Saturday, November 19, 2005

100 Miles for $4

Go check out this way cool lookin', environmentally responsible sled. Um, me like.

Tell Colonel Murtha you support him

I got an e-mail from Doctor Howie urging me to write to Rep. Murtha in support of him in the face of the chickenshithawk attacks on him. You can do the same: Shame on them.

Dean to Fitzgerald: Broaden your scope

John Dean, no stranger to investigations of the White House, writes an open letter to Patrick Fitzgerald:

With all due respect, Mr. Fitzgerald, I believe you are being had. I believe that you were selected with the expectation that you would conduct the narrowest of investigations, and it seems you have done just that.

The leak of Valerie Wilson's status did not occur in a vacuum. Republicans in Congress do not want to know what truly happened. You are the last, best hope of the American people in this regard.

I can tell you, as someone who travels about the country, that Americans -- regardless of their political disposition -- are deeply troubled by this case. And, increasingly so, by the limits you have apparently placed on your investigation.

To right-minded Americans, the idea that Administration officials have betrayed their national security obligations, yet remain in their jobs, is nothing short of appalling. Beyond politics is patriotism: Patriotic Americans want to see you not only prosecute those who compromised and endangered Valerie Plame Wilson, but also force the Administration to clean house with respect to those who did this, which you can accomplish through appropriate civil action.

At one point, Dean cites Teapot Dome as one example of what Fitzgerald should do in regard to "civil remedies".

This letter is from one lawyer to another, but it won't make your eyes glaze over or put you to sleep. Probably. Read.

Why Murtha is right

Larry Johnson in the Booman Tribune:

The situation in Iraq is clear. The United States does not have enough troops on the ground to contain and destroy the insurgency. The Iraqi insurgency consists of at least 26 different groups and draws upon as many as 250,000 supporters. These groups represent a spectrum of beliefs ranging from secular nationalists to hard core jihadists. The only thing they agree on is that they hate the invader; which is us.

To defeat the insurgency we will need at least 400,000 troops on the ground. At the present time, the United States does not have sufficient troop strength to ramp up to that level. Our choice is simple--either we come up with the additional forces and commit ourselves to an effort that will stretch on for at least five years with 400,000 plus soldiers and marines in theatre or we withdraw.
Our best alternative is to withdraw from Iraq and establish covert relations with the secular insurgents. Over the long run our interest as a nation is to prevent the religious jihadists from consolidating their control over Iraq and forging a closer relationship with Iran. The question is not, will there be a civil war? A civil war is already underway. Rather, the proper question is what can we do as a nation to protect our longterm interests?

We have two key long term strategic interests. First, we want to promote a secular society. The current Iraqi constiturion enshrines the Quran as the law of the land and encourages sectarian strife. Second, we must enlist the support of Russia, China, Europe, and the Muslim nations in rooting out and destroying the jihadists. Most of that effort can be handled with intelligence and law enforcement work rather than military operations. The Beatles had it right--we can get by with some help from our friends.

Go read the rest. Rep. Murtha's idea is the first decent plan that has come down the pike and I support it.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Shakey's Sis's Seriously Sick Sibling

If you haven't already, go see Neil Shakespeare. No particular post, but this is part of his latest:


U.S. President George Bush Jr. was stabbed to death today in a hotel room at the Mongolian Hilton by his father, George Bush Sr.

It's a nice thought, but then it gets funny. Go see.

Murtha's "Cronkite Moment"

Expanding on Fixer's post a little bit, here's Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell on my new hero, Congressman Murtha:

For months, media watchers have wondered if we would any time soon witness another "Cronkite moment" -- some sort of dramatic statement by a mainstream media figure that would turn hearts and minds against an ill-advised war, for good. It hasn't happened. But perhaps a not-very-famous, 73-year-old gentleman named John Murtha will be the new Cronkite.
But Rod Dreher, the conservative newspaper columnist, quickly posted this at NRO Online, the National Review site:

"If tough, non-effete guys like Murtha are willing to go this far, and can make the case in ways that Red America can relate to -- and listening to him talk was like listening to my dad, who's about the same age, and his hunting buddies -- then the president is in big trouble. I'm sure there's going to be an anti-Murtha pile-on in the conservative blogosphere, but from where I sit, conservatives would be fools not to take this man seriously."

