rest. We have taken our eye off of the real Al-Qaeda and let them regroup to their pre-9/11 strength. We have not developed a political system in Iraq that would enable the country to stand on its own.

I stood in the sand, snow, dirt, mud and dust of both Afghanistan and Iraq. I spent over a week on a side of a mountain in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda. I received The Bronze Star medal for my actions during that battle. I crossed the border into Iraq with the first wave of the 101st Airborne. I sustained an open head injury on the streets of Mosul after a vehicle borne IED exploded next to the vehicle I was riding in. I have seen the aftermath of a real suicide bomber. I had loved ones who died in the 9/11 attacks. I have friends and colleagues who returned from the war in body bags.

How dare you call someone like me a phony soldier and a suicide bomber? In the commercial I just taped, I told you unless you had the guts to say something to my face, stop telling lies about my service. Well you haven’t had the guts to say it to my face, but I am waiting and the offer is still on the table.

Don't hold yer breath, Brian. Limpbaugh ain't got the balls to say it to your face. If he was to get doped up enough to do it, he'd never even feel it when you beat him bloody. I'd love to see it, though.

Quote of the Day

From a review of the song Gypsy Biker on Bruce Springsteen's new album Magic, with a little lead in:

[...] 'Gypsy Biker' is a lament for a friend killed in war, and there's no reason to say it isn't in Iraq--the friend has been sent "over the hill" with the cry "victory for the righteous", and the benefit going to "profiteers" and speculators"--but the wailing rock guitars, and the emotion in Springsteen's wailing voice, reach back 35 years or more. The biker culture that is invoked as the dead man's friends "pulled your cycle up out of the garage and polished up the chrome" (itself a line echoing from an Eighties Springsteen song about a Vietnam vet, 'Shut Out the Light') then burn it in the desert is emblematic of the Vietnam era, though that culture persists to this day. The evocation of domestic turmoil about the war ("This whole town's been rousted / Which side are you on?") is, unfortunately, more redolent of 1970 than 2007.

'Redolent' means 'it smells'. Got that one right. '70 or '07, it fuckin' stinks.

In short, the beloved Gypsy Biker may have been killed in Vietnam, or in Iraq. Being a fictional character, indeed, he may have died in both wars.

Here's the quote:

Either way, "To them that threw you away, you ain't nothing but gone."

Amen.

The Mercenary-Evangelical Complex

MoDo

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster,” Nietzsche said. “And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

We’re gazing into the abyss all right, and Blackwater is gazing back.

President Bush continues to preach that we must defeat the “dark ideology” of extremists with “a more hopeful vision.”

But the compromises W. makes to slog on in Iraq, be it with warlords, dictators or out-of-control contractors, are spreading a dark stain on America’s image.

One more stain on the blue dress of Bush's reign.

Americans have been antimercenary since the British sent 30,000 German Hessians after George Washington in the Revolutionary War.

But W. outsourced his presidency to Cheney and Rummy, and Cheney and Rummy went to war on the cheap and outsourced large chunks of the Iraq occupation to Halliburton and Blackwater. The American taxpayer got gouged, and so did the American reputation.

The mercenaries inflame Iraqis even as Gen. David Petraeus tries to win their trust.

How's that goin', General? Better than here, I hope. You fer damn sure have lost our trust.

Once there was the military-industrial complex. Now we have the mercenary-evangelical complex.

Oh fucking swell. Just what we need.

FOX Honkies Rehearse for Harlem Minstrel Show

Tim Hollis, "News from a lunatic-infested dirt clod":

I'll probably get strangled for this, but I just had to crash the final rehearsals this week and they were nothing short of jaw dropping. Commanding the Apollo stage was GOP hack and author of Who's Loofing Out For You? Bill Bleachedwheat O'Reilly belting out all of America's Jim Crow favorites; My White Heaven, Alabamy Bound and I'm Going South, just to name a few. Don Imus was plucked from the audience to be serenaded with Baby Face. Later teaming up with Anne Coulter for a skit entitled ‘Imus ‘N' Annie' (my em) Don was one nappy headed ho.

And folks, you aint heard nothin' yet. Harkening back to a bygone error when racism was all the vogue, FOX pundits pulled out the stops on You Made Me Love You from Honeymoon Express, and in a tribute to Ronald Reagan, Massah's in de Col' Col' Groun' (There IS a God! - G). ‘Aunt Jemima' Rice was swooned by Colin Powell with Condonia (What Make Yo Big Head So Hard).

Just go read the rest...

Interesting Blackwater/Bush Facts

Just Another Blog (From L.A.)

