Monday, August 30, 2004

Remember to vote


I receive emails from Greg Palast whenever he has an update to his website.

I'll post this one in its entirety. And then I'm off for a week. La Belle may have some goodies for you while I'm gone, so check in.


Madame Butterfly Flies Off with Ballots
Florida Fixed Again? Absentee Ballots Go Absent
by Greg Palast

Sunday, August 29, 2004.

On Friday, Theresa LePore, Supervisor of Elections in Palm Beach, candidate for re-election as Supervisor of Elections, chose to supervise her own election, no one allowed. This Tuesday, Florida votes for these nominally non-partisan posts.

You remember Theresa, "Madame Butterfly," the one whose ballots brought in the big vote for Pat Buchanan in the Jewish precincts in November 2000. Then she failed to do the hand count that would have changed the White House from Blue to Red.

This time, Theresa's in a hurry to get to the counting. She began tallying absentee ballots on Friday in her own re-election race. Not to worry: the law requires the Supervisor of Elections in each county to certify poll-watchers to observe the count.

But Theresa has a better idea. She refused to certify a single poll-watcher from opponents' organizations despite the legal requirement she do so by last week. She'll count her own votes herself, thank you very much!

And so far, she's doing quite well. Although 37,000 citizens have requested absentee ballots, she says she'd only received 22,000 when she began the count. Where are the others? Don't ask: though she posts the names of requesters, she won't release the list of those who have voted, an eyebrow-raising deviation from standard procedure.

And she has no intention of counting all the ballots received. She has reserved for herself the right to determine which ballots have acceptable signatures. Her opponent, Democrat Art Anderson, had asked Theresa to use certified hand-writing experts, instead of her hand-picked hacks, to check the signatures.

Unfortunately, while Federal law requires Theresa to allow a voter to correct a signature rejection when registering, the Feds don't require her to permit challenges to absentee ballot rejections.

I know what you're thinking. How could Madame Butterfly know how people are voting? Well, she's printed PARTY AFFILIATION on the OUTSIDE of each return envelope. That certainly makes it easier to figure out which ballot is valid, don't it?

And dear Reader, please take note of the implications of this story for the big vote in November. Millions have sought refuge in absentee ballots as a method to avoid the dangers of the digitizing of democracy. Florida and other states are reporting 400%-plus increases in absentee ballot requests due to fear of the new computer voting machinery. Some refuge. LePore is giving us an early taste of how the Bush Leaguers intend to care for your absentee ballot.

If there's no safety in the absentee ballot, how about the computerized machines? The LePores of America have that one figured out too.

On Friday, the day on which Theresa began her Kremlim-style vote count, the New York Times ran a puff piece on Jeb's Palm Beach political pet. Cub reporter Amy Goodnough derided fears of Democrats who painted "dark scenarios" about the computer voting machines Madame Butterfly installed over the objections of the state's official voting technology task force.

If you're wondering why the experts told her not to use the machines, I'll tell you -- because the New York Times won't. It's not because the voting specialists are anti-technology Luddites. The fact is that Florida counties using touch-screens have reported a known error rate 600% greater than the alternative, paper ballots read by optical scanners. And those errors have occurred -- surprise! -- overwhelmingly in African-American precincts.

First Brother Jeb has teamed with LePore to keep the vote clean and white. Together they have refused the Democrats request for the more-reliable paper ballots as an option for voters.

In Leon County, by contrast, Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho insisted on paper ballots and did not lose a single vote to error in the March presidential primary. Sancho told me it's a slam-dunk certainty that the computer screens will snatch away several thousand Palm Beach votes.

Theresa and the Jebster have been quite close since LePore came out of the closet. The Republican-turned-Democrat, nominally independent, this year accepted the sticky embrace of the Republican Party. One really has to wonder if she ever truly left the Blues in the first place.

It's a shame that Supervisor LePore was too busy counting her votes and rejecting ballots to respond to my phone calls. I wanted to be the first to congratulate her on her election victory -- two days before the election. Or maybe she fears I might be the early birddog who catches the butterfly as she turns back into a worm.

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. His article on vote manipulation in Florida for Harper's Magazine, was nominated for a 2002 National Magazine Award.

Enjoy the RNC and the insanity. Remember, there are other worlds than this.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Another attack on Iraqi oil pipeline

In the constant stream of pipeline attacks...

Iraqi oil officials yesterday said that insurgents blew up a cluster of pipelines in southern Iraq, though they said they did not expect oil exports to be significantly reduced.

The pipelines carried crude oil from the Rumaila oil field, one of the two largest in Iraq, which is estimated to have 115 billion barrels of oil reserves. Television footage showed flames and smoke billowing into the air around Basra in southern Iraq.

And in case you've forgotten - we're still in trouble in Afghanistan.

Mission Accomplished

Damage done. Time to move on.

NEW YORK - President Bush [related, bio], seeking an end to the bitter infighting over John Kerry's medals before the start of his convention today, called Kerry's war record ``more heroic'' than his own.

Bush, in his strongest rebuttal yet of the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that have dogged the Bay State senator for three weeks, credited Kerry for stepping into ``harm's way'' while he did not.

Asked in an interview to be broadcast this morning on NBC's ``Today'' show whether he believed he and Kerry served with the same level of heroism, Bush said, ``No, I don't.

``I think him going to Vietnam was more heroic than my flying fighter jets. He was in harm's way and I wasn't.'' The president said it's time to move on.

``I think that we ought to move beyond the past. . . . The real question is who best to lead us forward,'' Bush said.

He could have said those things a long time ago, when the Swiftboat Liars for the Truth ads first came out.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Brit wit

If I have to read about devious and outrageous politics, I'd just as soon read it dry wit British style...

To lift your depression, perhaps I may report a happier event. Baroness Thatcher's son, Mark, has been arrested in South Africa in connection with a plot to overthrow the dictatorship in Equatorial Guinea for the entirely noble purpose of clearing the way for Western oil companies to exploit the deposits of oil off the coast.

Since March, plotters have been arrested, and some found guilty, in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Guinea, among other places. It was a really high-class plot, organised by old Etonians, one of whom is the heir to the Watney Mann English beer fortune. Mark Thatcher apparently tried to buy a helicopter as part of the plot. He was arrested in his pyjamas as he was getting ready to leave his palatial home in South Africa (where else?) to take up residence in Texas (where else?)

Thatcher, who is a baronet (a hereditary knight, courtesy of his mother) is commonly regarded in Britain as being 'as thick as two short planks', but like George W Bush, he made a lot of money when no one expected him to.

John O'Farrell in Friday's Guardian was grateful that Sir Mark hadn't followed his mother into politics, as Bush followed Bush into the White House; he remarked:
"In fact, episodes like this remind us of the type of morality that prevailed during the greedy Thatcher years. Thank heavens things have moved on. Can you imagine our current prime minister being associated with the sort of people who'd embark on some ill-thought-out military adventure because they hoped to install a regime that would allow them to get their hands on the country's oil reserves? It's completely unthinkable."

More of this week's news at the Jamaica Observer.

Olympics conclude

A man from the crowd of spectators stole the marathon gold from the lead runner, a Brazilian.

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Source: BBC

You can read the sign. I can read the sign. But the BBC reporter and editors can't.

The protester, wearing a kilt and a green beret and a white placard with the words "The Grand Prix priest. Israel fulfillment of prophecy says the bible, the second coming is near," on it, was immediately arrested and taken to a police station.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer identified the man as Portugese. The BBC account says this:

He appears to be Cornelius "Neil" Horan, a former priest who disrupted last year's British Grand Prix. He was then jailed for two months following his race track protest at Silverstone.

A police source said: "The man says he is Irish, he is also drunk. He had been to a taverna earlier. Police are going through his stuff."

