Thursday, December 30, 2004

Life During Wartime

Is the function of the press to report events objectively or is it meant to provide a narrative sufficient to further the goals of a government?

Earlier this year, when Democrats were in an uproar over Sinclair Broadcasting Group ordering its affiliates to show the anti-Kerry "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal", not much was said about the fact that Sinclair had previously sent correspondents to Iraq to report on “good news about the war”. Sinclair (and its supporters on the Right) apparently felt that Americans were only getting negative reporting from Iraq.

In the interest of objectivity myself, I Googled “Iraq + good + news” to no avail; the first ten pages of results returned stories reporting that the good news is that not more people are being killed. Indeed, Sinclair gave up its endeavor when it became clear that there’s not much mileage in US soldiers handing out candy to Iraqi children and found it difficult to justify the stories of schools being built – for every twenty schools destroyed. Given both sides of the story, only the most myopic (or, prevalently, misinformed) Bush supporter could say there’s a plethora good news coming out of Iraq; recent polls suggest most Americans think otherwise.

Still, for many pro-war conservatives, “news” is not about providing facts to the public but about conjuring narratives sufficient to support the goals of the Bush administration. Fighting 101st Keyboarder Roger Simon states that reporting the news makes
"Many members of our media are anti-American traitors." "Civil liability is something the families of those murdered should be asking about... I don’t think it is too much to expect reporters to have a sense of history..." "Not biased, just on the other side." "Without a Democratic party that would enact policies favorable to the terrorists, the terrorist/AP collaboration would have no effect." "If you are subscribing to a newspaper that carries the AP why not just send a check to Hamas?"
(via AlicuBlog)

Indeed, why bother with the truth at all?

Because, the function of the First Amendment, and the Press it protected, was to keep the government in check by informing American citizens without the oversight of the government what exactly was going on with their elected leaders.

Whether or not a citizen chooses to believe what the Press reports is up to that citizen, I suppose. However, it was difficult to find The Fighting 101st Keyboarder Division complaining about so-called liberal bias in the media when the war started. So it’s a matter of wanting to have it both ways, for pro-war conservatives. “Reactionary” is the term I believe is suitable (check the definition) because a coherent philosophy doesn’t waver with the wind. You can’t be gung-ho about how the Press goes ga-ga when a space-age military is rolling over an essentially stone-age force and then accuse that same Press of anti-American sensibility when things go terribly wrong and they report that, too.

The First Amendment is a uniquely American construct and if anything is "anti-American" it is the notion that the First Amendment only exists in order to support the aims of the government.

Now, a pro-war conservative (such as Roger Simon) may contend that reports of prisoner abuse and torture are the acts of "anti-American" members of the press seeking to undermine the aims of the Bush administration. However, such a claim is untenable when no contrary claims exist (i.e. torture or abuse did not happen). In fact, Simon doesn't claim that contrary reports exist. He's merely spewing ad hominem bile because the reports don't suit his view of the war.

The logic is simple. Either you report facts that suit the aims of a pro-war agenda or you simply report facts. The former flies in the face of the Constitution. If you're going to claim "Americanism" or "anti-Americanism", you must establish identity with the creed that determines what an "American" is - the Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Democracy demands the truth not narrative, not a gussied up version of the truth. Informed decisions are made on information - not opinion. In a truly free - American - society, the Press reports on "what is" not on "what we wamt to hear".

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

New Look, New Direction

Nice thing about the holidays is time on my hands. So why haven't I been posting?

With all this time, I've been seriously considering the purpose of this blog. To me, it's not enough to merely parrot what I've read on other leftist blogs and sites; that's done elsewhere and usually done far better than I can do it. I'm not a journalist (we'll forgo the "blogger as journalist" nonsense) nor did I ever want this blog to become "journalistic". In the last month or so, I've been looking for my place in the blogosphere and the new look here announces where I intend to take this space.

I have degrees in Psychology and Philosophy and I think both those areas give me a unique perspective on world events. Some of my posts have indulged in a little psychoanalysis and I'll continue with that, especially when examining the motives of conservatives. However, Philosophical (and specifically, Logical) analysis of conservative arguments are always entertaining - and revealing.

Back in the early 90's Rush Limbaugh had an hourly show, basically a stripped-down repetition of his show, and the college Republicans used to gather in the student union at noon to watch him. Likewise, I would watch along with them, keeping a tally of the logical errors he would make. It never failed to amaze me how many Straw Men, Red Herrings, False Analogies, and other fallacies Limbaugh could manage to fit into 40 minutes of broadcasting.

What's truly astounding is that The Federalist Papers are gorgeous works of pristine logic - read them and follow the exquisite arguments laid down by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay to see what I mean. Conservative "intellectuals" constantly refer to the Federalist Papers but it seems to be mere lip-service; modern conservative arguments tend to rely more on "belief" and emotion than reason - a tragic development, especially since it has degraded the discourse in politics. Rather than confronting liberals on terms of reasoned argument, conservatives have reduced themselves to name-calling and scapegoating.

A rather broad, sweeping indictment on my part. I intend to use this space to support my claims. We'll see how successful I am.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Taking the Christ Out of Christmas - In Iraq

An interesting post over at Juan Cole about yet another unfortunate product of our adventure in Iraq - the oppression of Iraqi Christians:
Iraq's approximately 700,000 Christians actually are having to hide their celebrations for fear of violence from radical Muslim extremists. Borzou Daragahi reports that most Iraqi Christians are declining to put out Christmas lights or symbols, and many are attending daytime masses or none at all for fear of car bombs. Many masses have even been cancelled by the churches

US enmity with Syria can only worsen the situation.
Thousands of Christians have fled Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Estimates vary widely, from just 10,000 to as many as 200,000. Most have moved to Jordan, Syria or Lebanon, all of them relatively hospitable to Christians. The Baath regime had been generally tolerant of Christians, since it stressed Arab nationalism rather than Islam as the basis of the state.

A conference on Christian-Muslim dialogue was held recently in Baathist Syria, where major Christian and Muslim figures spoke about harmony between Christians and Muslims. Most Syrian Christians support the Baath government because it provides tolerance to them, and they know that were it to fall, it would likely be replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood. About 10 percent of Syria's 18 million citizens are Christian.

Ironically, the Bush administration wants to overthrow the Syrian government, risking the same kind of destabilization there that has so hurt Iraqis--including Iraqi Christians.

Of course the neocons have no love for Christianity (except when it furthers their interests) and protecting Chrisitians (or Kurds or Sunnis or anybody else) is the furthest thing from their minds.

Sen. Feinstein to propose an end to Electoral College

Looks like we have another Senator in our corner:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday that when Congress returns in January, she will propose a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College and replace it with a one-person, one-vote system for electing the nation's president and vice president.
"The Electoral College is an anachronism, and the time has come to bring our democracy into the 21st century," Feinstein said in a statement. "During the founding years of the republic, the Electoral College may have been a suitable system, but today it is flawed and amounts to national elections being decided in several battleground states.''

Despite some popular appeal, the proposal faces a difficult road to passage. It takes a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress followed by ratification by 38 states for a constitutional amendment to become law.

Feinstein's staff pointed out Wednesday that 25 years ago, the Senate voted 51-48 for a proposal to abolish the Electoral College, a majority but still far short of the two-thirds required. About 10 years before that, the House voted 338-70 for abolishment, but the Senate didn't act that year.

Feinstein, who has the support of Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-Rhode Island, as a co-sponsor, said the Electoral College, which awards each state and the District of Columbia a minimum of three votes, is unfair to states such as California because it takes far more popular votes to win even one of California's 55 electoral votes than, for instance, to win one of the three in a sparsely populated state such as North Dakota. Most states award their electoral votes in a winner-take-all fashion, although Nebraska, with five, and Maine, with four, have a proportional system for allocating their electoral votes.
Electoral College supporters say the current system for electing a president guarantees small states a voice in the campaign. They argue it is consistent with the intent of the Founding Fathers, who created a republic in which voters delegate powers to elected representatives, and not a direct democracy.

They also say that even without the college, candidates of the two major parties will still focus their efforts where their parties are strongest and that the proposed system would lead to more third parties, which could splinter the vote.

I don't see why "the proposed system would lead to more third parties," is a problem; seems to me the current two-party system isn't a spectacular success. If this makes it to the floor for a vote, we need to write to our representatives to make sure they support ending the out-dated Electoral College.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas, Support Our Troops

In the silly and simple-minded canard of the rightards, not supporting the war is equivalent to not supporting the troops. It's difficult for me to conceive that some people are actually stupid enough to believe that but it's been spewed hit-and-run style in my comments by psuedo-patriotic Americans.

