Friday, March 04, 2005


Thanks to the Great Circle Mapper (discovered at the Ask the Pilot column in Salon), I now know that the furthest place technically navigable by air from Baton Rouge is Cocos Islands, somewhat south and east of Sumatra. In lieu of a TKOW or a STKGOW, I'll make this my, um, TKTOW (Time Killing Trivia of the Week). Check it out if you're bored and wonder why, for instance, flying from DC to Paris will take you over Labrador.
All Digital

Hmmm. According to these two stories, male aggression can be linked to finger size, particularly the ratio between the second and fourth (i.e., index and ring).

According to this site, aggression can be linked to a different finger.
Intensive Re-education Therapy

Whiskey Bar provides some details, and a killer graphic.
Multimedia Friday

The I-don't-have-good-cable edition. Crooks and Liars posts Dino Ironbody (quicktime) for the rest of us.
Today's GOP

Add copyright infringement to this week's revelation of plagerism--and lord knows what else.
(link provided by America Blog).
Pot, Meet Kettle

George Bush talking about occupation:

"The world is beginning to speak with one voice. We want that succeed, and we know it cannot succeed so long as she is occupied by a foreign power..."

OK, what he really said was

"The world is beginning to speak with one voice. We want that democracy in Lebanon to succeed, and we know it cannot succeed so long as she is occupied by a foreign power and that power is Syria.''

But it speaks volumes that he either lost or ignored the irony.
Good News

Giuliana Sgrena, an Italian journalist in Iraq who was abducted on February 4th, has been released.

Ms. Sgrena and the paper she works for have been outspoken opponents of the war of aggression.

Update: Unfuckingbelievable--US Forces fired on the convoy carrying Ms. Sgrena, wounding her and killing an Italian Secret Service Agent...
Give Dino a White House Press Pass

Newsday reports on correspondent Dino Ironbody:

The reporter was fake, using a fake name, spoofing alleged fake White House reporter "Jeff Gannon." But the news conference was real serious.

A "correspondent" from the fake news show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, was outside City Hall yesterday to get some answers from City Council Speaker Gifford Miller.

Wearing a badly groomed hair piece, a fake mustache and an ugly 1970s tie, Rob Corddry waited patiently until after the real reporters had posed their questions to ask one about about Social Security.

Standing awkwardly with his legs far apart as though he were getting ready to sprint, nodding in agreement to every word spoken by Miller about the West Side Stadium, Corddry finally raised his hand.

"Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker," he shouted, as if in a White House news conference, identifying himself as "Dino Ironbody"

His question: "How do you feel about the president's awesome plan to privatize Social Security?"

Miller, who realized what was going on, played along.

"I'm not such a big fan of the president's plan to private Social Security," Miller said. "I think Social Security has worked pretty well for generations and we outta stick with something that works."

After the gathering broke up, Corddry, in a move uncharacteristic of reporters, invited them to chat.

"Anybody wants to talk shop, I will be right here," he said, pointing to the ground and cameras rolling. "Good conference man!"

I'm sure Dino has made mistakes in his past, but let's hope that won't prevent him from having a future.

Meanwhile, FishBowlDC (link via America Blog) is now at day four in their quest to gain access to the gaggle. They're reporting the possibility of...success? Perhaps. We'll see. Of course, it'd be interesting to compare and contrast their attempt with that of Guckert. It'd also be interesting to see others try to get access, because something tells me McClellan isn't being entirely truthful when he suggests that just about anyone can cover the White House for a day (or, every day for over two years).
Law & Order, SUV

I'm glad I own a small car:

Gasoline prices could rise by about quarter a gallon in the coming days to new record levels, according to a published report Friday.

USA Today, quoting energy experts and analysts, reported that a gain of 24 to 28 cents a gallon is possible as stations scramble to keep up with recent increases in oil and wholesale gasoline prices...