Turns out Joseph Schmitz, COO & general counsel of the Prince Group, Blackwater's parent company, is married to one Lucila Garnica Gallo, Colomba Bush's sister (Jeb Bush's wife). Next on the list: What sort of family are the Garnica Gallos? Well, not the (literally) criminal lawyers George W. likes to help. SeƱor Garnica appears to have been a migrant worker.

Hit the links. Interesting stuff.

All these Blackwater execs are old line John Birchers, the forerunners of the neocons. The Schmitz guy in particular is apparently a Bush brother-in-law. The whole deal reads like a Bush family neocon daisy chain.

A few sex scandals (family values, you know) and an infamous sister-in-law as well. Have fun.

Big men ...

Chickenshits more like it. While we're on the subject of mastubatory war fantasies today, Glenn Greenwald looks at some of the reasons why, if the whole world were on fire, these clowns still wouldn't be satisfied:

...

Bombing and killing Muslims is the only path for avoiding the humiliating scenarios which our nation's war cheerleaders carry around obsessively in their heads, and which are currently filling my inbox. They're not going to be the ones on their knees, begging. They're not going to be the "faggots." Instead, they are going to send others off to fight and bomb and occupy and kill and thereby show who is strong and tough and feel protected.

...

That is a major reason why -- despite the endless debates and overwhelming public sentiment -- we stay in Iraq (because to leave would be to "lose," to suffer a "humiliating defeat" at the hands of a laughing Al Qaeda), and it is why war with Iran is so appetizing for so many -- we need to show the world who is boss. It is warped psychology masquerading as political belief. And that is why nothing triggers hysteria of the sort in the above-excerpted post more than challenging the notion that it may not actually be necessary to wage Permanent and Endless War on Muslims. Arguing that is virtually tantamount to advocating that our nation's vicarious war cheerleaders be deprived of food, water and oxygen.

...


And I hope all of you realize that once they get done killing all the Muslims, they're gonna look for someone else to eradicate. You see, it's impossible to blame themselves for their own failings and shortcomings, actual or perceived. They will always have the need for someone to blame.

Good thing I didn't compare them to Nazis, eh? (Muslim, Jew, either would work in a pinch, right?) Wouldn't want anyone to think I was trivializing anything.

What's a dead Iraqi worth?

The Rude One, offered without comment except for "read the whole thing":

...

Just imagine: you tell some alcoholic pistol-fellating badass wannabes that they'll get paid a thou a day to drive around Baghdad in Hummers with submachine guns and not only do they not have to follow military code, they can't even be prosecuted for "misfires." Why, they might go batshit crazy with power.

Without getting too much into the shit you can discover by reading Jeremy Scahill's book on Blackwater, its website is filled with tough guy t-shirt bullshit: "When failure is not an option and hope is not enough." It's enough to make your crazy uncle living outside Reno jack off in anticipation of killing some brown people. You may have never gotten to be that Navy SEAL, but Blackwater can make your paramilitary fantasies come true.

...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Figures ...

[A big Brain welcome to Shakes' and Blue Girl's readers.]

Maru found this at that nitwit Drudge:

Mon Oct 01 2007 -- Mr. Kingston submitted the following resolution honoring all Americans serving in the Armed Forces of the United States and commending broadcaster Rush Limbaugh for his relentless efforts to build and maintain troop morale through worldwide radio broadcasts and personal visits to conflict regions. [my em]

...


Please, please, please, let me wake up tomorrow and it will be 2000 and Al Gore won in a landslide ...

Fuck that apartment in Paris ...

I want this!

Thanks to Nicole for the link.

Fun At Auschwitz

Go see this narrated slide show of recently unearthed photos from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and then read Dr. J's Commentary.

That is the basis of the horrors that we observe in the behavior of the German guards at Auschwitz, of Southern townspeople, of American guards at Abu Ghraib, at Japanese soldiers during the Nanking Massacre of 1937: a particular group of humans aren't; they are sub-human and thus can be treated like animals (that is if one is into brutalizing animals). When one government engages in systematic dehumanization of one or more groups of either its own citizens or the citizens of a country with which it has gone to war, "fun at Auschwitz" and "fun at the lynching in the center of town" can happen, all too easily.

But it couldn't happen here again, could it? Nah. Couldn't possibly. We're just too advanced. No one could get away with labeling all of their political opponents as "traitors," as "godless," as "just not like us," as "not Christian and thus not qualified to govern" (and yes, none other than John McCain said that in so many words just the other day [The Progress Report, "Blackout and Brownout," Oct. 1, 2007]), and thus quite possibly somehow less than human. Couldn't happen here, could it. Could it?

