Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Still in la-la land

Via NTodd (from MSNBC) -
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage:

"I think [Saddam Hussein's transfer to the new Iraqi government]...shows that Iraq is sovereign. That it took possession of Saddam and these eleven other bad boys, I think, is a graphic demonstration of that."
From the GAO's report "Rebuilding Iraq" -
Efforts to rebuild Iraq’s judicial system and restore the rule of law face multiple challenges, including providing adequate security for judges and other court personnel, some of whom have been assassinated…
I think the GAO report is a graphic demonstration that Armitage is full of crap.

Group: Drug costs up after Medicare discounts started

According to the report, released Wednesday by AARP, those increases came after President Bush signed the Medicare prescription drug benefit into law on Dec. 8, 2003. The discount drug cards only became available to seniors in June.
My goodness - what a coincidence!

I told you so (here).

Republicans and multinational corporations are so predictable.

There is a God, and She just gave pigs wings

‘Fahrenheit’ comes to city Friday

I think that must be a misprint in our local rightwing rag, the High Point Enterprise (generally known as the "Surprise").

I know you don't want to register to read it, so I'll just say "Cheney them", and copy/paste the relevent parts. Keep in mind the conservative-ness of this area as you read:
Coming soon to a theater near you - Michael Moore's documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11."

The movie opens Friday in High Point at Carmike 8 on N. Main Street. Relief manager Chris McAlpine said the theater began fielding calls over the weekend asking if the movie would show locally.
(Those calls would be from me and my family; the whackadoo wing of the local Democrat party)
The movie, a foray into President Bush's leadership and his decision to go to war in Iraq after the 2001 terrorist attacks, took in $23.9 million over the weekend to become the first documentary to debut as Hollywood's top weekend film.

From Friday to Sunday at Carousel Cinema in Greensboro, all shows were sold out, District Manager Rob McHone said. Additionally, the film had to be moved to the largest theater in the venue and a special 11:40 p.m. showing was added Sunday night to cater to sold out crowds.

McHone said the theater didn't want to turn away viewers who came from as far away as the Virginia cities of Roanoke, Danville and Martinsville to see the movie in its first limited weekend showing.

"It was surprising being the No. 1 film, for a documentary only opening on 868 screens," McHone said.

Typically, McHone said even mediocre major studio films open on at least 2,500 screens nationwide. The Carousel usually gets two or three film prints of movies expected to be popular, but with only a limited number of "Fahrenheit" produced, the theater got only one.

"If we had another print, we definitely would have shown it," McHone said.

McHone said audience members either loved or hated the film, and although he didn't see the stump speech given by a Carousel patron standing on his seat directed to viewers during the film, he did hear of it.

"We hope people would abstain from that so people could enjoy the film or hate it, but they have the right to see it in quiet," McHone said.

The movie has proved divisive, generating controversy among the president's critics and supporters. At Carmike 8, however, McAlpine said he's received no angry calls with the theater's decision to show the film.

"They only seem to be interested in watching the movie," McAlpine said.

In contrast to the Carousel, McAlpine said High Pointers will have to wait in line for tickets. Carmike 8 will not sell advance tickets to the film, he said.

"We're probably going to have a line out here Friday morning," McAlpine said.

June 30 – This day in history

Birthdays –
1917 – Lena Horne
1918 – Susan Hayward

Deaths –
1520 - Montezuma II is murdered as Spanish conquistadors flee the Aztec capital of Tenochtilan during the night

Events –
1934 - Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered a purge ("Night of the Long Knives") of his own political party, assassinating hundreds of Nazis whom he believed had the potential to become political enemies in the future
1936 40 hour work week law approved (federal)
1966 - The National Organization for Women was founded in Washington DC
1982 - The Equal Rights Amendment (passed by Congress in 1972), prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, failed to secure ratification by a sufficient number of states to ensure its inclusion in the Constitution
1950 Pres Truman orders US troops into Korea


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Bronx cheer

From ESPN -
Cheney, who visited both clubhouses after batting practice, watched part of the game from the box of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and part from a first-row seat next to the Yankees dugout, where he sat between New York Gov. George Pataki and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Cheney was booed when he was shown on the right-field videoboard during the seventh-inning stretch.
That's the official, cleaned-up version.

Americablog has the story from a friend present at the game - Cheney just got booed at the Yankees game


That's more like it. Posted by Hello

Sack ‘Em and Rack ‘Em

That would be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers and Donald Rumsfeld.
Contrary to continuing political spin, Iraq and Afghanistan both are running sores with little promise of even a long-term turnaround, and our world today is far more dangerous than it was before 9/11. Unless there's a 180-degree change in overall strategy, the USA is doomed to follow the same bloody path through these two brutal killing fields that the Soviet Union took in Afghanistan.

The mighty sword that Rumsfeld and Myers inherited four years ago – the finest military force in the world – is now chipped and dulled. And the word is that it will take at least a decade to get our overextended, bone-tired soldiers and Marines and their worn-out gear back in shape.

If I were queen of Iraq...

The very first thing I'd do would be visit all the U.S.-administered prisons.

I'd demand to see a list of all prisoners.

I would ask:

1) Has this person been tried in court?

2) Is this person serving a sentence?

3) Is there credible evidence for holding this person before trial?

4) Why not?


What next?

Rolling Stone convenes a panel of experts to discuss what went wrong in Iraq (via Blah3).

Among the panelists, Gen. Anthony Zinni, Gen. Wesley Clark, Rand Beers, Sen. Joseph Biden, and many more.
Biden: The perception of us is that if we don't succeed, we're a paper tiger. We can project power, but we don't have staying power. The Bush administration has seriously damaged the legitimate and necessary role of power in our foreign-policy arsenal. What happens if we have another Milosevic? Will there be support for a U.S. president in taking down a genocidal maniac? No.


Will he stay, or will he go?

And who would replace him?

Just askin'....

June 29 – This day in history

Birthdays –
1910 Frank Loesser, American composer, librettist and lyricist.
1919 Slim Pickens (Louis Lindley), actor.
1934 Carl Levin (Sen-D-MI)
1941 Stokely Carmichael

Deaths –
1852 Henry Clay
1967 Jayne Mansfield
1978 Bob Crane

Events –
1613 Shakespeare's Globe Theater burns down
1956 - The US Interstate Highway System was born when President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill providing $33.5 billion for highway construction.
1959 Pope John XXIII encyclical "On truth, unity, & peace, in charity"
1964 1st draft of Star Trek's pilot "The Cage" released
1966 - In the Vietnam War, US aircraft bomb the major North Vietnamese cities of Hanoi and Haiphong for the first time, destroying oil depots located near them.
1967 - Israel united east and west Jerusalem.
1970 - US troops pull out of Cambodia.


Monday, June 28, 2004

Chief Justice Midhat Al-Mahmodi: You'd think they could've run us up a couple of those new flags before they left....
President Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar: Shut up, smile, and wave goodbye.

(alternate captions welcome)

Degrees of classification

The recent revelation of "lightly classified" information from the FBI has left me a little befuddled.
The FBI issued a warning last week for state and local authorities to be on the lookout for booby-trapped floating material in and around the nation's marinas, warning they could contain explosives.

A homeland security official told CNN on Sunday there is "no intelligence terrorists are planning to or want to do this."

The official said the warning was sent in a weekly bulletin to 18,000 state and local agencies, a lightly classified alert that outlines possible tactics terrorists could use.
Which includes "plastic-foam containers, inner tubes and even buoys could be rigged to blow up on contact."

I feel a little sorry for Tom Ridge - all that power, money, and prestige can't buy him access to "lightly classified" info.

So I'll spend my holiday weekend patrolling the inland waters of North Carolina and report anything that floats. That ought to keep him busy and will be good for his self-esteem.

In the meantime, here's a guide to the classification system as provided to Collective Sigh by a little old bag lady who claims to be related to a member of the night cleaning crew at the FBI. I have her kind permission to pass it on to the Homeland Security folks.

Unclassified: A mistake; someone's ass is in a sling for this. Submit for immediate redaction and classification.

Lightly Classified: Do not share with Dept. of Homeland Security, but may be made available to everyone else and his brother and his Aunt Fanny.

Highly Classified: For immediate release to the SCLM. Presumably, Homeland Security will read about it in a couple of days.

Super-Duper Classified: For immediate release to Bob Novak, Dick Cheney's office, and anyone ever associated with him.

Raise your hand if you're sure!

I'm web-graphically challenged; but I'd love to do something with it. Like wearing a diaper. Or a sock-stuffed thong.

