Saturday, February 21, 2004

Since Ralph's running again...a reminder 

From TBogg, who won a Koufax for most humorous blog this year:

For those keeping score at home

537: Votes that George W. Bush won Florida by according to Kathleen Harris.

548: American deaths in Iraq since the war began.

Just in case any Nader followers still think that Gore = Bush.

If nothing else, Eric, maybe you and I can have a discussion that jumpstarts things on this blog.


Why did Bush invade Iraq? 

I am a Christian. A strange one like you probably never met before, but I'm a Christian. Here's an exchange I had with a friend on a website I belong to:

[my friend wrote:]

I don't believe it's the end of times, but my employee does. She was telling me yesterday why she believes it. One of the reasons that I remember is that the Bible predicts humans will get diseases from animals. She cites the Bird Flu, Mad Cow Disease, Lyme Disease, and others.

[I wrote:]

I'd like to see that passage and decide for myself if it's actually a prophecy--and not take your employee's word for it.

Actually, humans have been getting diseases from animals since before the dawn of history. That's what the entire Kosher laws of Moses are about. That particular reference your employee gave you is completely bogus.

One can be a Christian and also not be an ignorant, feeble-minded nitwit who believes all that crap. Here's somebody who speaks sense and yet is an evangelical Christian--the Slacktivist.

In my research, there is little to support what these fundies call the Rapture. There's an incredibly obtuse reference to it in Jesus's words, but he doesn't explain it in the detail that these idiots love and have embraced so stridently. As far as I'm concerned, the Rapture is almost completely an urban myth of Christianity, and they're acting like it's Gospel.

The most important line I can think of when I hear someone predicting the End of the World is this:

"No one knows the day or the hour."

It could be decades--millenia--eons from today. We have enjoyed much cultural and especially scientific upheaval in the last hundred years, and everyone with a soft skull and no objectivity about the time we live in is convinced Jesus is coming back. Now. TODAY.

How people fool themselves for comfort. What good does it do to know when Jesus is coming back? So we can start acting Christian THEN, and not EVERY DAY, which is what he commanded? So we can get away with that? Or, so we don't have to wait so long, being "good", waiting impatiently?

It's all a crock. And another perfectly good theological scenario is this:

The Kingdom of Heaven, and Jesus coming back, etc, etc, etc, may just be a metaphor or parable for every individual's death. THAT'S Judgment Day, and not some end-of-the-world-in-brimstone-and-fire-and-nuclear-holocaust vision.

Makes more sense to me to get my own affairs in order, anticipating my OWN death, instead of predicting or even BRINGING ABOUT the end of the world. Hell, all Bush has to do to start Armageddon and bring back Jesus is to push the Button, baby. Don't think it hasn't crossed his mind--or the minds of those idiots who advise him.

A great film scene would be the look on his face when he does the deed, and at the end with smoke seething from the ground, glowing with plutonium, nothing alive on Earth except Bush in his underground cave...

...and no Jesus. I believe he and others around him are stupid enough to think they can "induce" Jesus to come back in this way. They have done far stupider things, and in the same fucking vein. For instance: Why was there no post-war Iraqi planning?

Could it be that their first assumption was that they wouldn't NEED to rebuild Iraq, because that's where (Iraq = Mesopotamia, Babylon) Armageddon is supposed to take place...and the war was supposed to bring back Jesus? Ya think?

You cannot put it past these people. So far, it's unexplainable exactly why they've done what they did, except maybe to blame it on Bush's desire to avenge his father's insult.

540+ American deaths later...


Those commies at the Pew Research Center 

Here's what they're reporting:

Bush's personal image, by contrast, is at the low point of his presidency. His overall favorability rating has tumbled from 72% last April, shortly after the fall of Baghdad, to 53% in the current survey. Moreover, when asked for a one-word description of Bush, equal percentages now give negative and positive responses, which marks a dramatic shift since last May when positive descriptions outnumbered negative ones by roughly two-to-one (52%-27%). The most frequently used negative word to describe Bush is "liar," which did not come up in the May 2003 survey. The president's job approval also stands at an all-time low. Just 48% approve of his performance as president, the first time in his presidency his rating has fallen below 50%.

There is only one way to respond to news like this:

ha ha


Friday, February 20, 2004

The Greatest Strategic Blunder In Modern Memory 

Words to remember from digby's blog. Go there and read the rest.