They're not patriotic Americans, they're Nationalists which is tantamount to fascism and so, completely un-American. Nitwit Nationalists without the intellectual wherewithall to comprehend that criticizing ill-considered foreign policy is actually more pro-American than blindly following the lies of crooks driven by self-interest while putting fellow Americans in harm's way.

I've challenged these anti-American types to back up their bile with actual facts but as you can see, none have the courage or intellect to do so. Deep in their hearts they know they hate America and believe that one day the America they hate will be destroyed for the sake of the fascist theocracy they wish for.

Merry Christmas, your wish won't come true.

In the meantime, I point you to an excellent DKos diary by ttagaris that shows just how much conservatives hate our troops. Cutting VA benefits for our troops is hardly a show of support. Oh, and by the way, the diary is nicely cited, so anyone can check the facts. Funny how us liberals are sticklers for facts and rightards run from facts. Rightards mainly indulge in ad hominem attacks and then cower when confronted with facts. It is 100% my experience the entire time I've blogged here. They call me a name and then run when asked to back up their shit with facts. Sad.

To everyone - Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Social Security and The Fainthearted Faction

Fuck I'm tired of dealing with all of this stupidity... thank God for Christmas!

Anyway, I'll let Josh Marshall do all the work fill you in on the Fainthearted Faction and their willingness to sell us out to Wall Street:
In any case, a few other points. First, though he is sponsoring a partial Social Security phase-out plan, I will at least give Sen. Graham credit for a level of responsibilty on how to pay for it. He has publicly scolded President Bush's willingness to borrow one or two trillion dollars to finance his Social Security phase-out plan. And he himself has suggested eliminating the caps on payroll taxes (thus incresing the taxes on upper-income workers) to finance the transition.

At the end of the day, he still wants to partially phase-out Social Security and replace it with private accounts. And partial phase-out will lead to total phase-out. But there is some virtue I think in noting cases in which you have fundamental political and philosophical disagreements with someone and yet you can see that they are advocating what you see as bad policies with some measure of honesty and responsibility, in contrast to the likes of President Bush who is doing so with the characteristic recklessness and deception. Graham was also a standout on Abu Ghraib. So, anyway, I just wanted to noted these points.

Sorry-ass lot.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Unfurling the Prisoner Abuse Story

Not a lot going on in the blogosphere - almost everyone's on vacation, it seems. But not your intrepid Nino.

Seems the military tried to cover up prisoner abuse (including murder) and side-step prosecution by abusers:
Army documents released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) offered new details about the deaths of Iraqis in U.S. custody and suggested that prosecution in several cases was pre-empted by military commanders.

The case was one of dozens included in the latest release of government documents relating to the detention and interrogation of U.S.-held detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The documents were turned over to the ACLU and other human rights groups that filed a joint lawsuit to force compliance with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request earlier this year.

The ACLU and its fellow petitioners won a major court victory late Monday when a federal judge ordered the Central Intelligence Agency--which had failed to respond to the FOIA petition--to disclose files that are currently under internal review for evidence of possible wrongdoing by its agents in Iraq.

Aside from a handful of rightards hiding out in momma's closet proudly serving the 101st Warblogger keyboard division, most Americans believe the US needs to be held to a higher standard. Setting a precedent of abusing prisoners opens the door for the abuse of US P.O.W.s by enemy forces.

We need to set this right.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Mein Fuhrer Just Fucked Up

This just out from the ACLU website... I also heard it on KRCC from the BBC World News:
A document released for the first time today by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq. Also released by the ACLU today are a slew of other records including a December 2003 FBI e-mail that characterizes methods used by the Defense Department as "torture" and a June 2004 "Urgent Report" to the Director of the FBI that raises concerns that abuse of detainees is being covered up.
The two-page e-mail that references an Executive Order states that the President directly authorized interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and "sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc." The ACLU is urging the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such an order and immediately to release the order if it exists. The FBI e-mail, which was sent in May 2004 from "On Scene Commander--Baghdad" to a handful of senior FBI officials, notes that the FBI has prohibited its agents from employing the techniques that the President is said to have authorized.

Stealing elections? Torturing human beings? It's all the same thing to these thugs...

Monday, December 20, 2004

Class Warfare For Christmas

If you sift through my archives, you'll find a number of instances where I have challenged conservatives to provide historical evidence of tax cut benefits. Specifically, I have asked for an historical precedent where sweeping tax cuts for the rich have benefited society in the long-term. Being neither an economist nor an historian, I'm not sure my cursory research has provided me with pat answers. However, what research I have done has indicated that there is no time in history when tax cuts for the rich have benefited society. My research has indicated quite the opposite; progressive tax rates have created long-term economic stability and sustained growth by benefiting society as a whole.

I say "society" rather than "the economy" and stipulate "long-term" over "short-term" because I am willing to acknowledge that Reagan's tax-cuts benefited the economy over the short-term. Needless to say, that benefit was felt by a small segment of society and even then, the effects were short-term. In the long term, a majority of Americans did worse under Reagan and his so-called "legacy" conspicuously neglects his economic record. A short-term economic boom that eventually leads to economic crisis (that occured towards the end of Reagan's second term and throughout Bush I's presidency) hardly qualify as success.

So my challenge stands.

I bring this up because my post Saturday on this season's holiday retail performance was borne out in a report today:
Recent sales figures from the nation's largest retailers underscore the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Wal-Mart missed its November sales numbers, posting a meager seven-tenths-of-a-percent gain over November, 2003. The company had expected 3 to 4 percent sales growth. City saw a 3 percent decline in sales last month, and K-Mart's sales are likely to drop 10 percent.

"You have wealthy consumers spending in unprecedented proportions and the cash and credit starved consumers are suffering," says retail analyst Burt Fleckinger of the Strategic Resource Group.

The lesson should be clear here but I'm afraid not many people get it. A spending spree by a small number of Americans cannot sustain long-term prosperity, nor is it inidicative of a healthy economy.

I've always maintained that as long as you have a strong middle-class and a working class that can afford to own a couple of cars, a fishing boat, and a home, socialism will remain a dirty word. As such, I didn't think I'd see a socialist America in my lifetime. With the rise of the Right, I may be reassessing that prediction. As more Americans fall into poverty and families find it harder to make ends meet.
Since 2000, Gray and more than 6 million other Americans have joined the ranks of the families who find it increasingly difficult to perform a most basic function - to put food on their tables.

The economic indicators are numerous.

After a seven-year decline, the number of Americans on food stamps has shot up 39 percent since 2000, according to federal statistics. Every state, except Hawaii, has felt the impact. In Arizona, food stamp rolls have increased 104 percent, in Nevada, 97 percent; Oregon, 79 percent; South Carolina, 68 percent; Missouri, 65 percent.

Texas has added nearly a million people to its food stamp rolls in only four years.

Part of that increase was fueled by states' increased efforts to enroll a greater portion of people eligible for food stamps and the placement of people back onto the rolls who were knocked off during welfare reform. Most of it, however, social workers say, is the growing number of Americans unable to feed themselves without help.

"Clearly, most of this is because of increased need," said Carol Adams, head of the Illinois Department of Social Services. Illinois has seen a 31 percent increase in the number of people on food stamps since 2000.

If you ask me, this hardly looks like an economic expansion. What it looks like is that Bush's tax policies have benefited a few while hurting many more.

I'm not asking for a dogfight, I'm asking to be enlightened. If there are any conservatives reading this who can lead me to facts (and not opinion, conjecture, or theory), I would be more than happy to look at those facts. Let's start a dialogue: sway me.

Until then, I'm tending to think that if there's anything to the term "Reagan Revolution" it is that, in the long-term, it's a Marxist's dream.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Dr. Menlo Rocks the Universe

Maybe because it's late and maybe it's because I've had a few but if you're not making Dr. Menlo one of your daily visits well... you're not like me except in the fact that you hit the '= key' instead of the backspace key.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Gutless Rightards

I get my share of hate email/comments and as much as I'd like to shake the last one, I just can't let it go. it's too cowardly. Plus, well, not alot to write about, frankly.

So.... I get this anonymous bullshit comment on a Rumsfeld post yesterday that says:
You have no idea what you are talking about. I for one get tired of people like yourself discrediting our military and this great country of ours.

And my response was:
I for one get tired of cowards like you posting anonymously. If you have contrary evidence, shit-for-brains, by all means, put it up. Otherwise, shut your fucking fascist mouth, skank.

Of course, the shithead hits-and-runs. Like so many of that ilk. What I wanted to say, in entirety, was that I love my country much more than you do because I am willing to speak my mind, practice democracy, you only improve by recognizing your mistakes and correcting what's wrong.