Oil prices hit $55.20 a barrel in trading Thursday, which was within 47 cents of record intra-day levels for crude oil. But prices retreated about $2 a barrel since that high. Gasoline futures set a record at $1.5450 a gallon.

The paper reported that even higher prices could be ahead as increased warm weather driving pushes up demand.

Tom Kloza, senior analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, told the paper that retail gasoline prices lag increases in wholesale prices since Christmas by about 25 to 28 cents a gallon. He says he believes the record prices won't come until the latter half of March.

But Peter Beutel, president of energy tracking firm Cameron Hanover, said a spike of 24 cents a gallon could happen in the coming days.

"It's going to be brutal, horrendous," he told the paper.

I'll bet the increase is more likely to be in the 10 to 15 cent range, with this being more of a trial balloon. Those who are actually paying attention might well breathe a sigh of relief. Still, folks who have to fill up 30 gallon tanks won't be jumping for joy.

Increased crude prices also result in increased heating and/or cooling bills--and that results in less money for products and services. Not a recipe for economic success...
Supporting the Troops, Rethug Style

Molly Ivins points out an interesting feature of the new bankrupcy bill:

You may have read of the hardship on the families of those who have been called to fight in Iraq, including, of course, severe financial stress leading to many bankruptcies. Democrats in the Senate tried to put an amendment on this bill exempting military personnel, and the Republicans voted it down.

The rest of the bill isn't any better...
I'm Not Making This Up--Well, not the Part About Ridge

Dana Milbank notes the following: Ridge Joins Home Depot Board

Orange alert! The do-it-yourself Home Depot chain may be ready to drop that ubiquitous orange for something more color-coded. The company has appointed just-departed Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge to its board of directors. Unclear how Ridge's previous job will help Home Depot, but he does have experience marketing duct tape and dust masks.

Hmmmm...what will the future hold for other prominent rethuglicans? Ahnuld joining the board of directors for BALCO? Dick Cheney at Halliburton?...oh, wait a minute...Abu Gonzales a spokesperson for JT's Stockroom (Condi could model for them), Rummy as financial advisor to Enron ("you retire with the money you have, not the money you want"), Gale Norton at Hummer, Rudy Guiliani reviving 'Playboy After Dark' (with his good friend Bernie Kerik), Bill Frist opening a small animal clinic (with Tom DeLay the supply room)...we're talking real opportunities for qualified individuals...

As for Dubya, one word: pretzelboy.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Sad Milestone

The 1500th US soldier has been killed in Iraq. As of today, the total stands at 1502 deaths. Roughly 10,000 or more have been physically injured, plenty more are experiencing signs of mental problems, and no one really knows how many Iraqis have been killed. And remember, this war didn't have to be fought.
God Damns Scalia

OK, it's actually the latest Tom Burka post, but I'll take it as a closer indication of the supreme being's outlook than anything coming from Fat Antonin's piehole:

God Denies Scalia's Authority Derives From Him

[Scalia] called the Ten Commandments "a symbol of the fact that government derives its authority from God," adding, "That seems to me an appropriate symbol to put on government grounds."

Today God, responding to a comment made by Justice Antonin Scalia, noted he had given neither government nor Justice Scalia authority "to do anything."

"I think Justice Scalia may be mistaken," God is reported to have said.

"I think the American government was created by a bunch of guys from England," said God, "but I could be wrong." God also reportedly mumbled that, although He was present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, that "John Hancock guy" had not left Him room to sign anywhere. God also noted that he had nothing to do with the U.S. Constitution, "particularly the Electoral College," although He thought the Bill of Rights was "not so bad."

God complained about the "common misconception among the unwise" that governmental authority derives from Him. "My Justice is perfect," said God. "But if you look, I think you'll see that the justice of Man is necessarily less than that." According to a lesser prophet, God then instructed an archangel to send a memo to Justice Scalia on original sin.

