Wednesday, May 31, 2006

holy hand grenades, batman!

Mon Dieu:
Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is "to conduct physical and spiritual warfare"; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice. You have never felt so powerful, so driven by a purpose: you are 13 years old. You are playing a real-time strategy video game whose creators are linked to the empire of mega-church pastor Rick Warren, best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life.

Umm... wow.

a conversation long overdue

A day or two ago Pachacutec from FDL asked the unaskable question: is the War on Terror (gasp!) bullshit? His answer was a little weak (I think he misunderstood the etymology of "Terror" in that phrase as being shorthand for "terrorism") but he gets props for daring to address the question first. And apparently he upset neo-cons: the thread got hijacked by conservatives positively flummoxed over Pach daring to ask such a treasonous question.

It is Digby who really hits it out of the park, though:
When you think about it, a "war on terrorism" is actually a "war on warfare" which kind of brings the whole damned thing home, doesn't it? ... A war on warfare is entirely absurd, however, in a literal sense. Using war to eradicate terror or terrorism is an oxymoron. And yet the nation has been drunkenly behaving as if it is a real war, spending the money, deploying the troops, inflicting the violence.
This is the problem. This elastic war, this war against warfare, this war with no specific enemy against no specific country is never going to end. It cannot end because there is no end. If the threat of "islamofascim" disappears tomorrow there will be someone else who hates us and who is willing to use individual acts of violence to get what they want. There always have been and there always will be. Which means that we will always be at war with Oceania.

"Oceania," for the non-Orwell fans, is the country Britain fights endlessly against in 1984. In the book, the war is prosecuted endlessly, British society is constantly propagandized and permanently on a war footing, and the war is used by the government to keep the people in line.

As an aside, this is why all the conservative ranting about things that are "PC" is bullshit. You think what Digby is saying here is politically correct? There are plenty of issues that liberals get pounded over just for questioning them, just like conservatives. Liberals, unfortunately, don't have the "PC" chimera to hide behind.

Friday, May 26, 2006

American troops massacre civilians in Haditha

NCIS expected to confirm it:
A military investigation into the deaths of two dozen Iraqis last November is expected to find that a small number of marines in western Iraq carried out extensive, unprovoked killings of civilians, Congressional, military and Pentagon officials said Thursday.
Evidence indicates that the civilians were killed during a sustained sweep by a small group of marines that lasted three to five hours and included shootings of five men standing near a taxi at a checkpoint, and killings inside at least two homes that included women and children, officials said.

That evidence, described by Congressional, Pentagon and military officials briefed on the inquiry, suggested to one Congressional official that the killings were "methodical in nature."

Noted without comment.

an inconvenient bias

I'm hoping to convince Amber to go to Grand Rapids this weekend so we can see Al Gore's new movie, An Inconvenient Truth. It's supposed to be a good one.

The press Gore is getting is truly fascinating, however. Have you noticed the peculiarly 1999 feel of the press' choice of memes lately? Like the huge 50-source NYT story about the Clintons' sex life earlier this week, or Gore getting skewered over and over again by reporters and pundits: so-called liberal newspaper was busy this week publishing a right-wing attack against Gore over trivial matters like what exactly he did--and where he was--during the summer he turned 15. (I kid you not.) Chris Matthews was inviting guests on his show, and lauding them, for writing Gore "is one slice short of a loaf." PBS' Gwen Ifil was asking one Gore profiler if the former VP doesn't come off as "holier than thou." And MSNBC's Don Imus was ridiculing Gore as "the phoniest bastard on the planet--a horrid human being."

Proponents of the "liberal media" meme never want to talk about the 2000 election and the press' almost thuggish treatment of Al Gore, as outlined in this great Rolling Stone article, because it puts the lie to their story.

The greatest irony of the 2000 election was that Gore was characterized by the media as a chronic liar and exaggerator, yet it was the media who had to lie and exaggerate to make that claim stick. How do you feel about the last 6 years of presidential administration, and have you thanked the New York Times for it?

