Saturday, December 31, 2005

Gratuitous Sex

Git'cher MoDo workin'...

A tip o' the Brain to Tennessee Guerilla Women even if they don't know how to spell it.

The Weather Gods Are Laughing At Me. Again.

I am typing as fast as my poor bruised little index finger can handle, hoping it doesn't happen again.

I just wrote a real long post about our local weather: road closures, power outages, way too many weekenders/New Year's celebrants, etc., with links to all kinds of shit for your amusement and edification. Maybe an hour's worth. As I was moving the cursor from the final 'period' towards 'publish', the power went off for the second time today. Lasted less than thirty seconds, but -poof!- the post was gone.

I think the weather gods were trying to tell me it was too long and nobody would care anyway. I can take a hint. I won't try to duplicate it. You're saved.

Howsomever, in the course of my research I discovered the absolute best webcam site I've yet seen. Go click around my state and my mountains. I'm going to. There's even a 'Shamu, The Killer Whale' one! Whee!

Happy New Year, folks. '06 is going to be lots better.

The Magical Victory Tour

One of my new favorites, Matt Taibbi, who calls 'em like he sees 'em, on Bush's recent PR speeches on Iraq.

Bush in person always strikes me as the kind of guy who would ask a woman for a hand job at the end of a first date. He has days where he looks like she said yes, and days where the answer was no.

Today was one of his no days. He frowned, looking wronged, and grabbed the microphone. I pulled out my notebook . . .

A few minutes later, I felt like a hooker who's just blinked under a blanket with a prep-school virgin. Was that it? Is it over? It seemed to be; Bush was off the podium and slipping down the first line of the crowd, pumping hands for a minute and then promptly Snagglepussing toward the left exit. By the time I made it five rows into the crowd, he had vanished into a sea of Secret Servicemen, who whisked him away, presumably to return him posthaste to his formaldehyde tank.

In other words, this was really a National Strategy for Victory at Home. It was classic Bush-think: Instead of bombing the insurgency off the map, he bombs the map -- in lieu of actually fighting the war (my em), a bold strategy, to be sure. But would it work?

And on his encounter with Scott "That's my story an' I'm stickin' to it" McClellan in the WH press room:

"Just to be clear," I said, exasperated, "that's a different argument than was made to the American people before the war."

"Our arguments are very public," he said. "You can go look at what the arguments are. That's not what I was talking about."

He smiled at me. There's your strategy for victory in Iraq: Fuck all of you -- we're sticking to our story.

Go read.

Economics 101

Stolen from Attaturk:

We all know that outside of blowing up some foreign swarthies the thing you loved most is money. If anything you obsess over your stock market earnings more than most. So I'd like you to pay attention to this particular statistic.

When "the Clenis" took office in January 1993, the stock market stood at about 3,500. When "the Clenis" left office in January 2001, the stock market was at 10,588.

In nearly five years, what has "Mr. Deficit" the Chimperor Disgustus accomplished for your market portfolio?

Yesterday, the market closed at 10,717.50. Five years into the Clinton presidency it stood at about 8,000 (more than double).

In short, why the fuck are you voting Republican?

More than corruption?

My man Dave Johnson:


To what extent is it possible that today's Republican Party scandals are not just about traditional corruption, but instead are the result of manipulation by foreign interests, masquerading as corruption and ideological cultism? China, Iran, ??? The neo-cons are persuaded by ideology and cooked-up intelligence to go to war in Iraq. Iran ends up with Shia Iraq as a client state, with its oil resources at its disposal, for sale to China. America weakened, its industries no longer competitive, it's infrastructure crumbling. Who benefits?


Heh . . .

Federal prosecutors and lawyers for Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff consulted briefly Friday with a federal judge in Miami as they put the finishing touches on a plea deal that could be announced as early as Tuesday, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.


Abramoff's cooperation would be a boon to an ongoing Justice Department investigation of congressional corruption, possibly helping prosecutors build criminal cases against up to 20 lawmakers and their staff members. [my ems]


Happy New Year to us!

Link via Maru.

A fucking year!

Five years in office and he's taken a fucking year off.

Saturday Cartoons

As always, courtesy of our pal Bob Geiger.

And a good one from the Old White Lady.

Fixer's Person(s) of the Year

The United States Coast Guard.

The United States Coast Guard is a military, multimission, maritime service and one of the nation's five Armed Services. Its mission is to protect the public, the environment, and U.S. economic interest - in the nation's ports and waterways, along the coast, on international waters, or in any maritime region as required to support national security.

Lord help us if we didn't have 'em. I give them all a salute and will hoist a pint of Newcastle (maybe more than one) in their honor tonight. Think about what they do in a single day:

Save 15 lives
Assist 117 people in distress
Protect $2.8 million in property
Interdict 30 illegal migrants at sea
Conduct 90 search and rescue cases
Seize $21 million worth of illegal drugs
Respond to 11 oil and hazardous chemical spills
Board and inspect 122 vessels

My pick for Person(s) of the Year.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department is investigating who disclosed a secret domestic eavesdropping operation approved by President George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks, officials said on Friday.

"We are opening an investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified materials related to the NSA," a Justice Department official said on condition of anonymity.


It takes a set to demand an investigation after the WH knew the Times had this story for a year, especially since they had no intention of investigating who leaked Valerie Plame's identity to the press. Why didn't they take the Times to task last year? Because it was, say it with me, election season. Let's hope Abramoff takes the lot of them down before the next one.


Pudentilla writes letters.


Granny, fully and completely:

Now they are having a witch hunt to find out who wasn't covering up the President's crime!

Imagine that type of response to Valerie Plame

to 9/11

to Tom DeLay's appropriating fe[d]eral property.

Imagine if they hadn't permitted so many of their friends to destroy evidence of ongoing investigations. Anthrax, 9/11, Ohio...

Clowntime is over:

The Last Stand of the American Republic:


How will the Establishment deal with this direct challenge? The past few years give little grounds for hope: the Democrats spineless, conflicted, co-opted and corrupt; the Republicans slavish, bellicose, cruel and criminal; the media timorous, witless, corporate-controlled; big business absolutely rolling in gravy from the autocrat's larder; academia cowed, silenced, ignored, demonized; the military acquiescent in criminal aggression, top-heavy with time-servers currying autocratic favor. Only the courts provide some stray sparks of hope, although they too are now loaded with political sycophants, corporate bagmen and knuckle-dragging throwbacks produced by the Right's decades-long devolution of American jurisprudence. Prosecutors like Patrick Fitzgerald and Elliot Spitzer "keep hope alive," but their efforts will mean little in a system where lawlessness at the top has been countenanced by the rest of the Establishment. And in any case, the outcome of their work lies ultimately with the Supreme Court -- the same court that shredded the Constitution in awarding power to Bush in the first place, and which is now led by a Bushist apparatchik.

Still, you don't go through a constitutional crisis with the Establishment you want; you go through a constitutional crisis with the Establishment you have. And this sad, sick crew, ladies and gentlemen, is all we have. If they swallow the spy scandal, if they don't push back now -- and I mean really push back, not just make a lot of harrumphing noise or hold a few toothless hearings or get a couple of underlings offered up as ritual sacrifices to save the Leader -- then we will have well and truly and finally lost the Republic that Franklin, Jefferson and Madison gave us so long ago.


A must-read.

Thanks to Susie.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The kid who went to Iraq


Well, at least this can be said of him: he has more balls than our chickenhawk trolls.

Borrow and Squander

So much for tax and spend Liberals. Jane's coined a name for the Repubs. Why? This:

Treasury Secretary John W. Snow said yesterday that the United States could be unable to pay its bills in early 2006 unless Congress raises the government's borrowing authority, which is now capped at $8.18 trillion.


"At that time, unless the debt limit is raised or the Treasury Department takes authorized extraordinary actions, we will be unable to continue to finance government operations," Snow wrote.


Good thing we tightened up the bankruptcy regulations, huh?

Raiding the Icebox

This is just plain un-fucking-believable: The U.S. has war plans drawn up to invade CANADA fer chrissake! I had to check my calendar to make sure it's not April 1st. It's not. It's all laid out in this surprisingly good (and funny!) article in the WaPo.

At that point, it's only a matter of time before we bring these Molson-swigging, maple-mongering Zamboni drivers to their knees! Or, as the official planners wrote, stating their objective in bold capital letters: "ULTIMATELY TO GAIN COMPLETE CONTROL."

It sounds like a joke but it's not. War Plan Red is real. It was drawn up and approved by the War Department in 1930, then updated in 1934 and 1935. It was declassified in 1974 and the word "SECRET" crossed out with a heavy pencil. Now it sits in a little gray box in the National Archives in College Park, available to anybody, even Canadian spies. They can photocopy it for 15 cents a page.

