Friday, January 09, 2004


Looks like Resident Bush's economic policies are working according to the plan. December saw a NET INCREASE in jobs here in the United States. How many?


That's right. One thousand. In a country of 280 million people.

Read more here.
Freedom for the Iraqi People

As defined by George W. Bush--here's a sample of the policy:

On Saturday the 3rd of January 2004, my son and his cousin were travelling back to our residence in Samarra, they were driving a small cargo truck belonging to a third party from which they earn their livelihood in a country torn by wars and sanctions. Yes, they were back from Baghdad yet misfortune followed them from the beginning, their car broke down on the road which caused a delay in their arrival to Samarra when the curfew hour was just about to start in the city...And this is where the first chapter of the tragedy takes place. An American army patrol stood in their way, and after they went through the whole procedure of searching my son and his cousin, and inspecting the cargo load, they tied them up both and led them to an area about three kilometres from the scene front of one of the gates of the Tharthar dam where water flows at its strongest rate and to my son and his cousin's horror, they ordered them to jump into the water, it was midnight and the cold was unbearable, when they hesitated, they were pushed by the soldiers. Unfortunately my boy cannot swim, even though swimming at this time of the year wouldn't have helped. Yet my sons cousin survived miraculously after he got stuck in a tree branch to give us his account of this tragic event which could have went untold. He tried saving my son, but the water current was stronger than him...After days of search we found my sons jacket floating with the stream, it shall remain with me as a memory and a symbol of the injustice brought against him by soldiers of the United States of America's army, who came to our country under the banners of human rights and democracy only to send my son to his demise on his wedding days.

What was the line in Apocalypse Now? The bullshit was piled so high you needed wings to stay above it.

The clowns who support this ridiculous war talk about what a goon Saddam was, and how we're liberating the Iraqi people. But the death of this young man will be forgotten--especially once it's officially attributed to the "fog of war."

And we wonder why there's an opposition to our presence in the country...
If You Want to Purge

Listen to yesterday's Fresh Air on NPR (or click on the link and catch it via RealAudio). Guests Richard Perle and David Frum show how easy it is to adopt a Nazi perspective.

Both of those guys need to be put in a maximum security jail.
Here's How They Support the Troops

Counterpunch's featured article today. Short version: Donald Rumsfeld is restricting the Disabled American Veteran's Association's access to wounded soldiers. This is because DAV will actually inform the wounded about the rights they have. George W. Bush and the Defense Department would prefer it if wounded soldiers DIDN'T know their rights as veterans.

How goddamned pathetic.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Great Minds Thinking Alike?

In one post yesterday, I described setting up two print servers, which will be clustered. Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, cluster...and then later last night, I took a look at Ben Tripp's Counterpunch article. I've always liked reading his stuff.

The word for the year 2003, ladies and others, is 'clusterfuck'. I leave it to you to embellish to taste, appending 'complete and utter' or 'unmitigated', for example...

It's a great economy if you are already worth tens of millions of dollars. For the vast majority of us who are part of that 120% spending-to-income ratio, the economy is not so good. There was a joke in the Clinton years: "this president has created many new jobs. I know, because I have three of them just to make ends meet." It wasn't funny then, and its current variation is even less amusing: "this president has lost more jobs than anyone since Hoover. I know, because I am a white-collar worker without employment for sixteen months."

But let's not dwell on dollars. Nobody else is; the dollar lost gobs of its value against the Euro in 2003. Even the zloty is starting to look robust. Instead let's look at the War on Terrorism, as it is known, although I prefer the term 'Total War All the Time', or 'TWAT' for short. Terrorism is threats or violence by unofficial entities used to intimidate larger societies and governments. Who has perpetrated the most terrorism in 2003? Golly, I hardly dast say. Al-Qaeda was fairly quiet. The Israeli government kept it local, as did the Palestinians. Could it be the Executive Branch of the U.S. government? They invaded Iraq and continue to occupy it by means of intimidation. The Iraqi insurgents aren't terrorists, despite their tactics- we did the same thing during the American Revolution. Our White House pulverized the United Nations. It pimp-slapped most of Western Europe. And this same small group of unelected zealots holds the entire American people in a thrall of fear using color-coded threats, speculation on the theme of disaster that would make the most committed paranoid zenophobe shake his head in disbelief, and for good measure the occasional whisking-away of some troublemaker or other.