It has, and could again. Much too easily.

Support Our Troop

I'm sorta screwin' around so far today. Go see "The Loneliest Icelander".

About This Video

Iceland just had one "troop" on the ground in Iraq, (actually a press aide, not a soldier--Iceland has no standing army), but that didn't stop Bush from counting them as an equal member of his disappearing "coalition."

We aren't hating on you, Icelanders. We're jealous of what you enjoy--a lack of military entanglements, a terrific standard of living, and a genetic predisposition for high cheekbones.

Welcome home.

Hey Rush, STFU

Cold War, anyone?

Haven't heard about one of these in a while. Back when I was in, the Russians (Soviets) used to test our security all the time:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Russian warplanes staged at least seven exercises outside U.S. airspace near Alaska this summer, and each time U.S. or Canadian fighter jets were dispatched to escort them, U.S. military officials said Monday.

...

At least five exercises by the Russian Tu-95 Bear heavy bombers have taken place off Alaska's Aleutian Islands and other historic Cold War outposts, such as Cape Lisburne and St. Lawrence Island, according to NORAD records.

All occurred beyond the 12-mile boundary that constitutes U.S. airspace and have involved two to six aircraft. Each time, Russia alerted the U.S. through reports in Russian news agencies, Herritage said.

...


When I was in, we used to make 'pickups and deliveries' of Agency folks working behind the Iron Curtain. We bumped uglies with the Soviets a few times, one particular stand-off between the pilot of the Pave Low II I was in and the guy in a Russian Mi-24 still puckers my ass when I think about it 25 years after the fact and not a shot was fired.

We'd hear the fighter guys talk about 'shadowing the Bears' all the time, serious tension. It was a prick-waving contest at 30,000 feet, and our guys would get close enough to read hand-written notes from the Soviet crews they'd put up against the windows. A lot of "Fuck your Mother" and "American Dog" was countered with American middle fingers. Heh ...

The point of this little trip down memory lane was the fact once again, tensions are escalating between us and the Russians. Cookie Jill, from whom I stole the link, thinks it's because of the anti-missile shield tests we're doing. In addition, I get the feeling Putin feels threatened by our operations in the Middle East (other countries need oil besides us) and the more than doubling in size of the EU, many former Eastern Bloc nations joining the economic partnership or attempting to.

We're worrying a lot of people (not that I'm a big fan of Putin), and the Cold War spawned Korea (we still have troops there 50 years later), Vietnam (and everything that brought with it), and a hundred other little skirmishes no one's ever heard about (South America and the Caribbean). It was the reason for our relationship with al-Qaeda and the reason for our fucked up policy toward Cuba. We don't need another Cold War and all the attendant bullshit attached to it. The only people it will benefit will be the defense contractors.

Thanks to the Chimp and his neo-con pals, nations who used to be friendly with us are now holding us at arm's length and our former enemies are beginning to refortify. The United States has taken under this administration has served to increase tensions all over the world. We have become an international pariah.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Repug Rag on Gen. Betraeus


Pensito Review

American Conservative Mag Mocks Petraeus As ‘Sycophant Savoir’ - Will Congress Condemn It Like They Did the Moveon.org Ad?


Beyond the headline, the American Conservative article is harshly critical of the general and the partisan political role he has chosen to play. The writer, Andrew J. Bacevich, describes Petraeus as a “politcal general of the worst kind — one who indulges in the politics of accommodation that is Washington’s bread and butter but has thereby deferred a far more urgent political imperative, namely, bringing our military policies into harmony with our political purposes.”

Bacevich accuses Petraeus of deploying a strategy in Iraq that is designed to succeed politically in Washington, not militarily in Iraq:

Petraeus has chosen a middle course, carefully crafted to cause the least amount of consternation among various Washington constituencies he is eager to accommodate. This is the politics of give and take, of horse trading, of putting lipstick on a pig. Ultimately, it is the politics of avoidance.

Bacevich concludes:

Politically, it qualifies as a brilliant maneuver. The general’s relationships with official Washington remain intact. Yet he has broken faith with the soldiers he commands and the Army to which he has devoted his life. He has failed his country. History will not judge him kindly.

We’ll be waiting (but not holding our breath) to see if anyone drafts a similar measure condemning the American Conservative magazine.

The Repugs will condemn that rag when we're dodging aviating porcine excreta. it would not be politically expedient to fire on one of their own.

Reaching out to minorities

Click to Stuff Shirt even more...