I don't know who you want to believe, but I'd withhold my conclusion for a while. It doesn't look as though anybody's all that reliable. Best guess at this time is that it is indeed the Irishman. Gotta keep us Irish away from the Guinness.

Such is the ignominious end to the Olympic games.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

At this rate...

US forces have fought with an Iraqi police unit in the centre of Kirkuk in a clash that police describe as a "mistake".

Two Iraqi policemen were badly wounded and US occupation forces arrested six of their comrades after the overnight battle, police Colonel Farhat Qadir said on Friday.

"The battle happened by mistake," he said, declining to elaborate.
Aljazeera article

I really wonder what we're not being told. Are the police actively rebelling?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Razing Falluja

The continuing story...

An Iraqi was killed and 13 wounded in overnight fighting on Saturday as US forces conducted their latest raids on the city.

The attacks struck the city's eastern al-Askari neighbourhood as well as the industrial area at the eastern entrance of Falluja, in addition to the Niaamiya district.

At least four homes were destroyed and people were seen being rushed to hospital.

"The attack set a textile factory in the industrial quarter on fire while plumes of smoke were seen rising from some of the targeted areas," sources told Aljazeera.
Aljazeera article

Previous Falluja posts.

Iran-Contra II? - Part II

Juan Cole has another post on the Israeli spy case. (His earlier post is here.)

It is an echo of the one-two punch secretly planned by the pro-Likud faction in the Department of Defense. First, Iraq would be taken out by the United States, and then Iran.

... Matthew Yglesias has already tipped us to a key piece of information. The Niger forgeries also try to implicate Iran. Indeed, the idea of a joint Iraq/Iran nuclear plot was so far-fetched that it is what initially made the Intelligence and Research division of the US State Department suspicious of the forgeries, even before the discrepancies of dates and officials in Niger were noticed.

...Franklin, Ledeen, and Rhode, all of them pro-Likud operatives, just happen to be meeting with SISMI (the proto-fascist purveyor of the false Niger uranium story about Iraq and the alleged Iran-Iraq plot against the rest of the world) and corrupt Iranian businessman and would-be revolutionary, Ghorbanifar, in Europe. The most reasonable conclusion is that they were conspiring together about the Next Campaign after Iraq, which they had already begun setting in train, which is to get Iran.

But now The Jerusalem Post reveals that at least one of the meetings was quite specific with regard to an attempt to torpedo better US/Iran relations...

...Franklin's movements reveal the contours of a rightwing conspiracy of warmongering and aggression, an orgy of destruction, for the benefit of the Likud Party, of Silvio Berlusconi's business in the Middle East, and of the Neoconservative Right in the United States. It isn't about spying. It is about conspiring to conscript the US government on behalf of a foreign power or powers.


Josh Marshall's take provides the title (Iran-Contra II) from my earlier post.

I expect some developments in this while I'm away this week. You'll most likely be finding the best commentary and analyses at Juan Cole's Informed Comment, and Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo.

There are times when I think the world of intrigue has gotten beyond even the best imagination of Hollywood writers, and that it would be impossible to sort it all out. I wonder if the players themselves ever do. Maybe the game is what is attractive - not to mention the power stakes, of course - but personally, I'd prefer a thatched hut on a Caribbean island, and some books.

Maybe some good bourbon.

And I wish they'd find a way to play the game without turning the world into a toxic wasteland. Somehow, that part never concerns them.

Protester legal rights and information

For anyone planning on protesting this week, know your rights and what to do if....

Information at United for Peace and Justice.

RNC protests

I haven't got the time to watch this 30-minute video about the planning for protests in New York City, but you might want to. I'll try to get to it when I get back from the Gulf. It's at Bag News Notes, with this note:

With the Republican's spinning the demonstrations as unpatriotic and even anarchistic, this piece makes it clear how difficult it has become to exercise the right to protest and why the events this week have such potential for trouble.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Which war is it?

Or is it just one war in different places?

The Vietnam War was, and is, many things to many people. America was torn apart by the war and the wounds of separation have not entirely healed. There will always be a national scar from that war. Someday it's redness may fade to pink, just as the scar of the Civil War has faded. But the scar will always be there, and the disagreements about the war will always exist in the historical memory of our country.

Some will try to influence that historical memory to suit their own political agenda or personal needs. Some of us will try to emphasize one aspect of the war or another for the same reasons. Some will want the historical memory to reflect their own experience, and others will want it to reflect just the facts.

But what are the facts? There are as many facts about the war as there are points of view. But certain facts are incontrovertible: The United States won all the battles, but lost the war. The US lost over 58,000 American lives. The Vietnamese lost over a million lives. Billions of dollars were spent. Millions of tons of bombs were dropped. There were countless mental and physical injuries to the American and Vietnamese people. And there were countless deaths and injuries to animal and plant life. The North Vietnamese won the war, and the government that exists in Vietnam today is one of their own creation. The United States has survived the loss of the Vietnam War, and Communism did not take over the world.

...The United States has taken on a new war in Iraq. In November the American People will choose a President. In the American media an argument has been engaged that pits those veterans of the Vietnam War who spoke against the war when they came home against those who resent them for it. Most of those who spoke against the war support John Kerry. Most of those who resent them support George Bush. Those who support Kerry play up his war record and play down his protest. Those who support Bush play down his National Guard record and play up his war against terrorism.

Personally, I don't begrudge John Kerry for protesting the war -- I did it too. And I don't begrudge George Bush for joining the National Guard -- I found a way of avoiding combat in Vietnam also. What I do begrudge them both for is their unwillingness to fully admit to why they did what they did. And even more, I resent their unwillingness to discuss, honestly, what's happening in Iraq.


Which brings us back to AWOL's war record.

Former Texas Lt. Governor Barnes' recent taped admission isn't exactly news. Back in 1999, the Washington Post had this article:

The speaker, Ben Barnes, intervened on Bush's behalf sometime in late 1967 or early 1968 at the request of a good friend of Bush's father, then a Republican congressman from Houston, the sources said. The friend, Sidney A. Adger, was a prominent Houston business executive who died in 1996. The Guard official contacted at his behest, Brig. Gen. James M. Rose, died in 1993.

Both Bush, now governor of Texas and front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, and his father, the former president, say they did not ask for any help with Guard officials and have no knowledge of any assistance from Adger or anyone else.

"Gov. Bush did not need and did not ask anybody for help," said a Bush campaign spokesman, Scott McClellan. "President Bush has said he did not seek any help for his son in getting into the National Guard."

Jean Becker, a spokeswoman for former president Bush, confirmed that the senior Bush and Adger were good friends, but she said Bush firmly denies talking to Adger about helping his son get into the Guard.

I would think someone in the former president's position wouldn't have to actually ask. I imagine there are some unwritten rules of engagement when it comes to these matters - political favors might not require an actual verbal or written request.

The question of how George W. Bush got into the Texas Guard as a pilot trainee less than two weeks before his graduation from Yale has been a recurring issue in his political campaigns and has now been raised in a contentious lawsuit in which Barnes, who retired from politics after serving as House speaker and then lieutenant governor, is scheduled to give a deposition in Austin Sept. 27.

Barnes said in an interview this summer that when he was speaker he sometimes received requests for help in obtaining Guard slots, but never received such a call from then-Rep. Bush or anyone in the Bush family. But he declined to comment when asked if an intermediary or friend of the Bush family had ever asked him to intercede on George W. Bush's behalf.

I believe the maxim is "silence gives consent".

Barnes has refused to make any further statement. However, he has told associates in Texas that Adger once called him seeking his help for George W. Bush.

...The suit involving Barnes was brought by former Texas lottery director Lawrence Littwin, who was fired by the state lottery commission, headed by Bush appointee Harriet Miers, in October 1997 after five months on the job. It contends that Gtech Corp., which runs the state lottery and until February 1997 employed Barnes as a lobbyist for more than $3 million a year, was responsible for Littwin's dismissal.

