Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Homeland Security State

Nick Turse in TomDispatch:
Since ancient Rome, imperial republics have invariably felt a tension between cherished republican practices at home and distinctly unrepublican ones abroad; or put another way, if imperial practices spread far enough beyond the republic's borders and gain enough traction out there in the imperium, sooner or later they also make the reverse journey home, and then you have a crisis in -- or simply the destruction of -- the republic itself. The urge of the Bush administration to bring versions of the methods it's applying abroad back home is already palpable; the urge to free the President, as "commander-in-chief" in the "war on terror," from all the old fetters, those boring, restraining checks and balances, those inconvenient liberties won by Americans -- so constraining, so troublesome to deal with -- is equally palpable.

Long , long article about the encroachment into all our lives, and then this jewel:
Strange as it may seem, the Air Force has also gotten into the local surveillance act as well with an "Eagle Eyes" anti-terrorism initiative which "enlists" average citizens in the "war on terror." The Eagle Eyes' website tells viewers: "You and your family are encouraged to learn the categories of suspicious behavior" and it exhorts the public to drop a dime to "a network of local, 24-hour phone numbers… whenever a suspicious activity is observed." Just what, then, constitutes "suspicious activity"? Well, among activities worth alerting the flying eagles to, there's the use of cameras (either still or video), note taking of any sort, making annotations on maps, or using binoculars (birdwatchers beware!). And what other patterns of behavior does the Air Force think should send you running to the phone? A surefire indicator of terrorists afoot: "Suspicious persons out of place…. People who don't seem to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment, or anywhere else." Just ponder that one for a moment -- and, if you ever get lost, be afraid, very afraid…

While the Air Force does grudgingly admit that "this category is hard to define," it offers a classic you-know-it-when-you-see-it definition for calling your local eagle: "The point is that people know what looks right and what doesn't look right in their neighborhoods, office spaces, commutes [sic], etc, and if a person just doesn't seem like he or she belongs…" An… ahem… urban looking youth* in a suburban white community? Call it in! A crusty punk near Wall Street? Drop a dime! A woman near the White House wearing an anti-war t-shirt. Well, that's an out-of-category no-brainer!

*PC Doublespeak for "nigger".
And, in fact, much of this has already begun to come true. After all, "suspicious persons out of place" now do get arrested in the new Homeland Security State for such offenses as wearing anti-Bush t-shirts, carrying anti-Bush signs or just heckling the president. Today, even displaying an anti-Bush sticker is, in the words of the Secret Service, apparently "borderline terrorism." Holding a sign that reads, "This war is Bushit," warrants a citation from the cops and, as an eleven year old boy found out, the sheriff might come calling on you if you utter "anti-American" statements -- while parents may be questioned by law enforcement officials to ascertain if they're teaching "anti-American values" at home.

I've been going on in the past few days about a certain "Old European" trend in this country, like from Nazi Germany and East Germany. This "suspicious persons out of place" deal is designed to cow us into becoming the Ideal Citizen: Go to work, go home, consume in mass quantities, pay your taxes, don't go where you're not "supposed" to and shut the fuck up. Also, snitching people off just because you don't like them is a time-honored tradition. We will be a nation of Rat Bastids, all for "security", of course, so that's OK.

Brush up on the "elements of probable cause". Mere suspicion does not constitute probable cause. Not quite yet, but we're getting there.

As far as stifling dissent, we need more dissent. We need Vietnam-era dissent, constant and loud. I think the upcoming draft will actually help this. When they start drafting the average young American spoiled brat, you won't need a TV to hear the outcry, but that's a whole 'nother subject. We need so much dissent that if they lock every dissenter up, the country will come to a screeching halt. Hopefully in time to keep Bush from driving this country off a cliff.

The article is Part 1 of who knows how many. Go read. Stay tuned.

Well, exactly

This fellow in Memphis sums it up pretty well.

Anytime a program is proposed to help the American people, Republicans cry, "There's not enough money. How will we pay for it?"

However, there's always, always enough money for folly.

The Payoff

Here's the problem:

Bush needs a few European allies to legitimize his preemptive, optional, poorly-planned war with Iraq.

Here's the deal:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy on Friday gave a transatlantic team led by Lockheed Martin Corp. a $1.7 billion contract to build a new fleet of 23 U.S. presidential helicopters, a deal valued at up to $6.1 billion.

The decision was a stunning setback for Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp.'s Sikorsky Aircraft unit — which for nearly 50 years has built and maintained the green and white "Marine One" helicopters that fly the president.

[. . .]

Here's the payoff:

[. . .]

The deal attracted international attention, with Prime Ministers Tony Blair of Britain and Silvio Berlusconi of Italy personally pressing President Bush on behalf of Lockheed's British-Italian design.

[. . .]

Lockheed Vice President Stephen Ramsey said 65 percent of the US101 would be built in the United States, with the remaining 35 percent to be split between Britain and Italy.

[. . .]

This is the bone Bush is throwing his two little poodles. Blair and Berlusconi jumped on the Iraq bandwagon from the get-go and they're being rewarded for their oral talents. A bit better than Monica was, huh?

Opposing Torture

Okay, so I finally signed the petition on behalf of the Brain. I'm a little slow.

Update: 11:45:

Well said. RUFNKM:

. . . In our view, Gonzales is not fit to be Attorney General. Anyone who claims 9/11 is an excuse for a nation to act barbaric has no business in law enforcement.

