Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Coming FoxNews Reality Show: American Idle

Or Who Wants to be a Right-Wing NY Times Editorialist to replace Bill Safiar?

Like all good reality shows, it will contain a whole slew of various challenges that the contestants must pass or face elimination (with prejudice!). While true renaissance man Joe Rogan was considered, the host will be the self-proclaimed black list recepient Ron Silver.

The contests engaged in:

Contest One: Telling Maureen Dowd she is really attractive, hot, sexy, easy-on-the eyes, younger in person, bootylicious, vibrant, witty, talented, too good for that lout Michael Douglas, vivacious, expressive, consistent, and not at all self-absorbed.

"Pretty as your picture MoDo. Really."

Contest Two: Polishing David Brooks' template to a lustrous sheen, so that it can be more vibrant when paired with ink and pressed upon the pages of his next column. Bonus points to the contestant who can feign the most false-modesty while engaged in the task.

"Gee Mr. Brooks sir, where did you get that bitchin' shirt?"

Contest Three: Who can be the most condescending to Bob Herbert while most sincerely proclaiming the statement, "I have many black friends, Bob, besides Clarence Thomas."? A scoring enhancement is given to the person who can blurt out Armstrong Williams as a chum the fastest. An immunity given to the person who can produce a photograph of themselves with Rod Paige. However, automatic disqualification is given if it turns out to be a picture of themselves with Louis Gossett, Jr..

"Isn't your presence here enough progress?"

Contest Four: A real talent for ad hominem attacks is called for, as each potential columnist is required to write 400 words attacking Paul Krugman's latest editorial and his "jewish elite intellectualism" without mentioning either his name or his ethnicity/religion. This has to be done while not actually addressing any of the arguments contained in his column.

"At least I don't look like Lenin."

Contest Five: A 300 to 400 word column establishing "anti-Kristofian" tendencies. In other words a column managing to take the most wacky, contemptible statements of a right-wing nut, and making the same point. All this must be done without nearly the same invective. Adding to the degree of difficulty, the contestants must excuse the errors of the same wing-nut without any guilt whatsoever.

"Why should I, as a white, christian male, of northern european extraction, have to feel guilty about anything?"

Contest Six: The 'Tom Friedman Acid Test'. Each of the contestants is placed in various large third-world cities. There they must find either a taxicab driver; waiter/waitress; or hotel clerk able to pontificate on world affairs in the most "middle-aged, midwesterny manner" possible. Bonus points are given for writing a column which also contains quotes attributed to a self-proclaimed intellectual in the same locale able to tie together Hegelian attitudes with the "common persons" prior statements. Special "Bonus-Bonus" points given for the ability to take a similar scenario two weeks later and write a column asserting exactly the opposite point of the first column.

"I met this guy named, um...ah, Mohammed Al, um...ah, Mohammed Al Bignutz, and he ran a, um, falafel stand, and he thinks that Bush is great. In fact that guy, you know, that Mohammed guy, said that exactly, "Bush is great". Really. You don't need to see my expense account receipts do you?"

I think this show sounds like a winner.

Of course, a better reality-contest for a replacement right-wing columnist would more likely be inspired by this.

The Pakistani Stamina Test

Over the holiday, I was too busy doing other stuff to really blog to any extent but I did not miss this story:

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) - The Pakistan army said Saturday that it will withdraw hundreds of troops from a tribal region near Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden and his top deputy were believed to be hiding.

The withdrawals from the South Waziristan area come after military operations by thousands of troops against remnants of bin Laden's al-Qaida organization and its supporters in recent months.

The tribal region is considered a possible hiding place for bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri. But a senior Pakistan general said earlier this month that forces have found no signs of bin Laden, who has been on the run since U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan in October 2001.

The army will remove checkpoints in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, said Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain, the top general in northwestern Pakistan. He said the moves are "in return for the support of tribesmen in operations against foreign miscreants."

Some troops will remain in the area, he said. "We have been assured by tribal elders that they will not allow miscreants to hide in areas under their control," Hussain said.

Sounds sort of bad news for the Bush Administration if it got reported the wrong way...I don't know, like truthfully?!

Not so fast with those inconvenient facts Mr. Snarky, Internet NASCAR-joke making, Cheetos-Eating, Non-pants wearing, Blogboy!
Pakistan has rejected reports it had withdrawn troops from a tribal area near the border with Afghanistan suspected to be a hideout for Al-Qaeda leaders, the US State Department said.

"Pakistani officials, both publicly and privately to us, have made clear that there has been no withdrawal from Waziristan and that they remain fully committed to continuing the campaign against Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda supporters," department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters on Monday.

According to a Pakistani military spokesman at the weekend, soldiers have been withdrawn from the streets of the main town in the troubled South Waziristan district after months of bloody offensives against Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

So there is confusion.

Do I believe the right-wing, militarist, war-mongering, jingoistic, cult-of-personality pushing government, or the right-wing, militarist, war-mongering, jingoistic, cult-of-personality pushing government?

General Turgidson, Paging General Buck Turgidson

Somebody agrees that the Iranians are stealing his precious bodily fluids:

Abizaid, the top commander for Afghanistan and Iraq, said any nation perceiving a weakness in the U.S. military should think twice.

"We can generate more military power per square inch than anybody else on Earth, and everybody knows it," Abizaid said. "If you ever even contemplate our nuclear capability, it should give everybody the clear understanding that there is no power that can match the United States militarily."

I believe, after making this statement, the General forgot to madly cackle the obligatory, "Bwaha-ha-ha!"

Sadly for us, we don't even have a man as competent as Merkin Muffley in the White House.

Most of the Media doesn't require Tryptophan

Last Wednesday, just before the commemorative holiday celebrating the 137th anniversary of the invention of Dynamite (or dy-no-mite in 70s speak) the Department of Defense released a report it obviously wanted buried in the festivities leading up to the occasion.*

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Late on the Wednesday afternoon before the Thanksgiving holiday (ed: oh, yeah, that too), the US Defense Department released a report by the Defense Science Board that is highly critical of the administration's efforts in the war on terror and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

'Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies [the report says]. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.'


MSNBC notes that the report, in a comment that directly goes against statements made by President Bush and senior cabinet members, says the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have united otherwise-divided Muslim extremists and given terrorists organizations like Al Qaeda a boost by "raising their stature."

Golly, reality going against a Bush Administration policy, there's a shocker. Let he without sin, cast the first stone...really, give Chimpy a rock!

*Nevermind Wampum's Koufax Awards, Attaturk is going to nominate that first paragraph for the "Too Clever by Half Award".

Waiting for the Grainy Footage

So, both Emanuel Goldstein, and Ernesto Blofeld's top henchman have each released a new message.

Meanwhile, we have now hit 134 American soldier deaths in Iraq for November, two more and Dubya will win a stuffed animal (or maybe a submarine) so keep your eyes peeled (unless you are in Iraq, in that case keep inside).

If it wasn't for their occasional messages, especially from Bin Laden and his buddy Al-Zawahiri (and they are so close, I mean they should get a cave together or something!) we would not hear about them at all anymore. I suppose that is the plan.

You know somebody with some photoshop skills should take the famous "Bigfoot" tape and show Bin Laden walking by in the distance...

Monday, November 29, 2004

Dear Maureen Dowd,

I know it's "Modo" to your friends, after reading your column today, I have some thoughts.

I would like take this opportunity to express my condolences that you are the only non-wingnut in your immediate family and that it ruins Thanksgiving for you. I'm sure many a Detroit Lions' fan knows the pain of having a lousy Thanksgiving.

Maureen, I've seen you out advertising your book, and I know that it is frustrating trying to keep up your appearances to such an extent that you still look like your decade old photograph. Further, I know it hurts when you lose a leathery, sex-addicted celebrity like Michael Douglas, to a nubile young foreigner like Catherine Zeta-Jones. You know, on second thought, nope, I haven't been anywhere near there. But I am sure it kind of sucks.

I know that it is difficult to share the same editorial page with a blase hack like Bobo, although frankly it is great for my blog.

In short, Maureen I want to you to keep your chin up, and your lips barely moving when you speak, you will survive and the never-aging photo on your column will endure. Besides, some day, perhaps, Tom Arnold will be looking to get married again, and the two of you would make a lovely pair.

Speaking of ESPN

It's always easy to crack a Stuart Scott joke, but to go off politics, yet not off it for a moment, I do watch the network a bit -- it's more reality-based than say, FoxNews for example. However, I do have one question that it's promotions department is determined to drumbeat into my head.

I'm not a NASCAR fan, I don't loathe it -- it just has no interest or appeal to me. Most all motorsports do not, occasionally I may watch some of the Indy 500 for no other reason than I watched it as a kid and it takes me back to those days without bills or responsibilities. For me, personally, the thought of watching a bunch of white southern boys making a series of left turns, is both ironic, and about as exciting as a Civil War Reenactment without the North.

In fact, I imagine the popularity of NASCAR is reflective of the South slowly, but surely winning the new, modern updated Civil War. Look at a map, they've obviously infiltrated the Republican Party.

I imagine that if the internal combustion engine then existed, Thomas Jackson would be known as "Leadfoot Jackson" (not as good as the preferred "Action Jackson", but not bad); no one would be able to forget the disaster that was "the Pit Fire of Atlanta"; "Sherman's confiscation of Chevy's on the Way to the Sea"; "Pickett's running out of gas on the last lap"; Darryl Waltripp's heroics at Antietam, nor "Richard Petty's surrender to A.J. Foyt at Appamattox Courthouse".

