Thursday, August 28, 2003

Everyone should read this piece by neocon war cheerleaders Robert Kagan and Bill kristol in The Weekly Standard.
Looks like someone's war didn't work out as planned. Oops.
Or should I say


Someone threatened Sam Katz, running as Republican candidate for mayor in Philadelphia, with a firebomb.
I guess this will come out as spiteful or mean-spirited, but so fucking what?
Republicans have done nothing but terrorize normal Americans for the past 2 years, starting a war, attacking social programs and services, and running the economy into a ditch. Philadelphians have suffered because of Republicans. And now they're surprised and angry that someone threw a firebomb into one of their offices?
Gimme a fucking break. It was probably planted by Katz's people anyway: what kind of idiot throws a firebomb and doesn't light the wick?
Sam Katz's sole plateform is "I'm not John Street." Maybe he thinks he can get some sympathy votes by pretending to bomb himself. What a fucking dork...

By the way this isn't to endorse violence against Sam Katz. There's too much violence in the world as it is.
Though apparently a couple of people (Street's people) have suggested that faking a firebombing was a dirty trick Karl Rove has played before.
Katz's main platform, as I see it, is "I'm not John Street." He's for lower wage taxes, but then so is Street (albeit reluctantly). It is true that Philly's wage tax is punitive, but I don't see how Katz, a Republican mayor facing a Democrat majority council, would be necessarily able to push his tax cut and faster than Street can pass his more moderate cuts.
Also this whole "I'm a republican, i'm a businessman, you can trust me with your money" is proving to be a crock of shit. I don't think that anyone can argue that Republican economic policy, together with its giveaways to big business, has done anything good to our economy. The fact is you cannot trust Republicans with money (you can't trust Republicans period).

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Let me tell you my friends, it is a damn fucking scary thing when you find yourself nodding in agreement with Pat fucking Buchanan, but there it is.
President Bush should go back and discover who misled him into believing the Iraqis would welcome us as liberators and that democracy would flourish in the Islamic world. If the creation of a democratic Iraq seemed a utopian goal before last week, today it is hard to see even a glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel...
The neoconservatives who plotted this war before they ever met George Bush, and who prodded and pushed him into it, are now pushing for confrontation with Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Their agenda is not now and has never been America's agenda. President Bush would be well advised to clean house of these neocons and go talk to the Old Man in Kennebunkport about what we should do now.
His father may not have understood politics, but he understood the world better than the crazed ideologues who captured his son.

"The Dean Deception": Poor research, poor logic.

I read about halfway through this article before I had to stop.
It seems to me that Raimondo is woefully uninformed about Dean's history: he also takes a stance vis US occupation of Iraq that I'm not sure I agree with.

I lived in Northampton, Massachusetts, next door to Vermont, for 6-odd years and indeed many of my friends come from the Green Mountain State. If Dean's conservative democrat pedigree was some kind of secret, it was a damn open secret to all of us: he fought against the left to balance the vermont budget; he passed civil unions only under severe pressure, and if I'm correct in the end I think he passed the buck to the VT superior court. He wasn't conservative like these nazis who call themselves republican conservatives, but he has NEVER been a total lefty.
Let me say that although I support Dean, I do so warily. I do not know if in the end I will vote for him.

As for Dean's comments regarding US occupation in Iraq, what does the writer propose we do other than bring our troops home immediately? Is there any doubt what will happen in that artificially-created country if a power vacuum is left? Between sanctions and war, we have made the place a shambles: there is the potential for mass starvation, civil and religious war, and all sorts of not very nice things. The writer conveniently leaves out the fact that Dean wants to make amends with the UN and the international community. Dean's stance quite frankly is not quite out of step with my own, and I stood fervently and actively against the war: we broke it, we bought it. For our own national security, we cannot leave Iraq until the country has stabilized. Whether that is to an indigenous government or to a temporary United Nations/ NATO admisnitration, I cannot say.

"Bringing democracy to Iraq is not a two-year proposition. Having elections alone doesn't guarantee democracy. You've got to have institutions and the rule of law, and in a country that hasn't had that in 3,000 years, it's unlikely to suddenly develop by having elections and getting the heck out."

Of these statements, only the 3,000 years reference strikes me as tangibly false. Hussein's dictatorship was a system of laws and institutions. Hussein's law may have been unfair, but it seems to me it would have been impossible for Iraq to have survived 12 years of sanctions if there was not some rule of law holding the thing up. Raimondo mixes up the words and those who say them. Condoleeza Rice and William Kristol are evil people who cynically throw words like freedom, liberty, and democracy around, but that doesn't make it any less true that the US destroyed the Iraqis' entire system of government and is responsible for providing services to Iraqis until such time as the Iraqis can provide for themselves or the international community takes over (hopefully they will withhold all aid until bush is ejected from the Oval Office). Were the US to unilaterally and unconditionally pull out of Iraq tomorrow, leaving Iraq to the Iraqis, the world community would quite rightly HOWL that the US was abandoning the very people they had utterly destroyed. We would have even more blood on our hands than we do now.

