Saturday, October 01, 2005

Back on Monday

Taking the weekend off to make pots, go to kid's soccer & football games, and watch the Red Sox play themselves into the playoffs. One Big Papi is worth many Slappy McBluelips.

Check out the photo gallery of the new panda cub at the National Zoo:

Panda Cub Growing Stronger

Friday, September 30, 2005

Karen Hughes' Simple Mind

Sidney Blumenthal: 'Bin Laden's little helper'

Hughes appeared as one of the pilgrims satirised by Mark Twain in his 1869 book Innocents Abroad, on his trip on the Grand Holy Land Pleasure Excursion. "None of us had ever been anywhere before; we all hailed from the interior; travel was a wild novelty... We always took care to make it understood that we were Americans - Americans!"

Hughes's simple, sincere and unadorned language reveals the administration's inner mind. Her ideas on terrorism and its solution are straightforward. "Terrorists," she said, "their policies force young people, other people's daughters and sons, to strap on bombs and blow themselves up." That is: somehow, magically, these evil-doers coerce the young to commit suicide. If only they would understand us, the tensions would dissolve.

"Many people around the world do not understand the important role that faith plays in Americans' lives," she said. When an Egyptian opposition leader inquired why Mr Bush mentions God in his speeches, Hughes asked him whether he was aware that "previous American presidents have also cited God, and that our constitution cites 'one nation under God'."

The Pledge of Allegiance since 1954 has contained "under God", and that is the source of "one nation under God".

The Constitution does not contain the word God.

But when you're a fundie idealogue, why let the facts get in the way of a good story? Pledge of Allegiance recited by school children, Constitution that has governed this country for its entire existence, uh, what's the difference?

And then there's that stupid book Hughes is holding during her Turkish photo op. On the cover, 4 American Presidents: Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, and .... George W. Photo Op. Pathetic.

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
H. L. Mencken

Maybe This Is Why Judith, Patron Saint of Corporate Journalists, Wanted to Limit Her Testimony

Phone Call With Source and Deal Led Reporter to Testify

Mr. Abrams said that she provided the grand jury with an edited version of her notes.

"The notes were redacted to omit everything but the notes taken concerning discussions with Libby about Plame
," Mr. Abrams said.

Maybe Judy went to jail to protect something else from discovery. Like whatever else she discussed with Scooter that day. Iraq? Chalabi? Their mutual good friend John Bolton? I'd love to see those notes....

Apocalyptic Announcement

Check out this LA Times front page!

Ask Me How I Missed This

From firedoglake, from The Talent Show

I Wish These Pictures Were Out BEFORE He Got Confirmed

Did John Roberts help prevent the counting of legitimate votes in Florida in 2000? Danny Schector (The News Dissector, I remember listening to him when he was on WBCN radio here in Boston decades ago) has pictures from the Florida recount debacle which appear to be Roberts.

What Did Roberts Do in Florida?

Definitely the same hairdo, but the guy in the pictures looks a little thinner. Come to think of it, I look a little thinner in 5 year old pictures, too.

At least my senators voted no. And Jack Reed of Rhode Island, too, a smart guy and a lawyer, he voted no.

Another payback appointment. Cronys-R-Us.

More Friday Fun

A friend emailed me this joke, which was making the rounds at her daughter's work:

Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."

"OH NO!" the president exclaims. "That's terrible!"

His staff, stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watch as the
president sits, head in hands.

Finally, the president looks up and asks, "Just how many is a

Party of Lincoln?

HUD chief foresees a 'whiter' Big Easy

A Bush Cabinet officer predicted this week that New Orleans likely will never again be a majority black city, and several black officials are outraged.

Alphonso R. Jackson, secretary of housing and urban development, during a visit with hurricane victims in Houston, said New Orleans would not reach its pre-Katrina population of "500,000 people for a long time," and "it's not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again."

Bill Bennett: "[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down"

This story contains the audio clip.

Informed Speculation About Judy Miller

Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake: It's Miller Time!

Arianna Huffington: Miller Walks: The Plot Thickens

emptywheel at The Next Hurrah: I may not know why a caged bird sings--but I've got my guesses

A Little Friday Fun

A bit o' amination:

Bush in Freefall

I saw this on In the Dark

The Incompetence, the Corruption, the Cronyism: Sept. 30, 2005 edition

The Incompetence:

Those little blue tarps being tacked down over roofs all over the Gulf Coast? The government is paying OVER $2,000 per roof, even though THE GOVERNMENT SUPPLIES THE BLUE TARP. That's right, $2,000 for a few hours of nail gunning. And they talk about lawyer's fees!

U.S. paying a premium to cover storm-damaged roofs

Knight Ridder has found that a lack of oversight, generous contracting deals and poor planning mean that government agencies are shelling out as much as 10 times what the temporary fix would normally cost.

The government is paying contractors an average of $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof - even though it's also giving them endless supplies of blue sheeting for free.


Jim Pogue, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the agency strictly followed government contracting requirements and did all it could to get the best deal possible for the roofing work, given the magnitude of the task and the need to protect vulnerable homes as quickly as possible.

Pogue also said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which by statute is in charge of the program, asked the Corps to manage the program because FEMA's resources were spread thin....

All courtesy of FEMA, the agency destroyed by George W. Bush.

yahoo news: FEMA's Brown Was Warned Early of Shortages

WASHINGTON - Former FEMA director Michael Brown was warned weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit that his agency's backlogged computer systems could delay supplies and put personnel at risk during an emergency, according to an audit released Wednesday.

An internal review of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's information-sharing system shows it was overwhelmed during the 2004 hurricane season. The audit was released a day after Brown vehemently defended FEMA for the government's dismal response to Katrina, instead blaming state and local officials for poor planning and chaos during the Aug. 29 storm and subsequent flooding.

The review by Homeland Security Department acting Inspector General Richard L. Skinner examined FEMA's response to four major hurricanes and a tropical storm that hit Florida and the Gulf Coast in August and September 2004. It noted FEMA's mission during disasters as rapid response and coordinating efforts among federal, state and local authorities.

"However, FEMA's systems do not support effective or efficient coordination of deployment operations because there is no sharing of information," the audit found. "Consequently, this created operational inefficiencies and hindered the delivery of essential disaster response and recovery services," it said.