But most perplexing to me is the pending movie about Dale Earnhardt, even in the northern hinterlands I see more #3 Magnets than I see Christian trunk paraphernalia. All-in-all it appears that the man, I believe was called the Eliminator Intimidator, has been transformed into "Redneck Jeebus" via the sweet release that is ramming your car into the wall.


So Do I Make the Apocalypse Now joke, or the Don't Run for President joke?

Swift Boats on the Euphrates:

As marines aboard fast patrol boats roared up the Euphrates on a dawn raid on Sunday, images pressed in of another American war where troops moved up wide rivers on camouflaged boats, with machine-gunners nervously scanning riverbanks for the hidden enemy.

That war is rarely mentioned among the American troops in Iraq, many of whom were not yet born when the last American combat units withdrew from Vietnam more than 30 years ago. A war that America did not win is considered a bad talisman among those men and women, who privately admit to fears that this war could be lost.

But as an orange moon sank below the bulrushes on Sunday morning, thoughts of Vietnam were hard to avoid.

Marines waded ashore through soft silted mud that caused some to sink to their waists, M-16 rifles held skyward as others on solid land held out their rifle barrels as lifelines.

Ashore, sodden and with boots squelching mud, the troops began a five-hour tramp through dense palm groves and across paddies crisscrossed by deep irrigation canals.

There were snatches of dialogue from "Apocalypse Now," and a black joke from one marine about the landscape resembling "a Vietnam theme park."

But behind the joshing lay something more serious: the sense expressed by many of the Americans as they scoured the area that in this war, too, the insurgents might have advantages that could make them a match for highly trained troops, technological gadgetry and multibillion-dollar war budgets.

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted the river raid as part of a weeklong offensive billed as a sequel to the battle for Falluja, less than 20 miles upriver from the village where the marines landed Sunday.

The 40-foot river craft they used are called Surcs, for Small Unit Riverine Craft, a high-tech update on the Swift boats used in Vietnam. The craft were flown into Iraq aboard giant C-5 transport aircraft and were first deployed with five-man crews during the battle for Falluja this month, patrolling the stretch of the Euphrates that runs along the city's western edge to prevent attempts by insurgents to escape that way after American troops had thrown a cordon around the city.

Those patrols were judged a success by American commanders. Now they are eager to exploit the potential the patrol boats give them for mounting fast, unexpected attacks along the Tigris and the Euphrates. The rivers run through many of the cities and towns that are rebel strongholds, and the long stretches of verdant riverbank provide ideal hiding places for insurgents and their weapons caches.

Somewhere Jon O'Neill's distilled ears just burned.

Good thing I Don't have Razor Blades...

I just had to hear Stuart Scott of ESPN pretend he was a beat poet.

The Circle of Life Oppression

From the Guardian via Steve Gilliard:

Of all the revelations that have rocked the Israeli army over the past week, perhaps none disturbed the public so much as the video footage of soldiers forcing a Palestinian man to play his violin.
The incident was not as shocking as the recording of an Israeli officer pumping the body of a 13-year-old girl full of bullets and then saying he would have shot her even if she had been three years old.

Nor was it as nauseating as the pictures in an Israeli newspaper of ultra-orthodox soldiers mocking Palestinian corpses by impaling a man's head on a pole and sticking a cigarette in his mouth.

But the matter of the violin touched on something deeper about the way Israelis see themselves, and their conflict with the Palestinians.

The violinist, Wissam Tayem, was on his way to a music lesson near Nablus when he said an Israeli officer ordered him to "play something sad" while soldiers made fun of him. After several minutes, he was told he could pass.

It may be that the soldiers wanted Mr Tayem to prove he was indeed a musician walking to a lesson because, as a man under 30, he would not normally have been permitted through the checkpoint.

But after the incident was videotaped by Jewish women peace activists, it prompted revulsion among Israelis not normally perturbed about the treatment of Arabs.

The rightwing Army Radio commentator Uri Orbach found the incident disturbingly reminiscent of Jewish musicians forced to provide background music to mass murder. "What about Majdanek?" he asked, referring to the Nazi extermination camp.

What goes around, comes around.

Think there is any doubt we have some of these things going on in Iraq? A government (here Likudnicks like Sharon) set the tone...here the Bush Administration does, and it is a grievous one.

Worshiping the Almighty Dollar

Bush's FDA, profit above safety. What a surprise huh?

From USA Today:

Just days before a medical journal was to publish a Food and Drug Administration-sponsored study that raised concerns about the safety of the arthritis drug Vioxx, an FDA official took the unusual step of calling the editor to raise questions about the findings' scientific integrity, suggests e-mail obtained by USA TODAY.
Lead author David Graham says the call was part of an effort to block publication of his research, an analysis of a database of 1.4 million Kaiser Permanente members showing that those who took Vioxx were more likely to suffer a heart attack or sudden cardiac death than those who took Celebrex, Vioxx's rival. Graham had reported his study in August at an epidemiology meeting in France, but publication in a medical journal would have exposed it to a wider audience.

Graham, associate director for science and medicine at the FDA's Office of Drug Safety, says The Lancet, a medical journal published in London, had planned to post the study on its Web site Nov. 17, a day in advance of his appearance before the Senate Finance Committee to testify about the FDA's handling of Vioxx.

Merck had pulled the drug from the market Sept. 30 because of safety concerns. Publication of the study could have embarrassed the FDA, which was being criticized for not warning patients sooner of Vioxx's cardiovascular risks.

Steven Galson, acting director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said Sunday that Graham's charges are unfounded. "We didn't make any efforts to block publication in The Lancet," he said. "What we did is let The Lancet know that the paper was submitted in violation of the agency's clearance process." Graham had sought to publish his study before getting the FDA's OK, Galson said.

And in a written statement, FDA Acting Commissioner Lester Crawford said that Galson contacted Lancet editor Richard Horton "out of respect for the scientific review process."

Galson said he would like to see the paper published some day but didn't see the value of timing its release to the Senate hearing, "not exactly a scientific imperative."

Graham says he pulled his paper at the last minute because he feared for his job.

Terrific, just terrific. There are lots of little Mikey Powells running other agencies, agencies that control your health.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Attaturk's Lazy Sunday

I sure love that human plush toy (with a razor inside) that is Karl Rove.

I'll be back blogging more like usual tomorrow.

Until then, treat this as the ultimate blogging conceat on a medium-sized blog. An open thread. Commence rolling eyes.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Light Blogging ahead

This Holiday Weekend, I'm taking a light approach to blogging as I try to get some "paid" work done and relax a bit.

Although I have done some channel surfing, being a man and all, it's like required.

This surfing leads me to one question.

I don't watch "Spike TV" much, but tell me is there a Holiday that they do NOT run a James Bond Marathon for?

The Spirit of Christmas

Is getting kind of old and trite. Who needs the old son-of-the-higher-father, when you can have the newer version.

Get yourself, the one, the only, George W. Bush Christmas Ornament.

Why does it look like Aunt Bea, or Liberace?

Keeping the Spirit of Dick

Halliburton, always able to make it worse.

A third or more of the government property Halliburton Co. was paid to manage for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq could not be located by auditors, investigative reports to Congress show.

Halliburton's KBR subsidiary ''did not effectively manage government property'' and auditors could not locate hundreds of CPA items worth millions of dollars in Iraq and Kuwait this summer and fall, Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen reported to Congress in two reports.

Bowen's findings mark the latest bad news for Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, which is the focus of both a criminal investigation into alleged fuel price gouging and an FBI inquiry into possible favoritism from the Bush administration.

Boy good thing Halliburton folks don't end up running the country...

Oh, shit.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Friday Miscellaneous Lifeform Blogging

Well the holiday has come and gone and now the true spirit of the season for many 'muricans can be engaged.

1. Buying lots of stuff to honor the baby jeebus, or else...he'll cry.
2. Talkin' trash about other religions' shortcomings.

So here on Friday Miscellaneous Lifeform Blogging we salute the spirit of the season with a festive lifeform that truly reflect the "real" meaning of the Holidays circa 2004:

The Venus Flytrap!

Don't Forget to Shop Today

Or the terrorists will win.

Would that make twice in a month?

Some People Relax During the Holidays

But Steno Susan Schmidt takes Dictation from Justice Department flacks.

Warning, story contains not only no new information twisted in an Administration defending manner, but has a photograph of the "Douchebag of Liberty" himself.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A Special Message

Ataturk says,

Enjoy Turkey!*

*Message not applicable to Armenians.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Life is so unfair

Somebody gets a grilled cheese sandwich which contains the image of Marlene Dietrich, says its the Virgin Mary, and sells it on e-bay for $28,000.

About a year ago, Attaturk made a grilled cheese sandwich that contained the spitting image of Italian Nationalist Guiseppe Garibaldi, said it looked like the prophet Mohammed and not only didn't make any money off of e-bay but actually had a fatwah issued against him.

It's been worse, but remember why

Ramble on.

The Democratic Party has held the White House, eight of the last 24 (and apparently soon to be 28 years), add the Carter term and its but 12 out of the last 40.

Not very good obviously.

But it has been worse, and it is good to remember why it was worse.

Between 1861 and 1933 the Democratic party held the White House for a grand total of 16 out of 72 years.

The reasons are relatively simple, the GOP coasted on the legacy of Lincoln and the Civil War, and then for a period of time off of the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt.

