January 31, 2006
"September 11th, 2001"
It only took the Chimp six paragraphs to mention IT:
"Abroad, our Nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal – we seek the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it. On September 11th, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state seven thousand miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country. Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer, and so we will act boldly in freedom’s cause."Blah, blah, blah. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
"Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America."
The State of Our Government: Eh!
Lou Dobbs is absolutely stunned by the idiocy that is Condoleeza Rice when it comes to her underestimating the popularity of the militant Palestinian Hamas party:
Rice: "It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse."
Plus Lou runs down the poll numbers on George...and they ain't pretty. Meanwhile, the Democrat's poll numbers are also in the toilet. So why are the Dems afraid to take on Bush and the Republicans? They sure aren't gaining any points by being Bush's enablers. If you are to believe the polls, they have nothing to lose by actually becomming an opposition party (and everything to gain).
January 30, 2006
Support the Filibuster Too little, Too late.
On Alito for cloture:
Oh well. ReddHedd has some soothing, fighting words for those of you who feel like jumping in front of a train:
Okay, so it's obvious there is cloture today. It sucks. But it happens in the big leagues that sometimes you lose an inning. That doesn't mean you stop playing, it just means you take a deep breath and go back to the dugout for some fresh plays.I have some of my own thoughts that, as soon as I have the time to properly compose them, I will share with you. I bet you can't wait...
All this Faxing and phone calling and e-mailing...has scared the bejeebers out of the Washington establishment over the last couple of weeks. You know why? It came from a true grassroots movement. From anger, from true concern, from patriotism -- from a wellspring of individual citizens who cared enough about their nation to get off their butts and do something.
That is a lot of power waiting to be harnassed, folks...
"...and a couple of big, dangerous lies"
Everything you've always wanted to know about the morally bankrupt Bush administration and it's illegal domesic spying program, courtesy of The New York Times (it's a bit long but it's all worth reading):
Spies, Lies and WiretapsA bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies.
The first was that the domestic spying program is carefully aimed only at people who are actively working with Al Qaeda, when actually it has violated the rights of countless innocent Americans. And the second was that the Bush team could have prevented the 9/11 attacks if only they had thought of eavesdropping without a warrant.
Sept. 11 could have been prevented. This is breathtakingly cynical. The nation's guardians did not miss the 9/11 plot because it takes a few hours to get a warrant to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mail messages. They missed the plot because they were not looking. The same officials who now say 9/11 could have been prevented said at the time that no one could possibly have foreseen the attacks. We keep hoping that Mr. Bush will finally lay down the bloody banner of 9/11, but Karl Rove, who emerged from hiding recently to talk about domestic spying, made it clear that will not happen — because the White House thinks it can make Democrats look as though they do not want to defend America. "President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why," he told Republican officials. "Some important Democrats clearly disagree."
Mr. Rove knows perfectly well that no Democrat has ever said any such thing — and that nothing prevented American intelligence from listening to a call from Al Qaeda to the United States, or a call from the United States to Al Qaeda, before Sept. 11, 2001, or since. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act simply required the government to obey the Constitution in doing so. And FISA was amended after 9/11 to make the job much easier.
Only bad guys are spied on. Bush officials have said the surveillance is tightly focused only on contacts between people in this country and Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Vice President Dick Cheney claimed it saved thousands of lives by preventing attacks. But reporting in this paper has shown that the National Security Agency swept up vast quantities of e-mail messages and telephone calls and used computer searches to generate thousands of leads. F.B.I. officials said virtually all of these led to dead ends or to innocent Americans. The biggest fish the administration has claimed so far has been a crackpot who wanted to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch — a case that F.B.I. officials said was not connected to the spying operation anyway.
The spying is legal. The secret program violates the law as currently written. It's that simple. In fact, FISA was enacted in 1978 to avoid just this sort of abuse. It said that the government could not spy on Americans by reading their mail (or now their e-mail) or listening to their telephone conversations without obtaining a warrant from a special court created for this purpose. The court has approved tens of thousands of warrants over the years and rejected a handful.
As amended after 9/11, the law says the government needs probable cause, the constitutional gold standard, to believe the subject of the surveillance works for a foreign power or a terrorist group, or is a lone-wolf terrorist. The attorney general can authorize electronic snooping on his own for 72 hours and seek a warrant later. But that was not good enough for Mr. Bush, who lowered the standard for spying on Americans from "probable cause" to "reasonable belief" and then cast aside the bedrock democratic principle of judicial review.
Just trust us. Mr. Bush made himself the judge of the proper balance between national security and Americans' rights, between the law and presidential power. He wants Americans to accept, on faith, that he is doing it right. But even if the United States had a government based on the good character of elected officials rather than law, Mr. Bush would not have earned that kind of trust. The domestic spying program is part of a well-established pattern: when Mr. Bush doesn't like the rules, he just changes them, as he has done for the detention and treatment of prisoners and has threatened to do in other areas, like the confirmation of his judicial nominees. He has consistently shown a lack of regard for privacy, civil liberties and judicial due process in claiming his sweeping powers. The founders of our country created the system of checks and balances to avert just this sort of imperial arrogance.
The rules needed to be changed. In 2002, a Republican senator — Mike DeWine of Ohio — introduced a bill that would have done just that, by lowering the standard for issuing a warrant from probable cause to "reasonable suspicion" for a "non-United States person." But the Justice Department opposed it, saying the change raised "both significant legal and practical issues" and may have been unconstitutional. Now, the president and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales are telling Americans that reasonable suspicion is a perfectly fine standard for spying on Americans as well as non-Americans — and they are the sole judges of what is reasonable.