Littwin's lawyers have suggested in court filings that Gtech was allowed to keep the lottery contract, which Littwin wanted to open up to competitive bidding, in return for Barnes's silence about Bush's entry into the Guard.

Barnes and his lawyers have denounced this "favor-repaid" theory in court pleadings as "preposterous . . . fantastic [and] fanciful."

...But while the Barnes camp has scoffed at the assertions of a payback for a 30-year-old favor, they have been more circumspect about the "favor" itself. In a motion seeking to block the deposition, Barnes's lawyer, Charles R. Burton, simply contended that whatever Barnes did in recommending "qualified candidates for service in the Guard" was irrelevant, private and privileged.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin rejected the argument, saying he was "unpersuaded" by what amounted to a last-minute pleading that Barnes could have submitted weeks earlier.

You know, you think 30 years is enough time to bury whatever little indiscretions you might have committed.

But, at least it's sometimes enough to make the indiscretion heat for somebody other than yourself, eh Barnes?

And Greg Palast has some background information on the affair.

Just after Bush's election, Barnes' client GTech Corp., due to allegations of corruption, was about to lose its license to print money: its contract to run the Texas state lottery. Barnes, says the Justice Department document, made a call to the newly elected governor's office and saved GTech's state contract.

The letter said, "Governor Bush ... made a deal with Ben Barnes not to rebid [the GTech lottery contract] because Barnes could confirm that Bush had lied during the '94 campaign."

In that close race, Bush denied the fix was in to keep him out of 'Nam, and the US media stopped asking questions. What did the victorious Governor Bush's office do for Barnes? According to the tipster, "Barnes agreed never to confirm the story [of the draft dodging] and the governor talked to the chair of the lottery two days later and she then agreed to support letting GTech keep the contract without a bid."

And so it came to pass that the governor's commission reversed itself and gave GTech the billion dollar deal without a bid.

The happy client paid Barnes, the keeper of Governor Bush's secret, a fee of over $23 million. Barnes, not surprisingly, denies that Bush took care of his client in return for Barnes' silence. However, confronted with the evidence, the former Lt. Governor now admits to helping the young George stay out of Vietnam.

Take a look at the letter yourself - with information we confirmed with other sources.

The letter is unreadable unless you move your cursor over it (it should change to a magnifying glass icon) and click. It's still difficult to read, but it's doable.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Iran-Contra II?

Josh Marshall, et al. have a piece in the Washington Monthly on the details of the Israeli spy story.

The investigation of Franklin is now shining a bright light on a shadowy struggle within the Bush administration over the direction of U.S. policy toward Iran. In particular, the FBI is looking with renewed interest at an unauthorized back-channel between Iranian dissidents and advisers in Feith's office, which more-senior administration officials first tried in vain to shut down and then later attempted to cover up.

...[W]hy were mid-level Pentagon officials organizing meetings with a foreign intelligence agency behind the back of the CIA -- a clear breach of US government protocol?

...Over the last year, the Senate Intelligence Committee has conducted limited inquiry into the meetings, including interviews with Feith and Ledeen. But under terms of a compromise agreed to by both parties, a full investigation into the matter was put off until after the November election.


Greenspan warns of Social Security disaster

The 78-year-old Greenspan, recently confirmed for a fifth term as Fed chairman, suggested one possible fix would be to increase the retirement age for receiving full benefits. It is already scheduled to rise from 65 to 67.
Forbes article

I can't believe that man is only 78. He looks 108. And it seems as though he's been around forever.

Anyway, that increase in retirement age is ridiculous. Sure, it makes the thing work better on paper, but let's talk about reality, you old senile codger. If we don't have enough jobs for the people we have now, and we keep closing down companies and "outsourcing", the competition for the fewer jobs left is going to get even steeper. Where's the guarantee that if you're employed now, you'll get to keep that job until you're 67? How well is a 67-year old man or woman going to compete for a job with someone 20, 30, 40 years younger? I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to have a go at it.

Of course, sixty-five is already way too old in my view. I think 55 sounds about right. Or better yet, 52.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

RNC coverage

I doubt if you can do better than this. On a daily basis, South Knox Bubba will be debating West Knox Momma in Tennessee's Knoxville Sentinel News. Bookmark Crosswire at the Sentinel-News.

Now, if I understand this deal correctly, the powerful, right-leaning Knoxville News Sentinel newspaper is hosting this forum so this nice reporter's charming wife who is a paid professional GOP Operative attending the GOP National Convention on official GOP Business can debate some Bubba, who is apparently being set up as the token liberal punching bag for this event. Sounds good to me. I accept the challenge on behalf of East Tennessee Democrats, and will do my best to make all twenty-seven of us proud.

Anyway, I am so looking forward to watching hour after hour of C-SPAN coverage of White Guys in Gray Suits droning on about the wonderful GOP Agenda that, with enough tax cuts, will create millions of jobs, cure all disease, save our environment, bring Peace on Earth, and protect us from gay people who want to make us marry them, and then hunkering down over my keyboard and grinding out witty and insightful missives explaining why everything they just said is wrong while the nice reporter and his charming GOP Operative wife order up room service to their suite at the Plaza Hotel in NYC and have the concierge fax in the official Karl Rove recap of the day's talking points.

OK, then.

Thanks to La Belle for spotting this resource.

Were the plane crashes Putin's 9/11? His Pearl Harbor?

I don't know if anybody else is asking that question. Just thought I'd throw it out.

A Moscow-backed policeman was set to become the new president of rebel Chechnya in a fraught election Sunday marked by a bomb blast in which only the attacker was killed.

Though some hours remained before polls closed, Alu Alkhanov seemed sure of election to replace the assassinated Akhmad Kadyrov because of the strong Kremlin backing he enjoys and the one-sided publicity his campaign has been given.
Reuters article

Strong Kremlin backing. Can you say "puppet"? There have been many years of Chechen rebellion and Chechen terrorists creating a thorn in Moscow's side. Vlad needs to get a handle on the country.

The Kremlin-sponsored poll took place against the backdrop of heavy fighting and two deadly plane crashes that killed at least 89 people over Russia and that many have laid at the door of Chechen separatists.

Kremlin-sponsored poll. The same methods, the same story occur the world over, eh?

Putin sent troops back into the seething, mainly Muslim Caucasus territory on Russia's southern fringes in 1999 to cement his image as a strong leader ahead of his own election.

But total victory over the rebels has eluded Putin, now in his second term, and the assassination of Kadyrov -- Putin's iron man in the region -- by a bomb in May came as a heavy blow.

Putin now appears to be counting on Alkhanov who, already marked for death by separatist rebels who say the election is a farce, is seeking one of the world's most dangerous posts.

Well, it's not like Chechnya deserves to be an independent country or anything. They should just settle down and join Pipelinestan under the Kremlin's rule. Either that, or they can eventually be bombed to dust by the U.S. after we help them successfully repel Russia.

"I will not go to vote, I never went before on principle. My vote does not matter," said Isa, 36, a Chechen living in a refugee camp in the neighboring region of Ingushetia. "Chechnya does not choose the president, Moscow appoints him."

You think?

....hey, do what you will anyway.

Saturday, August 28, 2004


Sherffius as seen at Bob's

Impeach George Bush

Click graphics & sign petitions

Being seen amongst the peasantry

Passing this around. From LaBelle, via Blanton's and Ashton's (I'm really liking that blog), via dailykos.

Dick Cheney, Lord of the Manor
by Trapper John
Thu Aug 26th, 2004 at 21:51:45 GMT

This is a cute little story.

In a lighter moment, the Cheney tour stopped at a farm stand owned by Ray Levan, 65, in the small town of Catawissa. Cheney and his wife went to buy fruit and vegetables, while daughters Mary and Elizabeth went with the Cheney grandchildren to watch cows being fed.

