Friday, December 31, 2004

We Call It A Middling Triumvirate For A Reason

It just struck me funny, the middling triumvirate we are, posting entries late New Year's Eve. Don't think we're not three wild and crazy guys, because we are. All of us, the whole lot, the life of the party. It just happens that this New Year's Eve we don't have much going on. Really.

From Champollion (Not His Pets)

Hap-------py New Year. Let's hope in '05 we're doing more giving than taking, in every way manageable. Cause I think we're due.


What the hey, it's still more flattering than the Attaturk's portrait.

The Bobo of Job

As tomorrow is theme day, and the theme is not "Bobo Sucks" I suppose Attaturk might as well get his regular shots at the clown prince of insipidity now before the clock runs out on 2004.

Tomorrow Bobo puts up a column that replaces his love of the "Natalist" with his disdain for the "naturalist". Apparently, Bobo thinks that Mother Nature is a cruel mistress...

The nature we saw this week is different from the nature we tell ourselves about in the natural history museum, at the organic grocery store and on a weekend outing to the national park. This week nature seems amoral and viciously cruel. This week we're reminded that the word "wilderness" derives from the word for willful and uncontrollable.

This catastrophic, genocidal nature is a long way from the benign and rhythmic circle of life in "The Lion King." It's a long way from the naturalist theology of Thoreau's "Walden" or the writings of John Muir.


WTF? Does the man not have a dictionary handy?

gen·o·cide noun

The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group.

Look, Davie, the natural world is dangerous because it works of its own accord that neither loves nor loathes a meat puppet like you. It is not an out of control dog that requires a rolled up newspaper and time in its box.

Jeebus the guy is just awful.

Just to let you know

Being posted later so people see it (I'm pretending you should care).

Tomorrow, New Year's Day, the middling triumvirate* will have a special theme of the day.

I would assume most of you have better things to do than read blogs anyway. So barring some huge news event, it will be silly theme day at Rising Hegemon on January 1st.

We've been doing silly theme day every New Year's Day of this blog's existence, so we consider it a tradition.

*Atta J. Turk, DeDurkheim, Champollion - Showing anyone can blog since 3/20/04

Message from my many cats

Hello everyone,

Before going to make some soup (um, you will understand tomorrow I promise), my many cats wanted to wish everyone a happy new year. Of course, my dog feels the same way but the cats don't really think her opinion matters all that much. Come to think of it, they really don't seem to listen to me either. Oh well, I am sure they know what's best -- sleep, curling up in a warm place, staring at the wall, throwing up if you feel bad...wherever you find yourself, and acting indifferent towards the people who share your surroundings.

And they wish you all a happy, warm, comfortable new years... Especially if its near a register or on a warm blanket.

Attaturk's Dog

Refuses to be photographed. Let others display themselves, she doesn't care.

But she did tell me to say "Happy New Year".

...and that she's Satan...

O'Reilly O'Anti-semite?!!

Bah humbug indeed! Right-wing Zealot Fox "news" host tells a Jewish guest who says there's too much Christmas in Bush's 'Merica to 'go to Israel' -- so is O'Reilly an anti-semite? Appears so.

From 16 December 2004, The Jerusalem Post:

One of the nation's most-watched television hosts has run afoul of the American Jewish community and launched a debate over whether pervasive Christmas celebrations may offend Jews.

Bill O'Reilly, host of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel and a national radio program, angered some Jewish lawmakers and organizational leaders earlier this month when he suggested that a Jewish radio caller angry that Christmas is celebrated in public schools should "go to Israel."

The Anti-Defamation League, among others, demanded that O'Reilly apologize. The pugnacious host responded by calling the ADL's national director, Abraham Foxman, "a nut."

O'Reilly is no stranger to controversy; in fact, he has practically built his audience around it. Despite allegations of private pecadilloes, his radio and television shows are wildly popular with Christian conservatives, and the latest controversy highlights a growing divergence between the Jewish community and conservatives, who are buoyed by November's presidential election results that suggested increasing numbers of Americans support conservative values.

One of the first post-election faith battles surrounds the celebration of Christmas, with conservative Christians angered that the holiday has been secularized, in their view, as a response to complaints from Jews and other non- Christians.

O'Reilly was discussing the secularization of Christmas on his radio show when a Jewish man called to complain that he felt Christians were trying to convert him in school when he was growing up. He said the gift and card exchanges in public schools suggest inappropriate state support for Christmas.

O'Reilly told the caller, identified only as "Joel," that he was taking things too seriously. "You have a predominantly Christian nation," O'Reilly said. "You have a federal holiday based on the philosopher Jesus and you don't want to hear about it? Come on, Joel. If you're really offended, you've got to go to Israel then."

O'Reilly's comments angered several US Jewish officials, and their responses started a heated exchange between Jewish and conservative Christian leaders.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) sent a letter to congressional colleagues, asking them to demand an apology from O'Reilly. "Your remarks show an utter disregard for the diversity of religious belief in this country, and a fundamental insensitivity toward Jews and other non-Christians," Lowey wrote in a letter to O'Reilly. "By suggesting that Jews do not have a place in American society unless they accept, without comment, its 'predominantly Christian' nature, you are brushing aside the basic freedoms guaranteed to all by our Constitution."

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs also asked O'Reilly to apologize. But it was the ADL's letter that got the host's attention.

O'Reilly has talked about Foxman in the past, even praising Mel Gibson's controversial film, The Passion of the Christ, by noting that Foxman said it wasn't anti-Semitic per se.

Now, however, he apparently sees Foxman as "a nut" for saying O'Reilly's recent remarks to Joel crossed the line. O'Reilly last week described the ADL as an "extremist group that finds offense in pretty much everything."

ADL spokeswoman Myrna Shinbaum said it was important to take O'Reilly to task.

"Millions of people heard it. He's a celebrity," she said. "To let the comments go unchallenged is wrong."

Media Matters weighed in as well.

We here at the Rising Hegemon echo the call that this comment is horrible and reveals the anti-semitism of O'Reilly and Fox "News."

Up to Update

Da Hammer and the GOP zealotry in CoCo Congress are in for some criticism over trying to relax ethics rules. Aw, don't we feel for them?

After a summary of the Republican plans became public on Thursday, officials of the organizations said the changes appeared to represent a step backward and could cripple the ethics panel in efforts to hold lawmakers accountable for suspect conduct.
"We think this sends a message that there are no consequences for unethical behavior," said Mary Boyle, a spokeswoman for Common Cause, part of a coalition fighting the proposals.

The changes, drafted partly in response to Republican dissatisfaction with the way ethics complaints against the House majority leader, Tom DeLay of Texas, were resolved earlier this year, are scheduled to be reviewed by Republican House members in a closed meeting on Monday. If the lawmakers approve, the proposals could be presented to the full House for a vote when the new Congress convenes on Tuesday.

Right Wing Attack Alert

A recent Montana Supreme Court decision to force Montana Universities to offer health insurance to gay and lesbian employees' partners is bound to set off the extreme and religious right on attack mode. Just wait for it.

The majority in the 4-to-3 decision said the decision had nothing to do with the rights of gay couples to marry. But a dissenting judge criticized his colleagues as "radically altering common law marriage in Montana."

Any move forward toward any kind of humanity will inevitably lead to a massive right-wing back lash. And given the current misadministration in Washington, how long before the zealots and so called moral prosecutors begin the attack?

Promises, Promises

President Pervez Musharraf is going to continue as Army Chief of Pakistan despite his pledge to give up the post by the end of 2004. Chimpy must be proud. We help bring about the very best of democracy, don't we?

"Look at my tie... stare deeply into my tie, I am a democrat! We are all democrats!"

According to Mr. General:

"I have decided to retain both offices," he said. "In my view, any change in internal or external policies can be extremely dangerous for Pakistan."

He added that he was responding to "the voice of the majority."

And why must he continue to hold true accountability and democracy hostage? Well, for the same reasons that Chimpy is slowly peeling back our own democracy! Extremism!

Wearing civilian clothes during the speech, General Musharraf said he needed the power of his military position to fight Islamic extremism and to pursue peace with India. Responding to criticism from opposition leaders, he urged them not to use the decision to score political points and insisted that the move was not a step toward authoritarianism.

And how do we know that democracy will be preserved as it is being held an arms length away?

"Democracy will continue unhampered," he said. "The spirit of democracy has been restored in the country."

That's right because he told us so.

Importing the worst of the west

Ah it is a grand and glorious tradition, in the best example of screwing up your neighbors stuff...

