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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Wherein TBogg Gives 2008 Presidential Candidate Dick Cheney a Lesson in the Bleeding Fucking Obvious

“For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don’t take them seriously.” - Big Dick Cheney



Deep Throat Comes Out of the Closet?

W. Mark Felt, former number 2 guy at the FBI, has identified himself as "Deep Throat." Bob Woodward, who has long said he won't reveal Deep Throat's name until after he dies, refuses to confirm.

Felt has long been on a list of potential candidates, but he's never been flashy enough to draw the attention that Pat Buchanan or Rehnquist did. Others have believed that Deep Throat was a composit, and that would mean that Felt was simply one of many.

My feeling is that even if Felt is Deep Throat, Woodward and Bernstein won't confirm it until he is dead. I've suspected for a while that Woodward has big plans for that event that largely center around Bob Woodward, and he's not about to share the spotlight with anyone else.


Monday, May 30, 2005

When Georgie Lies, the Press Complies

If WMDs are ever found I expect it will be in my sofa, where the dogs have managed to bury just about everything else (I'm pretty sure Jimmy Hoffa is in there somewhere). But the minutes of a secret July 2002 meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security officials, recently unearthed by the London Times, indicate that BushCo. wasn't interested in my dogs' plans for fine furniture before going to war. According to Rep. John Conyers:
If true, these assertions indicate that not only had our nation secretly and perhaps illegally agreed to go to war by the summer of 2002, but that we had gone on to take specific and tangible military actions before asking Congress or the United Nations for authority.

Thus, while there is considerable doubt as to whether the U.S. had authority to invade Iraq, given, among other things, the failure of the U.N. to issue a follow-up resolution to the November 8, 2002 Resolution 1441, it would seem that the act of engaging in military action via stepped up bombing raids that were not in response to an actual or imminent threat before our government asked for military authority would be even more problematic from a legal as well as a moral perspective.
Conyers is taking his case to the people and is seeking 100,000 signatures on a letter he hopes to present to Fearless Leader in person, in which he asks for information on intelligence "being fixed" to present a case for war in Iraq. You can sign it here. And a group called After Downing Street is a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups and other political activist groups who are urging Congress to launch a formal investigation into whether BushCo. has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. They are acting as something of a clearing house for information on the effort, and you can find more about them here.

David Sirota has a good bit today recounting the outrage that Washingtonians felt about Bill Clinton's blow job, none of which seems to be in evidence regarding BushCo's blatant lies about Iraq:
If ever there was proof that these people are completely and totally out of touch with the rest of the country, this is it. And it will only get worse - the Washington Post is apparently going to run two "jumbo" stories on the Clinton lies, while continuing to relegate Iraq to the back pages. Because to insulated Beltway elites, lying about a personal sex scandal is more offensive than American troops dying for a pack of lies in Iraq.
The dogs have said that if you write your Congressperson and tell them to put the wood to this one they promise to release Judge Crater.


Universal Health Care -- Brought To You By Exxon-Mobil

A recent article in the NYT announces that a variety of groups has banded together, including the AMA, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, The AFL/CIO and other labor unions, as well as members of Big Pharma to urge federal policymakers to take a "pragmatic approach" and take "incremental steps" to address the health care crisis in the US.

Talk about a deal with the devil.

Over at the Mahablog, Barbara says:
I've long believed that, someday, there'd be a tipping point.  Someday, when a big-enough chunk of middle-class Americans began to worry about their own access to health care, then people would listen. We'd be able to get past the noise about waiting lines in Canada and persuade Americans we don't have to put up with this.
But I think others correctly point out that government does not generally respond to public opinion, it acts when Big Business tells it to act. While many would argue that General Motors is suffering because of a complete lack of corporate responsiveness to what consumers want, they think they're being crippled by health care costs. Companies who traditionally pay health care benefits feel they are being hamstrung when they have to compete with the bottom lines generated by monoliths like WalMart who let taxpayers and public social services pick up all their health care expenses.

When BushCo. started banging the drum to privatize social security, my brother-in-law made an interesting observation to the effect that what the program REALLY needed was a big middle man akin to the role played by insurance companies in the health care industry. Basically a huge chunk of every dollar spent on health care in this country is being skimmed by people whose only job is to shuffle paperwork and reject coverage for all but the healthy. And there is absolutely, positively nothing "incremental" that can fix that.

In the end, we'll all have universal health care when GM decides we will. But if policy is being dictated by people who are largely responsible for the problem in the first place, expect the price tag to be enormous and any benefit to the public incidental.

(photo courtesy stock.xchng)


Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

I keep having the same conversation over and over again these days questioning the existence of a real estate bubble, and when -- and if -- it will burst. The short answer is, of course, that I have absolutely no idea. But periodically I read interesting things in the blog world on the subject, and the sage Barry Ritholtz at The Big Picture has several articles recently worth reading.

Barry notes that the most dangerous factor in all of this is not that interest rates will rise, so much as people will become unemployed and not be able to service their debt:
It's not the leverage, but the ability to service the debt that causes problems. A potentially negative scenario is the Fed tightens too far, inducing a recession. Something else goes wrong - theoretically, China stops buying our Treasuries, and that forces the Fed to become a buyer of last resort (think Bernanke's printing press). Next thing you know, we have hyperinflation, large-scale unemployment, and a housing market off 50%."
He then goes on to cite statistics which demonstrate that from 2001 to April 2005, an astonishing 43% of all private sector jobs created have been housing related. But after the Fed started raising interest rates in June 2004, real estate-related job creation plummeted 68.2%. The implications are not good:
Barring a sudden rise in organic job creation over the next 6 to 9 months, this cycle will have run its course -- my guess is late 2005/early 2006.
Elsewhere, he compares the present housing market to the stock speculation of the late 90s. He notes that the stock markets peaked when their valuation equaled 140% of GDP, which is right where the real estate market is now:

He then goes on to quote the work of Merrill Lynch economist David Rosenberg on the topic:
As David observes, a good rule-of-thumb is "to be wary when anything begins to approach or exceed 140% of GDP." (We assume that includes the New York Yankees' payroll.) He ticks off the various arguments bulls cite as explanation for the great surge in housing and house prices (the latter, incidentally, rose a tidy 11% last year), such as low interest rates, the availability of credit, demographic pressures, a rising tide of immigration -- but remains skeptical.

He points out that "much of the move in real-estate valuation has not been due to income generation, per se, but rather due to loose financial-market conditions and an increasing level of exuberance."

He confesses that he gets "nervous when we see things move parabolically north because no asset class at any time ever failed to mean-revert after such an upside move." And, while acknowledging he has been bearish on housing for a spell now, points out that just because a bubble "hasn't burst doesn't mean it doesn't exist."

Warns David, "bubbles and baths usually go together." And so, we might add, do burst bubbles and tears.
One of the more interesting speculations I heard (and I don't remember where it came from) attributed Bush's big push to privatize Social Security to an attempt to infuse the stock markets with a lot of cash and thus create another bubble to take the place of the housing bubble (okay, Barry, "extended asset class") that will most certainly burst. It certainly makes sense, in a self-sabotaging Bushian economic sort of way.

I'm curious to know what everyone thinks. I realize it won't generate the heated debate that speculation about what's tattooed on Michael Jackson's gonads most certainly will, but since we're all going to be affected by it I'd like to know what plans, if any, you're making for whatever eventuality you foresee.

(photo courtesy stock.xchng)


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Danica Patrick Rocks the House at Indy

Danica suggests the real reason why Robby is afraid of losing to a girl.

- Dave at 100 Monkeys Typing (via TBogg)

Update: Robby Gordon sure knows how to back his mouth up with results -- he SUCKED ASS and finished 27th today in the Coca Cola 600. There was not a woman in sight.


Robby Gordon is a Big Fat Cry-Baby, and You Can Tell Him I Said So

If your family doesn't have much overlap between the categories of "cousin" and "in-laws," you might be at a bit of a disadvantage watching today's Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600. In my family staring at cars as they drive around in circles for hours on end is always welcomed as an activity not usually involving gunfire, although until someone crashes it's only slightly more interesting than watching my Cousin Ronald's gun vault sink slowly through the floorboards of the living room and into the basement.

Anyway, one of the notable events this year at Indy is the 4th-place qualifying spot won by Danica Patrick, only the fourth woman ever to start at Indy. She very nearly finished first save for a slight wobble during practice, which would've given her pole position.