Raimondo also doesn't seem to understand that the actions of one adminisitration can reverberate into the successor's administration and the successor after that. We feel the effects of the Voting Rights Act and Affirmative Action everyday, but often forget that these policies and programs were only established in the late 1960s. Bush's war will be an issue for the next 4 or 5 legitimate presidents: just because Bush goes away doesn't mean our recognizing the need to deal pragmatically with the consequences. While I am taken aback by Mr. Dean's argument that "Americans should have the final say" in Iraqi politics, I cannot quarrel with his recognition that "we are stuck there."

In fact, Raimondo doesn't seem to recognize that we ARE stuck there, making the preposterous claim that "although it wasn't before, Iraq is somehow mysteriously tied in with our "national security.""

Oh no? Let's see: we have a failed state (yes due to our economic and military intervention, but a failed state nonetheless) with a power vacuum bordered by neighbors who really DO have ties to terrorism: Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. The collapse of the state was largely our doing, and the local population are resentful of us. The failed state has the second largest oil deposit in the region. One of the neighbors, who shall not be named in 28 pages, has such a chokehold on the largest supply that we let them get away with flying planes into the world trade center in New York. And Raimondo says that leaving now, unconditionally, would be better?
Hogwash. The repercussions are even more horrific than the prospect of occupation.
To "stay the course" as Der Bush likes to say is no option: Mr. Dean, like other democrats, has explicitly stated the need to mend fences with the United Nations and our allies in Europe in fixing what we broke. The thievery the neocons are getting away with is despicable: that does not negate the fact that leaving Iraq now would be a crime as well.
From the washington post:
[Bush] also amplified an argument made by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday that "the coalition forces can deal with the terrorists now in Iraq, instead of having to deal with those terrorists elsewhere, including the United States." Today, Bush said that fighting terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere means "our people will not have to confront terrorist violence in New York, or St. Louis, or Los Angeles."


I have heard Mr. Bush and his associates say this before and it is just false.
Just because a large number of Islamist extremists itching to fight the US are traveling to Iraq doesn't mean that ALL of them are doing so. I think it's a mighty big stretch to assume all of the awful people who wish us harm are focused on Iraq. I think there are probably a number of awful people who are calculating whether another attack on US civilians would cripple the effort in Iraq. I don't know if that's true or not, but I do know that Mr. Bush's statement is dangerously misleading.
Just because all of our attention is on fighting in Iraq doesn't mean that our enemies are thinking the same way. I am sure there are some who relish Iraq as a distraction to the US... and are busy looking at back doors.

Monday, August 25, 2003

For the past few weeks I have been totally enthralled with a forgotten southern gospel band called The Sunshine Girls. I wish I could link to a site describing this phenomenal band but I can't: other than an uncredited lyric file on a Southern Gospel website, which I can at this writing no longer locate, there is absolutely nothing available about the trio.

For those who are not immersed in the singing traditions of the south, especially as recorded in the 50s, the genre is characterized by very high-pitched, almost keening, style of singing, with very close, deceptively complex harmonies. Some of the best examples of this would include the Blue Sky Boys, the Delmore Brothers, and of course the Louvin Brothers, widely considered the sine qua non in brother duets. It is in this within this stylistic group that the Sunshine Girls, Louise Clark, Margie Francis, and Sue Rock, belong, a tradition that has deep roots within the Baptist religion and shape note singing, a singing style that does not require instruments. A prominent sect in the southeastern United States, many Baptist churches at the time eschewed musical instruments (indeed, some still do), many country singers are immersed in this type of singing from the time they are children. Developed sometime in the 16th century, shape note singing uses a simplified 4 tone scale. The actual notes, as written on the musical staff, take the shape of triangles, rectangles, and circles in order to make sight reading easier, giving the style its name. It is a participatory style, as opposed to performance. The singers sit in what is called a hollow square, facing each other. the melody is "lined out" and in harmony, the singers raise their voices in song. When sung in the high-pitched, almost keening style of the Southeastern United States, these songs, typically hymns, can send chills of devotion down the spine of the most hardened sinner.

As for their story, the liner notes to the album were all I had to go on. And what an intriguing story they told! The trio was apparently discovered by a television producer, who brought them to the attention to Sam Phillips , the man responsible for Elvis and Roy Orbison. The Sunshine Girls however were not recorded at Sun, but at Sam's personal studio in Memphis. Nine of the 12 songs are originals, written by Ms. Clarke, and in my opinion, there is not a dud on the album. Thus, it was frustrating that my search for materials on the band proved fruitless. I tried Google searches; searching within the results of Google searches; writing to specialty record labels; and writing to internet discussion groups: dead end, dead end, dead end.
Until the day before yesterday. I myself am a bluegrass picker, and belong to a listserv called bluegrass-l. It should be stated here that while bluegrass has its share of celebrities and stars, the genre is characterized by a strong bond between performer and fan: many of the younger celebrities of bluegrass, such as Alison Kraus, actually started out as fans themselves. At festivals, stars such as Ralph Stanley, Del McCoury, and Ricky Skaggs not only make themselves available to sign autographs and shake hands with fans, many bandmembers appear at festivalgoers' campsites to pick and sing until long past midnight. It is thus that many bluegrass performers actually belong to the bluegrass-l, and soon after I posted my request, Sonny Osborne dropped me a line.