Out in Winnipeg -- the Manitoba capital, whose rail yards were slated to be seized in the plan -- Brad Salyn, the city's director of communications, said he didn't think Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz knew anything about War Plan Red: "You know he would have no clue about what you're talking about, eh?"

"I'm sure Winnipeggers will stand up tall in defense of our country," Mayor Katz said later. "We have many, many weapons."

What kind of weapons?

"We have peashooters, slingshots and snowballs," he said, laughing.

But the Canadians' best weapon, Katz added, is their weather. "It gets to about minus-50 Celsius with a wind chill," he said. "It will be like Napoleon's invasion of Russia. I'm quite convinced that you'll meet your Waterloo on the banks of the Assiniboine River."

As it turns out, Katz isn't the first Canadian to speculate on how to fight the U.S.A. In fact, Canadian military strategists developed a plan to invade the United States in 1921 -- nine years before their American counterparts created War Plan Red.

Brown's idea was to buy time for the British to come to Canada's rescue. Buster even entered the United States in civilian clothing to do some reconnaissance.

"He had a total annual budget of $1,200," said Rudmin, "so he himself would drive to the areas where they were going to invade and take pictures and pick up free maps at gas stations."

Etzinger, the Canadian Embassy spokesman, isn't worried about an American invasion because Canada has a secret weapon -- actually thousands of secret weapons.

"We've got thousands of Canadians in the U.S. right now, in place secretly," he said. "They could be on your street. We've sent people like Celine Dion and Mike Myers to secretly infiltrate American society."

Pretty funny, Mr. Etzinger. But the strategists who wrote War Plan Red were prepared for that problem. They noted that "it would be necessary to deal internally" with the "large number" of Brits and Canadians living in the United States -- and also with "a small number of professional pacifists and communists."

The planners did not specify exactly what would be done with those undesirables. But it would be kinda fun to see Celine Dion and Mike Myers wearing orange jumpsuits down in Guantanamo.


Don't miss this one.

It would have been nice if our war planners had been as thorough in planning for Iraq. Maybe they were. OK then, it would have been nice if higher-higher had listened to them.

If we screw up invading Canada as bad as we did Iraq, and we easily could under this misadministration, we would truly deserve to be the world's laughingstock as much or even more than we deserve their scorn now, eh?

Heck of a job, Bushie

Paul Krugman, gleefully stolen from Free Democracy. The last two paragraphs:

A year ago, most Americans thought Mr. Bush was honest. (What an awful thought! - G)

A year ago, we didn't know for sure that almost all the politicians and pundits who thundered, during the Lewinsky affair, that even the president isn't above the law have changed their minds. But now we know when it comes to presidents who break the law, it's O.K. if you're a Republican.

Read and enjoy. While you're there, thank Kevin for saving you $49.95.


Here's a letter at Act For Change that you should sign that will

Ask Attorney General Gonzales and the U.S. Congress to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate domestic spying by the National Security Agency.

You know what to do.


From Molly Ivins

Apology: I bit on a bad story in my Dec. 20 column. The tale of the UMass-Dartmouth student who was visited by the feds for checking out Mao's "Little Red Book" has turned out to be a hoax. So sorry.

Thank you, Molly. This is the first retraction, let alone apology, that I've seen on this.

It was an awfully easy hoax to believe, as is anything involving intrusion or calculated erosion of civil liberties by this administration.

To its perpetrators I say: shame on you, both for lying and for being lazy. There's enough real government assaults on our freedom that you don't have to make them up.

We should be used to hoaxes. We have had many, many of them pulled on us by this administration. If any of them admit it, let alone apologize, on their deathbeds, I'd be very surprised, but I'm certainly willing to let a whole bunch of 'em die to test my theory.

Republican States of America

The new rules:

1. No free speech. Criticizing a Republican is illegal. Criticizing any Republican policy is illegal. You so-called 'moderate' Repubs take heed. The word 'bipartisanship' will be stricken from the language. All communications will be monitored for anti-Republican activity. Hey, if you're not doing anything wrong, you got nothing to hide, right?

2. No pornography. Sorry, guys, use your imagination. Ooops...I forgot, masturbation is frowned upon too. Think of all those potential fetuses you're shooting into that Kleenex.

3. No birth control, no abortions. Unwanted pregnancy? Sorry, shouldn't have had sex in the first place unless you're married. The fact that you're pregnant is a gift from God (except in the situation described in #5, in which your soul and the souls of your progeny will be banished to the Fires of Hell).

4. No sex before marriage. You Jesuslanders abstain until marriage, right? So this shouldn't be too hard for ya.

5. No sex (marriage) between races. I mean, if we keep that up, the average American will be brown and swarthy in 50 years. Note to Jesuslanders: If your lily white daughter gets knocked up by Mandingo who plays middle linebacker on the high school football team, see #3.

6. Homosexuality. Illegal, punishable by death. Move to France if you wanna do that shit. There will be camps to straighten out those of you who want to stay.

7. State religion. Everyone (no exceptions) will accept the God of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as their one true God. Eh? What's that, you Jewish folks? Get real. We don't need you anymore and you can go to Israel if you want to do that Old Testament shit, or you can remain and be treated like Muslims. Muslims, the last of you should be in the appropriate camp by the end of the week. Anybody else? Just get the fuck out, or convert, or you'll end up like the Muslims too.

8. Education. Each school district will build one big building, the 'District Home School'. All children will attend and a faith-based curriculum will be taught; if it didn't happen before the end 13th Century, it doesn't matter, except for the Republcan Reform of 2007 when we all were required to lead faith-based lives.

9. Opposing political parties. Eh? What?

10. Social programs. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha. By the way, what little Social Security you do receive will be discontinued at the end of the month. After all, FDR was a Communist and we don't want any of that now, do we?

I'm sure there's a million more but I have to go to work. Feel free to add in 'comments' and I'll put 'em up here (with proper credit of course) when I get home.


For your list, a bumper sticker:
I am holier than thou. - dus7

"Since there will be no taxation, all monies from formerly Blue States will be sent directly to formerly Red States so they can maintain their lifestyle since they are so well educated they can't make a decent living. This will also serve as a penitence for the former godless, ungodly, and unrepentant Blue-Staters since we need the money and therefore can't 'purge' them like we'd like to." - Gordon

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Poker with Dick Cheney

Lurch again. Don't miss this one. It'll make your eyes roll back in yer head.

Smack the Penguin

Apologies to my pal Badtux but you have to play.

Iraq on the Record

Got this one from Lurch at Main and Central.

Prepared at the direction of Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Iraq on the Record is a searchable collection of 237 specific misleading statements made by Bush Administration officials about the threat posed by Iraq. It contains statements that were misleading based on what was known to the Administration at the time the statements were made. It does not include statements that appear mistaken only in hindsight. If a statement was an accurate reflection of U.S. intelligence at the time it was made, it was excluded even if it now appears erroneous. For more information on how the statements were selected, see the full methodology. The Iraq on the Record Report is a comprehensive examination of these statements.

Thanks, Lurch, and thank you, Mr. Waxman.

[Link in left sidebar under the 'cost' counter for reference use. - F-man]

People are thinking



However, all of these beliefs and others have declined sharply since the questions were asked in February 2005.


Funnier'n shit, in an un-funny kinda way...

In an article in SCOTUSblog dealing with administration attempts to transfer Jose Padilla to civilian custody so they could charge him with lesser shit than they said he did because they couldn't prove anything after three years, I found the joke of the day:

Responding to the Fourth Circuit's rebuke of the government for supposedly trying to manipulate the courts in the Padilla case, the application said there was "nothing remotely sinister" about what it has done, and said "there is no basis for questioning the good faith of the government" in switching positions to get an indictment of Padilla.

Good technical lawyer stuff if you're interested, with many comments by lawyers if you're in need of inspiration for a nap. Folks get kinda glassy-eyed when we start talkin' about bikes, too, but it's all wonderful stuff!



Fuck us

WASHINGTON - In a program to help businesses after Sept. 11, a high percentage of government-backed loans went to recipients who appeared to be unqualified — some of them unaware they were receiving terrorism-recovery money, investigators report.

The Small Business Administration's inspector general said Wednesday that agency officials were at fault for telling lenders in the program that their determinations would not be questioned.

The inspector general concluded that only nine loan recipients in the 59 cases sampled appeared to be qualified for disaster loans.


The AP found that terrorism recovery loans went to a South Dakota radio station, a Virgin Islands perfume shop, a Utah dog boutique and more than 100 Dunkin' Donuts and Subway sandwich shops in various locations.