Veteran driver Robby Gordon, however, is not exactly overflowing with good sportsmanship, and thinks that the only reason Patrick qualified so high is because of her unfair weight advantage.

"The lighter the car, the faster it goes," Gordon said. "Do the math. Put her in the car at her weight, then put me or Tony Stewart in the car at 200 pounds and our car is at least 100 pounds heavier."

"I won't race against her until the IRL does something to take that advantage away."

Oh where do we start.

Robby Gordon is a bloated egomaniac of Trumpian proportions who races both Indy and NASCAR, and in four previous years he's pulled the superb publicity stunt each Memorial Day of racing at Indy, then jumping in a helicopter, flying to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte and racing the Coca-Cola 600.

In almost every race, he stunk up the track:

1997 - Indy 29, Coke 41; 2002 - Indy 8, Coke 16; 2003 Indy 22, Coke 17; 2004 - Indy 29, Coca Cola 20.

This year has been particularly hard. As a co-owner of Robby Gordon Motorsports, he was fined $50,000 and docked 25 championship points, the most severe penalty for violations at Daytona, for an unapproved intake manifold. Then in April, he was fined $5,000 at Martinsville when inspectors found an unapproved deck lid.

As one fan site puts it:
These modifications are the steroids of NASCAR, tempting because of the high stakes and possibilities of improved performance. Let’s make sure the winners win because of driving skill, not because of performance enhancements that got past the inspectors.
Gordon hasn't had a win on either circuit this year. As another commentator noted, "Robby Gordon comes to mind as one of the biggest losers so far this season."

So instead of saying "you know what, I should just focus on winning one race rather than screwing up two in an expensive annual publicity stunt," he blames his pull-out on the girl. Classy. Face it, lardo -- they pushed back the start time at Indy this year just so it became virtually impossible for people like you and Tony Stewart to race both. Tony Kanaan, who qualified first at Indy and is the odds-on favorite to win, weighs 145 lbs. Let's see you stop shoveling cheeseburgers into your mouth and stick your face in front of a camera and tell everyone the reason he's kicking your ass is because of his weight.

Some asshole is always screaming that women shouldn't be able to to this or shouldn't be able to do that because we're smaller, lighter, have less upper body strength, blah blah blah. Finally our smaller size works to our advantage, and some new asshole has to come shrieking out of a vast wasteland of bungled fraud and incompetence to excuse his own ineptitude by saying that advantage is unfair. Because, you know, making illegal modifications to your car is just what -- good sportsmanship? Here, Robby. Have some more bacon fat to go with those biscuits and gravy.

Even the faithful aren't buying it:
Weight is simply one tiny factor in the complex speed puzzle that encompasses everything from chassis-engine combination to the direction of the wind. She has a first-rate team, a fast car and phenomenal skill at the wheel.

Weight also is less of a factor at Indy, where a driver is flat on the throttle much of the day, than it would be on a road course, with all its accelerating and hard braking.
Danica Patrick is driving really well. Robby Gordon is a whiny little bitch. And if driver weight is so important, his tellingly porcine visage indicates that the IRL aren't the ones who need to get to work.

Update: With 23 laps to go Danica's in first place. I swear to God, no shit I'm in tears.

Update 2: Finishing Indy in 4th as a rookie. That's fucking awesome. As noted automotive writer John Pearley Huffman says, "An amazing run for Danica Patrick. Epic. She blew a pit stop and knocked off her nose and still challenges for the win. An unbelieavable feat."


Saturday, May 28, 2005

But We Absolutely Draw the Line at Desecrating the Koran

From the US Marine Corp web site, via The Liberal Avenger.


Lazy Saturday Meme Blogging


The Disgruntled Chemist passed me this meme:

Three names you go buy (that won't give away your identity): I guess I'm not much of a nickname person, a couple of people in my past have called me "Janie" but it never really stuck.

Three screen names you've had: I occasionally borrow the dog's names -- Kobe Rose (Kobe's name is Kobe Matisse Rose, but I only gave him the Kobe part, he came with the rest), Katie Nichols (because of our house in Nichols Canyon), and LucyDogg. I try not to say anything that would embarrass them.

Three physical things you like about yourself: Since the question is pointedly about things that I like, not what other people like, that narrows it down -- I have good skin, a small waist and nice hands.

Three physical things you don't like about yourself: Thin hair, short legs, and the natural coloring of Sissy Spacek in a blizzard.

Three parts of your heritage: Irish, German and Cherokee Indian.

Three things you are wearing right now: Loony Tunes t-shirt, Ugg boots and a sports bra.

Three favorite bands/musical artists: Today? Ralph Stanley, Sonny Rollins and the Velvet Underground. It will be different tomorrow. Maybe even later today.

Three favorite songs: Oh that's just too hard. How about three songs I'm loving right now? The Jeff and Vida Band's Blessed But Not Favored, The Czars' Paint the Moon, and Tammy Faye Starlight's Highway 69.

Three things you want in a relationship: Love of dogs (specifically MY dogs), natural antipathy to Tucker Carlson, ability to clear a jammed vacuum cleaner.

Three physical things about the preferred sex that appeals you: Healthy appetite, thoughtful expression, stronger than me (I don't want to have to do all the heavy lifting).

Three of your favorite hobbies: cooking, quilting, pyromania.

Three things you want to do really badly right now: Own a luxury SUV that gets 50 mpg, finish my paintings that are due on Tuesday, spoon with Katie.

Three things that scare you: Big ships, "family values," large gatherings of white people.

Three of your everyday essentials: Coffee and a muffin with Kobe, tennis ball launcher, high-speed internet.

Three careers you have considered/are considering: Trapeze artist, roller derby queen, putting out oil well fires.

Three place you want to go on vacation: Chandigahr, Brasilia, Machu Picchu.

Three kids' names you like: Stromille, Lattrell, Moochie.

Three things you want to do before you die: Have a one-woman gallery show in New York, teach the dogs to sit when someone comes to the door, bake pies with Patti Smith.

Three ways you are stereotypically a boy: I eat fast food, love basketball and hate to ask for directions.

Three ways you are stereotypically a girl: I feel guilty about eating fast food, watch basketball for its soap-opera qualities and will eventually break down and admit I don't know where I am..

Three celeb crushes: Nick Lea, Ed Harris, George Lynch (of the Hornets, not Dokken).

I guess it's my turn to pass it on, so I'll hand it off to J. Crowley at Enter the Jabberwock, the guys at Alternate Brain (who will write about their cool wives, I like that) and Mark at Recidivist Journals (because I think we need the unabashedly gay Brit voice here, and also because he has an excellent vocabulary).


Portrait of a Senator as a Major Chump

Remember John Thune (R-SD) and the suckers citizens of South Dakota who railroaded Tom Daschle out of the Senate on the word of Bill Frist who said he'd use his clout to keep Ellsworth airforce base open if Thune was elected? Thune himself claimed he'd "have the President's ear." Well, when the latest round of base closings were announced, it looks like his ear wasn't the part of his anatomy that Fearless Leader made available to Thune. At the top of the list? Yep, Ellsworth.

There aren't a lot of political options open to a freshman senator, so Thune is flexing his muscle in the only way he can -- he's turning obstructionist. Although Thune told Mr. Yell-o-vision in April that he thought Bolton was the man for the UN job, he announced Friday that he would not support the nomination, and alluded to the fact that it was in protest over the Ellsworth closing. He's also joining the efforts of Olympia Snow to introduce legislation forcing the Pentagon to release data behind the recommended base closings, which obviously means that I wasn't the only one who suspects the specifics of the closings were at the very least equal parts politics and pragmatism.

And although Mary Landreiu (D-LA) was one of three Democrats who voted for cloture yesterday on the Bolton nomination, she announced Friday that she would vote "no" on the nomination if it came to an up or down vote, based on Bolton's "pattern of poor judgment and inappropriate behavior." The time Harry Reid bought when he hoodwinked Frist on Thursday seems to be working in the Democrats' favor.

But over at, there was an interesting conversation on the curious absence of Arlen Spector (R-PA) when the Senate voted for cloture. He took off to go have chemotherapy, but he didn't seem to tell Bill Frist, who held the vote from closing for 50 minutes while they tried to find Specter. Some are speculating that Specter bailed so that fellow moderates didn't have to vote in open defiance of the White House to assure that the Bolton nomination went down.