Given the importation of the best of western culture into other lands, think of all the great television that has been exported into other countries like:

BayWatchBeachSoftPorn or Dallas'Mericansaremeansonsofwithlmoneynosvaluesand-
caresonlyinsexandoil (ok, that last one has not really changed that much, just the forms of our expressions have changed, right?). I am sure that now we are exporting fine programs like CSI and Friends into the international cultural malestrom. And, hey its not like those shows are unrealistic.

But back to the main point:

China in an effort not to be outdone by some smaller and more savy country now has fully established and state supported class warfare (and what's funny is they have been trying to avoid that... remember that big disturbance over there a few years ago? You know you do, guy vs. tank? Anyways, now it turns out that brutal repression could not stop the inevitable creation of economic class inequalities, go figure.

Although one could argue, and I am one, that they had a less developed slipshody version of economic concentration that was mostly centered on membership in the pcommunist olitical party, and well... who are we to argue with brutal repression not being a good example of class warfare?! But the basis was not discretely focused upon class location. Now it is. Adam Smith must be proud.

China's 'Haves' Stir the 'Have Nots' to Violence

Now, how do we teach them to swagger and wear those really really big hats and not look stupid?


The myth of private investment on Social Security is show in the Christian Science Monitor.

Has somebody already blogged on this? I've been shaping my life around that of George W. Bush and been a dry drunk for the last week.

One man's retirement math: Social Security wins

At the heart of President Bush's plan to sell Social Security private accounts is a simple notion: You're always better off investing your retirement money than letting the government do it.

By doing it yourself, you can stow some money in the stock market, and over the long run will get a better return on that investment than today's Social Security system offers.

The idea is broadly accepted. That's why the administration's plan to partially privatize the system sounds appealing to many. But that better return won't always happen.

Just ask Stanley Logue of San Diego.

For 45 years, the defense-industry analyst paid into the system until his retirement in 1994. But with all the recent hoopla over reform, Mr. Logue, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate, decided to go back and check his own records. Would he have done better investing his money than the bureaucrats at the Social Security Administration?

He recorded all the payroll taxes he paid into the system (including the matching amount from his employer), tracked down the return the Social Security Trust Fund earned for each of the 45 years, and then compared the result with what he would have gotten had he been able to invest the same amount of payroll tax money over the same period in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (including dividends).

To his surprise, the Social Security investment won out: $261,372 versus $255,499, a difference of $5,873.

It's an astonishing finding. The DJIA represents blue-chip stocks. Social Security invests in US Treasury bonds. Over long periods of time, stocks have consistently outperformed bonds. So, you would think that Logue's theoretical stock investments from 1950 to 1994 would have surely outpaced the return on government bonds.

The fact that they didn't illustrates one of the hard truths about stock investing: Timing matters.

Although Logue started pouring money into Social Security in the 1950s and early 1960s, some of the best years for stocks, he hadn't accumulated a lot of money.

So the gains of his theoretical stock portfolio would have been limited.

By the time he had substantial sums, the market swooned for long periods. From 1965 to 1982, for instance, the DJIA made no progress. Logue retired before the real run-up in stocks in the latter half of the late 1990s.

So the real lesson from his analysis is that any pension plan based on stock investments carries extra risks.

So in many cases, a worst return at the cost of depleting the system.

Sounds like a classic Bush Policy to me.

Every time Clarence gets a Perk, an endangered Bird's wings are clipped

I'd make a pornography joke, but TBOGG already beat me to it.

Over the last several years, Clarence Thomas has taken more perks than the other businesspeople justices on the Supreme Court.

This particular story of the largesse of his rethuglican admirers is particularly, um, appropo:

Foremost among those conservative friends is Harlan Crow. The son of well-known Dallas real estate executive Trammell Crow, he runs a family holding company that owns 10% of Trammell Crow Co., one of the nation's biggest commercial real estate firms.

A big Republican donor, Crow last summer gave $25,000 to help launch the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign deriding Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kerry.

In an interview, Crow said he met Thomas 10 years ago at a conference in Dallas where the justice was a speaker. "I was in the audience and I was impressed," Crow said.

Soon afterward, Crow invited Thomas to a family campground in East Texas. Roger Connor, a businessman who was at the camp-out, remembers the all-male gathering.

"They were all smoking cigars. It was a very manly Texas thing," Connor said. He said the participants slept in sleeping bags and tents, and that the activities included a greased pig race.

Oh, I HOPE there is video of that. Finally, an explicit video that Thomas would not want to see.

Friday Miscellaneous Lifeform Blogging

Well, it is the end of the year and as such I am going to pretend that the last lifeform to be blogged today is a personal favorite.

But that would be an utter lie.

I don't have a favorite miscellaneous lifeform, I love them all equally.

Ed: No you don't! They are just devices for you drawing attention to your pathetic little snark-o-blog. What a contemptible little shit you are Attaturk!

"Shut up you!"

Man, I hate having self-loathing conversations with myself, especially on this here blog where a limited number of the public can see it. Especially when it involves mining up trite cartoon characters from the 1960s for emphasis.

Okay, well on with the actual lifeform.

In any case, here is a true unique lifeform of the sea, I'm sure that somehow they find each other "hot". Frankly, I find that they look like Rush Limbaugh in the midst of drying out in rehab (DeDurkheim said he thought it looked like Cheney -- but with a working heart).

I give you the lovable and cuddly...

Goblin Shark

I Would Like to Know

Can Bob Sommerby make Kevin Drum cry?

What a verbal garrotting.

The original cat blogger has been quite the Caspar Milquetoast lately.

Stingy Bush: Mr. World PR gets his nose rubbed in it

By far the richest planet on earth, you spend $150 Billion (with another $80 Billion Coming) creating Clusterfuckatopia and then pledge $15 million before adding another $20 million to avoid, you believe, embarassment.

You then unleash your minions to browbeat people who say otherwise domestically.

But you cannot control everything can you? Sometimes there are limits to your proverbial pants stuffing powers. And now comes the PR shit storm of poorer countries donating more.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday offered 500 million yuan ($60.42 million) in aid for tsunami-ravaged countries on top of $2.6 million already pledged.

China was a developing country, but was providing aid out of gratitude for relief it had received for its own disasters, Wen told diplomatic envoys from tsunami-hit South and Southeast Asian countries at Beijing's Zhongnanhai leadership compound.

At a little over $63 million, Beijing is now the third biggest monetary donor behind Britain and Sweden. The United States has made an initial pledge of $35 million.

Mission accomplished.

Graphically (W)incompetent

Via Kos.

Atlas Shrugs

Uber Josh provides this callous statement by the Ayn Rand Institute.

As the death toll mounts in the areas hit by Sunday's tsunami in southern Asia, private organizations and individuals are scrambling to send out money and goods to help the victims. Such help may be entirely proper, especially considering that most of those affected by this tragedy are suffering through no fault of their own.

The United States government, however, should not give any money to help the tsunami victims. Why? Because the money is not the government's to give.

MOST? Did someone cause an earthquake?

In a way, to use my best Ayn Rand type-thought, who gives a shit what they think?

However, when am I going to have a chance to use a title like that again?

Daniel Pipes -- American Idiot

Joining forces with the "intellectual tour de vacuum" that is Michelle Malkin, Daniel Pipes has a frightening bit of fascism and bigotry to propose, ending an awful year on an appropriate note.

In summary it is a blatant endorsement of denying civil liberties, even to the point of interning Islamic Americans in internment camps. Go read it for yourself and you will see.

And this, as Juan Cole notes, gets published in a major American paper. That is almost as disturbing.

There hasn't been a more offensive major newspaper editorial this year, certainly a notable, if dubious, accomplishment in 2004.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Diving For Cover

From the well if we knew you would be so sensitive about it file comes an about face from the Office of Legal Counsel on the torture memo scandal.

Cue the collar-pulling anguished take:

This second effort by the Bush administration to parse the legal meaning of the word "torture" was provoked by the damaging political fallout from the disclosure this summer of the first memo, drafted in August 2002 and criticized by human rights lawyers and experts around the globe.

Many of the critics charged that the first memo, which they said laid out a very narrow view of what behavior might constitute torture and was crafted to help interrogators at the CIA evade prosecution, created the context for a record of persistent ill treatment by that agency and the U.S. military of detainees at prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba's Guantanamo Bay and undisclosed locations.

The Justice Department published a revised and expansive definition late yesterday of acts that constitute torture under domestic and international law, overtly repudiating one of the most criticized policy memorandums drafted during President Bush's first term.