If anyone can manage it, let me know; I'll send off a $25 donation to Kerry or any other progressive cause of your choice. Just keep it clean(ish).

Bush Hails Transfer of Power to Iraqis
President Bush celebrated the early transfer of political power to Iraqis Monday, declaring that "the Iraqi people have their country back."
What he was thinking - "The Iraqi people can have their f-ing country back. Good riddance".

A bit of a reach

As Jesse at Pandagon notes, this may be the worst column ever.

Larry Eastland of the WSJ surmises that Democrats are more likely to have abortions, therefore more potential Democratic voters have been aborted over the years, denying the party electoral victories.

By the same logic, the Collective Sigh Department of Bogus Research claims that NASCAR has had the same effect on the Republican party.

NASCAR fans tend to vote Republican.

NASCAR fans tend to emulate their favorite driver when behind the wheel of their own vehicle.

Inexperienced, stupid NASCAR-wannabes tend to have wrecks.

Wrecks tend to produce fatalities.

Wreck fatalities tend to deprive the Republican party of voters.

So....there you go.

June 28 – This day in history

Birthdays –
1491 Henry VIII of England
1902 Richard Rodgers
1926 - Mel Brooks (Kaminsky)
1946 Gilda Radner

Deaths –
1836 James Madison
1914 Archduke Ferdinand & wife Sofia
1975 Rod Serling

Events –
1770 Quakers open a school for blacks in Philadelphia
1820 Tomato is proven nonpoisonous
1919 - The Treaty of Versailles was signed in France, ending World War I.
1950 - North Korean forces captured Seoul, South Korea.
1965 1st US ground combat forces in Vietnam authorized by Pres Johnson
1968 Daniel Ellsberg indicted for leaking Pentagon Papers
1969 - A police raid of the Stonewall Inn--a gay club located on New York City's Christopher Street--turned violent. This incident is regarded as the spark for the gay liberation movement

Update - And finally, thanks to Upyernoz -

2004--U.S. Supreme Court rules that the constitution still applies no matter what kind of crazy shit the Bush administration feeds to the American public


Sunday, June 27, 2004

Critical mass?

I've been wondering how much longer it would be before this happened -

Captive US marine faces execution in Iraq

...and what it will do to the minds of loyalists who still think we're winning the war on terror.
The embarassment never ends

Questionably-Honorable Congressman Walter B. Jones (R-NC), whose district is scattered around the coast in a gerrymandered mess if ever there was one, has blessed North Carolina with another looney idea.

Yes, Good Old Walt is the guy behind "Freedom Fries". Not content to bash the French, he is now bashing intelligent North Carolinians by proposing renaming Falls Lake, the municiple water supply for the Raleigh area, as "Helms Lake".

That's "Helms" as in "Jesse Helms".

No doubt there are some folks down that way who wouldn't object. However, he forgot to mention his bright idea to either of the two (Democratic) congressmen whose districts include Falls Lake; something of a congressional faux-pas (it's okay if you're a Republican).

The bill – H.R. 4677 – will be referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for further consideration. With any luck, it will die there.

In the meantime, I have a suggestion for Congressman Jones. His district contains numerous huge hog farms; hogs generate a tremendous amount of waste - 1 hog generates as much waste as 3 people, and we ain't talkin' wasted energy or time.

All that waste has to go somewhere, and hogs aren't known for their potty-training. Most of those huge hog farms have "waste lagoons", which have a startling tendency to pollute the groundwater and overflow into creeks and rivers.

As a comparison, 11 million gallons of oil were spilled in Alaska's Prince William Sound by the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

In 1995, 22 million gallons of hog waste were dumped into North Carolina's New River after a waste lagoon burst.

Old Jesse was a zealous protector of the big agribusiness hog farmers; including their right to dump that waste wherever they pleased and reap tremendous profits.

Therefore, I can really think of no better way to commemorate Helms' contribution to North Carolinia than a nice, big, stinky "Jesse Helms Hog Waste Lagoon" smack-dab in Congressman Jones' own district.

Can I get an "Amen"?

Let this be a lesson to you

Never play poker with Dick Cheney.

Warning - move sharp objects and liquids away from the computer before reading

A little current events review

June 3, 2004 - George Tenet announces resignation from CIA

June 3, 2004 - James Pavitt, CIA Deputy Director of Operations, resigns

June 4, 2004 - reports surface - Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides

June 5, 2004 Vice President Dick Cheney "recently" interviewed by federal prosecutors

Several weeks of Bush travel and Reagan worship

June 24, 2004 Bush, accompanied by lawyer, interviewed in Plame leak probe

June 25, 2004 - Cheney curses senator over Halliburton criticism

June 26, 2004 - from Blah3
Well-placed U.S. government sources have revealed that the secret grand jury, led by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, will soon issue explosive indictments in the criminal investigation of who leaked the name of Valerie E. Plame, a CIA clandestine agent and wife of former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson, to members of the media. On June 24, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald interviewed President Bush at the White House for 70 minutes, an indication that Fitzgerald's investigation is nearing completion and that indictments may be imminent. Bush was seated with his recently-hired criminal defense attorney, Jim Sharp, during the interview.

U.S. intelligence sources have also said that Fitzgerald's investigation has gone far beyond the mere leaking of Plame's name, itself a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, but has expanded to look into the exposure of Plame's colleagues who worked under the cover of a CIA firm called Brewster, Jennings & Associates. The "brass plate" CIA proprietary had offices in Boston and Washington, DC. Active since 1994, Brewster-Jennings was instrumental in tracking the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and had agents or correspondents in a number of countries including Iraq, North Korea, Belarus, Russia, South Africa, Iran, Israel, China, Pakistan, Congo (Kinshasa), India, Taiwan, Libya, Syria, Serbia, and Malaysia. By releasing Valerie Plame’s name, other agents' non-official covers were blown and the lives of U.S. operatives within foreign governments and businesses may have been placed in danger. Therefore, Fitzgerald's investigation has reportedly been expanded to include the issue of whether members of the staffs of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, Cheney and Bush themselves, the National Security Council, and the Departments of Defense and State, may have violated more serious espionage laws. (more)
I suppose impeachment is wishful thinking; but heck, I'll be glad to see some damning explosive indictments.

June 27 – This day in history

Birthdays –
1880 - Helen Keller, author, educator, advocate for the blind.
1927 - Bob Keeshan, American television actor, best known as Captain Kangaroo

Deaths –
1829 - English scientist James Smithson died after a long illness, leaving behind a will which established the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC
1844 - Mormon leader Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, killed by a mob in Carthage, IL.

Events –
1950 US sends 35 military advisers to South Vietnam
1950 - President Harry Truman ordered the Air Force and Navy into the Korean conflict following a call from the UN Security Council for member nations to help.
1966 1st sci-fi soap opera, "Dark Shadows," premiers
1973 - Former White House counsel John W. Dean told the Senate Watergate Committee about an "enemies list" kept by the Nixon White House.

Apparently missed this one by a country mile

You'd think I'd learn not to make predictions, especially when I know not whereof I speak.

But I'm a sucker for a prize, especially when it involves 1) free books and 2) free CD's.

So TCF runs a contest to see who can come closest to predicting the first weekend box office take for Fahrenheit 9/11. He offered 5 of his very own promo CD's, a 2-CD set (Ray Charles: Ultimate Hits Collection), and a $25 gift certificate from Border's Books and Music.

What I know about boxoffice take would fill Bush's brain; but I couldn't resist. Picking a figure out of thin air, I said $8 million. I figure it's playing in 888 theaters, so "eight" must be a nice number.

Box office take for Friday alone - $8,200,000. And it's sold out for Gawd-knows-how-long.

I feel like a contestant who bids one dollar on a Price Is Right Showcase Showdown without hearing the other bids first.

But I hope Michael Moore gets very rich, multitudes are inspired to vote, and Bush gets his comeuppance in November.


Saturday, June 26, 2004

Green Party Refuses to Back Nader for President
The Green Party on Saturday refused to back Ralph Nader in his independent run for the White House, a move that could reduce his chances of being a factor in this year's election.

Delegates to the half-million-member party's presidential convention voted to nominate party activist David Cobb, a California lawyer who led the delegate count going into the meeting.


Losing the Green Party's support could make it all the more difficult for him to get on the ballot in every state. He has been trying to round up signatures in as many states as possible and Democrats have indicated they will scrutinize those efforts and challenge them when validity questions arise.

Excellent news

My sister-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer about a year ago. After many chemo & radiation treatments, the doctors decided to remove the rest of the tumor surgically.

But when they opened her up, they saw it was located in a very, very tricky spot and basically inoperable.

