Saturday, July 10, 2004

Nuclear Israel

Cross posted from The Fixer:

From Asia Times:

Nuclear Israel: Belling the cat
By Ehsan Ahrari

In an era of intense global support for nuclear non-proliferation, Israel's unspoken possession of a nuclear arsenal - euphemistically known as an outcome of its policy of "strategic ambiguity" - is coming under increased criticism and limelight. Mohammad ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - the United Nations' nuclear watchdog - visited Israel on Tuesday to talk to the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. Even though a spokesman of that agency denied that ElBaradei's mission was to ask the Jewish state to unravel its nuclear-weapons program, one is hard pressed to know how else that region would ever become a nuclear-free zone. According to the unclassified estimates of the US intelligence community of the late 1990s, Israel possesses between 75 and 130 nuclear weapons.

If one were looking for a gaping example of US nuclear non-proliferation policy double standards, that it lets Israel continue to modernize its nuclear arsenal without even a word of criticism would fit the bill. Not that Washington was ever oblivious to the existence of such Israeli capabilities. On the contrary, as the website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) - a prestigious nuclear non-proliferation group - notes, "The United States first became aware of Dimona's existence [a nuclear facility in the southern Israeli town of the same name] after U-2 overflights in 1958 captured the facility's construction, but it was not identified as a nuclear site until two years later. The complex was variously explained as a textile plant, an agricultural station, and a metallurgical research facility, until David Ben-Gurion stated in December 1960 that [the] Dimona complex was a nuclear-research center built for 'peaceful purposes'." One should recall similar explanations that India proffered in the aftermath of its so-called peaceful nuclear explosion in 1974, and until it became a declared nuclear power in 1998. Iran is currently using the very same rationale to pursue its own nuclear program.

[. . .]

From the Arab side, there has been a sustained endeavor to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. Even though it has been an uphill struggle, Arab states still view it as a major - and perhaps the only - way of putting pressure on Israel to unravel its nuclear-weapons program. But their dilemma is summarized in the adage, "Who'll bell the cat?" In this instance, the Arabs' side also knows that the US is the only power that has some - in fact a lot, in their assessment - influence in initiating a meaningful dialogue with Israel to materialize the emergence of a nuclear-free zone in their area. Even though the extant tremendous advantage of Israel in conventional military power over Arab countries makes its possession of nuclear weapons well nigh unnecessary, only Washington (at least in principle) can successfully make that argument and persuade Israel to contemplate dismantling those weapons.

The chief problem with the preceding is that there is no conceivable way any US president would ask Israel to unravel its nuclear capabilities in the era of a global "war on terrorism". Yet Washington had no compunction about putting similar pressures on India and Pakistan immediately after their respective nuclear-weapons programs came out of the closet in 1998, or demanding that North Korea unravel its nuclear-weapons option, or that Iran shouldn't even consider developing its capabilities to produce nuclear weapons.

[. . .]

There is no suggestion here that Israel would seriously consider abandoning its nuclear-weapons program in the near future. But at least it is willing to talk about the issue. The only way it would ever be persuaded to give up nuclear weapons is if the US decides to speak the truth to nuclear Israel. And that is also not about to happen in the short run. In the meantime, the involvement of the IAEA promises to serve as a compelling moral force in the potential emergence of the Middle East as a nuclear-weapons-free zone, especially if the issue remains under the international limelight on a sustained basis.

At least they're talking. Although Israel's posession of nukes is probably the only thing keeping them from being overrun by an Arab state with a grudge. A tricky situation. The problem is that Israelis like Sharon have no qualms about using them.

New Look

Wait until the kid sees this. Ha!

I gave my other blog, The Fixer, a facelift too.


Cross posted from The Fixer.

Just added Haloscan comments and I did it all by myself. Added it to The Alternate Brain too. Who da man!

And this

Via WTF Is It Now??:

CNN Poll:

"What do you think is behind the latest terror warning?"

    New Intelligence.........4%

    Ongoing Threat...........4%

    Playing Politics..........92%


The full report

The Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq.

Thanks to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo.

Japanese elections

Via The Agonist:

From Channel News Asia:

TOKYO: Japan goes to the polls Sunday to deliver Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi a verdict on his public pension reforms and controversial policy to keep troops in Iraq as part of a multinational force.

[. . .]

It looks unlikely that Koizumi's party will win his original target of 51 seats and is projected to take home 48. But if the party secures fewer than 45, most analysts consider Koizumi's position would be in jeopardy.

Using his promises of government reforms and relatively high popularity, Koizumi has weathered two national elections and several by-elections since he took office in April 2001.

[. . .]

Koizumi's support for the US-led war in Iraq and his decision to send troops there, albeit on a non-combat mission, has proved unpopular with many voters.

His approval rating took a dive last month when he told US President George W. Bush -- before consulting the public or parliament -- that the troops in Iraq would stay on as part of the UN-backed force after Iraqi sovereignty was restored.

In contrast, the six-year-old Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the largest in the opposition camp, has gained momentum with pre-election polls predicting the party would win more seats than the LDP.

[. . .]

Remember Spanish elections after the Madrid train bombings? Well the same shit might happen in Japan. Another of those misguided few who followed President Clueless to war in Iraq. Ol' Koizumi might be out of a job before long too. I sorta like him 'cause he's a nut, sorta like a Japanese Professor Erwin Corey.


I spoke of this yesterday:

Figures the Agency would be splattered with all the shit when it hit the fan. Now you know why Tenet retired a month or so ago. He knew he'd be the one taking it in the ass and he wasn't going to give President I Didn't Do It the satisfaction or the political capital of firing him. Now, ain't NOBODY gonna pay for the failures before 9/11 or Iraq. The civilians in the Administration aren't going anywhere, not if President Suck Up wants to keep his base. Fucking asshole.

Today from WaPo:

By Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, July 10, 2004; Page A01

Yesterday's report by the Senate intelligence committee left in shreds two of the Bush administration's main rationales for the war in Iraq: that Iraq had illicit weapons and that it cooperated with al Qaeda.

[. . .]

The larger question is whether voters will blame the White House for these two massive mistakes. Though officially agnostic on the White House role in using Iraq intelligence (that will come in a later report), the committee gives ammunition both to Bush and Democratic opponent John F. Kerry.

[. . .]

On the issue of Iraq's relationship with al Qaeda, however, the committee's findings imply that the White House, not the CIA, is to blame for making dubious claims that there were working ties between Osama bin Laden's organization and Hussein's Iraq. "The Central Intelligence Agency reasonably assessed that there were likely several instances of contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda throughout the 1990s, but that these contacts did not add up to an established formal relationship," the committee found, echoing the Sept. 11 commission staff's finding of no "collaborative relationship" between the two.

[. . .]

The undermining of the administration's case for war is potentially a grave threat to Bush, whose reelection prospects are closely tied to Americans' view of the merits of the Iraq war and whether it advances the fight against terrorism. For that reason, Bush has delayed a final reckoning on Iraq's forbidden weapons by naming a commission that will not report its findings until after the election. In the meantime, he continues to assert ties between al Qaeda and Iraq, and to place blame for any weapons miscalculation squarely on the CIA

[. . .]

Bush's distancing of himself from the flawed allegations may well be aided by the departure this week of CIA director George J. Tenet, who was criticized in the Senate report for not always being informed about dissenting views when he met almost daily with Bush.

Democrats, in turn, are determined not to let Bush avoid blame. Even before the report came out, Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) sent out a press release saying the administration asserted Iraq-al Qaeda collaboration that the CIA doubted. Yesterday, the Kerry campaign issued a statement saying: "Nothing in this report absolves the White House of its responsibility for mishandling of the country's intelligence. The fact is that when it comes to national security, the buck stops at the White House, not anywhere else." [my emphasis]

[. . .]

[D-W.Va. Sen J.D.]Rockefeller continued to assert yesterday there was administration "pressure" on the CIA, although he endorsed the bipartisan committee report stating otherwise. The report, while stating that no intelligence analysts said they felt pressured to change their conclusions, found "tremendous pressure" to avoid missing a potential threat. That made the CIA "purposefully aggressive," as the agency described it, in drawing potential links between Iraq and al Qaeda.

[. . .]

Even yesterday, after the committee report, Bush said Hussein's Iraq provided a safe haven for an "al Qaeda affiliate." Bush has previously described Hussein as "an ally of al Qaeda" and asserted that Iraq "provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training."

Cheney last month said: "There clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to; the evidence is overwhelming."

Cheney's office yesterday pointed to the committee's findings that the CIA was rightly concerned about "reports of training" in chemical and biological weapons and was reasonable to believe "al Qaeda or associated operatives" were in Iraq. A spokesman said the committee findings are consistent with administration claims.

After cutting through all the bullshit, the blame rests squarely on the White House and the trained morons in Congress who let them get away with so much. Motherfuckers.

Don't touch me there

Guess the Washington Times doesn't like men touching. Via Lambert at Corrente:

Holding hands is no longer enough. The two Democratic candidates can't wait to get on stage for sessions of arm-gripping, face-fondling, knee-rubbing, neck-nuzzling, thigh-slapping and bear-hugging. This is not the political love that dare not speak its name from a closet, but the contrived warmth, born of the focus group, that shouts from the rooftop. And why not? We've become the therapeutic nation of huggers and fondlers.