The Corruption:

Roy Blunt is the shiny new version of Tom Delay, without the whiff of bug spray. It's cigarette smoke that wreaths Blunt:

David Sirota: Blunt's Record Shows He's As Corrupt As DeLay

BLUNT DOES FAVORS FOR SON-TURNED-TOBACCO-LOBBYIST: "Only hours after Rep. Roy Blunt was named to the House's third-highest leadership job" he tried "to quietly insert a provision benefiting Philip Morris USA into the 475-page bill creating a Department of Homeland Security...The new majority whip, who has close personal and political ties to the company... Blunt has received large campaign donations from Philip Morris, his son works for the company in Missouri and the House member has a close personal relationship with a Washington lobbyist for the firm." Blunt later married Philip Morris's lobbyist. – Washington Post, 6/11/03

BLUNT DOES FAVORS FOR SON-TURNED-LOBBYIST, PART II: "In April, for instance, Blunt managed to have a provision inserted into a Senate bill, without debate, on behalf of United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. The two companies were seeking to block the expansion of a foreign rival's U.S. operations. Blunt's son Andrew also represents UPS in Missouri, as the Wall Street Journal first reported, and the two companies have contributed a total of $120,000 to Blunt since 2001, according to Federal Election Commission data." – Washington Post, 6/11/03

BLUNT SECURES ETHICS WAIVER AFTER MARRYING TOBACCO LOBBYIST: "Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) had a happier year, marrying a prominent lobbyist and obtaining the House ethics committee's permission not to report their wedding gifts." – Washington Post, 6/17/04....

The Cronyism:

Our vaunted new U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs? Karen Hughes had never been to the Middle East before she was appointed. Of course, she is the ultimate President Photo Op crony, having held his hand and wiped his butt for decades.

mahablog: idiots abroad

...[N]o one seems to have noticed how spectacularly unqualified Hughes is for this mission. She has no background in diplomacy and no expertise in the Middle East. In fact, she had never been to the Middle East before this week.

yahoo: Sales pitch falls flat

10 Really Cool Science Pictures

From the Beeb:

Visions of Science

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Principles, Shminciples, She Wants to Go Home

Judith Miller Out of Jail

According to the Times, Libby "had made clear that he genuinely wanted her to testify." But the Times account, published tonight, revealed that Libby and his lawyers asserted that they had given his waiver a year ago--and then again ten days--but Miller did not accept it, saying she feared it was coerced.

Joseph Tate, an attorney for Libby, said to the Washington Post today, "We told her lawyers it was not coerced. We are surprised to learn we had anything to do with her incarceration."

So let me get this straight. They gave her the A-OK to testify a year ago, and she's been in jail bleating about journalistic principles? Diva.

And it was Scooter Libby, not Traitor Karl.

Can't wait to hear her grand jury testimony.

Let's hope Traitor Karl is the ham sandwich Prosecutor Fitzgerald is gunning for.

Judy Miller's unwavering devotion to journalistic principles? What a joke. She'll be singing like a bird tomorrow. Journalism is dead. All hail the corporate media.

Fishback in the Brig

The 82nd Airborne Captain who wrote the letter to John McCain about torture, published yesterday in the Washington Post? He's been sequestered at Fort Bragg under orders restricting his contacts. Don't ask, and certainly, don't tell the truth.

Andrew Sullivan has the whole story.

Haters Buying Signatures on Anti-Gay Marriage Petition

How low can they go?

Government BUY the People

On Sunday the 25th, I went to the Wild Oats Supermarket in Saugus, MA, where I was greeted by a petition circulator. I was presented with an Initiative Petition to allow alcohol to be sold in supermarkets. The young man, Mr. Tiontee Johnson, explained how I needed to make my signature legible and added when I am done signing that he has another Petition about Traditional Marriage that he would like me to sign too. "You know", he said, "if you believe in 'Adam and Eve.'" He then added, "this signing on either of these just means you want it on the ballot, it doesn't really mean anything today."

Well, I signed the Petition to allow alcohol to be sold and asked Mr. Johnson if my name would be made public and was told emphatically, "No, these signatures go directly to the Secretary of State." Interesting... I was then asked if I wanted to sign "the traditional marriage petition." When I said no, He told me that he was being paid $1 a signature and that it would really help him if I could sign!

I asked Mr. Johnson for a card (see photo [on original post, click link above]) and he gave me his employer's business card. In further questioning, I found out that Mr. Johnson is not even a Massachusetts resident but one of many that were bussed in from California and put up in hotels all over the Baystate and paid to collect signatures. By the way, the area code on the business card is from Michigan.

There are TWO very disturbing things going on here.

(1) The "people's petition" process in Massachusetts is being undermined by "buck a signature" out-of-state petition circulators all the while petition spokespersons like Kris Mineau continue to spout rhetoric about the process being an expression of "the people's" voice. So cut the bull Kris and tell the good people of Massachusetts who is really behind this Ballot Initiative. I wonder, is this where all the "faith based initiative" money is going?

(2) Signature gatherers clearly feel entitled to say whatever they want to get people to sign even if it is incorrect. So we not only have to worry about The Catholic Church telling people that same-sex marriage is ending civilization but we now have to worry about a "puppy-dog eyed" signature gatherer claiming that the signer is "helping him out financially" and that signing "doesn't really mean anything."

There is too much at stake for this to be allowed to happen. Citizens have a responsibility not to be duped into signing and to hold the petition sponsors accountable for any fraud or deception that might be committed on their behalf by these out-of-state petition pushers.

If you have an experience like mine, report it immediately to Peter Sacks of the Attorney General's Office at (617) 727-2200.

Tom Lang, Director

I have to be in Boston tomorrow, so I'm going to go to a few grocery stores tomorrow & see if I can get solicited, so I can call the AG & report 'em. Sleazy bastards.

Books That Shiver Conservative Timbers

Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries

I've read The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf, and that very dangerous book, The Feminine Mystique.

Personally, I think the most dangerous book in the world is the Bible. Think of all the murders and atrocities committed in its name.

How was this list created? Have a look see at just one of the judges:

The Judges
These 15 scholars and public policy leaders served as judges in selecting the Ten Most Harmful Books....

Phyllis Schlafly
Eagle Forum

I'm a collector, and love collecting weird books. I actually own one of Schlafly's 1960s masterpieces:

Strike from Space, 1965. The major exposé of America's loss of strategic superiority under the regime of Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. Hardback and paperback, both out of print.

Strike from Space is somewhere in a box in my basement, where it should be.

