Saturday, June 26, 2004


Dick Cheney says his F-Bomb--um, excuse me, his forceful expression--made him feel so good afterwards.

Ed Gillespie is feeling pretty good too, it seems, if you read the Times article. But I'd like to know what Andrew Card has to say.


Friday, June 25, 2004

Begorra--Now Be Gone!

The New York Times reports on the Bush visit to Ireland--which isn't all that happy to see him.

President Bush arrived in Ireland this evening and headed for the heavily guarded Dromoland Castle in County Clare, as Irish authorities braced for what were expected to be large demonstrations across Ireland against the American occupation of Iraq.

In contrast to the jubilant welcomes accorded Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy, the reception that awaits Mr. Bush, who will attend a European union summit meeting, is developing as frosty, if not outright hostile. Widespread opposition to the Iraq war and revulsion at the Abu Ghraib prison scandal have turned a large portion of Irish popular opinion against him.

Of course, Bush could take a lesson from Dick Cheney and tell Ireland--or for that matter, all of Europe--to fuck off. Oh wait. He already did that a couple of years ago.
Propaganda Video

Via Green Boy over at Needlenose, I watched this truly bizarre Bush internet ad. Green Boy calls it surreal. He's right. Check out the entire post, then take a look at the video for yourself.
Sin City

At least for the moment. Timshel has the details.
Proudly Raising the Level of Political Discourse

Thursday, June 24, 2004

History Lesson

I'm sure it wouldn't have changed their Jurassic sized brains, but this article by Robert Fisk would at least have given Team Bush an idea of what they were facing:

"Proclamation... Our military operations have as their object, the defeat of the enemy and the driving of him from these territories. In order to complete this task I am charged with absolute and supreme control of all regions in which British troops operate; but our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators... Your citizens have been subject to the tyranny of strangers... and your fathers and yourselves have groaned in bondage. Your sons have been carried off to wars not of your seeking, your wealth has been stripped from you by unjust men and squandered in different places. It is the wish not only of my King and his peoples, but it is also the wish of the great Nations with whom he is in alliance, that you should prosper even as in the past when your lands were fertile... But you, people of Baghdad... are not to understand that it is the wish of the British Government to impose upon you alien institutions. It is the hope of the British Government that the aspirations of your philosophers and writers shall be realised once again, that the people of Baghdad shall flourish, and shall enjoy their wealth and substance under institutions which are in consonance with their sacred laws and with their racial ideals... It is the hope and desire of the British people... that the Arab race may rise once more to greatness and renown amongst the peoples of the Earth... Therefore I am commanded to invite you, through your Nobles and Elders and Representatives, to participate in the management of your civil affairs in collaboration with the Political Representative of Great Britain... so that you may unite with your kinsmen in the North, East, South and West, in realising the aspirations of your Race."

That's from a proclamation posted in Baghdad by Lieutenant-General Sir Stanley Maude in March--of 1917.

Take a look at the rest of the article to see exactly what happened to the Brits--or, keep an eye out for the latest news from today. It won't be all that different.
Why You're Right

Winning Argument absolutely NAILS Bush, Cheney, and their supporters regarding what they did and didn't say about Saddam Hussein, Iraq, and 9/11.

While you're at Winning Argument, check out the post immediately prior to Iraq, Hussein, and 9/11--it's called The administration is failing in Afghanistan.
Diner's Crumb

Via Body and Soul, I entered Mad Kane's contest to name the new, improved, food stamps--which aren't actually stamps or coupons, but a sort of debit card.

Credit actually goes to Scaramouche for coming up with Diner's Grub, and I couldn't get that out of my mind. So, call my entry a corollary.
Bomb Squad

Patrick Cockburn writes about a much in demand job in the new Iraq--bomb defuser. Unfortunately, in spite of many openings, jobs are hard to fill in this profession, especially when pay is low, risks are high, and injury isn't compensated.

Cockburn did not say whether being killed on the job means money for the family. I'm guessing not.

Civilian victims I guess can take comfort if they're victims of bombings because, after all, it's better than living under Saddam Hussein.
Molly Ivins

Advises that we don't "neglect the 14 year old hacker set."
Chicken Soup for the (Torturing) Soul

The New York Times profiles former LSU Law Professor, and writer of the Justice Department's turture memorandum, Jay S. Bybee.

Once again, the Times manages to see an empty glass as at least half full, commenting on the Judge's "kinder, gentler side," including the odd note at the end that Bybee apparently has, or had, a kazoo collection. Boy, that's hard hitting reportage. Does the Judge also think torture should be accompanied by clown shows?