You'd think the anonymous poster would realize that: he writes a whiny-ass blog about being a half-assed wrestler and being a piss-poor student. A really, REALLY boring blog. I have no clue who he's writing it for unless it's some kind of code for anti-American terrorists, I mean it involves lists of what - who knows what the fuck - could be construed as coded lists for plans to MURDER GEORGE BUSH or drop BIOCHEMICAL WEAPONS IN A UNITED STATES MALL AT CHRISTMAS TIME - his blog seems pretty hinky to me, suspect, a little Islamofascist because why else would he want to stifle dissent? Get me here, DHS, I think this guy is an actual TERRORIST!

Anyway, he's not so "anonymous":
Referring Link
Host Name
IP Address
Country United States
Region West Virginia
City Charleston
ISP Verizon Internet Services
Returning Visits 0
Visit Length 15 seconds
Browser MSIE 6.0
Operating System Windows XP
Resolution 1280x1024
Javascript Enabled

Yee-haw, ain't technology wondeful?

Friday, December 17, 2004

The Fat Getting Fatter

It will be interesting to see what the final retailer numbers are for the holidays; a quick Google search didn't indicate anything other than bad news... well, except for those shitsacks whose hands are on Bush's dick. The tax cuts did benefit the upper crust and their attitude seems to be "Fuck the rest of Americans".

Retailers like Wal-Mart, Sears, Target - you know, where us poor folk go and shop - are having a pretty dismal season in light of the "recovery". On the other hand, high-end retailers like Neiman-Marcus and Sacks are raking it in. Welcome to the Bush economy where a few live it up and quite a few suck it up:
The recovery is showing up in stock values, corporate profits and other measures at the upper end of the economic spectrum. But in data more meaningful to most Americans, things don't look so rosy. Employment has trickled up during the past year, but still stands at 400,000 fewer jobs than in 2001. Productivity gains and outsourcing mean some U.S. jobs are gone for good.

Wages have risen, but only modestly. The ranks of those without health insurance grew by 1.4 million to 45 million in 2003.
Some of those tax-cut recipients seem intent on displaying their riches as conspicuously as possible.

In such places as East Hampton, N.Y., and Seal Harbor, Maine, the $10 million weekend place is commonplace. Yacht sizes have swelled, and superluxury cars are selling like, well, Volkswagens. Volkswagen, for its part, is about to introduce a 1,000-horsepower Bugatti that does 250 mph. The price tag: at least $1 million.

To quote another artist, Billie Holiday: "Them that's got shall get. Them that's not shall lose." Great song. But not very good economic policy.

Now if there's equivocation on this, I want to hear it. Don't just anonymously say "You're wrong" like the nutless sack of shit in my last post, really, that just diminishes any impact you rightards thought you were making. That's schoolyard sissy bullshit and does nothing to add to a debate. Show us your brains by backing up your argument with FACTS (and "you're anti-American" is not a fact, dumbass) and for God's sake, try and show a modicum of courage, posting anonymously is well known throughout the internet to be as cowardly as it gets.

So if you have FACTS to present an alternate view of the economy, bring it out, I'd love to read it. Enlighten me.

The Rummy Thing Gets Rummier

If the Chimp still hangs onto Rummy after this, we can all congratulate ourselves for identifying Bush as a complete moron:
Renewed exposure of prisoner abuse, torture and even murder by American military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan is widening already deep divisions between the Pentagon and the intelligence community -- and creating an untenable situation for Donald Rumsfeld, the beleaguered secretary of defense. A recently disclosed FBI memo indicates that "marching orders" to abandon traditional interrogation methods came from the defense secretary himself.

In recent days, a coalition of human rights groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights has brought new cases of abuse to public attention. Using the Freedom of Information Act, they have pried thousands of pages of previously secret documents from the Defense Department and other agencies.
Scott Horton, a New York lawyer and president of the International League for Human Rights, has spent months investigating the role Bush administration officials played in the torture scandal. He says there is mounting evidence -- including the May 10 FBI e-mail -- that strongly suggests that Rumsfeld and his top intelligence aides were directly responsible for the wholesale abandonment of legal and ethical norms as well as international treaty obligations. Now that Republican senators and neoconservative ideologues are publicly turning their backs on the defense secretary, perhaps even he may someday be held accountable for this disgraceful stain on the honor of the U.S. armed forces.

For all of it, justice is him dying in prison.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Google Bomb O'Reilly

Google 'coward' and there's no Bill O'Reilly; considering 4 of the first 6 sites are for Noel Coward, maybe it's time to "Google bomb" Bill O'Reilly with 'coward'. I take my cue from this Letter from David Brock to Bill O'Reilly (via Oliver Willis):
You once offered your viewers your definition of the word "coward." On the January 5, 2004, O'Reilly Factor, you declared: "If you attack someone publicly, as these men did to me, you have an obligation to face the person you are smearing. If you don't, you are a coward."

Well, Mr. O'Reilly, you have attacked me publicly on numerous occasions, and you refuse to face me. You, sir, are a coward -- by your own definition of the term. You are "hiding under your desk" (to paraphrase your August 26, 2003, claim about a "coward" who declined to appear on your show) rather than allowing me on your program to discuss your insults. You are "gutless," to borrow the phrase you used on January 10, 2003, and February 8, 2001, to describe people who would not appear on your program. I attach additional examples of your pejorative descriptions of those who decline invitations to appear on your broadcast.

Your frequent complaint that your words are taken out of context appears to have spurred your recent assault on my organization. While reasonable people can disagree about conclusions we, or you, have drawn about your comments, you are simply wrong to say that we took you out of context. I remain willing and eager to appear on either your television or radio program to discuss your contention that my organization has taken your comments out of context.

Should you continue to refuse this offer, it is only reasonable that the American people will conclude that you are not only -- as you would put it -- a "coward," but a hypocrite as well.

For those of you unfamiliar with the 'Google bomb', it's quite simple. Whenever you type 'coward' into your site, you hyperlink coward to Bill O'Reilly's site (if you put your mouse over every instance of 'coward' in this post, look at the bottom left corner of your browser and you'll see that it's linked to Bill O'Reilly's site). With enough bloggers linking coward to O'Reilly's site, whenever someone types coward into a Google search, O'Reilly's site will come up as the first result.

Go to it!

UPDATE: Bumblebums suggested in comments on my DKos diary that we should Google Bomb Bill O'Reilly by linking his name to 'coward' on the M-W Dictionary site, i.e. link every instance of 'Bill O'Reilly' to the definition of 'coward' listed on that site. Superb idea.

Where Is My Fucking Visit?!?!

Goddamnit, I have been itching for a visit from brownshirted blue-suited Secret Service thugs so they can see how a single dad with three kids gets by well below the line of poverty. I'm dying for those soul-less pieces of crap to come and rough me up in front of my kids so my kids can come to respect the power and lack of integrity of crepping fascism in our country. Furthermore, I want my kids to see how, after another terrorist attack, our moron Preznit had nothing better to do than to send his bullies out to initmidate people exercising their first amendment rights.

For instance, the shit-for-brains Secret Service wasting your tax money to brow-beat a Macon, GA man for his bumper stickers:
Jesse Ethredge doesn't care much for President Bush, and he doesn't hesitate to say so.

In fact, if you're following the 57-year-old Eatonton man down the road, you'll quickly learn just exactly what he thinks of Bush.

"Don't U blame me. Thief -- Liar -- Two Faced Murderer Geo W. Bush. Hell with Bush and all damn Republicans."

Those are the words printed, in plastic stick-on letters, on the back of the camper on Ethredge's truck, which is also adorned with a cartoon child urinating on the word "Republicans."

Those also are the words that earned Ethredge a visit from the U.S. Secret Service last week.

"They came Tuesday, wanting to ask me what did I mean by that there," Ethredge said, pointing to the slogan on his truck. "They asked me a bunch of questions, like if he was to come into my driveway, what would I tell him. I said I'd tell him to get out as fast as he come in it. ... They wanted to see if I was a danger to him."

This isn't the country I grew up learning about. George Bush has fucking ruined this country. I recall how Rethugs whined and pointed fingers when Janet Reno had the ATF storm the Branch Davidian complex. Well, guess what, you dipshits, Koresh was armed to the teeth and was molesting children. Screw his first amendment rights, he got what he deserved. Where is your outrage when people are jailed for wearing a shirt at a Bush circle jerk or when the Secret Service gorillas intimidate old men for their bumper stickers?

