Friday, September 30, 2005
Mot of the day award to Mile Schilling
Correction! Fisk not banned from the US and other Middle Eastern news
Listening over the limbic jukebox: unreason as the root of the "conservative" movement
Baghdad No Longer Exists
In two and a half years, one of the world's great cities has been turned into a filthy, deadly cesspool:
Al-Sharq al-Awsat carries a long, anguished and meditative piece by Maad Fayyad, an Arab journalist normally based in London, on the occasion of his return to Baghdad for the third time since the US invasion. I don't have time to translate the entire thing, but perhaps he will publish it in English. He says from Baghdad, "Here is Baghdad . . . But which Baghdad is here? The Baghdad that we do not know and which we do not want to be like this. I wonder-- did the Mongols descend on it only yesterday, led by the captain of catastrophe and devotee of death, Hulagu Khan, such that it was transformed into debris?" He says he is looking out of a helicopter window. He sees buildings below that look like the peaks of a historical city, except that circulation in the streets is lazy and mournful. But then the rubble stretches into the distance, punctuated by mountains of garbage clearly visible from the air. Even the formerly upper class districts were mired in fetid lakes of rancid water, swirling around once proud mansions. In the 1980s, Baghdad had once received an international award as the world's cleanest city. He says, "I search for Baghdad in Baghdad, and do not find it." Once the snooty capital had given birth to a verb, "to baghdad it up" [tabaghdada], meaning to put on insufferable airs and act superior. Today the only persons bagdading it up in Baghdad are those breaking civil, religious and tribal law with impunity.The most progressive city in the Middle East -- a place with the best universities, the best opportunities for women, the most prosperous and best educated people in general -- has been ruined, perhaps forever.
"As for the law, it does not exist here. Most of the persons I've met in Baghdad say frankly, 'Iraq is living without a state . . . without a rule of law . . . with power going to the strongest . . ."
Now The REAL Looting Begins
The Nation's October 10, 2005 issue (published online on September 22, 2005) is all about the new brand of corporate carpetbaggers descending on the waterlogged Crescent City, looking to remake it into a playground for the rich while shoving aside the 70% of the residents that are black. Here's some of the things I learned: -- Areas like the French Quarter and the Garden District -- you know, the places that DIDN'T flood? -- have plenty of vacant housing in good shape to immediately resettle 70,000 of the 200,000 evacuees (the French Quarter alone, which just happens to be the whitest and driest part of the city, has a vacancy rate of 37%), but the landlords would rather the places stay vacant than lower their rent rates. -- 150 mercenaries from Blackwater, one of BushCo's key components, are in New Orleans looting apartments, but since they're white people it's OK. Other gun-for-hire companies are present, and sometimes they're a little too quick on the trigger -- which further complicates things for an already-overworked local police force. Just part of the looting by three-piece suits going on.
Free Link To Krugman...
...since I hate TimesSelect. Wankers didn't have the guts to make it á la carte, because they don't want to admit that Krugman would be propping them up while hacks like Tierney and Brooks wouldn't be earning them any money. Anyhoo, here 'tis. And here's some DeLay/Safavian/Abramoff-related outtakes:
David Safavian is a former associate of Jack Abramoff, the recently indicted lobbyist. Mr. Safavian oversaw U.S. government procurement policy at the White House Office of Management and Budget until his recent arrest. [...] Mr. Safavian is charged with misrepresenting his connections with lobbyists -- specifically, Mr. Abramoff -- while working at the General Services Administration. A key event was a lavish golfing trip to Scotland in 2002, mostly paid for by a charity Mr. Abramoff controlled. Among those who went on the trip was Representative Bob Ney of Ohio. [...] Tyco paid $2 million, most going to firms controlled by Mr. Abramoff, as part of its successful effort to preserve tax advantages it got from shifting its legal home to Bermuda. Timothy Flanigan, a general counsel at Tyco, has been nominated for the second-ranking Justice Department post. [...] Mr. Abramoff was indicted last month on charges of fraud relating to his purchase of SunCruz, a casino boat operation. Mr. Ney inserted comments in the Congressional Record attacking SunCruz's original owner, Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, placing pressure on him to sell to Mr. Abramoff and his partner, Adam Kidan, and praised Mr. Kidan's character. [...] Last week three men were arrested in connection with the gangland-style murder of Mr. Boulis. SunCruz, after it was controlled by Mr. Kidan and Mr. Abramoff, paid a company controlled by one of the men arrested, Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello, and his daughter $145,000 for catering and other work. In court documents, questions are raised about whether food and drink were ever provided. SunCruz paid $95,000 to a company in which one of the other men arrested, Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, is a principal. [...] Tom DeLay, who stepped down as House majority leader after his indictment, once called Mr. Abramoff "one of my closest and dearest friends." Mr. Abramoff funneled funds from clients to conservative institutions and causes. The Washington Post reported that associates of Mr. DeLay claim that he severed the relationship after Mr. Boulis's murder.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Yes, people this stupid are running our government (Sid Blumenthal smackdown of Karen Hughes)
The Domino Effect?