Granted a few of those elections could have gone the other way. After 8 years of corruption and aimlessness in the Grant years, the Democrats, actually won the election of 1876 and Samuel Tilden would have been President. But disputed votes in Louisiana coupled with GOP control of the Congress helped to make Rutherford "The B is for James Blaines "Bitch"" Hayes the winner, with the awful compromise of ending reconstruction. In 1888, Cleveland won the popular vote but lost the election to Benjamin Harrison.

But even the Democratic victories were not exactly easy. Wilson won in 1912 only because the GOP fractured over the issue of Regulation and Theodore Roosevelt's vanity. In the end progressive Republicans were cast out of control of the GOP pretty much through the present day, the only battle in the GOP being between traditional pro-business conservatism and outright wingnuttery in either its anti-communist or anti-secularist forms. If the GOP had been united in 1912, there would have been no President Wilson. When he ran for reelection in 1916 Wilson won by the skin of his teeth over Charles Evans Hughes primarily because our boys weren't dying over in Europe, when that actually happened, after the war ended, the Democrats were rewarded in 1920 with a first class ass whooping by smiling, vacuous Warren Harding.

The reasons for the constant defeats are relatively simple.

For most of this period the Democrats were the party of the Civil war defeatists or the defeated. Until Bryan came along, for thirty years the Democrats only strength was found in local machine politics, there was no real national agenda that Democrats rallied around. Cleveland's two victories were more attributable to his relative integrity over his patently corrupt Republican challengers -- but he lost when he ran against the poster child for milquetoast, Harrison, who was as stupid as he was honest.

It was Bryan, who as you know, I admire despite his religious fundamentalism, who finally gave the Democratic Party something to rally around. But Bryan in 1896 was saddled with a outgoing Cleveland administration that was suffering through an economic downturn and frankly thought Bryan was dangerous (Cleveland was the ultimate Democratic "me too" politician, he might as well have been a Republican). They did little to help him, putting Bryan in a near impossible position to win election. Nonetheless, Bryan had strong campaign really the first modern one, of stump speeches around the country. Bryan would run again, but lost to McKinley in 1900 when the latter ran in the glow of the victory over Spain, and again in 1908, when he lost because Theodore Roosevelt had used regulation as both a sop to progressivism and a shield for corporate interests and cast his popularity to say that Taft would continue this movement, Bryan and the Democrats were without an issue in 1908.

Though Bryan repeatedly lost, his ideals had in many ways won, though they were essentially altered and coopted for a time by the GOP.

Other than Bryan there are few, if any, Democratic leaders that are memorable (other than Wilson and Cleveland of course). By the time Bryan was established in the Democratic Party, the Democrats had lost the progressive movement's strong advocates to the Socialist Party's Eugene Debs, more on him, and the awful series of Democratic Presidential Candidants in another post, at another time.

Other than Bryan (and this includes Wilson) the Democratic Party did not have a honest to god person with legitimate progressive chops run for office until Hubert Humphrey, and he was hardly a firebrand by 1968. Even Franklin Roosevelt won less because he of progressivism, than that he wasn't Hoover, the GOP's wretched laissez-faire policies exposed as bankrupt for all to see. Roosevelt, was less a progressive, than he was a regulator, like his namesake a generation before. But obviously, he gave the Democrats an ideal and a personage to identify with, and reshaped the Presidency for each and every one of his successors in a way no one ever has.

The reason the Democrats were adrift for so long is that they were nothing more than Republicans-lite with the added baggage of Southern Bigotry, in short unimaginative losers. A party, if it wishes to have a long run in power needs to have two things. First, the party formerly in power has to have a major fuck up on their watch and a major leader to take advantage of the Fuck Up.

The Republicans have had this in the Civil War; the Democrats in the Depression.

I'm no prophet, but looking at the political landscape and our national economy, Iraq et al., it is hard to see that we are not on the cusp of another such time (sad and tragic as that in and of itself is). We need leaders that are more than "me too" types. Bryan may not have had his opportunity, but some Democrat will, let's make sure he is a strong progressive, and not just a Republican-lite.

Compare & Contrast

Well, well, well, the Cult of Personality (as opposed to John Ashcroft's Cult of Wessonality) is growing here in America. Several Bloggers have commented upon the fact that a Clear Channel operation in Florida (naturally!) has put up these billboards of Chimpy McMyPeePeeisShowing.

This seems oddly, and disturbingly familiar...

And coming soon, something in this theme...

Or simply...

*Some photos found at D.U.

Not Deserving of the Worst Pun in History

For some people a several centuries of brutal repression and discrimination apparently make democracy important enough to fight for, rather than say the "United States of Might as well be Singapore" where we remain too oddly afraid and lazy to collectively demand much of anything.

But such is not the case in the Ukraine. Where for three straight days crowds in the tens of thousands or more braving awful weather to protest a region with no small history of brutal repression.

Opposition supporters began a third day of protests in Ukraine amid hopes that negotiations could defuse a tense standoff over a weekend vote that their leader and much of the West claim was stolen by the government.

Thousands of supporters of opposition chief Viktor Yushchenko set up tents outside Kiev's presidential administration building awaiting a potential showdown with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his handpicked pro-Russia successor.

The Moscow-leaning Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich has remained largely out of sight since pulling ahead by three percent in the disputed Sunday vote and even his main international backer Russian President Vladimir Putin backtracked Tuesday evening from his initial recognition of his win.

The Ukrainian crisis has put Russia at loggerheads with Europe and the United States as Moscow tries to keep control over the largest republic to have splintered off from Russia during the Soviet Union's collapse.

But the opposition sees this as perhaps their best chance in a generation to pull Ukraine out of Russia's grasp and into European Union and NATO alliances.

Controversy over Ukraine is set to dominate a potentially prickly Russia-European summit in The Hague on Thursday whose air had already been poisoned by Moscow allegations that the bloc was meddling too much in eastern European affairs.

Meanwhile in Washington the State Department took the unusual move of calling in the Russian ambassador for an interview to express US concerns over the Ukrainian vote.

If the right-thing happens in the Ukraine, it will not be because of the Bush Administration's great moral authority on any matter, let alone knowing vote fraud.

Oh, worst pun in history avoided in the title?

"They're not Chicken, Kiev"

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Ghouls of Laziness

Via Lambert at Corrente comes this article from David Hackworth. How would you like to be the mother, father, or spouse, of a dead soldier who gets a goddamned form-letter?

And now, apparently, Rumsfeld’s obsession with machines and their efficiency has translated into his using one to replace his own John Hancock on KIA (killed in action) letters to parents and spouses. Two Pentagon-based colonels, who’ve both insisted on anonymity to protect their careers, have indignantly reported that the SecDef has relinquished this sacred duty to a signature device rather than signing the sad documents himself.

When I went to Jim Turner, a good man saddled with a tough job as one of Rumsfeld’s flacks at the Pentagon, for a confirmation or a denial, he said, “Rumsfeld signs the letters himself.”

I then went to about a dozen next-of-kin of American soldiers KIA in Iraq. Most agreed with the colonels’ accusations and said they’d noticed and been insulted by the machine-driven signature. One father bitterly commented that he thought it was a shame that the SecDef could keep his squash schedule but not find the time to sign his dead son’s letter. Several also felt compelled to tell me that the letter they received from George Bush also looked as though it was not signed personally by the president.

Dr. Ted Smith, whose son Eric was among the first 100 killed in Iraq, notes that the letter he received “from the commander in chief was signed with a thick, green marking pen. I thought it was stamped then and do even now. He had time for golf and the ranch but not enough to sign a decent signature with a pen for his beloved hero soldiers. I was going to send the letter back but did not. I am sorry I didn’t.”

Sue Niederer, whose son Seth was also killed in Iraq, sums it up: “My son wasn’t a person to these people, he was just an entity to play their war game. But where are their children? Not one of them knows how any of us feel, and they obviously aren’t interested in finding out. None of them cares. And Rumsfeld depersonalizing his signature – it’s a slap in the face, don’t you think?”

What a bunch of moral cowards. Sending kids to their deaths through by their decisions and these guys cannot even be bothered to actually sign their names on the letters.

The Future will Curse Us

Well, the last thin reed of why the hell we went into Iraq is being eroded by our own stupidity and malfeasance.

Making life better for Iraqis, not just no, but hell no. This is pathetic and tragic.

Acute malnutrition among young children in Iraq has nearly doubled since the United States led an invasion of the country 20 months ago, according to surveys by the United Nations, aid agencies and the interim Iraqi government.

After the rate of acute malnutrition among children younger than 5 steadily declined to 4 percent two years ago, it shot up to 7.7 percent this year, according to a study conducted by Iraq's Health Ministry in cooperation with Norway's Institute for Applied International Studies and the U.N. Development Program. The new figure translates to roughly 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from "wasting," a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein.


The surveys suggest the silent human cost being paid across a country convulsed by instability and mismanagement. While attacks by insurgents have grown more violent and more frequent, deteriorating basic services take lives that many Iraqis said they had expected to improve under American stewardship.

Iraq's child malnutrition rate now roughly equals that of Burundi, a central African nation torn by more than a decade of war. It is far higher than rates in Uganda and Haiti.

And this is something that will be collectively foisted upon all of us by history, not just the 50.5% of us who ratified the reelection of the architect of this tragedy.

This Makes My Head Hurt like I sucked down a Slurpee in 10 seconds

The Washington Post in this Editorial manages to be serious and NOT notice the giant Republican Elephant in the Room.

The bottom line on the editorial, the exit polls in the Ukraine showed the opposition with a victory, but the election results reported by the government show the exact opposite. So, the Post proclaims, the Bush Administration must condemn this obvious vote fraud.