The American saber has been rattled with such vigor against enemies ranging from Syria to North Korea that the pommel has come loose. En garde. Terrorism on this scale is more often called 'belligerent foreign policy', especially as it's officially sanctioned by the U.S. government, but seeing as the U.S. government at this point isn't officially sanctioned by most of the American people, I'm only willing to split hairs just so far. These screwheads are willing to split hairs all the way down to the cerebral cortex. Add to this the more commonly accepted version of terrorist: rag-headed crazies making bombs out of chewing gum and twine-and you have an unpalatable collation indeed. Because while the RNC is inventing threats and menaces to keep us all cowering in the woodshed, real actual genuine authentic terrorists are gathering in record numbers, spurred on by the goad of violent American adventurism in their homelands or adjacent areas. They have plans of their own, and our peri-urban chemical plants, nuclear power facilities, and Wal-Marts are so utterly undefended that a motivated boy scout wielding a two-pound rock could bring the entire American homeland to its knees. Although this would probably be the position he found it in.

Of course, I'm talking work, and Tripp's talking public policy, but I couldn't pass up noticing. By the way, if you haven't read the entire piece, take a look. It's hilarious.

Colin Powell--Glam Wonk

Might have to wait until tomorrow for the follow up on Social Security, but I couldn't get over the Ted & Colin After Dark Nightline report Wednesday eve. I've held Koppel in a special state of contempt for some time, given his snooty, high-brow approach to the profession of journalist--while he simultaneously (ok, while he, on occasion) has the gall to headline these ridiculous "town meetings." Between that and the almost faux British accent (Ted was born a Brit--don't know when he actually hit these shores, nor do I know what his working status is--green carded alien or blue blooded Yank). But I do know that with my cable tv package limiting my news access to the networks, PBS, WGN--ok, that was a joke--and CSPAN, Koppel is a regular part of my viewing diet.

Last night it was Colin Powell's turn to justify the Iraq war, although, curiously enough, as I noted immediately below, Ted began the show by distinguishing Powell's "soft line" with Richard Perle's "hard line" approach. Never mind that Perle seems more and more to be several dozen bricks shy of a full load--apparently being stark crazy is no impediment to writing Wall Street Journal editorials, indeed, it might be a prerequisite.

That's my point posted below: Perle and the neo-cons don't merely want to express a point of view that is dangerously fascistic, they also wish to delineate the limits of real debate. Hence, a highly critical piece on the Secretary of State. Colin the softie. In other words, within Washington, the debate runs the gamut from moderate to conservative Rethuglican to downright lunatic Rethug. Freedom is a messy thing indeed.

In this corner, Colin "The Commander" Powell and his tag team partner, CIA! And in the other corner, the neo-cons at defense.

Hearing one of Powell's initial answers to a question Koppel posed immediately registered on my bullshit detector--Colin snarkily brought out the toolbox metaphor--you see, the US has many tools in the box--Gallant, aka Ghadaffi, a "good" boy, gets economic sanctions lifted, while Goofus, aka Saddam, gets an invasion and a hole in the ground. That said, what Powell couldn't weasel his way out of were inquiries regarding--WMD.

Bet they wish they'd never brought that up, because I think the only folks who truly believe that Weapons of Mass Destruction existed in the Iraqi arsenal think that Saddam got them from space aliens on the mother ship. I think Colin himself is aware of how foolish he looks, even as he torturously attempts to reconcile logic and grammar. To wit:

"[Saddam had] a re-intention of obtaining weapons of mass destruction." Sounds like he's spending too much time with Dubya, and has picked up on his habit of inventing words.

"What they had in inventory was something we had to--uh--analyze." In other words: we were guessing.

"Our estimates were 'consistent' with the United Nations' estimates. I presented a 'balanced' case [in February 2003], but in a way that would prove my case." Meaning: I read the script with some degree of passion.

[There was] a lack of accounting. We didn't KNOW what happened to [chemicals in Saddam's arsenal]." We took absense of accounting as evidence of existence.

"We didn't go overboard on [our] nuclear [claims]." If you believe this, you'll believe anything.