The Cheneys purchased nine apples, five large tomatoes, three green peppers and a dozen ears of corn. Cheney pulled a $10 bill from his pocket and gave it to Levan. Asked by a reporter whether the $10 covered the cost of the produce, Levan indicated that it did not. But he said it was an "honor" to sell the fruits and vegetables to the vice president, even if at a discount.

It's a cute little story that tells us two things most of us already know about Cheney. First, he's completely out of touch with the cost of produce. This isn't that surprising, as he probably hasn't done much shopping in at least the past three-and-a-half years. He's the Vice President of the United States, so it's to be expected that he's not popping into the Social Safeway on Wisconsin every Thursday. Now, of course, if John Kerry had done what Cheney did, and had mistakenly believed that $10 would cover a bushel of veggies, Instapundit, Sean Hannity, and Wolf Blitzer would be up in arms about how completely out of touch with America and how elitist Kerry and Teresa are. But hey, we're bigger than they are, so we're not going to make a stink about the fact that Unca Dick thinks that produce still costs what it did 15 years ago.

But what struck me most about this vignette, and what is troubling to me, was the way that Cheney handed the guy a $10 without asking him what the cost of the goods were. It's as if he sized the tomatoes and corn up, sized the farmer up, decided that $10 was appropriate, and that was that. No need to say, "what's the damage?" No need to wait for the farmer to total the cost. Nope -- Dick saw the entire transaction as he might an interaction with a bellhop at the Plaza. He took a commonplace commercial transaction between vendor and consumer, and turned it into a master-servant relationship. In essence, Dick took his veggies, and tipped the guy $10. Now that's weird. Almost shakes your faith in the GOP as the defender of small business . . .

And the farmer just reinforced it. It's an honor to be treated like a peasant and ripped off by the royalty.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Slight change in plans

Colin Powell will not attend the closing ceremonies in Athens. Riots narrowly averted.


America's biggest Olympic hero yesterday accused George Bush of exploiting the Athens Games for his own political advantage in the run-up to the presidential election.

Carl Lewis, who won nine Olympic gold medals in athletics in a record-breaking career, condemned Bush for using the presence of Iraqi and Afghan teams in Athens in a television advertisement to boost his chances of re-election.

...Iraq's footballers, who unexpectedly reached the semi-finals here, made clear last week they disliked the advertisement and regarded American soldiers in Iraq as occupiers rather than liberators. Bush was planning to visit the Greek capital and attend yesterday's football final if Iraq had been involved, but they lost in the semi-finals last week. He was also criticised for misusing without permission Olympic symbols, which are protected emblems.
  Guardian article

Can you imagine how much that would have cost us? All those extra helicopters and soldiers, and the entourage that he takes along. They'd probably have had to evacuate Athens and put a bullet-proof bubble dome over the field. After all, they wanted the Queen to reinforce the walls in the castle room he stayed in on his trip to London. (She declined.)

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

And so it begins

NY cops arrested some terrorists on bicycles. Bob has an eyewitness report.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

The spy and WINEP

Juan Cole has a long post leading with the scandal of a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst detailed to Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans passing information on Iran to Israel and discussing US-Israeli incest.

In the 1980s, AIPAC set up the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as a pro-Israeli alternative to the Brookings Institution, which it perceived to be insufficiently supportive of Israel. WINEP has largely followed AIPAC into pro-Likud positions, even though its director, Dennis Ross, is more moderate. He is a figurehead, however, serving to disguise the far right character of most of the position papers produced by long-term WINEP staff and by extremist visitors and "associates" (Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer are among the latter).

WINEP, being a wing of AIPAC, is enormously influential in Washington. State Department and military personnel are actually detailed there to "learn" about "the Middle East"! They would get a far more balanced "education" about the region in any Israeli university, since most Israeli academics are professionals, whereas WINEP is a "think tank" that hires by ideology.

I did some consulting with one US company that had a government contract, and they asked me about WINEP position papers (many of them are just propaganda). When I said I would take them with a grain of salt, the guy said his company had "received direction" to pay a lot of attention to the WINEP material! So Discipline is being imposed even on the private sector.

...Now US occupation of Iraq is making it even more hated in the Muslim world. It is a policy hatched in part by AIPAC, WINEP, and their associated "thinkers." The cynical might suggest that they actively want the US involved in a violent struggle with Muslims, to make sure that the US remains anti-Palestinian and so will permit Israeli expansion.

All this can happen because there is a vacuum in US political discourse. A handful of special interests in the United States virtually dictate congressional policy on some issues. With regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the American Israel Political Action Committee and a few allies have succeeded in imposing complete censorship on both houses of Congress. No senator or congress member dares make a speech on the floor of his or her institution critical of Israeli policy, even though the Israeli government often violates international law and UN Security Council resolutions (it would violate more such resolutions, except that the resolutions never got passed because only one NSC member, the US, routinely vetoes them on behalf of Tel Aviv.)

...On the rare occasion when a brave member of congress dares stand up to this unrelenting AIPAC tyranny, that person is targeted for unelection in the next congressional campaign, with big money directed by AIPAC and/or its analogues into the coffers of the senator or congressman's opponent. Over and over again, AIPAC has shaped the US congress in this way, so successfully that no one even dares speak out any more.

...Moreover, AIPAC leverages its power by an alliance with the Christian Right, which has adopted a bizarre ideology of "Christian Zionism." It holds that the sooner the Palestinians are ethnically cleansed, the sooner Christ will come back. Without millions of these Christian Zionist allies, AIPAC would be much less influential and effective.

The Founding Fathers of the United States deeply feared that a foreign government might gain this level of control over a branch United States government, and their fears have been vindicated.

...AIPAC currently has a project to shut up academics such as myself, the same way it has shut up Congress, through congressional legislation mandating "balance" (i.e. pro-Likud stances) in Middle East programs at American Universities. How long the US public will allow itself to be spied on and pushed around like this is a big question. And, with the rise of international terrorism targeting the US in part over these issues, the fate of the country hangs in the balance.

It's a good post, you should read it all.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Total insanity

An Iraqi militant group has kidnapped two [French journalists] and given the French government 48 hours to end a ban on Muslim headscarves, Arabic television station Al Jazeera said on Saturday.
WaPo article

The headscarf ban was insane. The kidnapping for ransom of journalists in one country for headscarf rights in another is insane. The whole freaking world has gone bananas. I can't decide if we're a prison planet or a circus.

Either way, we're freaks.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Presidential Auction 2004

How did this not make it into the news? Or did I just miss it?

And from Josh Marshall...

Now, I don't know what Ben Barnes looks like. And I do not independently know the provenance of the tape. But I've spoken to two sources who know Barnes. And they tell me that that is Barnes on the tape.

One of those two men is Jim Moore -- co-author of Bush's Brain. Moore told me this afternoon that the clip is from June 8th of this year, at a Kerry rally in Austin. Moore assures me that the tape is legitimate.

Maybe we'll hear more about it. Knight-Ridder has picked it up.

Boy! I DO need a break!

I don't know what the message is here, but that Mars message was a year old! (Deleted.)

Forces are trying to tell me something. Perhaps it's time to lay down my keyboard.

But one last thing...

Official: FBI Investigating Whether Pentagon Analyst Spied For Israel

Missing post - Misinformation

In case you already read my last post of the evening for yesterday, and were relying on the accuracy of it - you've been misled. (I deleted the post, so as not to continue to mislead.) Perhaps you read it, but were alert enough to realize that the article I linked, saying that the Najaf peace deal had been broken with new bouts of violence, was several days old.

So, just to get your hopes up again....apparently, they are now assessing the incredible damage to the City, but there is no fighting.

At this time.

I apologize for the lapse in scrutiny. I'll try not to let it happen again.

Don't hold your breath or anything, but I try hard to be reliable.

Still, I am not a lot more encouraged about the state of the world than I was last night. And I still intend to take a break.

....but hey, you do what you will anyway.