Regardless of whether they hyped, sexed up or pimped out the intelligence on Iraq, the fact is that by invading Iraq the way we did and being proved complete asses now that no WMD have been discovered, one of our best defenses has been completely destroyed. It may have always been nothing but a pretense that we had hi-tech, super duper satellites with x-ray vision and all-knowing eavesdropping devices that can hear a pin drop half a world away but it was a very useful pretense. Nobody knew exactly what we were capable of. Now they do. It appears to everyone on the planet that our vaunted intelligence services couldn't find water even if they fell off of a fucking aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

It's this kind of thing that makes really crazy wackos like Kim Jong Il make mistakes. When a hugely powerful country like the United States proves to the entire world that it is not as powerful as everyone thought, petty tyrants and ambitious generals tend to get excited. This is why mighty nations should never fight wars unless they absolutely have to. It is always better to have enemies wonder whether they are as omnipotent as they appear. They should not risk proving otherwise unless they have no choice.

It is, therefore, in the national interest for the Democrats to lay this strategic blunder at the door of this administration as clearly and as forcefully as possible. We can only benefit by the world coming to believe, in no uncertain terms, that this war was fought in spite of what we knew, not because of what we didn't know. Bush and his neocon wet-dreamers need to take a very public fall for what they did, not just for justice but for national security. Nobody should allow the world's dangerous crackpots to believe that our institutions of the military and intelligence services have been tainted by this enormous error in judgment. It's too dangerous.


Ketchup is a vegetable, too 

One of those jaw-dropping articles that you come across on a weekly basis in these Modern Times:

Is cooking a hamburger patty and inserting the meat, lettuce and ketchup inside a bun a manufacturing job, like assembling automobiles?

That question is posed in the new Economic Report of the President, a thick annual compendium of observations and statistics on the health of the United States economy.

The latest edition, sent to Congress last week, questions whether fast-food restaurants should continue to be counted as part of the service sector or should be reclassified as manufacturers. No answers were offered.


Counting jobs at McDonald's, Burger King and other fast-food enterprises alongside those at industrial companies like General Motors and Eastman Kodak might seem like a stretch, akin to classifying ketchup in school lunches as a vegetable, as was briefly the case in a 1981 federal regulatory proposal.

I swear, I SWEAR, I made up that ketchup joke BEFORE I read the entire article...you believe me, don't you?


Thursday, February 19, 2004

That's news to me 

I realize this is old; it's pre-Election 2000. But when I read it in last week's New Yorker magazine in Jane Mayer's excellent article "Letter from Washington: Contract Sport", I was sitting in a fancy mall eating lunch, and the echoes of my laughter rang from Neiman-Marcus to Saks Fifth Avenue...

No link. It's from the hard copy, and The New Yorker doesn't archive. From page 88 of the 79th anniversary issue, February 16 & 23, 2004:

In the spring of 2000, Cheney's two worlds--politics and commerce--merged. Halliburton allowed its CEO to serve simultaneously as the head of George W. Bush's Vice-Presidential search committee. At the time, Bush said that his main criterion for a running mate was "somebody who's not going to hurt you." Cheney demanded reams of documents from the candidates he considered. In the end, he picked himself--a move that his longtime friend Stuart Spencer recently described, with admiration, as "the most Machiavellian fucking thing I've ever seen."

If we ever needed proof that Bush is just a brain-dead puppet who is NOT running things...this is the smoking gun.


Perp Walk 

Jeff Skilling frog-marched. More to come, if we're patient.

In honor of this day, I'm listening to Who's Next, with the volume up on 8. Wife and daughter are out at gymnastics...

No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind Blue Eyes...

Pete Townshend was a prophet. He wrote a song about George W. Bush about 35 years ago.


Wednesday, February 18, 2004

No Scandal Left Behind 

There are only 326 days left in the Bush Administration. So many cheats to run, so little TIME...

Chalabi and his ex-Iraqi henchmen were the chief providers to Cheney's various extra-CIA intelligence commissions of bullshit intel, including promises that Iraqis would greet U.S. forces with flowers and kisses. Those commissions include that very special Office of Special Plans, etc.

Now he's reaped his rewards. How con-VEEEN-ient.

Chalabi shouldn't be making hundreds of millions of dollars off the Federal Tit. He should be in JAIL in Jordan, where he's wanted for bank fraud. Maybe this is his way of making restitution.

Yawn. Another day, another payoff in the Bush administration--the crookedest administration in all of U.S. history.

And think of all the crooked Republican administrations Bush had to beat out of the title! Thank God he had the talent to do it...