So why oppose the DeWine bill? Perhaps because Mr. Bush had already secretly lowered the standard of proof — and dispensed with judges and warrants — for Americans and non-Americans alike, and did not want anyone to know.
War changes everything. Mr. Bush says Congress gave him the authority to do anything he wanted when it authorized the invasion of Afghanistan. There is simply nothing in the record to support this ridiculous argument.
The administration also says that the vote was the start of a war against terrorism and that the spying operation is what Mr. Cheney calls a "wartime measure." That just doesn't hold up. The Constitution does suggest expanded presidential powers in a time of war. But the men who wrote it had in mind wars with a beginning and an end. The war Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney keep trying to sell to Americans goes on forever and excuses everything.
Other presidents did it. Mr. Gonzales, who had the incredible bad taste to begin his defense of the spying operation by talking of those who plunged to their deaths from the flaming twin towers, claimed historic precedent for a president to authorize warrantless surveillance. He mentioned George Washington, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. These precedents have no bearing on the current situation, and Mr. Gonzales's timeline conveniently ended with F.D.R., rather than including Richard Nixon, whose surveillance of antiwar groups and other political opponents inspired FISA in the first place. Like Mr. Nixon, Mr. Bush is waging an unpopular war, and his administration has abused its powers against antiwar groups and even those that are just anti-Republican.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is about to start hearings on the domestic spying. Congress has failed, tragically, on several occasions in the last five years to rein in Mr. Bush and restore the checks and balances that are the genius of American constitutional democracy. It is critical that it not betray the public once again on this score.
Barack's only been on the job for a year but he already knows how to talk like a pandering, wishy-washy Democrat:
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said he would vote Monday to filibuster Judge Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court, but he conceded the effort would be futile and criticized Democrats for failing to persuade Americans to take notice of the court's changing ideological face.Take it away Atrios:
"The Democrats have to do a much better job in making their case on these issues," Obama said Sunday on ABC News' "This Week." "These last-minute efforts - using procedural maneuvers inside the Beltway - I think has been the wrong way of going about it."
"I will be supporting the filibuster because I think Judge Alito, in fact, is somebody who is contrary to core American values, not just liberal values," Obama said. "When you look at his decisions - in particular, during times of war - we need a court that is independent and is going to provide some check on the executive branch."
But in the next breath, Obama criticized the merits of a filibuster. The senator has worked to avoid being portrayed as walking in lock step with Democratic partisans, but at the same time he is seeking to be responsive to a core constituency.
"We need to recognize, because Judge Alito will be confirmed, that, if we're going to oppose a nominee that we've got to persuade the American people that, in fact, their values are at stake," Obama said. "And frankly, I'm not sure that we've successfully done that."
I get very tired of Democrats using their very limited TV time to say things like "we need to do better" or "we need to do a better job explaining our views to the America." Just do it! Start explaining! Do better!
Photoshop Contests (a.k.a. "Too Much Free Time")
Via boingboing, I was made aware of Worth 1000's various photoshop contests. The first two images are from their Time Machine 9 contest (click link to view them all).
The one below is from their Size Matters 5 contest (once again, click the link to see more).
January 27, 2006
It's My Party...
...and I'll cry if I want to. Why? Because the Dems are a bunch of incompetent LOSERS:
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said on Friday he and fellow Democrats lack the votes to block President George W. Bush's nomination of conservative appeals judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court.Ooh. The Dems are going to express themselves. How wonderfully touchy-feely.
The concession reinforced the virtual certainty that Alito will be confirmed next week by the full Republican-led Senate on a largely party-line vote. Alito joining the nation's highest court could move it to the right on abortion and other social issues.
"Everyone knows there is not enough votes to support a filibuster," Reid said, referring to the procedural roadblock that some Democrats wanted to use to put off a vote on Alito.
The Nevada Democrat said, however, he would vote for such a measure to at least send a message. That vote will come on Monday with a Senate confirmation vote expected on Tuesday.
"I think it is an opportunity for people to express their opinion as to what a bad choice it was to replace (retiring Justice) Sandra Day O'Connor" with Alito, Reid told reporters after a speech.
Sen. John Kerry, who joined fellow Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy on Thursday in calling for a filibuster, returned from a trip to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland to make his case in the Senate.Good question. So why did you wait until the zero hour to ask it John? As a result of your impeccable timing and location, you're now, once again, just a pathetic punchline for Republicans:
"The critical question here is why are we so compelled to accept, in such a rush, a nominee who has so clearly been chosen for political and ideological reasons," said Kerry, who lost the 2004 presidential election to Bush.
Kerry's call the day before for Democratic senators to block the nomination drew ridicule from the White House.That Scott McClellan sure is a crack up -- that is when he's not being a stinking, lying weasel.
"This was the first time ever that a senator has called for a filibuster from the slopes of Davos, Switzerland," said White House press secretary Scott McClellan.
"Maybe Senator Kerry needs to be spending more time in the United States Senate so he can refresh his memory on Senate rules," McClellan said. "The Senate rules say you have to have the votes in order to filibuster."
I seriously don't know how much more of this I can take. She's filing her nails while they're dragging the lake. Oh, sorry. Musical brain fart...
Better Late Than Never
I was taken to task for not memorializing the great Wilson Pickett who sadly passed away last week at the age of 64 (I'm going to use my birthday hangover as an excuse).