Yeah, I thought so you phony fucks...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Kill Em' All and Let Lavasoft Sort Em' Out

This made me smile: adware companies developing software to root out and destroy programs from rival adware companies:
Adware cannibals feast on each other

Companies that use free software downloads to target Web surfers with annoying ads are turning on each other to keep customers--and the cash they generate--for themselves.

The tactic is in the spotlight in a little-noticed legal dispute unfolding in Seattle. Caribbean-based ad company Avenue Media last month accused New York-based DirectRevenue of using competing software to detect and delete Avenue Media's Internet Optimizer program from its customers' computers.

According to the Nov. 24 complaint, DirectRevenue's software detects Internet Optimizer and then sends a command to "kill" the program, a process that deletes its files from the PC registry and from the computer altogether. Avenue Media said DirectRevenue's tactics have caused it to lose about 1 million customers--about half its installed base--and as much as $10,000 a day in revenue.

I hope the swine cannibalizes each other into oblivion and then let the programmers have it out in a fight to the death. Then they can share a room in hell.

Email To Investigate the Ohio Election

This is too important NOT to do this, Click here:

To support Rep. Conyers call to investigate the Ohio vote.

Check Out the Bridge I'm Selling On eBay!

An interesting piece in today's NYT about how companies are hiring professional union busters:
"They did everything they could to make the union look bad," Larry Brown, a union vice president, said.

Many workers became angry with the union over the pay cuts, especially because they received no raises from 1995 to 2001.

The anger fueled the effort to oust the union. Tom Brown organized anti-union meetings, sent mailings to the plant's 500 workers and asked them to sign cards saying they wanted the union out.

Mr. Brown testified that Mr. X, the company consultant, had given him advice. EnerSys officials later admitted that they had paid the consultant $39,000 to help guide the anti-union campaign. Mr. Brown also acknowledged that company officials had given him stamps for anti-union mailings.

One of the many Republican lies that the bah-bah Dems have been reluctant to answer, "Pro-Labor is Anti-Worker" has got to be the silliest. Look, I understand how some workers would take the bait of "Labor hurts business and that means you might lose your job" but even that falls apart when you reveal the real reasons for companies shipping jobs overseas (enriching shareholders and upper-tier management, shifting capital to other industries or investment).

On the face of it, "Pro-Labor is Anti-Worker" just doesn't make a lick of sense. Unions exist in order to advocate for worker's rights but Big Business and Republicans have been able to convince workers that Unions only want to collect dues. Huh? You mean Unions aren't there to negotiate better wages, benefits, employment guarantees, pension protections, advocating safer working conditions and limiting the amount of hours an employer can demand from workers? Right, because companies are well-known for taking care of those details themselves.

Unfortunately, the DLC and Clinton Democrats were unwilling to lift a finger for labor. That centrist/corporatist attitude is arguably a miscalculation that cost Dems the last election. As the Supreme Court and the government became less friendly to Labor, Clinton and the DLC stood back and raked in corporate donations. Small wonder workers have become disillusioned with Dems as the party that would protect their interests. With both parties apparently forsaking the American worker, economic interests are pretty much moot as a campaign issue.

I'm not saying that anyone has to appropriate "Pro-business is Anti-worker" as a platform. There was a time in this country when unions thrived - and so did the US economy. But as long as the Dems pay little more than lip-service to unions and American workers, working-class voters have little choice between the two existing parties.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

This Is the "Democracy" We're Importing to Iraq?

If or when we're hit by another terrorist attack, DHS can assure us it's not because they hadn't vetted all the 11-year old boys:
When the two plainclothes Loudoun County sheriff's investigators showed up on her Leesburg doorstep, Pamela Albaugh got nervous. But when they told her why they were there, she got angry: A complaint had been filed alleging that her 11-year old son had made "anti-American and violent" statements in school.

She was aware of an incident at Belmont Ridge Middle School in which her son, Yishai Asido, was assigned to write a letter to U.S. Marines and responded, according to his teacher, by saying, "I wish all Americans were dead and that American soldiers should die." Yishai and Albaugh deny that the boy wished his countrymen dead.

Why worry about Smallpox and nuclear devices when the real threat is apparently from wrist-rockets, BB guns, and Yu-Gi-Oh cards...

They Get a Gay RNC Chair and Then This Happens

You just have to check this out over at Skippy the Bush Kangaroo... biggest laugh I've had in a week!

Magic vs. Science

It's weird how one thought leads to another.

It's not that it hadn't slipped under my radar but the closing of an art exhibition for showing an unflattering portrait of the Preznit was covered elsewhere:
A portrait of President Bush using monkeys to form his image led to the closure of a New York art exhibition over the weekend and anguished protests on Monday over freedom of expression.

"Bush Monkeys," a small acrylic on canvas by Chris Savido, created the stir at the Chelsea Market public space, leading the market's managers to close down the 60-piece show that was scheduled to stay up for the next month.

"We had tons of people, like more than 2,000 people show up for the opening on Thursday night," said show organizer Bucky Turco. "Then this manager saw the piece and the guy just kind of flipped out. 'The show is over. Get this work down or I'm gonna arrest you,' he said. It's been kind of wild."

Sure it bothers me that the US continues to resemble a Soviet state. The government lies, shrouds its operations in secrecy, engages in subterfuge, spies on its citizens, and apparently we're moving into the realm of "state approved" art. It's disturbing and I'm afraid I'm becoming inured to it.

That Bush and his throngs of holy-roller robots are anti-intellectual is not exactly news. However, when it comes to pushing their mumbo-jumbo agenda into classrooms across all levels of the educational system, it makes me wonder why these people hate America. It's not just their venal dismissal of global warming for the sake of placating big business but the dissemination of bogus information and outright falsehoods (such as the nonsense toted in federal "abstinence-only" programs) is intolerable.

The epistemological rationale for evangelicals insistence on equal time for their superstition is specious at best, untenable at worst. So I pose some simple questions: how many computers did "faith" build? How many prayers have lifted rockets into space? Where in the bible is the periodic table?

When religious dogma provides coherent answers to problems posed by physics, geology, biology, chemistry, astronomy, anthropology, engineering, mathematics, etc., I'll consider a more tolerable view of God in the classroom. Until then, I'm putting my faith in empiricism. Progress depends on our dedication to science and our commitment to bettering the whole of humanity. Organized religion has done nothing for the former and very little towards the latter.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Because I Care...

...and because I have neither the energy to write not the creativity to come up with something decent, I submit to you these links for fellow bloggers who actually have something worthwhile to read. Considering every other blog today is KERIK KERIK KERIK and DEATH for Scott Peterson, I didn't feel like I had much to add today. Maybe tonight but unitl then, enjoy the links.

Roxanne over at Rox Populi asks us to come up with gift ideas for Dubya, Condi, Uncle Karl, Uncle Dick, and little Scooter... could be fun!

Mac at Pesky' Apostrophe has a new look AND argues with a Baptist about the true history of Christmas, sweeping aside the fairy tales for a little reason. Except it isn't the season for reason (it's more the mall parking lot demolition derby season) but why quibble? Indeed.

Susannity! and the very sweet Susanne tells us about an UGLY practice of putting "glue boards" up to trap and kill birds in the rafters of a store. I also agree that the inventor of said boards needs to get stuck on those things for awhile... or get a board upside the head (is my suggestion).

At Net Politik, Mick Arran (who also does the fine Arran's Alley) calls for the Electoral College to reject a second Bush presidency and who can't get behind THAT?

Jude at iddybud
says what needs to be said about Beinart's nit-wittery, that Dems need to hand the dead animal of Iraq back to Bush and be done with the fiasco, not get on board as Beinart would have us do and share the blame for the biggest military blunder in US history.

Random Toughts Kathy rolls up her sleeves and weighs in heavilly on the stupidity and hypocricy of Abstinence Only Sex-Ed cretins.

Simply Appalling gives liberals yet another reason to despise Hillary. Look, I'm BORED with the right demonizing this woman (it's not just passe, it's idiotic and always has been) butI've never been a fan of either of the Clintons.

Google fun (and loads of other fun) over at Biomes Blog...

Over at Jews Sans Frontieres, Levi has some interesting developments for us from that little island of paradise known as the middle east.

~A at Watching the Watchers has a good piece about religion in America, saying some things that I've been thinking that, those of us on the left who are not religious need to show a little tolerance for...

Pharyngula shudders and opines on the right's neverending hunt to eliminate all things not them.

At the Shameless Agitator, Andrea sees what I (and many others) see as far as the inevitability of another Bush lie coming to light, namely, the return of a military draft.

Righteously pissed off, Attaturk goes ballistic at Rising Hegemon.