This man: After serving in the Marines in the early 1950's, he re-enlisted in 1966 and served in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry. Today, in a not-so-veiled response to Vice President Cheney's recent attacks on the patriotism of antiwar critics, Murtha said: "I like guys who got five deferments and (have) never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

And on President Bush: "You know, the president said it's tough to win a war. You know, it's tough to WAGE a war. That's where the fallacy's been. To WAGE this war is where the problem's been."

The text of Congressman Murtha's speech then follows. It's good.

Fixer called the guy a "pissed-off Jarhead". He's right, but then I'm a "pissed-off Jarhead" as well. The difference is that Rep. Murtha is a respected elder statesman "pissed-off Jarhead" with some clout, a bully pulpit, and TV coverage. If I had those things, I'd go to jail. Rep. Murtha will go down in history.

Thank you, Congressman, from the bottom of my heart. Git some!


WaPo's Dana Milbank calls Rep. Murtha "An Unlikely Lonesome Dove".

As a Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania for the past 31 years, he has been a fierce hawk, championing conflicts in Central America and the Persian Gulf.

Yesterday, he was called a coward.

After Murtha stunned the Capitol with a morning news conference calling for a pullout from Iraq because our "troops have done all they can," the denunciations came quickly.

Go read who did the denouncing. There are some besides the usual suspects, and I'm ashamed of them. For now. If Rep. Murtha's "redeployment" plan catches on, I'm sure they'll come around. He did kinda spring it out of left field, and some react quicker to winds of change than others due to the normal institutional paralysis of Congress, if not their own natural reluctance to publicly say what they recognize as right due to electoral cowardice.

Durst's Rant

Will Durst lets fly at Bush over his Veterans Day cow chip toss speech.

Oh no you did 'ent. Don't you tell me that you did. Not again. Because only a gutless swine would trot out that weak tired line of crap. Again. Dividing America. Again. You didn't really say it, did you? That anyone who criticizes you is endangering the troops? Not again! Can I just ask, where the hell do you get the cojones, after everything we've gone through the last three years, to let that pathetic argument oooze out of your piehole one more time? Must come from your mother's side.
I take it back. To call you a gutless swine is to disparage the contribution that male pigs with empty intestinal cavities have given to this great country of ours. Spineless jellyfish is more like it. Something to be scraped off the bottom of a shoe.
Sir, you are a failure of monumental proportions. A blanched husk of an empty shell. If they had an opposite of Mount Rushmore, your face and Milton Fillmore's would anchor it with whichever Harrison gave the three hour speech in the rain, caught pneumonia and died. And I just wish someone would be willing to take a bullet for this country and commit fellatio on you so we could impeach your lying ass.

Even before he went there, political comic Will Durst knew that Brazil is a big country.

I posted this just because I likes it.

More corruption

WASHINGTON Nov 16, 2005 - An American businessman living overseas paid at least $630,000 in kickbacks to U.S. occupation authority officials to win reconstruction contracts in Iraq, according to a federal affidavit made public Wednesday.

Philip H. Bloom, a U.S. citizen who has lived in Romania for many years, was arrested recently at Newark International Airport in New Jersey. He made a brief appearance Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Washington and remains in federal custody.

Prosecutors at the court hearing did not detail the charges against Bloom, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson said they involve money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the government. The charges remain under seal.


A government affidavit alleges that Bloom conspired with officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority and U.S. military to rig bids for contracts in Al-Hillah and Karbala, two cities 50 to 60 miles south of Baghdad. In some cases, Bloom's companies performed no work, Patrick McKenna Jr., an investigator in the IG's office, said in the affidavit. [my em]


I wonder if defrauding the United States during wartime is punishable by death? I'm sure the Chimp will give him a Medal of Freedom.

Yeah, what he said

Rep. John Murtha (D - Real Man) is one pissed off Jarhead.