There was a group called the Sunshine ? Singers who sang with Red Foley in the late 40's/early 50's. One is the Grandmother of our fiddle player...Derek Deekins...have no idea if this is the same group...I will mention it to him and perhaps he will respond if it is in fact the same.

Two days later I got an encouraging note from Sonny:
You hit paydirt this time...

Derek Deekins will get all the information you want on these people. This is, in fact, the same group you are talking about.

His Grandmother, one of the singers, comes to our shows and to the Opry occasionally.

If possible, I would like to have a tape of that album. I don't remember whether you said you had it or not, but if so, I would appreciate it.

Contact him at the above address and he will help you.


Friday, August 22, 2003

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Mr Ashcroft's roadshow

Much of the criticism of the law has been shrill and ill-informed. It doesn't, as former vice president Al Gore suggested in a recent speech, let federal agents troop "into every public library in America and secretly monitor what the rest of us are reading." Such information can be gathered only in cases of national security, and with a warrant.

Well which is it?
What it allcomes down to is Washington Post lies. It is ridiculous to me that the Post editorialists actually believe they can say one thing in one sentence and then contradict it in the next without their readers noticing. here is the ACLU fact sheet on the PATRIOT Act.
You will notice section 215 of PATRIOT:
Section 215 vastly expands the FBI's power to spy on ordinary people living in the United States, including United States citizens and permanent residents.
The FBI need not show probable cause, nor even reasonable grounds to believe, that the person whose records it seeks is engaged in criminal activity.
The FBI need not have any suspicion that the subject of the investigation is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power.
The FBI can investigate United States persons based in part on their exercise of First Amendment rights, and it can investigate non-United States persons based solely on their exercise of First Amendment rights.
For example, the FBI could spy on a person because they don't like the books she reads, or because they don't like the web sites she visits. They could spy on her because she wrote a letter to the editor that criticized government policy.
Those served with Section 215 orders are prohibited from disclosing the fact to anyone else. Those who are the subjects of the surveillance are never notified that their privacy has been compromised.
If the government had been keeping track of what books a person had been reading, or what web sites she had been visiting, the person would never know.

In the next sentence, the Post says that Similarly, despite the Sturm und Drang over sneak-and-peak, such searches with delayed notification have been approved by judges for years, without noting that the House just passed legislation BANNING the PATRIOT Act's "sneak-n-peek" language. Why the Post, which was attacked often by the Nixon adminisitration and knows as well as anyone how the FBI and the CIA abused their domestic powers in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, defends a return to this type of surveillance is beyond me. Why they lie about it to their readers makes me nauseous.
I would warn anyone reading the Washington Post to be aware that their editorial writers lie and lie often. Their full-throated call to war, followed by weaseling columnists trying to back away after the shit hit the fan, is the case study in craven journalism.
Fuck the Washington Post.
One of the problems with blogging at work is that you don't always get to finish your articles. And as life moves so fast, you often don't get to revisit them and finish them. Like yesterday.
So anyway,
this is funny: Al Franken writing prank letters to John Ashcroft about abstinence.
And Ann Coulter isn't just a cunt, she's also a pussy. And so is Bill O'Reilly, according the NY Daily News, at least when they have to go head to head with the New York Observer's Joe Conason (scroll to the bottom to get the story).
That's funny too. When you stand up to a bully, they get scared.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Today is the day when everyone draws the wrong conclusion.
First, there's David Broder's column in the Washington Post, Conservative Governors With Tax Appeals.

INDIANAPOLIS -- When they were colleagues in the House of Representatives, it was hard to find two more conservative Republicans than Bob Riley of Alabama and Mark Sanford of South Carolina. Both of them decided to run for governor in their home states in 2002 and both defeated the Democrats who were seeking second terms.

And that meant that both of them inherited the same kind of budget woes that afflict almost all the states -- the byproduct of a long economic slump that has sapped tax revenue at the same time that Medicaid costs have been running out of control.

Their response has not been what you would expect. Unlike President Bush, who has allowed budget deficits to spin out of sight and prescribed tax cuts as the chief remedy for what ails the economy, Sanford and Riley have chosen a different -- and more difficult -- course"

What they did of course, was raise taxes, and Broder concludes, It is ironic to see the anti-tax sentiment emanating from Washington confronted by conscientious Republican governors. But you have to admire their courage -- and their realism.

I agree that they're doing the right thing, but to admire them for this is a bit much. I mean let's just look at the facts: for much of the past 20 years, the Republican answer to everything has been "cut taxes." Taxes are bad because it's your money and why should the government have any say over it," goes this simplistic line, propagating a myth that no one has to pay for anything. In this imaginary world, trash collection is free, roads maintain themselves, and no one needs government service for anything. And that reality does indeed work for the wealthy, who can afford to have their services taken care of by private interests. And these two yutzes profiled in Broder's article gladly supported tax cuts when they were in Congress. As Mark Sanford says, "no one was further out than I was in Congress when it came to [cutting] taxes." And now he's governor, and he's finding out that things aren't so abstract, and so he's raising taxes on cigarettes, which can pretty much be identified as a tax on the poor.
This is "admirable"?
Look, I'll give these Republican dunces credit for facing reality, but admiration is a bit much. After all, it was their rhetoric that led to the reality they find themselves in.