Which means that if the moderate Republicans were also conspiring behind Frist's back in addition to Harry Reid's superb bluff (lying to him about the number of Democrats in support of cloture) it's no wonder the eminent Doctor and erstwhile cat killer looked so gobsmacked when he came up 4 votes short. Prospects for Frist 2008 must be looking awfully dim with BushCo. commanding him to piss up a rope while so many factions are vying for the opportunity to mount his head on a pole.

This is definitely turning into the best spectator sporting event of the season.


Friday, May 27, 2005

This Week in Dog: The Tragic Brain Death of Britney Spears

The poodles have been quite atwitter this week on the news that poor Britney Spears' boobs have finally exploded and the silicone has made its way to her brain stem.

Lucy (seen above) suspected some encephalopathy (swelling of the brain) when Britney first uttered those fateful words in Farenheit 9/11, "Honestly, I think we should just trust our President." But when details began to emerge that she routinely sent her private jet cross country solely for the purpose of fetching coffee from West Hollywood's Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Katie argued for damage from cerebral anoxia, due to the fact that she also exhibited all the indicators of Gerstmann's Syndrome -- difficulty in writing (agraphia), difficulty with mathematics (acalculia), distortions of language (aphasia) and the inabililty to perceive objects normally (agnosia). Or, countered Lucy, she might just be really, really stupid.

But with the recent news that Britney has given her dog Lucky away because her new husband Kevin Federline did not like him, Kobe has convinced us all that nothing short of a silicone coating of the brain that prohibited any kind of neural activity whatsoever could possibly account for such symptoms. Katie and Lucy applauded Kobe's bold and comprehensive theory, which is really the only way to explain how anyone with the capacity to chew gum and walk erect would want to be in close extended proximity with a man who was incapable of forging a relationship with a chihuaua.

Once again, their mom wonders at the remarkable compassion of the young bodhisattavas. She herself thinks the dithering princess of pap should be cast into some dysphoric bardo of hell where she is forced to listen to her own music.


GOP = Grossly Out Played

Harry Reid is one hell of a poker player. He's been drawing to a nothing hand while Bill Frist's holding a full boat, and yet the Democrats walked away with a big-ass pile o' political chips yesterday when they managed to keep the Bolton confirmation from coming to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

In the NY Times, the Republicans are claiming that Reid faked Frist out, told him that there were in fact enough Democratic votes for cloture (closing the debate and sending the nomination for an up-or-down vote) which is why Frist called for it. To which, if true, I give my best Nelson Muntz "Ha-ha." Frist now looks like a fool and wound up having to vote himself against cloture since only someone who voted with the prevailing side can move to reconsider.

The final vote tally was a comfortable 56-42 (the Republicans needed 60), with Harry Reid able to let Pryor, Landrieu and Ben Nelson off-leash to vote against cloture for cover in their conservative home states. Even Joementum toed the line, apparently feeling the need to prove he is actually a Democrat after state town chairs let him know over the weekend that his party support was thinner than Joe Biden's hair.

Frist is screaming that this is a violation of the deal made whereby the Democrats would not filibuster, but that deal was only for judicial nominees, try though Frist might to cross-pollinate it. And technically it's not a filibuster at all, because the Democrats are not blocking the nomination from coming up for a vote (where the nomination would only need a simple majority to pass), they are merely waiting on documents about Bolton that the white house has so far refused to provide regarding a battle he waged in 2003 over intelligence assessments on Syria.

The Senate will now be in recess and the vote is put off until June 7, during which time the white house has, as far as I can see, four options:

1) Do nothing and let Frist move to reconsider the vote for cloture. Even Joementum told Ed Schultz this afternoon that he would stand with the Democrats until the white house complied with the request for documents. I don't see it happening. Specter and Inouye were the only two that weren't present to cast votes; even if they came back and voted with the majority, as did Frist, they'd still be one vote shy. (In case anyone is keeping score, George Don't Cry For Me Argentina Voinovich cast his vote for cloture.)

2) Give up the documents. Even if there is absolutely nothing damning in them, Bush is WAY TO ARROGANT to bend to the will of the Democrats like that. It would be a HUGE sign that the Good Ship Wingnut is bursting at the gunwales. More likely they will try to offer up some heavily redacted version of the requested documents then cry that the Democrats are being obstructionists.

3) Give Bolton a recess appointment. It is possible, over the 10 day recess, that Bush could make an appointment under Article II, section 2, clause 3 of the Constitution which says "The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session." Such an appointment would last until the end of the second session (in 2007), at which time Bolton would have to receive formal confirmation of the Senate to remain in office.

Is Bush arrogant enough to "back door" Bolton? Yes. But I can't imagine it happening. It would give the Democrats all the cover they need to shut down the Senate, something it appears that big business is very much against. According to Think Progress, one of the reasons the compromise was made this week is because there are a number of business friendly bills coming up and the big money doesn't want them delayed by Senate squabbling. And when the interests of the religious right (in getting their judges) rub up against those of big business (in getting their CA$H), you know who's going to win.

4) Bush could withdraw the nomination completely. Right. On that day when pigs will most assuredly fly.

You can count on the fact that there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth going on in the white house this holiday weekend as Bush finds himself backed into an extremely uncomfortable corner fashioned and fitted for him by Harry Reid and company. In the end Bolton may well be confirmed as many are predicting, but I'm not altogether certain. And in the meantime it's nice to see the Democrats throw the cat killer a good Memorial Day beating.

I for one will be stocking up on popcorn.

To which you say....?


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Pour Me Another Beer, Chester, and I'll Tell You the One About Newsweek

It appears that there might be a half-life for Kool-Aid after all. John Cole, a conservative blogger over at Balloon Juice, on the new FBI memos regarding the flushing of the Koran:
To be brutally honest, it wouldn't really bother me if they flushed the Koran, as the book is essentially meaningless to me. I guess part of me would say- "Gee, you shouldn't really do that, because many will see it as really offensive," but that is about it.

That isn't the way we decided to fuck this football, though. Wiser heads than mine, or at the very least, people in a position to make these decisions, chose to approach the whole Islam issue from a standpoint of extreme sensitivity. We said, from day one, that we wouldn't violate any of these rules we had just created for religious tolerance and respect for Islamic rituals and artifacts....

Right now, the overwhelming evidence is that some sort of this was and may be still going on, and it doesn't offend me that it is happening so much out of the fact that they are doing it (the alleged and actual acts of Koran and religious abuses- not the torture. The torture infurtiates me.), but the fact that we said we would not be doing it and yet it appears to be happening anyway. In other words, we set up the rules and then went ahead and broke them.

Many of you still wish to cling to the idea that it never in any way, shape, or form, occurred. That just doesn't fit the overwhelming evidence that some religious-type abuses did occur. That means we would have to disbelieve all of the following:

1.) The detainees and their lawyers
2.) Military personnel themselves
3.) FBI reports and experiences
4.) The ACLU
5.) The International Red Cross
6.) Amnesty International


And yes, I know the track records of all of those organizations, particularly the last three. I know that International Red Cross ambulances have been used by murderers and bomb smugglers in Israel. But, at some point, even if you have 400 known liars gathered together, when they all have the same damned story to tell, only a fool would dismiss their claims.


I guess that means we need a talking points update:

1.) Newsweek Lied, People Died!
2.) The media hates the military.
3.) Why are they using anonymous sources?
1.) Why is the media recycling old stories?
5.) 2.) You can't trust those terrorists.
6.) 3.) Even if it is true, you shouldn't publish it- we are at war.
7.) 4.) You can't trust Newsweek and the Washington Post Reuters.
5.) What about the children?
Now if we could just get it out of the water cooler at Connected. I'm thinking of starting a Free Monica campaign.

(via Mahablog)


Oregon Drug Laws: Brought to You By Your Good Friends at Pfizer

I'm being nice today:
TO: Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian

Dear Mr. Mapes,

I read your article today on Oregon's move to be the first state in the country to ban all forms of cold tablets that could be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. I found it curious that there was no mention of the fact that the drug companies, led by Pfizer, fought any sort of limitation on the sale of these drugs for years, and Oregon was extremely compliant. When the tragic death of a police officer in Oklahoma finally led them to pass a bill requiring such drugs be kept behind store counters, and there was a subsequent dramatic reduction in meth-lab seizures, states such as Oregon fell in line.