Thankfully, after another grueling series of treatments, the tumor seems to have disappeared. The outlook is hopeful, and we are blessed.

Which is why I was so pleased to see this item from the Centers for Disease Control - CDC: More surviving cancer, living longer
The number of cancer survivors in the United States has more than tripled to almost 10 million over the past three decades because of advances in detection and treatment, the government said.

Also, patients diagnosed between 1995 and 2000 have an estimated 64 percent chance of surviving five years, compared with a 50 percent rate -- a coin toss -- three decades ago, a study by National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
Once upon a time (not so long ago), the diagnosis of "cancer" was a death sentence. Today, with targeted treatments and earlier detection, it's definitely beatable.

I know many cancer survivors, as I'm sure we all do. The worst part of the disease now seems to be side effects and fear of the cancer returning.

The side effects, while much less severe than in previous years, can still be debilitating. But the fear-factor is worse. The stress of waiting...waiting...waiting for the latest scan takes a toll on the healthiest.
Survivors need help with fears that their cancer will return or with unexpected medication side effects, including fatigue, memory difficulties or swelling of arms and legs, officials said.

Health officials also need to make sure cancer survivors have adequate access to health care. Their families have needs too, such as how to provide end-of-life care for a cancer survivor, Pollack said.

"This is a new arena for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In general we have been focused on screening, early detection and prevention. Now we're looking at people who've had the diagnosis and what they need," Pollack said.

Ah, remember when....

John F. Kennedy, New Ross Ireland, 1963

JFK visits Cork, 1963

President Clinton wades into the crowd following his keynote speech at the Odyssey Arena, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Clinton spoke to about 6,000 people Wednesday

Huge security op begins for Bush visit

The biggest security operation in the history of the State is under way today as the country prepared for the arrival of US President George Bush.

More than 2,000 troops, heavy armoured vehicles, four naval ships and Air Corps planes will surround Shannon Airport, where President Bush is due to arrive tonight.

Specialist decontamination units and bomb disposal teams will also be on high alert to guard against a possible chemical or biological attack.

A massive police operation involving 4,000 officers is also being mounted outside the walls of the exclusive Dromoland Castle Hotel in Co Clare, where the president will spend the night before jetting off to attend a UN summit in Turkey on Saturday afternoon.

Armed US Secret Service personnel will also be allowed to open fire during the visit if they believe they or the President is at risk.

Police, with water cannons on standby, have warned the expected 20,000 anti-war demonstrators they will be held back half-a-mile and would be banned from the main road to Shannon Airport, where they will be kept outside the secure perimeter fence.

Protesters from the “Stop Bush Campaign” have vowed to assemble as close as possible to the EU-US Summit meeting to hold a peaceful demonstration.

Senior Garda officers told protest organisers they will be barred from marching on the main road to the airport as President Bush‘s cavalcade will be travelling on the same route.

A demonstration is, however, due to be held several hundred yards from the airport terminal, just outside the secured perimeter fence.

Separate protests have also been planned in Dublin and other major cities to coincide with the president’s visit.

Organisers say up to 20,000 people are expected at a march in the capital on Friday night, with busloads of protesters travelling from all over the country.

President Bush is expected to be on Irish soil for just over 18 hours but his visit is estimated to cost the state €3m.

More than 20,000 passengers are expected to be affected by delays at Shannon Airport, while travellers have been warned to allow two to four hours extra time to reach the terminal.

An 11-mile stretch of the main Limerick to Galway road will also be closed for 24 hours during the visit and 400 acres of woodland and gardens surrounding Dromoland Castle will be policed.

The EU delegation to the summit talks will be led by the Taoiseach and President of the European Council, Bertie Ahern, along with Commission President, Romano Prodi.

Mr Ahern is also due to hold bilateral talks with President Bush.

The EU-US summit is due to discuss problems in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan as well as the Middle East peace process and the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

But anti-war protesters have claimed the visit is merely a photo call opportunity for George Bush to attract Irish and Catholic votes in the forthcoming Presidential election.

Compare and contrast

Cheney says he felt better after cursing at Leahy

Hate speech and vulgarity go hand-in-hand: John Kerry

If you fling the f-word in the Senate, it's a "frank exchange".

If you do it for Rolling Stone mag, it's "vulgar".

If you do it to the American people, it's "steady leadership".

If you're a Republican, it's okay.


Friday, June 25, 2004

No Fahrenheit 9/11 for me

At least, not this weekend.


Because it's sold out in Rightwing Heaven!

Those of you who are able to see it, please let me know what you think.

Seen the latest Bush/Cheney ad?

If you don't want to download slime, let me take you on a tour.

(cue weird sound effects - sort of like the inside of a bee hive)

Text - "The Faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party - The Coalition of the Wild-Eyed"

Various clips of speakers giving impassioned speeches -

1) Al Gore - "how dare they drag the good name of the United States...etc."
2) Adolph Hitler; text - What were war crimes in 1945...foreign policy in 2003 (clip from MoveOn ad)
3) Howard Dean "I want my country back!"
4) Michael Moore speaking at the Oscars
5) Dick Gephardt calling Bush a miserable failure
6) Adolph Hitler speaking, with text "God told me to strike at Al Queda and I struck them"
7) Dubya, with text "and then he told me to strike at Saddam, which I did.
8) Al Gore "He betrayed this country..."
9) John Kerry "Bush will lay off your camel, tax your shovel..."
10) Text - "This is not a time for pessimism and rage"
11) (cue uplifting music and goofy picture of Dubya)
12) Text - "it's a time for optimism, steady leadership, and progress. Paid for by Bush-Cheney '04 Inc."

Funny how Hitler shows up so often, isn't it?

"Health care" by lottery

Is it just me, or is there something a little cock-eyed about this?
The Bush administration will give "50,000 lucky individuals" chosen in a lottery up to a 16-month jump on Medicare prescription drug coverage, paying for costly medications for cancer and other illnesses this year.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson estimated that 500,000 to 600,000 Medicare recipients without prescription drug coverage are eligible for the program Congress wrote into last year's prescription drug law.
That's not even as "fair" as the Vietnam war draft lottery.
"There'll be a lottery to be chosen as one of 50,000 lucky individuals," Thompson said at a news conference Thursday to announce the program. More than 450,000 others must wait until prescription drug insurance under Medicare begins in 2006.
Or pay out the nose for exhorbitant supplemental policies. Or eat Alpo. Or just die.

As the "richest country" on the planet, it's a crime that people can't afford medical treatment and prescriptions - especially for the elderly and children.

Riling up the wingers

How did all those winger talking heads read all 900+ pages of Bill Clinton's "My Life" so quickly? Within hours of it's release (in some cases, before it's release), they were already on the warpath.

Oh. They didn't read it? How naive of me.

Here's what must have happened....they read Fafblog instead, in which Giblets notes that Clinton DID NOT WRITE the following -
And it was then that I, Bill Clinton, realized how very wrong I had been about absolutely everything. To this day I am wracked with soul-crippling guilt, not just for betraying my wife and family, but for betraying my country to liberalism, for being elected - twice! - and maintaining peace and prosperity under a Democratic administration. I apologize for being a successful, charismatic Democratic president, a scourge I have dealt to history and a sin I pray God will one day forgive.
Something like that might have lowered the hatred level just a bit; say, from "hysterical blind rage" to "shrill blind rage".

Damn that Clinton - passing up an opportunity to bring dignity back to the wingers.

Actually, I suspect they did what I did - looked at the pictures first.

That picture of little-shaver Bill on a pony was really unnecessary provocation; I mean, why rub it in that Little Bill On A Pony is light-years closer to a cowboy or even a rancher than anything Dubya ever did.

June 25 - This Day in history

Births -
1903 - George Orwell
1963 Mike Myers

Events -
1868 - The US Congress enacts legislation setting an eight-hour day for federal government employees.
1876 - Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer and his Seventh Cavalry were killed by Sioux Indians in the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana.
1942 - Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower took command of US forces in Europe in World War II.
1950 - North Korea invaded South Korea, beginning the Korean War.
1962 - The US Supreme Court ruled that a prayer read aloud in public schools violated the 1st Amendment's separation of church and state.
1973 - White House Counsel John Dean admits President Nixon took part in the Watergate cover-up.
1990 - The US Supreme Court upheld the right of an individual, whose wishes are clearly made, to refuse life-sustaining medical treatment

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Bush narrowing choices for CIA director
Two administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Bush is focusing on House Intelligence Chairman Porter Goss, R-Fla., and at least one other candidate. The officials spoke on the condition they not be identified because the president prefers to make his own personnel announcements.
Going by his past record in character assessment, I'm betting on that other candidate being either Bob Novak or Dick Morris.