Saturday Cattle Dog Blogging

It's good to be the Princess.


Gillard debunks hackery.

What John Stossel does not tell you is that vouchers would not give kids access to a private education. When asked by the New York Observer, leading private schools like Collegiate, Dalton and Spence pretty much said no way in hell would they take voucher kids, meaning, no niggers from Harlem unless they fit in. The sad reality is vouchers are a racist fraud. They use poor blacks as the shield, but the ultimate goal is to funnel money to white segregationist academies in the South. They will be the largest beneficiaries of a voucher program as poor whites flee the public school system. While public schools are defunded, these legacies of Brown would have billions of state dollars to run their schools with little public accountability.

Parents might get a fraction of what they need, Catholic Schools would take that money, but if the kid couldn't deal, it's back to the underfunded public school.

But Stossel went to Camden not Savannah to make his point.

Oh yeah, Jesse Jackson didn't ask for tax money to send his kid to school. [my emphasis]

Friday, January 28, 2005


Well, not really, but it got your attention, didn't it? What I am doing is, as the Jews call it, kvelling (Translation: what a Jewish mother does when her son actually does become a doctor). Many of you know of the satirical bunch over at Billionaires for Bush. Well, the lady who does the radio spots, Miss Xena Phobe, is my cousin through marriage (Her husband is Mrs. F's cousin). She's good, and does voiceovers and audiobooks for a living. They're soliciting scripts over there, so if you have a rapier wit and a grasp of satire, give it a look-see. She took my little quip about the Gun Show Channel. I'll let you know if they use it.

Git this new Winchester repeatin' rahfle for only fahr-nanty-nan'. Git it today wit' Val-U-Pay, sev'nty two payments on yer credit card. And today only on the Gun Show Channel, no background check. By golly, y'all kin be Ted Bundy and we don't care, we'll even throw in fahve hunnert rounds of full metal jacketed, 150 grain, Manstoppers feh-ree if y'all order in the next ten minutes. Son, Ah don' care if you is in Meridian, Mississippi or Noo York, we'll ship this baby out to ya overnight and no extree charge.


The bible-thumpers are in for a surprise today as their favorite shopping mecca, Wal-Mart, has announced that it is expanding its employee ethics policy to include civil unions and domestic partnerships, gay or heterosexual, under its definition of "immediate family." No doubt, this is due to the influence of having SpongeBob Square Pants products on the shelves.

What's next, the Queer Eye guys promoting Wally World fashions and home decor?

Cheney at Auschwitz

As big an embarrassment as the Chimp. The Rude Pundit.

Good on 'em

Good Christians:

[. . .]

"Absolutely, the UCC [United Church of Christ] extends an unequivocal welcome to SpongeBob," the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, said, only partly in jest. "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we."

[. . .]

Note to Wingnuts. That's what Jesus would do, you idiots.

More from Tom at Corrente.


More conservative Republican (are we better now, CAFKIA?) pundits on Goebbels' . . er, Rove's payroll. Details at Shakespeare's Sister.

It's Friday. Yay!! The reason I'm happy is that it's the last day I'll have to work at temperatures of 7 with a wind chill of -15 for a while. Sucks being a mechanic in the winter. It was easier when I was young.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli leader Ariel Sharon said on Thursday conditions were right for a "historic breakthrough" on Middle East peace after measures taken by new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to bring calm.

He said that if Palestinians worked to "fight terror," then Israel could move forward with a U.S.-backed peace "road map" meant to lead to a Palestinian state.

"I believe the conditions have been created to permit us and the Palestinians to reach an historic breakthrough, a breakthrough that will lead us to security and peace," Sharon told a business forum.

[. . .]

Now, I trust Sharon and his Likuds about as far as I trust Bush and the Neocons. About as far as I can piss into a force nine gale. So far he's managed to fuck the Palestinians, rightly or wrongly, on a regular basis. However I welcome any attempts to reach some sort of accommodation in the region. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the root causes of terrorism. With the grandaddy of the modern terrorist movement (Arafat) dead, and Abu Mazen seeming to keep the peace since the election, it actually allows one to hope that peace might actually be an option. Too bad Bill Clinton wasn't here to take advantage of the opportunity. Remember the Troubles in Northern Ireland? When was the last time you heard the acronym IRA referred to something other than an investment plan?



We thought in those early days in Vietnam that we were winning. We thought the skill and courage of our troops was enough. We thought that victory on the battlefield would lead to victory in war, and peace and democracy for the people of Vietnam.

[. . .]

We cannot allow history to repeat itself in Iraq. We must learn from our mistakes in Vietnam and in Iraq. We must recognize what a large and growing number of Iraqis now believe the war in Iraq has become a war against the American occupation.

[. . .]

The elections in Iraq this weekend provide an opportunity for a fresh and honest approach. We need a new plan that sets fair and realistic goals for self-government in Iraq, and works with the Iraqi government on a specific timetable for the honorable homecoming of our forces.

[. . .]

And of course the Repubs had something to say about Kennedy's 'treasonous' talk.

Republican National Committee spokesman Brian Jones criticized Kennedy’s timing.

“Its remarkable that Sen. Kennedy would deliver such an overtly pessimistic message only days before the Iraqi election,” said Jones. “Kennedy’s partisan political attack stands in stark contrast to President Bush’s vision of spreading freedom around the world.”

[. . .]