Meanwhile, small businesses near Ground Zero in New York couldn't get the assistance they desperately sought.


Yeah boy, it's good to come from a red state. Who cares if the folks downtown lost their businesses? They probably vote Democrat anyway. Utah, South Dakota, the Virgin Islands, how much you wanna bet the folks who got the bread were Republican contributors too?

...a lying, murderous president who is claiming the right to break any law

Read this really scary one by Geov Parrish:

n the waning days of 2005, a number of Beltway developments have pointed to 2006 as a pivotal year in the future -- if there is to be any -- of American democracy.

The most far-reaching of these has been the Bush administration's aggressive advocacy of its once-secret program of NSA spying on American citizens. No lawyer outside a small clique of Bush appointees has seriously defended the NSA program, already renewed 30 times by Bush, as legal. Indeed, the only way that it can possibly not be construed as a blatant, ongoing violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (note the key word: Foreign) is if the President has the authority, as Commander-in-Chief, to suspend or override any law. And this is precisely the claim George Bush is making.

But these are symptoms. The disease is the escalating inability of American democracy to follow the Constitution and to respect the rights and honor the participation of ordinary American citizens. The disease is a political process that cannot solve serious problems because it is wholly owned by enormous corporate and political interests, with power concentrated in a relative handful of men (and occasionally women) who owe their power to those interests -- plus, at the top, a lying, murderous president who is claiming the right to break any law.

The only solution is a clean sweep. Congress must reject Samuel Alito, and Congress, if it is (in the words the Bush White House once reserved for the U.N.) "to remain relevant," must impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney. In both cases, citizen outrage will be required to force a corrupt and reluctant Congress to act. And in November, citizens must use the leverage our once-relevant Constitution gives us, and we must sweep the whole rotten Congressional carcass from office -- conclusively enough that no Republican dirty tricks or Diebold-style tampering can alter the results. Regardless of party, we must replace lawmakers, at the local, state, and especially federal level, with candidates who are truly responsive and accountable to the ordinary people who elect them.

It's either that, or by 2007 we will be living in a de facto dictatorship. It's our choice.

Everything else we like to get up on our soapbox about pales in comparison to Bush and his criminal cabal highjacking our Constitution, and the liberty granted to us by it, and turning our country into the Fourth Reich. I am barely able to stop short of calling for armed rebellion.

Dear George, from Osama

From Big Dave from Queens via BuzzFlash.

After September 11th I was deemed the world's most evil man. Thank you for taking my place at the top. Praise be Allah. Praise be Jesus. Both of our dreams are being realized, a world with constant violence, strife, and a clash between our versions of the two major religions. George, as a fellow religious fundamentalist who knows exactly what God thinks and wants, I am somewhat concerned about your image in the world. Because of you, every democracy in Europe and South America has turned dramatically to the left. But with the grace of Allah and Jesus perhaps we can eliminate these liberals

It's fun. Go read.

Big Brother Bush

Molly Ivins on the Chimp's criminal abuse of power to spy on Americans.

The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Thirty-five years ago, Richard Milhous Nixon, who was crazy as a bullbat, and J. Edgar Hoover, who wore women's underwear, decided some Americans had unacceptable political opinions. So they set our government to spying on its own citizens, basically those who were deemed insufficiently like Crazy Richard Milhous.

The creepy part is the overlap. Damned if they aren't still here, after all these years, the old Nixon hands -- Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the whole gang whose yearning for authoritarian government rose like a stink over the Nixon years. Imperial executive. Bring back those special White House guard uniforms. Cheney, like some malignancy that cannot be killed off, back at the same old stand, pushing the same old crap.

Then we always get that dreadful goody-two-shoes response, "Well, if you aren't doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about, do you?"

Folks, we KNOW this program is being and will be misused. We know it from the past record and current reporting. The program has already targeted vegans and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- and, boy, if those aren't outposts of al-Qaida, what is? Could this be more pathetic?

This could scarcely be clearer. Either the president of the United States is going to have to understand and admit he has done something very wrong, or he will have to be impeached. The first time this happened, the institutional response was magnificent. The courts, the press, the Congress all functioned superbly. Anyone think we're up to that again? Then whom do we blame when we lose the republic?

The answer to the last question is, ultimately: ourselves, for allowing it to be done to us by this gang of Fascists.

New year, old fear: the Dick

Maureen Dowd muses about the Vice.

Checks, balances, warrants, civil liberties - they're all so 20th century. Historians must now regard the light transitional tenure of Gerald Ford as the petri dish of this darkly transformational presidency.

Consider this: when Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, supported by President Ford, pushed a plan to have the government help develop alternative sources of energy and reduce our dependence on oil and Saudi Arabia, guess who helped scotch it?

Dick Cheney. Then and now, the man is a menace.


The misson...again

I wrote earlier this week about my perceptions when I was in combat and I was thinking about what I would do now, should circumstances evolve to put me in a position to serve again (not outside the realm of possiblility with the recruiting fiasco, my age of 43, and several skills that would be quite useful over there).

I think about what my grandfather did in World War 2 when, at the age of 44, he was called on to fight for his country. They came in the middle of the night, in the Spring of '43, and knocked on the door. There were two men, both of whom he'd known all his life.

"Herman," they said. "Say your goodbyes, you have to come with us."

"I'm 44 years old and fought in the first war," my grandfather replied.

"They need men in Russia. It is not going well," they told him.

"And if I refuse?"

"Do you want to go to jail...or worse?"

And that's the way it went, as he told it to me. That night he said goodbye to his wife and his youngest daughter and left with the men to form up with the other able-bodied men from the town. My mother was already in the German Army, a nurse in a field hospital, and my uncle was serving with the folks who wore black (he enlisted in '39, as soon as war broke out; ended up in a French prison camp for 3 years for his trouble; good for him). Fortunately my grandfather survived.

Think it can't happen here? It makes me wonder what I'd do if orders came requiring me to report for duty. My first reaction is telling them to go fuck themselves. But there are others to consider. Would I disrupt quite a few lives of people I love by leaving the country, putting them through undue hardship? Would I go to prison...or worse and use that to protest the illegality?

Tough questions but I think I, like my grandfather, would go. It has to do not with my unwillingness to go to jail or put loved ones through Hell. It's because there are other guys already there, guys who could use the hand, who could use any help to get through it and get home for good. If I were called back, I don't think I could turn my back on them


You don't think the Chimp is looking out for the proles when he tries to privatize everything in this country, do you? He's doing it to keep (or give more of) the wealth and power with the corporations. Guess what? They're doing it in Iraq. Professor Cole:


al-Zaman/ AFP say that the US embassy in Baghdad has advised the incoming government to privatize the hundreds of companies and factories owned by the state (the Baath Party was actually the Baath Socialist Party), selling them to investors. The US administration of Iraq attempted to move toward privatization under Paul Bremer, but the issue was rendered moot by the poor security in the country, which makes investing in it at the moment unattractive.

One of the least attractive aspects of the US government is its fanaticism about privatization. I mean, is this really the time? The good Lord knows how many of those companies or factories are actually operating. And who is going to buy them? Wouldn't it be better at this juncture for the government to use them in a way analogous to FDR public works projects, to put people to work? Al-Zaman estimates that 1/4 of Iraqis live in dire proverty, and the real unemployment rate is still probably 50 percent. Corporations are far less efficient than Washington believes (see: Enron), and some state-owned enterprises have prospered (ask Californians if privatized electricity worked out well for them; and see: Enron). It is no doubt better in the long run to move away from bloated state-owned industries in Iraq, but I just wouldn't have made that a priority.


Dr. Cole is being charitable. The reason privatization is a priority is because most of the concerns to be privatized will probably become wholly owned subsidiaries of Halliburton and Bechtel.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Meme-tagged 2

Good thing for Mr. C he has a pretty wife and pretty cat.

Four jobs you've had: Farm hand (chicken farm), tree surgeon (peon for a tree surgeon really), auto parts driver, mechanic.

Four movies you can watch over and over: The American President, the Indiana Jones series, the first 3 Star Wars movies, The Hunt for Red October, honorable mentions: Sabrina and Dave.

Four places you've lived: Long Island, NY; Hauenstein, Germany; Osan, South Korea; Ft. Worth, TX.

Four TV shows you love watch: NCIS, Law & Order, Murder, She Wrote reruns, any Star Trek reruns except for the original series.

Four places you've been on vacation: Every goddamned island in the Caribbean, Paris, London, Mexico.

Four websites you visit daily: Cleek, WTF Is It Now??, Shakes, Skippy, and almost every other one on the blogroll.