Can we please declare victory in Iraq and get the hell out?

From the Asia Times - 'The liberation of Baghdad is not far away'
On the eve of the so-called transfer of sovereignty to the new Iraqi caretaker government on June 30, former Saddam Hussein generals turned members of the elite of the Iraqi resistance movement have abandoned their clandestine positions for a while to explain their version of events and talk about their plans. According to these Ba'ath officials, "the big battle" in Iraq is yet to take place.

Moore-Mashing© with O'Reilly

Moore-Mashing© (a registered trademark of TCF)goes to a higher level of pathetic-ness -
Moore: I'd go on O'Reilly but, like a coward, he walked out on a screening we invited him to (with Al Franken just a few rows away!). I personally caught him sneaking out. Embarrassed, he tried to change the subject. He said, "When are you coming on my show?" and I said, "Turn around and watch the rest of the movie and I will come on your show." He walked out. Fair and balanced.

Cardiologist alert

Oooo....CNN is reporting that Dick Cheney (aka The Puppeteer) used the F-word on the Senate floor yesterday in an exchange with Sen. Patrick Leahy.


Update - link.

Well, they said they'd bring dignity back to the White House; the Senate is still a den of iniquity.


Bush/Cheney04 Campaign Logo Contest  - supply your own sound bite :Posted by Hello

No good; lots of bad and ugly - Dubya's not-so-excellent adventure

Holy cow, this just can't be repeated too often -

Via Meteor Blades over at Kos from the Institute for Policy Studies' "Paying the Price"(see the PDF for the gory details)

Total number of coalition military deaths between the start of war and June 16, 2004: 952 (836 U.S.)

Of those 952, the number killed after President George W. Bush declared “an end to major combat operations” on May 1, 2003: 693

Number of U.S. troops wounded in combat since the war began: 5,134 (Number ill or injured in “non-combat” incidents estimated to be over 11,000)

Number of U.S. troops wounded in combat since President George W. Bush declared “an end to major combat operations” on May 1, 2003: 4,593

Number of civilian contractors, missionaries, and civilian workers killed: 50-90

Number of international media workers killed: 30
Iraqi civilians killed: 9,436 to 11,317

Iraqi civilians injured: 40,000 (est.)

Iraqi soldiers and insurgents killed prior to May 1, 2003: 4,895 to 6,370

The bill so far: $126.1 billion

Additional amount to cover operations through 2004: $25 billion

What $151 billion could have paid for in the U.S.:

Housing vouchers: 23 million

Health care for uninsured Americans: 27 mil.

Salaries for elementary school teachers: 3 mil.

New fire engines: 678,200

Head Start slots: 20 million

Estimated long-term cost of war to every U.S. household: $3,415

Amount contractor Halliburton is alleged to have charged for meals never served to troops and for cost overruns on fuel deliveries: $221 million

Kickbacks received by Halliburton employees from subcontractors: $6 million

Percentage of Americans who now feel that “the situation in Iraq was not worth going to war over.”: 54

Percentage of Iraqis who said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign troops left the country immediately: 55

Percentage of U.S. soldiers in Iraq reporting low morale: 52

Percentage of soldiers who said they would not re-enlist: 50

Percentage of wounded unable to return to duty: 64

Number of soldiers whose tours of duty have been extended by the Army: 20,000

Percentage of reserve troops who earn lower salaries while on deployment: 30-40

Fraction of National Guard troops among U.S. force now in Iraq: 1/3

Percentage of U.S. police departments missing officers due to Iraq deployments: 44

Effect on al Qaeda of the Iraq war, according to International Institute for Strategic Studies: “Accelerated recruitment”

Estimated number of al Qaeda terrorists as of May 2004: 18,000 with 1,000 active in Iraq

Percentage of Iraqis expressing “no confidence” in U.S. civilian authorities or coalition forces: 80

Iraq’s oil production in 2002: 2.04 mil. barrels/day

Iraq’s oil production in 2003: 1.33 mil. barrels/day

Price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. in May 2004: more than $2

Ungrateful wretches

More than 80 killed in series of attacks in Iraq

Which just might possibly mean things are getting a bit more violent as June 30 approaches.

As one coalition official brilliantly notes -
These attacks "show a level of coordination," a senior coalition military official said. "They are not coincidental."
Why can't they be grateful for all that tax-rate lowering, reduction of import duties, and school painting?

June 24 – This day in history

Birthdays –
1895 - Jack Dempsey, world heavyweight boxing champion

Deaths –
1908 Grover Cleveland
1987 Jackie Gleason

Events –
1314 - The forces of Scotland's King Robert I defeated the English in the Battle of Bannockburn.
1497 - The first recorded sighting of North America by a European took place -- as explorer John Cabot spotted land, in Canada somewhere between Halifax and southern Labrador.
1509 - Henry VIII was crowned king of England.
1540 Henry VIII divorces his 4th wife, Anne of Cleves
1948 - Communist forces cut off all land and water routes between West Germany and West Berlin, prompting the western allies to organize the massive Berlin Airlift.
1949 "Hopalong Cassidy" becomes 1st network western
1953 - John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier announce their engagement.
1982 Equal Rights Amendment goes down to defeat


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

My Life

Not mine - Bill Clinton's "My Life".

Got my copy in the mailbox today; I promised my mother the first read, but I have already employed the George W. Bush Reading Method.

I looked at the pictures.

Some are familiar, some I'd never seen; all are terrific. My favorites are those taken in foreign countries, when thousands and thousands of people turned out to cheer for the President of the United States of America.

God, I miss that. Knowing that your country's president has to sneak into another country like a thief, protected by hundreds of securtiy people, and hide out from the natives is totally disgusting.

Character counts

And Dubya ain't got it.

Thanks to Lambert at Corrente for linking to Jack Beatty's excellent essay, "Bush's Monica Moment".

By choosing politics and idealogy over policy and actual governing, Bush has proven over and over he is not fit to be president.

And then, there is his excruciating, embarassing reaction when told the nation is under attack -
"Mr. Bush's slow, hesitant reaction to the disastrous news has never been a secret,…seeing the actual footage, with the minutes ticking by, may prove more damaging to the White House than all the statistics in the world."

That moment exposes Bush's character. It reveals what his press conferences proclaim: his incapacity. If he were George W. Smith, what job would he be qualified for? Bush's presidency can be seen as one long cover-up of the most obvious thing about him. A life of upward failure, of being his father's son, left him without "sand," my nineteenth century-born father's word for the residue of strength acquired by "standing on your own two feet" and "taking your medicine." Bush never stood on his own feet, never took his medicine—and he has never been his own man.
A must read.

June 23 – This day in history

Birthdays –
1910 Jean Anouilh
1927 Bob Fosse
1940 Wilma Rudolph

Deaths –
1969 Stanley Andrews actor (Old Ranger-Death Valley Days)

Events –
1683 William Penn signs friendship treaty with Lenni Lenape indians in Pennsylvania; only treaty "not sworn to, nor broken"
1940 Hitler takes a tour of Paris
1967 Jim Ryun sets mile record of 3 min, 51.1 sec (Bakersfield, CA)
1972 Nixon & Haldeman agree to use CIA to cover up Watergate
1991 Tony Randall & Jack Klugman star in Bdwy performance of Odd Couple


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Local Woman Dies Of Lost Cell Phone
APALACHICOLA, FL—Catherine Polk, 24, died at a local Starbucks Monday afternoon, due to complications resulting from the tragic loss of her cell phone. "It was horrible—Cathy didn't have any of her numbers written down anywhere else, and she was waiting on a call about last-minute tickets for a concert," said best friend Melissa Barreth, who was with Polk when she first discovered that her Cingular V400 quad band/GSM cell phone was not in her purse. "We tried everything to find it, but in the end, there was nothing we could do." The coroner's report confirmed that Polk died of a sudden lack of wireless service.
Yes, that's from The Onion, but it perfectly illustrates one of my pet peeves.

I have one friend who calls me frequently and thusly -

"Hi, how are you? I'll have a Big Mac and a small order of fries".

It always takes me back a bit when she calls from McDonald's.

The same lady is still fussin' and fumin' because she got a speeding ticket for going 50 mph in a school zone. When the cell is glued to her ear - which is always - she is definitely a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Yes, she drives a humongous SUV; a double-pet-peeve for the price of one.

But my "favorite" stupid cell phone trick was when a lady rose to give a tribute during a funeral. Her cell phone started merrily ring-a-linging. As I recall, the tune was "Tequila".