"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

This is still America

And that's nice to know:

By a unanimous vote, the FEC today issued Advisory Opinion 2005-16 which concludes that the Fired Up! Network of blogs qualifies for the "press exception" to federal campaign finance law. The Commission adopted the draft opinion without revision.


It's good to see free speech is still alive and well.

Link via Skippy

Sorry there was nothing from me yesterday because I had BIG PROBLEMS with the internet connection here at the house. This is the first time in 10 years I've been without internet for 24 hours. Amazing how much we've come to depend on it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Gulf Coast Slaves

From Salon via Truthout

Halliburton and its subcontractors hired hundreds of undocumented Latino workers to clean up after Katrina - only to mistreat them and throw them out without pay.

Whatever you think of undocumented foreigners and the employers who hire them, Hallicheneyburton especially, this one takes the fuckin' cake. A new nadir in moral responsibility, even for them. Please read.

Confessions of a Repentant Republican


Editor's Note: As George W. Bush and Dick Cheney ratchet up the "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" rhetoric, it's important to remember the American principles that are at stake in this momentous political battle.

What Bush and Cheney have in mind is a permanent restructuring of the U.S. constitutional system under an authoritarian executive who can waive any law and any freedom for anyone he deems an "enemy combatant" or a "bad guy." Dissent, too, will be dealt with harshly through a right-wing media built to destroy the reputations of anyone who resists.

Yet there are positive signs, too, of a bipartisan uprising of Americans who care deeply about the principles that have guided this democratic republic for more than two centuries. As representative of this trend, we are publishing this guest essay by William Frey, a founder of Republicans for Humility who seeks to return his party and the U.S. government to a more traditional path:
This essay explores many of the issues that led me personally to the recognition that the policies I was supporting in Iraq were not consistent with the justifications made for the invasion in the spring of 2003, that implicit in our post-invasion actions was the goal of permanent occupation, which would ensure endless war and the resultant degradation of our liberty, our security, and our moral authority.

For me, recognizing that I could no longer support the President for whom I voted, and the occupation of a land we had invaded, remains personally painful.

I have learned that while it is difficult to admit being wrong, such recognition is a prerequisite for redemptive action, necessary both for individual growth and for the healing of our nation.

It is in this spirit that I submit these reflections.

The smarter ones are starting to come around. Pack your lunch and go read.

Heidi's Stud Farm

From the LATimes:

Former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss bid farewell to Los Angeles on Wednesday, and put out the word: She's looking for a few good men.

In a move bound to hearten aspiring Deuce Bigalows the world over, Fleiss said she is joining with a Nevada brothel owner to open the state's first house of prostitution in which men cater to women.

Fleiss, whose partner notified Nye County officials of the plan this week, said they will charge $250 an hour and call it "Heidi's Stud Farm."
"You wouldn't believe the number of women who've told me, 'Heidi, if you do this, I'll be the first one in line!' I mean, relationships are harder than dieting, you know what I mean?"

I'm sure they'll stock chocolate everything in the gift shop!

This comes to mind:

A guy reads about the "Stud Farm", starts packing his bags. His wife asks, "Where ya goin'?"

"I'm gonna go to this new brothel and get a job. At $250 a time, I get to keep $125!"

The wife starts packing her bags. Guy asks, "Where ya goin'?"

She replies, "I'm goin' with ya. I gotta see how you'll get along on $125 a month!"


For a good take on the local politics of legal prostitution in Nevada, I highly recommend Nye County Brothel Wars.

Jim Crow is a Republican

From the WaPo:

A team of Justice Department lawyers and analysts who reviewed a Georgia voter-identification law recommended rejecting it because it was likely to discriminate against black voters, but they were overruled the next day by higher-ranking officials at Justice, according to department documents.
The Georgia voter ID program has been the subject of fierce partisan debate since it was approved by the state's Republican-controlled legislature in March. The plan was blocked on constitutional grounds in October by a U.S. District Court judge, who compared the measure to a Jim Crow-era poll tax. A three-judge appellate panel, made up of one Democratic and two Republican appointees, upheld the lower court's injunction.