Next up is Robert Samuelson, who writes in Deregulation Mirage that deregulation isn't to blame for the blackout, don't think about it, don't talk about it. In fact, according to Samuelson, "no one is responsible for reliability."

Monday, August 18, 2003

The High Cost of War

CBS National Security Correspondent David Marin got a first-hand look at the high cost of the war with Iraq during a visit to army's Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington where some of the wounded are brought for treatment.

"This hospital is overloaded with orthopedics because of things like this; because there're so many amputees coming back from Iraq," said David Pettigrew.

You'll notice, she doesn't answer the question.

Given that the Washington Post's standard opinion on global warming is that the Bush administration has it wrong, that global warming MUST be addressed, I find it hard to understand why you feel an editorial that mocks the effects of global warming would be appropriate in your pages and why your paper feels the article shouldn't be up for discussion on your message boards. I realize temperatures in the 90s mean very little to you and me (I am in Philly and it is as broiling here as it is in D.C.), but in Europe they are not used to this type of weather and are not equipped to handle it. The tracks buckling in England is a genuine transportation crisis. And for crying out loud, the death toll is over 3,000 in France. This is not funny, this is big news, and quite frankly, I am appalled, but not necessarily surprised, by the Post's cavalier attitude toward human lives. Furthermore, this is something that should be up for discussion in the message board: environmental issues have been a staple of the board: why is this editorial any different?
Brendan Skwire

Dear Mr. Skwire,

As I noted in my first response to your query, in spite of the fact that I don't work on Sundays I do sometimes post for discussion Op-Eds and columns from Sunday's Outlook section. I occasionally "pop-in" on a Sunday to post them, or I'll post them on Monday if time is available. But I do not regularly post every Op-Ed or column from Sunday. I do so based on a variety of editorial, discussion, and forum management issues.

It is standard policy at forums to expect contributions to be "on-topic." We run topical discussions tied to particular articles or editorials rather than free flowing Internet chats that ramble in any direction. As noted on the forum, we do offer the On Politics Talk Lounge in which to introduce your own topics, or for taking your digressions.

The forums are "public" but are bound by a membership agreement and rules of discussion. Members must abide by these rules to retain membership.

As I noted on the forum in response to your repeated posting of complaints that the Sunday Op-Ed on Al Gore was not up for discussion, requests can be made and comments shared by e-mailing me directly at When requests are made within threads, they are off-topic and will be deleted.


Lindsay Howerton
This is easily the most idiotic thing I have read yet: the U.S. Army intends to draw out suspected "Saddam loyalists" in Iraq by pasting up posters of Saddam Hussein's head on Rita Hayworth's body.
This volley in the propaganda war is SURE to work. Like the "Voice of Free Iraq" show, where the director quit last week because of the cheapskates in the "administration".
I mean, is this for real? And since it is, what does that say about the mentality of the people running the show that the propaganda tactics are at about, oh I don't know, the sixth grade level? Or is that being generous?
In that spirit, let me suggest a few other tactics that might work. The first would be the "Nyah Nyah Hour," a nationally aired radio show in which John Abizaid takes to the mic for an hour of taunting Saddam and his loyalists with the universal insult of kindergarten recess periods around the country. This could be supplemented with a television show called "Thumbing My Nose," a self-explanatory effort.
Of course, that would mean getting the radio and television transmitters up and running, and considering the country has maybe 3 hours or so of electricity a day, that's maybe asking a bit much.Another pitfall of the television program idea is that Saddam may already have a copyright on thumbing his nose. I hear he and Osama are duking out the intellectual property rights in some cave under Afghanistan.
Another tactic would have to include Saddam pinatas or as I call them, Saddamnatas. This is a very tricky trap. US soldiers will dress up in party dresses like young girls and stage a "birthday party." The theory is that when the Saddam loyalists hear that the little girls are going to beat a pinata shaped like Saddam (to whom the loyalists are loyal), the loyalists will attack, never once realizing they're stepping into an ambush.
Also, I think they should IMMEDIATELY begin shipping over some of those old "Ayatollah Assahole-a" t-shirts to Iraq. This will cause the terrorists, incensed at the mockery of the now-deceased Ayatollah, to come out of their holes where US troops can pick 'em off.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Look, I'm no geopolitical expert, nor am I a military strategist, but this article tells me that shit has gone SERIOUSLY WRONG in Afghanistan.
Washington: The Taliban has wrested control of most of Zabul province in southeastern Afghanistan-- for the first time recapturing a province since being ousted from power by the US military in November 2001-- geopolitical analytical firm Stratfor reported.
Stratfor said its sources have confirmed reports first published on a Web site maintained by Muslim jihadists,, that Taliban fighters, in concert with al Qaeda forces, have have retaken Zabul.