And, my personal favorite: "[Our position is that Saddam, if left unchecked, would continue to] develop even more...uh..with respect to weapons of mass destruction."

What the hell is that supposed to mean? Develop with respect to weapons of mass destruction--hell, I could develop with respect to weapons of mass destruction--you see, I'll get older and WMD will probably get more deadly. By the way, via Atrios, the Talent Show links to genuine pictures--try not to laugh--that supposedly 'prove' Saddam's intent to develop--well, they aren't weapons of mass destruction, although they are missiles that would have extended beyond the allowed UN range. But take a look--and then scroll down to see Greg's response, which is about right. Using this evidence, almost any male child and certainly some female children older than about age ten are producing "banned" weapons.

But that's a little off topic--I meant to take this post to slam Ted and Colin. To be honest, Ted gets off easy today--about all I'll note is that he was so goddamn smug, offering his concerns (Powell recently recovered from prostate surgery, I believe), while smarmily engaging in beltway gossip, i.e., "You know you're important in this town when somebody is sniping at you--likewise you know you're NO longer important when everyone wishes you well." What if no one gives a shit, Ted? But, of course, for those of us off the radar screen--well, we're in flyover country anyway...

My final thought after watching this: Nightline, for all it's production values, is still pretty pathetic from an aesthetic point of view. But bad TV is perfect from Big Media's point of view. New York, and Los Angeles, must entertain, while Washington merely has to educate as to power's point of view. Why waste the money? Especially when the cast--a tired collection of aging journalists and politicans--are essentially "B" grade actors anyway...
Busy Again

Will try to post a couple of things later today, but am once again learning that work is work--arbeit ist arbeit. However, I've got a followup to the Catching Up post below (regarding Ken and Social Security), and some comments on last night's Nightline, which featured Colin Powell --hint: Richard Perle and the rest of his neo-con white trash are trying to frame public discussion on Iraq to the extent that POWELL, for chrissakes, is their concept of the leftward limit of effective debate. Also, because Nightline is pretty slow in producing the transcript, I took the initiative of writing down as many Powell quotes as I could get--at least between bouts of incredulous snickering over his tortured justifications after the fact for the whole debacle. Some of these you really needed to hear on your own, but I'll do my best to present them in the spirit of the Koppel interview. And, don't worry: Koppel will get his share of proper treatment. Hell, I might have to adopt "journalist" Ted--see a post below about this--if he really qualifies as a journalist.

But back to work here. Later, I'll be heading out with a few friends for an early start to the weekend, but I really hope to get some of this stuff down this afternoon...

Wednesday, January 07, 2004


In the interest of fairness, I'd like to note the following correction:

Posted below (sorry, the permalink isn't working), under the title of And The Dingbat Award Goes To, I noted that Mark Emmert, Chancellor of LSU and semi-finalist in the local Newt Gingrich look alike contest, called USC "the Al Gore champion," or words to that effect. Mr. Emmert actually said, "USC is the champion like Al Gore is president."

2Millionth regrets the error, although I stand by my statement below regarding Emmert taking the "I want to look like a chump" approach.
Catching Up

I apologize for light posting today. Much of work was consumed with--work. Imagine that. Seriously, I had to set up a couple of servers that will become the new print servers on the network. Interestingly, the two original servers were also set up by myself. So it's come full circle.

Once finished, we're going to cluster them--that ought to be fun--Microsoft, cluster, Hewlett Packard--makes me think cluster alone doesn't quite describe the chaos of the near future in regards to this project...

But, I didn't want to post about work...

I managed to plow through a pretty long piece over at Ken's site about Social Security, or the lack thereof, for folks his be fair, I'm a little older than Ken--I think--but I come in under the post boomer era as well, so no turkee for me either, supposedly. And, considering I work as a bureaucrat, I wouldn't get Social Security anyway, because this State has its own retirement system, assuming I actually put in my twenty years or so at my present job.