"I've been covering Washington and politics for 30 years [said one wire-service photographer]. I can say I've never seen this much touching between two men, publicly."
(via Washington Times)

Hey, I wanna see Kerry kiss Edwards the way Al kissed Tipper. Now that would be something. Seriously, when I see two men hugging the way they do, I see it as a good thing. These guys aren't homophobes like those fucking Christo-Fascist, Jesus freak. anti-everything, Neocon assholes. These are 'real men' confident in their manhood.

This chaps my ass

Via Glen at A Brooklyn Bridge:

In what some military experts see as another sign of how the Army's commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan have strained it, the service for the first time will soon begin aggressively recruiting thousands of sailors and airmen who are otherwise scheduled to leave the Navy and Air Force because of cutbacks.

Under a new program called Operation Blue to Green, the Army plans to offer bonuses of up to $10,000, in some cases, and four weeks of extra training to airmen and sailors willing to trade in their dress-blue uniforms for Army green fatigues. The Army is especially interested in men and women who have jobs that are readily transferable to Army positions, like mechanics and logisticians.

Many details must still be worked out and final Pentagon approval is still pending, but Army officials say the new program is a marriage of convenience. The Army is temporarily increasing its ranks by 30,000 soldiers by 2006, and will need to recruit at least 77,000 soldiers this year and 80,000 next year to meet that goal.

I've seen Jarheads, Ground Pounders, and Squids retread into the Air Force, ain't never heard of it happening the other way around. But, if they think it'll work . . .
Can you imagine what will happen at re-up time? Well, Colonel, I really like it here but the Army is offering 10 grand. What will the AF offer me? Ha, free agency in the military.

Friday, July 9, 2004

It figures.

Cross posted from The Fixer.

MSNBC Breaking News

Senate report cites CIA for 'failures' on Iraq -
A key Senate Intelligence Committee report on Friday sharply criticized the CIA for 'mischaracterization' of pre-war intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs.

Figures the Agency would be splattered with all the shit when it hit the fan. Now you know why Tenet retired a month or so ago. He knew he'd be the one taking it in the ass and he wasn't going to give President I Didn't Do It the satisfaction or the political capital of firing him. Now, ain't NOBODY gonna pay for the failures before 9/11 or Iraq. The civilians in the Administration aren't going anywhere, not if President Suck Up wants to keep his base. Fucking asshole.

Missed opportunities.

I took the whole post from Eric at Wampum:

Return of the ... One True King (part 8)

David Ignatus writes in today's WaPo Lost Chances in Iran a piece that discloses yet another amazing NeoCon adventure in the making, this time in Iran.

Post invasion, the US and its partners in crime had bagged about 4,000 members of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq, which I last mentioned with something less than admiration in part 4, which contains a link to an OpEd piece in the the NY TImes by Ali Safavi, who cheerfully mentions Maryam Rajavi (Mujahedin-e Khalq) as a bell weather for the popularity of Western-initiated regime change in Tehran. Interested readers should read this. Negociations, described in Ignatus' piece, resulted in a pledge by Tehran to
grant amnesty to most of the 4,000 Mujaheddin-e Khalq captives, to forgo the death penalty for about 65 leaders who would be tried in Iranian courts and to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to supervise the transfer.
So far, so good, unless one has drunk the Mullahs-always-lie koolaide served at a surprisingly large number of wholesale and retail political koolaide outlets in the United States, one of the glow-in-the-dark subtexts of the waiting-like-coyote US-Iran War.

What would the US get in return for this largess to a civilized Iran?

Over 500 al Qaeda cadres, bagged by Iran in the Winter of 2001-2002, and another group of senior al Qaeda cadres, up to the General Staff equivalents in that organization, who were bagged by Iran in the Spring of 2002. Not thousands of indiscriminately arrested Iraqis, including children, but a significant fraction of the al Qaeda general combatant, field command, and head-quarters staff officer populations.

So why did our Idiot King prefer to keep 4,000 Mujahedin-e Khalq cadres in some jug or another in Iraq, rather than trade up for better quality cadres who actually want to blow up Washington, rather than Tehran? Because Cheney's gang of idiots think they're going to overthrow the Mullahs and the Majlis with the Mujahedin-e Khalq.

For those that don't follow Iranian politics, it is difficult to characterize just how unlikely it is that the

Mujahedin-e Khalq can affect "regime change" in Tehran. For those that do follow American politics, giving blanket amnesty to al Qaeda cadres who choose to be disarmed and taken into custody in Iran, and not invoking what amounts to an extradition agreement to interrogate senior members of the al Qaeda movement, should contribute to "regime change" in Washington.

More missed opportunities. Read The Fixer's take on the Sudan and you'll find another.

I'm off for the weekend. I'm going home, New Jersey, to visit my parents and give them my good news. If my sister lets me use her computer I'll try to post over the weekend. If it gets ugly, I'll have to see you on Monday. If I get something important, I'll post using my phone. Have a good weekend.

Sadly, yes.

From The Talking Dog:

A grim, but inevitable statistical milestone was reached in the last day or two: "coalition" casualties have now crossed 1,000 dead. Nearly 900 of these are Americans, reflecting the rough ratios of deployment levels; the "international coalition" is largely a token, window dressing affair- not reflecting the underlying reality, which in Iraq, is that its largely, though not entirely, a unilateral American affair. Iraqi casualties have, by DOD fiat, not been counted (though estimates based on anecdotal hospital reports and the like show at least ten times that of the "coalition").

. . .


As the F-man would say, oy gevult! Liberal Oasis has a report about how we're outsourcing the War on Terror.

…according to this ISI [Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence] official, a White House aide told [ISI director Lt. Gen. Ehsan] ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

This is just like the terror threat announcement yesterday. It was done to eat in to some of Kerry's face time on the national media. This would do the same thing during the Dems Convention. Do you think . . .? Nah, they'll wait to breing Osama out from where they're hiding him about two weeks before the election.

The New Yorker.

I have to get a copy tonight or tomorrow. From IntelDump:

Casualties of war

Dan Baum has a provocative article in the new issue of the New Yorker (not available online, unfortunately) discussing the impact of the Iraq war on American soldiers' minds.

Maybe I'll have a better insight into the F-man. Hee-hee.


High Desert Skeptic has the best pics. Go see his latest.

More chicanery in Congress.

I posted about this last night.

From Kicking Ass:

Politics trumps freedom

Yesterday, Democrats in the House stood up and took real action for civil liberties when they voted to limit the sweeping powers in the Patriot Act passed in the wake of September 11. And if the Republican leadership hadn't resorted once again to their usual dirty tricks, that fight would have been successful.

As the 15 minutes allotted for the vote drew to a close, the Freedom to Read Protection Act — which would have taken away the Patriot Act power of the Justice Department to secretly search bookstore and library records — looked like it would pass 219 to 201.

But the Republican leadership — as they have done on several occasions — extended the vote while they fiercely lobbied their own members until enough had switched votes for a 210-210 tie, defeating the bill.

"You win some, and some get stolen," was the way conservative Republican C.L. Butch Otter (R-ID), who supported the bill, described his party's strong-arm tactics.

The Edwards bounce.

Kos explains why we haven't seen a significant bump in the polls for Kerry since the VP announcement.

Everyone is looking for the "Edwards bounce", but we'll have to be patient.
News of this magnitude generally takes a week or so to manifest itself in polls. The "Reagan Bounce" wasn't really felt until a week after the all-Reagan, all-the-time lovefest.

So give it a few more days. We should have a clearer picture of the Edwards bounce with polls going into the field this weekend and early next week.

. . .


Looks like I'll be working this summer. Details later.

1:15 pm: Looks like I'll be getting the internship I was hoping for. I have about eight applications out, but this was the one I wanted. Had a great interview this morning in Midtown. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Funny shit

Jesus' General gets a letter from Sen. Bill Frist and the Right Reverend Donald Wildmon:

Dear Sen. Frist,

Thank you for writing me about the Homosexual Discrimination Amendment. I was pleased to see that you have teamed up with Donald Wildmon to get it passed. He's been a hero of mine ever since he exposed Mighty Mouse's abuse of cocaine--that took a lot of guts considering the wretched rodent's super strength and ability to fly.

Go read the rest here and laugh your ass off.

Yes, he is, but . . .

X casts doubts on my sanity:

You know I think The Fixer is somewhat of a crazy man. I don't know whether he was born that way, or it happened in the military, or because he inhales too many exhaust fumes, but he's somewhat excitable. If you read his blog you'll know what I mean. I think he gets a little off kilter when he compares the Bush Administration with Nazis, but this makes me think the old man might be on to something. Via Kevin at Lean Left from the Houston Chronicle.

[. . .]

Maybe the old man has a point?

It's known as wisdom, kiddo. I won't deny that I'm a little 'off kilter', but I've lived all around the world over the last 35 years and I know how shit works.