The program requires voters to obtain one of six forms of photo identification before going to the polls, as opposed to 17 types of identification currently allowed. Those without a driver's license or other photo identification are required to obtain a special digital identification card, which would cost $20 for five years and could be obtained from motor vehicle offices in only 59 of the state's 159 counties.

Proponents said the measure was needed to combat voter fraud, but opponents charged that Republicans were trying to keep black voters, who tend to vote Democratic, away from the polls (my bold).
State Rep. Tyrone L. Brooks Sr., a Democrat and president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, said he was not surprised by the Justice Department's position in the case.

"Some of my colleagues told me early on that, because of politics in the Bush administration, no matter what the staff recommendation was, this would be approved by the attorney general," Brooks said. "It's disappointing that the staff recommendation was not accepted, because that has been the norm since 1965."

These Republican bastards will stop at nothing to subvert and destroy the democratic process to ensure their continuing dominion over us, including turning the clock back on Civil Rights. They find new ways of doing it all the time and they own the Justice Dept. As soon as they own SCOTUS, the takeover will be complete.

If this goes into play, I urge Georgians to organize transportation and funding so folks can get to the DMV offices and obtain zere papers the state-approved ID. And then show up at the polls in mass quantities and vote the bastards out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Customs Auctions

Here's a US Customs Seized Property auction site. A lot of this is counterfeit stuff, gray area vehicles, who knows what all. Go cruise around. You might find what you need. Note: if it says "export only", it means load the container back on an outbound ship. Apparently, by seizing the scooters, electronics, clothing, jewelry, etc., Customs is keeping us safe. If you're a distributor or retailer at any rate. Just out of curiosity, I looked for WMD and fissionable material, but there isn't any. All that stuff coming into the country must be genuine. Whew!

Pandora', box?

I can't come up with anything quite as juicy as BaltoLeno's post, but if you want to have some fun, go see "The Further Adventures of Pandora Pitstop". Sample:

"I picked a bad day to give up laudanum!" growls Count B., spitting out bits of paper while searching the glove compartment for his hip flask.

Gnashing his teeth, he grips the wheel with white-knuckled intensity, then shouts, "I'll get you Lady Lavinia and that spying little Cat too!"

This site is by Royal Enfield motorcycle enthusiasts. I think they live in caves and paint their faces blue.

Why not just arm everybody...

I was reading up on the Iraqi basement torture site found in the ministry building in Baghdad and found some interesting food for thought in The Independent(UK).

You very seldom see American soldiers on the streets of Baghdad now. The Iraqi police are in evidence outside, but so are increasing numbers of militias running their own checkpoints - men in balaclavas or wrap-around sunglasses and headbands, with leather mittens and an array of weapons. An American official acknowledged: "It is getting more and more like Mogadishu every day."

Travelling through the Iraqi capital you meet Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army; fellow Shias from the Badr Brigade; the Kurdish peshmerga; as well as Western and Iraqi security guards. Then there are Iraqi soldiers and policemen, government paramilitaries, special police commandos and a group which prides itself on being the most feared, the Wolf Brigade of the interior ministry.

So, our occupation of Baghdad has seemingly been abandoned to factional militias. The fabulous new "Iraqi government" also seems to have turned control of their Capital over to what amounts to street gangs. It will add an interesting factor to the upcoming civil war: instead of two or three sides, there might be twenty.

Turf wars and an insurgency in the middle of a civil war, with our guys in the V-ring. Swell. I hope they print up programs frequently so we can make some sense out of it. And can they do please do something about the jawbreaker names of the participants?

A clue as to the origins of how all this is coming about:

Although the US forces had ridden to the rescue on this occasion, many of these units have been created, trained and armed by the Americans. According to reports, $3bn (£1.7bn) out of an $87bn Iraq appropriation that Congress approved last year was earmarked for the creation of paramilitary units to fight the insurgency. Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counter-terrorism, said: "They set up little teams of [Navy] Seals and special forces with teams of Iraqis, working with people who were in senior intelligence under the Saddam regime."