She grabbed for it, punched a button, and began her heartfelt tribute to the deceased.

Apparently, she didn't hit the right button, and the caller was persistent.

To be fair, she didn't answer,and managed to turn it off (correctly). But I fully expected this chatterbox to say "Never mind" to the congregation, and take the call.

I'm also disconcerted when I come up behind someone in the grocery store, apparently talking to the meat.

If George Bush really wants to get the citizenry on expensive anti-depressants, he doesn't need to resort to any plan to screen the population for mental illness.

All he has to do is disable wireless networks. A couple of hours should do it.


Back about a thousand years ago, I was working a phone bank at the local Democratic headquarters, asking registered Democrats to get their butts to the polls to vote for Dukakis (yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment).

One thing I heard over and over and over again - "if Lloyd Bentson were at the top of the ticket, I'd vote Democratic".

Today, for all the speculation on who will fill the second-fiddle slot - I really don't think it matters much. Voters will cast their vote for John Kerry (or against George Bush), not for the vice-president.

Still, I won't deny I'm a John Edwards fan, and would love to see him selected.

Especially since his presence on the ticket might put North Carolina in play.

Via Kos, a Raleigh News & Observer poll puts Kerry only 5 points behind Bush, and 6 points behind when Nader is added to the mix.

It doesn't surprise me, given our large - and somewhat disgruntled - military population, and the thousands of furniture and textile workers who have lost their jobs in the last couple of years.
The divide would narrow further if Kerry selects Sen. John Edwards as his running mate, according to the survey, conducted June 13-16 for a partnership of The News & Observer, WRAL-TV and WUNC radio.
I'm not making any predictions; should Kerry win North Carolina, it will take me weeks to recover from the shock (and hangover).

But I won't mind a bit having the Bushies stinking up the state if it means they expend valuable time and treasure here, trying to shore up the base.


Senate Keeps Ban on Casket Photos Intact
Sen. John Warner, Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, argued the ban should continue to "to preserve the most important priority, and that's the privacy of the families ... and not open up this matter to greater scrutiny by the press."
I'll agree that the privacy of the families should certainly not be violated, but I can't imagine any military family being offended.

The only "privacy" being protected is keeping Dubya & Friends from being asked the hard questions.

Stem cell centre to give UK world lead
Britain is set to become the world leader in stem cell medicine with the announcement today of a new £16m research institute for developing the transplant operations of the future.

The decision to build a national centre for stem cell research follows the establishment of a national bank of stem cells to hold future "lines" of cells for use in transplant medicine.

Professor Roger Pedersen of Cambridge University, who will be director of the new institute, said that no other stem-cell institute would be able to match its scale or expertise in an area of science that could revolutionise the treatment of incurable diseases. "By pulling together the intellectual capital here in Cambridge, this would make us the largest centre focused on stem cell research anywhere in the world," he said.
Professor Roger Pedersen? This guy?
One of the nation's leading stem-cell researchers will move to the United Kingdom to pursue embryo research, citing an increasingly unfriendly climate in the U.S. and better opportunities abroad.

The researcher, Roger Pedersen of the University of California, San Francisco, has accepted a faculty position at the University of Cambridge, a leading center for developmental biology. Studies of both embryos and embryo stem cells are legal in the U.K. and are expected to receive enhanced public funding. UCSF confirmed Dr. Pedersen's move over the weekend.

Dr. Pedersen, 56 years old, says after a decadelong fight to convince the U.S. government to fund embryo research, he faced a choice between "very favorable circumstances and tremendous support" for his work in the U.K. and "the prospect of sitting on my hands for the next few years."


"It's unfortunate when the U.S. loses a scientist the caliber of Roger Pedersen to another country," said Larry Goldstein, a biologist at the University of California, San Diego, who learned of Dr. Pedersen's decision last week. "Here's a guy that wants to do research that will benefit people, and everywhere he turns there are obstacles in his way. That has got to be frustrating."
Yep - a scientific refugee.

June 22 – This day in history

Birthdays –
1858 Giacomo Puccini
1903 John Dillinger
1906 Billy Wilder
1948 "Pistol" Pete Maravich
1949 Meryl Streep

Deaths –
1965 David O Selznick
1969 Judy Garland
1987 Fred Astaire

Events –
1342 Bilbo Baggins returns to his home at Bag End, (Shire Reckoning)
1772 Slavery outlawed in England
1808 Zebulon Pike reaches his peak
1847 Doughnut created
1873 Prince Edward Island joins Canada
1940 France falls to Nazi Germany; armistice signed, France disarmed
1944 FDR signs "GI Bill of Rights" (Servicemen's Readjustment Act)
1970 President Nixon signs 26th amendment (voting age lowered to 18)
1977 Former AG John Mitchell starts 19 months in Alabama prison
1981 Mark David Chapman pleads guilty to killing John Lennon


Monday, June 21, 2004

Bush to screen population for mental illness
President Bush plans to unveil next month a sweeping mental health initiative that recommends screening for every citizen and promotes the use of expensive antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs favored by supporters of the administration.
Two quick questions:

1) Will he start with himself?

2) Gee, I wonder who will benefit financially?

One sunny day in 2005

.....an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the U. S. Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine looked at the man and said, "Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here."

The old man said, "Okay" and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine again told the man, "Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here." The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same U. S. Marine, saying "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I've told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?"

The old man looked at the Marine and said, "Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it!"

The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, "See you tomorrow!"

Snark deficit?

It has come to my attention - from where, I don't remember - that there is a lamentable lack of "snark" around the blogosphere these days.

(Update - Thanks to Elayne for reminding me - see Billmon on the snark shortage)

Time for all good Americans to do their part.

Bush Tries Compassion as He Courts Ohio Voters

"Well, I roped in a lot of suckers with that compassion crap back in 2000", he said, according to an anonymous source.

"Might as well pull out that old bag of tricks again".
Speaking at a center for people with drug and alcohol addictions, Bush also highlighted an initiative that would give grants to states to pay for counseling and other services for married couples receiving government assistance.

The marriage proposal is linked to a bill that would renew the popular Welfare Reform Act, first enacted under Clinton in 1996, which is now stalled in Congress.
"Heck, it ain't gonna pass anyway," the president said. "When it's voted down, I can just blame it on Clinton".

All hail our War Preznit and the "Winning the War on Terra" campaign

State Department to Report Rise in Casualties, Incidents

The State Department is prepared to announce a sharp increase last year in terror victims worldwide as it corrects findings that were used to boost one of President Bush's chief foreign policy claims - success in countering terror.

A revised report to be released Tuesday shows a dramatic increase in both the number of deaths and other casualties, as well as a less dramatic boost in incidents, a senior State Department official said.

Still, the revised report shows that international cooperation and a heightened awareness of the terror threat were bringing positive results, said the official, who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity.
Yes,indeed; that color-coded alert system makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. How about you?


Go ahead - remind us of the Big Dog

The last legally elected president's book will be coming to my mailbox soon, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

In the meantime, I'm getting a kick out of all the talking heads who are absolutely certain this book and it's accompanying tour will take the shine off Kerry and the Democratic Party.

Bring it on!

Remind us again, Mr. President, how the Republicans spent $70 million taxpayer dollars to prove Clinton was guilty of the same thing as many of his accusers.

Remind us of the 6 million jobs created in his first two years.

Remind us how he signed into law the Brady Bill.

Remind us how he cut the taxes of over 15 million working-poor families, increased federal funding for day care, and increased the minimum wage.

Oh, yeah - there's that once-upon-a-time budget surplus thing. Remind us of that, too.

Remind us what it was like to turn on the television, and see our president greeted with joy and respect by other countries.

And while you're at it, remind us of what a Democratic president can do.

I don't mind a bit.
More cutting off your nose to spite your face

Key Military Specialists Discharged Under 'don't Ask, Don't Tell'
Even with concerns growing about military troop strength, 770 people were discharged for homosexuality last year under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, a new study shows.


The study found that the Army, the largest of the services, was responsible for about 41 percent of all discharges. The Army has invoked "stop-loss" authority to keep soldiers from retiring or otherwise leaving if they are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.


Hundreds of those discharged held high-level job specialties that required years of training and expertise, including 90 nuclear power engineers, 150 rocket and missile specialists and 49 nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare specialists.

Eighty-eight linguists were discharged, including at least seven Arab language specialists.

Brian Muller, an Army bomb squad team leader who had advanced training on weapons of mass destruction and served on a security detail for President Bush, said he was dismissed from duty after deciding to tell his commander he's gay.