Mull that assertion over for a bit and see if your brain isn't acting like a scene out of "Scanners" (not safe after breakfast)

Fatalistic Morons

You know that stereotype we have of a typical Russian -- fatalistic about their lot in life, thinking that as bad as the current czar, tsar, csar, Party Secretary, or President may be, whatever is around the corner will probably suck even more.

Well, the stereotypical Russian is looking an awful lot like the stereotypical American. Holden at First Draft provides this information on the latest NY Times Poll of the populace:

Country's direction
Right Track 40%
Wrong Track 54%

Bush's handling of foreign policy
Approve 44%
Disapprove 48%

Bush's handling of the economy
Approve 42%
Disapprove 51%

Bush's handling of Iraq
Approve 40%
Disapprove 55%

Is the economy getting better, worse, or staying the same?
Better 26%
Worse 29%
Same 44%

Do you have confidence in George W. Bush’s ability to deal wisely with a difficult international crisis or are you uneasy about his approach?
Confident 47%
Uneasy 51%

Do you have confidence in George W. Bush's ability to make the right decisions about the nation's economy, or are you uneasy about his approach?
Confident 46%
Uneasy 52%

Do you think George W. Bush is likely or not likely to make sure Social Security benefits are there for people like you?
Likely 38%
Not Likely 51%

Do you think large corporations have too much influence, too little influence, or the right amount of influence in the Bush Administration?
Too Much 66%
Too Little 4%
Right Amount 19%

Should Bush's tax cuts expire?
Yes 45%
No 41%

What should be the higher priority?
Cutting Taxes 28%
Reducing the Deficit 67%

Do you favor a flat tax?
Yes 26%
No 34%
Don't Know 37%

Who would benefit the most from a flat tax?
The Rich 54%
The Poor 6%
The Middle Class 26%

Party Favorability
Favorable 49%
Unfavorable 46%

Party Favorability
Favorable 54%
Unfavorable 39%

Should we have invaded Iraq?
Yes 46%
No 48%

Is the War on Iraq part of the War on Terra?
Major Part 34%
Minor Part 9%
No Way 51%

I am not one of those bashing the Kerry Campaign for losing the election, I thought they ran a pretty good campaign, and I happily voted for the man. People's feelings on the concession and vote fraud may vary.

But if the Democratic Party lost to the GOP, it doesn't appear that the electorate did much more than just collectively shrug and vote for the moron again. What other explanation works beyond, "it really sucks, but what the hell it was going to suck anyway."?

Couple this with the poll on "evolution" and the state of the American electorate is surely set to "idiotic".

I'm too fucking earthy to be an elitist, but apparently believing in responsibility and open to change makes me part of the elite. So, if I'm part of the elite, where the fuck is my money and my free blow?

How's this for a Legacy?

The things you notice by being up too early. I was watching ESPN ramble on about how terrible Ron Artest is, by showing his Friday Night Fight over and over and over (what? No naked Nicolette Sheridan's?) I noticed a commmercial.

Wendy's is saluting it's founder and late-"spokesmodel", Dave Thomas, or so it says, by bringing back its "Spicy Chicken Sandwich".

Okay. I guess that was meant to be moving.

When Attaturk finally shuffles off this mortal coil (something Wendy's and its ilk are no doubt contributing to) he can only hope to have some food dedicated to him.

...It would be both fitting and cool if it is a Burrito.

We've Been Way Too Successful

As a Nation, and slowly but surely it is going to cause us to become a second-banana nation (and then there will be hell to pay). But it sure explains why Bush is President.

This is just goddamned too sad for words...

Americans do not believe that humans evolved, and the vast majority says that even if they evolved, God guided the process. Just 13 percent say that God was not involved. But most would not substitute the teaching of creationism for the teaching of evolution in public schools.

Support for evolution is more heavily concentrated among those with more education and among those who attend religious services rarely or not at all.

There are also differences between voters who supported Kerry and those who supported Bush: 47 percent of John Kerry’s voters think God created humans as they are now, compared with 67 percent of Bush voters.

Overall, about two-thirds of Americans want creationism taught along with evolution. Only 37 percent want evolutionism replaced outright.

More than half of Kerry voters want creationism taught alongside evolution. Bush voters are much more willing to want creationism to replace evolution altogether in a curriculum (just under half favor that), and 71 percent want it at least included.

60 percent of Americans who call themselves Evangelical Christians, however, favor replacing evolution with creationism in schools altogether, as do 50 percent of those who attend religious services every week.

It's bad enough that the Bush voters are so comprised of morons, but the fact that a healthy share of Kerry voters are too is an additional tragedy.

This is a direct bi-product of what a joke evangelicals have made of public biology education. For example, this poll taken thirteen years ago...and anyone doubt it's worse now?

Table 8. Ranking of 21 Nations on Knowledge Question about Human Evolution, 1993 International Social Survey

Nation Rank % Correct *
East Germany 1-----81.6
Japan 2-----81.0
Czech Republic 3-----77.6
West Germany 4-----72.7
Great Britain 5-----76.7
Bulgaria 6-----60.9
Norway 7-----65.0
Canada 8.5---67.5
Spain 8.5---64.2
Hungary 10----62.8
Italy 11.5--65.2
Slovenia 11.5--60.7
New Zealand 13----66.3
Israel 14----56.9
Netherlands 15----58.6
Ireland 16----60.1
Philippines 17----60.9
Russia 18---41.4
Northern Ireland 19----51.5
Poland 20----35.4
United States 21----44.2

It is also an indication of why other nations are going to pass this country by eventually.

Faith-based nation.

Thank God he likes to Pretend to Be a Commando and Not Dress "Commando"

Atrios has this already.

President Over-Compensating, really missing his codpiece.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Meanwhile, in the latest of First World War Analogies

Comes Michael Kinsley asking the question about Iraq:

Has there ever before been a war that so many people disapproved of but so few wanted to stop?

Um, YEP!

Hell, I thought most people, especially a Kinsley, knew the World War One story, the Dear Nicky/Willy letters, of two guys who wanted the First World War to stop before it ever began, only to be told it was too late.

Turned out it was too late for them as well. Nicky ended up shot with the rest of his family five years later in a basement; Willy and his withered left arm did empty marches while in exile.

And then we had Vietnam for this country.

So yes, there has been such a war before.

So what keeps futulity going?

"HONOR" that's what. The whole goddamned First World War started because of it, and now that word perpetuates it in Iraq.

Weekend in Pictures

Attaturk is pretty busy before his annual belt-loosening, gas-filled, watch the Lion's lose to the (name AFC team here), sleepy, heart-burn day. Nonetheless, the Preznit's weekend in Chile (or as he calls it "mmmm, Chili") requires some sort of response:

The Head-of-State "Whack-a-mole" game was especially popular this year.

Pres. Bush: "Hey how come everybody else's poncho says "I'm con estúpido" but mine?

El Presidente's security guard is detained, for security purposes.

Manly man of virtue, reenacts the Battle of Fallujah.

"Look, I think it's good to see the Tax Returns of PETA Members and Dick Clarke."

"Buffet table? Gotta go!"

"Let's see, 1-900-Butt-Sex"

"I promise to make Democrats look back fondly on the strong determined leadership of the Daschle years."

"Dear Mr. President, I regret that I must resign from the Department of Education. Sincerely, that Black Guy that isn't Colin."

Lower Your Expectations...

Our friend from the "internets" Holden at First Draft, has deligently spent the last several months in a desperate search for his Bush-Boom . Sadly, but not unexpectedly, it has had the same results as those mounted for Emelia Earhardt and Jimmy Hoffa.

Meanwhile, the "analysts" who enjoy those Bush II Tax Cuts are singing the praises of our Chimp-in-Chief's miraculous plan to keep the non-prosperity coasting along (well, not exactly singing really, more like mouthing the lyrics).

Economists estimate that an average of about 1.4 million jobs in the United States will be created each year over the next decade as businesses strive ever more to compete globally. That compares with an average of about 2.8 million added annually during President Clinton's eight years in office.

``We can expect to see a mediocre job market for the next year from the perspective of workers,'' said Peter Morici, an economist and international business professor at the University of Maryland. ``And we can expect to see moderate growth in the economy and employment, but not enough to turn what is essentially a buyers' market into a sellers' market.''

Analysts say Bush's tax cuts helped the economy through recession and that while job creation lagged, extending them would encourage new hiring.

Employers added 1.8 million new workers to their payrolls so far this year, with the hiring outlook brightening greatly in October. But there are 371,000 fewer jobs than when Bush took office in 2001.

Wow, 1.4 million jobs a year, that's only 400,000 less annually than you need to keep up with population growth!

Well, at least we got a crushing deficit, weak dollar, and unbelievable trade deficit to go with it. All enabling me to obtain a T-Shirt of low quality, made with the fractured hands of a Chinese prison-worker.

I think it's time to lower our expectations of what constitutes a real "Bush-Boom", I think we are going to have to be satisfied with a "Bush Popcorn Fart".

Bill Safiar, Forsooth Metamorphing into Bobo

Eric Boehlert at Salon wonders why he got away with lying for so long? Well, an association with Nixon comes with some cache. Has Safliar been a liar longer than Pat Buchanan, or are they simply tied?

I think the major reason Safiar got away with lying for so long is that nobody at the times understood what the hell he was saying. He might as well have been edited by the staff at "NASCAR ILL-STRATED".

N.I. Editor: Gol' dang, I cannot understand a word this guy is sayin'!

N.I. Ass't Editor: Me either. But he uses plumbass big ol' words so it must be true!