Too Cute

Incredibly cute panda pic at majikthise.

RIP Constance Baker Motley, American Hero

Constance Baker Motley, Civil Rights Trailblazer, Dies at 84

Constance Baker Motley, a civil rights lawyer who fought nearly every important civil rights case for two decades and then became the first black woman to serve as a federal judge, died yesterday at NYU Downtown Hospital in Manhattan. She was 84.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said Isolde Motley, her daughter-in-law.

Judge Motley was the first black woman to serve in the New York State Senate, as well as the first woman to be Manhattan borough president, a position that guaranteed her a voice in running the entire city under an earlier system of local government called the Board of Estimate.

Judge Motley was at the center of the firestorm that raged through the South in the two decades after World War II, as blacks and their white allies pressed to end the segregation that had gripped the region since Reconstruction. She visited the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in jail, sang freedom songs in churches that had been bombed, and spent a night under armed guard with Medgar Evers, the civil rights leader who was later murdered.

But her métier was in the quieter, painstaking preparation and presentation of lawsuits that paved the way to fuller societal participation by blacks. She dressed elegantly, spoke in a low, lilting voice and, in case after case, earned a reputation as the chief courtroom tactician of the civil rights movement.

Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama and other staunch segregationists yielded, kicking and screaming, to the verdicts of courts ruling against racial segregation. These huge victories were led by the N.A.A.C.P.'s Legal Defense and Education Fund, led by Thurgood Marshall, for which Judge Motley, Jack Greenberg, Robert Carter and a handful of other underpaid, overworked lawyers labored.

In particular, she directed the legal campaign that resulted in the admission of James H. Meredith to the University of Mississippi in 1962. She argued 10 cases before the United States Supreme Court and won nine of them.

Now this was a woman who should have been on the Supreme Court. She never worked for the powers that be. She worked for justice. No one ever wondered if she had a heart. She would not have denied the positions she took for her clients were her own. She believed in everything she ever did or said. The contrasts to the reptilian John Roberts loom large for me tonight.

When I was in law school, a friend clerked for Senator Ted Kennedy (Uncle Ted, as my friend called him). We had many discussions as to who the Democrats should nominate if Thurgood Marshall or William Brennan resigned or died. (We were sure we'd win the 1988 election -- wrong.) I mentioned Constance Baker Motley, and when my friend looked her up he was blown away by the breadth of her accomplishments -- and that somehow, he'd never heard of her. But by then (20 years ago) she was almost too old to be nominated -- Presidents love to appoint 50 year olds who can dominate the court for decades.

We've lost another of the great ones.

Federal Judge Constance Baker Motley Dies

(Yes, I keep bumping this post to the top. She deserves the attention far more than moral cretin Tom Delay.)

The Incompetence, The Corruption, The Cronyism: Sept. 29, 2005 edition

Delay, Delay, Delay! Today we present the All-Tom-Delay Incompetence, Corruption and Cronyism post.

The Incompetence:

Now, the Republicans have known this indictment was coming forever. Yet, they couldn't even manage to pick Delay's successor without "outing" divisions within the party.

Republicans dump gay leader, pick House Whip Blunt

After earlier reporting that Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) was expected to succeed House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) as majority leader, the decision has been reversed. House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) will instead take up DeLay's post.

Sources tell RAW STORY that Dreier -- who was a shoo-in for the position -- was nixed for various reasons, in part because his sexuality would raise ire within the party ranks.

The Corruption:

The short version: Delay's political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, illegally laundered corporate money through the Republican National Committee back to candidates in Texas -- who aren't supposed to take corporate money.

Delay Indictment (HTML file)

DeLay Indicted in Campaign Finance Probe

Delay Is Indicted in Texas Case and Forfeits G.O.P. House Post

How a Tested Campaign Tool Led to Conspiracy Charges

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 - The indictment of Representative Tom DeLay on Wednesday put the Republican National Committee in an uncomfortable spotlight, saying a top political aide to President Bush was the funnel through which $190,000 in improper donations passed in 2002.

According to the indictment, Terry Nelson, the political director in the 2004 Bush re-election campaign, was the individual who received the $190,000 check, which was made out to a division of the R.N.C. That check is alleged to have included money illegally accepted from corporations.

Mr. Nelson, the indictment says, simultaneously received a list of Republican candidates for the Texas State Legislature for whom the money was intended. Under Texas law, it is illegal for state candidates to use corporate contributions.

The Cronyism:

Delay's successor as Majority Leader, Roy Blunt of Missouri, has his own corrupt issues. (Ok, brief digression, don't you just love that he got his start in politics as John Ashcroft's chauffeur?) Blunt was just named one of the thirteen most corrupt members of Congress. He's also pimped for Big Tobacco, where his family dines at the corrupt corporate trough:

Kansas City Star (registration required; use
Acting Majority Leader Blunt has learned much from DeLay

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - Roy Blunt jump-started his political career at age 22 when John Ashcroft made him his chauffeur for his unsuccessful 1972 campaign for Congress.

Blunt has been on the move ever since.

The Missouri Republican was elected the state's youngest secretary of state in 1984. In 1999, then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas made Blunt chief deputy whip, after just a single term in the House. When DeLay rose to leader in 2002, Blunt became majority whip....

Like DeLay, Blunt has been dogged by ethics issues.

Blunt was criticized in 2003 for slipping into Homeland Security legislation a provision that would have cracked down on illegal and Internet-based cigarette sales. He later defended the move as cutting off a source of terrorist funding.

It also would have been a huge boon to Altria, parent of cigarette maker Philip Morris and a company with close ties to Blunt.

Blunt's current wife was a lobbyist for Altria on tobacco issues at the time. One of his sons was a lobbyist for the company in Missouri. And various Blunt campaign committees had received about $150,000 from Philip Morris and affiliated companies in the two years preceding the legislation.

Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said at the time that it was "unusually brazen. ... It shows really poor judgment to put yourself in a position where you are seen as wielding that power for a friend."

Just Say No to Torture

A letter by Capt. Ian Fishback of the 82nd Airborne, to Sen. John McCain, published in yesterday's WaPo:

A Matter of Honor

While I served in the Global War on Terror, the actions and statements of my leadership led me to believe that United States policy did not require application of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan or Iraq....