Pfizer then saw the writing on the wall, and decided it could regain its shelf space if it used a form of pseudoephedrine it could have been using all along that could not be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. In fact, they got the jump on the competition with a factory that is already underway in Germany. Now they are running around the country aggressively pushing for a complete ban on all their competitors' drugs, and once again, it looks like Oregon is being compliant. I find it hard to believe Pfizer has had a sudden burst of altruism.

How do I know all this? I was told by members of the Oregon Drug Task Force in a recent Newport town meeting on the meth epidemic, with State Rep. Alan Brown and Senator Joanne Verger in attendance. I wrote about it on my blog.

I think this is an important part of the story that should be covered. Is this current action being taken because it will have any effect on the meth problem, or simply to clear the competition away for Pfizer?

Jane Hamsher
In case anyone cares, most of the meth in the state comes from large out-of-state meth labs. When I went to the Newport town hall meeting on meth, nobody on the task force gave any indication that taking a step like this would aid them in any way -- the only thing that they mentioned was Pfizer wanting to take out the competition. If any dumbshit like me can wander into a Drug Task Force dog & pony show and figure this out, what's up with the lazy journalism? (Okay maybe not so nice.)


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Michael Jackson - Down the Charts and Up the River?

A while back I did a Michael Jackson post and said it would be the last one I ever did.

I lied.

The defense rested its case and today many pundits were making their predictions about the outcome. So here are mine:

Child molestation - guilty. No matter what a cheap hustler and awful person that mother is, I doubt a jury will subsequently leap to the belief that it automatically didn't happen. And I don't think there is anything they can do to erase the testimony by that other kid who claimed he was molested; he is now an adult and reportedly bears an astonishing resemblance to the purported victim. (Note -- there are seven counts, I don't know that all of them will stick, but I'm betting at least one will.)

Serving alcohol to a minor with the intent to commit a felony - guilty. Some were saying this might be the compromise position if there are hold-outs who won't vote guilty on molestation, but since the charge is not serving alcohol per se but serving it with the intent to commit a felony (in this case, molest), it's hard to see them finding him guilty on this and not on the molestation charges.

Conspiracy - I don't know that it didn't happen but I don't think they proved it. Of all of the charges the most likely not to stick, so I'm going with not guilty. I think that may be the compromise position.

Oh and for the record, I think they ABSOLUTELY did the right thing not putting Michael on the chair; celebrities often have a really distorted perception about how people are reacting to the things they say since they are rarely subject to anyone calling them on their shit like normal people are. I just don't think the guy has the slightest clue how to appear "normal."

But what do I know, I didn't think they proved the Scott Peterson case either and he got the chair.

So what does your crystal ball say?


Frist Bows to Graven Image, Sells Out Deal?

The screams of "betrayal!" are already wafting through the blogosphere as Bill Frist announced that he will file for cloture on William Myers later this week. As late as Monday night, Frist said he would abide by the agreement reached by the seven Republican moderates and brokered by John McCain and Lindsey Graham, whereby Myers and Henry Saad would either be "filibustered or withdrawn."

I don't know what everyone is upset about. Frist is abiding by the deal.

The deal was reached with the seven moderates, not Frist, whereby they would not support the cat killer in his motion to kill the filibuster. Got it? As to Myers and Saad, the Democrats have an option -- they will be allowed to filibuster -- and the Republicans have an option. They can withdraw Myers and Saad, or not. Frist chose not.

Anyone surprised? Don't be. As was noted in an earlier post, I'm sure both Frist and Fearless Leader spent the day getting cornholed by Mullah Dobson for their failure Monday to kill the filibuster, which meant the path was not cleared for Dobson to appoint whatever foaming loonie he chooses to the Supreme Court this summer. Dobson's statement:
"We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness. That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November."
Translation: Bill you is my bitch -- I made you, and I can break you. You will now dance to my unholy tune.

Anyone who doesn't get that can't read plain English.

So now the dutiful Frist, his political career being circled by sharks from both sides, has chosen what he believes will be the lesser of two evils -- he'll test the resolution of the moderates. Good luck to him. McCain and Graham emerged as the new power brokers of the Senate with this deal, and polls showed popular opinion championing them as heroes. I don't see them sabotaging that to make Frist look good to Dobson.

Far more worrisome is the rumor that this new moderate coalition sees themselves fashioning some deal on Social Security. If that happens, we may just wind up having to string up Lieberman after all.

Jeebus. Will these guys just give off for a while so I can answer some overdue email and write my post on the Right to Privacy?


Paris Hilton's Republican Family Values

Carl Karcher has always been a big family values guy, famous for backing ultra-right wing causes such as California's Prop 6, which would've made it illegal for any California public school to hire gay teachers (to which he donated $1 million) and the Right to Life League, a group that calls for a ban on all abortions.

Well nothing says "family values" to me like a semi-pro porn star soaped up and squatting on a Bentley. Coming on the heels of that creepy "fetuses are people too" spot, the new Carl's Junior Paris Hilton ad plays to all the most lurid and tacky right-wing women-are-all-dirty-whores fantasies and perpetuates the notion that they are, in fact, base irresponsible creatures who cannot be trusted with dominion over their own bodies. With pants around ankles the faithful cheer for the fundamentalist wrecking crew who would fashion some Margaret Atwood dystopia that saves young Paris from herself, where she can just do her job and breed, hopefully with an osteopath from Akron named Herb whose only other joy in life is a peerless karaoke rendition of Panama.

Fifty bucks says none of the should-be-on-thorazine-but-aren't outfits currently at Defcon 3 over this thing ever mention Karcher's name.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Dobson On the Rag

Dobson's anger today must be akin to a rage-filled diety ready to fling Lucifer down from a Wal-Mart heaven. Because Bunnypants was loud and proud this morning doing the fundie shuffle, threatening to use his veto power for the first time over the two bills Congress is taking up today that would ease restrictions on federal government financing of stem cell research:
House passage of the embryonic stem cell bill would be a rare direct challenge to President Bush, who has consistently threatened to veto any legislation that tried to widen federal support for research using stem cells from human embryos. Mr. Bush, who has seen both houses of Congress controlled by Republicans throughout his presidency, has yet to veto any legislation since he took office in 2001. (NYT)
Although that's been Bunnypants' position all along, I'm sure he's working overtime today to publicly placate Dobson over Republican failure to break the filibuster yesterday, as well as what appears to be a collective congressional flight from the death-grip of the right wing. Kos, who is nothing if not a crafty political mind, boils it down quite nicely:
. If the filibuster was dead, Bush would've been able to put anyone on the Supreme Court. Anyone.

. Radical Christian Rightist James Dobson is demanding the right to choose the next Supreme Court nominee.

. Dobson's biggest enemy is the filibuster. Hence, he forced Frist to engage in the nuclear option.

. Because of the deal, Dobson can't choose the next Supreme Court justice. Bush's choice, if too extreme, faces the prospect of a filibuster.
I'm channeling the image of Dobson, Rumplestiltskin-like, stomping his foot through the floorboards of a rotting Republican party that neither Frist nor Rove seem to be able to keep in line. It might not be a sweet day to be a liberal, but if you're spittle-flinging mouthbreather, it's gotta suck.

BTW, it was really touching when Bunnypants talked about the 80 kids born this year as a result of adopted embryos from in vitro fertilization. That leaves only 169,920 that are created annually only to be destroyed. Anyone want to tell me when he's gonna go all biblical and pro-life on that one?


Monday, May 23, 2005

In Defense of the Compromise

I'm quite a bit to the left of Harry Reid on almost everything and I'm not a member of his cheering section when it comes to ideology, but like many others I've admired the leadership he's shown being outnumbered in the Senate by 10 members. And you can call me a sell-out if you want, but when push comes to shove I am pretty much of a pragmatist and I think the current compromise on judicial nominees was a smart move for the following reasons:

1. The Democrats didn't have the votes. If they did, I have no doubt Reid would've pushed it. The alternative was having the Repugs vote away their right to filibuster when Rehnquist vacates the Supreme Court this summer (which he will almost assuredly do) AND jam all of their Circuit Court nominees through. The only option open to the Democrats at that point would be to bring the Senate to a grinding halt. (Which I'm certainly in favor of -- I just don't think now's the time.)

2. Right now, the Circuit courts are stacked with Republicans, and the current nominees who are being granted up-or-down votes -- Brown (DC), Owen (5th) and Pryor (11th) -- aren't going to make that much difference in the balance of things. The 11th out of Atlanta and the 5th out of New Orleans are wingnut nightmares, and there is already a 5-4 majority on the DC court.