Iraqi politicians in the new regime have repeatedly accused the CIA of refusing to hand over control of the recreated Iraqi intelligence service to the Iraqi government, and the paramilitaries are run by Adnan Thabit, allegedly a former CIA "asset".

CIA/SpecOps involvement with Saddam's Gestapo/KGB? Who'da thunk it? Go with what ya know, I guess.

Looks like we've been able to train one Iraqi army battalion, but plenty of "paramilitary" outfits. Good. Cut the motherfuckers loose and let 'em fight it out and bring our guys home. We can go back when it's all over and make nice with the last one standing.

If yer gonna lie anyway, best not take the oath...

From Reality-based Educator

Guess what? The oil company executives who testified before Congress last week lied when they were asked if they had met with Vice Preznit Cheney in 2001. Dana Milbank and Justin Blum break the story in the Washington Post:

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who posed the question about the task force, said he will ask the Justice Department today to investigate. "The White House went to great lengths to keep these meetings secret, and now oil executives may be lying to Congress about their role in the Cheney task force," Lautenberg said.
No wonder Senator Stevens was so adamant about not placing the oil executives under oath.

Apparently he knew ahead of time that they would be lying to Congress.

Must have gotten a heads up from Cheney's office not to put the oil boys under oath.

Still, you can get five years in jail or fined for making "any materially false, fictitious, or fraudelent statement or representation."

The oil boys should be hauled back before Congress to explain why they wanted to keep these 2001 meetings so secret and why they felt the need to lie to Congress about them.

And Vice Preznit Cheney has some explaining to do about these meetings and the lies surrounding them too.

For instance, let's ask the Vice Preznit under oath if anyone in his office tipped off anyone in Stevens' office that the oil executives should not be placed under oath when they went before Congress.

What fuckers.

That "swearing to tell the truth" shit is problematic for the "oil (fat)boys" since their guys hijacked the White House, huh? Shit, who'da know'd they was gonna get called before Congress? They thought they were gonna get free rein, and they pretty much have. And pretty much will.

After all, despite all the criminality in Big Business in general, the Awl Bidness is the only one that can make it really rough on folks by having a few anomalous "refinery outages". They could bring down Bush&Co in a heartbeat if they chose to, so the powers that be don't dare push them too hard.

It might be another story after the '06 elections, but I doubt it.

Fallujah, One Year Later

From the Times:

Looking Out on Hostile Territory

For the Americans charged with maintaining order in this roiling, ruined city in western Iraq, it's too late to make friends. One year ago, the Marines launched an assault to take back Fallujah from insurgents, including some loyal to al-Qaeda leader Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, who had overrun the city and used it as a base for spreading mayhem throughout Iraq. A week of house-by-house fighting left hundreds of insurgents dead--and saddled U.S. forces and the Iraqi government with the task of rebuilding a battered city and persuading 210,000 uneasy locals to return home. Some military analysts hoped Fallujah would be where the U.S. could apply the "oil spot" strategy of counterinsurgency, with the aim to spread stability by clearing and securing individual cities and improving the lives of their citizens.

But like much else about the war in Iraq, Fallujah hasn't turned out as the U.S. had hoped. In many respects, the city reflects less the progress of the U.S. enterprise than its troubles. The city's reconstruction has been slowed by a lack of coordination among the military, U.S. aid agencies and the Iraqi government. U.S. officers on the ground say they have denied terrorists a base in Fallujah. But across Iraq, the insurgency hasn't been curbed. October was the fourth deadliest month for U.S. troops since they invaded Iraq in March 2003, and last week 27 more Americans died in insurgent attacks, many of them in Sunni-dominated Anbar province, which includes Fallujah. But Shi'ite-dominated Iraqi security forces aren't ready to assume the burden of imposing order in violent Sunni areas. While the city isn't an outright failure, a military official says the hope that Fallujah could soon serve as a model for U.S. success now looks like "perhaps the result of overzealous expectation."

Chris keeps a pretty good blog as well. Check out Back to Iraq.

Ok, so this is off-topic (not political), but....