Will Tom DeLay's indictment be the domino that knocks down the entire corrupt GOP leadership? Watchdog alleges Frist made $2-6 million on insider trade
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, now under a formal investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for insider trading, made between $2 million and $6 million by selling his HCA holdings just before stock values plummeted in the face of a bad earnings report, an analysis released today by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) alleges. FTCR also pointed to overly rosy earnings projections made by HCA executives at a conference with investors just as Frist and HCA insiders were dumping HCA stock en masse, saying HCA Sr. Vice President Vic Campbell's made misleading statements to investors.SEC intensifies probe of Senate's Frist
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has given subpoena power to investigators looking into the stock sales by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, said sources familiar with the matter on Wednesday.Remember, "Every time a Republican is indicted, God creates a kitten."
Give 'Em Hell [Again], Howard!
Last May, the Usual Suspects had a collective hissy fit when Howard Dean said, "I think Tom Delay ought to go back to Houston, where he can serve his jail sentence down there."
I can't wait to watch their heads explode when Our Howard is proven right yet again.
Help the FBI Fight Pornography
A suggestion from Robyn Su Miller:
Since the Army threw up its hands after a feeble investigation on the US soldiers' exchange of dead Iraqi pics for online porn access, I thought the FBI might do a better job... and that they'd be grateful for a serious case for their new porn unit to work on. The more the merrier, if others want to encourage them to investigate! Here is the contact info for the FBI.Robyn's tip to them was as follows:
My information is public...in fact is currently in the news...it's about the US soldiers in Iraq trading pictures of Iraqi dead in exchange for free access to an online porn site. However, since the Army has failed in its feeble attempt to identify the soldiers involved, claiming that it was a "challenge" to find anything "reasonably identifiable" although the soldiers faces are clearly visible in their photos, I thought the FBI would be better suited to follow up on this investigation. I thought it would make a stunning first victory for the FBI's new porn unit. The only leads I have are a couple of mainstream websites, but I am sure the FBI can access the offending porn site and track down the malcreants involved. Army ends probe on porn site photos of Iraq corpses US soldiers allegedly trading pictures of dead Iraqis & Afghanis for porn I agree with the website author, who says:"I can't say for 100% that these photos really are our service members...But everything about this story rings true ... This Web site, real or fake, is going to be another public relations disaster for the US, and a bonanza recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. Our government needs to tell us, fast, whether this is for real or not, and what they plan on doing about it."Someone needs to fully investigate this, and since the DOD has thrown up its hands in despair I hope that the FBI is better equipped to finish the job. Thank you for your attention to this.
Visit the World's Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc.
I'm Sick of the Right's Self-Righteousness
A co-worker forwarded me an email he got from a "conservative Republican buddy" of his. The email said in part,
...it is hard to decide which politicians are more contemptible -- Democrats who are rediscovering poverty and blaming it on George W. Bush, or Republicans who are rediscovering poverty and claiming that the government can fix it. Both sides are unwilling to face reality: We haven't rediscovered poverty, we have rediscovered the underclass; the underclass has been growing during all the years that people were ignoring it, including the Clinton years; and the programs politicians tout as solutions are a mismatch for the people who constitute the problem.It got me a little worked up. I sent him the following reply. "...the underclass has been growing during all the years that people were ignoring it, including the Clinton years" Bzzzzzt! Wrong. The poverty rate dropped all through the Clinton Administration. There was a net increase in jobs. The number of people with health insurance increased. Median household income increased. The rate of home ownership increased over five times more under Clinton than under Bush. In other words, people were getting out of that "underclass". We had a budget surplus and were paying off the national debt, which is good for the economy and that's good for people who need economic opportunity. Since Bush took office, the poverty rate has increased. There's been a net job loss. The number of people with health insurance has gone down. Median household income decreased. The budget deficit and the national debt have exploded, which is bad for the economy and that's bad for people who need economic opportunity. You don't have to take my word for these statistics. Democrats aren't "rediscovering" the underclass, because they never lost sight of it. They're the party that's trying to preserve the safety net and to protect middle-income families from falling into poverty, who support the programs that help people get out of poverty. Republicans are claiming the government can fix poverty? They have a funny way of showing that, gutting the programs that provide job training, child care, higher education, and other opportunities for people to get out of poverty. Republican power broker Grover Norquist famously [infamously] said, "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." Mr. Norquist exceeded his goal by a few years, but it wasn't the government that drowned. It was a thousand people (and counting) along the Gulf Coast, because along with all those evil "entitlement" programs, he and his fellow rightwingers were starving programs that maintained the country's infrastructure. For the rightwingers, their own money is more important than other people's lives. It makes me wild that so many of those people claim to be Christians. I think they never opened the New Testament in their lives:
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' "Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' "Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:31-46)The rightwingers deny the government's Constitutional duty to "promote the general welfare", and they deny their personal duty to help the poor. I guess the poor are just supposed to follow Ebenezer Scrooge's advice to "die ... and decrease the surplus population."
Dreier and McGreevey: A Comparison
Steve Clemons (via Atrios) brings up the fact that, for Republican politicians at least, today's media looks the other way when it comes to closeted pols, even when it's obvious that the person's being a closet case impacted his career in a negative way, as has happened with David Dreier's being denied sole ownership of the House Majority Leader spot. But of course, the GOP/Media Axis is not afraid to use the "G" word when discussing Democratic politicians. Let's play compare and contrast: In 2004, NJ Governor Jim McGreevey was revealed to have a boyfriend on the payroll. He resigned after a nationwide media orgy/firestorm directed against him. In 2004, Congressman David Dreier was revealed to have a boyfriend on the payroll. The national media looks the other way, and Dreier keeps his Congressional seat. However, he is denied further advancement when Roy Blunt conducts a successful whispering campaign against him (rumor is that Blunt was telling his House colleagues that their constituents, whom they'd just riled up to vote for a passel of anti-gay legislation, wouldn't tolerate even a closeted gay man as House Majority Leader). The difference? McGreevey had a "D" after his name, whereas Dreier has an "R" after his.