But I thought it was an interesting essay, if only because it manages to capture a degree of Malthusian angst that harkens back to the early industrial era. Of course, back then, there was an elitist component to Malthus' argument, what with all the unclean people breeding and so on, which Ken, to his credit, leaves out of the picture. But the meme is clear: we're doomed. Doomed to waste hours and hours of back-breaking labor on the churlish, ungrateful boomers who will take our tax money and spend it on trips to Bermuda, or the Bahamas. Worse still, if we ever normalized relations with Castro, we might see Clinton-clones daring to cruise on down to Cuba, playing communist shuffleboard and laughing the whole way, while we post boomers grimly set about the daily toil.

A few observations: first, the outlays for Social Security and Medicare are only in "danger" due to the fact that politicians have been spending the Trust Fund money as if it was part of the general fund. To be fair, this is a fine example of what I believe is called bipartisanship government--both major parties have spent with zeal and relish. To cover the fund, they've deposited T-Bills into its coffers--much as Reagan during the 80's set off a moderate growth spell by simply raising the debt ceiling, which is kind of like Visa upgrading you to a platinum card because you've pretty much maxed out the gold card you had.

The Social Security Trust Fund acts a lot like any pension fund, with one exception: it invests SOLELY in US Government securities. The reasoning behind this is twofold. One, it IS a government program, in spite of present Bush's statements to the contrary back during his campaign. Two, by investing in this way, it provides maximum stability, even if returns may suffer. It's a CONSERVATIVE investment strategy, and it's worked quite well over the years--and, yes, I'm aware of the Carter era payroll tax increase. I didn't say it was PERFECT.

Here's another way to look at it: by investing in T Bills, the only thing that could affect the ability of the Social Security Trust Fund to disburse funds would be a default by the United States' Government. And, if that happens, I'd strongly recommend that anyone with survival as a goal stock up on canned goods, ammunition, bottles of water, and barrels of gasoline--along with a means of transport to the desert or wilderness of your choice.

Sure, when the Fund starts cashing in its securities, our taxes will have to go up--for that matter, our taxes will have to go up when China starts doing the same (for those who don't know, Communist China is a major buyer of US debt). But don't blame the Social Security Administration when they cash in--if anything, blame today's politicians who gleefully and greedily lard up the budget with pork while neglecting basic priorities like healthcare and old age pensions.

Aside: Without knowing the particulars, I don't doubt that Al "Lockbox" Gore had his fingers in the Social Security cookie jar as much as any politician. However, to his credit, a good bit of his campaign consisted of promoting just what I noted above, namely, ensure that the Trust Fund has FUNDS, not T-Bills, in the coffers. Actually, to be fair, they probably would have come up with a mechanism that allowed for some degree of return on an investment of some type--let's not take the weird-sounding 'lockbox' promise TOO literally, although I'll bet that it tested better than 'putting the surplus under the mattress.' Gore most likely would have swapped out debt in some manner that would have essentially tied up the forecasted budget surpluses, thus keeping the money out of the grubby fingers of those who claim to be for "small government," which tends to mean small government for 'other people.'

To say that we're facing doom at the hands of a bunch of graybacks is really missing the picture--the problem we face is a LACK of income distribution based on economic policies which have the support of BOTH major parties. Defense Department Lard tops that list--upwards of $140 billion a year for mostly crap we don't need like space-based-missile defense-systems--talk about pie-in-the-sky. Add to that things like insurance companies basically holding jurisdictions hosage (how patriotic), or companies like Halliburton that suck up more dough from the government than a city of welfare queens (and offer overpriced gasoline in return) and you've gotta realize that the negative rhetoric about Social Security is primarily designed to scare some, while causing others to simply give up on the notion of a pension at all, which means that there will be more government money for the fat cats to chow down on--because while Grover Norquist might want to stangle the "baby" of Social Security and Medicare, you can bet that you'd never see a nickel in tax savings should they actually get away with it. No, instead, even more of your money would go to Dick Cheney's personal pension, which I think is somewhere around $40 million and counting. See, Dick needs all the cash he can get, even if his lump-of-coal heart gives out before he can spend it.

Pensions and health care benefits for the elderly actually are a net benefit to the economy (unless you're Dick Cheney): retirees SPEND their money on goods and services, which, in aggregate, help establish an economic base, which helps communities establish a tax base, which provides for services like roads, city water systems, police, fire and EMT personnel, etc. etc. Which, if you ask me, is both a net gain, and the basis around which government serves its citizens.