The advance also underscores the stalemate between the United States and its Afghan allies against the Taliban. It indicates that the alliance formed in early 2002 between the Taliban, al Qaeda and Hizb-i-Islami -- the party led by Afghan war lord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar -- is paying off for the militants, Stratfor said in a report.... Also, controlling Zabul gives the Taliban a way to cut lines of logistics, troop supply and communication between US and coalition troops in Kandahar and in Paktika and Paktia provinces to the east and along the border with Pakistan.

and while I'm talking about stratfor, which is a really nifty resource, let me point you to this article from their site on insurgency versus counter-insurgency.
Sorry it's been so long since I posted to blogity blog, but it's been a hell of a week. Perhpas I'll be able to tell the story next week, but not just yet.
Anyway, this just in: is it any wonder we're getting shot at?

Saturday, August 09, 2003

I will be the first one to rail against a media giant like CBS, But dammit, when they get it, they get it.
Observe if you will the clipped tone of the sentences; it is almost poetry:

Mr. Bush would not say whether he shared the assessment of the commander of coalition forces in Iraq, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who said Thursday that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq at least two years.

Mr. Bush would only say "I will do what's necessary to win the war on terror." Mr. Bush said Americans have "got to understand I will not forget the lessons of Sept. 11," when America was hit with its worst ever terrorist attack.

The president also would not say whether he had an estimate on how many more soldiers would die. Nor did he answer a question on future costs of the American presence in Iraq.

The repetition of "would," implying the cold tones of a robot, clashing with the inherent emotion and subtle imagery of soldiers dying. Refusal to answer. The picture painted is ugly, a smear across the bright Texas sky under which George and Donald speak their piece. "he would only say..."

Even the order of pictures speaks an almost populist tone: the pictures of soldiers sweating behind machine guns, guarding the car-bombed Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, denied their return home three times and counting, contrast mightily with tanned and relaxed Bush speaking from his vacation, on his ranch, in his home, in Texas. it is a startling juxtaposition and more so because of its presence on CBS.

Compare, also, the tone between the description of Mr. Bush's comments, delivered in clipped, almost mechanical tones, with the rich imagery of the situation on the ground in Iraq:
Mr. Bush would not say... Mr. Bush would only say... Mr. Bush said... The president also would not say...
In a new raid, U.S. snipers killed at least two men unloading weapons for sale in a market in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

Defense officials say genetic material found in a prison cell in Iraq did not match that of Michael Scott Speicher, a pilot missing since the 1991 Gulf War, but investigators continue to search for other evidence of his fate.

Joseph C. Wilson, the former U.S. envoy who investigated and found no proof of claims that Iraq tried to buy uranium in Niger, tells The New York Times that he's been the victim of a campaign meant to discourage dissent. His wife was recently identified by name as a covert CIA operative in a column. The information was attributed to a senior administration official. Revealing covert agents' names is a crime.

Companies are dropping out of the competition for a potential $1 billion contract to rebuild Iraq's oil industry because they think Halliburton, the former firm of Vice President Dick Cheney, is favored to win the bid, The New York Times reports.

More than 50 people were wounded in the powerful explosion at the Jordanian Embassy, which set cars on fire, flung the hulk of one vehicle onto a rooftop and broke windows hundreds of yards away. On Friday, the Jordanian flag flew at half-staff as U.S. and Iraqi investigators looked through the debris for clues.

Morgue officials on Friday raised the death toll from the embassy blast to 19, from 11 reported the day before.

Real words, real concepts: death toll; dropping out; powerful explosions, all which clang like a poorly tuned banjo against the administration's ever more banal pronouncements.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Nancy Skinner gets it, and she gets it in a big way. Whenever I hear people say that partisan name-calling is inappropriate, I am always taken aback. "The Republicans always call us on the left commies, weak on defense, pro-Saddam" I want to say, "so what's wrong with hitting back."
Nancy points out that if we hammer home on just those kinds of points, we can put the republicans on the defensive. then, IN LOCKSTEP, we must repeat the allegations. Someone criticized me for this earlier, and I retorted "Why is it OK when Pat Buchanan and Rush Limbaugh do it?"
As Skinner writes, "This is the bludgeon with which to hammer the conservatives into submission:

“The Republicans betrayed our troops in order to enrich themselves. What could be more unpatriotic?”

The lone GOP defense of Bush’s indefensible policies is to insist that anyone who dissents is a traitor. Until the Democrats claim the high moral ground on patriotism, liberals in this country will continue to be marginalized. The medical benefits/tax cuts issue can be used to reverse the momentum of the national dialogue by forcing a long overdue discussion about the true meaning of patriotism." "A bruising confrontation with the right wing on behalf of our military personnel will lead seamlessly into what should be the overriding theme of the Democratic campaign in 2004: whose interests does the government exist to serve? The allegation that Republicans have harmed the troops for personal gain is a viable charge because it taps into the widespread perception that conservatives lack compassion. Once the public understands what the GOP has done to war veterans, that knowledge can be used as a credible link to more conventional issues that will expose to voters the true nature of Republican governance:

“Just as the Republicans have stabbed our heroes in the back in order to enrich themselves, they have done the same thing to our children on education…”

“Just as the Republicans have stabbed our heroes in the back in order to enrich themselves, they have done the same thing to the elderly on health care…”

“Just as the Republicans have stabbed our heroes in the back in order to enrich themselves, they have done the same thing to the middle class on taxes...”