Props to the Baby-faced Brigade: Gotta' help out Benjamin's sister on her research paper, folks. Benjamin Solah's Blog, bright kid and hope for the future. Also among the brigade is the left blogospher's new wunderkind Brad Plumer who lends his usual keen mind to the "what ails the left" discussion and although this discussion has gotten a little stale (IMHO), Brad does an excellent job of reheating it and giving it some dire flavor.

Another Brad (though slightly more grizzled), Brad DeLong reports on the other Bush failure (the economy) and the half-assed attempts by the administration to blow a little smoke across some mirrors...

Ezra at Pandagon gives us a nifty list of how well the Republicans have done - at disintegrating.

Jesus' General has a grand idea: to shore up flagging troop numbers in Iraq, get those who supported the war to volunteer. First on his list is Tom DeLay.

World O'Crap reminds us to thank the ACLU for giving us Chistian children to slap this Christmas, er, "Holiday Season".

Finally, as a bit of writer's frustration, I've wondered why no one has commented on my "Here There Be Boogeymen" post. I thought the piece was rhetorically sound and the logic pristine... *sigh*, it's weird how you put a lot of work into a post and it gets ignored while the off-the-cuff half-assed posts get gabbed up to no end.

The single dad blog calls... more here, tonight.

Winning Back the Working Class

Thanks to American Samizdat for pointing me to an interesting analysis by Stan Hister at Zmag on the wrong direction of class warfare. Like so many post November 2 analyses, it uses Thomas Frank's book "What's the Matter with Kansas?" as a starting point and cranks the debate up a few degrees:
So while the right is doing everything it can to appear more extreme, the left is all sweet moderation. While the right is constantly emphasizing its 'principles' and 'values', the left is shamelessly selling out to the first 'electable' pretty face that comes along. In this sense there is a grain of truth in the mountain of right-wing lies about morality: the left doesn't seem to stand for anything anymore, it doesn't seem to have a moral compass. This is true even of so evidently moral a film as "Fahrenheit 9/11", easily the most influential intervention by the left in the campaign. You came out of that movie wanting to storm the barricades - and all you were offered was a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker.

Hister's solution? Get honest about economic issues by putting socialism back on the table. Well, I don't see that happening, at least not to the extent that the radical left defines it. In the US, "socialism" carries the kind of connotation of some extreme anti-everything-American ideal, that if Americans accepted socialism we might as well all start cross-dressing, burning down churches, speaking French, and forcibly aborting babies from women who dared to engage in heterosexual activity for the sake of procreation.

Another right-wing boogeyman, socialism is about as bad as it gets. However, whenever I hear someone (right or left) shudder at the mention of socialism, I point to the Scandinavian countries as an example of socialism working just fine.

Strip away the pejorative aspects of "socialism" by re-stating the issues as livable wages, the end of corporate welfare, child care, health care, and putting a stop to allowing big business running rough-shod over ordinary, working Americans. I don't forsee the Dems dumping their corporatist patronage and that's unfortunate. Until Dems are willing to get completely honest about economic issues, they're going to continue losing elections.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Pick Me! Pick Me! Pick Me!

A few of you know that I write several other blogs. One (linked over there to the right) is for a local band, Boodgoggle, and a third blog is about my day-to-day existence as a full-time single dad. Another blog (also linked on the right), Patriside, is not the most successful (if you measure success by the number of hits, this space gets twice the hits Patriside gets) but it is a labor of love and, as such, my favorite.

Well, that labor has paid off as I have been nominated for the 'The Best of Blog Awards: Best Daddy Blog' award. It's not a big deal but it's nice to be recognized. Anyway, please go read Patricide and if you like what you see, by all means, go to 'The Best of Blog Awards: Best Daddy Blog' and give me a good word.

Buy Blue

This has been posted for so long, in so many places (including my Colorado Springs - Democracy For America blog) but it bares repeating; I didn't think it would be successful at first but it looks like the ball is rolling.

So... go to before you make your holiday shopping decisions, we're putting Republican donors on notice that we're not supporting their politics or their businesses.

It's a Good Thing We Don't Have Socialized Medicine.... Because?

If you want a straight answer, one out of three times you're going to get a bogus answer:
Medicare's toll-free telephone line, one of the main vehicles for disseminating information about new prescription drug benefits and drug discount cards, gives accurate answers less than two-thirds of the time, Congressional investigators say.

In a test of the service, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, found that 29 percent of callers received inaccurate answers, while 10 percent got no answers at all.

Last night I listened to some Ayn Rand-ite dipshit pontificate about how she didn't want to wait three months to get her teeth cleaned, like Canadians have to do. Whatever. You only need your teeth cleaned every six months, so shut up and besides, I don't see Canadians pouring over the border to take advantage of our nifty healthcare system. Much less to get their teeth cleaned.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

If You're Feeling a Draft...

It really gripes me to hear conservatives claim that things are just peachy over in Iraq. It's not just their inability to provide evidence for their claim nor is it their blindness to the facts. What gets me is that they've gone to the bank so many times with the canard that they support the troops and that we, by opposing the war, are hurting the troops.

Like all things conservative, the palaver about supporting the troops goes into the trash heap. Indeed, it looks like it's the troops themselves who are handing conservatives the bad news:
Soldiers always gripe. But confronting the defense secretary, filing a lawsuit over extended tours and refusing to go on a mission because it’s too dangerous elevate complaining to a new level.

It also could mean a deeper problem for the Pentagon: a lessening of faith in the Iraq mission and in a volunteer army that soldiers can’t leave.

The hubbub over an exchange between Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and soldiers in Kuwait has given fresh ammunition to critics of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy.

It also highlighted growing morale and motivation problems in the 21-month-old war that even some administration supporters say must be addressed to get off a slippery slope that could eventually lead to breakdowns reminiscent of the Vietnam War.

It's not just the well-publicized swipe at Rummy that's an indication that things are coming apart at the seams. The US military is fighting desertion, recruitment shortfalls and legal challenges from its own troops as it becomes apparent to soldiers and civilians that things in Iraq aren't as rosy as the Preznit claims. In fact, an Associated Press poll yesterday found that of Americans polled:
Fewer than half, 47 percent, think it's likely Iraq will be able to establish a stable government, according to the poll conducted for the AP by Ipsos-Public Affairs. Just over half, 51 percent, see it as unlikely.

You think this might be the reason that military recruiters can't fill their quotas and can't retain National Guard and Reserve members through re-enlistment? Or that:
The Army Reserve is facing an extreme shortage of company officers, a situation aggravated by a surge in resignation requests.

The shortage — primarily of captains — has seriously reduced the capabilities of the reserves, and continued losses will further reduce the readiness of "an already depleted military force," an Army briefing document submitted last month to Congress said.

Army Reserve resignation requests have jumped from 15 in 2001 to more than 370 during a 12-month period ending in September
If you're not feeling a draft yet, maybe this will give you a chill:
Many experts say that America's 1.4 million active-duty troops and 865,000 part-timers are stretched to the point where President Bush may see other foreign policy goals blunted.

The bleed from the US military is heaviest among parttimers, who have been dragged en masse out of civilian life to serve their country with unprecedented sacrifice. For the first time in a decade, the Army National Guard missed its recruitment target this year. Instead of signing up 56,000 people, it found 51,000.

"This is something that the President and the country should be worried about," said Lawrence Korb, an assistant secretary of defence under Ronald Reagan and now a military analyst who opposes the war.

A further sign of strain can be seen in the Army's decision this year to mobilise 5,600 members of a pool of former soldiers that can be mobilised only in a national emergency.

More than 183,000 National Guard and reserve troops are on active duty, compared with 79,000 before the invasion of Iraq. Forty per cent of the 138,000 troops in Iraq are part-timers who never expected to be sent to the front line.

What can one conclude from all of this? Obviously, the status quo cannot be maintained if US forces are to remain effective in Iraq. Any player of war games knows there are only two options: either boost up the numbers in Iraq with the use of conscripts or pull out entirely. Since I don't see Bush doing the latter, the former is - must be - the only reasonable answer. Considering Bush has such an aversion to admitting mistakes, and given the relative size of the mistakes he's made (the Iraq fiasco versus saying there would not be a draft), he'll certainly opt out admitting to the lesser mistake.

Friday, December 10, 2004

We Get It

Over at Oliver Willis' blog, Oliver has a great post about how well the Dems did with reaching a grassroots constituency (particularly Howard Dean), a fact that still seems to escape the entrenched Dem-machine hacks inside the beltway.
Howard Dean isn't trying to kill your party. He's trying to save it. For the love of all that is holy, it isn't about getting to go to all the nice Cap Hill parties so you can boogie down with Andrew Sullivan and Chris Matthews and the editors of The New Republic. It's about fixing this country of ours, and by being honest, vigorous advocates for your constituents, the people not hobnobbing with the jet set!