Why is it that all the folks with some sense compare 'Bush's vision' in Iraq to Vietnam? I mean, if the shoe fits, right? I'm hoping and praying that the Iraqi people can pull off this election on Sunday, for their sakes and in spite of what Chimp-boy does. After three decades of Saddam and two years of Bush, they deserve a break.

Take a minute

Sixty years ago today, the camp at Auschwitz was liberated. BBC:

[. . .]

At least 1.5 million children were murdered by the Nazi regime between the years 1933 and 1945. The vast majority were Jewish, but disabled children, Roma children and children in the occupied territories were also killed as a direct result of Nazi policies. The lives of hundreds of thousands of other children were also significantly affected.

Only an estimated 11 per cent of Jewish children alive in 1933 survived until 1945.

10,000 Jewish children came to Britain on Kindertransport - listen to and read some of their stories and find out how the Nazis treated children

Six million Jews were killed by the Nazis last century. It's estimated that 15 million people died in total. These included Slavs, Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people, anyone of African descent, Christian pastors and Catholic priests, Jehovah's Witnesses and many more individuals who for one reason or another, were regarded as degenerates or considered racially inferior.

[. . .]

Take a minute and say a prayer for all who have, and will, die at the hands of tyrants. If you're in Europe, you owe it to yourself to take a tour of one of the camps. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life.

Update: 15:35:

Gord turned me on to this in comments.

Maggie On Babs

No, it's not a new mail-order-only video. Margaret Carlson writes about Senator Boxer in the LATimes:
You wouldn't know it from reading the newspapers, but Sen. Barbara Boxer served her country valiantly last week. In her grilling of Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice, Boxer finally named the elephant in the hearing room, which is more than the war itself. It's the lies that got us there.

For her trouble, Boxer was blasted — even by those who agreed with her — not so much on substance but on style (my emphasis). Sen. Robert Byrd gets called "irascible." Why can't women get called irascible? It's so much nicer than the other words we get called.

Style? This is a fucking street fight, folks. Style be damned. Kickin', bitin', gougin', stompin'- those count. Win or die.
The Los Angeles Daily News accused Boxer of embarrassing herself with uncivil bombast. "The edge in her voice was jarring," wrote the San Francisco Chronicle. The Washington Post's Colbert King took on Boxer for "slurring Rice." In blog- land, Boxer was called, among other things, "old, burnt out, shrill and saggy looking."

Ah, what do they know? Babs got me so hard a cat couldn't scratch it.
Perhaps a more diplomatic interrogation could have saved herself some grief. But it's hard to find that pitch-perfect voice within the range of civility on these subjects. On Wednesday, the U.S. suffered its biggest one-day loss in Iraq. The war's body count is at 1,400. Insurgents vow a bloodbath on Sunday. In Washington, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice sail on, and everybody's mad at Barbara Boxer.

Good tactic: Shoot the messenger. If I was a boot-lickin' congressoid, Sen. Boxer's actions would shame me to the point my testicles might just pop back out. Good on ya, Babs, and thanks, Maggie, for pointing these things out.

End-Timers & Neo-Cons

I'm getting some good stuff lately from conservatives that are nearly as pissed off at Bush as I am. I am glad to see this.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy during 1981-82. He was also Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He writes in ZNet:
America has blundered into a needless and dangerous war, and fully half of the country's population is enthusiastic. Many Christians think that war in the Middle East signals "end times" and that they are about to be wafted up to heaven. Many patriots think that, finally, America is standing up for itself and demonstrating its righteous might. Conservatives are taking out their Vietnam frustrations on Iraqis. Karl Rove is wrapping Bush in the protective cloak of war leader. The military-industrial complex is drooling over the profits of war. And neoconservatives are laying the groundwork for Israeli territorial expansion.

In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.

The Iraqi War is serving as a great catharsis for multiple conservative frustrations: job loss, drugs, crime, homosexuals, pornography, female promiscuity, abortion, restrictions on prayer in public places, Darwinism and attacks on religion. Liberals are the cause. Liberals are against America. Anyone against the war is against America and is a liberal. "You are with us or against us."

This is the mindset of delusion, and delusion permits no facts or analysis. Blind emotion rules. Americans are right and everyone else is wrong. End of the debate.

The conservative movement that I grew up in did not share the liberals' abiding faith in government. "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Today it is liberals, not conservatives, who endeavor to defend civil liberties from the state. Conservatives have been won around to the old liberal view that as long as government power is in their hands, there is no reason to fear it or to limit it. Thus, the Patriot Act, which permits government to suspend a person's civil liberty by calling him a terrorist with or without proof. Thus, preemptive war, which permits the President to invade other countries based on unverified assertions.

There is nothing conservative about these positions. To label them conservative is to make the same error as labeling the 1930s German Brownshirts conservative.

When the draft is reinstated, conservatives will loudly proclaim their pride that their sons, fathers, husbands and brothers are going to die for "our freedom." Not a single one of them will be able to explain why destroying Iraqi cities and occupying the ruins are necessary for "our freedom." But this inability will not lessen the enthusiasm for the project. To protect their delusions from "reality-based" critics, they will demand that the critics be arrested for treason and silenced. Many encouraged by talk radio already speak this way.

Because of the triumph of delusional "new conservatives" and the demise of the liberal media, this war is different from the Vietnam war. As more Americans are killed and maimed in the pointless carnage, more Americans have a powerful emotional stake that the war not be lost and not be in vain. Trapped in violence and unable to admit mistake, a reckless administration will escalate.