Besides, with a GDP of roughly 10.5 TRILLION dollars, I think we can all chip in a little to help out the old folks. Helping out the sick and/or the elderly has been a human tradition, oh--since at least the time of Cro-Magnon. But I suppose an argument could be made that agriculture and industry are but failed experiments, and that we should return to a hunter-gather social structure, if only because it will assist in weeding out all those old people that threaten to work us to death before taking away our OWN winter years...

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Straight to Hell

Courtesy of Apostropher.

I scored 141. Somewhere between broil and sizzle. Hmmn.

Try your "luck" here.
He Sees Stupid People...and they'll probably vote for Bush

Via Bush Wars, Seattle Post Intelligencer (no pun intended) presents Neal Starkman's point of view:

It's the "Stupid factor," the S factor: Some people -- sometimes through no fault of their own -- are just not very bright.

It's not merely that some people are insufficiently intelligent to grasp the nuances of foreign policy, of constitutional law, of macroeconomics or of the variegated interplay of humans and the environment. These aren't the people I'm referring to. The people I'm referring to cannot understand the phenomenon of cause and effect. They're perplexed by issues comprising more than two sides. They don't have the wherewithal to expand the sources of their information. And above all -- far above all -- they don't think.

You know these people; they're all around you (they're not you, else you would not be reading this article this far). They're the ones who keep the puerile shows on TV, who appear as regular recipients of the Darwin Awards, who raise our insurance rates by doing dumb things, who generally make life much more miserable for all of us than it ought to be. Sad to say, they comprise a substantial minority -- perhaps even a majority -- of the populace.

And therein lies one of the biggest problems facing us. Stupid people are the ones who believe Bush--or, for that matter BushClone Joe Lieberman, who post-debate last Sunday said (thanks to Juan Cole for the quote):
"I don't know how anybody could say that we're not safer with a homicidal maniac, a brutal dictator, an enemy of the United States, a supporter of terrorism, a murderer of hundreds of thousands of his own people ... in prison instead of in power."

As Cole ably points out, that is "pure demogoguery." Stupid people eat that shit up, then grin and ask for another plateful. Stupid people cannot distinguish between North Africans (who, like many of us here in the US, are a mix of ethnicities), Arabs, Jews, Turks, Kurds, Iranians, Uzbeks, Tadjiks, Khazaks, Azeris, Armenians, Pashtuns--hell, there are more than I can list offhand. Stupid people then don't get the fact that, within broad ethnic divisions, you've got divisions of nationality (i.e., Iraqis are multi-ethnic), divisions of religion (some Arabs are Christian, you morons), divisions of region, family, and so on. Stupid people simply look to the Middle East, see people who may or may not have different skin tone, hair color, or physical features, people who speak a different language, people who may or may not worship the same god/worship the same god in the same way--and decide that they're all terrorists--or at least all the ones that Bush tells us are terrorists. Stupid people have not got even the basics down. For instance, even though we're fighting a damn war in Iraq, who can actually point Iraq out on a map? Same with Afghanistan--I'll bet for either country, the number of people who can point out their relative locations on a map are less than 50 percent. Even fewer could tell you the time difference, and whether Iraq/Afghanistan time is ahead or behind US time (hint: the answer to whether it's ahead or behind will be the same regardless of which time zone in the US you're in).

Stupid people won't have the first clue as to recent history in either Iraq or the Middle East in general. They might vaguely recall a war about ten years ago (i.e., Gulf War I), but ask them about the Ottoman Empire and they'll think you're talking about a furniture store (if they even know THAT). And yet, many of these same stupid people are Christians, at least nominally--how can you profess faith in a religion that you don't have the first clue about?

Which will be my final point in thie paticular--uh--impassioned opinion piece (sounds nicer than "rant," doesn't it): you'd think that a society that at least has a passing interest in Christianity, if not an actual zealot fervor towards the movement, would spend some time learning a little about the region of it's origin. Yet, the most clueless in regards to the Middle East are often the MOST religious, thus proving that you can lead a stupid person to water, indeed, you can dunk that person in the water, but you can get the person to think...
On the Automotive Front

This story from the local paper was merely the worst of at least three wrecks here in Baton Rouge. I had the misfortune of witnessing two lesser wrecks during the day--both on Highland Road. One was at Aster Street, and the other was at Highland at Terrace. The latter apparently required the services of EMT's: traffic was stopped while the ambulance moved into position.