Update: changed last sentence from "a reporter" to "the New York Times" to reflect the fact that not all reporters were in on Smearfest Y2K (just all the big time ones were).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

more on skilling/lay convictions

First of all, I want to share with you a couple of relevant diaries on the subject. Darksyde from DailyKos has a nice rundown here, and clammyc talks about the convictions from the perspective of a former Arthur Andersen auditor who (along with his wife) lost his job because of Enron's shenanigans. It gives you a sense of the far-reaching consequences of these guys' crimes (though, as a side note to one of his points, I personally think Enron led to Bush a lot more than Bush led to Enron). Atrios, who was a college professor in California when Enron took it hostage, briefly analyzes how the media, in their faux economic expertise, so tragically failed to understand the situation there, while Digby outlines the ties between Kenneth Lay and president Bush (I would like to add to his post that W essentially let Kenneth Lay write the controversial Federal Energy Bill a couple of years ago that gave the oil, coal, and nuclear industries billions of dollars in free handouts). Says Digby of the media's complicity of silence in this whole saga:
The fact that the biggest campaign contributor to the occupant of the white house was in charge of the biggest corporate ponzi scheme in history should have been news. It wasn't.

So true.

There is so much one could say about the bundle of crooks and scandals now known collectively as "Enron":
Enron is the epitome of a corporate culture off the deep end of executive-centered priorities; it is the the corrupt "get mine and get the hell out" mentality to the Nth degree.

Enron is a warning to us of what can happen when a government branch gets too cozy with big business and loses its ability to conduct honest oversight.

Enron is a one-word rebuttal to the lazy ideology of laissez-faire libertarians, who foolishly assume that American boardrooms would do what's best for workers and consumers were it not for government regulations forcing them to do just that.

Most of all in my mind, though, Enron is the story of how the actions of a tiny handful of people can ruin countless lives without ever picking up a weapon. There seems to be a sentiment out there that Lay and Skilling's crimes are somehow not as big a deal as some others because they didn't involve sex or violence.

But this was not just a matter of skimming from a corporate budget; these bastards ruined people's lives. Because of the deliberate lawbreaking and deceit of Lay and Skilling, hundreds of would-be rising stars of the business world have a permanent black mark on their resumes, and countless thousands, perhaps millions, of people were robbed of their savings, their retirement, and their dignity. People who labored for decades, managing their money wisely and putting away a little at a time, building a nest egg so they can live out their glory days the way they've always dreamed of, people who did everything right, will now be spending their twilight years sacking groceries at WalMart, thanks to Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.

And many of the victims were robbed blind by the very people they trusted to take care of them.

To wreak that level of havoc on the lives of such a mind-blowing number of people, with no remorse, blaming everyone else all the way down, shows a lack of compassion or human decency that "moral bankruptcy" doesn't begin to describe. Make no mistake: the lack of guns or sex doesn't mollify their heinous, heinous crimes. These guys are narcissistic sociopaths who deserve the fullest measure of justice the system can mete out to them.

And they still have Hell to look forward to.

there is a God

and He hates you, Jeff and Kenny boy. From Reuters:
A jury found former Enron Corp. chief executives Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling guilty of lying about the company's financial troubles in a verdict on Thursday that could send them to jail for years.

Lay, 64, was convicted of six counts of conspiracy and fraud and faces up to 45 years in prison.

Skilling was found guilty of 19 counts of conspiracy, fraud, insider trading and making false statements which, combined, carry a maximum sentence of 185 years. He was not convicted on nine criminal counts.

In a separate trial, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake found Lay guilty of all four bank fraud charges for illegally using money from $75 million in personal loans to buy stock.