Well said.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Fox Muldaur Calling All Channels....

OK. I've called attention to disparities between exit polls and actual results (especially in precints where fraud has been suggested), I've recommended Bev Harris (although I'll second guess that), and I made some to-do over the latest Madsen article so... some could say I have a tin-foil hat somewhere in my closet. I'll grant you that.

What I want to know is who checks me out daily - yes, DAILY - from: (U.s. Environmental Protection Agency)
North Carolina, Research Triangle Park, United States, 19 returning visits (U.s. Department Of Education)
Washington Dc, Washington, United States, 14 returning visits

I like regular readers but I hate to think I'm being followed by agents of TPA. I'm certain they'd use more stealth than what I'm seeing on my trackbacks but... well, I'm just curious.

Any of you other lefty bloggers getting these hits? We'll see what transpires if these mystery guests answer my query...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Here There Be Boogeymen

There's a good piece over at Matthew's site regarding the silliness of the corrupting effects of video games:
I thought it was odd back in 1992 when many people were inclined to blame high crime rates on violent video games rather than, say, high rates of drug abuse, a dysfunctional parole/probation system, a law enforcement community that often has its priorities screwed up, a structural shift toward diminished earning potentials for low-skilled workers combined with an inadequate public school system, etc., etc., etc. But since the time I was eleven years old, video games have only gotten (much) more violent and (much, much) more vivid in their portrayals of violence. And guess what? Since that time the rate of violent crime in the United States has gone monotonically down. The video games are fine. If you don't like them, don't play them. If you don't want your kids playing them, then take a deep breath and think of all the things you and your friends liked to do when you were kids that your parents and their friends didn't approve of. Remember the great comic book scare?

The last sentence is where I'm going with this. Conservatives NEED a boogeyman in order to muster support for their agenda. Look back at the 50's (or still, in today's nuttier evangelical churches) and Rock n' Roll was going to create an army of sex-crazed teenagers roaming the streets looking for their next rape victim. Listen to any right-wing radio loudmouth and you'll get a litany of troubles attributed to liberals. George Bush and Dick Cheney got quite a bit of mileage convincing a lot of Americans that terrorists were just waiting for a Kerry victory so they could walk into our cities and detonate a nuclear bomb. Marriages at risk? It's because of the radical gay agenda.

As I said in a previous post, the politics of fear is the bread and butter of the Republican party. It's much easier to identify a scapegoat than to deal with the complexities of an issue and make hard decisions. As Matthew points out in the quote above, blaming video games requires much less thought than considering a multitude of issues that are most likely the true causes of the problem.

Psychologically, if 'A' is the cause of 'C' but 'B' is easier to identify and, easier to beat up on, then even if beating up on 'B' doesn't solve the problem, it sure feels good. In the face of powerlessness, having something to flog gives us the impression that we're doing something about the problem. Furthermore, beating up on something - ANYTHING - helps to eliminate our distress with the issue.

About 15 years ago, Stanford neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky released a paper on stress reduction behavior among sub-alpha males in baboon troops in East Africa. Sapolsky noticed that once a sub-alpha male was beat up by an alpha-male, the sub-alpha male would turn around and wail on a sub-sub-alpha male. Sapolsky wondered if this behavior, turning agression around on a weaker member of the troop, was eliminating stress. He took cortisol levels (a stress hormone) after the sub-alpha male was attacked and then again after the sub-alpha male attacked a weker male and found that indeed, attacking a weaker baboon lowered the levels of stress hormones.

The tendency of conservatives to scapegoat is analogous, I think. Video games might not be the reason for high crime rates but it's an easy target, a target that can't defend itself, and although condemning video games might not solve the problem, it sure feels good. It might be something to consider the next time you hear a baboon like Rush Limbaugh attacking liberals.

Is the DLC Even Relevant At This Point?

Oliver Willis clued me into this on-the-money essay over at Orcinus, a dead-on critique of Peter Beinart's recent piece in The New Republic. Beinart and the DLC have been a-whoopin' an' a-hollerin' about how we lib-ruhlz need to get firmly behind Bush's "War on Terror" if we expect to win elections. More than that, we need to turn our backs on the anti-Iraq war element because they're weak and unpopular and probably high on drugs.

"Wrong," says Neiwert,
They've also bought into the right-wing paradigm of what's wrong with liberalism: namely, the antiwar left. This is self-serving not just for those on the right but for the liberal hawks who now seem too chagrined to acknowledge that they were wrong and -- gulp -- Michael Moore was right.

Kevin Drum put the hypocrisy inherent in this position on display the other day responding to Atrios:

And evading the issue by constantly implying that no one who supported the Iraq war is morally qualified to criticize those who opposed it doesn't really help matters.

This has it exactly backwards. No one is saying the Beinarts and Drums of the world don't have anything to contribute. What Beinart is explicitly saying is the reverse: That the Michael Moores and MoveOn folks have no value to the party.

So really, what doesn't help matters is evading the issue by implying the people who opposed the Iraq war -- that is, the people who were right -- not only are unqualified to contribute, but must be evicted from the ranks of liberalism. That, in fact, is the opposite of an honest conversation.

The problem with the DLC (and its Right-leaning clones like Kevin Drum and Peter Beinart) is that it confuses the medias pro-war cheerleading and the bleeting of gung-ho NASCAR sheep, all wrapped up in empty, masturbatory displays of patriotism as success. Screw the fact that the Iraq war is a massive failure, if only Dems could get behinf THE BIG LIE then Dems would be winning elections.

Except that was tried. Kerry was no anti-war candidate and one of his biggest blunders was not articulating a stronger anti-war message or a coherent plan for combating terrorism. What the DLC fails to see is that liberals are strongly in favor of a sane plan of attack - going to Iraq was not (nor would ever be) part of that plan.

Maybe it's because I mostly hang with left-leaning Dems (and read mostly lefty blogs) but from where I sit, the DLC has pretty much lost any credibility it might have had. As long as your philosophy is, "If we can be almost as blindly militaristic as the GOP", the second part of your bi-conditional will be, "Then we can almost win elections!"


Jeebus Orrin H. Christ on a goddamn popsickle stick, why is it that 30% of the time when I try and use Hotmail I get some silly-ass "Our servers are real busy right now so go fuck yourself" message? I mean it's Microfucking$oft for god's sake, you'd think they'd have servers being used as foot stools. And they have, what, a couple of old boxes serving all of hotmail?

And now I get either idiotic "This document contains no data" errors or "The connection was refused when attempting to contact" messages. WTF?

Hotmail started promising 250 MB of space on their accounts (up from the magnanimous 2 MB) "by late summer" and just finally delivered last month on my one account, YESTERDAY on my other account. That's timely, especially since Yahoo scooped you last spring with FOUR TIMES that ammount and G Mail scooped you in the summer with FOUR HUNDRED TIMES that amount. In the meantime, every week Hotmail spams me with a reminder of how great they are and then tries to sell me an "upgrade" for $20 because, of course I'm so thrilled with the service I figure giving them a twenty will let them know just how thrilled I am with a service that only connects 7 out of 10 times.

Should I assume that if I pony up I'll finally get the signature files to work? Should I assume that my $20 will buy me the ability to update my address book? Will my $20 pay for a spam filter that actually works?

Considering the e-voting machines ran off a Windows platform, no wonder the results were shit. Or hacked.

Having It Both Ways Is a Family Value?

One criticism I consistently level against conservatives is that when they whine, their whine is usually a function of wanting it both ways, i.e. "You liberals can't say this but we can because when we say it, it makes total sense." Of course it only makes total sense if you're oxygen deprived and maybe that's the conservative's problem - it would certainly explain why they're so hot to gut EPA regulations.

Case in point: Josh points out at TPM that some conservatives are claiming that "Sen. Harry Reid must be a racist because he said on Meet The Press that he would consider voting for Justice Scalia for Chief Justice but not Justice Thomas since the latter had been an "embarrassment" as a member of the court."

These are the folks who maintain that hiring based on racial preferrence rather than merit is wrong. So Reid states that Scalia is not nearly the boob that Thomas is and conservatives say Reid must be a racist. Uh, uh, uh... OK. Sounds like these conservatives are indulging in the most knee-jerk liberal argument around.

Having it both ways; who would have thought the Family Values people were anti-gay but firmly in support of bisexuality? Not me, homes.

Donald Rumsefeld, A Warrior, A Man Among Men

Sometimes there's just not a lot going on (like yesterday) and then there's days like today where I sign on an immediately see something like this (via DKos):
Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team, which is made up mainly of citizen soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard, asked Rumsfeld in a question-and-answer session why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly two years after the war started.