Good article. I just hit a few high spots, so go read. What's scaring me these days is that I don't get quite as concerned as I used to when I find myself agreeing with a conservative viewpoint. That's how bad things are becoming. It'll be good to gang up against Bush and defeat him. Then we can go back to fighting amongst ourselves. This is crazy, but I look forward to it like I never have before.

Democracy, Inc.

From the Corporate Crime Reporter:
Robert Kennedy Jr. last week accused President George Bush of being “the most corrupt and immoral President that we have had in American history.”

Kennedy is touring the country promoting his new book, Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and his Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy (HarperCollins, 2004).

In the book, Kennedy implies that we live in a fascist country and that the Bush White House has learned key lessons from the Nazis.

“While communism is the control of business by government, fascism is the control of government by business,” he writes. “My American Heritage Dictionary defines fascism as ‘a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership together with belligerent nationalism.’ Sound familiar?”

He quotes Hitler’s propaganda chief Herman Goerring: “It is always a simply a matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Kennedy then adds: “The White House has clearly grasped the lesson.”

Kennedy also quotes Benito Mussolini’s insight that “fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”

I think Bush&Co. are very selective in their choice of things passed down from "Old Europe".

I'd rather a BJ

In terms of presidential indiscretions anyway. Stolen from Travis:

Today in history

Was it really only seven years ago [audio clip]? Remember the good old days when a scandal was about a blowjob not torture policies and the obstruction of voting? Bring back cigars and thong underwear!

Soul, or the lack thereof


[. . .]

When Bush did address the soldiers' deaths, he said that we "weep and mourn" when Americans die, but as he was saying it his hand was flatly smacking downwards for emphasis, as if he were pounding the table during the business meeting, refusing to pay a lot for a muffler. The steady beat of his hand was at odds with the sentiments he was expressing--he didn't look or sound the least bit mournful or sombre. And why should he? Death doesn't seem to be a bringdown for him. There isn't the slightest evidence that he experiences the anguish LBJ did as casualties mounted in Vietnam. His record as chief executioner in Texas is of a man for whom the death of another is an administrative detail, a power exercise. As Sister Helen Prejean wrote in The New York Review of Books:

[. . .]

Bush has no soul and looks at our troops as numbers in a ledger. He doesn't care how many die, how many American lives, and families, he destroys, let alone all of the innocent Iraqis killed in the last 2 years. At risk of sounding like a Jesuslander, Bush is the Devil's henchman.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Cartoon via Ezra.

Do the Math

CNN currently has a poll on their Web site asking "Would you be willing to sacrifice your life for a democracy in Iraq?" As of 1:45 p.m. PST, 91% of respondents said "no."

Which brings me to wonder, where are the Jesuslanders? They're a majority in this nation, right? So why aren't they answering that poll "Hell, yes, I'd do it because I voted for Bush. I want to press liberty and the 'Murican way on unwilling nations, even if I get my ass shot off." I'm sure that not everyone who voted in that CNN poll voted for Kerry last November.

I'll admit right now that I wouldn't sacrifice my life so Iraq can have democracy. I'm one of the 91%. But 52% of us, by voting for the Chimpster, said it was a good thing. So put your money where your vote is. Enlist.


One of Mrs. F's Limey friends sent this to her.

Subject: Letter from the British to the Americans

..... In the light of your failure to elect a proper President of the USA for the SECOND time and thus the ability to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy. Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium". Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour', skipping the letter 'U' is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters. You will end your love affair with the letter 'Z' (pronounced 'zed' not 'zee') and the suffix "ize" will be replaced by the suffix "ise". You will learn that the suffix 'burgh' is pronounced 'burra' e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to respell Pittsburgh as 'Pittsberg' if you can't cope with correct pronunciation.

Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up "vocabulary". Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up "interspersed". There will be no more 'bleeps' in the Jerry Springer show. If you're not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn't have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary then you won't have to use bad language as often.

2. There is no such thing as "US English". We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of "-ize". To this I must add that the number of red squiggles in this word document was astronomical.

3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn't that hard. English accents are not limited to Cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents - Scottish dramas such as "Taggart" will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we're talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is "Devon". If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become "shires" e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.

4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters. British sit-coms such as "Men Behaving Badly" or "Red Dwarf" will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can't cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.

5. You should relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen", but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.

6. You should stop playing American "football". There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American "football" is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays "American" football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the
girls. It is a difficult game.

Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American "football", but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full Kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US rugby sevens side by 2005.

You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the 'World Series' for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls' game called "rounders" which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don't believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called "Indecisive Day".

9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren't even French; they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called "crisps". Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.

12. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as "beer", and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as "Lager". The substances formerly known as "American Beer" will henceforth be referred to as "Near-Frozen Knat's Urine", with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as "Weak Near-Frozen Knat'sUrine". This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in Pilsen, Czech Republic) to be sold without risk ofconfusion.

13. From December 1st the UK will harmonise petrol (or "Gasoline" as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon - get used to it).

14. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns,lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

15. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.

Tax collectors from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

Turner on Gestaatsradio

From Broadcasting & Cable:
Ted Turner called Fox a propaganda tool of the Bush administration and indirectly compared Fox News Channel's popularity to Adolf Hitler's popular election to run Germany before World War II.