N.I. Editor: Fuckin' a, you're right. Chaw?

N.I. Ass't Editor: Nah, no thanks, I've got to finish off my Jack & RC first.

N.I. Editor: You don't see shit like this in the liberal jewish media.

However, after pulling the wool over the eyes of the gray lady, Safiar goes off into the dark night by showing us that at the end, he is less the hack of lingual puffery, than a cheap Bobo knockoff -- here he is advocating for the "Ah-nold" Amendment and predicting the 2008 tickets of the respective parties.

After ratification of the 28th Amendment in 2007, I envision a G.O.P. ticket the next year with Rudy Giuliani or John McCain on top and Schwarzenegger as running-mate. For Democrats, Evan Bayh or Hillary Clinton for president, Peter Jennings (Canadian-born) for v.p.

Chew that one over.

Bill, you're a dried up old hack.

Gum that one over.

Thanks for Your Nominations...

Well, even on a Sunday, the nominations for Commander Half-Mast's yacht poured in. A few of the many wonderful nominees...

1. U.S.S. Imperial Hubris, via Guy
2. The S.S. Nucular from Charlotte Smith
3. The S.S. Smirk from Watertiger
4. Batson suggests the S.S. Strategery.
5. Anonymous in N.C. suggested plain and simply, the "S.S."
6. Spoko had many a suggestion, but my favorites were: the S.S. Thanks Homos!, and S.S. Swiftboat of Justice
7. WWIIIAI also had many, including "the S.S. And I Can Start Drinking Again On It And No One Would Ever Find Out And Why Are You Writing That Down?"
8. Elroon had a few as well, including, S.S. Goodship Lollypop

Those are a few of them, though I suggest most all of them.

Here's to hoping that eventually the accurate name of the ship may as well have been the "S.S. Bounty" (or HMS depending on your inclination), or for you american version fans, "U.S.S. Caine", although "Titanic" as suggested by a few of you may be appropriate.

Thanks for all your contributions.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Insert, "I'm 'King of the World'" Reference Here

From Reuters and referenced on Atrios we get the gift of something to make a big ol' stink about.

"The Senate voted 65-30 for the legislation late on Saturday that sets aside funds for a range of priorities including a presidential yacht..."

As someone who aspires to write comedy, as much as this disgust me...I would still like to thank the Prezinet for the material.

I think this calls for a "NAME THE YACHT" contest.

Feel free to insert your suggested, "S.S. ....?....." reference in comments below.

For example, the "S.S. Clusterfuck".

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Crack Cocaine Not as Addictive As Porn?

Several of the big blog boys have already commented on this, but to be honest I never got around to it until my other hand was finally free:

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), the subcommitee's chairman, called the hearing the most disturbing one he'd ever seen in the Senate. Brownback said porn was ubiquitous now, compared to when he was growing up and "some guy would sneak a magazine in somewhere and show some of us, but you had to find him at the right time."

The hearing came just days after a controversy over a sexually suggestive Monday Night Football ad that has many foreseeing a crackdown on indecency by the Federal Communications Commission.

It is unclear what the consequences of Thursday's hearing will be since it was not connected to any pending or proposed legislation.

Brownback, a conservative Christian, is also scheduled to be rotated off the sub-committee in the next session.

When Brownback asked the panelists for suggestions about what should be done, the responses were mild, considering their earlier indictment of pornography. Several suggested that federal money be allocated to fund brain-mapping studies into the physical effects of pornography.

Judith Reisman of the California Protective Parents Association suggested that more study of "erototoxins" could show how pornography is not speech-protected under the First Amendment.

I was very disappointed that there were no pictures accompanying this story. I would like to add that obviously Sam Brownback gets all the booty a person could ask for and probably never needs to rub one out.

Brownback? Is that his porn name?

And Now the Ladies Guild of Greater Detroit will Recreate the Battle of Fallujah

I think that the NFL and Terrell Owens would like to thank the people of Detroit and several Indiana Pacers for getting them out of the newspaper.

Oh, and by the way, people really continue to die in Iraq.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Curse of the Prophet

Remember Me!

We have often heard in the United States about the corrosive evils of socialism. But the criticism of socialism is funny coming from the patent results of capitalism in this world.

Attaturk isn't a socialist really, damn close, but not quite. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't believe that the world would be a better place today if another path had been taken early in the last century.

Thomas Frank, in "What Happened to Kansas" builds upon a topic that this blog has discussed in a different way in the last few weeks since the disappointment of the election.

Frank's major simple question is, how did the prairie states like Kansas for example, go from being the birthplace of the progressive movement into being among the most dependably conservative states in the nation?

Nebraska gave birth to "the great commoner" William Jennings Bryan, now it votes at a seventy-percent rate for George W. Bush.

It did not have to be this way.

The American progressive movements of the prairie were not alone in the world at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. Europe at the same period was giving birth to a far stronger and more active progressive movement, the socialists.

One of the most prominent of these socialist was Frenchman Jean Jaures, the man pictured above.

Here is how the 20th Century and our present day would be vastly different if the Jaures's of the world had prevailed.

Jaures was a socialist, a socialist who believed in non-violent change to make the laborers of europe more economically free to profit from the hard work that comprised their day-to-day existence. A lover of mankind, rather than a loather of it. There was no cynicism in Jaures, only determination of the long-term hope for mankind.

Jaures believed that the economic interests of laborers were more important than national boundaries. A unified cause of their interest in economic progress over nationalistic war. It was an argument that in the first decade of the 20th century gained strength, no where more than Germany, where the workers were as active in the cause of economic justice as any.

But there were, of course, other forces at work in Europe in the summer of 1914 besides love of humanity and the cause of economic justice. The power of grudges and the power of self-worth, often terms "honor" were present.

It was found in the form of Gavrilo Pricip, a nineteen year old Bosnian, and believer in the concept of Serbian Nationalism exerting itself in the southern Austria-Hungarian empire in a greater Serbian nation.

Once again, one man can change the course of history.

Princip was a small young man, too small to be granted entry into the Serbian Army, but his actions would set forth events that would cause the meat grinder of war to take all the soldiers it could get no matter their size. Princip and others received training from a Serb nationalist group called "The Black Hand". On June 28, 1914, he took advantage of an opportunity to fire two shots into the body of the heir to Europe's most decrepit empire and his controversial non-noble spouse. Ironically, the assassinated man had great sympathy for the cause of the Serbs in the empire, but symbolism meant more than truth.

The First Two Victims of 100 million

So the first blow was struck for the "grudge", and then it expanded, Austria having little evidence that Serbia was involved in assassinating its heir (who the ancient Emperor did not much like anyway) other than indirectly inspiring the assassin was determined to exact revenge against one of the few European states it could, it supposed, crush. Sound familiar?

And then "Honor". Russia viewed itself as the "protector" of all slavic nations, like Serbia, so when Austria-Hungary mobilized to strike at Serbia, Russia was honor bound to mobilize against Austria-Hungary. Germany, which through the boorish behavior of the Kaiser had managed to have only Austria-Hungary as an ally in Europe was "honor bound" to mobilize against the Russians to protect Austria-Hungary. France, bound by treaty to Russia, then mobilized against Germany and much of its populace was bearing the "grudge" of the defeat at German hands nearly 50 years earlier. Britain, bound by no treaties, but it's word, joined its new ally France in preparing for war against Germany.

Many of the working classes now faced a choice between their logical economic interests, and the emotional call of nationalism. Again, sound familiar?

Bravely, against the tide, came Jean Jaures. In late July, he spoke at a socialist gathering in Brussels against the war, issuing the call for rationality, against the tragedy of war. He thundered in Brussels and then returned to Paris to continue to try to rally, as he had before, the working classes of Europe (those who would have to fight the war) to the cause of peace.

If he had succeeded, if war had been averted, if the working masses of Europe had risen then and said, "enough" of war, "enough" of militarism, "enough" of rogue and irresponsible nationalism, "enough" of jingoism. Imagine the world that could have been created.


No World War One, no nine-million battle deaths.

No widespread civilian deaths based on diseases perpetuated by the suffering of the "Great War", another ten million deaths averted.

No Russian Revolution, sparing us many events to come, and the Russians another ten million deaths incurred between 1917 and 1922.

A Europe of less bombastic and more confined Constitutional Monarchs; or their gradual elimination rather than violent overthrow. In retrospect, even Nicolas Romanov probably would think that was a better result than being shot down with his family in the basement of the Impatiev House in Ekaterinburg. No Russian Revolution means no Lenin, no Stalin, no purges, no mass starvations, no June 22, 1941 (see below) and ultimately no Cold War.

No First World War means effectively no Second World War, especially in Europe. The marginalization of the Kaiser, but the growth of steady workers unions makes the "grudge" politics of Hitler unnecessary. In fact, Hitler remains an obscure failure of one form or another. No need for a Hitler means no Nazi Party, an ultimately no Holocaust.

No Holocaust means it likely that the Zionist movement remains simply that, it means any form of Balfour Plan leads to a more accommodationist relationship between Jews and Muslims in the region. It means no fifty years of instability in the Middle East, it means no Six Day War, ultimately, it likely means no 9/11.

No World Wars means no cold war, the vast economic power of the United States is made to benefit society and education to such an extent it propels the World to a new age of peace and prosperity. Trillions of dollars building bombers, are instead used to educate you, train you, provide you with a social safety net, health insurance.

No World War means no need for the development of nuclear weapons.