Cheney, crooked CEO of Halliburton, member of the U.S. Military Industrial Complex...Rumsfeld, former good friend of Saddam Hussein, and emissary of Reagan and Schultz to that murderous dictator...Rice, the idealogue titular head and threesome partner with the Royal Couple in the Residence, usually in the Lincoln Bedroom unless Kenny-Boy's in town...Wolfowitz, Feith, Hannah, Libby, and last and least, Karl Rove--the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.

Talent brought them to the top of the heap. Let's hear it for the Bush administration--no scandal left behind!

Start-up Company With Connections

Washington - U.S. authorities in Iraq have awarded more than $400 million in contracts to a start-up company that has extensive family and, according to court documents, business ties to Ahmed Chalabi, the Pentagon favorite on the Iraqi Governing Council.

The most recent contract, for $327 million to supply equipment for the Iraqi Armed Forces, was awarded last month and drew an immediate challenge from a losing contester, who said the winning bid was so low that it questions the "credibility" of that bid.

But it is an $80-million contract, awarded by the Coalition Provisional Authority last summer to provide security for Iraq's vital oil infrastructure, that has become a controversial lightning rod within the Iraqi Provisional Government and the security industry.

Soon after this security contract was issued, the company started recruiting many of its guards from the ranks of Chalabi's former militia, the Iraqi Free Forces, raising allegations from other Iraqi officials that he was creating a private army.

Chalabi, 59, scion of one of Iraq's most politically powerful and wealthy families until the monarchy was toppled in 1958, had been living in exile in London when the U.S. invaded Iraq. The chief architect of the umbrella organization for the resistance, the Iraqi National Congress, Chalabi is viewed by many Iraqis as America's hand-picked choice to rule Iraq.

There's more. Go read it. If you care.


Laugh all you want...Larry Flynt has CREDIBILITY 

...and Drudge has next to NONE now that the "Kerry Affair" has been denied by all the parties as bullshit.

Flynt is directly responsible for the resignation of at least ONE Republican hypocrite who helped impeach Clinton by outing his adulterous infidelities: Bob Livingstone would have been Speaker of the House if not for Flynt's investigations.

Now, Flynt claims he has the goods on an ANCIENT story about Bush forcing his girlfriend to get an abortion in Texas in 1971--when abortion was STILL ILLEGAL. From atrios:

Larry Flynt says he's finally "nailed" the Bush abortion story. I'm sure the media, who spent the past week reporting on BS scandal-mongering from Drudge, will universally condemn Flynt for daring to do such a thing, as they did when he rightly thought that the hypocritical behavior by certain Republicans during the impeachment fiasco was newsworthy.


I'd also like the media to consider one thing - compare Flynt's batting average with Drudge's. While the media will jump to condemn Flynt, they should recognize that Flynt has higher journalistic standards than any of them for this kind of thing. He doesn't run with things until he has multiple sources. This story may or may not be true, but frankly I have a lot more faith in the accuracy of Flynt's reporting than I do in a lot of the mainstream press. The recent week has only re-confirmed that.

Let's remember that Drudge first became a celebrity not because of Monica, but because he falsely accused Sidney Blumenthal of beating his wife. And the media sided with Drudge.

There's more at the link, including a fascinating back-and-forth between Flynt and Novakula and Bill Press from a Crossfire transcript. Flynt describes the state of the evidence, and exactly what it is, without giving away identities or potentially libellous information. Go check it out.


Maybe you heard it here first... 

...and then, maybe you didn't. But here's the scoop:

Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry is in the midst of an internet-driven rumor mill pertaining to an alleged affair he's been having.

With a MAN.

With his OWN SECRETARY OF STATE--fellow Republican GEOFF CONNOR.

These are the men Texans chose to lead their state after Bush assumed the Presidency. It this is true, this is BIG. It touches national politics in some rather invisible ways, but it's there. DeLay was giving Perry orders and basically directing the re-districting of Texas over Perry's shoulder; Bush's base is in Texas, as well as a helluva lot of Bush's contributors.

It may or may not be an advantage for the Dems in Texas; they just might pick another Bush Lackey for their governor.

But this sure doesn't help them.

Two differences between this rumor and the Kerry affairs: This Perry rumor has stayed out of the "real" media until confirmed, which it looks like might be imminent; and the Perry rumor is probably TRUE.

February 18, 2004

More on the Perry / Scandal Stuff

From a GOP capitol staffer: "All hell is about to break loose"

Relating to these posts--here, here and here.

Posted by Byron L at February 18, 2004 01:31 AM


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Republicans in Utah--UTAH?--rebelling against Bush 

From blah3.com, who has it goin' today:

States Challenge No Child Left Behind Act

SALT LAKE CITY - With Utah in the vanguard, about a dozen states are rebelling against President Bush's centerpiece education law, the No Child Left Behind Act, complaining it imposes costly new obligations without providing the money to carry them out.