Four of your favorite foods: Burgers, Escargots (Hell, anything French), caviar, bagels and lox.

Four places I'd rather be: Paris, Sedona, AZ, a private island in the South Pacific, anywhere there's no such thing as winter.

Old White Lady
Angry Old Broad
Froggy a.k.a DBK
Grandpa Eddie
Yer 'it'.

We done been meme-tagged..

Cleek done tagged us with the Meme of Fours. Thank God it's a short one.

Four jobs you've had in your life: Service station (remember those?) attendant, motorcycle mechanic, oil refinery operator, sheet metal spot-welder, many more.

Four movies you could watch over and over: Shrek, Heartbreak Ridge, Grapes of Wrath, The Wild One

Four places you've lived: Sherman Oaks, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Truckee, all in California, and that's it except for the service.

Four TV shows you love to watch: NCIS, Ghost in the Shell, Commander-in-Chief, The Daily Show

Shouldn't there only have been four?

Four places you've been on vacation: Central Coast of California, the Southwest, London, Edinburgh

Four websites you visit daily: Cleek, Yelladog, Shakespeare's Sister, It's Morning Somewhere, Main and Central, many more

Four of your favorite foods: carnitas, pizza, cheeseburgers, chicken-fried steak & eggs. I don't eat these too often because they'd kill me in a heartbeat, you should pardon the play on words, but that wasn't the question!

Four places you'd rather be: to quote an old country song:

There's no place that I'd rather be than right here
With my red neck 'n white socks 'n Blue Ribbon beer

The only taggin' I'll do involves the White House and some spray paint, so - any volunteers? Yeah, uh-huh, that's what I thought!

Brokebush Mountain

Just go see. Haw!



Former President, now "King", George II has divorced his wife, Laura, in order to marry a young, fecund woman who can give him a male heir.


Nut 'em all...

Go read this one about "The tumultuous and tawdry travels of Neil Bush" at Media Transparency.

Over the past six months, Neil Bush, the son of former President George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Bush and the younger brother of the president, has been shepherded around several former Soviet republics by a man wanted for fraud by Russian authorities, and has showed up in the Philippines and Taiwan at the side of a self-styled messiah.

As an adjunct to hanging the Chimp from a yardarm, we need to castrate all Bush males so they can't spawn any more. This is an evil family.

He doesn't care if he hides it anymore...

The Nation

Bush's choice marks a watershed in the evolution of his Administration. Previously when it was caught engaging in disgraceful, illegal or merely mistaken or incompetent behavior, he would simply deny it. "We have found the weapons of mass destruction!" "We do not torture!" However, further developments in the torture matter revealed a shift. Even as he denied the existence of torture, he and his officials began to defend his right to order it. His Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, refused at his confirmation hearings to state that the torture called waterboarding, in which someone is brought to the edge of drowning, was prohibited. Then when Senator John McCain sponsored a bill prohibiting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners, Bush threatened to veto the legislation to which it was attached. It was only in the face of majority votes in both houses against such treatment that he retreated from his claim.

But in the wiretapping matter, he has so far exhibited no such vacillation. Secret law-breaking has been supplanted by brazen law-breaking. The difference is critical. If abuses of power are kept secret, there is still the possibility that, when exposed, they will be stopped. But if they are exposed and still permitted to continue, then every remedy has failed, and the abuse is permanently ratified. In this case, what will be ratified is a presidency that has risen above the law.

There is a name for a system of government that wages aggressive war, deceives its citizens, violates their rights, abuses power and breaks the law, rejects judicial and legislative checks on itself, claims power without limit, tortures prisoners and acts in secret. It is dictatorship.

With Bush's defense of his wiretapping, the hidden state has stepped into the open. The deeper challenge Bush has thrown down, therefore, is whether the country wants to embrace the new form of government he is creating by executive fiat or to continue with the old constitutional form. He is now in effect saying, "Yes, I am above the law--I am the law, which is nothing more than what I and my hired lawyers say it is--and if you don't like it, I dare you to do something about it."

Members of Congress have no choice but to accept the challenge. They did so once before, when Richard Nixon, who said, "When the President does it, that means it's not illegal," posed a similar threat to the Constitution. The only possible answer is to inform Bush forthwith that if he continues in his defiance, he will be impeached.

If Congress accepts his usurpation of its legislative power, they will be no Congress and might as well stop meeting. Either the President must uphold the laws of the United States, which are Congress's laws, or he must leave office.

Read this one in self-defense. Print it and keep it next to the shitter. Read it until you have it memorized.

These criminals have to be stopped, and soon, whatever it takes.

Yeah, how come?

John at AMERICAblog asks:


Wow, very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings and churches, yet Bush never sought a court order to conduct the snooping because he thought a court wouldn't let him?! Huh? Let me repeat, the people they spied on "have a history of blowing up trains, weddings and churches." If that's true, then any court in the land would haven given Bush a search warrant.

But there's a larger question. If Bush is now telling the truth about who these people are, then pray tell, what the hell was Bush doing letting hundreds if not thousands of people "who have a history of blowing up trains, wedding and churches" run around free inside the US for the past 4 years?


Yeah, whatever happend to 'Homeland Security' and 'fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here'? Have your efforts been so fruitless, are you that worried to force the decision to spy on literally every American? Let's get real, data mining and illegal wiretaps are only being used for one thing; spying on the American people for the political gain of the Republican Party. Any Repub who fails to condemn this policy should be considered an accomplice to it. Like I've been saying, the Republican Party is no longer a political organization, it is a criminal enterprise.

Hat tip: Atrios


To wit:

President Bush and other top officials in his administration used the National Security Agency to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor private email accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council in early 2003 to determine how foreign delegates would vote on a U.N. resolution that paved the way for the U.S.-led war in Iraq, NSA documents show.

Two former NSA officials familiar with the agency's campaign to spy on U.N. members say then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice authorized the plan at the request of President Bush, who wanted to know how delegates were going to vote. Rice did not immediately return a call for comment.


Thanks: Attaturk

Shoot all the...hold on a second

Much as I have a problem with lawyers (too goddamn many of 'em; were I the King, I'd close every law school save Yale and Harvard), there's sort of a love/hate thing going on in my house (the vagaries of insurance law pay a lot of bills in the Fixer household). However, thanks to the Republican Congress, I think one of the only remedies to King George is the courts:

Last week I predicted that defense lawyers would soon start filing motions related to Bush's warrantless NSA surveillance. The New York Times reports lawyers from coast to coast are getting ready to hit the courts, and some will seek to reopen cases in which the defendants have been convicted and are serving their sentences.


Some federal prosecutors tell the Times the NSA warrantless surveillance could be a problem for the Government in both past and future cases.


While Jeralyn goes on to say some of the probable defendants have lost their access to an appeal thanks to guilty pleas, the demand for discovery might lead to the government dropping charges considered shaky in the first place. She then directs us to one of my favorite legal beagles, ReddHedd:

In a NYTimes article that should come as no surprise to the legal minds in the audience, defense counsel for a number of charged and convicted terrorism suspects are planning to challenge cases based on the latest revelations on the NSA spying domestically. To do less would be malpractice, because many of these defendants were American citizens, so this ought to be no shock to anyone who has spent time as defense counsel in criminal matters.

But as someone who has also been a prosecutor, I can tell you that this scenario is your worst nightmare in those shoes. No matter how solid your case, no matter how dirty the defendent might be, no matter how clean you thought your case was, the US Attorney is going to have to combat the perception by defense counsel that the defendant found his way into the government crosshairs through a dirty wiretap -- which hamstrings the government's case at the start.


So all I have to say to defense lawyers is litigate your asses off. It's time to open another front in the Second American Revolution. It's time to send King George back where he came from.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Things to be thankful for

Ed Naha at Smirking Chimp:


I'm thankful that Bush doesn't have a twin.


I'm thankful that no Dennis Hastert sex tape has surfaced on the web.


I'm glad that Scooter Libby's name is "Scooter Libby." It will make him so much more popular in prison.


What's in yer Socks?

The Pensito Review via Pam:

GOP Investigated Pres. Clinton's Cat But Only Plans 'Oversight' on Pres. Bush's Admitted Illegal Spying

Only in Bush's America.

The mission

I was reading this post at Main and Central and it got me thinking. Lurch nabbed part of a post from an active duty vet serving in Iraq:


Some law student emailed me while back with some questions, and after it was all said and done she told me she supported the troops. And I know a lot of people share that sentiment and it's all really warm and fuzzy and whatnot, but honestly, I just rather you run out, sign up and catch the early-bird charter to Kuwait and get your ass over here ASAP so one of us can go home. Maybe we can arrange something, you know, by ones and twos and so on, pretty sure we could get all us over-extended types outta here in no time.