Via BoingBoing:

Meet the IT Gigolo

Systems Engineer "Ray Digerati" enjoys fixing computers and having sex. So he combined the two.

So, how long have you been a tech-support manwhore?
A few months. A friend was having trouble connecting to the Internet, this really attractive girl, and the idea just popped into my head: "Wow, it would be really nice if I could get sex for this." I placed an ad on Craigslist that read, "WILL FIX COMPUTERS FOR SEXUAL FAVORS," and I've had an overwhelming number of responses.

So, this scam actually works?
Yeah. Most of the calls I get are for spyware removal and viruses. One girl didn't even wait for me to finish the virus scan—she just grabbed me and gave me a blow job.

Do you have a set, um, pay scale?
No, I leave it up to their discretion. One girl didn't want to have intercourse, so she offered me a massage and then finished me off with a hand job. It's basically all about the time I spend: If I'm working for one or two hours, I'd like a blow job. An orgasm for every two hours of service is pretty fair. If it's something simple that I can fix in 15 minutes, I'd like to get a foot massage.

I know, I know - I just couldn't resist posting it.....

Doing it correctly


Jordan is a serious country:


60 people died in Jordan and Saad Kheir gets shown the door.

3000 people died on 9/11 and Condi gets promoted and goes shopping for shoes.


I thought the adults were in charge now?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

US Created al-Zarqawi Myth

From SpaceWar

Napoleoni, the author of "Insurgent Iraq," told reporters last week that Powell's argument falsely exploited Zarqawi to prove a link between then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida. She said that through fabrications of Zarqawi's status, influence and connections "the myth became the reality" -- a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"He became what we wanted him to be. We put him there, not the jihadists," Napoleoni said.

Iraq's most notorious insurgent, Napoleoni argues, accomplished what bin Laden could not: "spread the message of jihad into Iraq."
The myth of al-Zarqawi, Napoleoni believes, helped usher in al-Qaida's "transformation from a small elitist vanguard to a mass movement."

Al-Zarqawi became "the icon" of a new generation of anti-imperialist jihadists, she said.

So Zarqawi was a nobody out on the fringe until Bush came along and made him an icon for the jihadist movement. He shoulda stuck with goin' after Osama bin-Caveman. Thanks a great steamin' pile, Georgie. That's one more fuckup we owe you for.


If you ever get a chance to see the USAF Thunderbirds live, do it.

It's on

So, after talking with a couple friends (one attached to NATO, the other a department head at the AF Academy with good connections in Europe) who assure me there's nothing to worry about, Paris is still on. Needless to say I did nothing in terms of preparation while plans were still up in the air so now I'm scrambling. Sporadic to no posting from me this week as I run around like a headless chicken (nothing like leaving things for the last minute). I should be back in full posting mode by the weekend and I plan to blog while in Europe.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Our Faith in Science

The Dalai Lama, a spiritual man if there is one, sounds off:

If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.
The goal here is not to prove Buddhism right or wrong - or even to bring people to Buddhism - but rather to take these methods out of the traditional context, study their potential benefits, and share the findings with anyone who might find them helpful.

After all, if practices from my own tradition can be brought together with scientific methods, then we may be able to take another small step toward alleviating human suffering.
I believe that we must find a way to bring ethical considerations to bear upon the direction of scientific development, especially in the life sciences. By invoking fundamental ethical principles, I am not advocating a fusion of religious ethics and scientific inquiry.

Rather, I am speaking of what I call "secular ethics," which embrace the principles we share as human beings: compassion, tolerance, consideration of others, the responsible use of knowledge and power. These principles transcend the barriers between religious believers and non-believers; they belong not to one faith, but to all faiths.
This is more important than ever. It is all too evident that our moral thinking simply has not been able to keep pace with the speed of scientific advancement. Yet the ramifications of this progress are such that it is no longer adequate to say that the choice of what to do with this knowledge should be left in the hands of individuals.

This is a point I intend to make when I speak at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience today in Washington. I will suggest that how science relates to wider humanity is no longer of academic interest alone. This question must assume a sense of urgency for all those who are concerned about the fate of human existence.