I think this is worth declaring a national holiday, personally.

reel big fish

The speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, arguably the 2nd most powerful man in Washington, is officially under investigation by the FBI. From ABC (via TPM):
Federal officials say the Congressional bribery investigation now includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

What need I say?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

In Memoriam Lloyd Bentsen

Lloyd Bentsen, businessman, senator, statesman, Texan, Bush/Quayle smackdowner, has died.

Bentsen pwn3d Bush 41 early in his career, and years later put 41's VP candidate on the mat with this jawbreaker:
When his younger opponent compared himself to President John F. Kennedy, Bentsen, his voice dripping with disdain, retorted: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy."

Years later it still makes me cringe.

false equivalence

Matt Yglesias over at TPM takes on the "Democrats are just as bad, just look at Rep. Jefferson" meme (emphasis added):
Jefferson was a corrupt freelancer . . . a more-or-less random member of congress abusing his office for personal gain. Compare this to the case of Tom DeLay, the key mover-and-shaker in the Republican caucus for many years and an important one for years before that. His muck-worthy activities not only accrued to a more significant player, but also bore a direct relationship to the creation and sustenance of the GOP machine.

Beyond DeLay, the salient point about, say, the Dukester is that his cash-for-contracts scheme was in many ways continuous with standard operating procedure for the Republican Party. It was different. But a difference of degree, not of kind. Normally, the cash comes in as campaign contributions or lobbying jobs for yourself and your retainers rather than pocket money or boats. But the public policy auction is happening at all levels. Look at the energy bill, or the farm bill, or the Medicare bill. Legislation is for sale to the highest bidder in all cases. That -- and not the fact that this or that Republican may or may not be under indictment -- is the point. And it connects up with the pattern of executive branch lawlessness and malfeasance. The overall attitude is that the institutions of government are the property of the people who happen to be holding power; power that can be deployed without constraint on behalf of its holders or their paymasters.

This is dead on. It's the Republican "culture of corruption" for a reason: the Republican method of governing, that is pay-for-play politics and aggressive courting of lobbyists and allowing corporate interests to draft legislation, lends itself to corruption because the Republican party no longer answers to its constituents. In such a system as we have, where the candidate with the most money wins 95% of the time, Republicans no longer answer to their constituents. They simply assume that, after they let ExxonMobil and Halliburton and AT&T do the actual business of governing, they can use the flood of contributions to brainwash the public and press into ambivalence about which party is worse while galvanizing the Christian "wackos" (to use the words of Jack Abramoff) to get the vote out.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are taking their message to the people, all over the country, while using Democracy Bonds and small contributions to start replacing the money they used to get from lobbyists and big business. In fact, some time ago news broke that lobbyists are getting ticked off at Democrats because, all of sudden, Democrats don't seem to care about meeting with them. Of course, they said it was Dean's fault. For once, they were right.

The choice in November gets simpler every day.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"this one is ugly"

Oh dear. From MSNBC (via SusanG at DailyKos):
WASHINGTON - A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood," a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.

From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children.

One young Iraqi girl said the Marines killed six members of her family, including her parents. “The Americans came into the room where my father was praying,” she said, “and shot him.”

On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the accounts are true.

Military officials told NBC News that the Marine Corps' own evidence appears to show Murtha is right.
Military officials say Marine Corp photos taken immediately after the incident show many of the victims were shot at close range, in the head and chest, execution-style. One photo shows a mother and young child bent over on the floor as if in prayer, shot dead, said the officials, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity because the investigation hasn't been completed.

One military official says it appears the civilians were deliberately killed by the Marines, who were outraged at the death of their fellow Marine.

“This one is ugly," one official told NBC News.

I haven't really had a chance to process this yet.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Da Vinci Code movie a war on Christianity?

I have to admit, I can sympathize with the fundies on this one, at least on the basis of appearances. If The Da Vinci Code were purported by the author to be a work of pure fiction, then all this would be a bit silly. I distinctly remember, however, the preface of the book talking about how the descriptions of the art and historical documents and whatnot are accurate, the implication being that Brown really is arguing that Jesus was a completely mundane nobleman type who ran off with some sweet piece o' social status named Mary Magdalene and they travelled the world together and had lots of nobleman type babies. Maybe I'm wrong on this, but that's how I interpreted the preface.