It got me thinking about my motivations when I was in. Yes, I've seen combat, not the prolonged mess that was Vietnam and is Iraq but the short, intense skirmishes when the military is called upon to act in peacetime. Firefights with drug dealers and processors, coming under fire when inserting and extracting 'covert operatives' from hostile nations (still classified...probably; gotta check on that so I can tell you some stories), and of course the conflict in Grenada. In my case, we got to go home after the job was done. Not all of us, mind you. I lost a 6 mates during my 4 years with AFSOCOM (the old 23rd Air Force), but in general, after the mission, we got to go home to our loved ones until the next mission. And it's the mission that got me thinking. Actually, thinking about what I was thinking at the time.

The reason I volunteered (for SOCOM, not my initial enlistment; I enlisted in the Air Force to keep my ass out of jail) was for adventure and travel to strange exotic lands, and to sleep with strange exotic women. I was 17 and my brain was located somewhere south of my waist, but I digress. It's where I realized I was an adrenaline junkie; nothing beats jumping out of a C-130 from an altitude higher than Mt. Everest in the middle of the night and going more than half the distance before opening your chute. Nothing beats jumping out of a Blackhawk less than 50 ft. over the Gulf of Mexico, swimming miles to some dinky island, and then calling in an airstrike on some drug lord's secret shipping facility, and then blowing up and killing what the Navy pukes didn't get. Nothing beats extracting a 'covert operative' (who gave the signal he was in the clear) in a Communist country and then being opened up on by Soviet infantry just as the chopper flared for a landing. Yes, seriously, that's what I lived for when I was young. That and knowing there would be a woman and a bar waiting for me when I got back.

Did I ever think about the 'Big Picture'? No. Did I ever think, when we went to Grenada, that Reagan was doing it for political reasons, or any other reason than what we were told? No. It was the mission, period. I never paid any notice to the rightness or the wrongness of it. Orders came down, we trained up for the mission, accomplished it, and came home. On to the next. The thought of whether we were 'right' to do what we did never crossed my mind when I was in. The operative word, again, was home. Had I taken part in a protracted conflict, maybe I would have thought more about the morality of what I'd been told to do. I had to deal with the morality later on, and continue to do so.

I think about what these guys have had to do, under the stress of prolonged, repeated deployments [Note: My longest deployment or TDY was 90 days.], and wonder what I would do. Would I open my mouth? Would I complain about the injustice done, once the reason for the mission began to change? Would I have the chance to question right from wrong while dodging bullets?

When I was in, I knew what I was doing was right. There was the Soviet menace and my job to protect democracy from it. Black vs. White. Night vs. Day. Then. It's gotten a bit wide and gray over the years, with hindsight, hence the reason the young boy whose throat I cut when he discovered my hidey hole returns to me so often in my dreams. It wasn't black and white then and it certainly isn't now. There are guys coming back who've had to do far worse in a war, like Vietnam, with little justification from their leaders. You can kill to defend your way of life, as long as you can square it with yourself. When you begin to debate the 'rightness' of what you're doing, as you're doing it, your psyche can't help but suffer. Killing someone who would kill you is one thing. Killing someone who did nothing but be in the wrong place at the wrong time is something else to reconcile. I have doubts about those who can. It makes me wonder about bomber pilots.

This war is ruining a whole generation of young men and women to enrich people who give not a damn about them. It is illegal and immoral and anyone who supports it is devoid of any 'moral values' they claim to have. I wish I could let them share my dreams...just once.

Monday, December 26, 2005


Media Matters debunks the Repub talking points about the spy scandal. A good read.

Thanks to John at STF.

Down the road

Don't think we're well on our way toward a Fascist state? Think again.

Great thanks to the lovely Pam.

Your tax dollars at work


Shorter WaPo: The US Government is willing to pay just about anyone -- Iraqi news stations, right-thinking bloggers, whatever -- to get out the message that they want you to hear. Your tax dollars at work, in a mass-e-mail campaign or newscast or blogwhore near you.


Nothing like a well-funded propaganda campaign. Any time the DNC wants to send us money to do what we do, lemmie know. We'll arrange a direct deposit thing. Yeesh.

Boycotting into oblivion

Mercury has a list of companies who do business with gays and lesbians whom James Dobson wants his Focus on the Fetus wingnuts to boycott. From the looks of the list, they won't be doing business with anyone.

Up is Down

Call me naive but we're not living in the America I know either.

One wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.


That's no America I know, I would have argued. We're too strong, and we've been through too much, to be led down such a twisted path.

What is there to say now?


I evidently have a lot poorer insight regarding America's character than I once believed, because I would have expected such actions to provoke -- speaking metaphorically now -- mobs with pitchforks and torches at the White House gate. I would have expected proud defiance of anyone who would suggest that a mere terrorist threat could send this country into spasms of despair and fright so profound that we'd follow a leader who considers the law a nuisance and perfidy a privilege.

Never would I have expected this nation -- which emerged stronger from a civil war and a civil rights movement, won two world wars, endured the Depression, recovered from a disastrous campaign in Southeast Asia and still managed to lead the world in the principles of liberty -- would cower behind anyone just for promising to "protect us."


Excellent article via Mustang Bobby.

A GOP Christmas

Yes, the War on Christmas goes on...or at least the War on Christmas Spirit. I can only ask, what would Jesus think?


The government's home heating supplement now stands at a half or less of what the poor will need if predictions of a harsh winter pan out and fuel bills increase 25 percent. Various studies have established that, in a pinch, the poor scrimp on food purchases in order to meet heating bills. Yet Congress's stinginess is being compounded by the administration's recent decision to reject a request from New York and several other states to increase food stamp outlays to the poor as fuel bills mount.


Instead of incessantly yelling 'Christmas, Christmas, Christmas', maybe we should remember the spirit of Christ's teachings instead of bandying his name about in false piousness. I'm about sick and tired of folks who demand others say 'Merry Christmas', yet are the same ones who support the war in Iraq and all the crimes associated with it. I don't remember Jesus teaching 'Peace on Earth and goodwill toward white Protestants'. It's about time you people began to live your faith.

Like my grandmother always said, 'actions speak far louder than words'. My Jewish wife is far more 'christian' than most of you who claim to be.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas in Iraq


Noor, whose name means light in Arabic, was born with a severe form of spina bifida. Iraqi doctors lack the resources to treat her. They sent her family home, telling them the baby had 45 days at most to live. Barring a miracle, the light in their lives would go out.

Noor beat the odds and will be 3 months old Friday. Her time, though, is running out. No one is sure how long she will live in her condition.

But Noor's family might get the miracle they have dreamed of, thanks to soldiers from the 48th Brigade Combat Team's 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment.


But in the trash-strewn, sewage-infested slums of impoverished Abu Ghraib, few children receive basic medical attention such as vaccinations, much less the kind of intensive care Noor needs.

Morgan took a military doctor to visit Noor, called Baby Nora by the soldiers. The doctor determined that she was born with spina bifida, an open spine. In the early stages of her mother's pregnancy, Noor's spinal cord did not fully close, leaving a gap where a cyst-like growth the size of a baseball now sits on Noor's back.


Morgan said the Marriott hotel group was willing to donate living space for the girl and an accompanying relative. Delta Air Lines has agreed to fly the child and one relative from Kuwait to Atlanta through its charitable Sky Wish program.

And Childspring International, an Atlanta nonprofit that matches sick children from other countries with doctors in the United States, is working with Children's Healthcare to arrange Noor's medical care.

"We will work as hard as we can to make it happen," said Rose Emily, executive director of Childspring. "I look forward to going to the airport and picking up this little girl."


A lot of good does happen in Iraq, but we have been a cause of much of the bad. This girl probably would have gotten the medical care she needed in Iraq before we destroyed much of the infrastructure and brought chaos down upon them. Let's hope we hear more good news (not contrived propaganda but real stories of progress). We owe them as much normalcy as possible before we bug out - you know we will, Rummy's already making noises and election season starts in a couple weeks.

On this day...

Whether you celebrate the birth of the progenitor of the God of your choice, rejoice at the return of the life-giving Sun, dance around an evergreen tree deep in the forest, drink brandy while watching children eschew the fruits of capitalism in favor of playing with the boxes they came in, shine the whole thing on, or do whatever it is the Hebrews do, please express a desire for Peace on Earth and Goodwill amongst Men.

A short prayer, plea, or forlorn longing for a sense of Truth and Justice on the part of the world's powermongers wouldn't be out of line either. Maniacal laughter is optional, but what you do at Grandma's dinner table is none of my business.

Merry Christmas, folks.