"...speed and weather conditions most likely were factors." That and "chain-reaction crash" always make me a little angry. Don't people have any sense? Bad weather is a red flag when you're on the road--slow down a bit. You don't have to crawl, but at least take conditions into consideration. Likewise, chain-reaction crashes are the result of people following too close. As someone who's driving strategy on the highway (when my car works well enough to use the highway) is to take steps to stay in between the packs of cars--either by slowing down or speeding up when necessary--I can attest that it's not impossible to maintain distance between vehicles under most conditions, emphasis on the word "most." Rush hour is a different story.

Rush hour has become a de facto drivers ed course for most motorists, it seems. If a good bit of your driving time is spent under conditions that really shouldn't exist, then it's all but certain the habits picked up will spill over. And rush hour in most if not all communities these days is characterized by driving conditions that the roads were NOT designed for. It's like playing reverse lotto: a lot of people win, i.e., they reach their destination safely, while a few "losers" wind up either dead, injured, or with a pretty sizeable chunk of change lost in the form of higher insurance or lost work time.

That's what the automobile manufacturers call freedom.
And the Dingbat Award Goes To...

Mark Emmert, Chancellor of LSU. I can't find the link, unfortunately, but twice last night Channel 9 ran a line from an interview he gave with sportscaster Steve Schneider. Emmert said something like "USC is the Al Gore champion, while we won the BCS."

What bullshit.

I've tended to lay off all the football talk for a lot of reasons. Not the least is that, if you want sports, this really isn't the place to look. Plenty of other folks can and will provide a lot of info about sports in general, or LSU sports in particular.

Emmert has a right to be partisan. He is the Chancellor of the University. However, to pull a bullshit quote out of his ass to justify the university's claim to the college football championship is crass, stupid, and, if this does get play around the country, counterproductive to his primary mission--which is to raise both the funding and overall status of the flagship university in the State. Instead, he looks like a two-bit asshole.

After I heard Channel 9 use this for the second time--during Nick Simonette's idiotic editorial (I mean, do we REALLY need to know what HE thinks?), I considered Emmert's quote in light of his position. Sure, he's entitled to think the coach he hired (and remember, THAT'S pretty much Mark Emmert's contribution--I didn't see HIM on the field Sunday night) won the "true" National Championship. And he's entitled to express his point of view. But you'd think that someone who's spent his whole fucking life affiliated with one or another university system would at least pay lip service to the ideals expressed by the collegiate sports' authorities--in other words, celebrate the damn title, but emphasize that the point of college sports is for the fans to be inspired by the teamwork, dedication, and commitment of the athletes--and yeah, I know that's all crap--the REAL point of college athletics is to raise a pile of money for the school--but university officials ought to be able to sound out the nice talk, while at the same time NOT engaging in barely disguised political partisanship over what's in the end a fucking football game. Hey, Emmert--YOU DIDN'T WIN. THE COACHES AND ATHLETES WON THE GODDAMN GAME. Get it?

USC won a goddamn football game too. Emmert could have said, "USC certainly is a good team, even a great team--they beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. But our team defeated Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. And, I think our team really is better. But we should remember the higher ideals of competition and sport, etc. etc., ad nauseum." And that would be that.

But, instead, Emmert took the "I want to look like a chump," approach.

That's my rant--and that will likely be my only rant--about college football. To be honest, yeah, I watched the game, and yeah, I was happy to see LSU win. I don't bleed purple and gold, though. Been around too long for that, and I have other shrimp to add to a jambalaya.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Other News

Bush Wars has several good links to Iraq news. One story is about how the Bushista "exit" strategy--actually more of a revolving door approach--shows about the same level of piss poor planning that characterized the invasion and aftermath itself. Another reminds us that Iraq is much more complicated than the idiots pushing for invasion realized. My god, don't these folks have ANY sense? And this link to a Robert Fisk article offers some evidence that the British are just as capable of brutality as anyone.