So, if the book is attacking the divinity of Christ, and thus the Incarnation, the Transfiguration, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the truth of Scripture (in any sense, literal or otherwise), and the legitimacy of the Church (Catholic or otherwise), and if Christian churches define the basis of their religion as a trinity of Christ, Church, and Bible, then isn't the book by definition an attack on Christianity? Furthermore, are Christians wrong in noting that there is a relative dearth of material from secular types attacking other religions, and thus are they wrong to feel singled out in the prevailing cultural atmosphere?

Even if you disagree, you have to admit that Hollywood coming off of its liberal onslaught in 2005 and making a movie about this book its big summer showcase looks bad.

All this is not to say I'm joining the fundie crusade against Hollywood or secularism or whatever-- I don't think an omnipotent God needs me to defend God-- I'm just saying that their feelings of being attacked are, at least prima facie, justified.

presidentin' on the air

Anyone catch W's speech? It's like clockwork these days: polls not lookin' hot for Republicans, time to beat up on some brown people.

Monday, May 15, 2006

no, not Turdblossom!

Everyone is on pins and needles over the possibility of a Karl Rove indictment coming down the pike this week. Atrios says there's a hum in the air, and Digby says that Atrios has a nose for this sort of thing. There was a report by Jason Leopold from truthout that Fitzpatrick gave Rove the weekend to "set his affairs in order," though that appears not to be true at this point.

What do you think? Is he going down or not?

the end of the free press

We should've known it was only a matter of time. From ABC News:
A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

By "confidential sources" he of course means "whistleblowers." And yes, intimidation of whistleblowers is against the law. But then again, so is data-mining people's phones without FISA approval.

But don't worry, I won't make any comparisons to fascism 'cuz it's, like, totally different.

Friday, May 12, 2006

the axis of feeble

This week's cover of The Economist:
From the Economist. Damn.

the Office

I know, I know, LOST is the greatest show on television. But who'da thunk the jaw-dropping surprise moment of the week would come from Jim and Pam from the Office? Here's a great rundown from Salon, and a great synopsis of the Office's evolution from someone who thinks wayyy too much about TV:
It's not that the writing improved between the two seasons -- it has always been strong -- or that Carell ramped up his shtick, but through the fall and into the spring, the show cast off the last vestiges of the BBC show it was originally based on and found its wings.

I've been lovin' the show since the first season because the humor is so excruciating and voyeuristic and refreshingly human, not at all like the cookie-cutter crustiness of King of Queens and all that other shite. Yet I didn't realize until the season finale yesterday just how much I've gotten into the characters.

The writing on this show is really good.

wow, is that even possible?

Harris Interactive pegs W at 29%. I'm gonna take this one with a grain of salt until I see one of the more reputable outfits match this number.

Update: I had forgotten that this is the Wall Street Journal/Harris poll. This is one of the more reputable outfits! Ponies for everyone!

Update II: Atrios has a funny reaction to the poll.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

step outta line, the man come and take you away...

So, can we impeach yet? USA Today's big scoop:
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added.

For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.
The NSA's domestic program, as described by sources, is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged. Last year, Bush said he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop — without warrants — on international calls and international e-mails of people suspected of having links to terrorists when one party to the communication is in the USA. Warrants have also not been used in the NSA's efforts to create a national call database.

Remember, AT&T now owns SBC (and, I believe, Cingular), so if you use any of those-- or Verizon or BellSouth-- the government now has a list of every call you've made since they started this program. The other important thing to note is that these companies volunteered the information; the NSA didn't subpoena your call records, and these companies could've turned them down.

In fact, one company did just that (turned the NSA down, that is): Qwest. If they operate where you live, I would strongly suggest switching your service to them. John Aravosis also suggests encrypting your emails from now on, and provides links to show you how.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

don't they have anything better to do?