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.

"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson said after asking again.

Rumsfeld replied that, "You go to war with the Army you have," not the one you might want [...]

And, the defense chief added, armor is not always a savior in the kind of combat U.S. troops face in Iraq, where the insurgents' weapon of choice is the roadside bomb, or improvised explosive device that has killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands, of American troops since the summer of 2003.

"You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up," Rumsfeld said.

Or basically, "Buck up, ya' pussy!"

They just gave Donald "I never saw a moment of combat in my life because of my multiple deferrments" Rumsfeld another four years of managing this fiasco. You'd think a sane and smart administration would turn the Sec. of Defense position over to someone who at least knew how to salute instead of just giving our troops the finger. However, Bush didn't run on a platform suggesting "sane and smart". They ran on a platform of "If we say 'X' is 'Y', we expect you to believe 'X' is 'Y' or we'll sic the Patriot Act on ya'".

Here, There, and Everywhere

Good stuff, hither and yon. Or yawn. You decide...

Mike, our guy in Iraq who is not just doing the hard work but ALSO fighting the good fight, tells us about his out-processing on At Ease (his excellent from-the-front-lines blog) - he's coming home! Good job, Mike! Anyway, he's noticed that what he's seeing at the field hospital he was at that the numbers of US injured far out-strip the "official" DoD numbers. And Mike, buddy, I hate to tell ya' this but Rummy has more travel plans for ya'...

Random Fate wonders if the goopers might be in the midst of a cat fight; things are coming apart at the seams, it seems.

Pesky's Apostrophe is always - ALWAYS - a worthwhile (and entertaining) read, a daily visit from me because of what I just said AND Mac allus sends me good traffic...

The exquisite (and eternally FUN) Maria drunkenly slams the Rethug Sinophiles over at By Beauty Damned and passes on the egg rolls.

MajikThise asks for some feedback for a paper on intuitive epistemology, if you're interested in that kind of thing (I am).

Buck at Postcards From Nowhere does some random searches and finds out the web is pretty dull.

Mad Kane has a new poem, this one about the Kerik DHS nomination. Why wouldn't you check it out?

Issues with Blogger? Yeah, me too AND Susanne over at Susannity! and we're none-too-happy about it. However, I seem to have more issues when I blog out of Firefox than if I blog out of IE - anyone else?

Over at ThatColeredFellasWeblog, TCF calls Keith Olbermann out on journalistic integrity (RE: Madsen) and does it righteously. TCF has become my favorite stop-by lately because we're on the same page as far the Right's racial hypocricy.

Speaking of racism, Pinko Feminist Hellcat gives us a really fucked up story (via Prometheus 6) about why this country is in trouble (and takes the burden off of my shoulders so I can take a break from ranting about this country's racist horseshit, for once).

At Angry White Kid, Scott gives us a few examples of why the US is shaming itself in its bogus "War on Terror".

As if Ratboy 55 isn't scary enough, his post on Ratboy's Anvil about smallpox and, er, the goverment monkeying around with said virus is truly disturbing. Not for the weak-hearted (but if that's you're problem, why are you reading ME?!?!).

Feministe does what I've done but has done it much better. She also needs your vote on that Best Blog award thing, so give her your vote.

Finally, your cool-ass video of the day has been brought to you by Cyndy over at Mouse Musings and what's the use of surfing around if you don't get a cool-ass video out of it?

My faithful few know I have no trouble telling folks where to go. So I've gone and done it and even provided the links to make it go down eeeeeeeeee-zeeeeee...

Otherwise known as shamelessly fishing for traffic.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Meanwhile, In the Reality-Based Community...

The whole Curtis story sucked me in and I confess that I spent way too much time following the thread on DKos hoping to see if any new developments would crack.

Not much to report. I talked to a friend last night and she said, "This could be the next Watergate!"
"Yes, that's what I've been thinking..."
"BIGGER than Watergate! This blows a burglary out of the water!"
"We'll see..."

Obviously, my enthusisasm for the story had waned a bit. Not so much because a bit of skepticism had crept in (although there was some of that) but I was just... tired. Exhausted. The thought that the Curtis story could blow the lid off a story my gut had always told me was valid had me psyched up.

After four years of gritting my teeth and clenching my fists, only to learn that I had another four years of that, has me ready to knock something over - ANYTHING. Nothing would make me happier than to have hard evidence that the election was rigged so I would have sound rationale for smashing bobblehead dolls. As a therapist with a degree in Neuropsychology (and a strong background in Evolutionary Biology), I know the value of alleviating stress by busting stuff up.

Short of that, I'll direct you to some other developments around the blogosphere:

Josh Marshall has been carrying a good series on why Kerik is the wrong man for DHS on TPM.

Don over at Blah3 links to a story about a Fundie loudmouth who has gone to China to get fetal stem-cell implants.

The always informative Juan Cole keeps us abreast of the catastrophic... um, catastrophe in Iraq.

You can surf the rest... time to get my daughter to kindergarten.

Monday, December 06, 2004

NASA Programmers and Off-Shore Accounts Implicate Bush Stealing 2004 Election

The cap is off the bottle (as I just said on Andrew C White's DKos Diary), I just saw this on Online Journal regarding a sworn affadavit from a former contract NASA computer programmer who was asked by former Florida state representative Tom Sweeney to develop vote-rigging software (Sweeney is now in the U.S House of Representatives).
While working for Yang Enterprises in Florida, the 46-year-old programmer says he was instructed by then-Republican state representative Tom Feeney to "develop a prototype of a voting program that could alter the vote tabulation in the election and be undetectable."

Feeney, a former failed running mate of Gov. Jeb Bush, is now represents Florida's 24th district in the House of Representatives. At the time, he was serving both as general counsel and lobbyist for Yang Enterprises and the Florida state congressman.
The programmer, Clinton Collins, said that he was told the program needed to be "touch-screen capable, the user should be able to trigger the program without any additional equipment, [and that] the programming was to remain hidden even if the source code was inspected."

Collins asserts that he told Feeney it would be nearly impossible to write a code to change the voting results if anyone were able to view the source code.

"However," he added, "if the code were compiled before anyone was allowed to review it then any vote fraud would remain invisible to detection."

Interestingly enough, Yang Enterprises is currently under investigation by the FBI. It seems Collins filed a suit with the state alleging Yang Enterprises overbilled the state on another contract and his report "resulted in the arrest of a Chinese national accused of sending secret information to China about the development of the U.S. Hellfire missile."

As they say, developing... (also at The Blue Lemur)
UPDATE: Gotta' goive credit where credit is due: Brad Blog first broke the story on the affadavit (his site was down due to traffic so I assume he's getting his due!)

Fast Food Low-Wage Republicans

The other day, someone on my Democracy For America list sent me a link for Choose the Blue, a nifty little site where you can type in a product or company name, find out where their donations went during the last election (Bush vs. Kerry) so you can decide of that's where you want to send your money. Timely, considering the season.

Jen over at Good Intentions was kind enough to do a little checking for us (seems she likes her fast food) and came up with these figures:

She does mention that Arby's gave 100% to the Dems, so if you're going to fix your trans-fat jones, you ought to do it at Arby's (I gotta' say the Roast Beef Jr. is a GREAT hangover killer).

So why are these fast food companies tilting so far towards the Republicans? I think that it's primarilly because Republicans oppose all "Livable Wage" initiatives or minimum-wage increases. Republicans oppose unions. Republicans oppose mandating businesses providing healthcare and child care benefits. Republicans oppose stringent OSHA requirements.

Sure, Republicans also oppose regulations on food quality and Tort Reform so there would be limits on how much you could sue if say, your kid died from eating an E Coli tainted whopper, stuff that effects you, the consumer. But I think their support is mainly due to low-wage issues so that they can continue to operate on what is essentially slave labor.

A few years ago in Colorado Springs, a young single mother was convicted for leaving her infant in the car (the child died) while she worked her shift at McDonald's. The local press was quick to jump on the tragedy of a negligent mother but completely missed the point that she had no child care options (turns out her sitter backed out at the last moment). I'm not defending the mother's extreme poor judgement - I would have told McDonald's "fuck you, I can't come in, I can't get anyone to care for my kid" but it's just another example of the contradictions furthered by low-wage Republicans (and Welfare Reform Democrats). "Get off the dole, get a job, ANY job, and too bad if your child care basically eats up your paycheck, we just want you to WORK, you fat welfare queen!".

Punishing single mothers by consigning them to poverty hardly seems "compassionate". If your fat ass craves a Whopper or a Big Mac or faux-Mexican food, you might want to consider what kind of system you're supporting.