Kerry/Edwards in NYC

Fundraiser at Radio City last night:

Tonight's event is an attempt to raise $7 million, most of which will go towards the Kerry/Edwards campaign.

After campaigning in the important swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, the newly-minted team of 'John-John' headed to Florida, the state that narrowly put President Bush in the White House.

John Kerry: "Thank you Florida, where this time, not only does every vote count, but every vote's is going to be counted."

Florida is a crucial state for victory this fall, and the latest polling shows a 43-43 tie. The choice of Edwards as a running mate may make a difference.

Since the selection of John Edwards, Republicans -- including the president -- have come out swinging. And as Republicans often do they've dug up the "l" word, in an attempt to paint Kerry and his new running mate as out-of-step with mainstream America.

Gov. Jeb Bush, (R) Florida: "He's very charismatic, he's a great talker, he's made a good living off of his ability to speak in the courtroom. But I think it validates the fact that Senator Kerry is a liberal." [Note: Jeb ain't the smart one either]

Perhaps Republicans are worried; Edwards brings his sunny disposition, his blue-collar upbringing and two young children -- reminiscent of Caroline and John Kennedy. But in a time of war, Edwards may cause concern. He has a slim national security resume, little foreign-policy experience.

Lotta Rock & Rolling going on. John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, John Fogarty, Bon Jovi, and others, and a lot of Hollywood stars. Breakfast shindig on the West Side this morning.

Discuss until the kid wakes up.

Just a note I saw on the news, 4 of the 5 deadliest roads in New York State are in the county I live in and the 5th is in the county I work in. Could it be my driving?

Thursday, July 8, 2004

The tide is turning.

From Xan at Corrente:

Read this once and be shocked at what we've come to.

Then read it again, slower. Look at the numbers and look at the quotes. Look at the lengths the facists had to go to for even a TIE vote on this in the House. They got it this time, but the tide is turning.

(via AP at NYT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Republican-led House bowed to a White House veto threat Thursday and stood by the USA Patriot Act, defeating an effort to block the part of the anti-terrorism law that helps the government investigate people's reading habits.

The effort to defy Bush and bridle the law's powers lost by 210-210, with a majority needed to prevail. The amendment appeared on its way to victory as the roll call's normal 15-minute time limit expired, but GOP leaders kept the vote open for 23 more minutes as they persuaded about 10 Republicans who initially supported the provision to change their votes.

. . .

Go to your room.

This is how I must have looked when my parents told me that. From Daily Kos.

I guess W wasn't prepared for Enron questions.

Kerry's choice.

From The Nation:

Cautious Kerry Chooses Charisma

John Nichols explains why the vice presidential selection could be the most important choice of Kerry's campaign.

Read it for yourself. I have to fill out some applications and I'm too bleary eyed to sort out the relevant grafs.

Good advice.

Matt Yglesias has some good advice for anyone thinking of donating to Kerry/Edwards:

A Word On Money

One neat thing about this election cycle is that Bush-hatred has inspired a lot of the young people to throw little parties and other social events where they ask everyone to bring a $25 (or whatever) check for the Kerry campaign. Just got another evite right now. Word to the wise, though, is that donating to the Kerry campaign at this point is a very bad idea. He has a lot of cash on hand, and very little time in which to spend it. He's not allowed to save pre-convention cash and spend it afterwards. So if you want to raise money for someone, either adopt a Senate candidate (I like Brad Carson) or else figure out how you can funnel money to mysterious 527 outfits. John Kerry doesn't need your money, it's just going to go into some campaign staff tequila fund or something.

Is he crazy?

You know I think The Fixer is somewhat of a crazy man. I don't know whether he was born that way, or it happened in the military, or because he inhales too many exhaust fumes, but he's somewhat excitable. If you read his blog you'll know what I mean. I think he gets a little off kilter when he compares the Bush Administration with Nazis, but this makes me think the old man might be on to something. Via Kevin at Lean Left from the Houston Chronicle.

I write badly, therefore I am a would-be terrorist


I don't think of myself as a dangerous character. Neither, I think, do the lively old ladies who routinely trample me on the escalators at Neiman Marcus. Nor the other software salesmen who race past me into early retirement. Nor, above all, the publishers and agents who seem to take unabashed pleasure in routinely shredding my dream of hanging up my salesman's shoes and becoming an author.But it turns out we're all wrong about me. Just ask John Ashcroft.

. . .

"How are you?" asked the airport security person who popped up beside me on my way to baggage claim.

"Uh, fine — thanks," I replied, wondering, why are you asking?

As if she'd read my thoughts, she told me there had been complaints about me on the airplane. Then she asked to see the crossword puzzle I'd been working on during the flight. Huh? I thought. Talk about being puzzled! Still, my grin was smug as I handed it over. I'd just completed the Friday New York Times puzzle, for the first time ever.

But the agent ignored the crossword, turning the paper sideways to read a line I'd scribbled in the margin: "I know this is kind of a bomb."

She pointed to the sentence, her finger resting on the word "bomb." "What does this mean?" she demanded.

. . .

"I know this is kind of a bomb" is what I imagine Bucky, my main character, would say to Julie, his love interest, in the critical scene of my novel. I explained to the security woman that this is what happens when a 42-year-old man who is to literature what a karaoke singer is to opera tries to put words in the mouth of a fictional 19-year-old.

I opened my laptop and showed her shining example after shining example of similarly awful dialogue. She understood that that word, b-o-m-b, was no reference to ordnance or terrorist weapons of any kind.

But my explanation wasn't good enough for the three Dallas police officers who meanwhile had surrounded me — summoned, I supposed, for backup in case the dangerous character tried to write something even worse.

. . .

Without further explanation, they took me to the onsite police station, where I waited for an "interview" with the Transportation Security Administration. By then I was being accused of writing "bomb" on a piece of paper and waving it around for people in the back of the plane to see. While two policemen guarded the door, the honcho behind the desk informed me that my choice of dialogue was unfortunate, that life was not a stage play and that the tiniest thing can ignite fear in American travelers these days. He wanted a summary of my novel's plot to get the context for why I'd written what I had.

. . .

Maybe he sensed that I white-knuckle on airplanes unless I have three shots of vodka. Perhaps my background check told him that I'm a secular Jew or that ex-girlfriends contend that my fear of commitment surpasses that of any Hugh Grant movie character. In other words, I don't exactly fit the profile of someone who would align with a radical cause to bring down an airplane he's already afraid he'll crash in. Even so, the honcho gravely warned me that while I hadn't crossed the line, I had walked right up to it. And for that I would be on Homeland Security's watch list.

That set me back. Why would I be put on a watch list even after Homeland Security had satisfied itself that I had no intention of blowing anything up, that my privacy had been violated by a nosy person who made an error and that I'd been the victim of a crazy misunderstanding? Why would I end up forever marked as a potentially dangerous character, subject to interrogations and body searches? Admittedly, some mornings, pre-shower, I do give Sheikh Mohammed a run for his money in the bed-head department; so if I ever venture to Starbucks this way, will I be straying across the line into never-to-be-heard-from-again-land?

If I could give myself practical advice and take it, this is what I'd say: Forget the things you read in history class about America, Charlie. Forget all the stuff about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Just keep your head down and your eyes peeled for that "line." The coach of my old-man baseball team, for which I occasionally hit a bomb — though now I would never describe it that way in public — thinks I should start taking Greyhound. I should listen to him; he's a Vietnam vet.

Maybe the old man has a point?

Kobe to Knicks?

A Survey USA poll says that 49% of New Yorkers would like to see Kobe Bryant come to the Knicks. 39% don't. Count me in the 39% who don't. Can we get Latrell Sprewell back?

He likes me!

From the Fixer:

X is doing good work and if you haven't been there yet, you should.

After all, this is his blog and he takes care of everything. All I have to do is post. I'm glad for the opportunity.

As for Fixer-man's Mets . . . feh!

Asia looks at Cheney.

From Asia Times:

. . .

While Cheney's vast Washington and national-security experience compares very well with Edwards' mere five years in the US Senate, the latter's unfailingly sunny and optimistic demeanor - not to mention his Clintonesque skill, finely honed over two decades as a trial lawyer, at "connecting" with his intended audience - will make it very difficult for the dour incumbent to prevail in any face-to-face debate.

Cheney's growing image as a "grumpy old man" - greatly enhanced in recent weeks by his stubborn insistence that there was a real relationship between Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist group and his well-publicized "Go f*** yourself" exchange with a prominent Democrat on the floor of the Senate - has provoked some veteran Republicans to suggest publicly that it may be time for Cheney to go.

. . .

Although the neo-conservatives have seen their influence steadily decline since late last year, Cheney's absence in a second term with President George W Bush would make it far more difficult for them to stage a comeback. Indeed, this was precisely the motive behind a discreet effort launched late last year by some cronies of former president George H W Bush (1989-93) - the current leader's father - including Brent Scowcroft and James Baker, to persuade the younger Bush to dump Cheney.