CAFKIA Speaks

We got this by e-mail from our pal CAFKIA. I gladly post it because I value his opinion.

[Fix and/or Gord, here is an attempt by me to address Fixers post of this morning. If you wish to post it, you may. If you would rather I simply did the comments thing, tell me and I will. I just thought I would give you the option and, make it so that I could find this answer in case it turns out to be pure genius.]

Nothing's quite that pure, buddy!

[I have some knowledge of the Black experience. From where I sit, the rethugs are blowing a pretty strong opportunity. I suspect that a lot of what I am going to say applies to the Hispanic community as well. I grew up in a poor, church going family. My dad was an AME (African Methodist Episcopal) minister. My mom was a nurse. Dad died when I was 7 and mom was pregnant with the 8th kid. My mom, and apparently just about every other mom/wife in our neighborhood understood the concepts of fiscal conservatism though they might have never heard the term. It is how we lived. No extravagances, if you didn't have the money, it meant you could not afford it. Things that were needed or desired strongly but, were too expensive for right now were put on lay-away. You paid on them but, you did not take delivery until you had paid for them completely. It made it impossible to be "upside-down". The men in the neighborhood all worked and most that I remember, were veterans. There were some pretty flamboyantly feminine men in the 'hood but, they were either not mentioned at all or, you were simply told to stay away from them. Drinking happened but, it was a late night thing or, a Saturday while fixing the car thing or, a when the guys come over to practice our songs thing. We pretty rarely actually saw drunkenness. Grades were important and report cards were scrutinized.

Anything sound familiar? Family, church, monetary responsibility, homophobia/denial? The traditional Black neighborhoods are some of the most conservative spots in the nation. It is where the songs in the republican hymnal are sung. For a Black to be conservative is the most natural thing in the world because there is a hugely strong chance that that is how they were raised. For a Black to be a republican is another thing altogether.

The republicans could have had Blacks and Hispanics almost completely, without any effort. All they would have had to do is not decide that it was open season on us. Blacks who were actually likely to show up at a polling place were in large part as I described above or, took steps to make themselves appear that way. They would have continued to vote the party of Lincoln except that the party was too shortsighted. They could not see the coming demographic shift. They couldn't see the fiscal potential in minorities in general. They deluded themselves into thinking that all minorities were a drain on the system and only wanted to be on welfare. They apparently couldn't even see the proportions of minorities in the military and their increasingly important roles.

So the republicans drove the Blacks away and chased after the southern racist coin. But that was just the party. A goodly percentage of Blacks still believe as they were taught growing up in the basic concepts of conservatism. They may not call it that or think of it that way but that is what it is. So what does one do, ignore what mom and dad taught or, try to not have the same shortsightedness that caused republicans to not see minorities as valuable to their party/nation? Or, do they go where they are wanted and try to maintain their identity. Right now, the larger group has chosen the latter option. But some choose to believe that either the republican party will come back around (with their help) or that with all of it's faults, Gawd is choosing to hang out there anyway and so will they.(it's that homosexuality thing again)

I think the stage at republican party presidential debates is very telling. I hope that party is dead and I hope what ever rises to take it's place has a more realistic grounding. I don't see liberals as tied to party as conservatives. You can be a liberal libertarian, democrat, green, socialist, or whatever and still be liberal. If you are conservative, you are republican (this means you Joe Lieberman).

In a train wreck sort of way, it should be interesting to see just how much more group hatred Black republicans can take. Or, will the republicans try to find a Black they can control as much as they do W and try to fool others into thinking that they have advanced? For some reason, this preachers kid is reminded of a bible verse.

"Be sure your sins will find you out."

CAFKIA]

I think I will add that the Repugs are in a primary contest against one another, and they think they can clean up these slaps in the face to People Of Other Colors in time for the general election. The Repugs' only hope is the 'Southern Strategy', which means culturally conservative (racist, homophobic, christofascist, etc.) white men. That strategy is deader'n a carp, but these clowns don't know it yet or are in denial.

They are going to find out that people actually do have memories and do not forgive insults as readily as the candidates think they should when they do the flip-flop and assault them with ads, lies, more lies, and cubic money.

The very last thing in the whole wide world this country needs is another president 'elected' by the 'southern base'. Or the Supremes.

I for one am extremely glad the main Repugs chose to insult a whole bunch of our countrymen. It shows a total lack of judgment. We already have a Current Occupant like that and we don't need another.

CAFKIA is a contributor at Main and Central and also at Meanderthal.

Black Republicans ...