Imagine the possibilities -- would other things have arisen, sure, but could they really have been worse than what happened? 100 Million Dead, Trillions spent on armaments, perpetual debts, etc. Seriously, how could we collectively, have fucked up any worse short of starting a nuclear war?

Jean Jaures was arguing for these possibilities over war, over corporatism, over nationalism, over hunger, over disease, over ignorance.

But it was not to be.

It the height of the struggle, the voices opposing the war were centralising around Jaures.

But there were nationalist workers, and their zeal was up against that of the determined pacifist. Their embodiment was Raoul Villain. A month after Princip assassinated Franz Ferdinand, on July 31, 1914, Villain saw Juaues in a coffee shop with a small number of associates. Villain fired shots through the window, and the most persuasive voice for peace was another early victim of the Great War.

Gunned down, and now, but for a few virtually forgotten by the tide of war he so feared, and worked so hard to prevent. Gunned down and proven right, and pretty much forgotten in the bargain, such is the curse of the prophet.

When conservatives in this country start bitching and moaning about how fucked up socialism is (or the French for that matter), remind them of July 31, 1914.

We should take from the past its fires and not its ashes.
-- Jean Jaures

Miscellaneous Life Form Blogging

Well, another Friday, another day without a standby cat, ferret, or basset hound, to take "candid" photographs of.

So the mind must delve its recesses to think of a lifeform to blog, and better yet, one with a theme for the week or something. A lifeform that touches the core of humanity and makes us realize just how precious life is, a gift that is given but for a little while. One, in short, that lifts our spirits and gives us the strength to carry on.

Well, fuck that shit! You're getting this:

Madagascar Hissing Roach

Thursday, November 18, 2004

And to think

In just a few years we can look forward to the concept, THE CONCEPT!! for gawd sake, of a "George W. Bush Prezinidential Liberry"!

Iraq Update

1,209, 1,210, 1,211, 1,212, 1,213, 1,214, 1,215.

As usual...dammit!

One Nation Completely Fucked Up

It's only us "lib-ur-als" that care about shit like Health Care...don't people know that God will take care of all that hippy shit?

Listen to these "revenue-neutral" proposals of the Bush Administration:

Instead the administration plans to push major amendments that would shield interest, dividends and capitals gains from taxation, expand tax breaks for business investment and take other steps intended to simplify the system and encourage economic growth, according to several people who are advising the White House or are familiar with the deliberations.

The changes are meant to be revenue-neutral. To pay for them, the administration is considering eliminating the deduction of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns and scrapping the business tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance, the advisers said.

Congratulations low-brow America. You managed to elect people that will once again cut taxes for the wealth (capital gains cuts, tax breaks for business investment) and completely screw over everybody else, including Bush's base.

There isn't a more common deduction for the middle class than what you pay for State and Local taxes, and there are 40 to 50 million Americans without Health Insurance now. If you eliminate the incentive for providing health insurance to businesses, what the fuck will that number become.

This is literally taking the poor and middle class and making them bend over and 'squeal like a piggy.' Once again the rich get richer and the less rich get hosed. John Calvin would be proud.

And yet, on the broadcast media there is NOTHING about this, instead we have CNN mocking the Clinton Library like it's "white trash" heaven (a really WTF? moment all things considered) and more blathering about Monday Night Football's opening.

This is about right

One of Josh Marshall's more effective jibes (I like the subtle stuff as you all know):

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) criticizes the DeLay Rule: "Republicans have reached a new low. It is absolutely mind-boggling that as their first order of business following the elections, House Republicans have lowered the ethical standards for their leaders."

Trent Franks (R-AZ) on why the old rule wasn't right: "In my sincere opinion, it [the possible indictment of DeLay] only provoked the timing. When you look at the rule, it is an outrageous rule."

Denny Hastert (R-IL): DeLay Rule "fair and equitable"; voting for DeLay Rule a "a good decision."

Henry Bonilla (R-TX): DeLay Rule "takes the power away from any partisan crackpot district attorney who may want to indict" House leadership.

Kevin Brady: (R-TX): DeLay Rule is "a recognition that the rules of politics have changed. The courts and judges and prosecutors are all now part of what used to be the voters' decision. We're in an ugly world."

Pravda: "The controversy surrounding DeLay does not seem to have dented his considerable power. He is credited with helping Republicans increase their majority in the House in this month's elections and many Republican lawmakers feel indebted to him for his fund-raising prowess."

Bush's America, Addressing the Important Stuff

From Reuters:

The Federal Communications Commission (news - web sites) on Wednesday reviewed complaints about ABC's steamy "Desperate Housewives" promotion before "Monday Night Football" and while the agency's chairman expressed disappointment, it was not clear whether government would tackle the network.

Naturally, the pride of Colin's loins had to chip in with his usual gravitas:

"First of all, as a legal matter, whether it's a problem is yet to be determined. We only respond to complaints and evaluate them fairly and make a decision," Powell said in an interview with CNBC.

"But I think it's very disappointing. I wonder if Walt Disney would be proud," Powell added.

Why don't we defrost Walt and ask him?

Is Michael Powell saying that Walt didn't like women dropping their towels before him.


There, new fucking meme!!!

We are having people killed by the truckload in a land half a world away in a completely fucked up way.

And the press is dominated by this shit. Hell, I'm guilty of it too, I've bitched about it three or four times already (not the MNF moment but the incredible, fabricated, over-reaction).

I Couldn't Write a Funnier Headline than This

Specter Struggling to Maintain Image

While pledging to help President Bush promote anti-abortion judges to the federal bench, Sen. Arlen Specter is struggling to maintain his proudly cultivated image as an independent thinker and sometime maverick.

Wipe the coffee off your monitor.

Yes, This Time We Really Mean It

Because his intelligence was so credible last time:

The United States has intelligence indicating Iran is trying to fit missiles to carry nuclear weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said.

Powell partially confirmed claims by an Iranian opposition group that Tehran is deceiving the United Nations and is attempting to secretly continue activities meant to give it atomic arms by next year.

"I have seen intelligence which would corroborate what this dissident group is saying," Powell told reporters Wednesday as he traveled to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Santiago, Chile. "And it should be of concern to all parties."

Pressed by reporters on the intelligence reports, Powell said the intelligence indicates that Iran "had been actively working on delivery systems" capable of carrying a nuclear weapon.

Powell said there is no evidence to suggest that Iran has developed the technology to make a nuclear weapon, but suggested that the regime is working to adapt missiles for nuclear warheads.

"I'm talking about information that says that they not only had these missiles, but I'm aware of information that suggests they were working hard as to how to put the two together," Powell said.

A senior official for the National Council for Resistance in Iran said Tuesday that a bomb diagram -- along with an unspecified amount of weapons-grade uranium -- was provided to Iran by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the disgraced former head of Pakistani's nuclear development which was tied to both Iran and Libya.


Honestly, the Administration does virtually nothing about Abdul Khan, but here they go on their "intelligence" and nation-state Neocon crap -- again using Powell (still want to defend him).

When Rice takes over it will be NeoCon press release of the week at Foggy Bottom.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

NY Times Editorialist in their Underwear?

Jesse, no I'm sorry, Ezra, ah hell, I'm too lazy to look...

"Jezra" at Pandagon comments upon a suggestion, from those who cannot be named, that the New York Times replace the retiring Bill Safire with a rotating series of internet bloggers.

Safire is retiring, though I believe he will be retired only until he drinks deeply of the blood of a virginal etymologist. It could be a long wait, because those etymologist, well who wouldn't "hit" that?

Etymologist are "nape deep in da' honeys yo'"!

Why do they call it a "johnson"? Samuel Johnson, that's why.

Noah Webster? "re-defined" the meaning of lothario.

The Oxford English Dictionary took as long as it did because of endless nights researching the meaning of "debauchery". James Murray just couldn't help himself. You should see the amount of research the new OED editors are doing on whether or not to add "bukkake" to the next edition!

Strictly speaking, in the late 1970s you could not do better with the ladies than Bill Safiar and Edwin Newman. The two word-hounds would go out together, do a couple of lines, and only have to speak a few amorous words to the coked up ladies of Studio 54.

Meanwhile, Strunk and White? They might as well have worn a "I have Herpes" sign on their chests.

I'm sorry, where was I? I was too deep in the satisfaction of a tangent gone too far...

Before I move on, let me just ask my readers, where else can you get this kind of analysis? I defy you to find this sort of in-depth discussion at "Talking Points Memo"!

OK, on with the rest of the post.

The idea of bloggers on the New York Times editorial page?

Why not?

And Attaturk volunteers his services. What could be a better editorial at the "gray lady" than a photo essay about Condi Rice scratching Bush's balls?

It would be no worse than the two times a week, Bobo cranks out a column that demonstrates that all he does is scratch his own sack.

Iraqi Update

1,200, 1,201, 1,202, 1,203, 1,204, 1,205, 1,206, 1,207, 1,208, 1,209.

Meanwhile, our national media is pushing other issues of more vital importance with their prescious column inches and broadcast time:

ABC Sports was apologizing Tuesday over a filmed bit on Monday Night Football in which Sheridan, as her vampy Desperate Housewives character, removed a towel and showed off her assets to Philadelphia Eagles star Terrell Owens in the locker room.

Need to Understand the NeoCon Worldview

You cannot do much better than this article by Michael Hirsh in the Washington Monthly.

Basically, it can be summed up in this fashion.

The Neocons are essentially like Mustafa Kemal (aka Ataturk) without any of the redeeming qualities.