But given his failure so far to fire anyone responsible for the postwar debacle in Iraq, most analysts believe the president will not force Cheney off the ticket, particularly because it would risk alienating much of his core constituency, especially the Christian Right and aggressive nationalists. If even small numbers of these groups stay home on election day, November 2, Bush's chances of winning re-election would be significantly eroded.

. . .

"Fair or not, it is simply too easy to paint Dick Cheney as a tool of the oil industry, a too-eager advocate of war in Iraq and a too-gullible supporter of the now-disgraced Ahmad Chalabi, who fed the Bush administration false intelligence on Iraq. Your former company, Halliburton, is a political albatross around your neck, weighing down not only you but also President Bush," Gannon wrote.

"You must ask yourself now if your continued presence by his side will offer strength or weakness to the Republican ticket in November, and what it will mean for [Republican] prospects in the future," he noted, suggesting McCain and Washington's new United Nations ambassador, John Danforth, as possible substitutes.

. . .

In fact, almost all of the recent news for Cheney has been bad. Not only are Halliburton, which he headed from 1995-2000, and its no-bid contracts in Iraq weathering poorly under congressional and media scrutiny, but word that the vice president might be called as a witness in a major bribery probe in Paris into the company's operations in Nigeria when he was chief executive officer is adding to Republican nervousness.

. . .

But it is Cheney's recent behavior that has fueled worries about keeping him on the ticket. After the bipartisan commission investigating the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon declared last month it had found "no credible evidence" of a collaborative relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda, Cheney declared he had "overwhelming evidence" of such a connection that the commission "probably" had not seen.

. . .

So, they see him for what he is too. It would be nice if more people in this country did.

This is a joke, right?

From Al-Jazeera:

The semantics of Iraqi sovereignty
By Roshan Muhammed Salih

Tuesday 06 July 2004, 18:28 Makka Time, 15:28 GMT

. . .

But Michael Rubin, a Middle East expert at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, a conservative thinktank, says the situation in Iraq post 28 June is "imperfect, but heading in the right direction".

"I think it would be preferable to have a formal agreement about the foreign forces between the interim government and the multinational force," he said.

But Rubin adds the new interim government should be given a chance to prove its mettle and smooth the way for democratic elections next year.

"I do have qualms about the interim agreement and the powers it gave to the Iraqi government, and I think the US may well try to exert pressure through financial aid," he said.[my emphasis]

"But issues of sovereignty and whether it is an occupation notwithstanding, we shouldn't cut the legs from under the new government."

Exert pressure through financial aid?

I posted this Monday.

. . .

With the US reluctant to disburse cash, reconstruction money has largely been drawn from Iraq's oil receipts, with some $19bn of a $20bn fund spent during the Coalition Provisional Authority's tenure in Iraq.

. . .

We've already used up Iraq's oil money, and have hardly spent any of the $87 billion that Kerry didn't vote for, or did, or didn't again, depending on what Bush ad you hear. After all we've done to the Iraqis, how dare we ever think of imposing more onto them.

5:15 pm: And while I was there, I stumbled onto a review of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11".

. . .

Where the film really shines is in its main objective of painting a portrait of the American president. Bush is presented as a man ill-equipped for his position, who stumbled his way into power, while lacking the basic intellect, charm and proper etiquette expected from a statesman.

Through the subtle use of off-air footage of Bush in his natural state, viewers are shocked as they witness his hardly appropriate behavior and often-juvenile mannerisms. An extended scene in which a befuddled Bush continues to read along with a classroom of children upon learning that the US was under attack on September 11 is especially painful to watch, even for his opponents.

Moore follows suit with other members of the Bush administration, presenting them in awkward situations that offer a radically different view of the "War Party".

. . .

I guess they liked it, huh?


From Wonkette:

Remainders: Slightly Smutty Edition

1. Ode to Interns: "You are the worst things/to happen to Washington/Since Panda-mania/(you are even more useless)" [Craigslist]

2. Pretty much the definition of TMI: "George Stephanopoulos -- Tiny, Hairy, Uncut" [Bludge Report via Fleshbot]

3. Hollywood celebrities support John Kerry! Hard to believe, yes, but we have the pictures to prove it. [Phototopia]

4. "Leaders of a Brooklyn-based primate news service have called on political activists and news media to cease from referring to U.S. President George W. Bush as a chimp or monkey." []

5. "Fuck for the Forest" sounds great on its own. But "Fuck for the Forest in Front of a Concert Crowd to a Band Called Cumshots"? Why didn't Stern think of this? [Nettavisen]

New Link

Not that I have much in common (beside the fact that she wants to see Bush out of the White House as much as I do) with Genia V.
Stevens, but I find myself dropping by Sisters Talk on a regular basis. Why don't you stop by?

Just read.

Joshua Marshall at Talking Points Memo says it all.

The essence of the matter -- this from the lead graf in Douglas Jehl's article in tomorrow's New York Times ...

A bipartisan Senate report to be issued Friday that is highly critical of prewar intelligence on Iraq will sidestep the question of how the Bush administration used that information to make the case for war, Congressional officials said Wednesday. But Democrats are maneuvering to raise the issue in separate statements. Under a deal reached this year between Republicans and Democrats, the Bush administration's role will not be addressed until the Senate Intelligence Committee completes a further stage of its inquiry, but probably not until after the November election. As a result, said the officials, both Democratic and Republican, the committee's initial, unanimous report will focus solely on misjudgments by intelligence agencies, not the White House, in the assessments about Iraq, illicit weapons and Al Qaeda that the administration used as a rationale for the war.

Convenient ...

-- Josh Marshall

Uh oh

Fixer-man is fired up:


WASHINGTON - There is an increased risk of a large-scale terrorist attack against the United States by al-Qaida prior to the Nov. 2 election “in an effort to disrupt our democratic process,” Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Thursday, citing “credible” but non-specific intelligence.

[. . .]

Despite the new information, the government is not raising its color-coded terror alert status because of the lack of specificity about possible targets, he said, adding that there is no evidence that terrorists are targeting the Democratic or Republican conventions.

[. . .]

Okay, let me get this straight. You have 'credible evidence' but you're not raising the color code? Why the fuck not? Will it bite too deeply into your corporate cronies' bottom line? Fucking assholes. Like I said before, if my wife gets hurt because of this type of ineptitude, I'm gonna take it out of someone's ass.

If I were Tom Ridge, I'd be worried. From what I've read, the F-man did some things in the service of this country that I wouldn't want done to me.

Seriously though, he does have a point. Sometimes it's daunting working (like Mrs. Fixer) or going to school (like me) or living (like 2.5 million others) in Manhattan with these threats hanging over us. They never tell us when they catch suspects, or what nefarious plot they have foiled, yet they never fail to tell us when to be afraid. But that's how this Administration works. Keep us in fear so we'll agree to any abrogation of our rights and liberties.

3:00 pm: Jesse at Pandagon sees things along the same lines as the Fixer, but isn't putting on his combat uniform and war paint just yet. I'd hate to be the F-man's neighbor.


It sounds like something you don't want your children to hear. Rep Henry Waxman (D-California) has a website up from his Committee on Government Reform detailing the Enron/Bush connection.


Remember when Bush ran on the platform of Values? All of them, American Values, Family Values, Moral Values. From Corrente. We find that Bush has NO VALUES WHATSOEVER!

Remember the families who had to buy body armor for their sons and daughters serving in Iraq? Remember the chambers of commerce who bought armor for HumVees? Of course.

And remember how Inerrant Boy thanked them, and recognized their efforts? And reimbursed them? No, I didn't think you did.

No, that slippery little scut didn't do a damn thing, and the families are still doing the same thing. This time it's scopes:

Read Lambert's entire post. This is ANTI-American, ANTI-Family, and IMMORAL.


Just passing MSG, they're doing the construction for the GOoPer rally. What a mess!


I have school things to do this morning. I'll be on a little later.

I didn't think of this

Cross posted from The Fixer:

From Democratic Veteran. This is something I hadn't thought of.

Wanna bet there's a Marc Rich style pardon waiting in the West Wing for Kenny-boy, cause Preznit Mattress Back always pays his debts...and settles his scores.

Read it all here.

Talk amongst yourselves until the kid wakes up.

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Have you met Kevin Kellems?

From the Center for American Progress:

MEET KEVIN KELLEMS – EXPERT ADVISER ON LYING ABOUT IRAQ: Cheney's top spokesperson, Kevin Kellems, tried to spin the Commission's rebuke into a statement that supported Cheney's position. He said, "We are pleased with today's statement from the 9-11 commission which puts to rest a non-story." Kellems, of course, has been a key player in perpetuating myths about Iraq: not only has he served as Cheney's top spokesman in misleading the public about Iraq's WMD, al Qaeda ties, and Halliburton contracts, he also served as top press adviser to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz in the run up to the invasion, when Wolfowitz was parroting many of the same myths. See some of Wolfowitz's pre-war falsehoods, and see this example of Kellems trying to cut off an interview when a Washington Post reporter was pressing Wolfowitz for answers on why his WMD claims had proven false.

They could make mass murder sound good. Oh yeah, it's called the war in Iraq.