....Do we sacrifice our ideals in order to preserve security? Terrorism inspires fear and suppresses ideals like freedom and individual rights. Overcoming the fear posed by terrorist threats is a tremendous test of our courage. Will we confront danger and adversity in order to preserve our ideals, or will our courage and commitment to individual rights wither at the prospect of sacrifice? My response is simple. If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession. I would rather die fighting than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is "America."

Once again, I strongly urge you to do justice to your men and women in uniform. Give them clear standards of conduct that reflect the ideals they risk their lives for.

Another Forgotten Story

While reading the coverage of the death of civil rights lawyer Constance Baker Motley, I came upon this dailykos diary about James Benton Parsons, the first black federal judge:

I clerked for a trailblazer

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana

Guess Who Said This?

Three guesses, and the first two don't count.

"We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job."


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Photo Caption of the Day

The Remains of His Term

From Easy With Eyes Closed

A Top Heavy Organization

Our favorite one or two-legged terrorist, al Zarqawi, apparently has a LOT of "top lieutenants". I saw this blogenlust post on Shakespeare's Sister:

Kiss of Death

[A]n almost comprehensive list (I'm sure I missed a few) of Zarqawi's "top lieutenants" we've captured, killed, or acknowledged over the last two and a half years. I count 33.

When I Die, Please Make Me Into Mulch

Sweden's new funeral rite - bodies freeze-dried, powdered and made into tree mulch

A town in Sweden plans to become the first place in the world where corpses will be disposed of by freeze-drying, as an environmentally friendly alternative to cremation or burial. Jonkoping, in southern Sweden, is to turn its crematorium into a so-called promatorium next year.

Swedes will then have the chance to bury their dead according to the pioneering method, which involves freezing the body, dipping it in liquid nitrogen and gently vibrating it to shatter it into powder. This is put into a small box made of potato or corn starch and placed in a shallow grave, where it will disintegrate within six to 12 months.

I'm serious. This sounds much better than a pine box. I'd like to be buried under a quaking aspen, the most widely distributed tree in North America.

Or maybe a weeping willow. I like anthropomorphic trees.

I've Read 25, How 'Bout You?

The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000

Safety Outsourced is Safety Eliminated

Harold Meyerson in the WaPo:

Outsourcing Our Safety

Amid the horrific images that flashed across our TV screens during the past month, there was one last week that stood out because it was so unexpectedly reassuring: that of a supremely competent pilot steering a JetBlue airliner with jammed front wheels to a safe landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

Since last week's landing, though, we've learned a couple of other things that aren't quite so comforting -- for instance, that this was at least the seventh time that the front wheels on an Airbus A-320 have gotten locked in the wrong position.

More surprising still was the news about JetBlue's long-term maintenance of its aircraft. When the planes are inspected for damage and then reassembled, the work takes place either in Canada or El Salvador....

[L]icensed, in-house mechanics are increasingly the exception at U.S. airlines. About half of the long-term maintenance on the planes of U.S. carriers is outsourced, and much of that work takes place overseas, where FAA inspections are a sometime thing. Indeed, the point of this story isn't that JetBlue's decisions are in any way exceptional. To the contrary, by going abroad for work that would previously have been performed at home (and except for maintenance, JetBlue doesn't fly outside the United States), and by prioritizing costs over more closely inspected maintenance, the airline is an exemplar of 21st-century capitalism.

God forgive me, I find myself hoping to see Tom Friedman and his flat world economy theory (I prefer to call it the "global pancake") sitting on a JetBlue plane making a locked-wheel landing on national TV and on the seatback TV in front of him. Then let him tell me how great the outsourcing of American jobs is.

Drownie Sinks

I watched some of Mike Brown's testimony before Congress yesterday. He found blame all around. All except for Mike Brown. He was blameless, and shameless.

Downgrades for Brown's Topical Storm

....Jefferson (D - La.) complained about the lack of ice in New Orleans and Brown replied: "I think it's wrong for the federal government to be in the ice business, providing ice so I can keep my beer and Diet Coke cool."

Taylor, incredulous, asked, "How about the need to keep bodies from rotting in the sun?"

The Incompetence, the Corruption, the Cronyism: Sept. 28, 2005 edition

The Incompetence:

George W. Bush is today's winner. No fuel conservation when you're trying to save a presidency:

Attytood exclusive: Bush wastes roughly $170,000 in jet fuel as he urges nation to conserve

Just one day after President Bush urged Americans to cut back on needless travel and promised that the federal government would do the same, he boarded Air Force One for a trip to inspect hurricane damage that will burn up roughly 11,437 gallons of jet fuel, worth about $24,590 at today's record high fuel prices.

In fact, an investigation by Attytood -- using the best available numbers for Bush's travel since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, for the performance of Air Force One and for jet fuel prices -- estimates that Bush has spent $169,314 on jet fuel alone....

Many of the trips seem targeted towards conveying television images of Bush as an involved leader. In fact, Bush's flight schedule last weekend was rearranged because, according to aides, Hurricane Rita had shifted course and the weather would be sunny in San Antonio. At several of the meetings that Bush has attended other officials have taken part by teleconferencing rather than by attending in person.....

The cost to taxpayers for all of Bush's storm related travel has been much higher. Some studies have placed the total cost of operating Air Force One at at least $56,800 an hour or more, meaning that Bush's hurricane related travel has cost taxpayers somewhere in the range of $2 million or more -- just for the air travel!

A close second? Perennial contender FEMA:

Victims living 'like cavemen' after Rita
Residents still waiting for electricity, gasoline, water

Port Arthur Mayor Oscar Ortiz, whose own home was destroyed by fire after the hurricane, said "we've had 101 promises" for aid, "but it's all bureaucracy." He and other officials gathered at a hotel-turned-command center, where a dirty American flag found among hurricane debris was hung on the wall.

John Owens, emergency management coordinator and deputy police chief in the town of 57,000, said pleas for state and federal relief were met with requests for paperwork.

"We have been living like cavemen, sleeping in cars, doing bodily functions outside," he said.

Temperatures climbed into the upper 90s, and officials worried that swarms of mosquitoes might spread disease.

The Corruption:

If you give enough money to the GOP, you can take the "public" out of "public broadcasting" and substitute "GOP".

Gingrich-izing Public Broadcasting

On September 26, the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting elected its new chairperson and vice-chairperson, and the eight-member board--which contains only two Democrats--selected two conservative Republican funders for these posts. Cheryl Halpern will succeed the embattled liberal-hunter Kenneth Tomlinson as chair. Gay Hart Gaines will be vice-chair. The board chose Gaines over an independent.