"I didn't do it to get out of a war - I already served in a war," Muller, 25, said in an interview. "After putting my life on the line in the war, the idea that I was fighting for the freedoms of so many other people that I couldn't myself enjoy was almost unbearable."
To further underline the point -
Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness, a conservative advocacy group that opposes gays serving in the military, said the loss of gays and lesbians serving in specialized areas is irrelevant because they never should have been in those jobs in the first place.

"We need to defend the law, and the law says that homosexuality is incompatible with military service," Donnelly said. "There is no shortage of people in the military, and we do not need people who identify themselves as homosexual."
....because, ya know - we don't need anyone perverting Amerika's spotless image on foreign soil.

June 21 – This day in history

Birthdays –
1732 Martha Washington
1892 Reinhold Niebuhr
1905 Jean-Paul Sartre
1921 Jane Russell
1982 Prince William of Wales

Deaths –
1876 Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (Mexican general)

Events –
1498 Jews are expelled from Nurenberg Bavaria by Emperor Maximillian
1633 Galileo Galilei is forced by Inquisition to "abjure, curse, & detest" his Copernican heliocentric views
1939 Doctors reveal Lou Gehrig has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
1942 Rommel takes Tobruk in North Africa
1945 Japanese forces on Okinawa surrender to US during WW II
1947 Bugsy Siegel, organized crime leader, is killed
1964 3 civil rights workers-Michael H Schwerner Andrew Goodman & James E Chaney-disappeared after release from a Mississippi jail
1977 Former White House chief of staff HR Haldeman enters prison


Sunday, June 20, 2004

Apres le deluge

I've been searching through Riverbend's posts for one in particular, but haven't found it just yet.

She writes of a friend or relative returning home after being detained in prison. The lady would not speak about her experiences, and was apparently traumatized.

(Update - and thanks to Bryan for the link)-
By the end of her tale, M. was crying silently and my mother and Umm Hassen were hastily wiping away tears. All I could do was repeat, "I'm so sorry... I'm really sorry..." and a lot of other useless words. She shook her head and waved away my words of sympathy, "It's ok- really- I'm one of the lucky ones... all they did was beat me."
With that in my very uneasy mind -

New Abuse Charges; Allegations of mistreatment of female detainees
Could the abuse of prisoners in Iraq have gone beyond the beatings and sexual humiliation already alleged? Unreleased, classified parts of the report on prison abuse from Major General Anthony Taguba, which were read to TIME, contain indications of mistreatment of female prisoners. In a Feb. 21 statement to Taguba, Lieut. Colonel Steven L. Jordan, former head of the Abu Ghraib interrogation center, said he had received reports "that there were members of the MI [Military Intelligence] community that had come over and done a late-night interrogation of two female detainees" last October. According to a statement by Jordan's boss, Colonel Thomas Pappas, three interrogators were later cited for violations of military law in their handling of the two females, ages 17 and 18. Senate Armed Services Committee investigators are probing whether the two women were sexually abused. The Pentagon declined to comment.
If these allegations are true - and I pray they are not - "explosive" will be the understatement of the decade.

The rightwingers will have a bit harder time brushing off these allegations as "blowing off steam" or "fraternity hazing".


U.S. embassy employees evacuated from an apartment rooftop in Saigon. Posted by Hello

Reading the article linked below reminds me of th scene pictured above.

US paranoid and isolated as Green Zone policy fails
The difficulty getting into the Green Zone is less than that of CPA officials getting out. It is now truly dangerous for them to do so but most remained cocooned behind the walls even when it was less so.

One official remarked: "What shocks me is the number of people in the CPA who never even want to see the city where they live." Even the plastic cutlery in the dining hall was imported and almost ran out in April when insurgents destroyed the convoys bringing it in.


Saturday, June 19, 2004

Worst publicity department ever

Just when you think you've finally beat down the charges that your company supports the Church of Satan, you alienate every citizen of El Paso, Texas by dubbing it "Sweatiest City in the U.S.".
P&G spokesman Brent Miller said accurate data were used to get the sweat rankings and El Paso was still tops.

"El Paso is a great city and we're not detracting from that," Miller said. "Sweating is something that people do to stay cool."
It's also what you do when you've screwed up, big time, on the job.

Coming up next - conversion to Christianity

Via Media Matters

From the June 17 broadcast of The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: Because look ... when 2 percent of the population feels that you're doing them a favor, just forget it, you're not going to win. You're not going to win. And I don't have any respect by and large for the Iraqi people at all. I have no respect for them. I think that they're a prehistoric group that is -- yeah, there's excuses.

Sure, they're terrorized, they've never known freedom, all of that. There's excuses. I understand. But I don't have to respect them because you know when you have Americans dying trying to you know institute some kind of democracy there, and 2 percent of the people appreciate it, you know, it's time to -- time to wise up.

And this teaches us a big lesson, that we cannot intervene in the Muslim world ever again. What we can do is bomb the living daylights out of them, just like we did in the Balkans. Just as we did in the Balkans. Bomb the living daylights out of them. But no more ground troops, no more hearts and minds, ain't going to work.
Mr. O'Reilly, may I present Miss Coulter?

How's it going, Iraq?

Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post Foreign Service does the interviews, digs a bit, earns his paycheck and gets a gold star for good journalistic behavior.

The good news:
Nearly 2,500 schools have been repaired, 3 million children have been immunized, $5 million in loans have been distributed to small businesses and 8 million textbooks have been printed, according to the CPA. New banknotes have replaced currency with ousted president Saddam Hussein's picture. Local councils have been formed in every city and province. An interim national government promises to hold general elections next January.
The bad news - the security situation has deteriorated so badly that it's not safe to send (immunized) children to (repaired) schools to study the (new) textbooks. Or for council members to attend meetings. Or businessmen to attend to business.

Shiny new money is certainly nice - but it's also nice if you have a job to earn it.

U.S.-funded projects promised 250,000 Iraqi jobs. Only 15,000 Iraqis have actually been hired.

But unbridled free-marketeers can take heart -
In an interview last week, Bremer maintained that "Iraq has been fundamentally changed for the better" by the occupation. The CPA, he said, has put Iraq on a path toward a democratic government and an open economy after more than three decades of a brutal socialist dictatorship. Among his biggest accomplishments, he said, were the lowering of Iraq's tax rate, the liberalization of foreign-investment laws and the reduction of import duties.
I'm sure the average Iraqi, sweltering in the hot summer with very limited electriciy and jumping at every loud noise will be comforted.

And now for some good work in Iraq; thinking outside the Bush Box

What a different world it would be if we had gone into Iraq with Lt. Col Tim Ryan's approach.

You've gotta wonder how long it will be before the Bush administration policies will undermine it.

For U.S. Commander, Open Mind, Apology, Respect Bring Calm to One of Iraq's Toughest Districts
Lt. Col. Tim Ryan tried the carrot, and he tried the stick to put down insurgents fighting U.S. troops in his region west of Baghdad. In the end, he found what worked best is a little respect.

He reached out to the tribal and religious leaders in the town of Abu Ghraib and offered a new beginning - in which they would be partners, not adversaries. So far, the deal has worked, and is being looked at as a potential model for when Iraqis regain sovereignty June 30.

As in Fallujah and Najaf, where American commanders have accepted deals to end fighting, the key to Ryan's formula was to figure out who had the real power and find ways to work with them - even if it meant setting aside some demands.

Ryan, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment from Fort Hood, Texas, took control of the Abu Ghraib district in March. There were ambushes daily, insurgents put bombs along the highway several times a day, and at night guerrillas fired rockets and mortars at Baghdad International Airport, home to thousands of U.S. personnel.

By numbers of violent incidents, Abu Ghraib was the toughest neighborhood around Baghdad. The infamous prison at the center of detainee abuse also was just down the road.

Intent on winning over the town's 80,000 residents, Ryan initially went to neighborhood councils and offered millions of dollars in improvement projects. But he insisted no rebuilding could begin until the attacks stopped. The council members just shrugged their shoulders and blamed the violence on outsiders.

In the first week of April, violence came to a head. Militants ambushed two U.S. convoys on the highway through Abu Ghraib, killing and kidnapping American contractors and troops. And instead of running, this time the insurgents dug in for battle.

For five days, April 3-7, Ryan's 400 soldiers fought pitched battles with militants using Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. No Americans died, but hundreds of Iraqis did and much of the town was damaged.

The battalion took control of Abu Ghraib, but it was the worst kind of occupation, Ryan said. There was a curfew and numerous checkpoints were set up. Soldiers searched every vehicle and person entering town and no one liked it.