Pat Tillman Liked Noam Chomsky!
...and Ann "I Hate Liberals" Coulter simply can't process that bit of knowledge. You can almost watch the smoke curl from her ears here.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
A Timeline of Today's Events
The events of today, as demarcated by AmericaBlog and other places: 12:39 PM EDT -- John in DC posts that Tom DeLay has been indicted. Under the House rules that DeLay had tried to repeal last year, he must now step down from his leadership position until the legal action is resolved -- assuming he doesn't go to prison. 12:54 PM EDT -- MSNBC mentions that Hastert recommends David Dreier to take DeLay's place as House Majority Leader. 1:26 PM EDT -- John in DC posts a transcript of the key part of the Mike Signorile interview with David Dreier, wherein Dreier dances around admitting that he's gay. Josh Marshall states that Dreier was picked to be a placeholder: DeLay fully expects to beat the rap, and he doesn't want to have to fight off Roy Blunt (R-MO), who actually has a power base in Congress that could lead him to withstand an attempt by DeLay to take back the Majority Leader mantle. 2:52 PM EDT -- Commenter Marky over at Steve Gilliard's News Blog makes the following recommendation: "Call Hastert's office at 202-225-2976 and thank him for standing up to the radical religous right by recommending a gay man as majority leader." 3:05 PM EDT -- Eschaton regular commenter Pseudoymnous in DC notes the following: "Oh, so Dreier may not be a done deal. Blount may well be calling up all the radical clerics and saying that ol' Dave is too poofy, um, Californian to be acting MajLeader." 4:17 PM EDT -- Josh Marshall asks, "Dreier out?" 4:22 PM EDT -- Josh Marshall asks, "Blunt pushing Dreier aside?" 5:15 PM EDT -- Josh Marshall posts the following:
So what's the deal exactly? Clearly, Blunt has pushed David Dreier aside for the Majority Leader's job, allowing Dreier, in turn, to edge out Robert Livingston for shortest ever tenure as Republican congressional leader. But the latest reports I can find have Dreier and Blunt, how else to say it, cohabiting in the Majority Leader's office. Says Reuters: "After a closed-door meeting of House Republicans, lawmakers said Blunt's position was an interim arrangement for the rest of the year and that he would share leadership responsibilities with Rep. David Dreier of California. It was not immediately clear how Blunt, who had had been the third ranking Republican member of the House, would share duties with Dreier, the chairman of the House Rules Committee." How does that work exactly?Most interesting!
Raspberry pie alert! Arkin debunks Able Danger
Trent Lott blocked coastal preparations; why undermining Posse Comitatus is a bad ides; good news for dissent.
Chertoff directly to blame for New Orleans disaster; Brown just a scapegoat
Well, That Didn't Take Long
Driving home today, I was astonished to hear on NPR that the House Republicans, after having all but accepted Number One DeLay Sock Puppet Dennis Hastert's promotion of Number Two Sock Puppet David Dreier to be Hot Tub's placeholder, suddenly revolted and went for the logical choice, Roy Blunt of Missouri. I just LOVED how the NPR people danced around why Dreier was dumped for Blunt. "He was selected by Speaker Hastert, but ran into opposition from conservative House Republicans" was essentially what they said. Translation: 1) We 'Publicans ain't a-gonna have no faggit as our Whip, even if he's jest a placeholder for Hot Tub Tom! 2) By dumping Faggit Placeholder for The Supremely Corrupt But Definitely Hetero Blunt, we are admitting that DeLay's chances of survivin' this are slim and none -- and Slim just lef' town. David Brooks essentially confirmed that DeLay is toast in his little tête-a-tête with E.J. Dionne on NPR this afternoon. As Atrios says,
David Brooks was on NPR, and he's a reliable peddler of a certain strand of Republican information. Things we learned: Bush never really got along with DeLay, conservative Republicans have come to believe that DeLay only wants more and doesn't have any genuine conservative principles (whatever they are), everyone just loves Blunt. Whatever the truth of any of these things, the fact that Brooks is peddling these storylines says that they're pushing him out permanently.Expect to see DeLay quietly resign, oh, sometime before New Year's Day. I'm picking Christmas Eve, myself. He'll want to do it at a time when the media are looking the other way even more than usual. Oh, and as for Roy Blunt: He'd better not get too comfy in Hot Tub's chair.
'Rep. Blunt and his staff have close connections to uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is the subject of criminal and congressional probes.'
David Dreier: The New Tom DeLay
That's what they're telling us. By the way: In honor of his accession to DeLay's Whipping Post job, Raw Story has reprinted their September 20, 2004 outing of Dreier as a self-hating gay man who routinely votes in finest Roy Cohn fashion. And after you're finished looking at that, here's the Hustler piece that Larry Flynt promised, as referenced in the Raw Story article. Enjoy!
Newspapers In Turmoil!