It still seems like two mutually exclusive terms but there are some. I think I saw all 5 of them on CNN this weekend, laying down cover for the Republican frontrunners in the upcoming Presidential election.

Now, far be it for me to speak about the black experience. Totally unqualified. But to see them uncomfortably covering for racists and a racist political party is something to behold. Trust me, I know bigots when I see 'em.

J.C. Watts, who must qualify as one of the dumbest mofos who ever walked the face of the earth, was tongue-tied when asked if the Rethugs were racist by not attending the debates the other night and bowing out of the Univision event.

There's a pretty woman as well, who they put on as a counterpoint to Donna Brazile if Ol' J.C. ain't available. It was something too see her put out the 'these are Presidential candidates and have very busy schedules' talking point. You could see she didn't believe it either. There was also the 'well, blacks usually vote Dem anyway so why bother' meme that was pushed around as well. To me, that says the black (or any other ethnic group's) vote doesn't matter. There's something wrong when politicians turn away votes. Digby has some thoughts on that magic.

I guess you can find self-haters everywhere, look at all the closeted (and not-so-closeted) gay Republicans, but I still have to wonder what can make people defend those who would deprive them of their rights and ignore things important to such a large constituency.

While I would love to see a color blind society emerge in this country, the sad fact is we're a long way from it. Whether it pertains to black or Hispanic issues (or issues important to any other ethnic group) the Republicans have ignored the situation or been outright hostile to it. Until we have a truly color blind society, race issues matter and when a political party openly disregards them, it says they do not care about a large percentage of Americans.

Now, I give a damn what anybody believes or who they vote for, but were my concerns ignored by my affiliated party (hello, Dems? Iraq? Corruption?), and a majority of the members are openly hostile to me, I'm going to go somewhere else to have my needs addressed. I left the Republican Party 20 years ago, when the Jesus freaks began their takeover because that's another one of their things. There is little tolerance for anyone not 'Christian' and it's quite plain the Republicans don't want to know about folks who have no 'faith' or ascribe to the 'wrong' one.

So, I'm back to my original question. What can make people defend those who would oppress them (in the worst case) and ignore them (in the best)? What can make people defend the usurpation of civil rights when they will be the first to lose theirs? What can make people defend the corruption when their people have been ripped off more than the rest of us? What can make someone defend a war where their people make up the highest percentage of casualties? What can make people defend a political party whose base is made up of people who think theirs should 'know their place'?

I just don't get it.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Quote of the Day

MoDo

Without nepotism, Hillary would be running for the president of Vassar. But then, without nepotism, W. would be pumping gas in Midland — and not out of the ground.

Phony Soldiers

Army Of Dude responds to Limpbaugh and posts photos of some of the phonies he served with in Iraq.

[...] As the war kept on, so did I. I waited for a little over a year to get my results back: I would finally be able to join despite the surgery I had two years prior. As Rush found after dropping out of his first year of college at Southeast Missouri State University in 1969-1970, he found himself on draft status. Nothing that a claim of an old football injury or a boil on the ass can take care of, though! The medical deferment he was referring to was a pilonidal cyst, which apparently is a clump of severely ingrown hairs. That barred him from enlistment, and I'm sure he was ecstatic. After all, there was a war on. Here's a first hand account of the surgery that was done to correct it. She claims that in eight weeks, it was perfectly healed. Rush is willing to sacrifice the lives of Americans in Iraq but not his own ass (literally) in a simple surgery. I waited a year to get in, and he didn't try. Boy, do I really give an effort at being a phony soldier!

Speaking of phony soldiers, I wanted to show Rush a few that I know:

Go see. I particularly liked the one of the guy tugging on the wire to lead him to an IED! Grunts ain't no smarter today than they used to be...

Note to Rush (good name for a doper, huh?): You got out of service during Vietnam because of an easily repairable pimple on your ass. Fitting, indeed, because you ain't a pimple on the ass of a 17-year-old recruit stepping off the bus at boot camp today, let alone the Vets you call phony soldiers, you yellow son of a bitch.

I don't blame anybody who didn't want to go to Vietnam or doesn't want to go to Iraq, but it's the height of hypocrisy and arrogance to find a cheap-ass phony way out of the one and then forty years later call serving soldiers 'phonies' for not agreeing with you when you're wrong.

Oh no!

Dad's got the camera ...



Shayna's annoyed because I'll be starting (as if I don't have enough shit on my plate) the remodel of the Living Room/Dining Room soon. She's used to construction but always manages to get something dropped on her or get paint (or some other substance) on her anyway.

Update:

Where we hide the bodies ...