Oil prices on the rise

What else is new? Good times for Condi and Emperor Shit-for-brains.

Saboteurs on Thursday attacked eight pipelines linking a southern oilfield to a pumping station near Basra.

...Oil prices stopped a five-day slide on Friday on renewed supply concerns after fresh Iraqi pipeline attacks outweighed an end to a three-week uprising in the city of Najaf.

U.S. crude inched 8 cents higher to $43.18 a barrel. London's Brent crude settled 31 cents stronger at $40.64 a barrel.

Despite Friday's tiny rise, prices are down 13 percent from last week's peak, when speculators began taking profits after prices failed to breach $50.

Crude prices are still up nearly 40 percent since the turn of the year on strong global demand and uncertainty in the Middle East.
Reuters article

War is good for speculators, defense contractors, and oil barons.

Private defense contractors have been given the authority to help prepare the president's national defense budget - another job the Department of Defense has outsourced.
War Profiteers article


....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Graphic from Project for the Old American Century

Politicking with national security

Emperor Embicile just signed an order increasing the powers of the CIA Director, and just in time for the RNC.

Administration officials and congressional aides said the White House timed the actions to occur before next week's Republican National Convention, where the president will argue that he is better able than Democratic nominee John Kerry to protect the country.

The president "wanted this off his plate before the convention," said a Republican aide on Capitol Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Seattle Times article

Because the important issue was that he can stand up at the convention and say, "I've just signed an important order to make America more securer."

And how nice that he's nominated a highly partisan sock puppet for Director of the CIA to whom he can give the increased power.

Oh No!! Not Porter Goss!!! Another Perle Stooge
Goss Backed '95 Bill to Slash Intelligence
MSNBC - Goss’s Wish List
Ray McGovern: Porter Goss as CIA Director?
Whiskey Bar: The Night Porter
CIA's new boss met former Pakistan ISI chief on 9/11 [who funded 9/11 hijacker Atta]
Porter Goss and 9/11

Who better to install in the office than someone who may be implicated in helping 9/11 to happen, and who, as Ray McGovern says, gave a new meaning to "oversight" by helping Tenet help the BushCons with false reports of WMD in Iraq?
Last month when Tenet was let go, administration officials indicated that a permanent replacement would not be named until after the election. They indicated they wanted to avoid washing the dirty linen of intelligence once again in public. Evidently, they had not yet checked with Karl Rove. -- Ray McGovern, July 2004

The move to enhance the CIA director's stature, however, falls far short of the Sept. 11 commission's recommendation for a national intelligence director with control over budget and personnel matters.

Some intelligence officials questioned how much impact Bush's order will have. In reality, the Pentagon controls roughly 90 percent of the intelligence budget, and many of the largest spy agencies, including the eavesdropping National Security Agency, report to the secretary of defense.

So, out of curiosity, if she reports to the SecDef, how come Ms. Condoliar is always by the Chimp's side wherever he goes? Could those rumors be correct?

Bush also directed the creation of a National Counter-Terrorism Center, ordered increased sharing of intelligence information and established a presidential board to safeguard civil liberties while combating terrorism.

The intelligence community long has had an interagency Counter-Terrorism Center and recently created a Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

In other words, he can say at the convention that he created more avenues and agencies for national security by signing a - redundant - order, taking credit for what the intelligence community has done. Who's to know?

A senior White House official, briefing reporters on the initiatives, portrayed them as a step toward the goal and the most Bush can do without legislation from Capitol Hill.

Of course. The one man struggle to make the world a safer place. But his hands are tied.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has offered a competing proposal to dismantle the CIA and reorganize its functions under a national intelligence director.

Roberts' Democratic counterpart, Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., yesterday issued a proposal that largely follows the Sept. 11 panel's recommendations.

Okay, Bush is doing whatever the hell he wants and can do under executive orders, and Roberts and Rockefeller are offering their own special proposals for increased national security. What the hell was the 9/11 Commission for?

I forget - is that the one I named the Worthless Commission or the Pointless Commission?

Friday, August 27, 2004

Pakistan has a new Prime Minister

All the 191 ruling party members voted for Aziz - an ally of President Pervez Musharraff - while opposition members boycotted the vote following [speaker Chaudhry Amir] Hussain's decision to not allow their own candidate, the jailed Javed Hashmi, to attend the session.

Hashmi is serving a 23-year jail sentence for treason after a court convicted him in April over a letter he distributed, saying it was from army officers criticising President Musharraf.

Opposition members carrying pictures of exiled former premiers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, and wearing black arm bands, chanted slogans of "Shame, Shame," to protest against the decision.

Chanting "Restore True Democracy", members of both Islamist and secular opposition parties trooped out of the hall when Hussain announced the start of voting.
  Aljazeera article

Musharraf is another of Washington's puppets, and we can't expect anything resembly true democracy in a country led by a U.S. puppet, but that might have been interesting to see - what would happen if your Prime Minister were in jail doing time?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Cashing in on the Olympics

If Bush can do it, so can the anti-Bush demonstrators.

Greek anti-war organizations and trade unions staged a big demonstration in downtown Athens Friday night to protest the planned visit to Greece by US Secretary of State Colin Powell who will attend the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games on Sunday.

Around 3,000 protesters gathered in front of the Athens University and then marched to the Parliament, declaring Powell "persona non grata".

The demonstrators also tried to march to the US embassy but failed in strong presence of anti-riot policemen and road blockade.

They held high slogans against the Bush administration, demanding "an end to the occupation of Iraq an end to any plan on the involvement of Greece in this issue."

The protesters also noted that the US president cannot use the Olympics in his election campaign in the United States.

Minor clashes occurred in front of the Parliament building whenthe demonstrators attempted to break through the police cordon. Riot police repelled the demonstrators, initially with their shields and then dispersed them with tear gas.

Some of the protesters later went towards Omonia Square, threw stones and rocks along the way but caused only minor damages.

All the roads leading to the center of Athens were blocked, some with a big bus across the road.

About 400 protesters also rallied in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Greek Communist Party (KKE) is scheduled to hold a similar demonstration early Saturday.
  Xinhuanet article

I guess the front of the US embassy is not a Free Speech Zone.

More on the Equatorial Guinea coup plot

The elite Scorpions squad plan to fly to London to interview the businessmen suspected of bankrolling the ill-fated operation.

The men who arrested former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher's son have a list of individuals believed to have invested up to £100,000 in return for instant rewards when oil-rich Equatorial Guinea's government was overthrown.

The top name is the "JH Archer" who paid £74,000 into a Guernsey bank account held by mercenary leader Simon Mann just four days before he and a planeload of men were arrested in Zimbabwe.

Lawyers for Lord Archer, whose Christian names are Jeffrey Howard, have stopped short of denying he paid the money but insist he had "no prior knowledge" of the plot. (Australia) article

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Informed voters

Should Americans be educated in order to have the right to vote?

He didn't know it was illegal.

Help us.

Or are we way past that?

In the realm of the bizarre

Where we now permanently reside.

On Miami store shelves. Candy for the kiddies - with a toy inside. Or maybe that's a toy for the kiddies with candy inside. Whatever. Odd toy.

But I'm sure they'll be a collectors item.

....hey, do what you will anyway.


Witnesses at a House subcommittee hearing into the Sept. 11 commission finding that secrecy undermines anti-terrorism efforts cited numerous examples of wrongful classification, The Associated Press reports. Examples include a dictator's cocktail preferences, a plot against Santa Claus and a study that showed that 40 percent of Army gas masks leaked. Other examples were given of classification made in error or to save face. "We have too much overclassification: it's an outrage," Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn) told Government Executive. "I will get classified briefings that are silly. They tell me nothing I don't already know, but then they prevent me from discussing what I already know."
Source (with links): Behind the Homefront

Gitmo tribunal update

Things are going swimmingly.