On the other hand, those that are not being granted up-or-down votes could affect the balance of certain key Circuit Courts, and the others are just downright dangerous:

William Myers - 9th - The only Circuit Court remaining with a strong Democratic majority is the 9th in San Francisco. Myers is the only one of Bush's noxious appointment earmarked for the 9th. Keeping him out of there was crucial.

Henry Saad - 6th Circuit - The 6th in Cincinnati is right now evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. Letting Saad on would've given Republicans a clear majority.

Brett Kavanaugh (DC) - Ken Starr's protege, he co-authored Starr Report's section on grounds for impeachment. He also played key role in defending BushCo's unprecedented claims to executive branch secrecy. There was just no way the Democrats could let this guy be repaid for that kind of partisan hackery.

William Haynes - 4th Circuit - played a central role in the decision to hold American citizens as enemy combatants with no access to courts or counsel, and also the decision to hold detaineees at Guantanamo without protection of the Geneva Convention. According to the People for the American Way, "His duties include developing and overseeing legal standards for military personnel which failed to prevent and may have actually helped produce torture and mistreatment of US detainees in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere."

3. Shutting down the government over this could've turned into a P.R. nightmare for the Democrats. Maybe Frist will decide to go nuclear over some Supreme Court nominee if the Democrats do, indeed, filibuster, but the public are much more likely to become aware of what is at stake in a Supreme Court nomination. Most people probably don't know who the Circuit Court appointments are, and wouldn't think it was worth bringing the wheels of government to a standstill over them. If the Democrats do intend to take this option, and I'm certainly not against it -- better a congress that gets nothing done than one that keeps passing awful bills for the benefit of MBNA -- it will play out better over a high profile case and a Dobson-appointed judge that will rate much higher in public awareness, such that the stakes become clearer and it doesn't turn around and blow up in the Democrats' face.

Bottom line: if the Democrats are going to go balls-to-the-wall, it would be better timed over a Supreme Court nominee.

4. It is pissing off the Freepers, Dobson and Assmissile, who see this as Frist's failure to go in for the kill. Dobson and his ilk have been angry that Bush didn't move on the Defense of Marriage Act, and feel they were poorly used in the last election. They want to be repaid for their efforts, and this was supposed to be it. They would be happy with nothing less than each and every one of these reactionary judges being jammed down the throats of the Democrats who dared oppose them. It didn't happen. They are screaming in outrage, and quite frankly, they ought to be -- their boy Frist obviously had the votes. How come he couldn't deliver? Why did they have to compromise anything? Fault Harry Reid for not being able to sway one more Republican if you will, but Frist couldn't control his own moderates. It looks bad for the kitty killer, no matter how you look at it.



Me & Gordon Smith

According to The Note this morning, Harry Reid has 49 votes, 2 votes shy of what he needs to preserve the filibuster. The four Republican senators Most Likely To are evidently Arlen Specter (PA), John Warner (VA), Mike Dewine (OH) and Chuck Hagel (NE). Evidently the Freepers are off their meds this morning and bombarding them with calls, so if you live in one of these states PLEASE take a minute and call them and tell them politely you urge them to support a bipartisan effort to preserve the filibuster. That is, if you want it preserved. If you don't, well, go have a beer or something, it really isn't that important.

As promised, I called Gordon Smith's office (541 465-6750) this morning. It was really simple. "Gordon Smith's Office..." "Yes, I'm an Oregon resident and I want to urge Senator Smith to preserve the filibuster." "Can I have your name?" "Jane Hamsher." "Thank you, I'll pass it along." It was that easy. (I kept my comments about the hair to myself.)

From looking up the number to making the call it took all of two minutes. The links above should save you about 30 seconds of Googling. Just in case you were wondering.


Countdown to Nukular

Unless some deal is in the offing, we'll see a vote on the nuclear option this week. Over at the Left Coaster, Steve Soto leaves no doubt about the ultimate goal of the ReThugs:
They want to install Bill Rehnquist's successor with only 51 votes, and to be able to fill any additional Supreme Court vacancies the next three and a half years with only 50 votes plus Dick Cheney. That's the whole ballgame for the GOP. How they get there, and what they trash in the process doesn't matter.

Since Cornyn has stated it so clearly, this is exactly why the Democrats should refuse to give up the filibuster. There is no reason for Democrats to negotiate anything on this. Why? Because we are talking about nominees:

-to the highest court in the land;
-who get lifetime appointment;
-nominated without any attempt at bipartisanship;
-by a man with approval ratings well below 50%;
-who won office allegedly with only 51% of the vote;
-pushed by a party wholly-owned by religious fanatics.

And we are talking about the GOP changing the rules after they acquire all the levers of power.
It's a pretty dismal picture. But do the ReThugs have the votes? Josh Marshall doesn't think so. He concurs with a reader who says:
Actually I do not think Frist can win a vote on the nuclear option. When crunch time comes I believe just enough Republicans will decide against violating both the rules of the Senate and permanently weakening the Senate vis a vis the Executive.
One of my senators, Gordon Smith, is a ReThug who is up for re-election in 2006 in a fairly liberal state, and of late he's been pushing a more moderate agenda and distancing himself from the Mullahs like cat-killer Frist. I'm pledging here to call his office today and remind him that whatever his vote, he'll be wearing it around his neck in 2006. Only much nicer than that. I'll keep you posted.


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Tell 'em to Break Out Their Hymn Books and Start Singing "Nearer My God to Thee"

Coming soon: NRO Cruise 2006.

Book early.


Because They All Look Alike...

Rush Limbaugh's recent defense of poor Janice Rogers Brown against the indignities hurled by the rich, elitist Barbara Boxer falls under the category of "oh please don't":
I was on the first cup of coffee and we were talking about this incredible sight yesterday of Barbara Boxer lecturing Judge Janice Rogers Brown. Here's this white, wealthy, elitist liberal from San Francisco -- I think she's actually from Marin -- lecturing a black daughter of sharecroppers who has risen on her own to become a member of the California Supreme Court, Janice Rogers Brown.
Right. Because Rush, who makes a reported salary of $30 million per year, is in a far better place to feel the pain of the downtrodden than the effete hypocritical Boxer, whose Senator's salary is $158,000. But wait...per Wonkette:
Just for the record... Boxer grew up in a "lower-middle-class" neighborhood in that part of Marin also known as Brooklyn, New York. And at some point in Rogers Brown's youth -- details are sketchy -- her dad joined the Air Force. Then, in 1977, Rogers Brown graduated from law school and became a deputy counsel for the California State Legislature. So presumably she's been living a middle-class life or better for at least, oh, thirty years or so. Still, you've gotta hand it to Rush. A vision of America where a 56-year-old woman who's held important, high-powered jobs for nearly three decades can grow up to become "a black daughter of sharecroppers"? That's pretty inspiring.
Big Pharma is probably thinking of the former mayor of San Francisco, Diane Feinstein, That Other Senator from the People's Republic of California.

I get it, Rush. When you're jacked on all the OxyContin, Lorcet and hydrocodone your $370 a week housekeeper can score, the 2s start looking like 10s long before last call and Barbara Boxer could easily be mistaken for Diane Feinstein.


Saturday, May 21, 2005

More Republican Family Values

Oh, somebody's gone and done it! They've waded through the muck and started a catalog of Republican pedophilia. It's incredible. It just goes on, and on, and on. A few highlights:
• Republican anti-abortion activist Howard Scott Heldreth is a convicted child rapist in Florida.

• Republican County Commissioner David Swartz pleaded guilty to molesting two girls under the age of 11 and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

• Republican judge Mark Pazuhanich pleaded no contest to fondling a 10-year old girl and was sentenced to 10 years probation.

• Republican anti-abortion activist Nicholas Morency pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography on his computer and offering a bounty to anybody who murders an abortion doctor.

• Republican legislator Edison Misla Aldarondo was sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping his daughter between the ages of 9 and 17.

• Republican Mayor Philip Giordano is serving a 37-year sentence in federal prison for sexually abusing 8- and 10-year old girls.
Sheesh, Giordano ran against Lieberman for his senate seat in 2000. The judge in his case said, "Your conduct is the worst I have ever seen. I've seen drug dealers, murderers. What you did is indescribable." Never thought I'd be so happy that Joementum won anything.