I think this amazing clip of Wilson performing his biggest hit, Land of 1000 Dances, more than makes up for my lapse (but, alas, it does not cure hangovers). Enjoy & R.I.P. W.P.
Vintage AND Dated
Orson Welles will sell no wine before he drinks it...
Pink Floyd's "Arnold Layne"
There was a time (1967 to be exact) when you could make an interesting music video for just a few hundred dollars. Syd, still wish you were here...
The Theme from "Mothra"
Performed by everybody's favorite Japanese twins, The Peanuts. Click here to listen.
I swear, for some reason, this song haunted me as a kid (I think the twins scared me more than the monster). Compare & contrast:
"SHEBAM! POW! BLOP! WIZZ!"
Courtesy of YouTube, the fabulous Brigitte Bardot and the inexplicable Serge Gainsbourg (hack? genius? pervert? French) perform a surreal little ditty called "Comic Strip" which actually contains the lyrics quoted above - and no, it has nothing to do with gastro-intestinal problems and yes, it's work safe. However, the clip with Serge & Whitney Houston is not. You can find that on your own (Hint: Click the link).
January 26, 2006
He So Funny
Bush Uses Humor to Deflect the Heat
President Bush's first news conference of the year was just a camera strap away from becoming hazardous to reporters.Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Stop it George, you're killing me.
As the president began his opening statement, a camera that the news service AFP had hung from the ceiling dropped and nearly fell on the heads below. It was caught by its strap, and Bush stopped and looked at it dangling precariously.
"Are you wearing your helmets?" he joked to reporters sitting in the White House briefing room.
Bush was full of quips during the 45-minute news conference, poking fun at the media and deflecting some of the heat when questioning got intense.
Yes, Bush acknowledged, he had his picture taken with admitted criminal Jack Abramoff.
"Having my picture taken with someone doesn't mean that I'm a friend with him or know him very well," he said. "I've had my picture taken with you at holiday parties."
* (Click the pic for a bonus soundbite!)
Bush/Abramoff Photos Uncovered!
Courtesy of Monk at Inflatable Dartboard. Go there to see the other one...
Katie, Perky as Ever, Quotes Republican Talking Points
Watch it here.
I just sent the following e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. It was fun and easy:
Dear Mr. McCormick:Thanks to firedoglake and Suburban Guerilla for the suggestion.
On this morning's Today Show, Katie Couric had the following exchange with Howard Dean:Katie: Hey, wait a second. Democrats took-Democrats took money from Abramoff too, Mr. Dean.I am writing you to make sure that you do, indeed, look into this and clarify it to your viewers immediately. All you have to do is go here:
Howard: That is absolutely false. That did not happen. Not one dime of money from Jack Abramoff went to any Democrat at any time.
Katie: According to the CRP, Abramoff and his associates gave 3 million dollars to republicans and 1.5 million to democrats...
Katie: We'll obviously have to look into that and clarify that to our viewers at a later date...
Then, type in "Abramoff" and check off the appropriate election cycles. You'll have all of the clarification you need.
I expect to see a personal apology from Katie on tomorrow's show.
"Senators in Need of a Spine"
Wow. The New York Times is recommending that the Democrats filibuster Alito:
WE INTERRUPT THIS POST TO BRING YOU BREAKING NEWS:
WE INTERRUPT THIS POST TO BRING YOU BREAKING NEWS:
A "confirmed" report says John Kerry is trying to round up votes for a filibuster.And now back to our regularly scheduled New York Times excerpt:
Judge Samuel Alito Jr., whose entire history suggests that he holds extreme views about the expansive powers of the presidency and the limited role of Congress, will almost certainly be a Supreme Court justice soon. His elevation will come courtesy of a president whose grandiose vision of his own powers threatens to undermine the nation's basic philosophy of government — and a Senate that seems eager to cooperate by rolling over and playing dead.
It is hard to imagine a moment when it would be more appropriate for senators to fight for a principle. Even a losing battle would draw the public's attention to the import of this nomination...
There was nothing that Judge Alito said in his hearings that gave any comfort to those of us who wonder whether the new Roberts court will follow precedent and continue to affirm, for instance, that a man the president labels an "unlawful enemy combatant" has the basic right to challenge the government's ability to hold him in detention forever without explanation. His much-quoted statement that the president is not above the law is meaningless unless he also believes that the law requires the chief executive to defer to Congress and the courts.
Judge Alito's refusal to even pretend to sound like a moderate was telling because it would have cost him so little. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., who was far more skillful at appearing mainstream at the hearings, has already given indications that whatever he said about the limits of executive power when he was questioned by the Senate has little practical impact on how he will rule now that he has a lifetime appointment.
Senate Democrats, who presented a united front against the nomination of Judge Alito in the Judiciary Committee, seem unwilling to risk the public criticism that might come with a filibuster — particularly since there is very little chance it would work (Editor: So much for spine). Judge Alito's supporters would almost certainly be able to muster the 60 senators necessary to put the nomination to a final vote.
A filibuster is a radical tool. It's easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.
From the "Cool of Cash" to the "Feh of Federline"
Sample comment on You Tube:
"What an idiot, words do not express how retarded he is"
Feh (interj.) - Indicates disapproval or displeasure: Feh, don't touch that dirty thing. (from InfoPlease's Yiddish Glossary)
"The One On The Right Is On The Left"
Johnny Cash warns against mixing politics and music (jokingly, I have to assume but maybe not), many years before the Dixie Chicks were "Dixie Chicked." The best part (which has to be seen to be believed): The "Leg Cross" (dang, he sure was cool).