Bahlul asked to act as his own attorney and Brownback said no, because the rules required defense attorneys to be U.S. citizens and military officers licensed to practice law and with security clearance. Bahlul then requested a Yemeni lawyer and was again told the rules did not allow that.

But it took a long series of confused exchanges to clarify his preference. Several times Brownback signaled those speaking to slow down because the translators could not keep up. The translators seemed to have trouble explaining legal terms, and Brownback sometimes used military jargon.

At one point, a translator quoted Bahlul as saying he had studied some law in Yemen. Another translator interrupted and told the court; "My understanding was he knew some people who practiced law in Yemen."

Brownback told Bahlul that he needed a lawyer who understood U.S. law and culture. He tried to clarify that by asking: "Is your understanding of our culture sufficient to make things that appear strange appear not so strange?"
Reuters article


GOP convention entertainment

"I’m not in the mood to play with those who are trying to kill our children." - Donnie McClurkin, GOP Convention entertainer speaking about gays.

Donnie McClurkin, one of the just-announced entertainers to be performing at the GOP Convention in NYC, thinks homosexuality is a "curse," that it's caused by men raping small children, that being gay is a choice, that it can be cured, and most explosively, that gays are trying to "kill our children." Big tent? Try big tent of hate.
America Blog post

Yet another company pulls out of Iraq

Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Co (KGL) has said it will halt its operations in Iraq after a group holding seven of its drivers captive has said they will release them if the firm ends its work in the country.

"KGL welcomes the statement by the ... (group) on its willingness to release the seven drivers. And so the company has agreed to stop its operations in Iraq and would like to say it has no presence currently in Iraq," a company statement said on Friday.
Aljazeera article

Lying Sack Sanchez under fire

A US army inquiry into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal reportedly finds the former top commander in Iraq violated standard procedures and allowed human rights abuses to occur.

Classified parts of the report on abuses at the Iraqi prison say the Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez approved severe interrogation practices intended for captives in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, the New York Times reported on Friday.
Aljazeera article

I've posted on Sanchez getting away with this before. Now let's see what his penalty is.

The report, prepared by a US army general, also says that by issuing and revising interrogation rules three times in 30 days, Sanchez and his staff created such confusion that interrogators' actions violated the Geneva Conventions, which they understood poorly to begin with, the newspaper said.

...According to the classified portions of the generals' report, procedures that Sanchez approved violated standard Army doctrine and the Geneva Conventions, the newspaper said.

He's Rumsfiend buffer. Too bad Ricardo. You play the game, you sometimes lose.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

AssKKKroft is cleaning up cyberspace

The case illustrates "the increased use of the Internet to damage rival businesses and communicate threats for commercial advantage," said Ashcroft in a statement.
Internet Week article

I guess it's not a problem if you're using threats for political advantage.

Tom Toles


....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Bush miscalculated

President Bush said for the first time on Thursday he made a "miscalculation of what the conditions would be" after U.S. troops went to Iraq, The New York Times reported. The insurgency, he maintained, was the unintended result of a "swift victory" that led to Iraqi troops disappearing into the cities and mounting a rebellion.
Iraq Net article

Oh. We were too successful. That's what happened.

Personal liberty

I just saw a bumper sticker: At least I can still smoke in my car!

Now, I'm jumping to a conclusion here, but I have a feeling that is the sentiment of the typical get-government-off-my-back Republican. What seems to go along with that is other complaints like the Republican Missouri farmers have: don't tell me what I can and can't do on my own land. Don't tell me what I can't put in the ground or in my ravines or in the creeks that pass through my land. I own it.

Meanwhile, those same people seem to overwhelmingly be the ones who want the government to ban gay marriages and abortion.

I just don't quite get that. It's okay to do things like smoke in public and put toxic pollutants into the air or chemicals into the groundwater that go downstream to other people - things that affect many other people, but it's not okay to have a private relationship with a person of the same sex or to make decisions that affect your own body and nobody else's - things that don't affect public health.

Go figger.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Peace deal in Najaf

Not the first. But, one brokered by top Shia cleric, al-Sistani, who had been in London for medical treatment. Hopefully one that can be maintained.

Thousands of Iraqi Shia Muslims have flocked to the Shrine of Imam Ali in the city of Najaf in what appears to be a real end to three weeks of fighting.

Thousands of pilgrims converged on the shrine for Friday prayers, chanting and pounding on their chests.

The mosque loudspeaker broadcast a message from radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who ordered his followers to leave not just the shrine, but also the cities of Najaf and Kufa.
Voice of America article

When health insurance costs more than health care

This comes from daily kos, who titled his post: Bend Over and Smile

The survey, one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind, is expected to be completed in December. In the survey's final results last year, employers said they expected health-care costs to increase 13% going into 2004.
The sleeper issue in this campaign just got exposed. Is anyone listening? But let's not exaggerate. After all, for this to affect you

* you have to have a job
* you have to have health care

So maybe it's not a big deal for everyone.


New Blog

Try out Blanton's and Ashton's created and blogged by G.D. Frogsdong.

This blog is more or less about politics, an interest of mine that lay dormant for years, but has become more active this past year as I have made it a point of doing my bit to get George Bush out of office and also trying to change the Congress from a Republican cesspool to one more democratic in nature. I don't mean that it has to contain a majority of Democratic legislators, just not a majority of Republicans. I would be happy with a five seat swing of independents in each house. That way, no single ideology can control the Congress and maybe the stinkers would get back to doing the people's business instead of doing business, if you know what I mean.

And I think you do.

Oh, we do.

Frozen-embryo-American rights

They should have rights before gays and blacks and women, I would think. If you're coming from a fundamental righteous right viewpoint, which the new move-a-little-farther-to-the-right-please GOP seems to be doing.

Dear Rep Royce,

I want to thank you for giving Nightlight Christian Adoptions an Angels in Adoption Award for their "efforts in finding homes for frozen embryos." I'm sure that it'll generate a lot of publicity about the plight of frozen-embryo-Americans, and we need that right now as the stem cell debate heats up.

Read the rest of Jesus' General's post and see how he is doing his part in the effort to protect the rights of the yet unborn.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

This Morning in Missouri

This morning from Jim:

M, I heard a pretty good story on your home state this morning on Morning Edition on NPR..... the conclusion was that your state is for sure in the undecided stage of political direction regarding the coming election.... maybe you ought consider yelling louder, eh?

Well, Jim, Missouri is kind of an interesting place. Traditionally, the State has been Democrat territory, but the people are extremely conservative. We just voted overwhelmingly to ban gay marriage. We spawned the likes of John Ashcroft and Rush Limbaugh.

Still, I think it might be a close call this time. And the reason I say that is because Missourians don't like change and they don't like unemployment. Bush has changed the world drastically and too many people are losing their jobs. On the other hand - and this is very important - Missourians are willing to believe anybody who talks about being born again and praying, and are willing to overlook the hyprocisy, because they practice it themselves. And they are dead set against abortion, women's rights and gay rights. The one thing that may have tipped the scale toward Kerry is Cheney's recent pronouncement regarding gay freedom. But that was Cheney, and not Bush.

That's a terribly gross generalization about Missourians, and there are lots of us it doesn't describe, but I think it catches the majority.

If the GOP is successful in suppressing black votes, that could bode ill for the Democrats, as Kansas City and St. Louis have large black populations.

One thing is certain, yelling louder won't help. If you know anything about mules....

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Oil Slick Dick

It’s obvious that no mainstream news reporter has the gumption to seriously question Vice President Dick Cheney’s ethics when he was chief executive of Halliburton, the oil-field services company that is currently embroiled in a scandal with the Pentagon due to its questionable accounting practices related to its work in war-torn Iraq.