While Fox may be the largest news network [and has overtaken Turner's CNN], it's not the best, Turner said. He followed up by pointing out that Adolph Hitler got the most votes when he was elected to run Germany prior to WWII. He said the network is the propaganda tool for the Bush Administration. "There's nothing wrong with that. It's certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy. Particularly when the news is dumbed down," leaving voters without critical information on politics and world events and overloaded with fluff," he said.

I've always kinda liked that loudmouth, except when he was sleeping with Hanoi Jane, but I've forgiven him for that.

If you are interested in Mr. Turner's thoughts on media and government in general, go Read "My Beef With The Media". He writes like he talks - at great length - so take a lunch.

From the horse's mouth

Via David at 42:

[. . .]

There is nothing conservative about these positions. To label them conservative is to make the same error as labeling the 1930s German Brownshirts conservative.

American liberals called the Brownshirts "conservative," because the Brownshirts were obviously not liberal. They were ignorant, violent, delusional, and they worshipped a man of no known distinction. Brownshirts' delusions were protected by an emotional force field. Adulation of power and force prevented Brownshirts from recognizing implications for their country of their reckless doctrines.

Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy. I went overnight from being an object of conservative adulation to one of derision when I wrote that the US invasion of Iraq was a "strategic blunder."

[. . .]

There are no more troops. Our former allies are not going to send troops. The only way the Bush administration can continue with its Iraq policy is to reinstate the draft.

When the draft is reinstated, conservatives will loudly proclaim their pride that their sons, fathers, husbands and brothers are going to die for "our freedom." Not a single one of them will be able to explain why destroying Iraqi cities and occupying the ruins are necessary for "our freedom." But this inability will not lessen the enthusiasm for the project. To protect their delusions from "reality-based" critics, they will demand that the critics be arrested for treason and silenced. Many encouraged by talk radio already speak this way.

[. . .]


I've been saying this for almost a year. We are quickly becoming Nazi Germany 1937. I'm sorry, but the similarities between this time and then are just too uncanny.


I've been batting this around for a while.

[. . .]


The recent history of the Democratic party has been one of craven retreat from the principles of protection of individual rights, support for the working classes, assistance to the disadvantaged and afflicted, sound stewardship of the environment, and a strong national defense based on economic cooperation and diplomatic alliances.

[. . .]

Maybe we should have term limits. Or start evicting the 'consulting' crowd from their K and M Street offices in D.C. Thing is, there are too many 'professionals' in elected positions in the federal government. The founders of this nation never intended Senators and Congresspeople to serve for 20 years or more. The idea was for common folk to serve a term or two and then go back to their private lives. Our political process has become a one party system. There's one party within the Beltway, and the rest of us out here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

What we know

About Alberto 'Abu Ghraib' Gonzales from the Rude One:

[. . .]

Here's what we know about Alberto Gonzales - what we know, not what we suspect, not what we infer: We know that George W. Bush was arrested for drunk driving in September 1976. We know that he lost his Maine driving privileges for nearly two years, restored in July 1978. We know that in 1978, with a suspended driver's license, he began his run for the House of Representatives (and lost). We know that in 1996 Bush, when he was Governor of Texas, was called for jury duty in a drunken driving case (involving a stripper, which just makes it extra fun). We know that the judge, the prosecutor, and the stripper's attorney have made written statements that Alberto Gonzales asked the judge, in private, to "consider" striking Bush from the jury pool, despite Bush's public statements that he was willing to serve. We know that Gonzales was asked about this in his Senate confirmation hearing and that Gonzales stated he did not recall a private meeting with the judge, but that he did not "request" that Bush be taken out of consideration. In other words, we know that either Gonzales is lying or three other men, in separate statements, are lying. Who would a jury believe?

[. . .]

This guy should be disbarred and someone's trying Via Atrios:

Today, CREW [Citizens for Responsiblity and Ethics in Washington] filed a complaint with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the State Bar of Texas requesting an investigation into misrepresentations White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales made in a written response to a question posed to him by the Senate Judiciary Committee which is considering Gonzales’s nomination for Attorney General.

It's amazing what these people get away with. I hope CREW's complaint goes somewhere, but I doubt we'll hear much more of it.

Not likely

Dave Johnson in response to a wingnut comment:

. . . 'why don't Democratic leaders just go ahead and do something themselves about criminal acts by the Bush administration, if they really think it's so bad?'

[. . .]

The Right currently controls every single investigative and legal agent of our government, from top to bottom.

And, as a result of this, can any of the readers here think of even ONE member of the Bush administration - at any level - who has been held accountable for even one transgression of any kind, whatsoever? One who has even been fired? Even demoted? Even scolded?

[. . .]

Talk about checks and balances. It's 'rule with impunity' in D.C. The teenagers have been left in charge of the classroom.

But Will Gay Couples Get Their SocSec Checks?

The NYTimes has this article:
A coalition of major conservative Christian groups is threatening to withhold support for President Bush's plans to remake Social Security unless Mr. Bush vigorously champions a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

"We couldn't help but notice the contrast between how the president is approaching the difficult issue of Social Security privatization where the public is deeply divided and the marriage issue where public opinion is overwhelmingly on his side," the letter said. "Is he prepared to spend significant political capital on privatization but reluctant to devote the same energy to preserving traditional marriage? If so it would create outrage with countless voters who stood with him just a few weeks ago, including an unprecedented number of African-Americans, Latinos and Catholics who broke with tradition and supported the president solely because of this issue." (my emphasis)

Several members of the group said that not long ago, many of their supporters were working or middle class, members of families that felt more allegiance to the Democratic Party because of programs like Social Security before gravitating to the Republican Party as it took up more cultural conservative issues over the last 20 years.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, declined to talk about the letter, but said, "The enthusiasm to get behind his proposals is going to require that he get behind the issues that really motivated social conservative voters."