"The One On The Right Is On The Left"
There once was a musical troupe
A pickin' singin' folk group
They sang the mountain ballads
And the folk songs of our land
They were long on musical ability
Folks thought they would go far
But political incompatibility led to their downfall
Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear was a Methodist
This musical aggregation toured the entire nation
Singing the traditional ballads
And the folk songs of our land
They performed with great virtuosity
And soon they were the rage
But political animosity prevailed upon the stage
Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear burned his driver's license
Well the curtain had ascended
A hush fell on the crowd
As thousands there were gathered to hear The folk songs of our land
But they took their politics seriously
And that night at the concert hall
As the audience watched deliriously
They had a free-for-all
Well, the one on the right was on the bottom
And the one in the middle was on the top
And the one on the left got a broken arm
And the guy in the rear, said, "Oh dear"
Now this should be a lesson if you plan to start a folk group
Don't go mixin' politics with the folk songs of our land
Just work on harmony and diction
Play your banjo well
And if you have political convictions keep them to yourself
Now, the one on the left works in a bank
And the one in the middle drives a truck
The one on the right's an all-night deejay
And the guy in the rear got drafted
Sort of like "I saw a DEADHEAD sticker on a Cadillac" only different
I meant to post this the other day: Driving north on New Jersey's world-famous Garden State Parkway this past Sunday, my wife and I saw a member of the United States Marine Corps with the following bumper sticker:
We both thought that was a good sign (you know, turning of the tide and all that). You can buy your own here.
Politics is EVERYWHERE!!!
I Heart Ricky Gervais.
"I actually wasn't concerned about him before I was concerned about him"
(via Oliver Willis)
George W. Bush: “When he [Bin Laden] says he’s going to hurt the American people again or try to, he means it. I take it seriously and the people of NSA take it seriously and most of the American people take it seriously as well”
George W. Bush: “I truly am not that concerned about him [Bin Laden].”(Pinball machine image stolen from, I kid you not, Mr. Pinball)
Shut the Hell Up, Al
Doesn't he have anything better to do?
(via the AP)
Al Sharpton Criticizes 'Boondocks'
The Rev. Al Sharpton has asked for an apology from Cartoon Network for an episode of edgy animated series "The Boondocks" that shows the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. saying the n-word."The Boondocks" didn't get the best of reviews when it premiered last Fall and I, foolishly listening to the critics, avoided watching it even though I had TIVO'd the first episode. However, I finally watched it last night and, IMHO, I'd have to say it was very smart and entertaining. I can't speak for the MLK show but I have absolutely no argument with the premise. Perhaps Al's just jealous because his TV show, "I Hate My Job," was such a complete failure (only eight episodes ever aired).
"Cartoon Network must apologize and also commit to pulling episodes that desecrate black historic figures," Sharpton, a civil-rights activist and former Democratic presidential candidate, said in a statement Tuesday.
"We are totally offended by the continuous use of the n-word in (cartoonist Aaron) McGruder's show."
The episode, "The Return of the King," aired Jan. 15, the day before the national holiday honoring the slain civil-rights leader. It shows King emerging from a coma and using the n-word in an angry speech venting his frustration toward sexually explicit hip-hop videos, among other things.
In the episode, King is branded a traitor and terrorist sympathizer for his "turn-the-other cheek" philosophy of nonviolence in response to post-Sept. 11 retaliation. Exhausted, he moves to Canada, but his speech provokes a second civil-rights revolution.
Cartoon Network released a statement Tuesday saying the episode is a tribute to King and "in no way was meant to offend or `desecrate'" his name.
"We think Aaron McGruder came up with a thought-provoking way of not only showing Dr. King's bravery but also of reminding us of what he stood and fought for, and why even today, it is important for all of us to remember that and to continue to take action," the statement said.
Maybe Al can go back to shilling for predatory lenders LoanMax...
For those of you who do not have Times Select, here's a must-read op-ed:
A President Who Can Do No Right
By BOB HERBERT* Copyright 2006 The New York Times CompanyWe should be used to it by now. There are a couple of Congressional committees trying to investigate the tragic Hurricane Katrina debacle, but the Bush administration is refusing to turn over certain documents or allow certain senior White House officials to testify before the committees under oath.
Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat who is by no means unfriendly to the Bush crowd, said this week, "There has been a near-total lack of cooperation that has made it impossible, in my opinion, for us to do the thorough investigation that we have a responsibility to do."
Once again the president has, in effect, flipped the bird at Congress. He's amazing. Forget such fine points as the Constitution and the separation of powers. George W. Bush does what he wants to do. He won fewer votes than Al Gore in 2000 and then governed as if he'd been elected by acclamation. He dispensed with John Kerry in 2004 by portraying himself — a man who ran and hid from the draft during Vietnam — as more of a warrior than Mr. Kerry, a decorated combat veteran of that war.
Reality has been dealt a stunning blow by Mr. Bush. The administration's high-handedness with the Katrina investigators comes at the same time as disclosures showing that the White House was warned in the hours just before the hurricane hit New Orleans that it might well cause catastrophic flooding and the breaching of the city's levees.
That was early on the morning of last Aug. 29. On Sept. 1, with the city all but completely underwater, the president went on television and blithely declared, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."