In an aside, God said that mortals needed to lay off displaying the Ten Commandments in courthouses. "You don't see me putting up copies of the Penal Code in my churches," He said.
How to Get Promoted

CIA-style...Have your mercenaries strip an uncooperative detainee naked, then let him freeze to death overnight:

After a quick autopsy by a CIA medic -- "hypothermia" was listed as the cause of death -- the guards buried the Afghan, who was in his twenties, in an unmarked, unacknowledged cemetery used by Afghan forces, officials said. The captive's family has never been notified; his remains have never been returned for burial. He is on no one's registry of captives, not even as a "ghost detainee," the term for CIA captives held in military prisons but not registered on the books, they said.

"He just disappeared from the face of the earth," said one U.S. government official with knowledge of the case.

The CIA case officer, meanwhile, has been promoted, two of the officials said, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk about the matter. The case is under investigation by the CIA inspector general.

The fact that the Salt Pit case has remained secret for more than two years reflects how little is known about the CIA's treatment of detainees and its handling of allegations of abuse. The public airing of abuse at Abu Ghraib prompted the Pentagon to undertake and release scathing reports about conduct by military personnel, to revise rules for handling prisoners, and to prosecute soldiers accused of wrongdoing. There has been no comparable public scrutiny of the CIA, whose operations and briefings to Congress are kept classified by the administration.

Now, if the guy can learn how to write a decent memo justifying this, he could REALLY get promoted--all the way to the top spot at Justice.
When Hacks Get Shrill

Tiny voices shouted at the top of their lungs:

Not fair, screamed Ken Mehlman. Outrageous, chimed in Rick Santorum. He's KKK, shouted Matt Brooks...

The storm was the latest twist in the battle over Senate GOP efforts to free 10 nominated judges that the chamber's minority Democrats have blocked during Bush's first term. The Senate confirmed 204 others.

In his comments Tuesday, Byrd had defended the right senators have to use filibusters -- procedural delays that can kill an item unless 60 of the 100 senators vote to move ahead. He is a long-standing defender of the chamber's rules and traditions, many of which help the Senate's minority party.

Byrd cited Hitler's 1930s rise to power by, in part, pushing legislation through the German parliament that seemed to legitimize his ascension.

"We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not of men," Byrd said. "But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends."

Byrd then quoted historian Alan Bullock, saying Hitler "turned the law inside out and made illegality legal."

Byrd added, "That is what the 'nuclear option' seeks to do."

The nuclear option is the nickname for the proposal to end filibusters of judicial nominations because of the devastating effect the plan, if enacted, would have on relations between Democrats and Republicans....

Byrd has repeatedly apologized for his Klan membership. Now 87 and the Senate's longest-serving member at 47 years, he prides himself on his knowledge of history and makes historical references frequently during debates.

No word on whether the brownshirts plan to teach the 87 year old Byrd a lesson...
Daily Dose

TBogg delivers--make sure to click on all the links.
Somewhere, a Pig Grew Wings...

While Bush spat out the magic words:

resident Bush invoked Osama bin Laden during a swearing-in ceremony for the nation's new secretary of homeland security today, saying that stopping the leader of Al Qaeda "is the greatest challenge of our day" and reminding Americans of the need for vigilance in the war on terror.

"We are on a constant hunt for bin Laden," the president said in a speech following the swearing in of Michael Chertoff, a former federal appeals court judge. "We're keeping the pressure on him, keeping him in hiding."

Mr. Bush rarely mentions Mr. bin Laden, whom he has vowed to kill or capture since Sept. 11, 2001.

At the Ronald Reagan federal building near the White House, the president praised improvements in national security since 2001, from better visa screening for those entering the United States to tighter security at the nation's ports. But he warned that while the country is safer, it is not yet safe.