Asked to estimate the level of discontent with the White House among the group on a scale from one to 10, Mr. Perkins put it at 8.

Maybe those suckers are startin' to wise up.

I'll put it in plainer terms for them: Bush ain't gonna go for no Constitutional Amendment on gay marriage, because it ain't got a snowball's chance in Hell, and it doesn't look good for his Social Security swindle either. Besides that, now that you poor, beknighted, ignorant, intolerant christians voted the sonofabitch into office, he's got no more use for you than he does for a used condom. You can't elect him again. He's in, and fuck you. I suggest you take your pitchforks and scythes (I know you got 'em) to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and, if you get past the Republican Guard, maybe he'll tell you that in person, you fucking pinheads.

Fear Is Security

James Wolcott has this jewel:
What's on display in Washington today isn't strength, it's fear. Fear the White House wants every American to share, so that they won't mind--will accept--endless rows of men in visored helmets and boots.

If ya wanta read the post, I purposely didn't link to it, to make you read your way down past Karnak and the Gay TV Caballeros. I think James missed a bet, tho', in not bringing up the obvious inter-racial gay theme of the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

Ezra moved

Ezra Klein has started his own blog:

Well, I promised changes and here they are. Today's my last day on Pandagon. In fact, this is my last post on Pandagon. I wish I had an interesting story for you all, virtual fisticuffs or undying enmity between your host bloggers or maybe something involving pirates, but I don't. The reasoning for the move is deadly boring -- Jesse and I talked it over and decided it was time to go in our own directions.

But before I go, some "thank you's" are in order. Jesse has been an awesome host and Pandagon a great home. He's forced me to become a far better, sharper, and more prolific writer, and he's become -- and continues to be -- a close, valued friend. The opportunities that have come from this site -- covering conventions, writing for magazines, actually being read -- have been nothing less than extraordinary. My interactions with you guys have been awesome, educational and, on occasion, enlightening (like yesterday's consensus opinion that I needed more meditation in my life). I hope you'll all come by my new site. Maybe Jesse and I can work out some sort of joint custody arrangement. But until the paperwork finishes on that, the door's always open -- Thanks again to Jesse, and to all of you. Pandagon has been a hell of a ride, I'll always appreciate it.

Add him to your blogroll.

But, But, But.....

Molly Ivins' column today is about Bush's revisionist view of history in his inaugural speech. She makes this point, among others:
Nor is democracy necessarily the cure for terrorism. As a British journalist pointed out, if Britain had been following the Bush plan, it would have nuked us years ago for being the largest single source of money for the Irish Republican Army (my emphasis). Reality is so often much more complicated than George W. Bush thinks it is.

Reality? George W. Bush? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Open your wallet . . . again


WASHINGTON Jan 25, 2005 — President Bush is getting ready to ask Congress for an additional $80 billion for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as budget analysts prepare new estimates of the federal deficits that would have loomed even without the wars.

An $80 billion request would push the total provided to the Defense Department so far for those wars and for U.S. efforts against terrorism elsewhere in the world to more than $280 billion. An additional $25 billion has been provided to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, all but $4 billion for Iraq.

[. . .]

Hmmmm . . . Yes, let's borrow more money. Our children can deal with the effects. Know what happens with large deficits? This:

[. . .]

The US dollar is down, by approx. 30 percent against major currencies. Further weakening of the dollar is going to upset the international trade by making imports more expensive. A softer dollar will make prices rise internationally.

In a report yesterday the Federal Reserve warned of increasing interest rates ahead, despite the reassurance that inflation was very much under control.

[. . .]

Inflation is not under control if the dollar falls constantly against the euro and other major currencies. With rising deficits and the devaluation of the dollar vs. the euro, inflation will rise. Our national debt automatically gets bigger as the dollar devalues, so guess what? It's a never-ending spiral. My grandmother told me stories about the Weimar Republic and the economic devastation Germany suffered. I still have some of the old 50,000 and 100,000 DM notes that were printed without backing, devalued almost to the point of used toilet paper.

As interest rates go up, the device the Fed is using to curb inflation, it will directly affect the housing market for the worse. Have I mentioned the housing market is resposible for keeping a good part of the economy afloat? This administration's ineptitude is boundless.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Please enlist

I enlisted in the Air Force because I could travel to far off lands, meet new and interesting people, hunt them down, and kill them. Well, not really, but we had t-shirts with that on 'em. Seriously, the Guard and Reserves are in a world of hurt.

Via Gillard.

WASHINGTON - At the current pace of U.S. deployments to Iraq, the Pentagon may be hard pressed by next year to provide enough reserve combat troops suitable for the mission, judging from the military services' own estimates of available manpower.

The notion of running out of reserve troops would have been dismissed only a year ago, but the strain of fighting a longer, harder war than U.S. commanders foresaw is taking a heavy toll on part-time troops of the Army National Guard, Army Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve.

[. . .]

Of the 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq now, nearly 50 percent are from the Guard and Reserve. [my emphasis]

[. . .]