In a statement published on the department's Web site, the head of its Office of Legal Counsel declared that "torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and international norms" and went on to reject a previous statement that only "organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death" constitute torture punishable by law.

Some wonder whether this whole "my friend Al Gonzalez is nominated to be Attorney General of the You-nita States and has some hearings coming up" may be the motive behind the about face. Really?

"Clearly the release of this now is backfilling for Gonzales's confirmation hearing," said I. Michael Greenberger, a senior Justice Department official in the Clinton administration who now heads the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland. "These memos have been a tremendous source of embarrassment to both Gonzales and the administration."

Greenberger said that recent accounts of widespread abuse at U.S. detention facilities -- including disclosures that military interrogation practices were sharply criticized over the past two years by FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency personnel in the field -- has given ammunition to those within the administration who favor adherence to international norms against torture.

Yet Greenberger leaves room for the possibility that there is a real change in the policy.

"It could be that this is not just a cynical ploy but a real sign of change," Greenberger said.

Well I suppose it could be...maybe they really are seeing the error of their ways...maybe they see we aren't any better than the people we seek to prosecute by acting that way...maybe...

Nah, who do they think they're kidding?

Bush Failed the Leadership Test

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and the years since, Bush's "performance" has been praised not just by the usual suspects (Noonan, Novak, Safire, Sully, Fox News, the 101st Keyboarders) but also pundits like Lil' Russ, Tweety, Richard Cohen, to name a few. They all lavished such praise on him you would have thought he had performed a miracle. All this nonsense was about how glad they were that Bush was President because of his resolve, uber-resolve, made me want to vomit. I wasn't impressed by anything he did around 9/11, including the bullhorn at ground zero, because I thought it was automatic. It was, to borrow a phrase, a slam dunk.

Now we have the real test of leadership. In a world torn by the politics of war, a world often divided not just by ideology but religious identity, Bush, the leader of the free world, had a rare and unique opportunity to show true sincerity, true compassion, and true leadership. He didn't even have to get in a plane and fly to Asia. But he needed to do more than hunker down on the ranch clearing brush. He had to do more than send out the second string press secretary to talk to the public (and press). He had the opportunity to tell all of Asia that America hears all people regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. America will be with the people of all nations especially in their hour of need, whatever it takes. He had the chance to show who we are as a nation: more than about war, weapons, and oil.

It tells us a lot about both the President and the people advising him that his reaction has been so underwhelming. It is sad that we have to see tragedy as moments also of opportunity but that is what it is. That nobody apparently has the sense or clout to tell the President to fly back to Washington to make an appearance from the White House, to start the process of organizing relief efforts before resuming his vacation is sad. It is tragic that the best we got out of this moron is some statements read by Trent Duffy, the second-string press secretary, and a brief appearance in an airplane hangar with presidential pooch Barney in tow. He missed a golden chance--that we will never have back--to lead, not be in charge, but to really lead, during the recovery from a disaster whose depths we may never fully grasp.

Bush blew the bunny. He failed the leadership test, the true measure of the man.

Oh man

Getting away from the sudden natural catastrophe that is the Southeast Asian earthquake.

We return to the man-made disaster that is the Bush Administration's decision to risk our national security and international image upon hubris and a whim.

From via the Majority Report Blog.

Iraq Edges Towards Civil War
United Press International
December 28, 2004

NEW YORK - Iraq faces the prospect of civil war as Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's government loses credibility and violence against U.S. forces increases, according to almost a half dozen former and serving administration officials.

In last Tuesday's suicide bombing attack at a mess tent at Mosul, 22 were killed -- 18 of them Americans -- and 50 wounded.

"We can't afford to keep taking that kind of hit," a Pentagon official said. "We can't afford it in terms of American public opinion, and it causes us to loose credibility with the Iraqi public."

Upcoming January elections will not improve the deteriorating security situation, these sources said, all speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitiveness of the topic.

Plus a new threat has arisen.

"We are starting to play the ethnic card in Iraq, just as the Soviets played it in Afghanistan," said former CIA chief of Afghanistan operation Milt Bearden.

"You only play it when you're losing and by playing it, you simply speed up the process of losing," he said.

Phoebe Marr, an analyst who closely follows events in Iraq, told United Press International that "having the U.S. military unleash different historical enemies on each other has become an unspoken U.S. policy."

Bearden, Marr and others also referred to the Pentagon's tactic of pitting one group of enemies against another in Iraq as being fraught with danger.

For example, during the assault on Fallujah, wary of the reliability of Iraqi forces, the Marines used 2,000 Kurdish Peshmerga militia troops against the Arab Sunnis. The two groups share a long history of mistrust and animosity, according to Marr.

Both ethnic groups are Sunni, but Kurds speak a different language, have distinct customs, and are not Arabs.

"I think the U.S. military is trying to get ethnic groups to take on the insurgents, and I don't think it will work," Marr said.

According to a former senior CIA official, the agency is dealing with reports of ethnic cleansing being undertaken by the Kurds in areas near Kirkuk.

"It's all taking place off everyone's radar, and it's very quiet, but it's happening," this source said.

Original reports disclosing that up to 150,000 Arab Sunnis had been uprooted and placed in camps have proved to be unreliable, several U.S. officials said.

"There's so much white noise, so much unreliable rumor in the air," said Middle East expert Tony Cordesman. "You are going to have to get data from people on site, not from those in the rear areas."

Folks, our country is now officially in deeper fucking shit than ever.


The Center for Media and Democracy has started a new tradition of making a list of "people and players responsible for polluting our information environment." The Center has several interesting winners of this year-end prize that they are calling the "Falsies Awards." (must not make dumb joke)

Make sure you read about these misusses of the media!

Psst, We're Screwed, Pass It On.

Some sobering information is coming out of Iraq even though Joementum and the administration are in deep denial or full blown lie-to-the-people mode. I think it's more lying than denial, but that's just me.

WASHINGTON - By key measures of the level of insurgent violence against American forces in Iraq (news - web sites), numbers of dead, wounded and insurgent attacks, the situation has grown worse since summer.
While those numbers don't tell the full story of the conflict in Iraq, they suggest insurgents are growing more proficient, even as the size of the U.S. force increases and U.S. commanders succeed in soliciting more help from ordinary Iraqis.

For example:

- The U.S. military suffered at least 348 deaths in Iraq over the final four months of the year, more than in any other similar period since the invasion in March 2003.

- The number of wounded surpassed 10,000, with more than a quarter injured in the last four months as direct combat, roadside bombs and suicide attacks escalated. When President Bush (news - web sites) declared May 1, 2003, that major combat operations were over, the number wounded stood at just 542.

- The number of attacks on U.S. and allied troops grew from an estimated 1,400 attacks in September to 1,600 in October and 1,950 in November. A year earlier, the attacks numbered 649 in September, 896 in October and 864 in November.

U.S. commanders insist they are making progress, in part by taking the fight more directly to the insurgents. And they remain hopeful that more U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces will join the fight soon.

Some observers are more doubtful.

"The prospects in Iraq are grim," Dan Goure, an analyst at the private Lexington Institute think tank in Washington, said Thursday. He assessed the conflict as a standoff, with no clear indication that either side will achieve victory in the coming year.

"Neither side can truly come to grips with the other so far and defeat them," Goure said.

U.S. commanders constantly analyze the insurgents' tactics and make adjustments. Yet although U.S. forces have found tons of hidden weaponry and ammunition, the insurgents kill almost daily with makeshift bombs known as improvised explosive devices. They plant the bombs along roads or stuff them into cars for suicide attacks.

The toll is clear.
Pentagon (news - web sites) statistics show that for all of 2004, at least 838 U.S. troops died in Iraq. Of that total, more than 700 were killed in action, by far the highest number of American battlefield deaths since at least 1980, the first year the Pentagon compiled all-service casualty statistics.

It almost certainly is the highest KIA total for any year since the Vietnam War.

U.S. deaths averaged 62 per month through the first half of the year. But since June 28, when U.S. officials restored Iraqi sovereignty and dissolved the U.S. civilian occupation authority, that average has jumped to about 78.

Deaths among U.S. National Guard and Reserve troops are rising, reaching a single-month peak of 27 in November. At least 17 were killed in December. Nearly 200 Guard and Reserve troops have died since the war began, and more than one-third of those deaths happened in the past four months.

They hope the public will keep drinking the happy punch until they can pull us out and declare victory. I guess I don't quite see it that way. My view is, we have lost the PR battle, we have lost ground to an effective insurgency, and many in Iraq don't want us there, and most in the region want us gone. If that is winning I don't think I want to see losing.