After all that hard work, I don't doubt the dauphin took to the private residence with a Big Gulp, a bag of Rold Gold, and orders not to be disturbed...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Looking for a Report

But I haven't found one so far... Sibel Edmonds Testifies Before Congress for First Time Today is the title of this ACLU press release:

Edmonds, a former Middle Eastern language specialist for the FBI, will share her story with members of the House Committee on Government Reform’s Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations. The hearing will focus on the emerging threats of over-classification and pseudo-classification. Edmonds will testify about the government's excessive use of classification to cover up its own misconduct in her case. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat and the ranking minority member on the House Committee on Government Reform, asked Edmonds to testify at today’s hearing.

Can't even find anything on C-Span, although Ms. Edmonds's opening statement is available as a .pdf.

To be fair, this is goverment, so it's possible others have gone over the alloted time, or maybe there have been delays, but I'm hoping this won't get dropped down the memory hole...
Saddam Hussein Loses One Avenue for Appeal

Hell, at first I thought this COULD have been Saddam Hussein, but I guess the Butcher isn't incarcerated in Seattle:

A former diplomat for a Communist country and his wife, who claim that the Central Intelligence Agency broke a promise to support them for life in return for spying for the United States, will have to suffer in secret, the Supreme Court said in effect today.

Reaching back to a case from the Civil War era, the justices unanimously ruled that the spy, identified only as John Doe, and his wife cannot sue the C.I.A. in federal court because such a suit would be wholly incompatible with the often harsh realities of the cloak-and-dagger world.

"If you're ever killed or captured, the pResident will disavow any knowlege..."
Bars vs. Windows

Submitted without comment: Bill Gates accepts an honorary knighthood the same week that Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International, dies.

I saw somewhere the following quote, and I'm sorry, but I don't know who to attribute it to--if anyone knows the origin, I'll be happy to cite:

One after another, British Prime Ministers of the last 40 years offered Peter Benenson a knighthood. Each time, he’d write back to them, detailing the human rights abuses Amnesty was currently fighting in the UK, and asking them–if they wanted to honor his work–to make things right.
Not Quite Separated at Birth

But close enough to be first cousins, perhaps...

Dennis Franz

Walid Jumblatt

O.K., enough silliness. For some solid information about the latest in Lebanon, check out Angry Arab for some excellent recent analysis, and this post by the essential Juan Cole for a historical perspective.
It's Hard Work

From America Blog, here's a detailed report on how to get rejected for a White House daily press pass-- Fishbowl D.C. thought it'd be so easy, seeing as how Jeff Gannon was able to pick one up each day for some two years or so--and seeing how McClellan, et al noted the, um, relaxed standards the White House has for credentialing reporters that way....

But, no, turns out it really IS hard work...and it makes you wonder how Gannon managed to make such a--what's the term?--yes, "lasting impression."
Showing Some Fight

From Surburban Guerrilla, I see that Howard Dean is boldly going where Terry McAuliffe refused to go at all, that is, places like Mississippi:

Praying for American troops and evoking biblical images of helping the needy, Howard Dean told Mississippi Democrats on Tuesday night that the national party won't give up on socially conservative states.

"We're not going to concede the South," the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee told an overflow crowd of more than 900 people in a dining room that was set up for 800 in the Clarion hotel near downtown Jackson.

"The South will rise again, and when it does, it will have a D after its name," Dean said to applause from the diverse crowd of blacks and whites...

"The way we're going to win elections in this country is not to become Republican lite. The way we're going to win elections in this country is to stand up for what we believe in," Dean said.

Speaking at the $75-a-plate Mississippi Democratic Party dinner, Dean criticized the national debt and said: "You cannot trust Republicans with your taxpayer dollars."

It's about goddamned time the Democrats made a national play for the South. To be sure, there are plenty of ignorant hatemongers down here, but there are also a surprising number of progressives and moderates. There is also a substantial number of voters inclined to look favorably on Democrats, if Democrats will listen--black voters who KNOW the GOP has adopted the mantle of institutional racism. Combine this with enough white voters, and the GOP wouldn't be whistling Dixie every four years.
Blame the Victim

The local paper has an AP story about shrill Rethugs:

Republicans attacked the AARP as well as congressional Democrats on Wednesday as they struggled to build momentum behind President Bush's call for personal investment accounts under Social Security.