As press accounts have noted, Gaines, who was first appointed by George W. Bush to the CPB board in 2003, is an interior decorator by training. But she and her husband have contributed at least half a million dollars to GOP causes since 1998. Notably, Gaines was a charter member and chairman of GOPAC, a political action committee headed in the 1980s and 1990s by Newt Gingrich. During that period, GOPAC attracted much attention for dodgy practices (which drew a Federal Elections Commission investigation) and for its harsh partisan practices. So now it's an appropriate time to revisit one of GOPAC's most notorious actions....

This is to say that Gay Hart Gaines, the number two on the CPB's board as of this week, was a leading official of an outfit that advised Republican candidates to brand Democrats "traitors." She now is in a position to search for bias in public radio and public television programming.

The Cronyism:

This one clerked for Clarence Thomas and the world opened up for her. Her qualifications? Wide-eyed wingnuttism. (Tip o' the cap to BTC News)

Kristen Silverberg

Kristen Silverberg has seen it all.

She was one of the wide-eyed conservatives who trekked to Austin in 2000 to get the George W. Bush for President train rolling. The former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was in the White House policy shop in the pre-9/11 days helping to dream up a health care plan, big tax cuts and "compassionate conservative" policies.

In 2003, she shipped out to Baghdad to advise L. Paul Bremer on the creation of an elected Iraqi government. Then it was back to the White House to help develop Bush's second-term agenda. She went to work for Andrew H. Card Jr. and Karl Rove, the president's two most powerful aides, on domestic, economic and foreign affairs....

Now, Silverberg, 34, is part of the exodus of powerful White House women to Foggy Bottom. The recently confirmed assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs joins some of her closest friends and mentors in a place where, one official jokes, "girl power" rules.

Presstitution 2.0

From Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog:

What's That Smell?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Our Legacy Admission President: C+ Augustus Speaks

President Fumblemouth at his energy press conference yesterday. Yes, he possesses an undergraduate degree from Yale and an MBA from Harvard:

Your President Speaks

Operation Photo Op, Laura Bush Edition, 3.0

From First Lady to reality TV whore, all in one short month.

Laura Bush to appear on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
WASHINGTON — Facing criticism that he appeared disengaged from the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina, President Bush has been looking for opportunities to show his concern. But the White House will take the effort a step further Tuesday, venturing into untested waters by putting the nation's first lady on reality television.

Laura Bush will travel to storm-damaged Biloxi, Miss., to film a spot on the feel-good, wish-granting hit "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Mrs. Bush sought to be on the program because she shares the "same principles" that the producers hold, her press secretary said....

The show has been likened to a modern-day "Queen for a Day." But it could be difficult to discern whose fortunes will be lifted higher -- the displaced victims of two hurricanes or the White House, which was widely perceived as slow to understand their pain.

Which is probably why the Bush team contacted the show for a booking instead of the other way around. The series was ranked among the top 15 shows last season with an average 15.8 million viewers. Airing Sunday nights, it is considered one of the strongest family hours on television.

"We got a call from the White House saying, 'What are you doing and if you need help, just let us know,' " Forman said. "We said here's what we're doing and if the first lady would like to join us, we'd love to have her."

Political Science

From ThinkProgress:

New FDA Chief, Same As The Old FDA Chief

Retiring FDA commissioner Lester Crawford had a reputation for pushing bunk right-wing science on behalf of anti-choice activists. Unfortunately, President Bush plans to replace Crawford with Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, who also has a reputation for pushing bunk right-wing science on behalf of anti-choice activists.

Von Eschenbach is currently the director of the National Cancer Institute. Within months of his appointment in 2002, the institute abruptly altered a fact sheet on its website “that for years stated the absence of a link between abortion and breast cancer.” Under von Eschenbach, the language was changed to suggest that tests disproving the abortion/breast cancer link were “inconclusive.”

This sent the scientific community into an uproar. Numerous studies, including a massive New England Journal of Medicine study of 1.5 million Danish women, have discounted any connection between abortion and breast cancer. Yet right-wingers continue to push the link as a way to frighten women considering having an abortion.

After enormous pressure, and a statement by 100 institute scientists, von Eschenbach backed down. Yet von Eschenbach’s promotion shows that the days of ideology trumping science at the FDA aren’t over. (Now it’s time for the media to pay attention — not a single mainstream story on the FDA personnel changes has mentioned this controversy.)

One Way to Win a Lawsuit

I saw this at Scrutiny Hooligans.

Here's a story that got wiped out by the wall-to-wall Hurricane Rita coverage:

Guardian (UK)
National Archives Indian Records Discarded

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal officials are investigating how National Archives documents of interest to Indians suing the Interior Department were found discarded in a trash bin and a wastebasket.

The discovery came to light on Sept. 1, when Archives staff noticed federal records in one of the trash bins behind the National Archives Building near the Capitol. They notified the Archives' inspector general, Paul Brachfeld, whose staff recovered the documents.

They found at least a portion of the documents were Bureau of Indian Affairs records dating to the 1950s, according to Jason Baron of the Archives' Office of General Counsel, in a letter last week to an Interior Department official.

Brachfeld's office began investigating, and ``what appear to be Indian records were discovered in a waste basket in the stack areas at Main Archives,'' Baron wrote. Taken together, the two dumping incidents ``may be intentional acts aimed at unlawfully removing or disposing of permanent records from the Interior Department,'' he wrote.

Lawyers for the Indian plaintiffs suing the Interior Department over lost royalties ran across Baron's letter this week in a routine court filing by Justice Department lawyers on behalf of Interior's Office of Trust Records.

Dennis Gingold, the plaintiff's lead attorney, said the discovery represents more of ``the same repugnant, desperate actions we've come to expect'' from the Interior Department.

Congress found problems in 1994 with Interior's administration of 260,000 Indian trust accounts containing $400 million. Two years later, Elouise Cobell of the Blackfeet Indian tribe and others filed suit. They allege the department cheated about 500,000 Indians out of more than $100 billion, by mismanaging oil, gas, grazing, timber and other royalties from their lands dating to 1887. They have offered to settle for $27.5 billion.

Here's a good article summarizing the case: The Broken Promise

Rovenge is a Dish Best Eaten Cold

I saw this on The Generik Brand

Rovenge (rO-'venj), n: Politically motivated retribution. The White House sought rovenge against Joseph Wilson.