This guy is something. Remember his "Top Gun" moment aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln? And his famous taunt — "Bring 'em on" — to the insurgents in Iraq? His breathtaking arrogance is exceeded only by his incompetence. And that's the real problem. That's where you'll find the mind-boggling destructiveness of this regime, in its incompetence.
Fantasy may be in fashion. Reality may have been shoved into the shadows on Mr. Bush's watch. But the plain truth is that he is the worst president in memory, and one of the worst of all time. Many thousands of people — men, women and children — have died unnecessarily (and thousands more are suffering) because of his misguided and mishandled policies.
Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser for George H. W. Bush, counseled against the occupation of Iraq at the end of the first gulf war. As recounted in a New Yorker article last fall, he said, "At the minimum, we'd be an occupier in a hostile land. Our forces would be sniped at by guerrillas, and, once we were there, how would we get out?"
George W. Bush had no such concerns. In fact, he joked about his failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Like a frat boy making cracks about a bad bet on a football game, Mr. Bush displayed what he felt was a hilarious set of photos during a spoof that he performed at the annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents Association in March 2004.
The photos showed the president peering behind curtains and looking under furniture in the Oval Office for the missing weapons. Mr. Bush offered mock captions for the photos, saying, "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." And, "Nope, no weapons over there, maybe under here."
This week, as the killing of American G.I.'s and innocent Iraqis continued, we learned from a draft report from the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction that, like the war itself, the Bush plan for rebuilding Iraq has been crippled by incompetence and extreme shortages of personnel. I doubt that this will bother the president any more than any of his other failures. He seems to truly believe that he can do no wrong.
The fiasco in Iraq and the president's response to the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe were Mr. Bush's two most spectacular foul-ups. There have been many others. The president's new Medicare prescription drug program has been a monumental embarrassment, leaving some of the most vulnerable members of our society without essential medication. Prominent members of the president's own party are balking at the heavy hand of his No Child Left Behind law, which was supposed to radically upgrade the quality of public education.
The Constitution? Civil liberties? Don't ask.
Just keep in mind, whatever your political beliefs, that incompetence in high places can have devastating consequences.
January 25, 2006
Even though I might seem like a completely cynical person to you, my blogger fan(s), I do love many things about our mixed up, crazy world. One of them is the Muppets performing "Mahnahmahna":
Buddy Rich vs. Animal also rocks:
Farewell Nice Guy Eddie
If you're unfamiliar with the work of Sean's brother, do yourself a favor and rent both Reservoir Dogs and Robert Altman's Short Cuts.
Bush to New Orleans: Drop Dead (and Screw You Congress)
The Bush administration, citing the confidentiality of executive branch communications, said Tuesday that it did not plan to turn over certain documents about Hurricane Katrina or make senior White House officials available for sworn testimony before two Congressional committees investigating the storm response.What could they possibly be hiding? Hmmn. Perhaps the fact that Bush is a big, fat LIAR? Oops, too late:
The White House this week also formally notified Representative Richard H. Baker, Republican of Louisiana, that it would not support his legislation creating a federally financed reconstruction program for the state that would bail out homeowners and mortgage lenders. Many Louisiana officials consider the bill crucial to recovery, but administration officials said the state would have to use community development money appropriated by Congress.
The White House's stance on storm-related documents, along with slow or incomplete responses by other agencies, threatens to undermine efforts to identify what went wrong, Democrats on the committees said Tuesday...
"The White House and the administration are cooperating with both the House and Senate," (deputy White House spokesman Trent) Duffy said. "But we have also maintained the president's ability to get advice and have conversations with his top advisers that remain confidential."
...Other members of the committees said the executive branch communications were essential because it had become apparent that one of the most significant failures was the apparent lack of complete engagement by the White House and the federal government in the days immediately before and after the storm.
"When you have a natural disaster, the president needs to be hands-on, and if anyone in his staff gets in the way, he needs to push them away," said Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican and member of the House investigating committee. "The response was pathetic."
The White House was told in the hours before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans that the city would probably soon be inundated with floodwater, forcing the long-term relocation of hundreds of thousands of people, documents to be released Tuesday by Senate investigators show.I am getting soooooo sick of writing "Worst...President...Ever."
A Homeland Security Department report submitted to the White House at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, hours before the storm hit, said, "Any storm rated Category 4 or greater will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching."
The internal department documents, which were forwarded to the White House, contradict statements by President Bush and the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, that no one expected the storm protection system in New Orleans to be breached.
"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," Mr. Bush said in a television interview on Sept. 1. "Now we're having to deal with it, and will."
(Image courtesy of chrisheijmans.nl weblog - but I have no idea whether she made it or stole it from someone else. Fair use, baby. Fair use.)
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
from reader Bob:
President George W. Bush was scheduled to visit the Methodist Church outside Washington as part of his last campaign. Karl Rove made a visit to the Bishop and said to him, "We've been getting a lot of bad publicity among Methodists because of Bush's position on stem cell research, the War, and such. I'll gladly make a contribution to the church of $100,000 if during your sermon, you'd say the President is a saint." The Bishop thinks it over for a few moments and says, "The Church is in desperate need of funds. I will do it."
Bush pompously shows up that following Sunday, looking especially smug, sneering for his photo ops, while strutting his way, cowboy-style, into the church. As the sermon starts, the Bishop begins his homily:"George Bush is a petty, self-absorbed hypocrite as well as a nitwit. He is a liar, a cheat, probably still a drunk, and a low-intelligence sneaky weasel. He has lied about his military record, and then had the gall to put himself in uniform on a military jet, landing on a carrier, and then posing before a banner stating 'Mission Accomplished.' He invaded a country for oil and money, all the while lying to the American people about the war, with nary a care for the thousands of lives it has taken and continues to take.