Repetition is the key. Democrats must constantly reinforce the message that Republican politicians are helping themselves at the expense of everyone else. The theme must be ruthlessly pounded home: “If they are so immoral that they steal from our heroes, what makes you think they aren’t stealing from you? Here is the evidence that they are.”

We should take it all away from them. The patriotism issue. The morality issue. The fiscal responsibility issue. They never should have owned these issues, and now the average citizen can be shown which priority was really at the top of the Republican agenda in 2003: sending our kids off to die while picking their pockets.

The Democratic Party should be scouring the countryside for evidence of veterans who are suffering as a result of the vile actions of the GOP. It should be collecting factual and anecdotal ammunition to be used in emotionally powerful commercials that will enlighten voters to the nefarious behavior of the heartless bastards who have a hammerlock on the federal government."

God, I wish in lived in Illinois so I could vote for this woman.

Response to a Nigerian spam scam



I, on behalf of my other colleagues from different
organs of Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) owned
parastatals decided to solicit your assistance as
regards transfer of the above-mentioned amount into
your bank account. This fund accrued from over
invoicing of various contract awarded in my parastatal
to certain Foreign Contractors sometimes ago.

We, as holders of sensitive position in our various
parastatals, were mandated by the Federal Government
to Scrutinise all payments made to certain foreign
Contractors and we discovered that some of the
contracts they executed were grossly over-invoiced
either by omission or commission. In the process the
sum of US$27M (Twenty Seven Million US Dollars only)
was found lying in the parastatal suspense account
after the foreign contractors had been paid their
rightful dues for executing the said contracts.

We all agreed that this over-invoiced amount be
transferred (for our own use) into a bank account
provided by a foreign partner, because we are
government workers and the Code of Conduct does not
allow us to operate foreign accounts.

However, we have succeeded in transferring some of
this money precisely US$5.0M (Five Million US Dollars
only) into a foreign account in MOROCCO (North
Africa), but the provider of the account in MOROCCO is
up to some mischief and refuses to comply to the
earlier mutual agreement by insisting that the total
amount be paid into his nominated bank account before
disbursement will take effect. If for a meagre sum of
US$5.0M (Five Million US Dollars only) we are not
compensated, is it when the balance of US$22M
(Twenty-two Million US Dollars)is transferred that we
will be sure of our full compensation? Of course, this
abuse of trust and inhumanity calls for sober
reflection and search for absolute trust.

Thus we are seeking your unwavering assistance that
the remaining amount of US$22M can be speedily
processed and fully remitted into your nominated bank
account. On successful remittance of the fund into
your account, you will be compensated with 30% of the
amount for your assistance and services.

So far, much have been said and due to our sensitive
positions, we cannot afford a slip in this transaction
neither can we give out identity as regards our
respective offices, but whereby cordial relationship
is established, smooth operations commences, you will
be furnished with details of all you deserves to know.

I am at your disposition to entertain any question
from you with respect to this transaction, so contact
me immediately through my e:mail for further
information on the requirements and procedure for this





Please, treat with the strictest confidentiality and
utmost urgency.

Yours faithfully


I figured Pat had earned at least a response:

Dear Dr. Agi,

Thank you for trusting me, a complete stranger, with
this grave responsibility. I can assure you, I can be
the parasol. I am sorry about your problems with the
Moroccans, and I am particularly attuned to your use
of the word "mischief," because that is exactly how
Moroccans are: mischievious! I was in Morocco 5 years
ago on business, and all I wanted was to get to the
hotel and the cabbie drove around for almost an hour.
And then the hotel coffee wasn't any good, they didn't
even have Chockfull O Nuts!

Back to your offer. While I am intrigued by your
well-thought out plan, I have a slight problem
providing you with my bank account number. As you may
know, the economy of the United States has become very
worrisome as of late, what with Mr. Bush's tax cuts,
the deficit and of course the cost of fighting the war
on terror. Because of this, I have withdrawn my
actual money from the money bank and have invested it
into a different sort of bank altogether: my money is
now in a sperm bank. That's right: everything I make,
I use to buy, and sell, sperm. I am making a killing
this way: everyone wants to buy sperm. And i am sure
such an investment on your part would make you a
killing as well: a lot of my sperm is bought from
famous celebrities, like Sylvester Stallione, Tattoo,
Conrad Bain, and the guy who used to be in the Dr.
Pepper commercials before he was in "American Werewolf
in London." The most popular sperm so far though is
from former President of the United States, Jerald
Ford. For some reason, people like him a lot,
probably for the Nixon pardon etc.