(via Shakespeare's Sister)


More Dollar Blues

There is surprisingly little written about the dollar's troubles in the US media, such that you usually need to go to to foreign papers to read about it. But Krugman takes it on this week, and makes the problem quite clear:
Money is pouring into China, both because of its rapidly rising trade surplus and because of investments by Western and Japanese companies. Normally, this inflow of funds would be self-correcting: both China's trade surplus and the foreign investment pouring in would push up the value of the yuan, China's currency, making China's exports less competitive and shrinking its trade surplus.

But the Chinese government, unwilling to let that happen, has kept the yuan down by shipping the incoming funds right back out again, buying huge quantities of dollar assets - about $200 billion worth in 2004, and possibly as much as $300 billion worth this year. This is economically perverse: China, a poor country where capital is still scarce by Western standards, is lending vast sums at low interest rates to the United States.

Yet the U.S. has become dependent on this perverse behavior. Dollar purchases by China and other foreign governments have temporarily insulated the U.S. economy from the effects of huge budget deficits. This money flowing in from abroad has kept U.S. interest rates low despite the enormous government borrowing required to cover the budget deficit.

Low interest rates, in turn, have been crucial to America's housing boom. And soaring house prices don't just create construction jobs; they also support consumer spending because many homeowners have converted rising house values into cash by refinancing their mortgages.

So why is the U.S. government complaining? The Treasury report says nothing at all about how China's currency policy affects the United States - all it offers on the domestic side is the usual sycophantic praise for administration policy. Instead, it focuses on the disadvantages of Chinese policy for the Chinese themselves. Since when is that a major U.S. concern?

In reality, of course, the administration doesn't care about the Chinese economy. It's complaining about the yuan because of political pressure from U.S. manufacturers, which are angry about those Chinese trade surpluses. So it's all politics. And that's the problem: when policy decisions are made on purely political grounds, nobody thinks through their real-world consequences.

Here's what I think will happen if and when China changes its currency policy, and those cheap loans are no longer available.

U.S. interest rates will rise; the housing bubble will probably burst; construction employment and consumer spending will both fall; falling home prices may lead to a wave of bankruptcies. And we'll suddenly wonder why anyone thought financing the budget deficit was easy.

In other words, we've developed an addiction to Chinese dollar purchases, and will suffer painful withdrawal symptoms when they come to an end.
Because the big Asian central banks have such vast dollar holdings, they're mighty concerned about what will happen when and if the dollar tanks, and thanks to Michael Duran who pointed us to an article in Forbes this week that tells of how the three Asian central banks with the largest dollar holdings -- Korea, Japan and China -- are so tweaked about the situation that they have put aside nationalistic differences and banded together to work in concert to avoid the fallout. And just yesterday, Korea announced that it will no longer be buying dollars, which the US relies upon to finance its enormous monthly trade deficit. That's big news, and drinks are on me if anyone can show me where CNN or MSNBC or (perish the though) Faux News covered the story.

The inevitable correction to Bunnypants' fiscal irresponsibility will potentially dwarf any of his disasters-to-date. Novakula's probably got his crypt loaded down with emergency stockpiles of virgin's blood so what does he care, but expect the not-so-bloodless to be feeling the pinch in the not-so-distant future.


Friday, May 20, 2005

Way to Go With the Hearts and Minds, Guys

It now seems clear that the US has a policy of handing its prisoners over to the care of the very worst that it has, with no regard for either their safety or the Geneva Convention. And they think America's image is being mangled by one Newsweek article?

When asked whether this would incite riots, Bunnypants said, "I don't think a photo inspires murderers....These people are motivated by a vision of the world that is backward and barbaric."

So I guess that lets Newsweek off the hook, huh? Well, no, they're still evil, but it does let Rupert Murdoch off the hook, whose British tabloids the Sun and New York Post are running the photos on their covers. A coincidence that Murdoch also owns the unofficial white house press office, Faux News? I'm guessing not.

What's worse -- Americans seem to think it's okay that Saddam's rights under the Geneva Convention have been violated even as we're holding him for violations of the Geneva Convention, with no sense of culpability or faulty leadership on the part of the people who continually allow this stuff to happen on their march to "spread democracy" around the world. Assmissile was on MSNBC today, pimping his article called "Cry Me a River," in which he dismisses the Geneva Convention and recommends we go back to that eye-for-an-eye thing. There is something frighteningly symbolic about the Ten Commandments trying to sneak its way onto courthouse lawns as the Old Testament threatens to replace the Constitution as the go-to cornerstone of US governance.

Update: Steve Gilliard makes a good point: What Bush doesn't get is this: no matter who the Arab, public humilation is a major social taboo. They kill rape victims for shaming the family. So this society is going to enjoy Saddam shamed in a way no Arab would shame his worst enemy? Are you fucking joking? Calling Arab dogs, exposing Saddam, this is an offense to Arab pride and we need them not to feel disrepected by us.

Update 2: Via Frogsdong we learn that according to the Murdoch-owned tabloid, U.S. "military sources said they handed over the photos in the hope of dealing a body blow to the resistance in Iraq." Dude, even I did not accuse them of that. Guess it's time to adjust my paranoia meter.


This Week in Dog

Lucy had a ball catching accident and had to have stitches in her lip, but Dr. Brown sent her home with some nifty pain killers so Lucy has all the good drugs for the weekend.

Katie (pictured above) killed a rat in the bushes. It happened so quickly I didn't even know it was happening. She is little but tough, and quite soulful, as her picture shows -- her occasional ferocity takes me by surprise.

Kobe has been reading about Iggy Pop. His favorite quote:
It was like what Hitler said, "Go for the lowest common denominator." With the Stooges that was really necessary, because those were the only people who really dug us. When we first started out, our fans were JUST A MESS -- it was like early Christianity. It was the ugliest chicks and the most illiterate guys -- people with skin problems, people with sexual problems, weight problems, unemployment problems, mental problems, you name it, they were a mess."
Makes you wonder what they did with themselves after the Stooges broke up.

Kobe and I are off to Lincoln City for Kobe's favorite jaunt of the month to buy organic dog food at Paws on the Sand (the girls hate the car -- they barf -- but Kobe has been known to climb in the autos of complete strangers and stubbornly resist exit). He has a new mix tape sent to us by our good friend Dan, so he will be rockin' the 101.


Bobby Can't Add

Novakula crawls out of his crypt to haunt the Crossfire set once again.

What He Said: You know, James [Carville], of all the lousy issues you have, the lousiest is the debt. As Ronald Reagan once said, I don't worry about the national debt; it's big enough to take care of itself. As a matter of fact, it is smaller as a percentage of GDP than any of our other -- than it has ever been. This is a phony issue. That's not hurting us.

The Truth: In 1929 the national debt was 16.3% of the GDP. In 1981, it was 32.9%. In 2004, the $7.4 trillion national debt constituted 62.9% of the GDP.

What He Meant: Of all the crap we've got to wear around our necks in 2006, this is the one that's going to kill us. Even the professional liars of the GOP are choking as they try to sell themselves as "fiscal conservatives" after blowing through cash like Uday Hussein on a coke jag at Cheetah's.

Note to Howard Dean: I'd flag this one.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Norman Mailer on L'Affair Newsweek

From the Huffington Post:
At the age of eighty-two I do not wish to revive old paranoia, but Lenin did leave us one valuable notion, one, at any rate. It was "Whom?" When you cannot understand a curious matter, ask yourself, "Whom? Whom does this benefit?" Dare I suggest that our Right has just gained a good deal by way of this matter? In every covert Department of Dirty Tricks, whether official, semi-official, or off-the-wall, great pride is best obtained by going real deep into down-and-dirty-land—Yeah! Expedite the consequences.


Why Do the Republicans Hate the Military So?

Once again, without warning, the seemingly autistic Republicans on the House Armed Services subcommittee have decided that women are delicate flowers and must be taken out of support services (medics, truck drivers, canteen suppliers, etc.) that help supply combat units in Iraq.

Probably just doing it at the behest of the military, right? This is something the top brass are really burning for, but they just can't break away from the iron grip of PC feminazis, so wingnuts to the rescue, eh? Er -- no. The military collectively freaked, as a matter of fact. It's not bad enough that they're missing their recruitment goals by 15% this year -- the resolution, if passed, would force them to pull 22,000 female soldiers from their current jobs and replace them with men. Not to mention the grand moral booster it would be for the troops right now, who are so damned happy about being in Iraq in the first place.