He is the worst example of a Methodist I've ever personally known or known of. But compared to Dick Cheney, George Bush is a saint."
(Image courtesy of TheocracyWatch.org)
January 24, 2006
Pavement (the Drawings, Not the Band)
A friend sent me an e-mail today about artist Julian Beever who makes "anamorphic illusions drawn (with chalk) in a special distortion in order to create an impression of 3 dimensions when seen from one particular viewpoint." Say what? Check 'em out:
Here's one first seen at the wrong angle followed by the correct angle:
Pretty cool, huh? For more, go here.
Look, nobody wants to say "We told you so," but we told you so:
The first official history of the $25 billion American reconstruction effort in Iraq depicts a program hobbled from the outset by gross understaffing, a lack of technical expertise, bureaucratic infighting, secrecy and constantly increasing security costs, according to a preliminary draft...A fine example of our tax dollars at work! And that's just $25 billion of reconstruction money down the drain. We now know the total cost of this fiasco is going to cost us over $2 trillion.
In the document, the paralyzing effect of staffing shortfalls and contracting battles between the State Department and the Pentagon, creating delays of months at a stretch, are described for the first time from inside the program.
The document also recounts concerns about writing contracts for an entity with the "ambiguous legal status" of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the question of whether it was an American entity or a multinational one like NATO.
Ah, remember the quaint old days when we were
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz: “There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.”As Gavin & Friends would say: Sadly, no.
These Days, To Keep Up With The Kids, You Have To Take Two Giant Steps Backwards
Seriously, this has to be the most unnecessary idea ever (courtesy of Walt Disney Records):
Oy, and DEVO co-founder Gerald Casale directed their video of Whip It.
If you're a parent or a kid, please, I implore you: Buy the originals.
From Rising Hegemon:
Spying equals "Terrorist Surveillance Program"
That's what they are calling it now.
Impeachment equals "American Restoration Program"
But My Birthday Was Last Week...
(From the extremely right wing Washington Times):
The Bush administration is bracing for impeachment hearings in Congress.My wife gave me a spiffy new electric guitar but (no offense dear) impeaching the Chimp would be the bestest present ever.
"A coalition in Congress is being formed to support impeachment," an administration source said.
Sources said a prelude to the impeachment process could begin with hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. They said the hearings would focus on the secret electronic surveillance program and whether Mr. Bush violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
And Now, To Tie My Last Two Posts Together...
...more eloquence from our Commander in Chief:
Question: You're a rancher; a lot of us here in Kansas are ranchers. I just wanted to get your opinion on "Brokeback Mountain," if you had seen it yet ... (laughter) ... You would love it. You should check it out.Applause?
Bush: I hadn't seen it. I would be glad to talk about ranchin' but I haven't seen the movie ... I've heard about it ... I hope you go, uh, you know ... heh, heh ... I hope you go back to the ranch and the farm is what I was going to say ... I hadn't seen it (laughter, applause).
An adviser to President Bush said Monday that Bush's photographs in the company of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff amount to a coincidence and shouldn't be interpreted any more seriously than that.Well, it looks like the intrepid Tom Tomorrow has found one of the Bush-Abramoff photos and it's quite open to interpretation (if you know what I mean):
What part of this don't you understand?
Bush Explains Medicare Drug Bill (e-mailed from a friend):
WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: "I don't really understand. How is the new plan going to fix the problem?"
PRESIDENT BUSH (verbatim response): "Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to that has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, supposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."
January 23, 2006
Okay, I know I'm betraying a "so-five-minutes-ago" mentality by just now admitting to discovering the joys of YouTube, but I can't help it. Especially when they post videos of dogs and humans in silly situations:
You Have Nothing To Fear But Queers...
...and, of course, Democrats. While poking around YouTube, I also found this "tolerant" gem from Pat Robertson on The Larry King Show:
Make sure you stick around for at least 2 minutes so you can hear Pat, during an unaired commercial break, refer to his last caller and say, "That guy was a homo, as sure as you're alive." Oh no! A homo! Run for your lives!
Yikes, I better check and see if my tradional marriage is still okay...
Well, it was just a matter of time:
Click the helpful center button to watch the West Coast response to "Lazy Sunday"
The Mets Take Out The Trash
The NY Mets finally got rid of pitcher Kris Benson, his overpriced $7.5million salary, his disappointing 4.13 E.R.A., his lackluster 10-8 record and, perhaps, most importantly, his embarrassment of a wife, Anna Benson. Oh sure, some of the things she said when her husband first became a Met were entertaining (if not completely inappropriate):
"I told him [Kris] -- because that's the biggest thing in athletics, they cheat all the time -- I told him, cheat on me all you want. If you get caught, I'm going to screw everybody on your entire team -- coaches, trainers, players. I would do everybody on his whole team.”But you've got to believe her big, stupid mouth is ultimately what caused the Mets to dump Benson. Here she is accusing the Mets of wanting to trade her husband because she was negotiating to pose in Playboy:
"How are they going to sit there and say it's so controversial when they sign someone like (recent Mets acquisition Carlos) Delgado, who turns his back on our flag?" Anna Benson said. (Editor: Delgado refuses to stand for the traditional singing of "God Bless America" in protest of U.S. foreign policy)Anna previously was quoted as saying, "We would never, ever have signed with New York if they had said they were going to trade us." WE? I'm sorry, but while I'm a firm believer in husbands and wives having equal say in every major life decision, especially when it comes to job relocation for either spouse, the bottom line is that the NY Mets did not sign Anna Benson.