It makes you wonder: would the Gray Lady, in a different era, remark on the gentle nature of Hermann Goering and his collection of diamond studded batons?
Good Morning--This is Your Wakeup Call

A bus explosion in Istanbul killed five people (the third bomb in Turkey this week. Earlier in the day, a small bomb in Ankara injured two people, and another bomb in Istanbul on Tuesday injured a policeman). Next week NATO will hold a summit there, its eastern outpost.

And--one week before the transfer of power to the "New, Improved, Almost Entirely Sovereign Government of Iraq," Bloomberg reports on insurgent attacks throughout the country which killed almost seventy people and injured scores of others.

Meanwhile, Richard Baker (R-LA), US representative from my district, has a peculiar response to such violence (thanks to Timshel for the link). He thinks the insurgent movement justifies the war. Turning logic on its head, Baker manages to display a startling ignorance of the facts on the ground. I referred to him as a jellyfish in Ricky's comments, but perhaps I should have used diatom, given that he must have pebbles--or sand--occupying his brain case.

Maybe it's time for a new Morning in America ad campaign--because if this isn't a wakeup call regarding our foreign policy in the Middle East, I don't know what the hell is.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

GOP=Gutless, Overblown Politicos (as usual)

For those who haven't yet seen: Here's a report on yet another example of the Republican party acting like spoiled brat assholes. In this case, Bill Frist, cat killer and Senate Majority Leader, worked with the rest of his charges in the Senate to delay a vote on an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would have increased funding for veterans. FYI--this is the same bill that Lautenberg tried to amend to provide a means for honoring those killed in battle. So, the GOP position is: dishonor the war dead, and screw the survivors.

Anyway, it was deliberately and specifically delayed because John Kerry took time off from the campaign trail to return to Washington for the vote.

This is yet another attempt to smear Kerry, who, I'll admit, ain't my favorite politician. But goddamnit, if this keeps happening, I'll work on generating more enthusiasm for the Massachusetts Senator.

Yeah, Kerry's missed a lot of votes. Big fucking deal. Most Senate roll call votes are little more than show anyway--procedural items like amendments are where the proposed legislation is tested. Ever notice how final roll calls in the Senate run at something like 91-2? or 95-0? As for the volume of votes missed, well, I say to the GOP: shove it. You've got the majority--hell, this CNN article--conveniently moved to the archives--notes that the Republican party has consistently manipulated Senate votes to place Kerry in the worst possible light. As noted here, had he NOT shown up yesterday, vote or no vote, they would have used THAT to say he didn't care about veterans benefits.

In a similar vein, Atrios linked yesterday to a post at Digby's Blog regarding the ridiculous Slate attempt at "balance," i.e., Kerryisms--the heavier, weightier counterpart to Bushisms. Get it? A pox on both of their houses. Of course, what's missing from Slate's lame-assed series is any understanding of how the Republican attack machine operates--as Digby notes, "The truth is that the "caveats and curliques" that Saleton finds so remarkable are the result of a political environment in which Kerry is required to speak in extremely precise terms because if he doesn't, Ed Gillespie and his coven of shrieking talk show harpies will blast their faxes directly up his ass. (Ask Al Gore about that.) Bush, on the other hand, whom everyone knows is a total idiot, is applauded if he is able to string more than 5 words together without drooling on his tie."

Frist, (Massachusetts governor) Romney, the rest of the gutless blowhards, and even Bob Dole (for whom I ALMOST had about a milligram of respect), are now competing to see who can bark the loudest for Kerry to resign his Senate seat--as if no one has ever run for President while simultaneously serving in the US Congress. Hell, Dole didn't resign HIS seat the first three times HE ran--and in 1996 the move was seen as a desperate gambit (which it was), not a noble gesture. So, in my mind, Kerry ought to say the "looking presidential" equivalent of "FUCK Y'ALL"--gee, the y'all part might work down here...

And Frist should realize that the Senate isn't a sandbox--so stop acting like a child.

Poker Face

The Poor Man describes a game of five card draw post September 11th. Link sort of via Atrios (he linked to this post about North Korea, which cites the earlier piece).

Sorry for the slow posting today--work calls (and I'm having to show my hand--but I don't get near the benefit of the doubt dear vice-leader does).
Free Market Solutions

I've been reading quite a bit lately about the latest Bush document dump (here, here, here, and here, for instance). In addition, there's the Rumsfeldian effort to cover his own ass with statements designed to make the New York Times produce "but the glass is still half full" pieces.