You'll be super shocked at this one. From the Washington Post:
House and Senate Republican negotiators reached a final agreement yesterday on a five-year, nearly $70 billion tax package that would extend President Bush's deep cuts to tax rates on dividends and capital gains, while sparing about 15 million middle-income Americans from the alternative minimum tax.
Middle-income households would receive an average tax cut of $20 from the agreement, according to the joint Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, while 0.02 percent of households with incomes over $1 million would receive average tax cuts of $42,000.

What can I say? I stand in awe of Republican family valyews.

Well, I know the crops in Iraq are doing well, what with us rebuilding schools and all...

Do you feel like you're being brainwashed yet? From the Washington Post:
Career appointees at the Department of Agriculture were stunned last week to receive e-mailed instructions that include Bush administration "talking points" -- saying things such as "President Bush has a clear strategy for victory in Iraq" -- in every speech they give for the department.

"The President has requested that all members of his cabinet and sub-cabinet incorporate message points on the Global War on Terror into speeches, including specific examples of what each agency is doing to aid the reconstruction of Iraq," the May 2 e-mail from USDA speechwriter Heather Vaughn began.
Another attachment "contains specific examples of GWOT messages within agriculture speeches. Please use these message points as often as possible and send Harry Phillips , USDA's director of speechwriting, a weekly email summarizing the event, date and location of each speech incorporating the attached language. Your responses will be included in a weekly account sent to the White House."

Yeah, you read that right. Dept. of Agriculture employees not only are being told to plug talking points about the Iraq War into their speeches, but the Administration is keeping tabs of how many times they do.

Have you ever felt that we are all just figments of George Orwell's imagination?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mr. 31%

Remember that poll yesterday that pegged W at 31%. It wasn't an outlier.

buried in the muck

Looks like the Republicans have become so hopelessly corrupt that they don't even know what ethics look like anymore. FromDallas Business Journal (via Think Progress):
"He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years," [HUD Secretary] Jackson said of the prospective contractor. "He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something ... he said, 'I have a problem with your president.'

"I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I don't like President Bush.' I thought to myself, 'Brother, you have a disconnect -- the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn't be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don't tell the secretary.'

"He didn't get the contract," Jackson continued. "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."

As if I have to say it, yes, it is illegal to deny a contract based on political affiliation. What made this jackass think that kind of thing is ok? Interestingly, as Think Progress notes, it's also not normal practice for the Secretary to negotiate contracts, though really, it would just be another drop in the ocean at this point.

it hurts because it's true

A great editorial from the good Chicago paper:
A "blogstorm" is thundering across liberal Web sites. Many liberals are furious at the White House press corps for virtually ignoring Stephen Colbert's keynote speech at the press corp's own White House Correspondents' Dinner last Saturday.
How's this for a newsworthy lead? It was perhaps the first time in Bush's tenure that the president was forced to sit and listen to any American cite the litany of criminal and corruption allegations that have piled up against his administration. And mouth-tense Bush and first lady Laura Bush fled as soon as possible afterward.

Wow, someone in the traditional media finally said it. Someone finally acknowledged the possibility of ... no, it can't be!... conservative bias in the press corps?!:
To non-liberals, this may seem like an isolated complaint. To liberals, it further justifies their belief that the media, particularly TV news, is a big stinking cabal of conservatives.
This is trouble for the media. It has been losing customers to bloggers and Web sites for years. This won't help. The media's implosion of silence could be one of the final reasons many liberals use to not turn on TV news. It's not like they feel a vested interest in the industry anyway, since it has been bought and parceled by conservatives.