"Playboy is all-American. Everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Cindy Crawford has posed," fumed Benson, who once posed topless for Penthouse. "They didn't turn their back on the flag."
"Be liberal or not," Anna Benson said, comparing the Mets' disregard of Delgado's reputation with their concern for hers.
Lest you think I'm being too harsh on Anna, here's some of her thoughtful prose:
Dear Mr. (Michael) Moore,
I honestly have to tell you... I hate your fucking guts. Forget about how un-American you are, how politically retarded you are, or how fat you look while slobbering your political garbage all over everyone mainly , I despise you for the fact that you make money off of influencing the young minds of America to be Bush-haters. Personally, I do not agree with some of the President's decisions; however, I am wise enough to blame our entire country for poor decisions. We voted him in. Twice. I am also deferential enough toward our country not to make public remarks about our CIC because I have respect for him; I respect authority and do not lay blame on one man's head. I felt your, "Bowling for Columbine," to be in poor taste just like the way you live your life. Let's look at you for a moment... you, an overweight, sloppy man, who points his fat little finger at everyone else all the time and makes money from American tragedy. What have you done for America except to drag it down with your inaccurate portrayal of our government? You, a big-mouth waste that uses his "movie" making to influence uneducated America. You are not a politician, but you should be with the diarrhea of inaccurate information and sensationalism that spews from those lips, but, then again, that is just like a "movie" maker does.
You are a pariah to our nation... the fat kid who got beat up by the jocks at school, and this has formulated your hatred of America. If I didn't know any better, I would think that George W. himself went to school with you and kicked the shit out of your pie-hole everyday for being such a candy-ass. If you are so passionate about politics, use some of your blood-making money to make it a better place instead of making movies that only benefit your fat-ass fanny-pack. No one likes to see Hollywood try to engage our minds with their ridiculous and one-sided political rants during award ceremonies. Your "movies" are just a façade hiding your own political agenda, which, by the way, is fucking warped. Have you ever been diplomatic and unbiased in your "reporting" of our national disgraces? No, and you know it. You are a selfish, pathetic excuse for an American, and you can take your big, fat ass over to Iraq and get your pig head cut off and stuck on a pig pole. Then, you can have your equally as fat wife make a documentary about how loudly you squealed while terrorists were cutting through all the blubber and chins to get that 40 pound head off of you. I dare you to go to Iraq and diarrhea all over our soldiers; they would love to strip you naked in the streets and leave you so that the terrorists can pick you up and dispose of you the way terrorists do. If you believe that Iraq and Al-Qaeda were not together, go over there and see for yourself. The only reason you were and are against this war is because you are too much of a waste to fight for your rights as an American and to punish those responsible along with their allies. I bet the people of Iraq are very happy to be liberated from a man who is a criminal and was a detriment to the World - not just the USA. Ask them if they are happy to be liberated. Furthermore, Iraq got what they deserved when they refused to allow UN inspections...
You should be charged with treason and scorned for being anti-American. You look me in the eyes and tell me that the families of 9/11 don't deserve vengeance from these terrorists who will never stop trying to destroy us. What? Are we supposed to turn the other cheek on an attack like that? Fuck you. It doesn't matter how much money we put into health care when these Muslim radicals will stop at nothing to kill Jews and Christians. I think that if they succeed in their mission, health care is irrelevant. I hope that you take this letter, with your thousands of other hate letters, and use it to preach about wasting trees so that you can go hug them while the rest of the country is riding out this storm. We are Americans. We are fighting a war. And if you don't want to be a part of it, take yourself on your little, private jet to France and drown with those pussies in their wine while living next door to terrorists. You are a terrorist of your own kind with your mediocre film career. I think of you as a bigmouth who has lots to say without ever getting your chubby little hands dirty by actually making a difference... a bigmouth who only makes money from exploiting America. I guess you do have one quality that I like: the ability to make educated Americans distinguish between a "movie" and facts.
How To Form An Argument Without Alienating People
I thought this op-ed in yesterday's NY Times was right on the money:
Every year, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, pro-lifers add up the fetuses killed since Roe and pray for the outlawing of abortion. And every year, pro-choicers fret that we're one Supreme Court justice away from losing "the right to choose." One side is so afraid of freedom it won't trust women to do the right thing. The other side is so afraid of morality it won't name the procedure we're talking about.
It's time to shake up this debate. It's time for the abortion-rights movement to declare war on abortion...
Once you agree that the goal is fewer abortions, the only thing left to debate is how to get there. As a politician might put it: "My opponent and I are both pro-life. We want to avoid as many abortions as we can. The difference is, I trust women to work with me toward that objective, and he doesn't."
Isn't that better than anything you heard from John Kerry?
The problem with using restrictions to reduce the number of abortions isn't that the restrictions are judgmental. It's that they're crude. They leap too easily from judgment to legislation and criminalization. They drag police officers, prosecutors and politicians into personal tragedies. Most people don't want such intrusion. But you lose them up front by refusing to concede that there's anything wrong with abortion. You have to offer them anti-abortion results (fewer abortions) without anti-abortion laws.