But Ryan also was learning about Iraqi culture. While the councils had political power, he realized he needed the help of tribal and religious leaders to ease tensions.

"When I met with this one sheik, from the Tamimi tribe, he told me I was the first coalition official to ever talk to him," Ryan recalled.

At another meeting, Ryan was offering cash for a construction project when "one guy said to me, 'We don't want your money, we want your respect.' That stuck with me."

On May 1, Ryan called a meeting of all the tribal and religious sheiks at a milk-bottling plant, which had an auditorium that could seat several hundred. There was no electricity and the heat was stifling.

The first two hours saw a relentless tongue-lashing from the sheiks, a litany of perceived injustices by American troops. Ryan said it was hard to take at times.

"They are frustrated and if the idea is to diffuse their frustrations, that means letting them put those frustrations on the table," he said. "As the leader of the tribe - the tribal sheik of the men in desert camouflage - my job is to listen to them."

Then for six hours, Ryan did some things U.S. officers say is "outside the box."

First, he told the sheiks both sides had made mistakes.

"Just saying we've made mistakes - we've been afraid to say it because people will blow it out of proportion - makes a huge difference," Ryan said. "... Their faces light up and they are ready to talk."

Then he offered a clean slate, or as they say in Arabic, a white page. If the sheiks took responsibility for security, Ryan told them, he promised that his soldiers would not raid their homes. Further, he said, if the sheiks promised that members of their tribes sought by U.S. forces would stop carrying out attacks, the troops would stop hunting them.

All the sheiks agreed, and the deal has become known as "The White Page Truce."

"This is the best move the Americans have made yet," said Sheik Sadi al-Khinani, a senior tribal leader. "The people will see that the Americans have come here to help them, not what others have said, which is that the Americans have come here to abuse them."

Ryan said that in the six weeks from March 1 to April 12, 28 U.S. soldiers were wounded and two killed. In the six weeks since the truce, there hasn't been a single U.S. casualty.

"Part of the challenge here is that we've targeted the other side as criminals instead of combatants," Ryan said, explaining that he wanted a cease-fire, not trials. "In two months, we threw 107 people in jail and it didn't change the number of attacks. I haven't thrown anyone in jail for six weeks and attacks are down 50 percent."

Ryan now regularly shares meals with sheiks and uses their method of conflict resolution. If an Iraqi is killed by mistake, or property is damaged, the Army compensates the family through the tribal system.

"We've got folks who want to solve the problems," he said. "We need to respect their culture and their leaders."

Higher headquarters has sent people to study Ryan's methods. In many ways, he has done on a small scale in Abu Ghraib what the United States will do on June 30: give Iraqis their sovereignty.

Al-Khinani said American actions will speak louder than words.

The handover "is very important because this will cut the amount of anger by 50 percent," he said. "The terrorists, they are telling people the Americans will never pull out. This will show the honesty of American forces by transferring power."

But both Ryan and al-Khinani expect hard weeks as hard-core insurgents try to disrupt the handover.

"We're not going to stop all of those attacks," Ryan said, stressing that his focus is on taking "away the support for them in the community."

June 19 – This day in history

On June 19, 2000 my father died. If you have a penny left after donating as much as possible to The Cause (Kerry, DNC, MoveOn, take your pick) – spare something for Hospice.

And never, ever assume an “unconscious” person can’t hear you. When I told my supposedly non-responsive father that 1) I loved him, and 2) we would take good care of Mom, he stopped breathing for a few seconds, smiled, and resumed peaceful breathing without that slight moaning sound.

Birthdays –
1896 Mrs Simpson [Bessie Wallis Warfield), Duchess of Windsor
1897 Moe Howard comedian (3 Stooges)
1903 Henry Louis Gehrig
1978 Garfield the Cat (may he ever remain hand-drawn)

Deaths –
1986 Len Bias

Events –
1862 Slavery outlawed in US territories
1910 Father's Day celebrated for 1st time
1944 United States scores major victory against Japanese in Battle of the Philippine Sea (“Marianas Turkey Shoot”)
1961 Kuwait regains complete independence from Britain
1967 Muhammad Ali is convicted for reusing induction in US Army


Friday, June 18, 2004

Getting the questions right

The forecast here at Collective Sigh is for irregular blogging in the weeks ahead, as I tend to my soon-to-be-90-year-old mother.

I am hoping to have her assessed by the J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging and Rehabilitation, as she has shown some signs of (possible) encroaching Alzheimer's.

The first step is a telephone screening with a family member (me), and then a call to the potential patient (Mom).

They called her today, and she says she thinks she "got all the questions right".

This is an important first step, as an early diagnosis can help stop the disease in it's tracks.

And Medicare will soon be covering a Positron emission tomography (PET) brain scan, which takes a snapshot of the brain in real time to "show areas damaged by the tangles and toxic protein buildups that mark Alzheimer's".

After hearing Mom's account of the question and answer session, I feel pretty hopeful about the diagnosis.

The screener asked - "Who is the president of the United States?"

Mom snorted, and replied - "We don't have one".

Ain't nothing wrong with her reasoning processes.


Another hostage, another beheading.

Multinational corporations will very soon reconsider their investment in Saudi Arabia versus the safety of their employees (and their ability to retain them).

Saudi Arabia is run by a foreign workforce. The oil fields, highway building and maintainance, the sewers, the electrical system, the banks - you name it; workers from Asia, Britain, Australia, Germany, the United States and many others make the proverbial trains run on time.

If multinationals pull out, the Saudis will be in deep sh$t. Their oil is limited. And their security services are limited in what they can do against extremists.

The ultimate irony - G.W. Bush's policies may be the downfall of the Saudi royal family and the drying up of Mideast oil.

June 18 - This day in history

1985 - First-and-only born child (Her Royal Highness Andantette) finally made an appearance at 11:06 p.m., looking like a dessicated, angry squirrel. They say all babies are beautiful, but for a couple of days this one was only something a mother could love. And mamma did. And does.

Also making appearances -

1910 E.G. Marshall
1913 Sammy Cahn
1917 Richard Boone
1942 Paul McCartney
1952 Carol Kane

Deaths -

1959 Ethel Barrymore
1974 Georgi Zhukov Russian Marshal (WW II)


1812 War of 1812 begins as US declares war against Britain
1815 Battle of Waterloo
1940 Winston Churchill urges perseverance so that future generations would remember that "this was their finest hour"
1948 UN Commission on Human Rights adopts International Declaration of Human Rights
1980 "Blues Brothers" with Dan Akwoyd & John Belushi premiers


Thursday, June 17, 2004

Troubled waters

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

Okay, so the "dignity", "Verona", and "civil" don't exactly fit. But I smell trouble on the horizon:

The oil that troubles US-China waters
Oil is an essential ingredient in China's successful formula for economic growth. It is critical for driving industrial activity, generating power, constructing infrastructure projects and fueling the rapidly growing number of automobiles on China's roads. Today, imports comprise one-third of China's total oil consumption, growing 31% last year, and by 2020 some estimates put China's dependency on foreign oil as high as 70%.

Oil consumption in the United States, the world's largest consumer of petroleum, is expected to grow nearly 50% over the next 20 years. Beijing, also on the fast track to oil dependency, is on a search to secure energy sources across the globe. This quest, in addition to China's heavy reliance on Middle Eastern oil, suggests a potential rivalry between the US and China over access to oil-rich regions. Many analysts argue that the trajectories of the world's two most voracious oil consumers will inevitably lead to a clash over the scarce resource.

Satire god blesses radio station with His Presence

Check out the live web feed from KDVS at 8:00 p.m. (EST)- toward the end of the show, satire god Tom Burka makes a guest appearance.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Why do they post these articles right before my bedtime?

Oh, the nightmares....

Man Charged With Tossing Snake Into Bar
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - A man accused of tossing a rattlesnake into a bar has been charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon. Rodger Hunter, 28, was arrested Monday night and charged Tuesday. Witness Jeff Hewit said minutes after a man walked into Chic's Lounge, he pulled a 3-foot-6-inch snake from his pocket, threw it into the crowd and darted from the tavern.

Another witness said she thought the snake was rubber.

"Who would bring a snake to a bar?" asked Tricia Phillipes, 34. "That's crazy."

After the rattler slithered under a chair occupied by a disabled man, Hewit, who said he once owned a python and caught rattlesnakes as a child, grabbed one of the man's crutches.

Using the top of the crutch, he swept the snake out from under the chair, flipped the crutch around and, using the pointed end, pinned down the snake's head.

Hewit and another man wrapped a long-sleeved T-shirt around the snake's head, picked it up and dropped it in a bucket.