Or why most dailies, even the better ones, are clueless about what to do as they lose eyeballs to blogs and Jon Stewart. Though the StarTribune (which actually has bucked the trend by gaining eyeballs -- a phenomenon linked to its having a reputation for being a liberal and opinionated paper) may have hit on a solution:
The appeal of good, sometimes irreverent writing, beyond what traditional mainstream newspapering currently allows, is borne out in a study by Northwestern University’s Readership Institute. Lately the Institute has partnered with the Star Tribune, testing models for the newspaper’s long-awaited redesign. The makeover is supposed to incorporate significant advances in online service, among other things. Many Star Tribune employees will be curious to see if it addresses anything mentioned here. Northwestern spent a lot of time assessing the tastes of those elusive “younger readers,” the ones who don’t read newspapers much, don’t watch traditional network news programs, and only leaf through Time and Newsweek at the dentist’s office. What they found was interesting: A remix of news choices with hipper, more irreverent headlines and stories written with blog-like attitude—not Jen-Brad-Angelina-style celebrity junk, but actual news—was in fact more appealing to young readers than the stuff the Star Tribune actually published (they focused the study on the Star Tribune’s Valentine’s Day 2005 edition). The Star Tribune test material was very similar to Chicago’s competing Red Eye and Red Streak free tabloids. (The “Reds” are two free weeklies published the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune since 2002. They are aggressive efforts to lure young readers.) “What is interesting and revealing,” says Mike Smith, managing director of Northwestern’s Media Management Center, “is that the Sun-Times and Tribune have found that adults, loyal newspaper readers, are picking up the free weeklies in far greater numbers than first imagined.” In other words, a general loosening of the more staid conventions of professional journalism may very well offer more upside than risk to mainstream media.Well, no duh. But will other papers follow the Strib's lead? Probably not:
But lacking a relaxation of profit demands so counter-effective to creativity, risk-taking, and invention, the death spiral for most newspapers will probably continue. Few will actually fold. A monopoly in a market will always guarantee steady positive cash flow, no matter what the quality of the product. But as their irrelevance to literature-loving readers and aggressive news ferrets deepens, most will become glorified community newspapers and “repeater towers” for the handful of major papers and wire services.Meanwhile, the local TV stations shouldn't chuckle too loudly over the plight of their print brethren and cistern:
As for local TV news, the gold standard for cash-cow-dom and exemplar to so many others in the industry, they had better have a plan for the day the first shrewd video bloggers fire up their own local newscasts in the looming all-digital age. They must offer Daily Show fans a valid alternative to the silly, ossified, lucrative formula of happy faces, bloody pictures, weather, and sports that sent viewers to the Comedy Channel in the first place.Which reminds me: Don't know of any local video TV bloggers, but we've already got the beginnings of a national internet TV blogger network.
Hot Tub Tom in Hot Water
A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that could force him to step down as House majority leader. DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee. ... A state political action committee he created, Texans for a Republican Majority, was indicted earlier this month on charges of accepting corporate contributions for use in state legislative races. Texas law prohibits corporate money from being used to advocate the election or defeat of candidates; it is allowed only for administrative expenses. With GOP control of the Texas legislature, DeLay then engineered a redistricting plan that enabled the GOP take six Texas seats in the U.S. House away from Democrats — including one lawmaker switching parties — in 2004 and build its majority in Congress.Yeah, yeah, "a good prosecutor can convince a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich." It still shows there's some things The Exterminator can't bully and buy his way out of. Courage, mes amis!
Déja Vu All Over Again: Brazil Edition
I don't know if it's Charles' influence on my thought processes, or if it's just that the whole thing smells ever-so-much like the infamous witchhunts conducted against Bill Clinton and his associates, but boy, this alleged Brazilian corruption scandal reeks like last week's garbage. First, we have The Official Story, as pushed by the Washington Post and NPR's "Morning Edition" program. (It was listening to NPR this morning that alerted me to the whole shebang.) Corruption charges leveled against the President (in this case, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, or "Lula" as he is universally known) by disgruntled former Administration members, with the sense of invisible wires leading from their limbs to the fingers of right-wing puppeteers. Six months of wall-to-wall "coverage", which is mostly a parade of figures spouting innuendo on the right-leaning media, claiming that Lula was involved. But there's no actual evidence that Lula really was involved. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. (Of course, one had to wait until the very end of the NPR piece before that little fact got mentioned.) And, again just as with Clinton, the fact that the economy has done much better under Lula than it had before him is working in his favor. So I went looking for The Non-Official Story, and I think I've found it. Some interesting things I've learned: -- While there's no doubt that corruption exists in Lula's ruling party, Lula's right-wing enemies don't dare openly attack him over it, preferring to let their friends in the media go after him instead. Why? Because they don't want their own corruption revealed. (The pols attacking Lula are generally ones who, if anything, are disappointed at what they see as his Clinton-style tacking to the right. So any American conservatives hoping to see a conservative government emerge from Lula's troubles are bound to be bummed out.) -- The resignation on September 21 of Severino Cavalcanti, the disgraced chairman of the House of Representatives, has also lowered the pressure on Lula. It's quite likely that, even as the US media is just starting to notice the hoo-ha, that it has already peaked. The upshot of all this? My guess is that it'll be Lula returning to the policies that got him elected in the first place, in order to shore up his support. But that's not what we'll hear about on our radios or read in our newspapers.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Waxman, Pelosi Introduce Anti-Cronyism Bill
Let's publicize the heck out of this:
Washington, DC - Today Rep. Henry A. Waxman and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi introduced the Anti-Cronyism and Public Safety Act, which would prohibit the President from appointing unqualified individuals to critical public safety positions in the government. "President Bush has handed out some of the country's most difficult and important jobs - leadership positions in public safety and emergency response - to politically well-connected individuals with no experience or qualifications," Rep. Waxman said. "This common sense legislation will end this practice and ensure that public safety is back in the hands of those who are trained and experienced in protecting the public." The bill would require any presidential appointee for a public safety position to have proven, relevant credentials for that position. In addition, the legislation bars from appointment to an agency any individual who has been a lobbyist for an industry subject to the agency's authority during the preceding two years. "As Hurricane Katrina tragically demonstrated, serious consequences result when unqualified cronies are appointed to federal public safety positions," Pelosi said. "The Bush Administration's culture of cronyism comes at the expense of public safety. It is unconscionable and must stop immediately - it is literally a matter of life and death. This legislation is critically needed, and I thank Mr. Waxman for his strong leadership in protecting the American people." Subject to the bill are specific senior-level emergency preparedness offices at the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as any position with the primary function of responding to a direct threat to life or property or hazard to health.This is EXACTLY what the Democrats should be doing. If the Republicans vote it down -- which they will -- they are on the side of corruption and paybacks. If they vote for it, they piss off Bush. Oh, and it happens to be good public policy. Perfection.