Left Wing Liberal Commie Agitator

I saw this and I thought the Fixer-man started yet one more new blog, but lo, it was another matching that description. The thing that really caught my eye was the counter on the page, a running total of the cost of the Iraq war. That dial is moving faster than the one on the gas pump. Go take a look.

Sam Adams shrugged.

Julia at The American Street wrote a fable that you can write the ending to.

Activist judges? You must be kidding!

From WaPo. Our President out on the campaign trail today.

. . .

Bush, who later flew to Michigan, also strongly criticized Democratic senators, including Edwards, for failing to confirm some of his judicial nominees from North Carolina and Michigan. "Their nominations are being held up, and it's not right and it's not fair . . . ," Bush said. "These judges deserve better treatment in the United States Senate. A minority of senators apparently don't want judges who strictly interpret and apply the law. Evidently, they want activist judges who will rewrite the law from the bench. I disagree."

. . .

I posted this Monday:

Caught this over at Tom Paine:

Early next week, the Senate will consider two nominations for lifetime seats on important courts: Thomas Griffith to the Federal Court of Appeals (second only to the U.S. Supreme Court) and J. Leon Holmes to the Arkansas District Court. Griffith's record includes hostility toward Title IX, which gives women equal status with men in scholastic athletics, and practicing law without a license. Holmes' view of women is positively archaic: he's said that "the wife is subordinate to her husband," and, in supporting an anti-choice amendment in Arkansas, refused to even allow an exception for rape victims. Join the National Women's Law Center and contact your senator to let them know you won't stand for these appointments. Call the Senate at 1-888-508-2974 to oppose Holmes, and ACT NOW  to oppose Griffith.

It won't make a difference who wins at the ballot box if the courts are stacked. Let's hope none of the Supremes decide to retire before the election, or none of the more liberal justices, heaven forbid, die.

Bush has the nerve to complain about activist judges when he puts these two up for the federal bench? You've got to be kidding me. It's like "The Wizard of Oz". Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. These guys want to rewrite Roe v. Wade and many other laws protecting our personal freedoms.

John on John

From the Kerry website:

. . .

“John Edwards speaks the heart of America – hope and optimism,” Kerry said. “He is a lifelong champion for America’s families who has shown courage and conviction standing up for America’s values. In the Senate, he has a record of reaching across party lines and working to reform our intelligence, combat bioterrorism, and keep our military strong. Together, we will campaign tirelessly across the country – fighting to build an America that is stronger at home and respected in the world.”

. . .

“In the next 120 days and in the administration that follows, John Edwards and I will be fighting for the America we love,” Kerry said. “We'll be fighting to give the middle class a voice by providing good paying jobs and affordable health care. We'll be fighting to make America energy independent. We'll be fighting to build a strong military and lead strong alliances, so young Americans are never put in harm’s way because we insisted on going it alone.”

The more I see of Kerry/Edwards, the more I like this ticket. I actually feel optimistic about the election in fall.

Collectors beware!

From Asia Times:

KOLKATA - An unprecedented global demand for Indian art, both old and contemporary, has given rise to a flourishing fake-art market, with artists discovering, much to their horror, that their works are being forged and reproduced - at times even brilliantly executed - and sold as original art both at home and overseas.

"Indian art is selling like hotcakes at overseas auctions," says R B Bhaskaran of Lalit Kala Academy, an art-promoting institution that is a wing of India's Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Culture, adding, "Certain agencies spread across the country are systematically indulging in faking paintings and other works of art like sculptures and antiques." And according to Sharan Apparao, owner of the Chennai-based Apparao Gallery, "Every year, about 20-30 fakes of important paintings and 50-100 fakes of [less] important paintings get released for the markets globally."

. . .

It's hot here in New York, where I'm a student, and I doubt most of the pretenders who buy Indian art really know what they're looking at. If you're going to buy art of any kind, do your homework. Know the gallery and know the piece you want to buy, and then worry about the price if you have to. As with anything else, if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

Interesting . . .

(Hondo, N.M.-AP, July 7, 2004) — Three people were found slain on a New Mexico ranch owned by ABC newsman Sam Donaldson, authorities said Wednesday.

. . .

Sullivan said Donaldson was not a suspect and was cooperating with the investigation.

. . .

Emergency powers

From the Jerusalem Post:

. . .

The much-anticipated Order of Safeguarding National Security grants Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi that iron fist to crack down on insurgents and virtually anybody else deemed dangerous to the stability of Iraq.

. . .

But if stability is in the offing, Iraqis don't seem to mind a bit. "Of course this is the right decision," said Ivan Hermiz Hana from his ice-cream shop in the upscale Zeiyuna neighborhood. "All Arab countries need to maintain control of their people."

Voicing what has become conventional wisdom in Iraq since Saddam Hussein's ouster, Hana believed that too much freedom, for Iraqis at least, is a bad thing. "Freedom is good, but give it to us slowly-slowly," reasoned the 23-year-old, a member of Iraq's Christian minority.

. . .

But weren't these the people who were supposed to be so beside themselves with joy at the arrival of 3rd Infantry Division, they would do whatever we told them? Are these the people who would embrace democracy and freedom and welcome the American system of governance? For two generations, these people have been under the iron-fisted rule of Saddam Hussein. They do not know any different. Turning them loose after so many years of oppression begat anarchy. Our military is finding that out now.

Oh no . . . sigh.

The old man's at it again. Now the blog looks like a circus clown threw up.

6:10 pm:

Fixer writes:

. . . And yes, I DID squeeze the shit out of a circus clown!

This is promising!

Via Drudge.

Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

The Enron grand jury delivered a sealed indictment in court today, and lawyers close to the case believe it contains charges against ex-Chairman Ken Lay and that he will likely surrender Thursday.

This could turn out to be interesting. Did you think Bush and Ashcroft would let the FBI make Kenny-boy do the perp walk?

Just say no? No.

Fixer-man found this over at Pandagon which everyone should read.

I've been yelling about this for a while. Jesse at Pandagon says abstinence-only sex education is not only stupid it's dangerous.

I could understand the push for abstinence-only education in a backhanded way if we were dealing with an either-or situation. If abstinence-only were a stunt designed to get abstinence included in a full spectrum of sexual education, then sure, okay - yell about it, get it included, everyone's happy and safer.

But seeing as how it's a serious movement, it's just a dangerous, disturbing method of consigning a generation of kids to a series of ill-advised behaviors if and when they do have sex.

[. . .]

This from L.A. Weekly

Lethal new regulations from President Bush’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, quietly issued with no fanfare last week, complete the right-wing Republicans’ goal of gutting HIV-prevention education in the United States. In place of effective, disease-preventing safe-sex education, little will soon remain except failed programs that denounce condom use, while teaching abstinence as the only way to prevent the spread of AIDS. And those abstinence-only programs, researchers say, actually increase the risk of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

[. . .]

Now, if just the Jesus freak, Christo-Fascist, Neocon, Republicans followed this advice, I'd call it throwing a skimmer in the gene pool. Unfortunately, they're allowed to teach this shit to our fucking kids too.

While I do not advocate the drastic measures The Fixer does, this is just crazy. All we have to do is look to Sub-Saharan Africa to see the results of abstinence only. There is no way you can tell someone my age to stop having sex once they have become sexually active. Protection is the key to preventing STDs, namely HIV/AIDS.

Axis of Evil?

So what do we do about this? From Reuters via MSNBC.

Reuters-July 7, 2004 - Communist North Korea has been building and deploying intermediate range ballistic missiles capable of reaching U.S. military targets in Hawaii and Guam, South Korean newspapers reported Wednesday.

Here is a nation who actually does have nuclear weapons which, unlike Saddam's fictional WMDs, can actually strike U.S. soil. What have we done? Next to nothing, but the Republicans are getting rich in Iraq.


So, is the yellow better?

Off your back, shit. Keep blogging and quit whining.

This is unbelievable!

Via Corrente:

A senior Defense Department official conducted unauthorized investigations of Iraq reconstruction efforts and used their results to push for lucrative contracts for friends and their business clients, according to current and former Pentagon officials and documents.

. . .

Shaw's actions are the latest to raise concerns that senior Republican officials working in Washington and Iraq have used the rebuilding effort in Iraq to reward associates and political allies.

What are the odds this will spur another investigation into the Bush White House and how they're operating in Iraq? Not!

It's good to be back up and blogging. Maybe now that old man will get off my back.

3:05 pm: Kicking Ass has more, proving I was wrong in my speculation.

The FBI is now investigating these and other cases of top Republicans turning the rebuilding of Iraq into a candy store handout for their pals. But the big question is: will the Republican controlled Congress once again refuse to do its constitutional duty and investigate this abuse of taxpayer money?

Let's hope indictments are forthcoming.


Going to get my 'puter now! Be on later.

Go to bed

Go to bed at 20:00 like I do and you'll be up at 04:00, young 'un. Off to the mines.


I get my puter back this morning. How does he get up so early?

Now it's official

Remember when VP Clogged Arteries went on and on about Iraq's connections to Al-Qaeda, after the last 9/11 Commission meeting? Remember when the commissioners said that if VP Lying Bastid has evidence of the link he should put it forth?