Dr. Agi, as a doctor, you surely know how necessary
sperm is to a country's economic well being: without
sperm to fertilize the eggs, you don't have people to
put to work in sweatshops. No sperm= no people= no
one to do the work= no money in the bank!

if you send me your bank name, address, account
number, and of course the fax number, and I would be
glad to guide you through the steps of investing in
Celebri-Sperm. I am sure it is going to make a lot of
money, and this is your chance to get in on the ground
yours truly,
Brendan Skwire
President, Celebri-sperm

Thursday, August 07, 2003

//When I read that people who support Dean are "the big bleeding liberal heart of the party's nominating electorate, whose detestation of Bush is a witch's brew of hatred and condescension" I'd like to remind Baldy that it was his party, the cheap-labor republicans, who spent millions of taxpayer dollars on a partisan witch-hunt after Mr. Clinton, and who kept their own "witch's brew" at a high boil.//
I think Will's point here is that that when the hysterical wing of any party takes over it is generally not positive. Does being hysterical work? How did being hysterical about Clinton work? After a huge House win in 94 and solid majority the Reps have lost seats ever since down where they only have hairs breath majorities on Congress. The impeachment thing pretty much backfired or at best was a wash for them. House and Senate are a toss up election to election. Bush v Gore was a statistical tie. Hysterical works about as well as a coin toss.

I'll admit I’m a Republican and never liked Clinton. In my opinion he is the most pathetic, immature, self idolizing man-boy ever to disgrace the office of the president. But that's a personal feeling. But an objective level I can admit he wasn’t the demon the hysterical wing of the Republican party made him out to be, the country didn’t go straight to hell during his 8 years – to the contrary nothing much actually changed. Just like after 12 years of Reagan/Bush. Life in America pretty much is a constant.

Most people including myself never bought into the anti Clinton hysterics like the Vince Foster murder conspiracies and the like. However some turned out probably true - I mean hey if Clinton as POTUS would get a blow from and intern in the Oval Office then as a Governor of small mostly rural state he probably was sneaking around getting blows in the 80’s in the back seats of State Trooper cars. Seriously though, throwing out wild-assed allegations might energize a base but most Americans have a lot more sense than that.

You guys on the hysterical wing of the Democrat party other hand really believe that Iraq was about nothing but oil and throwing a bone to Haliburton. Govt jackboots are going to kick down your door and drag you off or worse (wait a minute that was the other prez Big Bill , you know Waco, Elian, etc. Of course that was DIFFERENT, but if Bush ever did that…). The Bill of Rights and the Constitution shredded… Of course other than suspected terrorist being held in Cuba no one trend of this occurring they can only be hysterical in their predictions that it is/might/will happen.

Have a nice weekend
Actually, I wasn't a big fan of Clinton myself. I grew up in a Democrat family. real democrat mind you, not this DLC bulldugan. The Republicans that went after Mr. Clinton were right that he was a liar, but they went after the wrong things: the sex, the whitewater (penny ante compared to Neil Bush's S&L dealings). It was the NAFTA, the tacit bowing to corporations on the environment and on worker rights.

"You guys on the hysterical wing of the Democrat party other hand really believe that Iraq was about nothing but oil and throwing a bone to Haliburton."

Oil was only part of it. There's also a lot of other geopolitics involved. the strength of the euro for example. There was an interesting article I saww months some months back (I can't remeber where and i can't vouch for its validity)that said that soemtime during the 90s, Saddam Hussein issued a diktat saying that the currency in which Iraqi oil would be bought and sold would be based on the euro. At the time, the US laughed because the euro was so weak, but over time the euro strengthened, and Saddam made out pretty well: well enough that other ME countriess began thinkign about trading in euros. The thrust of the article was this would prove disastrous for the US economy. I have no idea if this article is true or the work of a quack, but it seems like a valid enough proposition.

But even outside euro-dollar specualting, to say oil had nothing to do makes no sense in the most basic of terms. Think about it: we use the most oil of any other country in the world, but we have less of it. Iraq has lots of oil; if we control THAT oil, then we can cut out the middle man (or should I say the middle-eastern dictator). On its face it's actually a pretty good example of Realpolitik. Why should we be paying our money to radical islamists that want to kill us, if we can fairly easily take a chunk of their oil for ourselves; why rent when you can own? I think this is a fair question, but it was never one that was argued to the people. It was all lies about nuclear programs and biological death planes and releasing the dogs that have bees in their mouths (pardon the simpsons reference)etc etc.

As for halliburton, I know what bad fish smells like. When Halliburton, where Cheney was employed during his off-years, not only triples its business with the goverment during his tenure but gets a no-bid deal to control iraq's oilfields while he's vice-president, well yeah, I smell a rat.

"Govt jackboots are going to kick down your door and drag you off or worse (wait a minute that was the other prez Big Bill , you know Waco, Elian, etc. Of course that was DIFFERENT, but if Bush ever did that…)."

Oh please: Bush already HAS done that: haven't you heard about the deportations? Immigrants and peopel with middle eastern names held for weeks in crowded cells without charges, without access to lawyers? No-fly lists that the government has admitted target peace activists and leftist groups?
I'm sorry, you can say that Chicago al-Qaeda dude they picked up was bad news, but holding a citizen incommunicado with no right to a lawyer is a violation of our own rules. And before you say that it's a special case, I will remind you that John Walker Lindh had access to a lawyer and he ws fighting for the Taliban too.

"The Bill of Rights and the Constitution shredded… Of course other than suspected terrorist being held in Cuba no one trend of this occurring they can only be hysterical in their predictions that it is/might/will happen."