Do I have to say it again? We're in this thing hip-deep and the only options we have are cut and run or start the draft. Mark my words. All you folks who voted for (p)resident Dicknose last fall can blame yourselves when they take your teenager, give him green clothes, and hand him a rifle. How many of you Jesuslanders will let them draft your kid?

Knowing Your Enemy Is Un-American?

Doubleday is planning to publish a book of OBL's thoughts for Al-Qaeda. Here's a CNN anchor's thoughts(?) on that. From a transcript. Scroll down past the weather report.
Randy Kaye:...a quote from the publisher of Doubleday. This is a direct quote. The publisher has said, and we're quoting here, "We firmly believe we're doing a great service to America by publishing the innermost thoughts of our gravest enemy."

Now really, what good do either one of you believe or Stephanie I guess, could come from this? Why should we know our enemy?

KAYE: ...for joining us tonight for that debate. And that leads us to our last call question. Should terrorists' literature be published for profit? Give us a call at 1-800-807-2620.

And the winter storm is creating havoc for thousands of passengers trying to fly this weekend. Details on the latest cancellations just ahead.

I think this particular talking head has to speak very loudly to be heard outside his (her?) ass. Very smooth segue back to the weather, though.

"Know thine enemy as thyself." Sun Tzu, The Art Of War.

Pyongyang On The Potomac

I saw that title in an article in Media Citizen about Armstrong Williams. I couldn't care less about his Oreo ass, but I just love the title and the mental images it brings! TeeHee!

Who Are You Guys, And Why Are You Digging A Mortar Pit In My Lawn?

So, have you noticed the camo-ed up folks skulking through your woods lately? Does the clerk at your local convenience store bear more resemblance to G.I. Joe than Mr. Apu of late? Does your postman click his heels before depositing your mail in your mailbox?

Well, probably not, but that's no reason to give up on paranoia yet. There's every chance it'll come in handy soon. King Of Zembla has an excellent post on the use of super-secret commandos within the U.S. Go read. It'll make your day.
Posse Comitatus has never been a favorite of the Reagan-Bush axis; during the Iran-Contra hearings, you will recall, Congress learned of a plan Oliver North had helped to draft for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), details of which included

suspension of the constitution, the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the president and FEMA.

He alleged that the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which has long been accepted as prohibiting such deployments, had simply been misunderstood and misapplied.

Gonzales will have a field day with that one, nez pas?
In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conducted exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties.

One of the imagined targets was the World Trade Center. In another exercise, jets performed a mock shootdown over the Atlantic Ocean of a jet supposedly laden with chemical poisons headed toward a target in the United States. In a third scenario, the target was the Pentagon — but that drill was not run after Defense officials said it was unrealistic, NORAD and Defense officials say.

Even if the full extent of their duplicity were known, we doubt the Bush administration would have much to fear from a population of willing -- make that eager -- dupes. But you can certainly see why, if worst came to worst, our beloved leaders might not wish to reject outright the option of interposing an armed division between the White House and the angry, pitchfork-wielding mob.

Keep in mind that all these schemes are just as much to silence you and me as they are to combat "terror". You see, we are just as much terrorists to this administration as a nuclear-explosives-garbed Islamic fundamentalist, the minute we decide not to shut up and drink our Kool-Aid.

Go read. It's a hoot.

Walking Wounded

From The American Conservative on the hidden human cost of Bush's imperialistic war. This is a powerful article, and I recommend you read it.
The observant will have noticed that we hear little from the troops in Iraq and see almost nothing of the wounded. Why, one might wonder, does not CNN put an enlisted Marine before a camera and, for 15 minutes without editing, let him say what he thinks? Is he not an adult and a citizen? Is he not engaged in important events on our behalf?

Sound political reasons exist. Soldiers are a risk PR-wise, the wounded a liability. No one can tell what they might say, and conspicuous dismemberment is bad for recruiting. An enlisted man in front of a camera is dangerous. He could wreck the governmental spin apparatus in five minutes. It is better to keep soldiers discreetly out of sight.

The years will go by. Iraq will fade into the mist. Wars always do. A generation will rise for whom it will be just history. The dismembered veterans will find first that almost nobody appreciates what they did, then that few even remember it. If—when, many would say—the United States is driven out of Iraq, the soldiers will look back and realize that the whole affair was a fraud. Wars are just wars. They seem important at the time. At any rate, we are told that they are important.

These men will come to hate. It will not be the Iraqis they hate. This we do not talk about.

It is hard to admit that one has been used. Some of the crippled will forever insist that the war was needed, that they were protecting their sisters from an Islamic invasion, or Vietnamese, or Chinese. Others will keep quiet and drink too much. Still others will read, grow older and wiser—and bitter. They will remember that their vice president, a man named Cheney, said that during his war, the one in Asia, he “had other priorities.” The veterans will remember this when everyone else has long since forgotten Cheney.

People say that this war isn’t like Vietnam. They are correct. Washington fights its war in Iraq with no better understanding of Iraq than it had of Vietnam, but with much better understanding of the United States. The Pentagon learned from Asia. This time around it has controlled the press well. Here is the great lesson of Southeast Asia: the press is dangerous, not because it is inaccurate, which it often is, but because it often isn’t. So we don’t much see the caskets —for reasons of privacy, you understand.