The AARP, which claims 35 million members age 50 and over, is "against a solution that hasn't been written yet," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay after a closed-door meeting with the GOP rank and file.

He called the group's opposition to personal accounts irresponsible and hypocritical, adding that it sells mutual funds to its own membership.

A spokeswoman for the organization had no immediate comment.

DeLay and Speaker Dennis Hastert also criticized congressional Democrats, who are virtually united in opposition to Bush's plans. "The party of no," Hastert called them.

Gee, Dennis--maybe the "no" vote in this case is based on the following:

Social Security is "in crisis" to the same extent that a car with a low tire is "in crisis." In the latter case, sure, I guess you could junk the vehicle and start all over, but most people would consider options like, say, filling or patching the tire...or even purchasing a new one.
(hmmm...I'm not the only one to use this analogy).

Privatized pension plans aren't exactly tearing up the league.

And, most important, if the Bush administration hasn't layed out their plan for Social Security, then why the hell are they taking so much time to trash the program--this smacks of Operation Go Cheney Ourselves over in Iraq. And Iraq isn't exactly a model for much of anything, except perhaps for how to lose a war against a country so much smaller and weaker that you almost have to TRY to lose.

As for AARP's mutual funds (and similar accounts offered to federal employees)--hey, these are IN ADDITION to the guaranteed Social Security other words, these DON'T take away money from the Social Security Trust Fund...

And, on that topic, TalkingPointsMemo actually found a Joe Biden quote that's worth repeating--I guess Joe can locate a fresh acorn now and again:

"And the presumption that Social Security can't meet its obligations rests on the notion that the federal government will default, something it's never done in 220 years, on an obligation, on Treasury notes, IOUs, just like the IOUs Japan has and other countries have in terms of buying our Treasury bonds. And so I don't think we'll default."

So much for the ridiculous notion that Treasury notes are worthless--they are commercial paper. I suppose you could make the argument that commercial paper itself is essentially worthless...but if you do, be prepared to discuss why capitalism is just plain wrong, because that will be the crux of your position...
"Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting the Establishment of Religion"

That seems simple why is it that every few years or so we have to put up with nonsense like posted Ten Commandments, followed by the inevitable court challenges, followed by the eventual Supreme Court opinion, followed by rinse and repeat?

Any self-respecting religion--and any self-respecting religious individual--would want to keep their material OUT of government offices. Any religion demanding some sort of official imprimatur from the state seems to me to be acknowledging that it's too weak to make it on it's own. And, in particular, the Christian religion has a specific prohibition against such public displays:

Matthew 6:5-6: "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men....when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret...."


Religions already receive perhaps the most generous "subsidy" even passed out by government--they are tax exempt.

To be fair, some religious organizations are on record as opposing the display of religious symbols on public property. Good for them. Too bad so many other religious groups, particulary Christian ones, apparently can't even read their Bibles. Hypocrites.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Under the Weather

Sorry for the low volume today--I'm not nearly 100 percent, and I called in at work. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be on the mend to the point that regular posting can resume. Meanwhile, I did manage to look at this Counterpunch article by Patrick Cockburn and David Enders about the Hilla bombing, and also noted the irony of this report by the State Department that notes the shocking practice of human rights violations by the Iraqi government (here are your winnings, Captain Renault). Tom Burka has more on that.

Timshel notes approvingly that the U.S. Supreme court outlawed the execution of juveniles who committed capital crimes, while the Rude Pundit says to brace ourselves for grisly details of such acts. YRHT has the shocking news that Dubya has a thing for Creedence Clearwater Revival (speaking of irony), and, to stay on the same topic, Left I observes that the US can't find Zarqawi and can't find bin Laden, yet somehow we know they're talking to each other. Hmmm.