What's the next in the series and what does the series represent? Fallujah, Tal Afar...
Samizdat, keeping truth alive: The real news from Iraq
- In Basra, "militias effectively took over the police"
- 42 murders in Basra which were left untouched
- when Christian alcohol-sellers were murdered, the police did nothing
- Police responsible for murder of journalist with the NYT
- Death squad killings
- Outside of Kurdish areas and the Green Zone, there is a "full-scale insurgency by both Sunnis and Sh'ia" against Western forces." It can't be rolled back.
- On the streets, "it is hell on earth."
- Violent deaths in Baghdad were 1100 in July alone.
- Speaking about what to do: "There is no answer. You've got to go.... The Americans have to leave and the Americans can't leave."
- The whole of the countryside outside of Baghdad is the property of the insurgency.
- "Our lives [journalists] are worth nothing to the insurgents. Our lives are worth nothing to the British or the Americans."
- The error of the Iraq war was that Bush and Blair went to war for ideological reasons. This causes a distortion of intelligence. "If you understand injustice, which is in part what the Middle East is about, you could make sense of it." But without a sense of injustice, the entire intelligence apparatus is useless.
- When a crime is committed, the first thing police look for is a motive. With 9/11, people were prevented from talking about the motive by phony accusations of anti-Americanism or even anti-Semitism.
And my personal favorites:
- "[T]he New York Times should be called 'Intelligence Officials Say'"
- Goodman, "What gives you hope?" Fisk: "Nothing. Nothing.... Ordinary people who speak out, I suppose, but as for governments, nothing."
The Diebold Went Down to Georgia...
...and created one colossal hellacious mess in the 2002 and 2004 elections. And now our side's got the goods on them. Andrew Gumbel tells us about it in The Huffington Post.
Cathy Cox, the Secretary of State of Georgia... was the first Secretary of State to champion and purchase an all-electronic touch screen voting system for her state. She persuaded Georgia to spend an initial $54 million on a hitherto untried Diebold system in 2002, and has tried ever since to parlay the e-voting revolution she helped launch into a bid for the Georgia governorship in November 2006. “Advancing the e-government revolution,” is the slogan on her website. Contrary to the fine rhetoric, however, a raft of official documents obtained exclusively by the Huffington Post – including the original contract signed with Diebold and a flurry of six amendments that followed between July 2002 and December 2004, as well as official correspondence and legal papers – show that Cox’s management of Georgia elections has been little short of a disaster. The documents were obtained by way of multiple public records requests, most of them coordinated by the Georgia voting rights activist Roxanne Jekot and her organization, Count The Vote. The documentary record shows that elections were run on software that was not only untested but also uncertified, that key components broke down during live elections, that county officials were left clueless on how to operate the new machines because of a breakdown in the training schedule, and that the cost of installing the electronic touch-screen system jumped dramatically beyond the advertised $54 million, without proper legislative oversight or approval. None of this has previously been made public.(More sordid details at the link.) Serious questions about Georgia's voting machines have been raised since before the 2002 election, including whistleblowers' reports that software patches were downloaded after the machines were certified and that machines were deployed for the elections after they failed the quality tests. By sheer coincidence, Diebold's chief lobbyist in Georgia was Lewis Massey, former Secretary of State and Cathy Cox's former boss. Cox's response to these problems has been to deny, obfuscate, and stonewall. The shame of it is that she's a Democrat, and her "incompetent" handling of elections very likely cost the Democrats the governorship and a Senate seat. Now all we need is somebody in the so-called unbiased media to lift this story out of the blogs and put it in the public consciousness. And a prosecutor with the gonads to do a thorough investigation of the connections between Cathy Cox's office and the election-machine vendors.