How Bad is It?

Now the death estimate has grown to over 125,000.

How awful to deal with?

Go here and you'll see, be forwarned very graphic.

Hot Tub Tom trying to keep things from getting too Hot

Looks like The Hammer is tired of having to answer for things like honesty, integrity, and following silly 'lil rules.

The repugnicrats are rewriting the rules over the ethics procedures to make it virtually impossible to begin ethics investigations on republicans. Of course, it still remains important to allow loop holes so that the holders of divine morality can judge others, especially those evil liberals and God forsaken heathens, the democrats!

In the wake of ethics slaps at the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, Republicans are preparing to make it more difficult to initiate ethics investigations

Given that republicans stole the 2000 presidential election by decree and may have won 2004 with some funny little shenanigans in Ohio and other contested states, surely this doesn't surprise anyone! If so, there is no Santa Claus, no tooth ferry, and we did not have to go start a foolish war in Iraq.

And Still we ask...

...when soldiers are killed or return home badly hurt, where are the Bush people? Can't go to a funeral... oh no, far too many of those. It would look bad, you know.

The families lingered there, took in the high honors, in a daze and before a large crowd, and walked on. Then they stepped solemnly back into their worlds of private grief, back to staring at the unopened Christmas presents, re-reading the last e-mail messages, replaying in their minds the last telephone conversations or the lyrics from the music the soldiers loved, whether it was Sting, Boyz II Men or slow jazz, reconstructing every moment of the last time they saw the soldiers alive or kicking themselves for not having a last talk. Out of the public eye, the families went back, after the service, to their complicated struggle over what fate and war had delivered to this one unlucky pocket of people, to, in some cases, doubting the war itself, back to asking questions that could not be answered quickly enough.

Where are the Bush people?

A few days before the bombing that killed him, Specialist Castro called his mother, who was worried. "He said, 'Don't worry, Mama, I'm not going to die in a foreign country.' "

Don't know where they are, but wherever, damn them to hell.

Goodbye Lt. Briscoe

Jerry Orbach, Star of 'Law & Order,' Dies at 69 Orbach earned great respect for his versatility as a Broadway actor-singer (didn't the actor-singer die on Letterman a few years ago?) however he achieved his most lasting fame as a cranky detective on NBC's first "Law & Order."

Internet use cuts into time for stuff

According to the New York Times, the average Internet user in the United States spends three hours a day online, with much of that time devoted to work and more than half of it to communications such as chat and email. The article goes on to say that prevents people from watching teleivions (oh, how will the world survive?) and socializing (ok, this one could be a problem). Only three hours? Gosh, why I am positively shocked!

I wonder how much time bloggers spend online?

Image vs. Reality

What do you do when the world thinks you are an ass? Be more of an ass with swagger? Give a wee bit of money and call it a fortune? You can always say that you acted slowly because of bureaucracy or that you regularly give money. Yeah, that's the ticket!

I bet Bubba would have acted quickly. Man, I miss him.

Of course, there are those who will act quickly:

Any missteps by the United States in the country's politically volatile environment, noted a senior American official who is frequently in Southeast Asia, "will be exploited by the Islamic extremists to bolster their own case."

So, maybe the chimp's plan is to alienate Asia so that we can attack the Islamic extremists there? Imagine the song: "Here an extremist, There an extremist, Everywhere an extremist!" That's going to be the legacy of the Bush administration.

The New Dynamic

Massive Natural Disaster kills tens of thousands in country populated by majority of non-christian, non-white people.

How is this to be handled in the Age of his Chimperial Majesty?

Step One: Report on tragedy in its basic detail.

Step Two: Check to see if there are any high-falutin' resorts affected.

Step Three: Find surviving White People, preferably those that speak english.

Step Four: Those White survivors...any celebrities? If not any white children...hey, any Celebrity's Children?

Step Five: Those white folks, did they have a video-camera going at the time?

Step Six: The President, how's his vacation going? Brush getting cut? Remind the people that he cares, but it is hard work using a variety of lawn tools. Show Karl Rove using "garden weasel", avoid snide comment.

Step Seven: Praise the manly resolve of the President not saying anything and donating unused GOP Tip Jar money to help those unfortunate heathens.

Step Eight: React to general criticism, not specifically directed at you with slack-jawed look of confused indignity. (I.E. Look naturally)

Step Nine: Use opportunity of general criticism to discuss why the "United States kicks ass" all the way around and nobody should ever deign to criticize the United States, especially americans and foreigners. Point out that Sri Lanka hardly gave any money to the hurricane victims of Florida?

Step Ten: Make sure you also get a few digs in against the U.N. and the Oil for Food program.

Step Eleven: Point out that somebody in one of the affected countries has specifically criticized the United States. Or, hey over there, you found a guy who dislikes Israel. Bonus points if you can get a guy wearing an Osama T-Shirt. Make sure you are able to use this as a general condemnation of all of the afflicted victims and an additional opportunity to repeat that the "United States kicks ass".

Step Twelve: Use Step Eleven to say that the tsunami was God's punishment toward these heathen states for being heathens, and because some in the United States are okay with gay people getting married.

Step Thirteen: Somehow the event becomes Bill Clinton's fault.

Do not forget to lather throughout.

We ARE fucking Stingy

And while I can and will criticize Bush for his appalling wait to say one damn thing about the humanitarian disaster along the rim of the Northern Indian Ocean, I am not going to single he and his Administration out as being solely parsimonious when it comes to foreign assistance.

The problem is bipartisan, both Republicans and Democrats in a nation as wealthy as ours do damn little to assist the poor both within our own nation and without. As a percentage of GNP the United States is one of the stingiest nations on earth, perhaps the stingiest when it comes to humanitarian aid and assistance.

As pointed out by Champollion $35 Million (and of course there will be more) is shockingly cheap when compared to the $147 BILLION already spent in Iraq and an additional $80 Billion to come. And for that nearly QUARTER OF A TRILLION we have reaped little but death, destruction and almost certainly in the end failure. Our now 22 months in Iraq has managed to kill more than 100,000 Iraqis and more than 1,300 American Soldiers (with tens of thousands of permanently wounded on top of it). We have not, and likely will not, build any kind of stability into that region no matter what Bush and Holy Joe Lieberman proclaim. No matter what we build there it is hardly worth the blood and treasure spent.

Meanwhile, as the cost of our military action skyrockets to unbelievable levels, as this site says...

Two days before Christmas, the media reported that unprecedented U.S. deficits -- caused substantially by the Iraq war, which most of the world hates, and by Bush's tax cuts for wealthy Americans -- had led the Bush administration to cut substantially its previously agreed contributions to world food programs. By going back on its commitments, the Bush administration forced numerous aid agencies to suspend ongoing programs in many impoverished nations -- including, ironically as it would turn out, Indonesia.


Contrast Bush's behavior to that of the world on Sept. 11, 2001, when the United States lost 3,000 people to terrorist attacks. The expressions of grief, support and solidarity from world leaders -- including Asian leaders -- were both abundant and public.

At every step of the way, however, the official U.S. response to this disaster has been seen as grudging. That's not good, especially at a time when much of the world reviles the United States for its unilateral actions in Iraq that have taken such a horrific toll on civilians.

As Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Washington Post, "When that many human beings die -- at the hands of terrorists or nature -- you've got to show that this matters to you, that you care." By its niggling contributions and by Bush's silence, the United States has strongly suggested to the world that it doesn't care all that much.

In this country, we are now seeing popping up on places like FoxNews and right-wing radio all sorts of excuses and justifications.

The United States likes to portray itself as this great "humanitarian" nation, and at times this view is justified. However, as was pointed out by others, as we have become richer, we have become less charitable with our wealth.

The United States has a soft-power (it's perceived benevolence and humanitarianism in the cause of liberty and individual human rights) that for most of our post-World War II history has served us to our great benefit. However, twice we have neglected it in favor of our military arm pushing our policies through overt (as opposed to covert) actions, Vietnam and Iraq. Twice now it has burned us and burned us badly. Even more than LBJ and Nixon, Bush is spending our soft-power like water and the reaction to the disaster in Southeast Asia is just the latest example, always they lay low and try to excuse themselves later.

We are paying the price for this now, and will pay the price even more substantially later.

Bluntly, as the nation possessing far more military and economic power than any nation that ever existed and lacking any real contestant but one we project out and fabricate for the future (i.e. China) we have less need for modern-day Metternichs (Kissingers) and more Kelloggs in our foreign policy.