An enlightened viewpoint from a great man, as opposed to the endarkened viewpoint foisted off, as in the Dark Ages, by rich pseudo-christian pastors on their whackjob ignorant flocks, thence to be suffered by us all like it was in the hey-day of religious power to which they long to return. Read the rest of it.

Another Diebold stolen Ohio election

The Free Press (Columbus, OH)

While debate still rages over Ohio's stolen presidential election of 2004, the impossible outcomes of key 2005 referendum issues may have put an electronic nail through American democracy.

Once again, the Buckeye state has hosted an astonishing display of electronic manipulation that calls into question the sanctity of America's right to vote, and to have those votes counted in this crucial swing state.

The controversy has been vastly enhanced due to the simultaneous installation of new electronic voting machines in nearly half the state's 88 counties, machines the General Accountability Office has now confirmed could be easily hacked by a very small number of people.

Last year, the US presidency was decided here. This year, a bond issue and four hard-fought election reform propositions are in question.

Here they go into the issues, who was for and against, exit polling, etc. Worth a read. I think it's interesting that the rejected measures were about election reform.

And thus the possible explanations for the staggering defeats of Issues Two through Five boil down to two: either the Dispatch polling---dead accurate for Issue One---was wildly wrong beyond all possible statistical margin of error for Issues 2-5, or the electronic machines on which Ohio and much of the nation conduct their elections were hacked by someone wanting to change the vote count.

If the latter is true, it can and will be done again, and we can forget forever about the state that has been essential to the election of every Republican presidential candidate since Lincoln.

And we can also, for all intents and purposes, forget about the future of American democracy.

Stealing elections is heavy shit. Something has to be done soon, not only about Diebold's eminently hackable-without-a-trace-by-design machines, but about the mentality that uses them to subvert democracy and the democratic process. More Republican treason is what it is.

Rude advice to Democrats

From The Rude One

The right loves to say any time the Democrats resist or block a Republican bill or nominee or idea, "Well, Democrats, why don't you tell us what you'd like to do? What's your plan?" That's like a rapist getting kicked in the nuts by his potential victim and then asking her, "Well, okay, since you don't to be fucked, what would you like to do?" The only proper response is not for the victim to suggest alternate activities ("Well, rapist, we could play a lively game of whist"), but to say, "I'd like you to be dead. No, no, even better, I'd like you to be buried alive. In a small coffin. Filled with scorpions. And covered in shit."
You may say, "But, oh, dear, if Democrats simply stand in the way of things being done, they will be portrayed as obstructionists." And the Rude Pundit would get all Zen and shit and say, "Is a dam obstructionist to a river that would wash away a town?"

Good point. Dam the Republicans.

'We Do Not Torture' and Other Funny Stories

Frank Rich in the NYTimes

So when you watch the president stand there with a straight face and say, "We do not torture" - a full year and a half after the first photos from Abu Ghraib - you have to wonder how we arrived at this ludicrous moment. The answer is not complicated. When people in power get away with telling bigger and bigger lies, they naturally think they can keep getting away with it. And for a long time, Mr. Bush and his cronies did. Not anymore.
The Bush loyalists' push to discredit the Libby indictment failed because Americans don't see it as a stand-alone scandal but as the petri dish for a wider culture of lying that becomes more visible every day. The last-ditch argument rolled out by Mr. Bush on Veterans Day in his latest stay-the-course speech - that Democrats, too, endorsed dead-wrong W.M.D. intelligence - is more of the same. Sure, many Democrats (and others) did believe that Saddam had an arsenal before the war, but only the White House hyped selective evidence for nuclear weapons, the most ominous of all of Iraq's supposed W.M.D.'s, to whip up public fears of an imminent doomsday.
There's so much to stonewall at the White House that last week Scott McClellan was reduced to beating up on the octogenarian Helen Thomas. "You don't want the American people to hear what the facts are, Helen," he said, "and I'm going to tell them the facts." Coming from the press secretary who vowed that neither Mr. Libby nor Karl Rove had any involvement in the C.I.A. leak, this scene was almost as funny as his boss's "We do not torture" charade.