Best Photo Caption of the Day

DC Police Study for Gyno Exams

Blogs Whose Titles Make Me Laugh

Every time.


Our slavish corporate media, exposed

Live Nude Weblog!

Labor, politics, music, and soccer

The Smirking Chimp

Yup, him.

The Incompetence, the Corruption, the Cronyism: Sept. 27, 2005 edition

The Incompetence:

5 found dead in Beaumont apartment

County Judge Carl Griffith said today he has become so frustrated with the federal relief effort that he has instructed all local officials to use police force if they have to to take supplies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"If you have enough policemen to take it from them, take it," Griffith said.

His frustration comes as squabbling continues among federal, state and local over what some characterize as a woeful lack of communication.

R. David Paulison, acting FEMA head, was scheduled to visit the federal headquarters in the region, while local officials met across town to express their anger.

"We are very short on food and water, and the FEMA trucks that were supposed to be here just aren't here," Griffith said.

Commenting on the lack of help from FEMA, Griffith said, "We can't help it if politicans come here and just want to be seen by the media."

Deb Schmidt, a U.S. Forest Service official, attended the meeting and tried to catalog all the needs around the county, but she mostly ended up observing anger from the local officials.

"We hit the ground running with our own commodities and our own facilities, but we have no support," Griffith said.

City officials cited a lack of water pumps, generators, food and water, and they complained about federal relief teams failing to show and fuel deliveries not happening as promised.

Andre Wimer, city manager for Nederland, said he was tired of getting the runaround from federal officials. "We spend the day faxing and talking and we don't get any feedback. We need somebody helping us."

The Corruption:

11 of the 13 on this list are, of course, Republicans.*

CREW Releases New Report Revealing the Most Tainted Members of Congress
Beyond Delay: The 13 Most Corrupt Members of Congress

The Cronyism:

This story could qualify for all three: corruption, incompetence AND cronyism:

Brown Still On FEMA Payroll

An interesting theory about this last one:

Things That Make No Sense, Except When They Do

*In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
H. L. Mencken

Russturd on Imus

Why do I watch TV? It just makes me crazy.

Tim the Fat Fuck Russert is on Imus justifying his disgraceful timeline quibble interview with Aaron Broussard. Tim says, I had a right to question him about the death of Mr. Rodrigues' mother, because Broussard was trying to shift responsibility to the federal government. And once again he says -- without challenge from Imus or anyone on Imus, because they're just empty talking heads and don't even know the basic facts -- that the responsibility for evacuating New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana was the local and state governments, theirs alone, and he even says, on August 28th, 29, 30th, 31st, Sept.1st, the local and state and governments were responsible. And this statement goes unchallenged.

And there is no one there to say, but Mr. Fucktard, Mr. Pumpkin Head, Little Russ, the President of the United States signed a document on August 26th designating this a State of Emergency, making the entire control of every aspect of the response to this storm THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. Because not one of these preening arrogant cavernously empty heads knows the basic facts.

Journalism is dead. Long live the corporate infotainment media.

Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance for Louisiana

The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing.

The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, Catahoula, Concordia, De Soto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupee, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, West Feliciana, and Winn.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.

Representing FEMA, Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Department of Homeland Security, named William Lokey as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Right-Wing Bizarro World Story of the Day

From Jane Hamsher at firedoglake:

More GOP Family Values

In which Jane gives us the "Republican family values" story behind this story of cronyism, corruption and incompetence in the Bush Administration:

The Scrutinizer Finds Himself Under Scrutiny
Joseph Schmitz, for three years in charge of investigating waste, fraud and abuse at the Pentagon, is now the focus of complaints.

Schmitz comes from a family that is no stranger to controversy. His father was the ultraconservative Orange County congressman John G. Schmitz, who once ran for president but whose political career ended after he admitted having an affair with a German immigrant suspected of child abuse. Schmitz's sister is Mary Kay Letourneau, the Washington state teacher who served more than seven years in prison after a 1997 conviction for rape after having sex with a sixth-grade pupil with whom she had two children. After Letourneau's release from prison, she and the former pupil, now an adult, married each other.

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
H. L. Mencken

This Just In: St. Patrick's Four Convicted of Lesser Charges, Acquitted of Conspiracy

Ithaca Journal:

St. Patrick's Four verdict in

BINGHAMTON -- Four Ithaca residents this morning were found innocent of conspiracy -- but convicted of three lesser charges -- in a March 2003 blood-spilling incident in a Tompkins County Army recruiting station.

The defendants, known as the "St. Patrick's Four" because the incident occurred on St. Patrick's Day, had been on trial for a week in Federal Court in Binghamton. Daniel Burns, Peter DeMott, Clare Grady and Teresa Grady were acquitted of conspiring to impede a federal officer, but convicted of damaging federal property.

Conviction on the conspiracy charge could have carried a six-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.

Good Article on St. Patrick's Four

From ZNet:

SP4 Trials

....The peaceful and faithful demeanor of the defendants, who run the famous “loaves and fishes” soup kitchen in Ithaca and have lobbied congress for over 10 years against the use of depleted uranium and economic sanctions against Iraq make the prosecution's accusations of “force, stealth, and intimidation” all the more surreal. Their explanations as to the immorality of warfare, and the nature of “Hammering swords into ploughshares” and how damage to war machines is nonviolent has proven inspiring to the considerable audience in the courtroom, but the effect that such limited testimony will have on the jury is unclear....

Three out of four defendants are now found in contempt of court: Burns and De Mott for refusing to name the medical professional who drew their blood, and Theresa Grady for mentioning that there had been a previous trial. When asked for the names, Burns replied, “I will not take my thirty pieces of silver... ...I know the names, but I also know the name of Alberto Gonzales, who signed his name to a document declaring the Geneva conventions moot. I cannot subject my friends to prosecution under that man.” He was found in contempt of court and temporarily removed from the stand....

....Also disconcerting, FBI agents have been present in the courtroom, silently monitoring the case....

When Theresa Grady was questioned by the prosecution as to the “effectiveness” of her “forceful action of damage to government property,” she replied, “...I think I'm just a drop of water in a great swell of nonviolent civil disobedience... It was not conspiracy, but an open, peaceful, and strong warning to recruits, recruiters, and the larger community about the imminent shock and awe... ...My course of action created little more than a mess that can be washed away with ammonia and water. The blood on the hands of the US government can never be washed away.”