Suddenly, Bush is all in favor of energy conservation:
[Bush] asked Americans and federal workers to cut back on unnecessary travel to make up for fuel shortages caused by Hurricane Rita. "If it makes sense for the citizen out there to curtail nonessential travel, it darn sure makes sense for federal employees," Bush said. "We can encourage employees to car pool or use mass transit, and we can shift peak electricity use to off-peak hours. There's ways for the federal government to lead when it comes to conservation." The White House also will be looking at ways to conserve, press secretary Scott McClellan said...With exceptions, of course:
...although that didn't include curtailing the president's travel plans. Tuesday marked the president's seventh trip to the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of two devastating hurricanes in less than a month. ... Bush also has asked that his motorcade be scaled back, his spokesman said, and it was shorter upon his arrival in Texas. However, the multiple-vehicle caravan moved just several yards from his presidential jet and dropped Bush off at an airport terminal for his meeting with Texas officials. ... On Saturday, in a visit to the U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., some of Bush's briefers were linked from the White House situation room steps from the Oval Office.Please note that last sentence. Bush flew from the White House to Colorado Springs and had a videoconference with people in the White House. That's leadership, Bush-style: "Do as I say, not as I do." Maybe if somebody sends him a cardigan with the Preznitial seal on it, he'll take the hint.
The wages of stun: Taser being probed by SEC
Abramoff: So Who Shut Down The 2002 Probe?
That's what we want to know.
Sun Rises In East. Dog Bites Man. Jim Sensenbrenner Is A Greedy, Callous Liar.
I read in the print edition of the NYT this morning an article stating that Congress had never imagined such a thing as Katrina when passing the Bankruptcy bill earlier this year. I knew that had to be bullshit -- I remembered countless Democratic efforts to soften various parts of the bill, all of which got shot down by the Republicans -- and Scout Prime confirms it for me:
Go read a copy of the Democratic House Judiciary Staff's dissenting views on the bankruptcy bill that was leaked to RAW STORY prior to the bill's passage. It's right there...The Democrats tried to get the Republicans to allow this provision, but of course the Republicans wouldn't allow it. Oh, and despite Katrina and Rita, the Republicans still don't want to deprive the credit-card companies and banks of one single penny of their 30%-and-higher interest rates (none dare call it usury). Get a load of that fat load, James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin:While some people abuse the bankruptcy system, more than 90 percent of debtors file for bankruptcy due to unemployment or underemployment, an illness or accident, or divorce. The bulk of the remainder suffered from other legitimate difficulties, including activation for military service, being a victim of crime or natural disasters, or a death in the family ...
a. Concerns Regarding the Means Test
It is incorrect to assume that the effect of S. 256’s harmful provisions would be limited to individuals seeking bankruptcy relief who earn more than the state median income.
The definition of “current monthly income” used in the means test measures a debtor’s income based upon how much the debtor earned in the six months prior to bankruptcy. If the debtor lost a good job in month three and has been working at a low-wage job ever since, the income from that good job, and help from family members, would be counted as if that is what his future income would be. The debtor would be expected to pay out of income that may no longer exist. Also, the means test will pick up a variety of revenue sources – such as disaster assistance, and Veterans’ benefits – which will result in lower- and middle-income individuals being cast as bankruptcy “abusers” with income above the median.
But House Republicans, who fought off a proposed amendment that would have made bankruptcy filings easier for victims of natural disasters, said there was no reason to carve out a broad exemption just because of the storm. Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, rejected the notion of reopening the legislation, saying it already included provisions that would ensure that people left "down and out" by the storm would still be able to shed most of their debts.As seen above, that's a damned lie, and Sensenbrenner knows it. But he's an arrogant bastard:
Lawmakers who lost the long fight over the law, he said, "ought to get over it," according to The Associated Press.Yeah. Katrina victims "ought to get over it". Rita victims "ought to get over it". And people in western Wisconsin who lost homes and jobs to the recent killer storms in the area "ought to get over it". This clown needs to be taken down a peg or two. And it looks like it would only take a million or so to do it. Yeah, Sensenbrenner's in a "safe" district. But so was Jean Schmidt. Here's Bryan Kennedy, who in his first try -- and with minimal money -- did better against Sensenbrenner than any other Democrat has in years. Let's see what we can do for 2006!
Monday, September 26, 2005
What follows will be a picture perfect economic crash landing
Prepare the raspberry pie for Able Danger
In which the Poor Man solves the riddle of the age
Snopes Does Katrina
The "urban legends" web site Snopes.com has a section for Hurricane Katrina. In particular, they analyze the various alleged personal accounts that have been making the email rounds.
It shouldn't surprise you that the accounts of bad behavior (from ingratitude and laziness to violence) by the poorest victims of Katrina range from "undetermined, but contradicted by all other accounts" to "false".
Why Bush Couldn't Care Less About His Poll Numbers
Some Congressional Republicans, their eyes on 2006, might be a bit antsy. But Bush doesn't care about his poll numbers, and here's why:
A recent Op-Ed article in the Wall Street Journal by Fred Barnes — the conservative pundit who most consistently reflects the administration's outlook — argued that Bush's unpopularity should not hamper his ability to cram through his agenda. As Barnes writes, "The simple fact of governing in Washington is that popularity is not a measure of power." He proceeds to quote a Bush aide practically gloating about the president's low poll numbers. The reason they have nothing to fear is that the structure of our political system makes our leaders almost completely unaccountable. If we had a parliamentary system, the opposition party would be calling for a vote of no confidence and a new election. Americans, though, can only hold an election every four years. And because the 22nd Amendment limits presidents to two terms, we'll never get another chance to vote Bush out of office. ONE REMEDY ought to be the prospect that voters could throw congressional Republicans out of power. Yet that is extraordinarily difficult to do. Republican states, which tend to be more sparsely populated, are disproportionately represented in the Senate. Bush won less than 52% of the vote in 2004, yet 62% of senators represent states that backed him. The House is even tougher to flip. Not only did 59% of the districts vote for Bush in 2004, the seats are so gerrymandered that less than a tenth are even vaguely competitive. Political scientist Michael P. McDonald estimated that the Democrats would need about 57% of the total House vote to win control of the chamber. In this context, Bush's strategy of catering to his base and mostly ignoring the center makes perfect sense. All he needs to do is maintain the support of his own party. And he has. Democrats overwhelmingly disapprove of Bush's performance, as do independents. But Republicans still love him. Bill Kristol, another prominent conservative, recently told the New York Times, "I think the Clinton administration would have done a better job in handling Hurricane Katrina, but I'm also glad Bush is president and not a Democrat." What could this statement mean? Bush may have mishandled a massive natural disaster that may have killed thousands, displaced tens of thousands and cost tens of billions of dollars, but Kristol is still glad he's president. Because we need his skillful handling of Iraq. No, I mean the federal budget. No, wait…. What I think it means is that Kristol, like most conservatives, will remain loyal to Bush as long as he remains ideologically true, no matter how badly he governs.