All this anonymity can cause some confusion here. I mean, I call myself "Attaturk" (note the extra "t", cute no?). There are a few qualities about the original closely named Ataturk that are positives. His emphasis on the "secular" society was good and needed, even if it went too far and was as much influenced by western fascism as it was a desire to reform a decrepit and corrupt theocratic society.

His determination to bring Turkey into a more european outlook was overall a positive, and his military leadership at Galipoli was extraordinary, though the same service is negated by his neglect over the Armenian Genocide (and that is being generous, for he was certainly deliberate in covering the matter up).

In short, Ataturk was a complicated character, with pluses and deep, deep, minuses.

The problem is the neo-cons do not seem to notice the deficiencies (and they are deep) at all, nor do they notice that a good Kemalist would look at the right-wing theocrats that form the core of Bush supporters with disdain.

...but then again, maybe their love of Ataturk can be reflected in one of his statements which at its heart is fascist to the core...and one which reflects their thinking on Iraq today, and quite likely toward the american electorate as well...

“For the people, despite the people”

Just What the Hell is Going on In Arkansas?

Well, it is close to Texas, but honestly are red-state denizens really this stupid?

From Reuters:

Employees at a Little Rock office building have been asked to leave their deer hunting rifles at home because the president and three former presidents are coming to town to open Bill Clinton's presidential library.

Acxiom Corporation distributed a memo to the 420 employees in its 12-story sales and marketing building in Little Rock's River Market district -- near the Clinton library -- reminding them of its policy forbidding weapons on company property.

"This would not be a time to violate that policy," said Dale Ingram, spokesman for Acxiom.

The Acxiom building overlooks the library, where President Bush (news - web sites) and former presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Clinton are to speak.

Deer hunting season in Arkansas began last weekend, and overlaps with the dedication, on Thursday, of Clinton's library.

Marketing Representives, L.H. Oswald and Charles Whitman were said to be particularly disappointed.

Second Terms Mean You Don't Have to Pretend to Be Honest

Porter Goss, Douchebag of Liberty:

September 2004, the Headline from USA Today:

Goss promises to shed partisanship as CIA chief

Funny, that a member of the Bush ADministration would then write this once he is in office given their track record:

Porter J. Goss, the new intelligence chief, has told Central Intelligence Agency employees that their job is to "support the administration and its policies in our work,'' a copy of an internal memorandum shows.

"As agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies," Mr. Goss said in the memorandum, which was circulated late on Monday. He said in the document that he was seeking "to clarify beyond doubt the rules of the road."

I'm sure we all feel safer now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Update to Iraqi Update

It's possible, I suppose, that you are not angry enough.

I started updating the Iraqi Death Count for American Soldiers, using Lunaville, just a few days ago, on November 12th.

At this time, all together it looks like this:

1,162, 1,163, 1,164, 1,165, 1,166, 1,167, 1,168, 1,169, 1,170, 1,171, 1,172, 1,173, 1,174, 1,175, 1,176, 1,177, 1,178, 1,179, 1,180, 1,181, 1,182, 1,183,1,184, 1,185, 1,186, 1,187, 1,188, 1,189, 1,190, 1,191, 1,192, 1,193, 1,194, 1,195, 1,196, 1,197, 1,198, 1,199, 1,200.

That is four days. Helps visualize the futility a bit doesn't it.

I think you should be angrier now.

I Am Curious Yellow (alert)

Earlier in the day I heard that "Chet Blockhead" had resigned as Director of Homeland Security.

Yet so far today, nothing.

Perhaps tomorrow. I mean they need a place to put Doug Feith right?

I think we could all use some cheering up

Things are...tough...out there!

We could...use some...laughs.

Must view some...classic....SHATNER!

Stay with it, it is worth it.

Just Two Steps Back

A most juvenile story.

"Don't scratch his balls, that's my thing!"

"Unfortunately, it appears the scratching the balls thing is out"

"So about the balls, why can't she scratch them?"

"And your new role as Undersecretary of State will be to prevent the balls from being scratched"

"That's right fellas, no ball scratching, that's for both of them"

"Dammit, they itch, and it feels good, she's not the boss of me."

"I'm sorry, maybe you can get a Tory to do that, but not me."

"Why not, it feels good, here I'll scratch yours for you, you'll see."

"And I knew a change in our relationship had occurred when the President told me, 'from now on scratch your own.'

"Um...no comment."

I will not be denied!

"OK, she's not looking, start scratchin' baby!"

*whistles* "Swingin' free" *whistles*

I scratched them, and now I'll get your job and you'll never need to touch them again.

Fallujah in Pictures

America's Toady, Allawi, proclaims no "civilian" casualties in Fallujah.

Here are some pictures...apparently children are no longer considered civilians.

Iraq Update


1,189, 1,190, 1,191, 1,192, 1,193, 1,194, 1,195, 1,196, 1,197, 1,198, 1,199, 1,200.

And a lovely atrocity for some modern John O'Neil to deny in thirty years.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss (long but important)

Meet the new Republican senators. Five of them hope to make your worst nightmares come true.
BY DAN KENNEDY - Boston Phoenix

WHEN THE NEW Senate storms Capitol Hill early next year, the narrow Republican majority of the past two years will disappear, to be replaced by a much wider Republican majority. Currently, the Senate comprises 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and an independent —Jim Jeffords, of Vermont, a former Republican who usually votes with the Democrats. Because of last week’s election, the Senate will soon seat 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats, and Jeffords.

Who are these people? Unlike the House, where Republican members lead lives of near-anonymous fealty dictated by Speaker Dennis Hastert and majority leader Tom DeLay, senators matter as individuals — not as just a voting bloc. There are moderate Republican senators, such as Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, of Maine; Lincoln Chafee, of Rhode Island; and Arlen Specter, of Pennsylvania — who nearly got his head handed to him last week for daring to suggest that anti-choice judges might not pass muster. There are religious conservatives, such as Sam Brownback, of Kansas, and Orrin Hatch, of Utah. And there is Jim Bunning, of Kentucky, who’s in a class by himself: last week he was
re-elected despite widespread reports that he has Alzheimer’s disease, and even though two of his supporters had sneeringly suggested that his Democratic opponent was gay.

Seven new Republican senators were elected last week. Two are unremarkable. Mel Martinez, of Florida, was George W. Bush’s first secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Despite a poor record on the environment, Martinez deserves some thanks from Democrats: he and the White House intimidated Congresswoman Katherine Harris (yes, that Katherine Harris) into not running for the Senate
this year. In Georgia, Republican congressman Johnny Isakson will succeed Democratic senator Zell Miller, who’s retiring. Isakson — a moderate who’s pro-choice (except when he isn’t) — may well be more a voice of reason than Miller has been. That said, Isakson’s outburst earlier this year that Bush is "the best president the United States has ever had" was certainly embarrassing, if not nearly as embarrassing as Miller’s red-faced rant at the
Republican National Convention.

What remain are five genuine specimens of right-wing Republicanism. Keep an eye on these guys. They’re dangerous.

1) Tom Coburn: Keeping us safe from condoms and the ‘gay agenda’

Fresh from helping to save Oklahoma from the scourge of teenage lesbianism, Tom Coburn arrives in Washington with perhaps the most bizarre set of right-wing credentials of anyone in the Republican Class of 2004. A former three-term congressman who was swept into office 10 years ago on the coattails of Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, Coburn — who succeeds retiring Republican senator Don Nickles — is an obstetrician possessed of an obsessive
fascination with other people’s sexuality.

In 2003, George W. Bush named Coburn to co-chair the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS. Coburn’s very first act was to speak out against the one preventative behavior (other than abstinence) that actually works. "I will challenge the national focus on condom use to prevent the spread of HIV," he said upon his appointment. Earlier, as a congressman, he had sought to force
condom manufacturers to label their products as "ineffective" in slowing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

But that doesn’t begin to plumb the depths of Coburn’s so-called thinking. In his successful Senate campaign against Democratic congressman Brad Carson, Coburn called for the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions. That certainly gives new meaning to the term "pro-life." As a physician, Coburn himself performed abortions, although he says it was always to save the life
of the woman. Tell it to the judge, Doc. Nor is that the only dissonant note from his career in medicine: Coburn was once accused of having sterilized a young woman without her permission. He says she had asked him to perform the surgery, though he conceded that he had lacked the written authorization that the law required.

In the 1990s Coburn criticized NBC for broadcasting Schindler’s List, the Oscar-winning film about the Holocaust, charging that it would encourage "irresponsible sexual behavior." That particular outburst was so odd that even one of his ostensible allies, self-appointed morals czar Bill Bennett, felt compelled to label Coburn’s remarks as "unfortunate and foolish." Coburn is also an outspoken opponent of the "gay agenda" in general and same-sex marriage in particular; as a member of Congress, he refused to allow the city of Washington to fund its program for domestic-partnership benefits.

Earlier this year, Coburn said that lesbianism is "so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they’ll only let one girl [at a time] go to the bathroom." Coburn’s source: a campaign worker. He later said his remarks had been taken "out of context," whatever that was supposed to mean. His spokesman gamely insisted that Coburn was worried that "our kids are getting mixed messages about sexuality." Mixed-up, rather, if they’ve been listening to Coburn.

Sources: Salon, September 13, 2004; AlterNet, March 28 and October 13, 2004; the Associated Press, October 12, 2004.