The Republican-controlled Utah House voted 64-8 last week not to comply with any provisions for which the federal government has not supplied enough money. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, represents the strongest position yet taken by lawmakers around the country.

Elsewhere, lawmakers have passed or introduced legislation or nonbinding resolutions challenging the 2002 law's tougher standards for student testing and teacher credentials.

Many legislators are angry over what they see as a federal takeover of education that leaves states to pay the bill.

[This is otherwise known as the Bush Tax, which has raised taxes in states and municipalities across America, or else led to the slashing of social programs across the country.]

"We gradually give up our state sovereignty when we accept our tax money back into the state with strings attached to it," said Republican state Rep. Margaret Dayton of Utah.


Ashcroft sued over 9-11 prosecution--by his OWN SUBORDINATE 

The article says this is an "extraordinary" sort of case. I'm hard-pressed to come up with a case like this that's EVER been filed in court.

9-11. It changed EVERYTHING.

An AP story, via blah3.com:

Prosecutor in Terror Case Sues Ashcroft

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department has exaggerated its performance in the war on terrorism, interfered with a major terror prosecution and compromised a confidential informant, a federal prosecutor has alleged in an extraordinary lawsuit against Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The lawsuit by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino is the latest twist in the Bush administration's first major post-Sept. 11 terrorism prosecution, a Detroit case jeopardized over allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

More. Much more. Go read it.


Monday, February 16, 2004

Ashcroft's Justice Dept. FINALLY nails a top Enron scumbag 

But not Kenny-Boy. Not just yet. He's next, presumably.

The following link is from truthout.org. The original story is from the Financial Times, which is subscription-only. Since truthout did not have a servlet link to connect to, the following story is available only at truthout.org.

Savvy? Man, we're all techno-philes here on the Big Bad Internet, especially when we strive for credibility.

Enron's Skilling May Face Charges Next Week

By Adrian Michaels in New York and Joshua Chaffin in Washington

The Financial Times

US federal prosecutors plan to bring criminal charges against Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron, as the probe finally reaches the very top of the Houston-based energy group.

Details of the charges could be revealed by next Thursday, people close to the case said, though they warned that delays are possible. Mr Skilling is expected to contest any allegations that he took part in orchestrating or concealing one of the most shocking of corporate frauds.


Side By Side 

You can reference the military careers of George W. Bush and John Kerry, side by side, at good old Mother Jones dot com.

Link is here.

As Art Carne used to say on Laugh-in:

Verrrrrry interesting.

Sheah, now I'm REALLY dating myself!


Red-letter day 

One thing about Bush that is fairly confounding is this: He claims to be a born-again Christian, but the word on him is that he's pardoned fewer convicts than any other President in history.

(If I'm wrong here, could somebody please set me straight? And with links, too? Thanks)

And now he goes and pardons somebody--wouldn't you know it would be a white-collar corporate criminal from TEXAS?

Via Talkleft:

Bush Grants Pardon to Man Convicted in $25 Million Fraud Scheme

Why, if Bush is so reluctant to grant pardons as a matter of course, did he pardon THIS guy?


South Knox Bubba strikes again 

Here's a blogger I don't read every day, but probably should.

He reminds us all why we should be grateful this President's Day. Grateful that Presidents only serve four years at a time, that is.


War, In Reverse, Is Beautiful 

Over the weekend I reread my favorite novel, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Slaughterhouse Five, in which the central character comes "unstuck in time." There's a beautiful passage in the book, when the character experiences a movie backwards. It's not a current event, or even a realistic one, but I feel the urge to post this excerpt here:

Billy looked at the clock on the gas stove. He had an hour to kill before the saucer came. He went into the living room, swinging the bottle like a dinner bell, turned on the television. He came slightly unstuck in time, saw the late movie backwards, then forwards again. It was a movie about American bombers in the Second World War and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this:

American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.

The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.

When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground., to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.

The American fliers turned in their uniforms, became high school kids. And Hitler turned into a baby, Billy Pilgrim supposed. That wasn't in the movie. Billy was extrapolating. Everybody turned into a baby, and all humanity, without exception, conspired biologically to produce two perfect people named Adam and Eve, he supposed.


Sunday, February 15, 2004

The Bush AWOL Resource Page 

After working on this page for the better part of a day, I'm starting to wonder just how important this issue really is. Interesting and revealing? Sure. But there are bigger issues.

Still, it's something: BushWhackedUSA: The Bush AWOL Resource Page

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