There is Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, that Pravda of GOP propaganda and breeding ground for Bush appointees. There are the networks' Sunday news shows that give more face time to Republicans. There are cable news channels like MSNBC, where Republicans have programmed the shows and hired on-air Republicans and conservatives-lite, from Tucker Carlson to Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews. Some TV watchdogs even chronicle these conservative media daily, backed up by transcripts and video clips from TV news shows, in the expansive Web site,

I think it's quickly solidifying into conventional wisdom that the International Society of Cocktail Weenie Addicts so brazenly refused to report on Colbert because, at the end of the day, they were his pinata every bit as much as the president, and as ridiculous as Colbert made the president look, the press looked even more pathetic for being so thoroughly cowed and complicit. Every day the truth becomes more uncomfortable for the media, who, in an age where nearly all government apparatus and national organizations have failed us, have failed us perhaps most profoundly because they were supposed to be the watchdogs. They were supposed to be the stopgap.

Why has it taken this long for someone in the media to connect the dots? The media foamed at the mouth over Clinton's infidelity and tried their damnedest to undermine his approval ratings by printing editorial after editorial telling us that everyone hates the president (which we didn't) and that impeachment is the only just reaction (which it wasn't). Then there was the 2000 election, where the media mercilessly attacked Gore, gleefully replaying over and over every tiny misstep of the Gore campaign, and every bogus charge and libellous claim of the Bush campaign (you think the Swift Boat Vets didn't base their strategy on the media's "golly-gee!" gullibility in believing that Gore really said "I invented the internet?") without any hint of integrity and remorse after the fact. Then there was the genuflecting toward the president after 9/11, and the fight to justify the Iraq War, where psychological warfare was waged upon the American people every day from the nation's editorial pages and cable news shows.

Remember people, someday we will have to tell our children that we as a country actually debated such things as the use of torture, whether the president can act outside the law and even the Constitution itself, wiretapping American citizens, and whether outing covert CIA agents is the same thing as whistleblowing on illegal government practices.

Someday, the press is going to have to own up to the fact that they took sides long ago, and the consequences have been disastrous. Yet, just like the president, when they can't spin it away, they just remain silent, hiding the truth, and waiting for the people to get distracted by the next story.

raisin' da roof

From the Washington Post (via FDL):
A $2.7 trillion budget plan pending before the House would raise the federal debt ceiling to nearly $10 trillion, less than two months after Congress last raised the federal government's borrowing limit.

The provision -- buried on page 121 of the 151-page budget blueprint -- serves as a backdrop to congressional action this week...

With passage of the budget, the House will have raised the federal borrowing limit by an additional $653 billion, to $9.62 trillion. It would be the fifth debt-ceiling increase in recent years, after boosts of $450 billion in 2002, a record $984 billion in 2003, $800 billion in 2004 and $653 billion in March. When Bush took office, the statutory borrowing limit stood at $5.95 trillion.
Tell me more about fiscal responsibility, tell me more...

But hey, at least they're having to keep piling on the loans to China (that, of course, the communists can sell to places like North Korea and Iran anytime they want-- isn't that a nice thought?) to pay for important stuff, right?
Leaders also hope to pass a package of tax-cut extensions that would cost the Treasury $70 billion over the next five years. They would then turn Thursday to a $513 billion defense policy bill that would block President Bush's request to raise health-care fees and co-payments for service members and their families.
But the federal debt keeps climbing because of continued deficit spending and the government's insatiable borrowing from the Social Security trust fund.
Suddenly, it makes a lot more sense why they're saying Social Security will run out of money sooner than expected, eh?

God does not like me this much

All the scuttlebutt is that Fitzgerald's investigation is going to end in a couple of weeks, and will culminate in the indictment of Karl Rove.

I'll believe it when I see it.

CIA shakeup

For those of you who are interested, Josh Marshall is all over the recent events in the CIA, particularly the links between them and crooked lobbyists: Foggo and Goss' connection to the infamous Watergate hooker parties, CIA director nominee Hayden's to the same defense company, MZM, that bought Cunningham, etc.