Ted Koppel is an idiot

"The only difference between Clinton and Bush is 9/11. If it would have happened on Clinton's watch, we'd be in Iraq now too." ~ Ted 'Helmet Head' Koppel on Timmy's.

You've got to be fucking kidding me.

[Correction: PSoTD has the exact quote and the transcript. I was working from memory and there is no change in context.]

Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah

Got home in the wee hours last night. Fat. Dumb. Happy.

All the best to you and yours.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Can ya spare a copy?


Turns out the truth is no stranger than fiction.

We think it's time for Congress to heed the warning of George Orwell.

To that end, The Oakland Tribune, a sister paper of The Argus, is asking for your help: Mail them or drop off your tattered copies of "1984." When they get 537 of them, they'll send them off to every member of the House of Representatives and Senate, and to President Bush and Vice President Cheney, as well.

Feel free to inscribe the book with a note, reminding these fine people that we Americans take the threat to our liberties seriously. Remind Congress that it makes no sense to fight a war for democracy in a foreign land while allowing our democratic principles to erode at home.


A barrel to drop your books into is in the Tribune Tower lobby, 401 13th St., Oakland. Books may be mailed to the same address. Doors are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. [Oakland Tribune]

I'm digging around for my paperback version tomorrow to mail it off Tuesday. I'll be around tomorrow but I'm done for the day unless some shit hits the fan. Time to go eat, drink, and be merry.

Thanks to Jillian.

Misinformer of the Year

Lardass. QED.

They've used it up

The carefully crafted plan for domination of the world (and its oil resources) is coming apart. Now that I look at it, it was a one shot deal. It was built so well, the gift of 9/11 to the Chimp was the icing on the cake, or the plan would never have come off the ground, maybe not have even been attempted. But they had no contingency for failure. They didn't anticipate it, couldn't allow themselves to even consider failure, and thus never planned for it.

It was years in the making, over a decade at least, since the first Gulf War. Were it not for the first Bush's failure (on election day, not in Iraq), the plan would have been implemented before the turn of the century. Iraq would have been revisited after Bush 1's second term, for that was when Bush 2 was to take the throne. Clinton killed that, and the Chimp would not have been elected in '00 had he lost to an incumbent Clinton in '96. It is perfectly

So there was this plan, where we could get to Baghdad in a couple weeks, maybe less, complete and total victory over Saddam's decimated army (remember Gulf 1?), and control of the 2nd largest (maybe the largest if some experts are to be believed) oil reserves. Two...three weeks to control of the world's most lucrative commodity. Of course we would be victorious, because we would have been victorious in Gulf 1 had only Bush 1 been resolute enough, not blinked when it came to overthrowing the oil-rich tyrant. We knew better this time, knew what to do, knew we would be welcomed as liberators (Chalabi told us so), and the oil would be ours (or at least in control of one of our puppets).

And then came September 11th and they knew they could not fail. Even liberals stood with the President, and they knew they had the power they needed. They had the Press, for none would question the 'war Presdent', and the sycophants and hangers-on came out of the woodwork to join the cause. They played the game well, playing to the far right base to create a diversion in the form of 'culture skirmishes' over everything from Intelligent Design to the Ten Commandments to the Confederate Flag. It allowed them to continue the game long after it had been played out. Had it not been for media manipulation since 9/11, Bush would never have won a second term. It was a masterful exercise, but it was designed for the 20th Century and it failed miserably. The game is over and it's just a matter of how the mess is cleaned up.

I believe it because of this from Matt Taibbi:


Up until now this president's solution to everything has been to stare into the cameras, lie and keep on lying until such time as the political problem disappears. And now, unable to comprehend that while political crises may wilt in the face of such tactics, real crises do not, he and his team are responding to this first serious feet-to-the-fire Iraq emergency in the same way they always have -- with a fusillade of silly, easily disprovable bullshit. Bush and his mouthpieces continue to try to obfuscate and cloud the issue of why we're in Iraq, and they do so not only selectively but constantly, compulsively, like mental patients who can't stop jacking off in public. They don't know the difference between a real problem and a political problem, because to them, there is no difference. What could possibly be worse than bad poll numbers?


There was no plan for failure and they don't know how to deal with it. They fall back to what has given them success in the past. But this is why I say it was a plan for the last century. They didn't understand the nature of the Internet and didn't plan for it.

Oh yes, they know it is an excellent avenue to disseminate propaganda to the masses via Assrocket, Goldberg, World Nut Daily, and others, but they didn't count on our side being able to do research. Just as they didn't expect resistance from the Iraqis, they didn't plan for it from us (and I mean everyone opposed to what the Republican Party has done to this nation), or at least our pushback was stronger than expected. In their arrogance, they believed they could control information so completely their propaganda could never be fact-checked, never be called on their transgressions, their failures.

I think they realized it not long after the insurgency began in Iraq, not long after the Chimp's 'Mission Accomplished' moment, that victory would not come as easily as they'd planned. I believe it was a turning point, when 'Homeland Security' morphed into 'Republican Security', when they knew the plan would no longer sustain itself. It was the 'whatever it takes' moment, because they knew the plan was done.

We're at the stage of desperation, the most worrisome because a cornered, wounded animal is at its most dangerous. The 'MSM' is already using the I-word, scandal after scandal has hit the Republicans since the Downing Street Memos were exposed, and now the evidence that the vast intelligence machine of the U.S. government has been turned against Americans...American citizens. The plan is dying.

Yes, they might continue in office for another 2 1/2 years, for the apathetic, the compromised, the disenchanted, and the stupid will continue in their previous roles and the Republican Party is still powerful. They might still be successful for I doubt there is any low they would not stoop to in order to win, and that's what troubles me. I feel there might be a time when they believe they have nothing left to lose and openly attempt to create a dictatorship in this nation, a coup d'Constitution if you will. They will have to at some point for we know that at the end of this, the Republican Party will be more severely crippled than they were after Watergate.

Yes, folks, this is the end of the 'Grand Plan'. It has been exposed in all its insidious glory. There is no need for them to lie anymore, it is plain for all (save the stupid and sycophantic, for the insiders know exactly what's going on) to see. It's up to those left in government with ethics and principle to drive a stake through the heart of the Republicans' disaster. It must be done now. I beg you to remember this: If they can turn the intelligence community inward, they can certainly do the same with the military. Put nothing past desperate men.

We are entering a very dangerous time.

Thanks to the lovely Jane for the Matt Taibbi link (which you should read in its entirety).
Thanks to TGW for the Taegan Goddard link.

Data mining

Or, It promises to be a good New Year.

Seems this NSA spying thing went a lot farther than most thought. In Gillard's words, "The Bush Administration went batshit."


The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said. [my em]


The only bright side is, hopefully the Brain has made it to the White House Enemies List. I'll wear that as a badge of honor.

Gulf War Syndrome

My man Lurch has some interesting facts.

Supporting the troops

If you're giving this season... They can't be home for the holidays.

Thanks to Melanie for the reminder.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Made it...

Started the day with heave-hos rancheros at the Donner Lake Kitchen. It was all downhill from there, at least as far as Sacramento. On that part of I-80 you can tell when you're catchin' up to a big rig miles ahead of time. I love the smell of fryin' truck brakes in the morning!

On the 200-mile stretch of I-5, I just stayed a good interval behind trucks as much as I could. You get to see a lot of nice new cars that way, when they fly past in the hot lane. There was enough traffic that it looked like a parade of (speeding) circus elephants, each one's trunk holding the tail of the one in front. Those city drivers follow each other way too close (worse: they follow me way too close), and they are forever hittin' their brakes and making the brake lights come on. Like they could stop in time if they ever had to! You should never need your brakes just runnin' down the superslab if you're doin' it right.

West on SR 41 to 46 (the intersection where James Dean was killed) to US 101 and here we are at the beautiful, centrally located, and pretty cheap Premier Inn in Pismo Beach. Terrific view of the Pacific Ocean from our door. Also of K-Mart, but this joint is 50 bucks a night cheaper than the fancy place we had to stay at T'giving. Other than that, the only functional difference is dial-up instead of wireless service. For $50 per, I can live with it.

The phone you hook up to is on the nightstand and the closest wall plug is across the room. Note to self: add an extension cord to mini-Hal's accessory suite. I have no idea how long the battery lasts in one of these things, so see ya later.


Us: PZ Myers
Wingnuts: Sam Weaver (to whom Brad R. introduces us. Thanks a lot, Brad.)

The Holidays

Happy whatever the hell you do this time of year. As a heathen myself, all I'll say is:


Friday Cattle Dog Blogging

Princess Shayna knows how to relax.