Hamid Karzai appointed warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum to a high level cabinet position in Afghanistan--maybe he thinks "march to democracy" should be interpreted literally. Donald Rumsfeld, Col. Thomas Pappas, Gen. Janis Karpinski and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez are all being sued by the ACLU and Human Rights First on behalf of eight people tortured--then released without charges--from Abu Ghraib prison.

America Blog has a link to this story from Out Sports: apparently you can order NFL jerseys from the official merchandise shop featuring names like "Hitler," or "bin Laden," but "Gay" is right out--interestingly, this has a local angle as the discrepency was reported by an LSU professor who wanted a jersey featuring former defensive back Randall Gay's last name.

Finally, Salon's feature story today covers, of all things the displacement of Acadians from the coast of Nova Scotia to the bayou country of South Central Louisiana. Interested readers who don't have a subscription might want to deal with the 30 second ad to get a glimpse of the area I grew up in, although recall that some towns also have a Spanish heritage that's often forgotten--e.g., the French Quarter in New Orleans owes a debt to Spanish architecture...

If I'm feeling better later tonight, I'll try to post a little more, but otherwise, enjoy the day...

Monday, February 28, 2005


"Fork it over...or G.I. Joe won't get paid."

Defense Tech reports on a delightful little scheme Rummy decided upon--he uses the day-to-day military budget, which is where the paychecks for military personnel are drawn from, for his splendid little war--then challenges Congress to deny him supplemental appropriations:

Since the fall, Rumsfeld & Co. have been dipping into the Army's day-to-day funds -- like money for soldiers' paychecks -- and then daring Congress not to make up the difference with a second, "supplemental" pile of cash...

But key members of Congress, like Sen. John McCain, are getting increasingly fed up with this backdoor effort to add tens of billions to the defense budget by essentially holding G.I.'s livelihood hostage. Sooner or later, things are going to come to a head.
This Ought to do Wonders for Recruitment Goals

Join the military--and spend the next "7 to 12 years" fighting a shadowy, nebulous insurgency--or die, or get maimed for life trying... the "7 to 12 years" assessment is provided by none other than...U.S.A.F. General--and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff--Richard Myers.
Good Advice

TBogg suggests checking out Sunday's Doonesbury.
Monday Afternoon Culture Post

Next time I make it down to NOLA, I'll have to broaden my horizons with a visit to the city's newest museum:

Start with hundreds of antique liquor bottles. Add Art Deco cocktail shakers, vintage swizzle sticks and Tiki cups. Mix well. Serve inside an 1823 French Quarter town house.

The result: The Museum of the American Cocktail.

Looks like the curator is looking for a more spacious home than the present location (above the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum). Here's hoping he finds one:

...the museum should feel at home in a city that already has a boozy reputation. New York and San Francisco would have also been logical choices, DeGroff says, but New Orleans history is full of strong ties to the cocktail. It's the home of drinks such as the ramos fizz, the sazerac and the grasshopper. Southern Comfort was created here, as were the liqueur Herbsaint and Peychaud's bitters, a key cocktail ingredient that's been made in the city since the 1830s.

I'll drink to that.
Captive Audience for Bush Test Case

Given the less than smashing success in Mesopotamia, you'd think Dubya might want to devote most if not all of his energy to figuring out an exit strategy. Nah:

The Bush administration wants to make Mr. [Todd A.] Smith's profession [attorney/malpractice specialist] far less financially rewarding. Medical malpractice lawyers are cast as the marquee villains in the administration's war against what it regards as a litigious culture run amok. If there were a face in the bull's-eye in this political battle, it would be Mr. Smith's. He is not only a big-name medical malpractice lawyer, but he is also serving this year as the president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, the principal advocacy and lobbying group for trial lawyers. And within conservative circles and inside the White House, the term "trial lawyer" is an epithet.