The prosecution closed the final argument in the case by alleging that the Ploughshares and Catholic Worker movements were “cults” that were “...antimilitary, anti-government establishment, and a threat to the order of society.” He also alleged that the defendants “sympathize with the 9-11 terrorists” and that they were “arrogant, self-righteous, and disrespectful of property and the rule of law.”

So let me get this straight. The defendants couldn't discuss the reasons for their actions, the war in Iraq, or the illegality of the war under international law, but the prosecutor could mention 9/11 in closing arguments? This is truly a kangaroo court. I pray for a hung jury.


The Mittwit is toast in Massachusetts (WaPo):

Massachusetts Governor Makes His State the Butt of His Jokes
Republican's Out-of-Town Act May Alienate Majority Democrats

Why the anti-war rally looked so lefty-mishmash on C-Span? There were two events; the inspiring anti-war march (not covered by C-Span) and a TV stage production run by ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) which was on C-Span (dailykos):

ANSWER and the Victims of the March

John Aravois was able to look at the pictures on that revolted me and posts his take on the story (Americablog):

US soldiers allegedly trading pictures of dead Iraqis & Afghanis for porn

The Incompetence, the Corruption, the Cronyism: Sept. 26, 2005 edition

The Incompetence:

From Editor & Publisher:

Katrina Redux? Beaumont Paper Finds Federal Storm Failure in Texas

In Beaumont, Texas, claims that federal relief agencies learned their lessons from Hurricane Katrina and are on the ball in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita are apparently ringing hollow. The Beaumont (Tex.) Enterprise reported tonight that disaster response coordinators in the area hard hit by Rita say they are seeing the same foot-dragging federal response this weekend witnessed two weeks ago in New Orleans and Mississippi....

"There's a drastic shortage of generators in Beaumont to provide emergency power," Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said. "There are generators at Ford Park, and FEMA is withholding their release. They want to finish their damage assessment."

Jefferson County officials had a plan to distribute Meals-Ready-to-Eat from local fire stations, the paper said. However, Griffith said the MREs, like the generators, were being withheld by FEMA.

"They won't let us have them," Griffith said. "They said we had to go through the state - which we already did - to get them. I'm going over there (to Ford Park) now to figure this out."

The Corruption:

NY Times:

Many Contracts for Storm Work Raise Questions

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 - Topping the federal government's list of costs related to Hurricane Katrina is the $568 million in contracts for debris removal landed by a Florida company with ties to Mississippi's Republican governor.....

More than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency alone were awarded without bidding or with limited competition, government records show, provoking concerns among auditors and government officials about the potential for favoritism or abuse.

Already, questions have been raised about the political connections of two major contractors - the Shaw Group and Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton - that have been represented by the lobbyist Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former leader of FEMA.

The Cronyism:

TIME Magazine:

How many Mike Browns Are Out There?
....When President Bush's former point man on disasters was discovered to have more expertise about the rules of Arabian horse competition than about the management of a catastrophe, it was a reminder that the competence of government officials who are not household names can have a life or death impact....

Some of the appointments are raising serious concerns in the agencies themselves and on Capitol Hill about the competence and independence of agencies that the country relies on to keep us safe, healthy and secure. Internal e-mail messages obtained by TIME show that scientists' drug-safety decisions at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are being second-guessed by a 33-year-old doctor turned stock picker.....

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Please, Give to Charity. Just Not the Red Cross.

The Red Cross money pit
By Richard M. Walden, Richard M. Walden is president and CEO of Operation USA, a 26-year-old international disaster relief agency based in Los Angeles. Website:

WITH HURRICANE RITA now making news, it's time for Americans to take a more disciplined look at their tremendous generosity. As of last week, the American Red Cross reported that it had raised $826 million in private funds for Hurricane Katrina victims. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has the total figure at more than $1.2 billion for all relief groups reporting. So the Red Cross received about 70% of all giving.

This percentage was no doubt bloated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's mystifying release to the media of the names of 19 faith-based charities (plus the Red Cross, Humane Society and three lesser-known groups) to which the public should donate — rather than the much wider group of established relief agencies.

This skewed giving to Red Cross would be justified if the organization had to pay the cost of the 300,000 people it has sheltered. But FEMA and the affected states are reimbursing the Red Cross under preexisting contracts for emergency shelter and other disaster services. The existence of these contracts is no secret to anyone but the American public. The Red Cross carefully says it functions only by the grace of the American people — but "people" includes government, national and local. What we've now come to expect from a major disaster is a Red Cross media blitz.

The national Red Cross reports it spent $111 million last year on fundraising alone. And it's hard to escape the organization's warning of Armageddon if you don't call in a credit card number or send a check or donate blood (which it resells to the tune of more than $1.5 billion annually, part of its $3 billion in income)....

The Red Cross expects to raise more than $2 billion before Hurricane Katrina-related giving subsides. If it takes care of 300,000 people, that's $7,000 per victim. I doubt each victim under Red Cross care will see more than a doughnut, an interview with a social worker and a short-term voucher for a cheap motel, with a few miscellaneous items such as clothes and cooking pots thrown in.

The Red Cross' 3 million unpaid volunteers, 156,000 of whom it says are deployed in Hurricane Katrina, are salt-of-the-Earth Americans. But asking where all the privately collected money will go and how much Red Cross is billing FEMA and the affected states is a legitimate question — even if posed by the president of a small relief agency.

I gave my Katrina donation to Second Harvest.

President Photo Op

Editorial in today's New York Times (I saw this on

Hard Bigotry of No Expectations

The president's recent schedule of nonstop disaster-scene photo-ops is reminiscent of the principal of a failing school who believes he's doing a great job because he makes it a point to drop in on every class play and teacher retirement party.

Question: What kind of sick mind, what kind of black-hearted people want to nitpick a man's mother's death?

Answer: Tim Russert (Russturd) & right wing bloggers

When is Tim Russert going to apologize to Aaron Broussard for this vicious, unprovoked attack?

Crooks and Liars has the video:

Aaron Broussard responds

Tim Russert went on the attack today to please the right wing apologists who had the nerve to fact check his impassioned outburst on MTP during the nightmare of Katrina....

Broussard was stunned today when Timmy replayed the segment and he attacked back. You decide on the merits of what he said both times he was on the show.