The New York Times Editorial Board is of the same opinion (if only they were of "the Bobo").

Mr. Egeland was right on target. We hope Secretary of State Colin Powell was privately embarrassed when, two days into a catastrophic disaster that hit 12 of the world's poorer countries and will cost billions of dollars to meliorate, he held a press conference to say that America, the world's richest nation, would contribute $15 million. That's less than half of what Republicans plan to spend on the Bush inaugural festivities.

The American aid figure for the current disaster is now $35 million, and we applaud Mr. Bush's turnaround. But $35 million remains a miserly drop in the bucket, and is in keeping with the pitiful amount of the United States budget that we allocate for nonmilitary foreign aid. According to a poll, most Americans believe the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent.


Making things worse, we often pledge more money than we actually deliver. Victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran, a year ago are still living in tents because aid, including ours, has not materialized in the amounts pledged. And back in 2002, Mr. Bush announced his Millennium Challenge account to give African countries development assistance of up to $5 billion a year, but the account has yet to disperse a single dollar.

Thanks to the NY Times Editorial (there's a rarity) for elucidating something that one will not hear on ANY broadcast network.

I Can't Lose a Close Election, I'm a Republican!!!

Dino Rossi, sounds like a good brand name for a low-priced White Zinfindel, but not the next governor of the State of Washington.

Rossi is not happy (not is the FoxNews Zoo Crew I'm sure) that he has lost a close election in Washington and that the Republican Secretary of State is about to certify the results for his Democratic Opponent Christine Gregoire.

What's his solution?

Let's have another election!

I think it's just terrible that Republicans are allowed to lose elections in this country, what kind of a pretend democracy is this?

Manufactured Comedy

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Jeebus H. Christ Attaturk Where is the Comedy?

I realize that apart from the occasional smarty pants remark within posts I have not put up a series of captions or even a "so-called" comedy piece lately.

I seem to have hit a comedic lull, for some reason the comedy switch has been off for about a week.

But with this Administration and the corporate media the anger switch is always on, so thank god for that.

Plus I've been busy with other things in my life (life beyond this blog? inconceivable!).

So anyway, the snark is apparently still on vacation. I'm sure it will be back soon.

You Know what the Best Thing about Being Correct in Criticizing Bush's Iraqi Adventure?

You get called "unpatriotic" at the beginning.

You are accused of "not supporting the troops" in the middle.

And then, when you turn out to be proven correct, you can look forward to being blamed for losing the war with your original criticisms.

Wonderful how the Right-Wing is horrible at policy, but terrific at framing the debate about their horrible policy.

It's like the Kaiser is back -- without a 'stache and with a usable left-arm.

Laying it Out

Georgie Anne Geyer is one of those shoe-leather reporters that has forgotten more about Foreign Affairs than the Stuffed Flightsuit has ever learned (and then forgotten as well).

She pretty much takes the the Administration's spin about Iraq to the Woodshed:
But in only the last two weeks, American generals and civilian officials are, in fact, admitting that they have their own similar Maginot Line problems. In Mosul, the Iraqi police force has "faded away." American generals speak of a "virtual connectivity" of the insurgents never seen before, as they use the Internet to pass along techniques, tactics and advice to one another. American generals now admit that almost all of them are Iraqis; we have created the Iraqi terrorists who were not there before.

Take only the astoundingly candid analysis, based in part on an interview with Gen. John Abizaid, the senior U.S. military commander in the region, by CNN's excellent Pentagon (news - web sites) correspondent, Barbara Starr, on television last Sunday.

Starr reported: "Senior U.S. military sources in the region tell CNN the city of Mosul has been wracked by violence for weeks. Local Iraqi security forces have virtually melted away, say those officials. One senior U.S. officer tells CNN, we have no Iraqi police force up in Mosul today.

"The problem in getting Iraqis to fight the insurgency may be deeper across Iraq. The military assessment now is that the U.S. miscalculated Iraqi tribal and religious loyalties and did not realize Iraqis are likely to fight only for their brethren ... So in cases like Mosul, they simply will not fight the intimidation of the insurgents, the U.S. now believes."

And remember, until now Mosul was one of our success stories!

Put aside the stunning fact that American officials could not figure out that people anywhere will fight for their families instead of for the foreign invaders; the recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies states that the numbers of trained Iraqi army and police are far below what is required. Only one example: As of Dec. 6, the Pentagon reported that 27,000 trained army troops were needed, but that only 3,428 were listed as "trained/on hand."

Or consider these other warning signs:

American generals now speak in interviews about the "cellular expansion" of the insurgents. They see a constant spread of new, small cells with no clear command and control links that can form quickly, exploit and sacrifice, rather than relying on hard-core or closed, secure cells and forces. The Independent newspaper in London estimates there were at least 190 suicide bombers in the last 12 months (one might pause to think that they had something they believed in to take such a terminal measure).

Officers and diplomats in the area are now changing their time limits. Some are saying that all of 2005 will be a very troubled year, that it will take five to 10 years, even under reasonably effective Iraqi rule, to bring any stability at all, and some are noting that insurgencies usually take 10 to 30 years to play themselves out. The able Gen. Abizaid himself says we are in the middle of a fight against "Salafist jihadists," or Muslim fundamentalists determined to recreate the supposed seventh-century paradise of the Prophet Muhammad himself. He compares it, revealingly, to the long and arduous fight against the utopian Bolsheviks in the 20th century.

"This was to be a satellite war," William Lind, the respected military analyst now at the Free Congress Foundation, told me, "a war laid out on a billiard table against an enemy who plays by our rules." Indeed, the military seems finally to have grasped the absurdity of this naive view and is beginning to stress foreign languages and cultural intangibles.

The truth no one really wants to deal with is that this war could very easily be lost by the United States. All the insurgents have to do is hang on another year. All we have to do is what the French and the British did in their colonies: Let themselves be exhausted and finally destroyed by their hubris, their delusions and their arrogant lack of understanding of the local people.

Our Maginot Lines today are our satellites, our huge bombers, our willingness to destroy a city such as Fallujah without even knowing who's there. Our Maginot minds refuse to see that the Germans sneaking around the French through Belgium to destroy them is disturbingly analogous to the insurgents in Iraq moving in cells from city to city and letting us think we are "winning."

We are being lied to, and we will continue to sow what the Bush Administration has reaped.

But, Geyer is pretty much no longer the mainstream source she used to be as a regular on the News Chat Shows before they became more scream fests and dominated by Tweety and Tweety-like personages.

So in other words our corporate media will find a way not to tell us we were fucked, are fucked, and will continue to be fucked.

There will always be amother celebrity pedophile or a murdered white pregnant woman to fixate upon.

How Dare you Slap his Wrist

Even the mildest form of sanction against the House's main Capo is too much for the majority of the GOP House.

It took less than a decade for the GOP to match the worst of the abuses that occurred in 60 years of Democratic Control of the House, now it appears they are ready to match the Politburo.

Can matching the "Committee of Public Safety" be far behind?

It appears not.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is leaning toward removing the House ethics committee chairman, who admonished House Majority Leader Tom DeLay this fall and has said he will treat DeLay like any other member, several Republican aides said yesterday.

Although Hastert (Ill.) has not made a decision, the expectation among leadership aides is that the chairman, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), long at odds with party leaders because of his independence, will be replaced when Congress convenes next week.

The aides said a likely replacement is Rep. Lamar S. Smith, one of DeLay's fellow Texans, who held the job from 1999 to 2001. Smith wrote a check this year to DeLay's defense fund. An aide said Smith was favored for his knowledge of committee procedure.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

He Can Feel It

The Joementum, that is. Senator Lieberman was in Baghdad licking his finger and holding it ever so carefully to the wind, just not high enough over the sandbags that a sniper could take it off, to determine whether the elections can be held.
"There is a real possibility that this will go off without a real hitch," Lieberman said. "We've got some momentum here that we can encourage and support. It holds some hope of a real breakthrough."

And he ought to know momentum.

Lieberman travelled to Iraq with Senator Mark Dayton on a fact-finding mission. And, evidently, to hold the feet of some of those nervous nellies to the fire.
"Senator Lieberman and I had a pretty clear indication from the deputy prime minister and a couple of his associates that at least some of them may be wanting to find a reason to postpone the election," said Sen. Mark Dayton (news, bio, voting record), D-Minn. "We emphasized that we thought it was imperative that the election be held as scheduled."

Yeah, I mean, if we don't have the elections then we lose our cover on why we're there (at least why we're there NOW). If we leave before elections then the whole enterprise looks like a failure. Jeez. Don't they get it?