Mike Ceci, Phillipes' brother, took the snake home as a pet.

"He's actually nice, for a rattler," he said. "I just fed him a hamster, and I'm going to call him Jack."

Strong sign "westernization" creeping in Iran

Death Toll from Toxic Iranian Homebrew Reaches 22
Amiri said police had arrested 20 people suspected of distributing the moonshine in the city of Shiraz, capital of Fars Province, where dozens of people sought medical help on Saturday after drinking it.
First comes the 'shine - can NASCAR be far behind?

Talk of Witches at Vatican Inquisition Conference
Talk of trials, burned witches and forbidden books echoed in the Vatican on Tuesday as Pope John Paul asked forgiveness for the Inquisition, in which the Church tortured and killed people branded as heretics.


Cardinal Georges Cottier was asked why the Vatican did not condemn past popes who had sanctioned the Inquisition.

"When we ask for forgiveness we don't condemn. We are all conditioned by the mentality of our times. Fifty years from now we may be accused of not seeing certain things," he said.
Let's go to the movies!

If you're not on MoveOn.org's mailing list, you should be.

Their latest campaign - mass attendance on the opening weekend for Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911.
Today, we're asking MoveOn members to pledge to see the film on the opening night -- Friday, June 25th. (If you can't make it on Friday, pledging to go on Saturday or Sunday is fine, too). It'll be fun, of course -- you'll be watching the movie with lots of other MoveOn members. It'll also send an unmistakable message to the media and theater owners that the public is behind this movie.
Go here to sign a pledge. If you haven't seen the "must see" trailer yet, you'll find a link on that page.

Sign the pledge, spread the word, round up a bunch of your sane friends, then continue following the links to order advance tickets.

And just for fun, wear something blue to the theater!

Dear George, Dick, and the gang -

9/11 panel: No al Qaeda cooperation with Iraq
The panel investigating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks found "no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States," according to a staff report issued on Wednesday.
How does it feel to be tortured, boys?

This day in history - June 16

We'll start with 2004.

June 16, 2004 - The day my mother comes to visit for several months. Blogging forecast - who knows? I could be busy keeping her entertained, or curled up in a fetal position screaming. We'll see.

Late-breaking addition - June 16, 2004 - Mustang Bobby's parents celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary! Hop over there to offer congratulations.

June 16, 1985 - Andante still hugely pregnant, hot, swollen, miserable. First-and-only-born wisely refusing to make appearance.

Birthdays -
1895 Stan Laurel

1686 BC Hammurabi the Great dies in Babylon
1959 Superman I, George Reeves

Events -
567 Mary Queen of Scots thrown into Lochleven Castle prison
1858 Abraham Lincoln says "A house divided against itself cannot stand"
1904 Bloomsday (date of events in James Joyce's Ulysses)
1937 Marx Brothers' "A Day At The Races" opens in LA


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

What kind of fraternity did these guys belong to?

First, Rush Limbaugh likens the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib prison to fraternity hijinks.

Congressman Danny Davis (Il-D) crowns Sun Myung Moon as the Messiah - at an event held on federal property - and looks at it the same way.
Davis wouldn't budge, comparing the elaborate ceremony to a "fraternity or sorority meeting," or rituals performed by the local Elks lodge. "That's kind of the way I regard these ceremonies."
If that's the way these characters like to play, coverage of the GOP convention will need to be rated "R".

(Thanks to TCF for the correction regarding Davis' political party)
Asleep at the wheel again

I violated this household's "No Bush" television policy today, and saw a bit of his joint press conference with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

Paraphrasing one of my favorites -

Reporter - What is your reaction to Ron Reagan, Jr.'s remarks regarding politicians using religion to gain political advantage?

Bush - Haven't heard them.


Andante - You were there in the cathedral, dumb ass (throws shoe at TV).

Bush also backed up Dick Cheney's Saddam/al Queda fixation, which is really getting creepy.

The Quaker meeting I attend (and support financially) also supports a children's school in Ramallah.

I am sure one of those little kids has a parent or older sibling or third-cousin-twice-removed that has thrown a rock or a Molotov cocktail or somehow participated in the intifada. Or been recruited by some terrorist group.

So, yeah - I guess I'm supporting terroism.

Come and get me, boys.

When you make your bed, you have to lie in it

....one of my mother's favorite sayings, especially when I've done something stupid and end up reaping what I sowed.

So it's nice to see Snidely Whiplash (aka former representative Bob Barr) get some comeuppance - Court Rejects Effort to Sue Former President Clinton
The Georgia Republican alleged that the three conspired to smear him by publishing information about his private life as retaliation for his outspoken role in the impeachment proceedings against Clinton.
In a bid for a three-fer, Barr attempted to bring a $30 million dollar suit against Bill Clinton, James Carville, and Larry Flynt for conspiracy (that vast left wing conspiracy). Barr failed to make his conspiracy claim against Clinton and Carville within the three years permitted by law.
As to Flynt, the panel ruled that Barr's claim is barred by the First Amendment because he failed to show that the information printed in a one-time issue called "The Flynt Report" was false or was published with knowledge that it was false.

Flynt's article included allegations by Barr's former wife that the congressman had an affair in the mid-1980s. It also said that in contrast to his public opposition to abortion, he drove his wife to a clinic to have an abortion performed.

Barr alleged Carville gave Flynt Barr's FBI files and other documents as part of a smear campaign, but Flynt denied it.
Toooooooooooo bad, so sad. :)

June 15 – This day in history

Gotta start with 1985.

June 15, 1985 was my daughter’s “due date”. I was miserably, burstingly pregnant, cursing the doctor who pronounced the due date, and begging God for a healthy baby NOW. Or preferably, YESTERDAY.

I heard somewhere that walking would help speed up the process, so I spent a good deal of the day waddling up and down the hallway. No luck…..I had to wait several more days.

And yes; I remind her of this day every time it comes around. I’d be a terrible mother if I didn’t instill some guilt in my kid.

Birthdays –
1932 Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York, one of the last great orators.
1964 Courtney Cox, annoying control-freak “Monica” on Friends

Deaths –
1989 Victor French; actor and Saddam lookalike

Events –
1215 King John signs Magna Carta at Runnymede, England
1940 French fortress of Verdun captured by Germans
1944 US forces begin invasion of Saipan in Pacific
1967 Gov Reagan signs liberalized California abortion bill
1986 Pravda announces high-level Chernobyl staff fired for stupidity


Monday, June 14, 2004

Wrong. Period.

Froomkin reviews the OLC's Aug. 1, 2002 Torture Memo.

Well worth a thorough read, but there's one statement that says it all -
"Nowhere do the authors say “but this would be wrong”.
No matter how the Justice Department and any army of lawyers slice & dice it....torture is wrong, wrong, wrong.

And stupid.

Look, if someone was torturing me, I'd tell them everything I knew and a lot of stuff I don't. I'd admit whatever they wanted me to admit, and swear to whatever nonsense they suggested.

Information obtained by torture and abusive methods is unreliable. Any fool should realize that, but there are fools....and then, there's the Bush administration.

Long distance psychoanalysis

....isn't something I'd bet my life on. I have a hard time spelling "psychoanalyst", much less trusting anything other than the results of multiple one-on-one contact. In fact, I'd put it on the par with advice from the Psychic Hotline.

Nevertheless, a prominent Washington psychoanalyst, Dr. Justin Frank, has taken the plunge and published his findings in Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.

His "findings" ain't pretty; painting a picture of a troubled, emotionally-stunted, sadistic megalomanic -
Bush's false sense of omnipotence, instilled within him during childhood and emboldened by his deep investment in fundamentalist religion

The president's history of untreated alcohol abuse, and the questions it raises about denial, impairment, and the enabling streak in our culture

The growing anecdotal evidence that Bush may suffer from dyslexia, ADHD, and other thought disorders

His comfort living outside the law, defying international law in his presidency as boldly as he once defied DUI statutes and military reporting requirements

His love-hate relationship with his father, and how it triggered a complex and dangerous mix of feelings including yearning, rivalry, anger, and sadism

Bush's rigid and simplistic thought patterns, paranoia, and megalomania -- and how they have driven him to invent adversaries so that he can destroy them
Full disclosure -
Dr. Frank has been a psychiatrist for 35 years and is director of psychiatry at George Washington University. A Democrat, he once headed the Washington Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility
I'm not sure what his professional colleagues and the Physicians for Social Responsibility will think of his long-distance psychoanalysis, but nevertheles I'd like to welcome Dr. Frank to the club of those who knew it all along.


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