The idea is the brain fart of the Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who pressured the subcommittee chairman John McHugh (R-NY) to introduce it at the last minute. No advance notice, no hearings or new studies, they just blindsided Democrats with this flash of penetrating insight into the sexual politics and current deficiencies of the US military.

For a glimpse at the marvelous foresight that went into this brilliant tactical maneuver, let's check with our clever friends at The Corner:
Duncan and McHugh’s amendment is supported by biological fact. An average female soldier is five inches shorter than her male counterpart, and has half the upper-body strength and a lower aerobic capacity. While the courageous women of our military do many things as well as men, the heavy lifting of ground-combat support isn’t one of them.
Right-o. I'm guessing the military is just full of pretty little girls too weak to do their jobs. Every minute or two no doubt they are batting their eyelashes at some big, strong man and distracting him from his duties by asking him to lift a jeep or something.
Of course, these facts mean little to those whose purpose is to make a point about gender equality. They include the Army’s Clintonized generals — who, one suspects, are the real force behind Harvey’s innovation. Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, recently wrote: “More than one general has told me that the objective [of allowing women in forward support companies] is to ‘grow’ the careers of female officers, including their own daughters.”
Presumably the military only assigns individual women to jobs they feel they can fulfill, and nobody's complaining but a bunch of desk jockeys in the 101st Fighting Keyboardists, but screw all that -- it's All Clinton's Fault. Sorry, we momentarily forgot our mantra.
That’s a fine goal. The thought of its attainment will bring great comfort to the wounded Marine who lies on the ground, bleeding to death, because no one is there to carry him to safety.
Excuse me? I'm sorry, I didn't follow that. That last statement is just too screamingly stupid to even snark at. If you'd like a shot, have a go, 'cos even Rumsfeld came out against this particular piece of highwire lunacy. I don't have a clue what these less than stable asshats are thinking, if indeed it can even be characterized as thinking, but one wishes they would just content themselves with staring at Jesus in some driveway oil stain and leave the rest of us alone.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

They're Just Making Shit Up Now at the NRO

Because you have to fill up that blank page somehow:
Podhoretz: Peter, "fubsy" is a word invented by the peerlessly witty actor Alec Guinness to describe the kind of character he played in great British comedies like The Lavender Hill Mob -- "a man given to handwashing gestures," Guinness once said, a person who was no threat to anybody.
No, it's been in use for hundreds of years and pretty much just means fat bastard. Anybody want to try and use it correctly in a sentence?.


Another Reason to Love George Galloway

Yesterday's encounter with Christopher Hitchens:
Per The Scottsman: A brief ruckus with British journalist and sworn enemy Christopher Hitchens got proceedings off to a swinging start.

“Booze soaked Trotskyites,” Mr Galloway muttered as he took his seat, arms crossed. “Wide boy,” Hitchens shot back.

Per The Guardian: "You're a drink-soaked former-Trotskyist popinjay," Mr Galloway informed him. "Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink," he added later, ignoring Mr Hitchens's questions and staring intently ahead. "And you're a drink-soaked..." Eventually Mr Hitchens gave up. "You're a real thug, aren't you?" he hissed, stalking away.
As if going all William Wallace on Norm Coleman's ass wasn't enough.

Update: Cervantes has an great post over at Stayin' Alive on Hitchens. He also lets us know that the reporter the NYT sent to cover the Galloway appearance was -- wait for it -- Judith Fucking Queen of Iraq Miller! I guess nobody around the office had any postage stamps that needed licking that morning.

Update 2: Galloway's entire 47 minute testimony is available online at the BBC.


One, Two -- Everybody do the Hannity Shuffle!

Eric Alterman has an interesting take on l'affair Newsweak:
As a journalism professor/media critic, the really interesting question to me here is what should Newsweek have done if the story had been well-sourced and understood to be true, but might help cause the riots, etc.  In principle I’d say, “Publish.”  It’s dangerous in a free society to have reporters worrying about the consequences of what they publish before they publish it.  Except in cases where revealing military (or other forms of secrets) would endanger lives, then it’s the fault of the wrongdoer, not the journalist who publishes.  But as careful readers of this column know, I no longer care very much about principles.  I think they’re for children.  I care about results.  The likely results of publishing this story vastly outweigh the value of publishing it.  Unlike Abu Ghraib, for instance, where the torture would have continued unabated had the country’s conscience—or what’s left of it—not been pricked—I’d say hold off in this case.  The deadly reaction was predictable; the value of the news, highly debatable. (emphasis mine)
I have the utmost respect for Dr. Alterman, but I have to say I think there is value in publishing this particular story. It's clear that the fury over US contempt for Islamic countries has been brewing for a while, and to the extent that the Koran incident contributed to the current unrest it was more of lightening rod than an underlying cause. But they're boiling people to death in Uzbekistan, for god's sake. That this is the issue that finally sends them into orbit frankly mystifies me.

But the US and the world need to hear that rage, and be confronted with the fact that kicking the Koran in the commode is symbolic of the way they feel the US is treating them, and that the notion of a stable, western-friendly government in Iraq is a full-on hallucination until the US cracks down and cuts this shit out. If the truth is what finally causes the Islamic world to send a wake-up call to a slumbering, imperialistic, bellicose and jingoistic Bush Administration that the US is not being greeted as heroes and liberators with this FUBAR war, then so be it. That people died iin the demonstrations is a tragedy. That people are dying every day in Iraq is a tragedy. They are not going to be less dead for Newsweek printing what many other news sources have already reported as being true.

But Alterman makes another good point -- in all the greased-pig squealing of the right-wing noise machine, how come nobody like Scarborough or O'Leilly or Mann Coulter is calling for the head of the reporter, Mike Isikoff? Well, as Media Matters points out, that would be because Isikoff is the man responsible for bringing you the tattered tales of Paula Jones and Linda Tripp like they were worthy of inscription on tablets of stone:
BRIT HUME: This is Michael Isikoff, the veteran investigative journalist, a guy we all know, who has been on this program, somebody who has compiled a pretty good record over the years.

FRED BARNES: He's a very honorable reporter.

L. BRENT BOZELL: One would be hard-pressed to lay the blame directly at the feet of Michael Isikoff.

SEAN HANNITY: By the way, I don't think it's Isikoff. I think it's the people above him, just for the record, Bill [Press, guest]. They make the decision, not Isikoff. He doesn't decide what gets in that magazine.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Isikoff, by the way, is one hell of a reporter. I hate to see this happen to him. What a great reporter he is.
Yes, if you're the reporter directly responsible for dishing up the Bill Clinton sex scandal per the Republican playbook, it earns you a lot of loyalty from the loud-mouth bully boys of the right. Listen carefully and you'll hear them doing one hell of a stinkin' tap dance around Isikoff's involvement. Good thing nobody in the "liberal media" is calling them on it.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Keith Olbermann is a Total Fucking Rock Star and a Stud

Well at least there is one TV newsman who is not groveling in front of BushCo.'s propaganda machine, and he's doing the right thing -- calling for Scott McClellan to resign:
Whenever I hear this White House talking about ‘doing to damage to our image abroad’ and how ‘people have lost lives,’ I strain to remember who it was who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up just after the Holy Grail will — and at what human cost.

Newsweek’s version of this story has varied from the others over the last two years — ones in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, and British and Russian news organizations — only in that it quoted a government source who now says he didn’t have firsthand knowledge of whether or not the investigation took place (oops, sorry, shoulda mentioned that, buh-bye). All of its other government connections — the ones past which it ran the story — have gone from saying nothing like ‘don’t print this, it ain’t true’ or ‘don’t print this, it may be true but it’ll start riots,’ to looking slightly confused and symbolically saying ‘Newsweek? Newsweek who?’

Whatever I smell comes from this odd sequence of events: Newsweek gets blasted by the White House, apologizes over the weekend but doesn't retract its story. Then McClellan offers his Journalism 101 outdoor seminar and blasts the magazine further. Finally, just before 5 p.m. Monday, the Dan Rather drama replaying itself in its collective corporate mind, Newsweek retracts....

Ultimately, though, the administration may have effected its biggest mistake over this saga, in making the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs look like a liar or naïf, just to draw a little blood out of Newsweek’s hide. Either way — and also for that tasteless, soul-less conclusion that deaths in Afghanistan should be lain at the magazine’s doorstep — Scott McClellan should resign. The expiration on his carton full of blank-eyed bully-collaborator act passed this afternoon as he sat reeling off those holier-than-thou remarks. Ah, that’s what I smelled.
The whole Newsweek faux-scandal is nothing but an attempt to intimidate journalists from printing anything that didn't come out of the white house fax machine smelling of toner, and it's nothing short of fucking awful that journalists everywhere care more about their "access" than they do their professional integrity and they aren't up in arms about this. They should all be calling for McClellan's resignation.