Ol' Joe thinks the enterprise might just be working!
"Postponement would be taken as a victory by the terrorists and it would be an infuriating result for the majority of the country that wants to vote," Lieberman said. "Nobody thinks this is going to be perfect or neat, but it will be a beginning, a very credible beginning."

He also met with some troops from his home state whose morale, he reports, is high. So he doesn't want to hear anymore of this carping about armor. Rumsfeld already addressed the issue.
He said he did not hear any soldiers complaining that their vehicles were not fully armored, adding that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld answered that concern earlier this month.

Yeah, the preznit said they would all have their armor by next summer.

Well, I have looked at the statistics on that, and we have stepped up the production of armored Humvees significantly. The other issue is the rearmament of existing -- of vehicles that are now in theater, vehicles that require a different armament structure than that which they initially were manufactured with. And I am told that those vehicles will be armed up by mid-summer of 2005. And what I know is, is that the Defense Department is working expeditiously with private contractors and with our military to get these vehicles armed up.

I sure feel better with Ol' Joe in the Senate. Oh wait, I almost forgot, it's Bush and Rumsfeld that feel better with him in the Senate.

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

The Preznit is now engaged in a debate with bin Laden about what the upcoming elections mean for the soul of Iraq. This is nice, the Preznit of the You-Nita States debating with an indicted terrorist about why the elections should go forward.

"The stakes are clear in this upcoming election," Bush told reporters at his Texas ranch. "It's the difference between the ability for individuals to express themselves and the willingness of an individual to try to impose his dark vision on the world, on the people of Iraq and elsewhere. It's very important that these elections proceed."

In an audiotape broadcast Monday, bin Laden called for a boycott of the election and said the Iraqi vote — for a national assembly to write a constitution — is being held under an interim constitution "imposed by the American occupation" and "infidel" because it did not rely solely on Islamic law.

"Therefore everyone who participates in this election will be considered infidels," bin Laden said.

Bush said bin Laden's vision stands in stark contrast to one viewed by a vast majority of Iraqis — that freedom of expression and the right to vote should prevail in Iraq.

"His vision of the world is where people don't participate in democracy," Bush said. "His vision of the world is where people kill innocent lives in order to affect their behavior and affect their way of living."

His vision is where people don't participate? His vision is where people kill innocent lives. Good Lord is this guy an idiot.

And in a moment you thought existed only in Faranheit 9/11, the Preznit had some sober words on Iraq and the shattered lives throughout Asia.

"The task at hand is to provide as much security as possible for the election officials, as well as for the people inside cities like Mosul, to encourage them to express their will," Bush told reporters at an airplane hangar at his ranch where he appeared to express personally his sorrow for the deadly earthquake and tidal waves in Asia.

No, he didn't give it the old, "Now watch this drive," but when asked about New Year's resolutions, the leader of the free world had something serious to say. (Warning: he doesn't resolve to find a way for peace on earth, food for the poor, or good-will for all people.)

The president wouldn't say whether he had New Year's resolutions, but he said he'd already offered a hint about one. He was referring to a comment he made on Dec. 11 after completing a physical at National Naval Medical Center outside Washington when he bemoaned the fact that his weight had increased to nearly 200 pounds from 194 about 17 months ago.

"My waistline," Bush said as he walked out of the hangar and got in his white pickup truck with his dog Barney.

That is quite an image emblazoned on the old brain, isn't it? There he goes, jolly happy with the state of the world, safe and secure for four more years, with no resolution but to trim a few pounds off his ass. With his dog Barney riding shotgun.

The Depth of the Devastation Grows Exponentially

The number of deaths from the Earthquake & Tsunami is growing exponentially.

On Tuesday the number started at 25,000 and by the end of the day was at 57,000, by the morning it was 67,000 then 80,000.

Now at this moment it has apparently gone over 100,000.
According to the United Nations, the Indonesian Province of Aceh, the nearest land man to the epicenter of the 9.0 earthquake will have a death total of an estimated 80,000 alone.

In the aftermath of the most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history (at least I'm pretty sure it was) Krakatoa, located near the southern portion of the same island, Sumatra, caused a tsunami that killed 36,000. Granted population density was a lot different in 1882, but it gives you a picture of just how historic, tragically historic, this event was.

Recount in Ohio: Bush lead Narrows

Well, well... the repugnicrats in Ohio have still handed the election to their boss (the repugs control almost all state offices -- especially all of the positions that ran the election). After shaking off the amazing surprise, I have to point out that there are still problems with the count and recount in Ohio. Considering the small amount of victory for Chimpy and Trusty, a thorough investigation of Ohio's election procedure (voters in heavily democratic urban areas were never able to cast their ballots due to long lines, insufficient voting machines, incorrect and outdated provisional forms, and questions about eligibility targeting democrats. And not to menion that many voters saw their ballots unfairly discarded). In a New York Times report today, there were numerous problems:

The state has become an emblem of continuing ailments in the nation's electoral process, because of Election Day events like seven-hour lines that drove voters away from the polls, malfunctioning machines, poorly trained poll workers who directed people to the wrong polling places and uneven policies about the use of provisional ballots, which were given to voters whose registration was contested.

The democrats keep pointing out several problems but the repugnicrats refuse to acknowledge that the election was tainted. Surprise, surprise.

Daniel Trevas, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, said Democrats supported the recount but found that county elections officials sometimes ignored requests by recount observers to see rejected absentee and provisional ballots, and were not informed about procedures used to recount and reject ballots.

"Some of these boards did not give us full access during the recount," Mr. Trevas said.

He said that in one county, Clermont County, in southwest Ohio, numerous complaints were filed by Democrats and the two independent parties when access to recount procedures was ignored.

If we can't generate support for impeachment, given the preznits low approval numbers we must attack the legitimacy of his presidency -- which is not hard to imagine given the situation in Iraq, irrational attack on social security to help out Bush's friends in the stock market, regressive tax cuts, corporate give aways, unapologetic handouts to the extreme religious right, etc etc, this presidency is a danger to us and our children.

Fun with Babelfish

For no particular reason, I thought I'd have some fun with language translation as I take a break from my ever profitable business enterprise, known as reality.

See if you can figure out the phrase from the translation:


Il sig. Bush, i vostri pantaloni sono su fuoco.


La liberté est sur la marche.

Oh, and a bonus...

Fritures de liberté.


Aufgabe vollendet

and, another bonus...

Freiheit ist harte Arbeit, aber Arbeit bildet Sie frei.

Let's Get Ready to Rumble II

Last week while I was jonesin' for judges I had a little something to say about Bush's disastrous plan to re-nominate 20 people that failed to get a vote or got fillibustered first term. They were rejected for a reason.

In the hubub over the Dr. Phil appearance with Lil' Russ I neglected to mention that several Democratic senators, including our new leader, showed some chutzpah on this issue over the weekend, sending a big shot across the Frist's bow.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has vowed to tie the Senate into procedural knots if Frist tries to change the filibuster rule. "It will be very difficult to get even the most routine work done in the Senate," Reid spokesman Jim Manley said in an interview Sunday.
But Salazar argued that changing the Senate rules to ensure confirmation of Bush's nominees would wreck any chances for bipartisanship on a range of issues. "It's going to be a bloody fight," he said. "And I would hope it can be avoided."
So far, though, Democrats seem in no mood to back down. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., responded to Bush's plan to renominate the 20 judicial candidates by accusing Bush of ignoring the Senate's constitutional role to provide "advice and consent" on presidential nominees.

"This opening shot shows he will only be happy if every judge is approved. which is not what the Founding Fathers intended," Schumer said.

This is exactly the message Democratic senators should be sending. It is not up to the minority party to compromise or meet the majority party halfway. The Republicans' definition of compromise has been "do what we want, or else." Well I say screw that; we have nothing more to lose by losing. It is time to stand and be counted. No compromise for the sake of compromise. We do so only where it is good for the country and the people we represent. We stand on principle. We enunciate a clear message and plan on the important issues. We stand in stark contrast to the so-called values they espouse. We are on the right side of history. Let them do in blink of an eye what it took the Democrats to do in two generations. We help them implode under the weight of their own arrogance.

Opportunity Knocks

Never one to miss a beat, I noticed that the cable news stations, websites, and newspapers have taken the time to tell the story of supermodel Petra Nemcova who was injured in the tsunami disaster. Her photographer boyfriend Simon Atlee is among the missing.