You probably know the "details," such as they appear at this point: in spite of legal advice suggesting Bush could invoke the "divine right of kings privilege," George the younger (and dumber) managed to remain seated long enough to sign a document which, while affirming the "logic" of the doctrine, promised "consistent" treatment with Geneva principles.

I'll bet most signees to the convention are a little surprised that waterboarding, intimidation with dogs, real or simulated electric shock, sexual humiliation, beatings, and/or being led around on a leash seem to qualify as "consistent with Geneva." Or, at least they did until we found out about said abuse, whereupon the documents noted above magically surfaced. Bush and company are shocked (pun intended) that "torture is going on in their prisons," even as the hired help says "your electrodes, sir." curiousity is piqued by this paragraph in the Bush order:

4. The United States will hold states, organizations, and individuals who gain control of United States personnel responsible for treating such personnel humanely and consistent with applicable law.

Obviously, this would apply to US service personnel--remember when Rummy, in a happier time, piously warned Iraq to adhere to the Geneva conventions in their treatment of US POW's? But the case of so-called security forces raises a whole new set of questions.

Given that estimates make security personnel the second largest contingent of armed force in the country, this obviously raises the question of how Geneva applies to private individuals employed in some sort of capacity within a "war zone."

I place the term in quotes because, well, we haven't actually declared war. I know that the relevant sections of the Constitution have basically been cancelled. And I think it might be becoming pretty obvious why that's not such a good thing. It's almost like the weird justifications for torture I was writing about the other day--proponents of presidential perogative emphasize his role as Commander in Chief, to be sure, but then trot out all sorts of "what ifs"--none of which existed in Iraq, as even the New Republic lamely admitted. But I digress.

We all know that Team Bush has denied the status of "high contracting parties to Geneva" both in regards to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But where does Halliburton, or KBR stand?

In their zeal to apply the free market to absolutely everything, including the waging of war, the neo cons have created any number of issues that should have been addressed PRIOR to the invasion. But, as we all know, the war itself was supposed to be simply a jolly good show--images of toppled statues and presidents landing on aircraft carriers to say "Mission Accomplised."

But now we're in a real, genuine war. And issues like treatment of prisoners, be they "enemy combatants" or "contractors," is a gray area. The very nature of presidential perogative versus Congressional power is another. Congress tried to plug that leak with the War Powers Act in 1973, but it has been pretty much ignored with impugnity. Like, um, it seems, the Geneva conventions.

To be honest, I thought Joe Biden was grandstanding a bit when he bared his teeth at John Asscrossed a few weeks ago. But what he said was on mark, if only in the last refuge sense: we adhere to standards in order to ensure the protection of our own people. To which I'll add we adhere to them because it is the right thing to do, and it defines the term "civilized society," which one should be very careful to do, considering that war is pretty much the opposite of civil rule. But to continue in this vein would double the size of this already pretty long post as it would by necessity delve into the nature of social contract, consent of the governed, and so on, which is the basis of civil society (that is to say, civil rule works mainly because the individuals in society see it as being in their best interests to consent to order, since chaos would look remarkably like, um, IRAQ in its present state).

Bush, having tried to redefine war by declaring it on terror--in the literal sense, not as a metaphor like the "war" on poverty or drugs (not that we won either of those)--but, in doing this, he seems to have neglected to consider ALL the ramifications, even as he and the neo cons daily toss aside principles of statecraft that have existed for years, if not centuries. To call this dangerous is, in fact, quite an understatement.

Things got a whole lot more complicated, and the big losers will be the general public--both in Iraq and in the United States.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Did the Wrong Thing

Lead Balloons at BAD ATTITUDES posts about the effort by Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to change the Bush policy of "out of sight--and hopefully out of mind" when it comes to bringing home the caskets containing the remains of US soldiers.

Both of Louisiana's senators voted against Lautenberg's amendment, which read:


(a) PROTOCOL REQUIRED.--(1) Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall develop a protocol that permits media coverage of the return to the United States of the coffins containing the remains of members of the Armed Forces who are killed overseas.

(2) The protocol shall ensure the preservation of the dignity of the occasion of the return to the United States of members of the Armed Forces who are killed overseas.

(3) The protocol shall ensure the preservation of the confidentiality of the identity of each member of the Armed Forces whose remains are returning to the United States.