What a Tangled Web
Joseph Schmitz, until recently the Inspector General at the Pentagon, left that job "amid accusations that he stonewalled inquiries into senior Bush administration officials suspected of wrongdoing."
He was promptly hired by the Prince Group, parent company of Blackwater USA. Blackwater USA is "a private security company with millions of dollars in contracts in Iraq." (Blackwater USA also got contracts to provide "private security" in New Orleans, not just protecting rich people's property from all those hordes of looters but working under a contract with the Department of Homeland Security.)
Blackwater's CEO and co-founder, Erik Prince, is the son of a co-founder of the Family Research Council and the brother of Betsy DeVos.
Betsy DeVos is the former chair of the Michigan Republican Party; she's so extreme that former governor John Engler publicly opposed her agenda. Betsy is Lord Voldemort in drag.
Betsy's husband, Dick DeVos, is the son of the co-founder of Amway. (Yes, that Amway.) He's also the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for governor of Michigan; he's already running on a platform of "Gov. Granholm caused Michigan's high unemployment rate", notwithstanding that, as head of Amway, he eliminated 1,400 jobs in Michigan and outsourced thousands more to China.
But wait, there's more about Mr. Schmitz.
Jane Hamsher of firedoglake reminds us that Joseph Schmitz is the son of California Republican John Schmitz, who ran on "the family values" platform and considered Ronald Reagan a pinko. The thing is, Joseph was John's son by a woman other than John's wife. Joseph had a half-sister (John's "real" family) who grew up to be Mary Kay LeTourneau.
Do I need to mention the huge sums of money these people have given to Bush and the GOP?
These are the people who claim to be the party of morality.
"Brownie" Has a New Job
Raw Story has the scoop.
CBS News' Bob Schieffer just announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has rehired ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown-- as a consultant to evaluate the agency's response to the disaster! ...CBS says they've confirmed Brown had been rehired.We need a new word. "Hypocrisy" is just so inadequate, and "arrogance" is such an understatement.
Bob Woodward Misses the Point (Again)
From the Akron Beacon Journal:
Woodward also touched on the criticism of Bush for his handling of Hurricane Katrina. Like Iraq, he said, Bush's response to the hurricane was a failure of intelligence. "No one told him in a forceful way, 'You need to get moving on this,' " he said. "If Katrina had hit Texas, I know people who have a phone relationship with Bush who would have said, 'George, get your (butt) down here.' There was no one in Louisiana who could get through to him to say, 'Get your (butt) down here.' "You'd think it would have occurred to a veteran reporter who's covered the White House since the Nixon Administration that the [expletive deleted] President of the United States shouldn't need to be told to get his butt in gear when a Category 4 hurricane is on its way to destroying most of the Gulf Coast. That Bush strummed while Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana drowned was not a failure of intelligence. It was a failure of leadership.
Did Ashcroft REALLY Step Down As Attorney General?
You'd never know it, considering that BushCo STILL insists on making anti-porn efforts their top priority. Porn -- you know, one of the many freedoms for which Bush says the 'terraists' hate us? When even the FBI agents think this is a sad joke, you know it's a sad joke. (Now, if they were serious about fighting obscenity, then Dick Cheney and the entire board of directors for Halliburton would be in jail right now. But so it goes.)