In 15 years in Washington, I knew many, many reporters and intellectuals and educated people. Almost none had worn boots. So it is. Those who count do not have to go, and do not know anyone who has gone, and don’t interest themselves. There is a price for this, though not one Washington cares about. Across America, in places where you might not expect it—in Legion halls and VFW posts, among those who carry membership cards from the Disabled American Veterans—there are men who hate. They don’t hate America. They hate those who sent them. Talk to the wounded from Iraq in five years.

Arms, legs, eyes, horrible burns, a terrible price to be sure, but the butcher's bill from Bush's stupid and unnecessary ego trip has yet to be presented to the American people - and it will be with them for generations.

Please read the whole article. Print copies and give them to any supporters of Bush's war that you still talk to. Let them know the damage that irrational ideology has done in the name of all Americans and will continue to do throughout our lifetime.



[. . .]

As much as we are righteous on The Left in continuing to effectively document and expose the wealth of incompetence of the Bush administration, we must not forgive the culpability of those who have overruled us by blindly opted for four more years of it. Before November, our passionately vested European allies were worried but confident that we would shake off this aberration of neo-Fascism, because they separated George Bush from the pragmatic, lone superpower he had temporarily steered off course. But, unfortunately for the 49% percent of us who solemnly swore too on Thursday as Bush took his second oath of office, most of our former allies and moderate Arab states now consider us un-indicted co-conspirators.

[. . .]

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Divided We Stand

Thomas Friedman is an unusually thoughtful and experienced Middle-East expert. When he speaks, I listen, because he's not spouting a party line. Go read his Op-Ed in the NYTimes about the upcoming Iraqi election and the division in the West.
Ever since 9/11, I've argued the war on terrorism is really a war of ideas within the Muslim world - a war between those who want to wall Islam off from modernity, and defend it with a suicide cult, and those who want to bring Islam into the 21st century and preserve it as a compassionate faith. This war of ideas is not one that the West can fight, only promote. Muslims have to fight it from within. That is what is at stake in the Iraqi elections. This is the first great battle in the post-9/11 war of ideas.

This war also can't be won with troops - only with turnout. This is a war between Iraqi voters and insurgents - ballots versus bullets. And the people who understand that best are the fascist insurgents. That is why they are not focusing their attacks on U.S. troops, but on Iraqi election workers, candidates, local officials and police. The insurgents have one credo: "Iraqis must not vote - there must be no authentic expression of the people's will for a modern, decent Iraq. Because, if there is, the world will see that this is not a war between Muslims and infidel occupiers, but between Muslims with bad ideas and Muslims with progressive ideas."

And at this key juncture the West stands disunited. Condi Rice told the Senate that the "time for diplomacy is now." Give me a break. The time for diplomacy was two years ago. We would be so much better off now if the entire European Union was actively urging Iraqis to vote, and using its own moral legitimacy in the Arab world to delegitimize the insurgents. The divided West is a real liability.

Both girls I interviewed wore veils and one also wore a full Afghan-like head-to-toe covering; one was of Egyptian parents, the other of Tunisian parents, but both were born and raised in France. What did I learn from them? That they got all their news from Al Jazeera TV, because they did not believe French TV, that the person they admired most in the world was Osama bin Laden, because he was defending Islam, that suicide "martyrdom" was justified because there was no greater glory than dying in defense of Islam, that they saw themselves as Muslims first and French citizens last, and that all their friends felt pretty much the same.

We were not in Kabul. We were standing outside their French public high school - a short ride from the Eiffel Tower.

They've got Al Jazeera. We've got Fox News. No wonder so much ignorance is afoot in the world.

SpongeBush SquarePants

I haven't had a crush like this on anybody since 8th Grade (That was before Junior High existed, let alone Middle School!) Maureen Dowd has made the ultimate connection. Absolutely ridiculous on the surface but right on the money deep down (undersea reference). What is it about Irish redheads?
Dr. Dobson has done the country a service by reminding us to watch out for the dark side of lovable but malleable sponges. He inspired me to fish through the president's Inaugural Address with a more skeptical eye.

Some of the same advisers who filled Mr. Bush's brain with sugary visions of a quick and painless Iraq makeover did mean the speech to be literal; they are drawing up military options for the rest of the Middle East. Once again, the lovable and malleable president seems to be soaking up the martial mind-set of those around him, almost like ... a sponge.

SpongeBush SquarePants!

We can only hope that Dr. Dobson doesn't pick up on the resemblance. SpongeBob, as his song goes, "lives in a pineapple under the sea/absorbent and yellow and porous is he!" SpongeBush lives in a bubble in D.C./absorbent and shallow and porous is he!

Even if he's a little light in the flippers, SpongeBob has brought children good, clean fun. SpongeBush has brought the world dark, endless fights.

I've got a sponge on my kitchen sink that's smarter than Bush. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get it to start a Permanent War. Go read Ms. Dowd.

We're killing Conservatives

Yeah!!!! The Brain made it on a conservative blog's link list with the disclaimer:

(Don't read these unless you want your blood pressure to rise)

I'm thrilled to do my part and promote hypertension among the wingnut population. Note to Pam, Digby, Big Media Matt, and the guys at Seeing the Forest, you're accomplices as well. I'm so proud of us . . . sniff.

Heh . . .

The 50 Most Loathsome People of 2004. Via Corrente.

Snowed in?

Chapter 9 of Empires is up at creativity . . . Happy reading if you're stuck inside. I'm headed out with the 'manual snow thrower' (© Gordon).