An Indecent Proposal paraphrase Jonathan Swift. Listening to Morning Edition as I prepared my kids for pre-school I started thinking about Democrats and how they should be performing, what they might do to insure seats in 2006/2008. In my mind, Intelligence Reform should be a slam-dunk in post-9/11 America. Yeah, I know most of the opposition has been coming from Republicans... but how gung-ho are the Democrats?

Will Democrats roll over the next two years and allow the illusion of a "mandate" dominate legislation in the House and Senate? Would giving Republicans free reign to completely screw up the country set the stage for voter backlash?

My last post yesterday about how Bush and the Republicans intend to gut environmental protections had me ripping-my-shirt pissed-off and wondering why they would even consider scrapping regulations that a majority of Americans support. It would be easy enough to position a full-body slam at the Republicans:
It's YOUR country.
YOUR air and YOUR water.
President Bush and the Republicans are trying to give your country to Big Business so that they can spoil the water you drink, foul the air you breath, and create an environmental disaster that your children and your grandchildren will be left to clean up. Do you want Big Business to ruin America for your children?
Tell your representative that this country belongs to us, not Big Business.

Yet, I see Democrats kneeling down on this even if most Americans would oppose it. Why would they do that? So that they can gain seats a few years down the road?

It's not like Democrats have shown themselves to be strategic geniuses but this isn't a plan of strategic genius. Nor is it a plan that requires a far-reaching conspiracy. A few well-placed abscences or abstentions and the Republicans can shit all over the country, do it well enough to show voters what a mistake it was to elect House and Senate Republicans.

I hope I'm just riffing here, I really do...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Here We Go!!!

The President with the worst environmental record is seeking a new low:
George Bush's new administration, and its supporters controlling Congress, are setting out to dismantle three decades of US environmental protection.

In little over a month since his re-election, they have announced that they will comprehensively rewrite three of the country's most important environmental laws, open up vast new areas for oil and gas drilling, and reshape the official Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

If I wasn't afraid the Secret Service was checking up on wacky, leftist bloggers I'd say why not take anti-environment legislators off the Endangered Species list and declare open season, go bag one for the holidays. But since I'm aware that the Secret Service is looking out for said bloggers, I'll refrain from endorsing all you sportsmen from filling your fat-cat tags.

George Bush: Our Man in the Klan

In all the time I've been posting here (and during the two previous years posting on the Boondoggle site), no one has argued against my assertion that the GOP and specifically, the Bush administration, has a broad racist streak. Yeah, I've had hate mail for my anti-Iraq war statements, my anti-Evangelical Christian statements, even my anti-Big Media statements ("Wha?") but no one - NO ONE - has ever said, "You know, really, I don't think BushCo and the Republicans are really all that racist..."

Which tells me I'm probably right about all this or at least I'm not making far-fetched statements.

So it didn't surprise me today when I read that Bush was getting ready to dump the standing Civil Rights Commission chief because she was, um, doing her fucking job:
On Wednesday, Berry and Reynoso issued a stinging attack on Bush's civil rights record, saying "the spiraling demise of hope for social justice and healing has deepened over the past four years."

With all the Bushies jumping ship, you'd think he'd be falling all over himself to hold on to someone willing to keep her seat. Except, Mary Frances Berry hasn't exactly been a cheerleader for Bush and instead of parroting his bullshit, she's picked up her paycheck with integrity.

Genocide or Capitulation

It's not just that we've made a complete mess of Iraq
U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said bluntly, "It is a mess in Iraq." Asked whether it was possible to hold elections under current conditions, Brahimi said, "If the circumstances stay as they are, I don't think so," according to a Reuters report on the article.
Although last month's offensive in Fallouja killed many insurgents, destroyed some of their weapons caches and eliminated the city as a haven, it also appeared to have speeded the spread of the insurgency to other cities, notably the northern city of Mosul, where there have been numerous attacks on Kurds and on Iraqi national guardsmen.

in our idiotic attempt to carry democracy to the middle-east - no wait, it turns out the US is NOT interested in bringing democracy to the middle-east
When Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and other senior American officials arrive at a summit meeting in Morocco next week that is intended to promote democracy across the Arab world, they have no plans to introduce any political initiatives to encourage democratic change.

Uh, why are we there?

It seems that, aside from forwarding the PNAC agenda, we're there merely to piss off Arabs and recruit millions for al-qaeda. In an interview yesterday with Michael Scheuer, author of "Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror," Scheuer's assessment was grim:
When asked if the United States could win the "war on terror," which was undertaken following the Sept. 11 attacks, Scheuer said: "No. It can't be won. We're going to eventually lose it. And the problem for us is that we're going to lose it much more quickly if we don't start killing more of the enemy."

Well, ain't that a fine kettle of fish? Either we kill almost every goddamn Arab on the planet of we lose the war on terror.

Seems to me that if the US had engaged in a real, honest-to-god war on terror instead of some lame-brained, misguided, and immoral adventure in Iraq, this situation would be a helluva' lot fucking better. Yet, because of the blood-thirsty baboon, instead of the US message being, "We're after terrorists, not muslims" it's become, "We're killing all you ragheads and then we'll let our Christian god sort ya' out." It appears that Ann Cuntler is indeed the spokesman (yes, spokesMAN) of the Bush administration.

I wonder how pleased the Red State rightards are with their vote now...

Saturday, December 04, 2004

"Values" or "Value"?

Somewhere in the back of my musty memory bank is an echo from my days as a Philosophy major, a whisper of vague recollection from Das Kapital, something about the "inherent contradiction of capitalism". Now I'm certain Mr. Marx had something completely different in mind from what I'm about to say but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't disagree with my point.

See, conservatives love capitalism and, in fact, they like capitalism so much, they despise anything that stands in the way of how it works. Conservatives never met a market that was too free because they have an aversion to regulated markets. That's just how they are.

Funny thing is, conservatives have also positioned themselves as the "values" people, you know, the folks who are going to protect everyone from the decline of decency that liberals have wrought. Because, as we know, liberals have supported everything from permissiveness to drug taking to federally funding drag shows in Baptist churches. So really, in the minds of conservatives, the reason why our culture is obsessed with sex, violence, and godless iconography is because liberals have nothing but time on their hands to subvert and dirty up the minds of normally upright American citizens.

Let's get back to Mr. Marx (historically the filthiest pornographer and subverter of clean minds - well, except that pervert Freud) and contradictions. Because if you look at the most obvious, most ubiquitous purveyor of filth, prime-time television, it's all about market forces. As Robert Scheer put it so well, "these national moralists -- dominated these days by evangelical Christians -- politicize the issue by blaming "liberal Hollywood" for what deregulation and the free market have wrought."

Rupert Murdoch, the baron of conservative chest-thumping self-righteousness knows the value of lascivious programming so much that the FCC has seen fit to fine him $1.18 Million dollars for an incident on Married by America where:
...a topless woman straddling a man... whipped cream being licked off one woman's bare chest and an underwear-clad man being spanked by two topless female strippers...

I wonder where Bill O'Reilly's outrage is regarding THAT?

Yes, Mr. Marx, there is a Satan clause, which says that the crap on television is strictly the fault of liberals and free-market capitalism gets a walk. More than that, you can pretty much say what you like on radio (as long as it has to do with bare breasts and lesbians, preferably at the same time) but if you gussy it up with "God & Country" the way Clear Channel does (scroll down to the bottom on that link to see what those hypocrites are up to), everything's Right in capitalist, moral America.

No contradiction, there.

Who Elected These Fuckwits?!?

Talk about chutzpah... Republican Rep. Don Young figures that since he has a big, oak-panelled office, the brain the size of Gummi Bear and the dick the size of roll of quarters, he has the authority to decide what is and is not valid science:
Republican Rep. Don Young, went so far as dismissing the major new report on Arctic climate change. He called it ammunition for fearmongers.

"My biggest concern is that people are going to use this so-called study to try to influence the way and standard of living that occurs within the United States," Young said.

"I don't believe it is our fault. That's an opinion," Young said. "It's as sound as any scientist's."

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment was commissioned by the Arctic Council, an international commission representing eight countries, including the United States, and six indigenous groups. About 300 scientists participated, with scientists from Alaska playing a major part.

"That's my opinion, it's as sound as any scientist's." Good god, isn't there some sort of vetting process for these shitheads so citizens are assured that their representative has at least a handful of firing neurons?

"Well, sure these egghead scientists SAY the earth is round but it sure looks flat to me!". I hope Alaskans are shaking their heads at the moment, saying, "Good lord, we've elected a RETARD!"