From The Agonist:

Cheney Had No New Data on Saddam, Al Qaeda-Panel
Washington | July 6
Reuters - The Sept. 11 commission, which reported no collaborative links between Iraq and al Qaeda, said on Tuesday that Vice President Dick Cheney had no more information than commission investigators to support his later assertions to the contrary.

They will say anything and do anything to hold their power. Kerry/Edwards in November, for the sake of the nation.

Edwards and Big Business

So, Big Business is colluding to attack Edwards as a plaintiff attorney using all the baggage that goes with it. Now, I have no love for plaintiff attorneys, they're as common as rats in the Subway in NYC, and just as ethical, but I have to smile. They're worried. The big corporations who've had a 4 year Christmas under the Bush mal-Administration are worried they'll actually have to pay their fair share of taxes and be responsible citizens under Kerry/Edwards.

Listen to how loud they bitch and you'll know how worried they are. Motherfuckers.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

The cracks

Are the cracks starting to appear in that special relationship we have with Great Britain? From the Guardian.

Tony Blair conceded today that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction "may never be found" but claimed that they could have been "hidden, removed or destroyed".

Appearing before the Commons liaison committee of senior MPs, the prime minister said: "I was very, very confident the Iraq Survey Group would find them - I have to accept we haven't found them and we may not find them."

[. . .]

Even he doesn't believe Bush anymore. Full story. Good night.


Oy gevult! That's all I gotta say. World O'Crap has a section of a transcript of one of Limbaugh's recent shows. The Stoned leading the Stupid.

I'm done. Hope The X gets the computer tamed inexpensively. See you tomorrow unless something blows up.

Pleasant dreams.

No shit?

Cross posted from The Fixer.

The UPC barcode is 30 years old! Go figure. Didn't seem that long ago. Via South Knox Bubba:

[. . .]

It was met with more criticism than even Michael Moore could have mustered.

Union representatives said it would steal American jobs. Conspiracy theorists believed it was intrusively "Big Brother." Some Christians thought it hid the number 666, representing the Antichrist. Television talk-show host Phil Donahue claimed it was a corporate plot against consumers.

[. . .][My emphasis]

See what I mean about . . . you know . . . them.

Yeah, I know. Read the whole story here. And Happy Birthday to the Universal Product Code!

And it wouldn't be right if I didn't lift this either:

Other technologies, such as radio-frequency identification tags, may one day replace it, but the lowly UPC improved efficiency and supply-chain control almost invisibly. One of the few times it gained media notice at all was in 1992 when President George H.W. Bush marveled at it during a campaign visit to a grocers' convention in Florida. His reaction added to a perception that he was out of touch with the public, because many people were by then well acquainted with the technology.

The UPC code is a Democrat.

Oy gevult!

Kid's got a lot to say when I've carried the majority of the water today. For somebody who was a gleam in their daddy's eye the time I was killing Communists, the comments are coming awful freely. Young smartass.

Hope you get your shit fixed. The world don't stop you know.


I used someone's laptop to check the blog and the new colors took me aback.  It reminds me of some Maoist-Wild West fusion thing.  I think Fixer-man was having one of those LSD flashbacks when he was experimenting last night.  You know those old folks  :)  Or maybe this was a mistake?  Either way, I should be back up and running by tomorrow.

Crash and Burn

I'm doing this from my phone.  My computer crashed and I'm getting it fixed.  Keep your pants on, old man!

It's Edwards!

MSNBC Breaking News

Sen. John Kerry names John Edwards vice presidential running mate - NBC -

I think this is the best move. I heard the news this morning that he'd picked Gephart. They musta listened to the fucking NY Post. Ain't nobody believes anything in the Post. At least, nobody who lives in New York City. Lambert at Corrente has the Dewey beats Truman-esque headline.

Picking Gephart would have sent a message that it would be the same old Democratic song and dance. The selection of John Edwards portends a Party looking to the future. Maybe an Edwards/Clinton ticket in 2012?

BTW, where the fuck is The X?

Update 14:35: Cheney's got a little wiener. Mr. Edwards reveals the truth over at High Desert Skeptic.

Veepstakes again

I'm sure X will have something about this when it's undeniably daytime. I put this here (instead of The Fixer) to start the thread.

From Daily Kos:

[. . .]

This year, the Kerry campaign is doing their best to get themselves a serious bounce based on their veep choice, which has given Kerry wall-to-wall positive press for about a week now and should continue for another week. That takes us to the week before the Dem convention, which will be filled with convention chatter, and then the convention week itself.

[. . .]

Given the timing of the veep announcement, vis a vis the convention, and how skillfully the Kerry campaign has managed this (the veep won't join Kerry for his announcement, as to not prematurely tip off anyone to the selection), expect a nice bump. It doesn't hurt that Bush, running out of money, has gone dark the last two weeks in the battleground states.
Our job is to not get complacent, since Bush will get a great deal of it back during the gag-fest that will be the RNC convention in New York.

Complete post.

What got me was the declaration: '. . . Bush, running out of money, . . .' All I have to say is YAY!

Monday, July 5, 2004

Trust me, I know what I'm doing

Hey, X, I diddled the HTML and it didn't go poof! I don't suck all that much. Ye of little faith.

Abu Ghraib, USA

An article from Anne-Marie Cusac in The Progressive:

. . .

In conversations over the past few weeks, I have heard outrage and anger over the abuse at Abu Ghraib. I have rarely heard such reactions in connection with abuse of prisoners in the United States.

When we tolerate abuse in U.S. prisons and jails, it should not surprise us to find U.S. soldiers using similar methods in Iraq.

George Bush said he was exporting democracy to Iraq, but he seems to have exported a much uglier aspect of American public policy--some of the most sadistic practices employed in the U.S. prison system.

Contrasting the way Iraqi prisoners were treated at Abu Ghraib and the way inmates are treated in American jails, she doesn't find much of one at all.

Judicial Nominations, take heed!

Caught this over at Tom Paine:

Early next week, the Senate will consider two nominations for lifetime seats on important courts: Thomas Griffith to the Federal Court of Appeals (second only to the U.S. Supreme Court) and J. Leon Holmes to the Arkansas District Court. Griffith's record includes hostility toward Title IX, which gives women equal status with men in scholastic athletics, and practicing law without a license. Holmes' view of women is positively archaic: he's said that "the wife is subordinate to her husband," and, in supporting an anti-choice amendment in Arkansas, refused to even allow an exception for rape victims. Join the National Women's Law Center and contact your senator to let them know you won't stand for these appointments. Call the Senate at 1-888-508-2974 to oppose Holmes, and ACT NOW  to oppose Griffith.

It won't make a difference who wins at the ballot box if the courts are stacked. Let's hope none of the Supremes decide to retire before the election, or none of the more liberal justices, heaven forbid, die.

Church vs. State?

From Mary Ratcliff at the american street:

. . .

Republicans are countering his message with their values, namely that Kerry's position on abortion should supercede all other concerns. They are aggressively targeting Catholics in this region and have convinced a number of potential Kerry voters that they cannot vote for Kerry without endangering their souls. On Sunday's All Things Considered, one person who went to see Kerry told the reporter that although he really liked Kerry, he could not vote for him because of what his priest said. Will he find himself voting for Bush or just staying home?

. . .

Now wait a second . . . Let's look at that again.

". . .one person who went to see Kerry told the reporter that although he really liked Kerry, he could not vote for him because of what his priest said."

Uh, um, aren't we violating at least one federal campaign law here? Can a priest tell his congregation how to vote? Can a priest, while not endorsing the incumbent directly, advance a church doctrine in a way so as to 'disqualify' his opponent? Oh no, I think not. Can we get the FEC to investigate? Maybe threaten the Catholic Church with its tax-exempt status? I think not either, not while this administration is still in office.

Read the rest of Mary's post. This just caught my eye by the seeming illegality of it, but she sums up Kerry's trip through the heartland as a general success, aiming his message at the rural counties who voted for Gore in 2000.

Kerry go home?

From Corrente:

Just another day on the campaign trail for Kerry:

There were also scattered Bush signs, some Bush stickers on folks holding Kerry signs and at least one heckler, in a T-shirt that read "W in '04," who yelled, "Kerry go home."
(via WaPo)

Um, Kerry is home, right? After all, this is America. Though you'd never know it at Bush rallies, where people wearing the wrong kind of shirt get dragged away by the cops (here).

NOTE For the famous "morans" picture, see Orcinus

I thought the phrase '(Whatever) go home!' was reserved for people who hate us. Oh, that's right, the True Believers hate anyone who disagrees with God's Chosen One. Has America come to this?

E. J. Dionne

In WaPo:

Whose lives, whose fortunes, whose sacred honor are now on the line for our country?

Our Founders were unequivocal. They didn't count on others to take the risks for them. They didn't call for sacrifice from all except their favored constituencies. The Founders came in large part from privileged backgrounds and were willing to lose it all.

. . .