Pity those journalists because this is the stuff Pulitzer’s are made of. What’s even more remarkable is that there’s reams of documents in the public domain showing how Cheney cooked the books when he was CEO of Halliburton, which makes the vice president look like Ken Lay’s twin brother. The evidence is beginning to collect dust. To tell the story of how Cheney’s Halliburton used accounting sleight of hand to fool investors all you need to do is connect the dots, which is what this story will do.
  Bellaciao article what you will anyway.

The New Crusades

In a high-profile atrocity in May, a bunch of trigger-happy fly-boys shot up a village wedding in western Iraq, killing 45 guests including many children, and a Baghdad singer loved by millions, but these things happen almost daily in towns like Najaf, Samarra and Fallujah, and in other places too far from public gaze to warrant media attention.

...The explanations don’t play well on Arab Street where they’re received as confirmation of the persistent anti-Arab bias of the West - a view that is essentially correct.

Before you scoff, try this general knowledge test on a few well-read, politically literate friends: Ask them to name the first town in the world where civilians were indiscriminately bombed from the air.

More likely than not, they’ll cite Guernica, the Basque town reduced to rubble by aircraft of the German Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War. If they’re really up on their history, they’ll know it happened in 1937 and they’ll mention Picasso’s famous painting of the atrocity.

That answer is wrong, and symptomatic of a Euro-centric view of history that’s led western politicians to gravely underestimate the nationalist feeling and visceral distrust of the West that now has the US-led coalition bogged down in Iraq.
  Bellaciao article

Gulf War Children

American ones.

The Tiny Victims of Desert Storm

Also, see my page: Depleted Uranium

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Petition calling for the GOP to stop voter suppression

Recent accounts of voter suppression targeting African-American and other minorities are troubling. The role of Republican elected officials and campaign staff in many of these incidents is totally inappropriate.

Stopping eligible voters from voting is a basic affront to democracy. It undermines the basic principles of our electoral system and calls into question the legitimacy of our elections.

I urge you to publicly disavow all forms of voter suppression, including voter intimidation, misinformation, purges of voter roles that disenfranchise qualified voters, the threat to discount provisional ballots, and other actions that undermine the rights of qualified Americans to vote, and to publicly condemn voter suppression activity by your staff and volunteers.

Sign here.

Like it will make any difference.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Pompous B'OR

Borrowing a similar methodology used in Outfoxed to expose the network's bias, the film's co-producer Jim Gilliam gave the O'Reilly-Krugman "debate" a similar once-over. In this amusing video clip, Gilliam splices together highlights of the show, adding titles to clarify facts whenever O'Reilly takes liberties with them. It's an interesting editorial technique, and a revealing look at how much talking heads (especially the pompous B'OR) can get away with.
Bag News Notes

Frankly, I wouldn't call O'Reilly amusing. Only slightly less disgusting and indigestion-inducing than Rash Limpbowell and the Liar in Chief.

O'Reilly pretty much just tromps all over anything anybody else is trying to say with ranting repetitions of no substance. Like in this interview with the son of a man killed in the WTC.

Slam Bush contest

Starting in August, local Slam Bush battles will be held around the country. At these events, ground breaking slam poets and battle MCs will bang on Bush for local championships and cash prizes.

Winners from across the country will be selected to attend the National Slam Bush Championship in late September to perform in front of some of Hip Hop’s most respected names. The Slam Bush Champ will be awarded a Grand Prize of $5000.
  Learn more - Enter the contest.

Bag News Notes links to Wordsworth's entry. Pretty good.

Update: Zimbabwe - Equatorial Guinea coup connections

The Iron Lady is distressed. Her son has been arrested in connection with an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea.

Sir Mark Thatcher, aged 51, was arrested Wednesday and is currently under house arrest in Cape Town and facing the possibility of 15 years in jail over the accusations.

"[Lady Margaret] is very confident about the South African legal process and she is sure he will be cleared and named innocent at the end of it," [a spokesman] said.

He also denied that Mark was planning to flee South Africa, despite claims by the country's authorities that he was looking toleave and put his luxury home in Cape Town on the market and had sold some of his cars.

The spokesman said Mark had discussed selling his house, but only because he was planning to move to another Cape Town suburb.
  Xinhuanet article

Ah yes, the coup in Equatorial Guinea. Maybe Thatcher knows who the "sponsors" of that coup (led by a Brit - Simon Mann) are. You think?

So many coup attempts, so little oil.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Presidential Auction 2004

Ooops, almost forgot....

Pinochet can be tried now

A court stripped Gen. Augusto Pinochet of his immunity from prosecution Friday, paving the way for the trial of the former Chilean dictator on human rights charges.
CBS article

They say he suffers from dementia, so maybe that's why he's now being considered prosecutable: even if he implicates the United States, he can be discredited.


....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Poverty figures

With the President's economic and health care agenda leaving millions behind, the Associated Press reports, "the statistics today show the number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million."

Don't expect to hear much about this. The report is being released "during the August congressional recess when many reporters and Americans take their summer vacations" and will not get the press of being released at the normal time, which would be right after the RNC.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Source: Daily Mislead

Don't mess with Texas

On my several trips through the great big state of Texas, I see these signs everywhere. I've always thought they were a little pugnacious.

Comedy Central's Daily Show has a great video report on the slogan here.

And, they've perfectly captured that face that just begs to be slapped.

You know the one.

And catch this wonderful segment: Campaigning in the sticks

And one last one: the best Swift Boat commentary yet - or at least the funniest.

Presdential Auction 2004

Ann Taelnaes

Tom Toles

Ben Sargent

Tom Toles

Tom Toles

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Gitmo trials mockery underway

Usama bin Laden's driver is first.

Much of the morning was taken up with [defense attorney] Commander Swift's efforts to portray [presiding panelist] Colonel Brownback as incapable of serving impartially because of extensive contacts with senior Pentagon officials who helped set up the military tribunals. Colonel Brownback, who came out of retirement to serve on a tribunal, seemed annoyed at Commander Swift's request that he step aside and said he would forward it to the Pentagon. By the end of the day Commander Swift had challenged the suitability of four other panel members.

Commander Swift said that Colonel Brownback should be disqualified because he said at a July 15 meeting with some lawyers that he did not believe Guantánamo detainees had any rights to a speedy trial. Colonel Brownback sharply denied making the remark.

But hours later at the conclusion of the day's proceedings, Commander Swift stunned Colonel Brownback when he said he had just learned that an audiotape of the meeting existed and he would like to include it in his request that Colonel Brownback be disqualified...

...Military officials have sought to emphasize the rights granted to tribunal defendants, like the presumption of innocence, and seem baffled by complaints and news reports that emphasize the features of the proceedings that fall short of the standards of American justice.

The trials are being observed by officials from various organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Bar Association, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First and Amnesty International. Anthony Romero, the executive director of the civil rights union, told reporters the shortcomings in the system far canceled out the rights provided.
  NY Times article

Tell me what you think of the Tribunal panel's credentials:

Marine Col. Jack K. Sparks Jr., said he was a commanding officer of a Marine reserve unit and that one of his men was a firefighter killed in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. He said he went to the funeral.

Another member, Marine Col. R. Thomas Bright, said he was in charge of the logistics of moving detainees to Guantanamo and was involved in putting their names in order, but he said he had no knowledge of Hamdan.

An alternate, Army Lt. Col. Curt S. Cooper, said at some point he had referred to Guantanamo prisoners as "terrorists" but had no presumption of guilt about Hamdan or others.

"It was a very general statement at a very general time," he said, adding that he had undergone self-study about Islam and al-Qaida to "understand both sides."

Another member, Air Force Col. Christopher C. Bogdan, was involved in arming drone planes during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Air Force Lt. Col. Timothy K. Toomey said he was an intelligence officer in Afghanistan and acknowledged he might have seen information on Hamdan.

The only member of the commission with formal legal training is the presiding officer, Army Col. Peter E. Brownback, a former military judge who came out of retirement when he volunteered. Asked by Swift whether he thought the proceedings were legal, Brownback chose not to answer.
  Findlaw article

(Se Brownback's remarks above.)