Mark my words: The war in Iraq is a pivotal moment in recent history, and not a good moment. We'll be paying for this one for a LONG, LONG TIME, and not merely in terms of dollars. For instance:
Today in Iraq carries a story from The Oregonian about a soldier on leave from the combat zone. In spite of being relatively well-adjusted, small things are capable of producing intense reactions. I highly recommend reading the article itself.

Some Commentary of My Own

You know, the latest "meme" concerning the Democrats in general and Dean in particular is that they are "angry." As if anger is somehow unjustified. Let's look at the record:

A biased Supreme Court, in one of the most shameless acts of judicial partisanship, fraudulently declared George W. Bush to be President.

Thanks to what can only be described as wanton, willfull ignorance, Bush was essentially asleep at the wheel when the worst act of terrorism in history occurred on his watch.

When the Administration should have been working overtime on eliminating the threat posed by Osama bin Laden, they instead pulled back in a bait-and-switch manuever in order to attack Iraq. Meanwhile, bin Laden successfully escaped to the porous border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

At this point, even the head of bin Laden being paraded around on a pike will do little to supress fundamentalist Islamic political movements. Osama is merely a figurehead, no pun intended--but what a figurehead. He got away.

The unprovoked attack on Iraq was the final straw in squandering the sympathy of those around the world who saw the September 11th attacks as what they were: brutal acts of terrorism. Now, the United States is perceived as the bully.

To date, our adventure in Iraq has cost almost US$95 Billion, with another US$65 Billion in the pipeline. Our expenditure has produced the following:

Chaos in Iraq
Chaos in Afghanistan, where, new constitution or not, Karzai is NOT the president--he is mayor of parts of Kabul, and requires massive security anytime he ventures outside the palace. The rest of the country is dominated by warlords and/or drug traffickers--and the resurgent Taliban (so much for women's rights over there).
Increased terrorist activity in countries like Turkey and Indonesia.
Regular "heightened alerts" right here in the United States.

And I haven't even gone into the disaster that is Bush's "domestic agenda." Anyone remember the California energy scandal in 2001? How about Enron's retirement benefits for their employees executives only? Then there are the job losses. The cutbacks in environmental regulation. The slaps in the faces of the elderly (the sham Medicare "reform") and Veterans (cutbacks in the VA budget). The "jobless recovery," which means it ain't a recovery at all, but a ridiculous shell-game of on-paper profits in the financial sector.

This isn't even the half of it.

And, we're not supposed to be angry?

We should be livid. In any other industrial country, people would be rioting. The press would be relentlessly hounding the government over the lies, big lies, damn lies, blatant lies, and just plain bullshit that's been coming out of the Administration since DAY FUCKING ONE (recall the ridiculous story about the trashing of the White House? Ari Fleischer should be placed in a public stockade and be subjected to a barrage of rotten fruit and vegetables over that one).

Angry is almost too nice an emotion after watching, in order, Bush, the SCLM, and the various corporate sponsors trash our democracy in furtherance of their own pea-brained, narrow-minded vision of power--which, on a world-wide scale, is doomed to failure. Hell, if we can't even take over Iraq, what makes them think we can assert our influence elsewhere? Especially as we spend down the national treasury to the point where we're going to end up like Argentina, except on a more massive scale.

But the media is bemusedly crowing about how "angry" the Democrats have become.

Let's see what happens to their bemusement if their readership continues to decline, as the alternative media begins to assert itself. Happy New Year, you fat, lazy, sodden, blood-sucking leach of a commercial media. Here's hoping 2004 puts you where you belong: in the slag-heap of history.

Here's how one resident of Baghdad celebrated New Year's. Note: I need to update the link to Riverbend on the right side of this page.


While many people consider 2003 a 'year', for us it has felt more like a decade. We started the year preparing for war. While the rest of the world was making a list of resolutions, we were making lists of necessary items for the coming battle. We spent the first two and a half months of 2003 taping windows, securing homes, stocking up on food, water and medication, digging wells and wondering if we would make it through the year...

So we sat, the last few hours, thinking about the last few months and making conjectures about the future. In the background you could hear a few explosions, some gunfire, helicopters and planes. I kept thinking something terrible was going to happen and we'd never see the beginning of a new year.