All this, of course, is beside the point of Hayden's active participation in the creation of the domestic eavesdropping program now squatting over the Bill of Rights. And then there's this. Just so we're all on the same page, here's the text of the 4th Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
It should be noted that even this paltry degree of verification is beyond what you'll get from the traditional media (to whom every day I feel more inclined to refer as "the Stupids").

Suffice it to say there's a pretty significant part of this story that isn't getting much airtime.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bush at 31%

Holy crap:
President Bush's approval rating has slumped to 31% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the lowest of his presidency and a warning sign for Republicans in the November elections.
Bush's fall is being fueled by erosion among support from conservatives and Republicans. In the poll, 52% of conservatives and 68% of Republicans approved of the job he is doing. Both are record lows among those groups.

Moderates gave him an approval rating of 28%, liberals of 7%."

You'd almost think he was trying to score low.

it's funny, but not like he's thinking it's funny

I couldn't agree more. From Reuters UK:
BERLIN (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush told a German newspaper his best moment in more than five years in office was catching a big perch in his own lake.

"You know, I've experienced many great moments and it's hard to name the best," Bush told weekly Bild am Sonntag when asked about his high point since becoming president in January 2001.

"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake," he told the newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.
Even Bush agrees, in 5 and a half years in office his shining moments came when he was far, far away from Washington and cameras and politics. It figures: it's where he spent the most time, judging from the record-shattering, mind-boggling amounts of vacation he's taken.

I think we can all agree that possibly the stupidest move the collective public has made in the last 30 years is robbing this poor man of the chance to play "rancher" all day long.

slow weekend

Sorry all, I know I've been slow in posting, especially considering the events of the weekend. I was off at a huge medievalist conference in Michigan (NERD ALERT!) and I was away from computers for several days. Anyhoo, I'll drop some lines about the CIA head issues and whatnot in the near future.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

round of applause

Congrats and a big 10-gallon tip to Amber for passing her inexcusably comprehensive exams, and a pre-emptive tip to Grimsaburger, who hasn't taken them yet but is a lock for hers as well.

And I have only one thing to say to the Academy, for sticking with such a disastrous and unhealthy examination system: "HEY!! YOU EVER HEAR OF DIMINISHING RETURNS, JACKASS!?"

binga Chush

Says President Nukular:
After saying he did not consider the anthem sung in Spanish to have the same value as the anthem sung in English, Mr. Bush said: "I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English. And they ought to learn to sing the anthem in English."

Atrios documents the hypocrisy. First:
Of all of the recent fake controversies the Spanish Star-Spangled Banner one was actually the one which put my jaw on the floor and left it there. We are really living in stupid times.

In 1919 the US Bureau of Education commissioned a Spanish version of the song. I don't know why they did so, though an obvious explanation would be because of the substantial numbers of native Spanish speaking citizens living in US states and territories - then and now.

Second (from Kevin Drum's American Dynasty, emphasis added):
When visiting cities like Chicago, Milwaukee or Philadelphia, in pivotal states, [Bush] would drop in at Hispanic festivals and parites, sometimes joining in singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish, sometimes partying with a "Viva Bush" mariachi band flown in from Texas.

Every time he opens his mouth, ya know?

the sheer breadth of the incompetence

How many does this story have to come out before people start connecting the dots?
According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.


Remember, people, this all started with a stolen election, which led to a lazy president caught with his head on the desk when bin Laden sent his goons into America's airports. This, in turn, led to the devising of a selfish war cloaked under the War on Terra, which was argued for in the State of the Union address ("Saddam is seeking nukular uranium from Niger"). The questioning of these claims by Joe Wilson prompted the White House to out his secret agent wife to shut him up, as well as others who might be tempted to speak out. The damage done to our anti-WMD proliferation operations in Iran by blowing the cover of one of the agents involved leads to... ?

It's all just one long chain of incompetence and deceit. The important thing, of course, is that he has not yet gotten a blowjob from one of the interns. That's why none of this is impeachable.