Not that it matters now. The facts the American people are listening to at this point come not from an administration that they no longer find credible, but from the far more reality-based theater of war. The Qaeda suicide bombings of three hotels in Amman on 11/9, like the terrorist attacks in Madrid and London before them, speak louder than anything else of the price we are paying for the lies that diverted us from the war against the suicide bombers of 9/11 to the war in Iraq.

I have nothing to add. Mr. Rich says it as well as it can be said, I think. Go read.

Welcome to The Suck

I went and saw Jarhead Sunday afternoon. I saved a coupla bucks by going to the matinee, but now that I've seen it, I'd have paid full price.

I read the book when it came out, and the letters about it in Leatherneck magazine panned it as "sullying the reputation of the Marine Corps". The Corps' carefully cultivated public image maybe, but not its reputation. Folks, the Corps I remember wasn't quite like this movie, but neither was it a church camp like they'd have you believe. Kids today are a lot harder-edged, maybe just less naive, than we were way back then, and it shows.

I've never seen a movie, even a war movie, quite like it. Very stylized, definitely very, very noir. Quite a bit of humor, very dark also. My Marine Corps of forty years ago was more like Gomer Pyle, USMC. This is more like Apocalypse Now. It is most definitely not Sands of Iwo Jima, maybe a little Full Metal Jacket. It defies easy comparison, but that's a good thing. I think it's a unique approach for the genre.

The movie has three distinct parts: Boot, Desert Shield, and Desert Storm. Not much Boot, but a good bit on Scout/Sniper school, quite a bit of Desert Shield. Portrays pretty well what happens to guys stuck in a sandbox for 175 days with no human contact. Boredom and borderline insanity. It's hard to tell, actually, since these guys are a little nuts anyway. There is a depiction of the most graphic "Dear John" letter in the history of movies, without a doubt!

Desert Storm is pretty much foot-slogging without much seeming purpose, which I think is the whole point. There are scenes along the road leading north from Kuwait City after the air strikes were over, and of life in the burning oil fields. There's even a Fellini-esque moment with a horse.

Basically, the show is about 175 days of waiting and anticipation, culminating in four days, four hours, and four minutes of virtually no war. The end is a combination of disappointment and glee at still being alive.

There's a scene where a grizzled old 'Nam Marine welcomes them home that moved me almost to tears.

The bonding that you no doubt had enough of in my posts and others on 10 November is shown quite well.

I liked it. I saw some things that haven't changed in forty years, some things that have, and a lot that I sincerely hope was made up. Old Vets like me will probably like it, too, but that's a guess.

Anybody who is contemplating going into the service in these times should go see this, or their parents should drag them to see it. It's not particulary pro- or anti-war, but it may be a glimpse of something they need to see.

Oh, yeah. The movie was plenty long enough for the Tub O'Dr. Pepper I bought on the way in to want back out!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Der Volkssturm

Via Ed.

MOSINEE, Wis. (AP) - Gary Olson is a 52-year-old grandfather, a retired U.S. Army veteran - and soon to be a soldier again, thanks to the need for troops in Iraq.

Olson was ordered to report for duty Dec. 4 in Fort Jackson, S.C.


They're lowering the standards for recruits and 'drafting' old men. Can you say 'desperation'?


Pauly has been doing a survey of the 100 Greatest Americans of All Time. The list is finally up in 5 posts. Go over there and tell the bird-brain he's done a masterful job.

Honorable Mentions

Sunday cartoons

A plethora of funnies from Bob Geiger.

The matriarch speaks

Washington -- Presidential press secretary Scott McClellan says he can be trusted. But I don't think he should take a poll in the White House press room on that claim. He might lose.

McClellan has lived up to his self-described role as an "advocate" for President Bush.

It's only recently that he admits to wearing another hat -- one that is obligatory, as he put it -- that requires him "to make sure the American people are getting an accurate account of what is going on here in Washington." That will be the day.


Ol' Helen takes a shot at Snot 'Lyin Turd' McClellan.

Hat tip: Maru