(b) REPORT.--Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a copy of the protocol developed under subsection (a).

Why Breaux and Landrieu think out of sight/out of mind is the correct way to honor war dead is beyond me.
There's Always the Three Dollar Bill

Reagan Dime Dead is CNN's headline. The article goes on to mention the various efforts to implant Reagan's visage on something, anything, or everything.

Here's my proposal: Ronald Reagan House. Get some cut-rate Frank Ghery to come up with an empty head (historical accuracy) facade, with EVERYTHING inside being some symbolic manifestation of the Grate Communicator. The Gipper could be pictured or rendered on everything from the plastic countertops to the ceramic bathroom. Offer three day vacation packages to the wingnuts and use the money for deficit reduction.

You know, that might actually work...

On Sadism

If you don't mind watching an ad for Visa, this Salon series (Part 1 here) of articles is worth reading.

Every once in while clowns like Alan Dershowitz use torturous (pun intended) logic to justify officially sanctioned sadism. Sometimes it's almost amusing to listen to these justifications--they run along the lines of "BUT IF the terrorist had knowledge of the bomb that was set to explode, and IF we knew that 'forceful interrogation' would magically crush his capacity to resist and would result in said terrorist telling us the location of the bomb, when it was set to go off, and who his nefarious comrades were and where they were hiding, AND if it was YOUR KID'S SCHOOL that was at the epicenter AND your wife happened to be there for parent/teacher day AND if all it really took was a few minutes of holding said terrorist's hand on a hot plate for a minute or so...well, WOULDN'T you go ahead and do it?"

That's a lof of "ifs." So many that it makes me wonder how long these folks lie awake at night coming up with JUST the right scenario to justify their innate sadistic sides. Listening to justifications for torture tells you more about those making the argument than anything else.

Darius Rejali destroys the false logic of such justifications.

By all means, check out the articles if you have the time--especially Part II, which focuses on the systematic use of torture by the French in Algeria. It turns out that ONE useful bit of intelligence WAS obtained exactly ONCE: the army discovered that the French government was selling them out and secretly negotiating with FLN. The ensuing crisis brought down the Fourth Republic in 1958.

Note to Law Prof: Torture is NOT Part of the Napoleanic Code

Timshel links to an Advocate article about the now infamous Justice Department memos justifying torture.

The author of one memo is Jay S. Bybee, former Law professor at El Ess Euwe--his subject was constitutional law.

Hmmn. Looks like the professor could use a refresher course--if not a cooling off period. Given Bybee's latest work (federal judge in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Las Vegas), I'll bet he's got at least a passing familiarity with a number of high walled, rural hideaways.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Full of Shit

Whiskey Bar's post is titled The Perfect Metaphor. Judge for yourself.
NPR Discovers Blogs

Only NPR can make this sound like breaking news.
Landmark Desecrated

I can't say I was ALL THAT SURPRISED, but I certainly wasn't thrilled to see a swastika and the words "white power" spray painted onto the historic Kress building here in Baton Rouge. Morons will be morons, and a society that glosses over Ronald Reagan's 1980 speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi (which celebrated brotherly love in 1964 by killing three civil rights activists), should expect garbage like racist nutjobs spray-painting ridiculous things on walls. Of course, the city is also showing a certain lack of respect, having all but given up the property to the wrecking ball--to be replaced by, you guessed it, a parking lot.

Can--or should--the Kress building be saved? I'm not a construction expert, so I don't know the details, but I'd like to suggest that the last thing Baton Rouge should do is turn its back on its history, be it good or bad history.

And the idiot(s) who painted the racist graffiti will meet the same fate as all of us one day.
One-Armed Blogger

That would be me for the near future--and hopefully ONLY for the near future. Friday I went to the emergency room and DEMANDED they drain fluid from my elbow--which they did. But, the swelling is back. It's now down to ping-pong ball, as opposed to golf ball size. But, the doctor said it would ONLY go away with lots of rest--and, I just don't have the money to try yet another physician.

So--rest it is. No tennis, AND I'll be typing with one hand. As you might expect, that will reduce the size and volume of postings here. It won't keep me from reading, though. And, hopefully, when this finally goes away, I'll be able to return to normal.

This could be good, in one small sense--I've noticed a decline in the quality of my writing lately, so perhaps the slowdown will recharge my batteries. And it is just a slowdown, not a sign-off.

Back in a bit--spent the weekend near Ricky's part of the state visiting the family, and need to catch up.