The pro-choice path to those results is simple. Help every woman when she doesn't want an abortion: before she's pregnant. That means abstinence for those who can practice it, and contraception for everybody else. Nearly half of the unintended pregnancies in this country result in abortions, and at least half of our unintended pregnancies are attributable to women who didn't use contraception. The pregnancy rate among these women astronomically exceeds the pregnancy rate among women who use contraception. The No. 1 threat to the unborn isn't the unchurched. It's the unprotected.
Solutions are already on the table. Give more money to Title X, the federal program that finances family-planning. Expand health insurance and access to morning-after pills. Educate teenagers about sex, birth control and abstinence. Many of these ideas are in the Prevention First Act, which Democrats ritually file and Republicans ritually ignore. Some pro-choice activists would go further, by pushing for more contraceptive diligence in the abortion counseling process, especially on the part of those women who come back for a second abortion. What's missing is a clear anti-abortion message to unite these proposals.
Yet Another Bad Apple
A senior Army interrogator was convicted late Saturday of negligent homicide in the death of an Iraqi general after he shoved the general head-first into a sleeping bag, sat on his chest and put his hands over his mouth.The maximum penalty? Three years in a military prison! Not bad for murder. Check out his defense:
Defense lawyers countered that Mr. Welshofer, a 19-year Army veteran, did nothing illegal and was using a technique that his commander had approved for use on uncooperative prisoners.And here I always assumed that these bad apples were simply acting on their own. Who could've ever imagined that torture and inhumane treatment were actually U.S. policy? Oh, right:
A former top State Department official said (Nov. 20, 2005) that Vice President Dick Cheney provided the "philosophical guidance" and "flexibility" that led to the torture of detainees in U.S. facilities...
"His implementer in this case was [Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld and the Defense Department."
...Wilkerson said "the vice president had to cover this in order for it to happen and in order for Secretary Rumsfeld to feel as though he had freedom of action."
Yet Another Heckuva Job
Paul Krugman in today's NY Times:
So why is power scarcer than ever, almost three years after Saddam's fall? Sabotage by insurgents is one factor. But as an analysis of Iraq's electricity shortage in The Los Angeles Times last month showed, the blackouts are also the result of some incredible missteps by U.S. officials.
Most notably, during the period when Iraq was run by U.S. officials, they decided to base their electricity plan on natural gas: in order to boost electrical output, American companies were hired to install gas-fired generators in power plants across Iraq. But, as The Los Angeles Times explains, "pipelines needed to transport the gas" - that is, to supply gas to the new generators - "weren't built because Iraq's Oil Ministry, with U.S. encouragement, concentrated instead on boosting oil production." Whoops.
Meanwhile, in the early days of the occupation U.S. officials chose not to raise the prices of electricity and fuel, which had been kept artificially cheap under Saddam, for fear of creating unrest. But as a first step toward their dream of turning Iraq into a free-market utopia, they removed tariffs and other restrictions on the purchase of imported consumer goods.
The result was that wealthy and middle-class Iraqis rushed to buy imported refrigerators, heaters and other power-hungry products, and the demand for electricity surged - with no capacity available to meet that surge in demand. This caused even more blackouts.
In short, U.S. officials thoroughly botched their handling of Iraq's electricity sector. They did much the same in the oil sector. But the Bush administration is determined to achieve victory in Iraq, so it must have a plan to rectify its errors, right?
January 21, 2006
(Almost) Sunday Funnies
January 20, 2006
"Of course, you know, this means war!" *
Well, at least it should:
Frist calls Alito Democrats' "nightmare"
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told Republican Party activists on Friday night that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito was the "worst nightmare of liberal Democrats."Nice spin Bob.
Frist, a Tennessee Republican, made the remark to fellow Republicans during a private tour he gave them of the Senate chamber when the Senate was not in session.
Frist was not available for comment following his remarks.
Asked about the senator's remark, Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said that Alito "is a thoughtful mainstream conservative jurist who is well respected by his peers, by Democrats and Republicans alike."
Seriously, Frist is talking trash, laughing it up and telling his cronies that the other side is fucked and what are the "liberal Democrats" doing about it? I'd like to see some of our so-called leaders step up to the plate and become Frist's worst nightmare. A filibuster would probably make his head explode.
* "Of course, you know, this means war!" - Groucho Marx, Duck Soup (1933) as well as Bugs Bunny, Porky's Hare Hunt (1938) and numerous other Bugs Bunny cartoons. From Wikipedia:Democrats, you officially have my permission to inflict havoc on the antagonistic, bullying, threatening cheats otherwise known as Republicans.Worrying that audiences would lose sympathy for an aggressor who always won, (Director Chuck) Jones found the perfect way to make Bugs sympathetic in the films by having the antagonist repeatedly bully, cheat or threaten Bugs in some way. Thus offended, (usually three times) Bugs would often drawl "Of course you know, dis means war" (a line which Jones noted was taken from Groucho Marx) and the audience gives Bugs silent permission to inflict his havoc, having earned his right to retaliate and/or defend himself.
Celebrity Sue Fest!
Tom Cruise has apparently stopped Comedy Central from rerunning South Park's "Trapped in the Closet" episode.
But, thanks to the internets, you can watch the entire episode here.
Meanwhile, Mel Gibson's lawyers have sent "Mel Gibson's Blog" a little letter:
Doesn't anyone have a sense of humor anymore?
Um, I guess when you're full time crazy, there's no time for laughter.