God forbid that Americans earning, say, more than $1 million a year be asked to pony up a little more in taxes to support a larger military at a time when, we are told over and over, the country is in the middle of a war on terrorism. Millionaires can't be asked to sacrifice even a little bit. No, they deserve to have their taxes cut while others fight and die. And anyone who speaks up in opposition to this injustice risks being called unpatriotic by those who give up absolutely nothing themselves. Patriotism is defined as a solicitude for tidy incomes, a belief in anything Rush Limbaugh says on the radio and a demand that those in charge of the country never be held accountable for their mistakes.

. . .

If our current leaders are unwilling to ask themselves and other privileged Americans to risk their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, they at least owe us some candor about the costs of their grand enterprises and greater justice in how those burdens are apportioned.

After 9/11 we were all willing to sacrifice. Now it seems it's the poor who have to sacrifice so the rich can maintain their standard of living. Read E.J.'s column.

Show me da money

The Guardian:

Iraq gets fraction of US aid billions

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Monday July 5, 2004
The Guardian

The US government spent just 2% of the $18.4bn (£10bn) it had obtained from Congress for the urgent reconstruction of Iraq before formally ending its occupation last week.

. . .

The White House blames the spending paralysis on the wave of ambushes, kidnapping and sabotage gripping Iraq that has forced many projects to be postponed or cancelled.

. . .

With the US reluctant to disburse cash, reconstruction money has largely been drawn from Iraq's oil receipts, with some $19bn of a $20bn fund spent during the Coalition Provisional Authority's tenure in Iraq.

. . .

In its accounting of the funds, the White House budget office said the largest disbursement so far was for rebuilding Iraq's police and military, with $194m spent.

But that figure was less than the planned spending of $3.2bn to provide security.

. . .

The reality, which was made apparent in the report released on Friday in advance of the July 4 holiday weekend, is bound to raise questions from Iraq's new rulers - and during the US election campaign - about the use of the $87bn package approved by Congress in November.

The Bush administration had said that the funds were needed urgently to stabilise Iraq, and enhance the security of US forces.

Okay, so where is that $87 billion and all the other money appropriated for Iraq?

Tinfoil hats?

When I read the F-man's post about Colin Powell's trip to Sudan, I thought he'd put on his tinfoil hat:

. . .

Colin Powell was in the Sudan scouting the area of the next U.S. Theater of Operations. I get the feeling the Administration knows their original plan for Iraq is generally blown and the best they can hope for is a good PR moment if the place doesn't descend into civil war. They won't have control of Iraq's oil production and they probably won't have the ability to conduct operations in other parts of the region (Iran) from within Iraq.

After catching this via The Agonist, he doesn't seem that crazy anymore:

LAGOS June 4 - A US navy battlegroup is to make a ``show of force'' in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea, off west Africa, diplomats said Friday, as Washington hones plans to escape its dependence on unstable Middle Eastern supplies by securing more African crude.

The foray by a heavily armed carrier group into the waters off Nigeria, Sao Tome, Equatorial Guinea and other African oil producers, comes at a time when fuel prices are topping the US political agenda and security crises in the Gulf region are pushing demands for greater diversification in energy supplies.

Hmmm . . .

Reports, Surveys, oh my god!

According to Atrios:

Well, fine, but <100,000 per month average growth is pretty damn crappy. So much for the booming economy they keep telling us about...

He cuts through the spin and the White House hype to tell us what the jobs report really means.

5:00 pm: From MaxSpeak:

Jobs increased by 112,000 in June. The President chose to enumerate in terms of the past six months. If you go by the President's own claims, however, we are still way short. Moreover, 112K is insufficient on a monthly basis for keeping up with the growth of the labor force.

Psy . . . what?

We take you now to the Oval Office:

Laura: Sit down Dubya, you have to learn this.

W: But why? (whining) Can't Dick do this? He's better at big words than I am.

Laura: No, you're the President and you have to tell people why things are not going well in Iraq, and with the economy, and with your polling, and with . . .

W: They are? Uncle Karl says things are going just the way I say they are.

Laura: That's part of it, Dubya. It's this psychology thing I told you about.

W: Psy . . what?

Laura: Psychology, say it with me. Sy-kol-ogee.

W: I'm still trying to get the hang of nu-cu-ler.

Laura: I know, we'll work on that again later. Right now, you have to say that John Kerry is using reverse psychology.

W: Reverse? I haven't even figured out forward psy . . . whatever it is.

Laura: (Sighs) I'll make it easy for you. Remember back in '99? When we had you tell everyone that the Clinton Economy was going bust and people believed it?

W: Yeah. (Chuckles) We had them snowed.

Laura: Well, we're going to accuse Kerry of doing the same thing. We're going to say that Kerry is talking the economy down, that he's pessimistic and that's unpatriotic.

W: That's right. (nods like a bobblehead doll) Dick said that anyone who disagrees with me is un-American.

Laura: Good, good. So try this with me. Kerry's pessimism about the state of the nation is unpatriotic and is a psychological attack on American Values.

W: Kerry's psycho and playing possum.

Laura: Close enough. (Stands as Karl Rove enters the room)

Rove: How's our boy doing? (He asks Laura)

Laura: As well as can be expected.

Rove: That bad?

Laura: He'll get it.

W: Yeah, Uncle Karl, I'll get it.

Rove: That's my boy. (Pats Dubya on the head)

Laura: (Moves closer to Rove and whispers.) Meet you in the Lincoln Room later?

Rove: Of course. (He whispers back) Will you do the thing with your mouth again? (Laura just smiles at him)

W: What did he say?

Rove: I said you remind me of Lincoln.

W: Yes, I do, don't I.

November can't come soon enough.

Morning Person?

I guess the F-man is a morning person. He posts more before the sun comes up than anyone I know. Personally I don't roll out of bed until it is undeniably daytime.

If you're not a morning person, wait until later to answer the question; Do you know these men?

Well, do you?

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Optimistic or Blinded By The Light

From Corrente:

This is one of those words Bush has been trying to hijack for his own Orwellian purposes.

So, ever helpful, we at Corrente will translate it for you. In fact, I can think of two translations:

1. Think happy thoughts on the way down.

And, the bonus:

2. Lay back and enjoy it.

UPDATE Alert reader Beth suggests:

3. Seeing the glass as half full even after its been smashed into a million pieces.

UPDATE And alert reader MJS:

Optimism is ditching your National Guard obligation and knowing that somehow it will be made alright by others.

Optimism is seeing huge gas guzzlers spewing exhaust all over America and knowing that your closest business allies are sitting on top of oil reserves.

Optimism is when your party controls both houses of Congress, the Executive Branch, and is one Chief Justice away from holding the majority vote in the highest court in the land for years to come.

Optimism is controlling the leading media outlets but making it seem like you are a victim of mindless partisan attacks.

Optimism is knowing that much of your base needs only to hear the occasional manipulative code word to excite their loyalty.

Optimism is knowing that voting can be rigged, controlled, denied and obscured in ways that are seemingly beyond the reach of the law.

Optimism is never having to say you're sorry.

Repeating flawed logic over and over is not optimism, it's known as denial.


Figures I find me a fucking Yankee fan to do this. Oy!

Excuse me?

The Fixer-man wrote:

Might the Mets sweep the Yankees this weekend? Looks that way. 4-1 Mets inn the 5th right now. Why can't they play like this when it counts, like in the 2000 Series?

Well, I'm done for the day. Hope yours is safe and fun.

Pleasant dreams.

Well, yes, he can sleep well tonight. He is one of that strange species that inhabit New York known as Mets fans. I hope flashbacks from the 2000 World Series don't disturb his orange and blue dreams. Yes, the Mets swept the Yankees this weekend. I doubt it will happen again anytime soon or, as The Fixer puts it, 'when it counts'.

Saddam tribunal calls accused's defence team

From Al-Jazeera:

Sunday 04 July 2004, 17:10 Makka Time, 14:10 GMT

The head of Iraq's special tribunal charged with putting Saddam Hussein on trial has made contact with his defence counsel, the ousted Iraqi president's chief Jordanian defence lawyer said Sunday.

Salim Chalabi "telephoned me last night (Saturday) and said he wanted to facilitate the action of the defence team in the tribunal", Muhammad al-Rashdan told AFP.

But Chalabi insisted Iraqi law stipulates that Saddam's in-court defence lawyer be Iraqi - an interpretation that Rashdan takes issue with - although he said the Jordanian team has "begun contacts to choose an Iraqi lawyer".

Rashdan also told reporters that "several families" of 11 of Saddam's former top officials also set to go on trial had contacted him and that on Saturday, he was given power of attorney from the family of former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz.

AFP obtained a copy of the document, which had been signed by Aziz's wife Violette, their sons Ziad and Saddam, and their daughters Zainab and Maisaa.

Rashdan's team, so far denied entry into Iraq let alone access to Saddam, had renewed its request to do so with Iraqi legal and US military authorities.

A defiant Saddam appeared in court for the first time on Thursday to hear preliminary charges of crimes against humanity and denounced the legality of the court set up to try him.

He also refused to sign any papers without the presence of his lawyers.