Be it ever so crumbly

I've been saying this since we went to war in Iraq:


In summation, what Bush is now doing to the American people by unlawfully spying on them is clearly an impeachable offense under the U.S. Constitution. We are being ruled by a man who has no respect for our laws, the Courts or our institutions. He is a one-man wrecking crew - a menace to our society and to its revered traditions. He is also the architect of another insidious evil -- Perpetual War! Bush is as whacky in his own flakey ways as were the nutty Caligula and Nero in theirs. Unless "Emperor Bush" is stopped - impeached and jailed - by an awakened people, who have reached their tipping point, he will lead America further into the abyss. It is a place from which our Republic, founded by the gallant patriots of old, may never be able to return.


You're kidding, right?

You're putting out a list of accomplishments?

Great thanks: Carpetbagger Report



In search of a terrorist nuclear bomb, the federal government since 9/11 has run a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities, U.S. News has learned. In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program. Some participants were threatened with loss of their jobs when they questioned the legality of the operation, according to these accounts.


Need we say the people under surveillance were all U.S. citizens?

Hat tip: Atrios

More Ford

From the Alternate Brain Mail Bag, a reply to my email to Ford on their commitment to GLBT advertising:

Thank you for writing.

At Ford we value diversity among all of our constituents and pride ourselves on strong and clear values - respect for our customers, communities, employees, suppliers and dealers; acceptance of our differences; inclusion of different people with different perspectives; and integrity to always do the right thing. We value all people - regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and cultural or physical differences. This is a strong commitment we intend to carry forward with no exception. We are pleased to clear up any misperceptions and get back to doing what we do best - building the best cars and trucks in America.

Thank you again for contacting Ford.

Customer Relationship Center
Ford Motor Company [my emphasis]

Headin' out...

Me 'n Mrs. G are headin' out to the coast today to go visit her family for Christmas. I think our motel has dial-up but I'm not sure, so if you don't hear from me for a coupla days don't look for ransom notes. We'll be driving back next Tuesday. We stay over an extra day to avoid the 400-mile bumper car ride that is California roads on a big holiday.

We get to go to her wingnut nephew's house for Christmas dinner. We dodged it fer a coupla years, but this year things are going a lot better for us reality-based types what with the investigations, indictments, Chimpy steppin' all over his unit and such, so it'll be OK. It's a sad thing to let that political shit get in between family, but that's the world we live in right now.

If I don't see ya, Happy Christmahanukwaanzakah or whatever.


Rule of Law again. Stolen completely from my pal David:

1998: "Rule of law! Rule of law!! Rule of law!!!" (rationale for impeaching Clinton for lying about a blowjob. Um, guys, if Hillary was your wife, you'd lie too).

2005: "Whut?" (cue crickets: ree ree ree)

I think my hypocrisy meter just went *spant*.


I was never a big fan, but we do owe him a lot. He saved our butts 4 years ago:


"Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words 'in the United States and' after 'appropriate force' in the agreed-upon text," Daschle wrote. "This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused."


Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Rude One Has a Contract for You

Damn, I wish I could write half as good:

The Loyal Citizen's Contract With the American Government:

"I (the undersigned) believe President George W. Bush when he says that the United States of America is fighting a 'new kind of enemy' that requires 'new thinking' about how to wage war. Therefore, as a loyal citizen of President Bush’s United States, my signature below indicates my agreement to the following:

"1. I believe wholeheartedly in the Patriot Act as initially passed by Congress in 2001, as well as the provisions of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act. Therefore, I grant the FBI access to:

"a. my library records, so it may determine if I am reading material that might designate me an enemy of the nation;

"b. my financial records, including credit reports, so it may determine if I am contributing monetarily to any governmentally proscribed activities or organizations;

"c. my medical records, so it may determine if my prescriptions, injuries, or other conditions are indicative of terrorist activity on my part;

"d. any and all other personal records including, but not limited to, my store purchases, my school records, my web browsing history, and anything else determined as a 'tangible thing' necessary to engage in a secret investigation of me.

"I agree that I do not need to be notified if my records have come under scrutiny by the FBI, and, furthermore, I agree that no warrant is needed for the FBI to engage in this examination of my personal records. Additionally, I agree that the FBI should be allowed to monitor any groups it believes may be linked to what it determines to be terrorist activity.

"2. I believe that the President of the United States has the power to mitigate any and all laws passed by the Congress and that he has such power granted to him by his status as Commander-in-Chief in the Constitution as well as the 2001 Authorization of Military Force, passed by the Congress, which states that the President can use 'all necessary and appropriate force' in prosecution of the war. Therefore, I grant the United States government the following powers:

"a. that the National Security Agency, under the direction of the President, may tap my phone lines and intercept my e-mail without warrant or FISA oversight;

"b. that the President may hold me or other detainees without access to the legal system for a period of time determined by the President or his agents;

"c. that the President may authorize physical force against me or other individual detainees in order to gain intelligence and that he may define whether such physical force may be called 'torture':

"d. that the President may set aside any and all laws he sees as hindering the gathering of intelligence and prevention of terrorist acts for a period as time determined by the President, including, but not limited to, rights to political protest.

"I agree that the Judicial and Legislative branch should be allowed no oversight of these activities, and that such oversight merely emboldens the terrorists. I also agree that virtually all of these activities may be conducted in complete secrecy and that revelation of these activities amount to treasonous behavior on the part of those who reveal these activities to the press and the citizenry.

"3. Finally, this document is my statement that I believe the President of the United States and the entire executive branch, as well as all departments and agencies involved, as well as all of its personnel, will treat these powers I have granted them with utmost respect. I believe that these powers will not be abused, nor will any of the information I have given them permission to examine be misinterpreted. However, should such abuse or misinterpretation occur, I agree that such actions are mere errors and no one should be subject to investigation, arrest, or employment action as a result.

"My consent freely given,
"(Your signature)"

Surprise, fraidy cats!


Our Dear Leader is famous for this stunt as well, of course. Remember when he payed a "surprise visit" that Thanksgiving after 'Mission Accomplished' to boost the morale of the troops who were still being blown up on a daily basis by staging a self-serving photo-op with a plastic turkey? And speaking of plastic turkeys, what about Mother Condoleezza? She's really good at these surprise visits too!

My, goodness. Have you ever seen a bigger pack of fraidy cats? Should mommy go with you today?


The wonderful Neil Shakespeare.

Snotty's replacement

One of the reasons I love Bob Geiger is he dislikes Snot McClellan as much as I do.

And while you're at Bob's, read how Scott Ritter gives Christopher Hitchens a wedgie.

Failure of the Year

Guess who?

Thanks to Ol' Froth.

Air Ops

Mr. H finds a piece that sounds chilling.


If you haven't been to Dr. Forbush, you should pay him a visit.

Trivializing Terror

Kevin Drum writes on the administration playing fuck-fuck with the court system in the Jose Padilla case, and the 4th Circuit's lack of amusement about it.

In other words, if the government's own actions make it clear that they consider the war on terror to be little more than a game designed to expand presidential power, how can they expect anyone else to take it seriously either?

A must read, not very long.

This'll make ya gag...

The Fauquier Times-Democrat catches Linda Tripp gobblin' some sausage instead of Monica Lewinsky.

Unanswer Man

Again the WaPo, with a pretty good piece on White House court jester press shill Scotty McLellan.

Scott McClellan Is the President's Spokesman, Which Doesn't Leave Him Much to Say

When briefings get tense, McClellan's voice can become robotic, as if he's a hostage reading a statement. His body language can betray unease: He starts blinking rapidly and he clenches his shoulders as an interrogator unfurls a question.

"There's no question the dynamic of the briefing room has changed with live TV," says senior White House aide Dan Bartlett, who also works closely with McClellan. "When you have live cameras rolling, it makes for an even more stressful working environment. You're talking about difficult issues, and mistakes get compounded."

Oh, I'm sure it was much easier in all-print days gone by: you only had to lie to a few guys who were in on the joke instead of millions of people who don't think official lies are a damn bit funny.

"We've come to understand that no matter how we slice and dice something, Scott's going to stick to the recipe," says Ken Herman, White House correspondent for Cox News Service. "I can't think of any topic where on the sixth or seventh iteration of a question we get something different from the original answer. By somebody's measure, that's the definition of doing the job well. Certainly not ours."

As with most people who do regular televised battle with McClellan, Herman says McClellan is a nice guy, polite and friendly off-camera. "He seems to have the right temperament to be a punching bag," Herman says.

"Who knows, maybe he goes home at night and kicks his dog?"

That's the Bush way, all right: take it out on the defenseless. And then lie about it.

"They couldn't dream one up."