Well what else do you call USA PATRIOT, which allows the FBI to read your library and bookstore records, or to tap your phone and search your house with secret warrants that you're not allowed to see, other than "the bill of rights and the constitution shredded"?

I agree that when the hysterical wing of the party, of any party mind you, takes over, it is a bad thing. And look who's taken over the republican party. People like Tom Delay. People like Donald Rumsfeld, who Henry Kissinger once called "the most ruthless person I have ever met." The PNAC. John Ashcroft. In short, the hysterical wing of the party. rememebr jeffords jumped ship. snowe considered it, and the party's been worried about Chafee and Specter ever since.

the problem is that you right wing radicals (if you're going to call me a "hysterical democrat" than surely there will be tit-for-tat) is that you're willing to give up liberty for partisan gain.
have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Friday, August 01, 2003

Oh, and while I'm bringin up The Nation, I'll point out that David Corn does a lovely job in deconstructing Mr. Bush's big fat hairy lies at his press conference the other day.
You know, the one you didn't pay attention to? because he's just spouting a load of bullshit anyway?
Just the other day, I was talkign about what an ugly motherfucker Richard Perle is. God almighty, he is HIDEOUS.
A few months ago he got busted for conflict of interest and had to step down as Chair of the Defence Advisory Board. Now he's catching shit from The Nation for profiting from his government work.
They never show full-body pictures of Dick Perle, and my guess is that he's a big fat fucking lard-ass. probably has a teeny peeny too.
Oh, PLEASE Department

Look, I was critical as hell during the war and continue to be critical. But this is just retarded.
The al-Ahram weekly, a newspaper based in Cairo, deems the display of Uday and Qusay Hussein's corpses as "as disgusting display." "Whatever crime they [Saddam's sons] committed, is beside the point. Killing them was a crime, a murder, it was sacrilegious because the body belongs to God not to people."

Do please shut up. During the fighting, I got almost all of my graphic pictures from Arab and Muslim sources, whether it was al Jazeera, Arab News, Jordan Times, Dawn, or any number of publications. These papers were happy to show pictures of slaughtered Americans and slaughtered Iraqis when it served their purposes. Throwing this happy crappy about "the bodies belong to God, what sacrilege" just makes you look like a bunch of hypocrites. Waaah, cry me a fucking river.

On the other hand, that does NOT mean to say that Charles Krauthammer isn't an idiot, which he amply demonstraters in this column.

We had no wish to take Uday and Qusay alive. We did the correct thing in giving them one chance to surrender. But no more. The moment we captured them we would have been responsible for their care and feeding forever. They were in their thirties. It would have meant that for the next 50 years the Hussein dynasty would have been kept alive -- by us.

Well, first of all Chuck, who's this "we" you keep talking about? Last I heard, you were a wheelchair-bound armchair warrior. You had as much to do with killing Uday and Qusay as I did formulating Eagles' strategy for last year's Super Bowl.
Second of all, as Saddam Hussein's closest henchmen, taking Uday and Qusay alive might have helped in our thus-far fruitless search for Weapons of Mass Destruction. Intense questioning or sending them to one of our allies that permit torture (something I belive you've advocated) might have helped Mr. Bush's case a bit don't you think?
Or is it better that they're dead because they would add to the chorus of captured Iraqis that have said there were no WMD?
John Podhoretz writes, "It used to be that such people believed Bush was too dumb to be president. Now they believe he has an almost mystical talent for obfuscation. Whatever they need to believe they will believe, I guess." ("Bush Boils Over, July 31, 2003)

There is no link between one's IQ and one's tendency scheme and lie. In case you haven't heard, there is a show on television called "America's Dumbest Criminals," featuring the true foibles of the not-so-bright and criminally-minded.

This is not to say that Bush is a liar or a criminal (the jury is still out on that), just that Mr. Podhoretz's logic is flawed.

On Taking Responsibility

A couple of days ago, Mr. "Bush accepted personal responsibility yesterday for telling the country in January that Iraq was seeking nuclear weapons fuel from Africa despite doubts about the allegations within the U.S. intelligence community."

OK. Now what?
When I was a kid, my old man would react very differently to different types of misbehavior.
If I got caught screwing up in a way that didn't really damage anything, "I'm sorry" would be enough. As in "I'm sorry I was eating fromt he cookie jar without asking," to which my father would respond, "are you really sorry, or are you sorry you got caught?" Whatever the answer, there wasn't much punishment.
But then there were other crimes that would merit stronger punishment. This would be after I'd beaten up my sister, or lied to get out of trouble with a report card or a teacher: the kind of misbehavior that is actually pathological. After one of these types of incidents, saying "I'm sorry" would lead to the response, "Brendan, sometimes saying 'sorry' isn't good enough. You have to show that you're sorry. You have to make up for what you did and repair the damage."

I think with regard to lying the country into a war, my father would choose the latter. Mr. Bush says he takes responsibility. This is all well and good, but what are the consequences? How will Mr. Bush make up for what he did? How will he repair the damage, to Iraq, to our country, and to our international standing?
Taking responsibility is only the first step. Saying "I'm sorry" (which Mr. Bush has not done) is not enough.