Oooops, maybe those aren't the first trials.

Tell me what you think of the proceedings:

While the military tribunals for four detainees charged with war crimes are getting far more attention, the U.S. is quietly disposing of cases at a much faster rate through its Combatant Status Review Tribunal. Since it began on July 30, the tribunals have held hearings for 31 detainees, according to The New York Times.
  Behind the Homefront article

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba, Aug. 22 - Starting Tuesday, the United States military will begin war crimes trials at a secure courtroom here under the eyes of a large international contingent of news organizations and human rights observers. But for the last month, the military has been conducting other tribunals under far more obscure circumstances here to review whether the 585 detainees on this Navy base have been properly deemed unlawful enemy combatants.

Officials said on Monday that these special tribunals had so far completed the process for 14 inmates and that all had been determined to be enemy combatants despite objections and denials from most of them. The proceedings, which have been open to a small number of reporters, can take nearly two hours for each prisoner, said the officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified.

...Neil R. Sonnett, a Miami lawyer who heads a special American Bar Association panel to monitor the military proceedings at Guantánamo, said on Monday that the combatant review tribunals did not come close to meeting the court's standard.

... The hearing is conducted by three officers and the detainee is given a "personal representative" who is neither a lawyer nor an advocate. The representative, a military officer, is supposed to pass along to the panel any evidence the detainee wishes to offer as well as any incriminating evidence the detainee has told him.

The detainee may also be denied information about how, where and from whom the information about the accusations supporting the enemy combatant charge originated if officials deem it classified.
  NY Times article

American justice.

More on Guantanamo Bay's "detainees" can be found on my War page here.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Rules for being a Republican

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Lie is what they know how to do

And you know, you should do what you do best.

You may not have heard yet, but yesterday, Kerry's team applied a late-night smackdown on chief Swift Boat Liar John O'Neill.

O'Neill has repeatedly challenged Kerry's statements regarding his crossing of the Cambodian border.

O'Neill said Kerry would have been "court-martialed" for such an act. Further, that he did the same patrol two months after Kerry and it only ran "50 miles from Cambodia. There isn't any watery border."

But yesterday, the Kerry campaign alerted both Fox (extra chutzpah points) and CNN to a taped conversation between O'Neill and Richard Nixon where O'Neill explicitly says the opposite:

O'NEILL: I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border on the water.

NIXON: In a swift boat?

O'NEILL: Yes, sir.

Can they get any more discredited?
  Liberal Oasis post

Maybe not. But their "base" doesn't care.

....and hey, do what you will anyway.

Hey Dick, please go back to your undisclosed location

Bunker down somewhere that you won't disturb the wildlife.

E.A. Torriero writes in the Chicago Tribune from Jackson Hole, Wyo., that the locals who live near Cheney's Snake River getaway are getting increasingly angry about all the noisy flyovers.

"Sometimes residents are awakened in the middle of the night by the drone of an AWACS plane, they say, and sometimes helicopters drown out residents' voices when the choppers fly above. . . .

"Still, nothing quite prepared people for the brazen invasion earlier this month atop the normally bucolic Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. In full view of rafters, tourists and residents, two Black Hawk helicopters skimmed the river.

"Angry river users shook their fists. Wildlife tumbled over from the choppers' downdraft, witnesses said. Plants were rippling in the high winds, they said.

"'They were at tree-top levels,' said Martin Hagen, a captain who navigates the river for a rafting company. 'Here you go out for a quiet day along the river and suddenly comes this great noise. It was a big, big disturbance.'

"Another boat captain, Reed Finley, had just dropped passengers ashore when the choppers buzzed three times.

"'They sent an osprey into a tailspin, flipping it over,' he said. 'It was obnoxious.'"

Will Roberts writes in the Jackson Hole News & Guide: "Derek Horejs, an employee with Barker-Ewing Whitewater, said he saw the Blackhawks while at Dead Man's Bar on the Snake. He said the helicopters were close enough that he could see the face of one of the passengers in the cargo space.

"'He was smiling, waving to us,' Horejs said. 'We were obviously upset and weren't waving back.'"

Conspiracy theorists take note: Roberts writes that "According to a spokeswoman with Fort Carson in Colorado where the helicopters are based, the pilots were undergoing a medical evacuation training procedure."

Here's a story by Bill Curran of the Jackson Hole paper last year about the time when Cheney's Blackhawks landed on the Puzzleface Ranch in an area protected by a conservation easement, home to nesting osprey and trumpeter swans.

Seems there was also a time that Secret Service agents on horseback clomped through a closed bald eagle nesting area in Grand Teton while Cheney fished the Snake.
  WaPO article

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Presidential Auction 2004

Another one bites the dust. Third person to resign from the Bush campaign under scandal. Nobody cares, though, huh?

One of President Bush's top lawyers resigned from his campaign Wednesday, a day after disclosing that he had given legal advice to a veterans group airing TV ads against Democrat John Kerry. The guidance included checking ad scripts, the group said.

Benjamin Ginsberg, who also represented Bush in the 2000 Florida recount that made the Republican president, told Bush in a letter that he felt his legal work for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth had become a distraction for the re-election campaign.
ABC News article

Oh, but Bush says his campaign didn't have anything to do with those ads! Who are you going to believe?

Anyway, King Bush himself is above all that. He didn't have anything to do with it.

"I have decided to resign as national counsel to your campaign to ensure that the giving of legal advice to decorated military veterans, which was entirely within the boundaries of the law, doesn't distract from the real issues upon which you and the country should be focusing," Ginsberg wrote.


In his letter to Bush, Ginsberg accused the media of a "stunning double standard" regarding the activities of groups supporting and opposing Kerry.

Law firms on the Democratic side are also representing both the campaign or party and outside groups running ads in the presidential race. Washington attorney Joe Sandler represents the Democratic National Committee and a group airing anti-Bush ads,

So who forced you to resign, asshat?

The Bush campaign didn't ask him to. He volunteered. And the Kerry campaign isn't advising people who are making ads with false information in them, either. Bit of a difference there.

In Texas, meanwhile, former Democratic Sen. Max Cleland was rebuffed when he tried to deliver a letter protesting the attack ad at Bush's ranch.

The former Georgia senator, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, was carrying a letter from several Senate Democrats who wrote Bush that "you owe a special duty" to condemn the attacks on Kerry's military service.

Cleland said he wanted to hand the letter "to a responsible officer here on the gate," but neither a Secret Service officer nor a state trooper would take it. A Texas state official and Vietnam veteran, Jerry Patterson, said he would accept the letter and offered Cleland one of his own supporting Bush. Cleland left and said he would mail the letter.


....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Gay marriage

Precisely why gay couples need legal protections. But you would have thought they were in place in a state where gay marriage is recognized.

Cripes, I thought a verbal agreement was binding in business relationships; I guess personal ones are different. Still.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


The extent of my Olympics viewing comes from this link sent by LaBelle:
Mr. Otto in the Olympics

Cheney on gay marriage

Asked his position on the subject at a town hall meeting in Davenport, Iowa, Cheney replied: "Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue that our family is very familiar with. ... With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be able to free -- ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to."

Cheney went on to repeat the position he first outlined in the 2000 campaign -- that same-sex marriage should be left to the states to decide. He noted, however, that Bush has endorsed a constitutional amendment preventing the states from recognizing such marriages.

"At this point ... my own preference is as I've stated," Cheney said. "But the president makes basic policy for the administration. And he's made it. "
SF Gate article

Just one more reason for the fundamental "base" to abandon Oil Slick Dick.

But see, it is different when it's your family. Everything is. So after enough people in the middle class lose their jobs and their holdings when the economy finally goes belly up, we should see some changes in policy. Unless the Bushcons have fully instated a dictatorship by that time.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.