This is getting better and better. From the WaPo:

The presiding judge of a secret court that oversees government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases is arranging a classified briefing for her fellow judges to address their concerns about the legality of President Bush's domestic spying program, according to several intelligence and government sources.

One government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the administration complained bitterly that the FISA process demanded too much: to name a target and give a reason to spy on it.

"For FISA, they had to put down a written justification for the wiretap," said the official. "They couldn't dream one up."

Obeying the law "demands too much"? Ha! Tell that to the Judge the next time you're in court and watch what happens!

...and his nose lights up red!

I was reading an article in Mother Jones 'acknowledging the groups, organizations, publics, and citizenries who stood up for their rights this year' and ran across two jewels I just have to share:

The most compelling images of 2005 are those of war, flood, and riot, but perhaps the most summary one wasn't even of human beings. It was a novelty photograph that appeared in many newspapers in late September of a huge non-native python that choked itself to death trying to swallow an alligator in Florida. It proved a lasting image of overwhelming and unsuccessful greed. All around the world this year, the snake choked and the alligator refused to see itself as lunch -- if you will let "alligator" stand in here for "civil society," for all the groups, organizations, publics, and citizenries who stood up for their rights.

I saw the photo, but never saw it as a metaphor for Bu$h and his political and corporate cronies until now. Fits like a glove!

And this one that gave this post its title:

You could say that, again and again, we mistake the hood ornament for the engine that moves us forward -- or backward, since pro-war neoconservatism gets called "Bush" (my em) as often as the peace movement is dubbed "Cindy."

I'll buy it, although I prefer to visualize him more as strapped across the fender with a tag in his ear.

A couple more:

And speaking of Bush, it was a pretty good year for people who stated all the most inconvenient facts or (as they liked to call it way back when) spoke truth to power. Even the powerful piped up surprisingly loudly sometimes -- from Congressman John Murtha who decried the whole damn war and highlighted the American wounded (so often forgotten) to Senator John McCain who took a heartfelt stand against torture -- even if the moment had come for ambitious Republicans to regard Bush as something akin to an Ebola-infected chimp (my em. Ha!). And a bad year for those who would only state the facts convenient to the powerful: the downfall of Judith Miller and the humiliation of Bob Woodward tainted the country's two leading newspapers, which had tolerated their "access journalism" (think: sycophancy) in ways that damaged both the media and democracy. Those plummeting stars grudgingly, belatedly fingered some of the Bush administration's key players on the way down. (As a much better journalist, Robert Scheer, pointed out, had Miller spoken up sooner, the outcome of the presidential election might have been different. Thank you Judy, and a more sincere thank you to the San Francisco Chronicle, which quickly hired Scheer when the Los Angeles Times, whose Chicago owners have been yanking its chain hard lately, fired him.)

Thirteen months ago, when Bush was reelected, the despondent around me seemed to think that our future was graven in stone. But in the best and worst of ways, in this wild, wild year that ends so differently than it began, it has turned out to be written in water. Much of the news is grim, but the best of it is being lived out by nurses, immigrant farmworkers, Korean farmers, campers in the grass of Crawford, Texas, marchers in the streets of Washington, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, scribblers on various blogs (ahem!), volunteers in various crises, and the immeasurable force of people everywhere who won't let the official version go unchallenged anywhere.

It's nice to see a good article end on a positive note. We need a little reinforcement from time to time. You owe it to yourself to read this one.

Senator Byrd: No President is Above the Law

Senator Byrd tears Bush a new one:

Americans have been stunned at the recent news of the abuses of power by an overzealous President. It has become apparent that this Administration has engaged in a consistent and unrelenting pattern of abuse against our Country's law-abiding citizens, and against our Constitution.

I continue to be shocked and astounded by the breadth with which the Administration undermines the constitutional protections afforded to the people, and the arrogance with which it rebukes the powers held by the Legislative and Judicial Branches. The President has cast off federal law, enacted by Congress, often bearing his own signature, as mere formality. He has rebuffed the rule of law, and he has trivialized and trampled upon the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizures guaranteed to Americans by the United States Constitution.

We are supposed to accept these dirty little secrets. We are told that it is irresponsible to draw attention to President Bush's gross abuse of power and Constitutional violations. But what is truly irresponsible is to neglect to uphold the rule of law. We listened to the President speak last night on the potential for democracy in Iraq. He claims to want to instill in the Iraqi people a tangible freedom and a working democracy, at the same time he violates our own U.S. laws and checks and balances? President Bush called the recent Iraqi election "a landmark day in the history of liberty." I dare say in this country we may have reached our own sort of landmark. Never have the promises and protections of Liberty seemed so illusory. Never have the freedoms we cherish seemed so imperiled.

Much, much more. Please read it all.

Senator Byrd always carries a little red copy of the Constitution. I think he's read it. Bush should too. Hopefully he'll have plenty of time soon to do so, as the lights in jail are never fully turned off.

Take, take, take

That's the difference between the 'conservatives' and the Left. If you boil it all down, it is just that, 'taking' vs. 'giving'

The Repubs want to take away our rights.
The Left wants to preserve them.

The Repubs want to take away entitlement programs from the elderly and poor.
The Left wants to preserve them.

The Repubs want to legislate what you do in your bedroom.
The Left wants to preserve your privacy and allow consenting adults to feel love no matter their persuasion.

The Repubs say you must worship a god and a certain one at that.
The Left says you can worship whoever the hell you want, or nothing at all, as long as you don't force others to do the same.

The Repubs do not believe they should help their fellow Americans when a cataclysm leaves them destitute.
The Left believes we are one big family and we should take care of our own.

I think it's easy to tell right from wrong, easy to decide who represents the core values our nation was founded upon. I'd even venture to put forth that Jesus would have a big problem with what the Republican Party has done in His name.

Why would anyone treat our seniors like second-class citizens after they've broke their butts for 40 or 50 years? Especially take advantage of what should be the exalted portion of our society to enrich the millionaires of Big Pharma.

Why would anyone (let's face it, God does as much talking to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell that he does to me) demand their religion be given a place of distinction over all the others practiced in this nation, going totally contrary to the principles of our foundation?

How can people watch their countrymen dying in the aftermath of a natural disaster and not lift a finger to help?

How can people willingly sacrifice the lives of their children to a war which is ill-considered at best and downright criminal at worst, at the word of leaders whose disdain for the military is legendary? For a war whom the only winners are Halliburton and its subsidiaries? Hint: they have the same disdain for your loved one; the only reason they feign respect for our military now is because it furthers their agenda. Halliburton is the reason for the Iraq War.

How can people willingly abdicate their rights to a man whose penchant for lying is also legendary and believe him when he says 'trust me to do the right thing'? Do you believe he only lied to the Left and to that meddlesome MSM? Do you feel he won't lie to you? Note to non-insider conservatives: You're about as necessary to the big shots as I am. The only difference between you and me is they can count on your vote. Once that goes away, you'll be sharing a cell next to me in Gitmo. The bright side is I can grow dope anywhere and Cuba has an excellent climate. We'll at least be stoned when they shove lightsticks up our asses.

And why would people who consider themselves 'Christian' support this agenda? Either you're that gullible, that hateful, or just that stupid. Word: Jesus preached tolerance and enlightenment. Think about it.

This country was founded by people escaping religious persecution, people escaping government meddling in their personal lives, and what have we become? We show disdain for people who are not white and Protestant. We close our borders and threaten our neighbors, neighbors who are also long-time friends. We kill close to a hundred thousand people whose only crime against us was having a leader who 'tried to kill mah daddy' and the fact they have huge oil reserves. We attempt to plunder natural resources not for our survival but for our profit, using any means possible to drill for oil in the last pristine wilderness in the US. This is what you have done to my country.

One day, many years in the future, when another, more enlightened race visits the dead planet known as Earth and finds the remains of a once great society that thrived here, they will probably attempt to discover what led to our downfall. It would not surprise me if their studies pointed to this time, this age of humanity where our greed and our egos began to get the best of us. On that day, from the depths of Hell, I will stand up and spit in the face of those who enabled it.

So I ask you, whose side is Jesus really on?

Walkin' Dope

Dope on the Slope's got some good stuff on the NY transit strike. Just scroll down, there are several.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Senate blocks attempt to allow ANWR drilling

CNN via The CultureGhost. Really cool photo of Stevens looking like he's ready to blow a gasket!

It was a stinging defeat for Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, one of the Senate's most powerful members, who had hoped to garner more votes by forcing senators to choose between supporting the drilling measure, or risking the political fallout from voting against money for the troops and hurricane victims.

Instead, Stevens found himself a few votes shy of getting his wish.

Wish in one hand...