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Summer Book Report: Bob Graham's Intelligence Matters
Juan Cole is off the fence; Frist covers up torture as McCain stands silent
Statistics that make you go "hmmm"
An Amusing Story -- With An Interesting Moral
This morning, Atrios and Shakespeare's Sister point us to this UK Observer story about how Bush's nationwide fundraising appeal for the Iraq invasion and occupation hasn't exactly got Bush backers to open their wallets wide:
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… 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.[UPDATE: A Kossack hunted up the USAID link to which the Observer story refers: The actual amount is $589.00 as of September 23, 2005.] This is yet another reason the internet in general, and blogs in particular, are more effectively used by the left than by the right. I've wondered out loud in this blog before why that should be so, and I think I've finally hit on it: Hardcore righties don't think in terms of community. Ever. They do think in terms of top-down leadership, but they never think in terms of "let's all work together for the common good". They think in terms of getting their little soapboxes out there, getting their craven GOP/Media Axis buddies to give them free publicity -- publicity and "respectability" that is never quite granted by the corporate media to lefty blogs -- and spreading their version of reality. That's why there are gobs and gobs of new righty blogs out there, even as the righty share of the blogosphere is shrinking, both in terms of actual readership numbers and in terms of the percentage of the blogosphere's readership, despite the best fluffing efforts of the GOP/Media Axis. These are all people who are talking to themselves out loud or chasing the same half dozen readers. This is why they could never do a Howard Dean and raise money from the Net the way he did (and does). This is why Jean Schmidt's appeal for grass-roots funds against Paul Hackett fell flat and she was compelled not to just spend 200K of her own money, but to put out an emergency appeal to the RNC in the last week before the election. (And even though she squeaked by on the skin of her teeth -- in an election that is still somewhat questionable -- Hackett's people got so many voters to the polls that they got passed every single school and municipal levy for the area, including a few that had been languishing for years.) The simple fact is this: Lefties give until it hurts, and then give some more. Most righties don't give at all -- and the richer righties only give if they think there's a percentage in it for them, or they can control what's happening.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Bradblog interviews Chris Floyd
George Galloway Speaks
We listen. From his speech at the antiwar rally today in D.C.:*
There is an absolute need for your country and my country to stand shoulder to shoulder against the war criminals Tony Blair and George W. Bush, and to thus demonstrate to the people of the world and particularly the people of the occupied world that these criminals are not acting in our name. This is not any clash of civilizations. This is not a war between the people of the West and the people of the East. This is not a war between the religions of Christianity and Islam. George Bush doesn't represent any civilization. George Bush and Tony Blair certainly don't represent Jesus Christ and the great religion of Christianity. Christianity believes in the prophets, peace be upon them. Tony Blair and George Bush believe in profits and how to get a piece of them. Mammon, that's what they worship. None of us is the enemy of the soldiers in the British and American forces. We love our troops. In fact, we love our troops so much we want to bring them home before any more of them are killed, before any more of them are maimed. Our soldiers, conscripted by unemployment and poor prospects and hopelessness, are our sons and daughters. It's George Bush, who's sending them to be killed on a pack of lies, who hates our troops.(* Not guaranteed to be 100% verbatim, since I was typing as he was speaking and may not have heard exactly what he said.)
...is an oxymoron. As evidenced by Charles Krauthammer, quoted in History News Network:
In our lifetime, has there been a more politically poisonous U.S. Supreme Court decision than Roe v. Wade? Set aside for a moment your thoughts on the substance of the ruling. (I happen to be a supporter of legalized abortion.) I'm talking about the continuing damage to the Republic: disenfranchising, instantly and without recourse, an enormous part of the American population; preventing, as even Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, proper political settlement of the issue by the people and their representatives; making the U.S. the only nation in the West to have legalized abortion by judicial fiat rather than by the popular will expressed democratically.I wonder if he holds the same opinion of the ruling that declared the poll tax was unconstitutional: "The Supreme Court shouldn't have decided the issue, because doing so deprived the people of the right to settle the issue by a democratic vote." That's why the Supreme Court exists, Krauthammer, you twit -- because democracy is more than just the will of the majority. Not to mention that a state referendum on the issue of whether abortion should be legal would not settle the matter. Whichever side lost would just try to overturn the decision with another state referendum; or with a lawsuit asserting that the law is unconstitutional, which would just toss it back in the court's collective lap. That is, after all, how Roe v. Wade ended up in the Supreme Court -- it was a challenge to a state law. If Krauthammer thinks that either side on the abortion issue would accept the outcome of a referendum that went against them as final, anymore than they accept judicial rulings that go against them, he's deluded.
New allegations of torture
Friday, September 23, 2005
Chris Floyd is moving
The NRA has its priorities straight
Friday Cat Blogging
Abramoff: Rove's My Best Buddy!
Sing, Jack, sing! La la la la la....
WaPo:"Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff bragged two years ago that he was in contact with White House political aide Karl Rove on behalf of a large, Bermuda-based corporation that wanted to avoid incurring some taxes and continue receiving federal contracts, according to a written statement by President Bush's nominee to be deputy attorney general."The number of reasons for frogmarching Karl Rove just grew by one. Or two. Or eight.
Confrontation with Syria draws closer
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Stand and defend a friend
Got Your Back, Jim!
Remember the gutsy Congresscritter in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911? No, not John Conyers -- the other one. Well, he's under attack from the right wing. Help him out.
FEMA, Chertoff and Houston: Same S---, Different City
Looks like Bush and Chertoff are applying the same crack disaster-management techniques to Houston that they did to New Orleans. Did I say "crack"? I must have meant "on crack".
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.This report raises a few questions: Will we see the same outrage over this attempt to destroy government records that we saw over Sandy Berger's possibly unintentional removal of copies of records? Have they found John Roberts' records that went missing from the Ronald Reagan Library (which is under the jurisdiction of the National Archives) when the Democrats requested them? Is it significant that the current Archivist of the United States, Allen Weinstein, was appointed by George W. Bush? Is anybody surprised that Mr. Weinstein was previously president of a think tank that received funding from the ultra-rightwing Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Society of American Archivists and American Historical Association expressed strong reservations about his nomination? (And that there are clues that the previous Archivist was pushed out of the job?) Has Albert Lloyd been seen loitering in the Archives?
A group of activists, financed largely by blog readers, are taking their message to the enemy, all over the US of A. Lovely!
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
The Stain of Moral Relativism
More blogs about politics.