At around 10 pm, they turned on the generator and we gathered around the television to watch the rest of the world celebrate their way into the New Year. The kids fell asleep on the living-room floor, in front of the kerosene heater, before the clock struck 12 and the thuds around us began getting heavier. Immediately after twelve, the sounds of warplanes and explosions got so heavy, we could hardly hear the television. There was nothing on the news, as usual. Al-Iraqiya was showing some lame fading in and out of its motto on a blue background while all hell was breaking loose outside. We found out the next day that a restaurant in A'arassat, a wealthy area in Karrada, had explosives planted in front of it.

What have the first few days of 2004 felt like? Exactly like the last few months of 2003. The last few days have been a series of bombs and explosions. A couple of nights ago they were using cluster bombs to bomb some area. Before the bomb drops, you can hear this horrible screaming sound. We call it 'the elephant' because it sounds like an elephant shrieking in anger. I'm not sure what it is or what its purpose is. Someone said it's supposed to be some sort of warning signal to the troops on the ground to take cover in their tanks before the bomb hits. It's usually followed by a series of horrific explosions and then the earth shudders.

Sounds like a great time, eh?
It Was 20 Years Ago Today

Well, actually some 55 years ago that 1984 was published (the story goes that Orwell reversed the last two digits of the year). In honor of this landmark work of popular literature, take a look at some of these:

Atrios (linked to only out of ethical consideration--I can't imagine anyone who comes across my low-numbers site that doesn't check his site out regularly)--links to what admittedly is correctly called an opinion piece by "journalist"/serial stalker Rachel Marsden. Watch for the rest of the pond scum also known as the mainstream media to soak up her slime and make it part of the campaign coverage.

Free Speech--But Only Where and When We Say

Sorry for the light posting of late. This is a short one as well, but take a look at this, which came from JennieBee's comment at Atrios:


When President Bush travels around the United States, the Secret Service visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to set up "free speech zones" or "protest zones," where people opposed to Bush policies (and sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are quarantined. These zones routinely succeed in keeping protesters out of presidential sight and outside the view of media covering the event.

When Bush went to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002, 65-year-old retired steel worker Bill Neel was there to greet him with a sign proclaiming, "The Bush family must surely love the poor, they made so many of us."

The local police, at the Secret Service's behest, set up a "designated free-speech zone" on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush's speech.

The police cleared the path of the motorcade of all critical signs, but folks with pro-Bush signs were permitted to line the president's path. Neel refused to go to the designated area and was arrested for disorderly conduct; the police also confiscated his sign.

Um--in case anyone's forgotten, I'd like to make reference to The United States' Constitution, Amendment 1. In its entirety, it reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

See more of the Constitution, aka, The Supreme Law of the land, here.

I don't think the amendment leaves much "gray area" in the matter of the rights of people to speak and peaceably assemble FREELY. End of story. Any restriction upon this fundamental right is unconstitutional and therefore illegal.

Don't know about y'all, but I'm sick of seeing my rights being trampled upon on a daily basis. If the authorities so brazenly spit on the First Freakin' Amendment, what else do you think they'll do?

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Democratic Debate

A few quick thoughts: Lieberman didn't surprise me at all. He's given up on Iowa, but dropped in to gratuitously sling mud at Governor Dean. Between the sniping and whining--he always sounds like he's not quite awake--Joe is all but trying to personally throw the race to Bush by default. Fortunately, Joe's campaign is somewhat south of irrevelent these days.

Kerry likewise tried to pile on, but he and Joe seem to be sharing the same sinking boat.

Kucinich, as always, says the right things, and might surprise people because Iowa is a caucus state--but I don't expect much from him down the road. That's too bad, because, again, he emphasized that the Iraq war is what's really hurting the country. Between the absolutely outrageous costs in lives and money--and the zero benefit--the occupation will be remembered in history as a disaster.

Lieberman spent the post-debate spin session droning on about how could anyone say we're not safer with Saddam in custody, etc. etc., ad nauseum, which is pure, 100 percent, unadulterated bullshit. Saddam Hussein was no threat to the United States--so how could his capture make us "safer?" But Joe repeats this as an article of faith--while whining about open government.

Some of the people calling in to CSPAN have the right idea--join the Republican Party, Joe.

For those who have CSPAN access, the debate is re-airing, although I'll bet most TV's here in Baton Rouge will be tuned in to something different.