Broussard: "Listen, sir, somebody wants to nitpick a man's tragic loss of a mother because she was abandoned in a nursing home? Are you kidding? What kind of sick mind, what kind of black-hearted people want to nitpick a man's mother's death? They just buried Eva last week. I was there at the wake. Are you kidding me? That wasn't a box of Cheerios they buried last week."

"The Cost of Two IPods"

One last post before I head out to make pots.

Must find humor in tragic world situation.

From the Observer (London)
Bush plea for cash to rebuild Iraq raises $600

An extraordinary appeal to Americans from the Bush administration for money to help pay for the reconstruction of Iraq has raised only $600 (£337), The Observer has learnt. Yet since the appeal was launched earlier this month, donations to rebuild New Orleans have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars.

The public's reluctance to contribute much more than the cost of two iPods to the administration's attempt to offer citizens 'a further stake in building a free and prosperous Iraq' has been seized on by critics as evidence of growing ambivalence over that country.

And Alberto Gonzales is Being Considered for the Next Supreme Court Seat? God Help Us.

Torture is the official policy of the former bastion of freedom, the United States of America.

From Time Magazine:

Pattern of Abuse
A decorated Army officer reveals new allegations of detainee mistreatment in Iraq and Afghanistan. Did the military ignore his charges?

"On their day off people would show up all the time," the sergeant continues in the HRW report. "Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC [stands for Persons Under Control; prisoners] tent. In a way it was sport. The cooks were all U.S. soldiers. One day a sergeant shows up and tells a PUC to grab a pole. He told him to bend over and broke the guy's leg with a mini Louisville Slugger that was a metal bat. He was the cook."

The Human Rights Watch report:

Leadership Failure
Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division

We Must Leave Iraq Now

I made the mistake of going to, the website mentioned in Billmon's article. The pictures posted there, under the caption

"Pictures From Iraq And Afghanistan - Gory
Pictures in this forum are submitted by U.S. Soldiers from over in Iraq and Afghanistan and will probably be a little gory. So if you get sick easy or have a problem with dead terrorists please don't look here.",

by American soldiers, are revolting. I felt sick and immediately clicked off. The pictures are so much worse than the Abu Ghraib pictures that were released. What are we doing there? How does so much carnage change anything?

Heart of Darkness

But something happened on my way to a confession: I came across the Nation article on, which meant I had to take a good, hard look at the psychopathic side of the American spirit, and consider its implications not just for the war on terrorism and the occupation of Iraq, but its role in the emergence of an authentically fascist movement in American politics, one which feeds on violence and the glorification of violence, and which has found an audience not just in the U.S. military (where I think -- or at least hope -- it's still a relatively small fringe) but in the culture as a whole.

I don't have time at the moment to explain fully why and how this peek at the banality of evil changed my thinking, although I'll try to cover it in a future post. Suffice it to say that my visit to was a reminder of the genocidal skeletons hanging in the American closet. It left me with the conviction -- or at least an intuitive suspicion -- that an open-ended war in Iraq (or in the broader Islamic world) will bring nothing but misery and death to them, and creeping (or galloping) authoritarianism to us.

We have to get out -- not because withdrawal will head off civil war in Iraq or keep the country from fallling under Iran's control (it won't) but because the only way we can stop those things from happening is by killing people on a massive scale, probably even more massive than the tragedy we supposedly would be trying to prevent.

Lefty Mishmash

Steve Gilliard (The News Blog) captures my response to the anti-war rally in Washington yesterday. Who let all those other people on the stage, to the microphone? Speakers were screeching about myriad other issues, which wasn't the point of the day. I had to keep turning off the TV in disgust.

Communication is not what you say, it's what the other person heard, and I heard a lot of lefty mishmash. Focus on the message, people!

Let's have a parade

I just want to see a protest where there is only one topic, Iraq, the only speakers are talking about Iraq and all the signs are about Iraq. That anyone who mentions some nonsense like the "Popular Front" is shoved off the stage with a flying tackle. Talk about Iraq. But leave the other causes at home. I don't really care about what a Israeli refusenik has to say if the topic isn't Iraq.

Look at this list of speakers:

Jessica Lange, actor

* George Galloway, British Member of Parliament
* Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general
* Cindy Sheehan** Dolores Huerta, Co-Founder, United Farm Workers of America
* Malik Rahim, New Orleans community activist who survived Hurricane Katrina
* Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
* Ralph Nader
* Mahdi Bray, Exec. Dir., Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation
* Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, attorney/co-founder, Partnership for Civil Justice, National Lawyers Guild
* Elias Rashmawi, National Council of Arab Americans
* Brian Becker, National Coordinator, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
* Lynne Stewart, human rights attorney
* Rev. Al Sharpton*
* Anita Dennis, mother of Iraq War veteran / resister
* Clayola Brown, President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Vice President of UNITE HERE*
* Ben Dupuy, Former Ambassador At Large for the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
* Jos Williams, President, President of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO
* Michael Berg, father of Nicholas Berg
* Christine Araquel, Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines
* Andy Thayer, Equality Campaign
* Curtis Muhammed, Community Labor Union of New Orleans
* Margaret Prescod, Global Women's Strike
* Hadi Jawad, founder of Crawford Peace House
* Chris Silvera, Teamsters Black Caucus
* Musa Al-Hindi, Al-Awda National
* Michel Shehadeh, L.A-8 defendant, a Palestinian activist framed COINTELPRO-style
* Nancy Wolforth, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO
* Manuel Santos, Socialist Front of Puerto Rico
* Brenda Stokely, Million Worker March, New York City Labor Against the War
* Peta Lindsay, Youth and Student A.N.S.W.E.R. Student, Howard University student
* Mounzer Sleiman, National Council of Arab Americans
* Macrina Cardenas, Mexicanos Sin Fronteras
* Jeanette Caceres, Spoken word artist from New York University
* Gloria La Riva, National Committee to Free the Five
* Riya Ortiz, Network in Solidarity with the People of the Philippines, Campaign for Justice Not War
* Larry Holmes, Troops Out Now Coalition
* Chuck Kaufman, Nicaragua Network
* Women's Anti-Imperialist League
* Representative of Bayan USA
* Eugene Puryear, Youth and Student A.N.S.W.E.R. Student, Howard University student" link

Let's face facts. ANSWER are parasites who use our good intentions to push their agenda. So instead of rejoicing about the massive turnout, a hint that Bush's war is extremely unpopular, we're debating the speaker list and their abuse of their audience.