Does the name Chalabi sound familiar? Salim is the son of Ahmed, the man who provided most of the hearsay evidence about Saddam's WMD program. the man who was the Bush Administration's choice to lead Iraq until it was revealed he was also working for the Iranians. Hopefully not 'like father, like son', being that Salim 'is the executive director of the special tribunal for Iraq and for those who will be charged with war crimes and other crimes against humanity' [CNN].


Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

. . .

Point being, that since 1980 the norm for vice-presidential picks seems to be that pundits bandy about half a dozen names of serious contenders. And then the pick ends up being someone who was either never even considered or someone who was thought the longest of long-shots.

Now, like everyone else did in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000, I certainly figure that it'll be one of the logical choices -- Edwards or Gephardt most likely. But if it is one of those two, it'll be a break from the trend of the last quarter century.

Call me a pundit, but I'm thinking Edwards or Gephart, probably Edwards because he's better looking. Read Joshua's whole post and you decide.

2:30 am: Daily Kos feels just the opposite:

Kerry's team is operating under the C.W. assumption (correctly, IMHO) that a reelection battle is a referendum on the incumbent. Hence, they are fully expecting Bush to do himself in, leaving Kerry as the only alternative by the time November runs around. It may not be an exciting strategy, but a sound one nevertheless.

Gephardt as veep would be a natural extension of that strategy.

I'm going to sleep now.

Continuing the theme.

Since this is mutual swipage day, I did too. Via Just a Bump in the Beltway via Eschaton:

Swiped from the relief crew at Atrios, because this belongs to all of us:

Progressives show their patriotism today by looking for a union label in their American-made clothes, or they can look for a “fair trade” label on various consumer goods made overseas. (Help is available from several nonprofit groups:;;; and The American activists who’ve protested at World Trade Organization and World Bank meetings to demand better living standards for Third World workers aren’t simply do-gooders. When workers in China or Mexico get paid a living wage, American companies have less incentive to move jobs from U.S. soil, and those workers have more money to buy U.S.-made products.

But let’s get back to the Red-White-and-Blue. The flag, as a symbol of the nation, is not owned by the administration in power, but by the people. We battle over what it means, but all Americans — across the political spectrum — have an equal right to claim the flag as their own.

Most Americans are unaware that much of our patriotic culture — including many of the leading symbols and songs that have become increasingly popular since September 11 — was created by writers of decidedly progressive sympathies.

For example, the Pledge of Allegiance itself was originally authored and promoted by a leading Christian socialist, Francis Bellamy (cousin of best-selling radical writer Edward Bellamy), who was fired from his Boston ministry for his sermons depicting Jesus as a socialist. Bellamy penned the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America by promoting use of the flag in public schools. He hoped the pledge would promote a moral vision to counter the climate of the Gilded Age, with its robber barons and exploitation of workers. Bellamy intended the line “One nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all” to express a more collective and egalitarian vision of America.

Bellamy’s invocation of American patriotism on behalf of social justice is part of a hidden tradition. Consider the lines inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Emma Lazarus was a poet of considerable reputation in her day, who was a strong supporter of Henry George and his “socialistic” single-tax program, and a friend of William Morris, a leading British socialist. Her welcome to the “wretched refuse” of the earth, written in 1883, was an effort to project an inclusive and egalitarian definition of the American Dream.

And there was Katharine Lee Bates, a professor of English at Wellesley College. Bates was an accomplished and published poet, whose book America the Beautiful and Other Poems includes a sequence of poems expressing outrage at U.S. imperialism in the Philippines. A member of progressive-reform circles in the Boston area, concerned about labor rights, urban slums and women’s suffrage, an ardent feminist, for decades she lived with and loved her Wellesley colleague Katharine Coman, an economist and social activist.

“America the Beautiful,” written in 1893, not only speaks to the beauty of the American continent but also reflects her view that U.S. imperialism undermines the nation’s core values of freedom and liberty. The poem’s final words — “and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea” — are an appeal for social justice rather than the pursuit of wealth.

In the Depression years and during World War II, the fusion of populist, egalitarian and anti-racist values with patriotic expression reached full flower. Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and A Lincoln Portrait are now patriotic musical standards, regularly performed at major civic events, written by a member of a radical composers’ collective.

Langston Hughes’ poem “Let America Be America Again,” written in 1936, contrasted the nation’s promise with its mistreatment of his fellow African-Americans, the poor, Native Americans, workers, farmers and immigrants:

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

In 1939, composer Earl Robinson teamed with lyricist John La Touche to write Ballad for Americans, which was performed on the CBS radio network by Paul Robeson, accompanied by chorus and orchestra. This 11-minute cantata provided a musical review of American history, depicted as a struggle between the “nobody who’s everybody” and an elite that fails to understand the real, democratic essence of America.

Robeson, at the time one of the best-known performers on the world stage, became, through this work, a voice of America. Broadcasts and recordings of Ballad for Americans (by Bing Crosby as well as Robeson) were immensely popular. In the summer of 1940, it was performed at the national conventions of both the Republican and Communist parties. The work soon became a staple in school choral performances, but it was literally ripped out of many public school songbooks after Robinson and Robeson were identified with the radical left and blacklisted during the McCarthy period. Since then, however, Ballad for Americans has been periodically revived, notably during the bicentennial celebration in 1976, when a number of pop and country singers performed it in concerts and on TV.

Many Americans consider Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land Is Your Land,” penned in 1940, to be our unofficial national anthem. Guthrie, a radical, was inspired to write the song as an answer to Irving Berlin’s popular “God Bless America,” which he thought failed to recognize that it was the “people” to whom America belonged. The words to “This Land Is Your Land” reflect Guthrie’s assumption that patriotism, support for the underdog, and class struggle were all of a piece. In this song, Guthrie celebrates America’s natural beauty and bounty, but criticizes the country for its failure to share its riches, reflected in the song’s last and least-known verse:

One bright sunny morning in the
shadow of the steeple
By the relief office I saw my people.
As they stood hungry I stood there wondering
If this land was made for you and me.

Stimulated by the recent nostalgia for World War II, old recordings by left-wing performers of the 1940s Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and the Almanac Singers, Josh White, Burl Ives, Leadbelly, and Paul Robeson are, fortunately, undergoing a revival. This was material deliberately created to promote the war effort, expressing the passionate fervor of left-wing resistance to fascism. The best songs also express the conviction that the fight against fascism must encompass a struggle to end Jim Crow and achieve economic democracy at home. Indeed, President Franklin Roosevelt’s speeches during that period reflect many of the same themes and images. And if you add to these songs the scripts of numbers of Hollywood war movies and radio plays by some of America’s leading writers — some of whom were later blacklisted — it becomes clear that popular culture in support of that war was largely the creation of American leftists.

Even during the 1960s, American progressives continued to seek ways to fuse their love of country with their opposition to the government’s policies. The March on Washington in 1963 gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. famously quoted the words to “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” repeating the phrase “Let freedom ring” 11 times.

Phil Ochs, then part of a new generation of politically conscious singer-songwriters who emerged during the 1960s, wrote an anthem in the Guthrie vein, “The Power and the Glory,” that coupled love of country with a strong plea for justice and equality. The words to the chorus echo the sentiments of the anti–Vietnam War movement:

Here is a land full of power and glory;
Beauty that words cannot recall;
Oh her power shall rest on the strength of her freedom
Her glory shall rest on us all.

One of its stanzas updated Guthrie’s combination of outrage and patriotism:

Yet she’s only as rich as the poorest of her poor;
Only as free as the padlocked prison door;
Only as strong as our love for this land;
Only as tall as we stand.

Interestingly, this song later became part of the repertoire of the U.S. Army band.

And in 1968, in a famous anti-war speech on the steps of the Capitol, Norman Thomas, the aging leader of the Socialist Party, proclaimed, “I come to cleanse the American flag, not burn it.”

In recent decades, Bruce Springsteen has most closely followed in the Guthrie tradition. From “Born in the USA,” to his songs about Tom Joad (the militant protagonist in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath), to his anthem about the September 11 tragedy (“Empty Sky”), Springsteen has championed the downtrodden while challenging America to live up to its ideals.

Steve (“Little Stevie”) Van Zandt is best known as the guitarist with Springsteen’s E Street Band and, most recently, for his role as Silvio Dante, Tony Soprano’s sidekick on The Sopranos. But his most enduring legacy should be his love song about America, “I Am a Patriot,” including these lyrics:

I am a patriot, and I love my country, Because my country is all I know. Wanna be with my family, People who understand me. I got no place else to go.

And I ain’t no communist, And I ain’t no socialist, And I ain’t no capitalist, And I ain’t no imperialist, And I ain’t no Democrat, Sure ain’t no Republican either, I only know one party, And that is freedom.

In the midst of a controversial and increasingly unpopular war, and with a presidential election under way that will shape the nation’s direction, there is no better way to celebrate America than to listen to Van Zandt’s patriotic anthem. And while doing so, maybe waving a flag and remembering it’s also yours.

Thanks, Melanie

2:35 pm: Fixer-man is a lazy bugger. He only linked to this. :)