And off topic, sort of -- what's up with the sports guys? Over at the Huffington Post, the person drawing the most attention is Jim Lampley (okay well the most of mine anyway), who has this to say about l'affair Newsweek:
As for expressed neoconservative outrage over the fourteen deaths, get real. Those of us who oppose this administration and its private $300 billion Iraq war are as saddened as we should be about the fourteen people who died in Afghanistan because of this. We're equally saddened by the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians cavalierly sacrificed on the altar of Messrs. Bush/Cheney/Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld's preconceived "anti-terror" initiative. For pro-Bush writers to attempt to guilt-trip professional reporters for collateral damage is beyond ludicrous. It's immoral.
More astute than anything you're going to read on the subject in the NYT or the WaPo any time soon. Plus he kicks Roger Simon around the block a few times, which is always a fun spectator sport.

I'm going to try and carve out some time today to write some LTEs to my local papers. The right-wing squawk machine can only dominate the dialog if we let it happen, and if they win the battle over spin on this one it sets an extremely dangerous precedent. I hope you'll take some time and let your local editors know how you feel, too.

(via the Left Coaster)


More Fun Facts About Base Closings

According to the NYT:
[A]n analysis of Defense Department data showed that states that voted for Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential nominee, in the 2004 election stood to lose 24,289 military and civilian jobs, while states that Mr. Bush carried would gain nearly 12,000 jobs.

On average, states that voted for Mr. Bush in 2004 would gain an average of 383 jobs while states that Mr. Kerry won would lose 1,214 jobs. Independent military analysts said that rather than partisan politics, the trend reflected a shift toward bases with bigger training ranges and the ability to accommodate more troops or civilian workers. These bases tend to be in Southern and Western states.
I'm sure it's all just a big coincidence. I feel much better now.


Monday, May 16, 2005

In Honor of Our Compliant Media, or Thank You, Newsweak

According to a new survey, 43% of the public says the press have too much feedom; 22% say the government should be allowed to censor the press. More than 7 in 10 journalists believe the media does an excellent job on accuracy.

We're doomed.

(An oldie but a goodie from Atrios.)


New Poll: More Americans Wake Up, Smell Coffee

Thank heavens for a weak-kneed, backpedaling Newsweak and a few desecrated Korans. Sure took the heat off the new Pew Center poll taken over the weekend which shows that even Laura's horse dick jokes can't bail out her husband, whose approval rating is down to an all-time low of 43%. Republicans in general are getting taken to the woodshed in this season of Social Security, filibuster and DeLay:
Although neither party is escaping blame, the damage to the Republican Party's image may be more severe. Just 35% of Americans say they approve of the job Republican leaders in Congress are doing; 50% disapprove, up from 44% in March of this year, and 42% a year ago.

These generally unfavorable views may have political ramifications for incumbents seeking reelection in 2006. While by more than two-to-one (49%-23%), more say they approve than disapprove of their own representative in the House, this is comparable to measures of satisfaction in the summer of 1993, a year before the historic midterm elections in 1994 in which the Democratic Party lost its majority in the House.
Expect to be hearing a lot more about the Koran.

(Via the Left Coaster)


WaPo to Newsweak: Put on Those Knee Pads!!

Thanks, Howie, for clearing it all up for me. The Putz leads with his chin:
Newsweek apologized yesterday for an inaccurate report on the treatment of detainees that triggered several days of rioting in Afghanistan and other countries in which at least 15 people died.
How, exactly, does this jibe with the facts? From the State Department's own website:
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff....Air Force General Richard Myers told reporters at the Pentagon May 12 that he has been told that the Jalalabad, Afghanistan, rioting was related more to the ongoing political reconciliation process in Afghanistan than anything else.
But that hasn't stopped the right-wing noise machine from going full-on John Phillips Souza today. Because, you know, there's still the inaccurate bit:
Some detainees complained of religious humiliation, saying guards had defaced their copies of the Koran and, in one case, had thrown it in a toilet, said Kristine Huskey [an attorney in Washington, D.C.], who interviewed clients late last month. -- Philadelphia Enquirer, 1/20/2005
Or this:
They were never given prayer mats and initially they didn't get a Koran. When the Korans were provided, they were kicked and thrown about by the guards and on occasion thrown in the buckets used for the toilets. - Center For Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Watch Report
Never one to let the facts hijack a good story, BushCo. is screaming this morning that an Apology is Not Enough:
McClellan complained that the story was “based on a single anonymous source who could not personally substantiate the allegation that was made.”

“The report has had serious consequences,” he said. “People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged.”
Righto, Scotty. Because we well might attach electrodes to their genitals, sexually humiliate and boil 'em to death, but deface the Koran? Wooah, that's where we draw the line!

It's quite ironic that the Administration's tone of self-righteous indignation seems to change, depending on who they're talking to. One for the American public, another for our good friends the irate Saudis:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced yesterday that the desecration of the Qur'an was unacceptable in the US and if the claims were validated, they would take prompt action.
So thanks, Howie, for giving BushCo. the reacharound and tying up the journalistic complexities and contradicting stories in this whole event into a nice, tidy package, demanding of absolutely no thought whatsoever. It's what we look to you for, after all. Your summation is particularly moving:
But critics are already pouncing on the story as the latest in a high-profile series of media blunders at such respected news organizations as the New York Times, USA Today and CBS News. In this case, the consequences -- deadly riots -- were far more serious than a breach of journalistic ethics.
Media blunders? Media blunders? Hey Howie, here's a hot tip for you -- there are no weapos of mass destruction. I think you should get right on it.

(thanks to Susan Hu)


Bugger Bolton

Good article in the Guardian today by Robin Cook, former Leader of the British House of Commons (who resigned in 2003 in protest over British and US hypocrisy and the war in Iraq), on why it is that the neocons hate Kofi Annan so very, very much and why sending Bolton to the UN is the ultimate kick in the teeth:
There is a breathtaking hypocrisy to the indictment of Kofi Annan over the oil for food programme for Iraq. It was the US and the UK who devised the programme, piloted the UN resolutions that gave it authority, sat on the committee to administer it and ran the blockade to enforce it. I know because I spent a high proportion of my time at the Foreign Office trying to make a success of it. If there were problems with it then Washington and London should be in the dock alongside the luckless Kofi Annan, who happened to be general secretary at the time.

But there is a deeper level of perversity to the denigration of Annan by the American right wing. They have long clamoured for reform of the UN. Kofi Annan has just proposed the most comprehensive overhaul of the UN in its history and is the general secretary most likely to deliver support for it. If they persist in undermining him they are likely to derail his reform package. The suspicion must be that they would rather have a creaking, ineffective UN to treat as a coconut shy than a modern, representative forum that would oblige them to respect collective decisions.

The eccentric selection of John Bolton as Bush's ambassador to the UN is consistent with such a strategy of sabotage rather than reform. His hostility to any constraint on US unilateralism is so deep, (and his life so sad), that he described his "happiest moment" signing the letter to Kofi Annan telling him that the US would have nothing to do with the international criminal court. His relish in the gesture is all the more revealing as the issue was not within the remit of his job, and he pleaded to be allowed to sign as a special favour.
Annan's proposal for the UN involves four new permanent seats for Africa and Asia, one that would hopefully be filled by a Muslim country (at present no permanent member represents the Muslim world). Putting Bolton in the middle of the UN mix is a big, giant neocon slap in the face to Annan, his leadership and any kind of change within the UN that would give a greater voice to the third world.

Because to paraphrase Wilde: it is not enough that we continue to be rich, someone else must be poor.

(Via Mark at Recidivist Journals)


Sunday, May 15, 2005

'Sheed Bein' 'Sheed

Can't help it, I love this guy.

I have two rules on this blog -- I don't do celebrity gossip, and I don't use the "n" word. But it's raining today, so what the hell.

The story goes that when European players came into the NBA and they couldn't speak the English so good, a certain trash-talking African American point guard would take them aside and say, "okay, now any time you're open and you want the ball, you just throw your hands in the air and scream 'hey ni**er.'"

You can pretty much guess the rest.

Have a good Sunday.