While devoting a paragraph or two to Nemcova's tale, the stories all carry an ample supply of Nemcova's photographs for Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue, where she is pictured cavorting upon beautiful beaches barely dressed.

Normally, I have no objections to such photographs, but the words tasteless and exploitive come to mind.

While, at the moment, 67,000 non-celebrities now lay dead and likely tens of thousands more are to be added, CNN on its front page manages to squeeze in this headline:

Tsunamis Shatter Celebrity Holidays

Well, thank god they are able to put this disaster in terms those who read People magazine can comprehend!

Meanwhile in man-made Seismic Disturbances

The insurgents continue to show organization and sophistication. Ugh!

At least 25 Iraqi police officers died when a house they were searching exploded in western Baghdad Tuesday night, Baghdad police said.

Several civilians also died, although it is not clear how many, police said.

Initial evidence suggested the police walked into a trap set by insurgents who lured them into a gun battle near the house at about 8:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. ET).

Police decided to enter the house two hours later after an anonymous caller told them it was an insurgent hideout, a police official said.

Explosives inside the house ignited just as police entered it, killing the police and civilians, a police official said.

If you have a minute

The wonderful writer Simon Winchester has a brief essay in the NY Times concerning the geologic activity of the earth and its possible interconnectedness.

You may have heard of some of Winchester's books include The Professor and the Madman and The Map that Changed the World, but the most recent was Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded which caused him some familiarity with geologic phenomena, especially in the region where the earthquake (off Sumatra) occurred.

Just a Quick Point

Taking a break from politics, I'd like to say I love the LOTR Movies, and I do. I thought Return of the King Extended Edition was even better than the theatre edition.

However, there are limits.

For some reason I take solace from this photo in regard to my standing in the world.

Cheap Shot

After attempting to blame Clinton for all manner of policy matters, yesterday the Bush Administration came dangerously close to blaming him for Acts of God.

After saying they will up their paltry offer of $15 million to $35 million for the relief effort in regard to the horrible earthquake/tsunami disaster in the Northern Indian Ocean, the White House attempted to justify the stuffed flightsuits continuing adventures in leisure.

After a day of repeated inquiries from reporters about his public absence, Bush late yesterday afternoon announced plans to hold a National Security Council meeting by teleconference to discuss several issues, including the tsunami, followed by a short public statement.

Bush's deepened public involvement puts him more in line with other world figures. In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder cut short his vacation and returned to work in Berlin because of the Indian Ocean crisis, which began with a gigantic underwater earthquake. In Britain, the predominant U.S. voice speaking about the disaster was not Bush but former president Bill Clinton, who in an interview with the BBC said the suffering was like something in a "horror movie," and urged a coordinated international response.

Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling. Explaining the about-face, a White House official said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' "

Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role.

Okay, that last paragraph has two huge head-shaking moments.

First, what the fuck is wrong with expressing sympathy in the face of a huge tragedy? Jiminy jeebus, faux sympathy and gratuitous grandstanding (on top of rubble his inattention reaped no less) got the Chimp elected for once in November (maybe). You think he'd appreciate the power of a gesture, even if he did not mean it (Clinton did mean it, but then for all his faults he was no cipher).

Second, "actions speak louder than words"? Wrap yourselves around that one as a defense proclaimed by the Bush Administration.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Politics of Death

Over at Eschaton Atrios has made some hay over the stingy amount of aid offered ($15m) for the recovery after the earthquake and tidal waves (Apparently we have added $20m more to that number) and is comparing that amount with the cost of the inaugural festivities. The gala, not including beefed up security, will cost $40m. That is a lot of party, people.

Well the latest number out of Asia is over 50,000 dead and I would venture a guess that we are still a long way off from the peak on the number of deaths directly related to the disaster.

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - Mourners in Sri Lanka used their bare hands to dig graves Tuesday while hungry islanders in Indonesia turned to looting in the aftermath of Asia's devastating tsunamis. Thousands more bodies were found in Indonesia, dramatically increasing the death toll across 11 nations to more than 52,000.

But the ministry said it had not yet counted deaths along the inundated and shattered towns of Sumatra's western coast, which soldiers and rescue workers were unable so far to reach — including the district of Meulaboh, where earlier the head of another agency estimated that 10,000 people were killed.

When those regions are included in the ministry count, the death toll could rise dramatically yet again

And we spend something like $5.8 billion per month in Iraq. Read it again, and compare. $15 million total for disaster aid and something on the order of $200 million per day in Iraq.

A smart politician would turn this to an advantage. Really, what the fuck is he doing have big inaugural galas with 140,000 soldiers' asses on the line in Iraq alone? The prospects for meaningful peace look less likely with every passing day. There are tens of thousands dead in Asia and countless more devastated by homelessness, disease, and without the barest essentials for living. And he wants to have a party.

Really it fits this guy's pattern. He has earned political capital and is going to spend some of it on a little shindig in HIS honor. Is it any wonder he is so loathed by so many?

I'm Back Baby

For those of you who read this blog, you may have noticed that Attaturk is back to blogging having survived "X-Mas" (just to piss off conservatives) with my FoxNews watching family.

I see that Champollion was discussing Li'l Russ & Dr. Phil chatting with each other, James Wolcott seems to have chipped in too, along with others.

I did not watch it and for the sheer fatuousness of it all, I'm sorry I missed it.

Tell me, did we find out that Big Russ liked spankin'?

A little too much?

Any inappropriate touching?

Did we find out that Big Russ, Li'l Russ, and Li'ler Russ all have 9 or more of the 14 characteristics of a serial killer?

I'm Not Nostradamus

But I feel confident in predicting limited coverage of Susan Sontag's death on FoxNews, unless one counts metaphorically pissing on a person's grave.

Over at the NY Post Dick Morris will soon comment that Hillary Clinton is going to take advantage of Sontag's passing by claiming to be America's foremost feminine essayist.

One Month and Counting

Lest it falls off the front pages of this blog I wanted to take this space for a reminder: Hell is still on fire.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents launched multiple attacks on Iraqi police across the dangerous Sunni Triangle on Tuesday, killing 24 people — including 19 policemen — a day after the major Sunni Muslim political party pulled out of the Jan. 30 elections citing the deteriorating security situation.
Also Tuesday, a militant group claimed to have executed eight Iraqi employees of the Sandi Group, American security company, saying they had supported the U.S.-led occupation.

Twelve policemen died when gunmen attacked a station 12 miles south of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s hometown, said Arkan Mohammed, a local government official.

A car bomb killed five Iraqi National Guardsmen and injured 26 near Baqouba, a town 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, after the paramilitary troops had cordoned off an area in order to disarm a roadside bomb, said Maj. Neal O'Brien.

In Baqouba itself, unidentified gunmen assassinated Capt. Na'em Muhanad Abdullah, a local police commander, and wounded three other men, a spokesman said.

Elsewhere Tuesday, a car bomb exploded in the village of Muradiya, 18 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing five civilians and wounding dozens, said Dr. Ahmed Fouad of the Baqouba General Hospital.

In Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, a gunman attacked a police station in the northeastern Hadbaa district, said police Capt. Ahmed Khalil. One policeman died in the attack.

Earlier this year, before the insurgency really took hold, it seemed wildly improbable that meaningful elections could be held in January. Now it seems a fool's errand. The major Sunni party thinks so as well as it is pulling out of the elections.
In another blow to plans to hold the ballot as scheduled, the largest Sunni political group withdrew from the race Monday, only hours after a suicide car bomber killed 15 people in Baghdad in an attempt to assassinate the head of Iraq (news - web sites)'s strongest Shiite party.

Can't you just hear the sanctimonious blather of the motherfuckers that started this mess? Accompanied by John Ashcroft singing his victory hymn "Let the Eagle Soar!" Anyone for a hasty retreat?

Abominations of the Mass Media

Something on par with the Bush Administration's clear use of torture and subsequent cover-up and denial of such use, is the failure of the mass media to adequately reveal that fact.

'Tis the story of our SCLM to only give us as policy positive a spin for the Administration as possible under the circumstances.

Here's the latest example:

The CIA is refusing to disclose any information about abuse of detainees in Afghanistan and at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, invoking a legal precedent that involved a secret project by billionaire Howard Hughes to recover a sunken Soviet nuclear submarine in the 1970s.

The CIA allegedly oversaw interrogations of top-level detainees, and some investigators think the agency's tactics are at the heart of the question of whether the Bush administration has authorized torture. But nearly all the disclosures concerning abuses have come from other agencies, including the Pentagon and the FBI.