2) Jim DeMint: ‘The Family’ values, homophobia, and tax chicanery

If Tom Coburn is #1 on our list of exotic senatorial specimens, South Carolina’s Jim DeMint might qualify as #1A rather than #2. Congressman DeMint, who defeated Democrat Inez Tenenbaum in the campaign to succeed another retiring senator, Democrat Ernest Hollings, belongs to a secretive religious organization with anti-Semitic leanings, and is a tax-cut hypocrite and an outspoken homophobe to boot.

The decades-old religious group, best known for sponsoring the annual National Prayer Breakfast, is generally known as "The Family," "The Foundation," or "The Fellowship." A magnet for high-ranking conservative Washingtonians, it is said to have supported some vicious Third World right-wing dictatorships overthe years — as well as performing the occasional good deed, such as helping
to foster the relationship between Menachem Begin and Anwar el-Sadat. Members also reportedly believe that God’s covenant with the Jews is broken, and that they are "the new chosen." DeMint is close enough to the inner circle to have lived, along with five other congressmen, in a million-dollar Capitol Hill apartment subsidized by "The Family."

During his campaign against Tenenbaum, though, DeMint’s membership in this little-known group was far less of an issue than his mouth was. At a debate in October, DeMint said, "If a person wants to be publicly gay, they should not be teaching in the public schools." Even a local Christian Coalition official and DeMint supporter named Bette Cox said, "I wouldn’t have said that. It’s a civil-rights issue with me. You can’t cut off someone’s civil rights." DeMint refused to apologize — although he did apologize for saying that unwed, pregnant women should not be allowed to teach either. And he declined to fire an aide who’d sent out an e-mail referring to "fags" and "dykes" (or, to be more precise, "dikes").

One of DeMint’s key issues during the campaign was getting rid of the federal income tax and replacing it with a 23 percent flat national sales tax. It’s
an idea that President Bush himself has been cozying up to in recent weeks.
The simplicity of such a system is undeniably appealing, but, unless carefully
designed, it would be the mother of all regressive taxes, biting deeply into
the poor and the middle class for everything they buy. So it’s pretty amusing
to learn that DeMint is a serial tax scofflaw, repeatedly making late payments
on his federal, state, and local taxes between 1987 and 2001.

If nothing else, a flat federal sales tax would prevent well-connected people
from gaming the system. People such as Jim DeMint.

Sources: Harper’s magazine, March 2003; the Associated Press, April 20, 2003;
the Columbia State, October 4, 2004; 365Gay.com; Salon, October 7, 2004.

3) David Vitter: Putting young men and women in harm’s way

The election of Louisiana congressman David Vitter to the Senate is an ominous
sign of the problems facing the Democratic Party, especially in the South.
Vitter won more than 50 percent in a multi-candidate election last Tuesday,
thus avoiding a runoff next month. The retiring incumbent, John Breaux, is a
Democrat who’s conservative enough to inspire teeth-gnashing among liberals.
But unlike Zell Miller, who these days sounds more Republican than Dick Cheney
does, Breaux is a Democratic loyalist capable of pulling off the occasional
bipartisan compromise. Vitter, though, is a straight-down-the-line

According to rankings published by the National Journal, a nonpartisan
political magazine, Vitter is the most conservative congressman elected to the
Senate this year — more conservative than 87 percent of his peers. He has a
100 percent ranking from the National Right to Life Committee; a zero percent
ranking from Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay-and-lesbian civil-rights
organization; a zero percent ranking from the League of Conservation Voters
and the Sierra Club; and an "A" from the National Rifle Association.

Vitter’s opposition to reproductive choice is so unwavering that he has
co-sponsored legislation to require doctors who prescribe RU-486 — a drug
that, if used properly, can induce a safe, nonsurgical abortion — to have
both the ability and the necessary equipment to perform a surgical abortion
should one become necessary. As James Ridgeway observed in the Village Voice,
"That’s a little like asking a doctor who prescribes heart medicine to be
able to do open-heart surgery, right there in the clinic."

Vitter was also responsible for inserting a provision into the No Child Left
Behind Act that requires public high schools to supply the names and phone
numbers of all juniors and seniors to military recruiters — an invasion of
privacy that could have tragic consequences for impressionable, economically
stressed young men and women. (To be fair, generous opt-out provisions are
included.) When asked to explain his reasoning, Vitter said the previous
nondisclosure policy "demonstrated an anti-military attitude that I thought
was offensive."

Somehow, no right-wing success story is complete without an example of
grotesque hypocrisy. So let the record show that, for several years now,
Vitter’s supporters have been denying the claims of a Louisiana prostitute
that she’d had an 11-month affair with Vitter when he was a state legislator.
For the record, we don’t care whether the story is true or not. But you’d
think the Christian Coalition, which gives him a 100 percent rating, and the
Family Research Council, which grades him at 92 percent, would care quite a

Sources: AlterNet, September 29, 2003; the Village Voice, March 27, 2001;
Louisiana Weekly, December 29, 2003; National Journal, February 27, 2004.
Interest-group rankings from Project Vote Smart.

4) Richard Burr: Corporate errand boy scoops up PAC money

North Carolina has come a long way since the days of Jesse Helms. Its Research
Triangle is as sophisticated and well-educated as — well, as in any blue
state. So it’s only appropriate that John Edwards’s successor in the Senate
stand out as being somewhat different from his fellow Republican freshmen. To
be sure, Congressman Richard Burr is as anti-choice, anti-gay, and pro-gun as
the rest of them. But he comes from that strain of Republicanism more
interested in sucking up to corporate interests than in joining hands with the

How in the tank is Burr? With $2.4 million in donations, this distant relative
of Aaron Burr received more money from political-action committees than did
any other Senate candidate this year. "The main people he looks out for and
answers to are the large corporations. That is the most troubling thing about
Richard Burr to me," says Berni Gaither, a North Carolina Democratic Party
official. Democratic activist Hayes McNeil puts it more succinctly: "Burr’s
record in Congress looks like a whore’s bed sheet."

The good life, Burr-style, can be awfully good indeed. In April 2002, the
National Association of Broadcasters — the fine folks who brought you
corporate media consolidation — flew Burr, first-class, to Las Vegas for its
annual convention. The amenities included poolside drinks and a massage,
although Burr reportedly reimbursed the association for his spa stay. "It’s
extremely valuable for members to get that overall snapshot of their
particular industry," said Burr, who at the time was vice-chair of the Energy
and Commerce Committee. "If not, we rely on everyone to come up here and tell
us how things have changed."

North Carolina remains a place apart. Burr and his unsuccessful Democratic
opponent, Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, were falling over
each other to take credit for a federal buyout of the state’s struggling
tobacco farmers. But there is an area where Burr stands out: his contempt for
the environment. The League of Conservation Voters has named Burr one of its
"Dirty Dozen" (along with fellow freshmen senators-elect John Thune and Mel
Martinez). The particulars: he supported President Bush on an energy-bill
provision protecting manufacturers of the gasoline additive MTBE from lawsuits
over groundwater contamination; he voted six times against a ban on drilling
for oil off North Carolina’s Outer Banks; and he has opposed efforts to
reduce mercury contamination and greenhouse-gas emissions.

"He has one of the worst environmental records on clean air and clean water in
the US Congress," says Mark Longabaugh, the league’s political director.
"That’s one. Two, throughout his entire career he has shown a bias toward
special interests, oil and gas or other polluters."

Sources: the Raleigh News & Observer, October 27, 2004; the Durham Independent
Weekly, July 7, 2004; the Washington Post, March 11, 2003; Grist magazine,
October 26, 2004; National Review Online, September 22, 2004.

5) John Thune: A simple-minded campaign of flag-waving and heterosexuality

Of all the freshmen Republican senators-elect, there is one celebrity — John
Thune, of South Dakota, who knocked off Senate minority leader Tom Daschle.
But though Thune, a former congressman, is an ultraconservative with ties to
the religious right, he doesn’t stand out for any particular policy outrage.
Rather, Thune is a master of the sort of political cheap shot that excites the imaginations of those who like their symbolism both simple and stupid.

Take, for instance, a debate between Thune and Daschle on NBC’s Meet the Press. Thune was agitated over something Daschle had said in March 2003, just before the war in Iraq began — that is, that "this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we’re now forced to war." Never mind that a) Daschle was speaking the truth, b) he had voted in favor of the war resolution and later backed the $87 billion in reconstruction money for Iraq and Afghanistan, and c) he was a veteran and Thune was not. Thune took the opportunity to accuse Daschle of something close to treason, saying, "What it does is emboldens our enemies and undermines the morale of our troops."

Or take a proposed constitutional amendment against flag-burning — a cause that you might have thought had gone out of style with George H.W. Bush way back in the 1980s. Not, apparently, in South Dakota. "Unfortunately, Senator Daschle has consistently voted against this amendment. My record on this is very clear," Thune said at an event in Rapid City featuring some three dozen veterans, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Don’t you wish you’d been there?

Or, finally, take a radio ad that the Thune campaign broadcast this past summer that attempted to lump together Washington, Massachusetts, gay marriage, and Daschle in one unsavory stew. "The institution of marriage is under fire from extremist groups in Washington, politicians, even judges who have made it clear that they are willing to run over any state law defining marriage," Thune intoned. "They have done it in Massachusetts, and they can do it here."

This is just ugly, nasty stuff. The intellectual dishonesty of it all is matched only by its sheer brazenness. By appealing to voters’ fears and by demonizing anyone who would get in his way, Thune, unfortunately, demonstrated that he is well-qualified to join the Republican majority.

Sources: the Washington Post, September 20, 2004; the Rapid City Journal, South Dakota, September 22, 2004; Salon, September 30, 2004; the Advocate, July 16, 2004.