The CIA traditionally has invoked special protections aimed at shielding its intelligence-gathering operations, but the American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing to obtain the records, and some independent observers think the agency's insistence on secrecy is inappropriate in this instance.

Megan Lewis, a lawyer for the ACLU, said she would file an objection in early January to the CIA's efforts to avoid scrutiny.


The agency's response stands in stark contrast to the FBI, which issued a series of e-mails describing agents' outrage at witnessing physical and mental harm inflicted on detainees at Guantanamo and in Iraq, often during interrogation sessions. Among the items sought from the CIA:

An alleged memorandum issued in late 2001 from the Justice Department to the CIA setting boundaries for interrogations in the light of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

From December 2001, alleged photographs, documents, and materials said to depict mistreatment of Lindh while in the custody of the Defense Department or the CIA.

An alleged memo from the Justice Department from August 2002 specifying interrogation methods that the CIA may use against top Al Qaeda members.

An alleged study from September 2002 by the CIA raising questions on the significance of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Alleged communications from 2002 and 2003 among CIA, FBI, and Defense Intelligence Agency officials about the questioning of the most important detainees and the use of new tactics such as "physical roughing up; sensory, food, and sleep deprivation"; and a water pit in which detainees must stand on tiptoe to keep from drowning, according to a June 2004 article in Newsweek.

A directive allegedly signed by President Bush that grants the CIA authority to set up detention facilities outside the United States.

Lewis said the ACLU is certain to challenge the CIA's use of the Glomar case to shield the alleged documents. She singled out the legal memos about the torture convention as particularly egregious.

The memos "look like particularly inappropriate uses of the Glomar response because they are basically legal analyses of laws against torture and the use of certain harsher interrogation techniques, which on its face does not look like it would compromise national security," Lewis said.

"They're just using [Glomar] to withhold these documents and to protect themselves. And it's very hard for anyone on the outside to pierce that veil. They just said, 'We can't confirm or deny it exists.' "

We, for three, refused to bow down to our corporate media overlords and enablers.

That's why we have those all powerful 1,000 hits a day. Aren't we the shit?

A Future of Seeking out Common Interest...

How much longer can our President continue to allow himself to be closely allied with a nation of heathen socialists?

PEOPLE who believe God exists are now a minority in Britain, a survey claimed yesterday.

According to a poll by YouGov, just 44 per cent believe in God compared to 77 per cent in 1968.

A majority - 81 per cent - also believe the country is becoming more secular, with fewer people going to places of worship.

But among this percentage, 68 per cent of believers and 14 per cent of non-believers, regretted that society was becoming less religious.

Only a third of the 1,981 people who took part in the online survey believe in heaven and even fewer believe in the devil. Just a quarter think hell exists. Fewer than half, 43 per cent, believed their souls would outlast their bodily life.

Young people especially are significantly less religious than older generations, with more than a third saying they were agnostics or atheists.

Among middle-aged people and the elderly, the figure is far smaller, according to YouGov.

One in four who were asked whether or not they believed in God, replied "don't know".

Surely, we can find common ground amongst conservative theologians who believe strongly in the power of a single, all-powerful, pissed off and bitter God?

We go all the way with Yahweh.

How Democracy in the United States Works

Another poll that in a polity that actually encouraged a discussion of policy in its press would leave one truly scratching their head.

From the LA Times:

Despite a clear-cut reelection and the prospect of lasting GOP dominance in Congress, President Bush prepares to start his second term with the lowest approval ratings of any just-elected sitting president in half a century, according to new surveys.

Gee, I hate to get things off to a bad start with this article, but I contest the words "clear cut", and the words should be MORE than half a century. I hate to teach basic math to the LA Times, but half a century is 1954, that is Ike's first year...he was pretty damn popular. They are referring to Truman, in late 1948, that would be 56 years ago.

A Gallup survey conducted for CNN and USA Today puts Bush's approval rating at 49% — close to his preelection numbers. That's 10 to 20 points lower than every elected sitting president at this stage since just after World War II, according to Gallup, which has been tabulating such data since Harry S. Truman won a full term in 1948.

Bush's Gallup rating echoed a survey published last week by ABC News and the Washington Post, which put his approval rating at 48%. That poll also found that 56% of Americans believed the Iraq war was not worth fighting. Time magazine also put Bush's overall approval at 49%.

"The question is, what happened to the honeymoon?" asked Frank Newport, editor of the Gallup survey.

David Winston, a Republican pollster who advises the Senate leadership, said, "Communications up front is going to be as important as any task that they have at this point. There is a lot of important messaging that this administration is going to have to do in January and in February. It's taking the issues and the agenda and beginning to set it up in a way that the American public has a clear understanding of the direction he's going to go."

All this "gee whizzery, what's the deal?" ignores the self-evident fact of how the GOP gets themselves elected and reelected.

They played on peoples' base instinct of fear and resentment, the twin dopplegangers of a lazy and ignorant electorate. They won by playing those fears off the electorate and portraying Kerry, the decorated War Hero (as opposed to Bush, the man who found Canada via Texas) into a wuss.

There is not a single major policy achievement of the Bush Administration that has come to positive fruition -- but they sure sound good to those who lead with their lower brain fuctions of aggressiveness. What success have they had? Even their political victories are policy disasters.

I have no doubt that Bush will cruise along at this level of relative unpopularity for another couple years until November 2006, without reaching the meltdown point. The question is, my fellow Democrats and Progressives, how do we turn the tables and manage to overcome the "ID" of the electorate into a populace that faces up to the fact that they are being sold a bill of goods that rationality can reveal? If we do so, Bush will become a massive political liability and the GOP tossed out on their collective asses for a generation.

We obviously are not going to get any help from the mass media, as the Social Security debate is providing.

"Sophistication" comes to Branson

To be appearing on the marquee of the Yakov Smirnov 'Wadda Country' Theatre in Branson, Missouri, February 2009, "George & Laura Bush's Amazing Technicolor Freedom Marching Experience and Tub Band".

"Lump, You stuff my Tux"

Freedom is on the March, has left the building

You know for a guy awful opposed to abortion, Dubya sure seems to have a penchant for stillborn birthing of democracies.

The largest political party representing Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority announced Monday that it would drop out of the Jan. 30 election, dealing a fresh blow to the vote's credibility on the same day the top Shiite Muslim candidate survived a car bombing.

The withdrawal of the Iraqi Islamic Party, combined with the assassination attempt on cleric Abdul Aziz Hakim, heightened concerns that the parliamentary election may produce a lopsided result, further alienating Sunni areas where the armed insurgency is growing.


Yesterday, bin Laden sprouted up again (undoubtedly in a bid to replace Dick Clark for this year's "Rockin' New Years Eve") to call those taking part 'infidels'. Meanwhile, Colin Powell urged Sunnis to take part. I know but a little of Iraqi history and politics, which makes me more qualified than every breathing neo-Con but I imagine bin Laden's zealotry and ham-handedness does the United States more good than bad with the Shia in Iraq.

Good thing we invaded. Wouldn't want to create a mess or anything.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Bush the Uniter doing the Uniting Thing

I know that Attaturk mentioned this on December 23 (read below), but I believe it bears repeating.

Bush to push rejected judicial nominees. Imagine if Clinton or Carter had tried to do that. Of course, he could just appoint them while congress is out of session or... wait, he did that for some rejected judicial nominees already? Nuts.

Rumsfeld illustrates Administration Decisiveness

Apparently in a speech to troops today, Rumsfeld raises the spectre of conspiracy in a can. I thought that the rhetoric was that the brave men and women of United Airlines flight 93 fought the terrorist and forced the plane to crash into a field. If this is still true, what an insult to those men and women and their families! Now, what? Hell of a misstatement, don't you all think? Read this:

From CNN:

In the speech, Rumsfeld made a passing reference to United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to stop al Qaeda hijackers.

But in his remarks, Rumsfeld referred to the "the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania."

A Pentagon spokesman insisted that Rumsfeld simply misspoke, but Internet conspiracy theorists seized on the reference to the plane having been shot down.

See we shot the plane down, no wait... the brave men and women forced a crash, no...uh in an act of strategery we shot the plane down... aw, hell... I don't know... can we talk about scrap metal???!!!

Even if he misspoke, let us all consider that this is the man who is overseeing the military efforts today. Aren't we engaged in a life and death conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan not to mention other places around the world where we face a new and perpetual terrorist threat? Perhaps factual knowledge and the ability to effectively communicate might be a wee bit important to our ability to protect ourselves.

Of course, that is someone else's job, isn't it?