For years now, people have been told that greedy lawyers are what separates them from doctor-on-demand healthcare. In fact, millions are spent to deliver the message that a jury trial is the wrong prescription in a "free society," governed by "rule of law":

Last year, the Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the Chamber of Commerce, and the American Medical Association, the physicians' advocacy group, spent a total of $33.8 million on lobbying, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks federal lobbying. The trial lawyers' association spent $2.9 million on federal lobbying, PoliticalMoneyLine reported.

That sure is a lot of money to bitch and whine about how poor you are. But hey, if only we could cease all this unnecessary litigation...well, actually, some health care providers HAVE managed to cut down on the "frivilous" lawsuits quite a bit:

Brian Tetrault was 44 when he was led into a dim county jail cell in upstate New York in 2001, charged with taking some skis and other items from his ex-wife's home. A former nuclear scientist who had struggled with Parkinson's disease, he began to die almost immediately, and state investigators would later discover why: The jail's medical director had cut off all but a few of the 32 pills he needed each day to quell his tremors.

Over the next 10 days, Mr. Tetrault slid into a stupor, soaked in his own sweat and urine. But he never saw the jail doctor again, and the nurses dismissed him as a faker. After his heart finally stopped, investigators said, correction officers at the Schenectady jail doctored records to make it appear he had been released before he died.

To date, neither the doctor nor the nurses have been disciplined, although the case was referred to a medical conduct board. The doctor was in the employ of P.H.S., or Prison Health Services, a shining example of the free market. While not their official slogan, one of their nurses, in a sworn deposition involving another death that could have been prevented with timely care, said the following:

"We save money because we skip the ambulance and bring them right to the morgue."

Because hey, after all, sick people (especially sick inmates) are just a drain on society, right?

That's what these people thought.
Rogues' Gallery

In a just world, these people would be wearing prison stripes instead of business suits. Thanks to Angry Arab for the link.

Hastert Has a Thing...for Torture

After reading the concluding paragraphs of Bob Herbert's op-ed, I think I see why Abu "Torquemada" Gonzales sits at the head of the Justice Department:

A Massachusetts congressman, Edward Markey, has taken the eminently sensible step of introducing legislation that would ban this utterly reprehensible practice [of extraordinary rendition]. In a speech on the floor of the House, Mr. Markey, a Democrat, said: "Torture is morally repugnant whether we do it or whether we ask another country to do it for us. It is morally wrong whether it is captured on film or whether it goes on behind closed doors unannounced to the American people."

Unfortunately, the outlook for this legislation is not good. I asked Pete Jeffries, the communications director for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, if the speaker supported Mr. Markey's bill. After checking with the policy experts in his office, Mr. Jeffries called back and said: "The speaker does not support the Markey proposal. He believes that suspected terrorists should be sent back to their home countries."

Surprised, I asked why suspected terrorists should be sent anywhere. Why shouldn't they be held by the United States and prosecuted?

"Because," said Mr. Jeffries, "U.S. taxpayers should not necessarily be on the hook for their judicial and incarceration costs."

It was, perhaps, the most preposterous response to any question I've ever asked as a journalist. It was not by any means an accurate reflection of Bush administration policy. All it indicated was that the speaker's office does not understand this issue, and has not even bothered to take it seriously.

All of Herbert's column is worth reading.

One hundred twenty five people are dead--thus far--following a car bomb detonation in Hilla (approximately 60 miles south of Baghdad). Most of the victims were police recruits.

The United States has a moral, if not legal, obligation to maintain order in territory occupied by the United States military. Car bombs that kill over a hundred people are a pretty clear indication that order isn't being maintained. It also suggests that the election didn't matter one bit to the insurgency--and that whoever the new "government" turns out to be will have a hell of a crisis once they assume "power" (and, let's face it--the REAL government will be whoever is in charge of the fortress embassy the US will try to construct in Baghdad).

The United States and the puppet government we will control are faced with a most difficult problem in Iraq. The only POSSIBLE way to defeat the insurgency--the only POSSIBLE way--will be to embark on a very Saddam-like program of mass killing...but even that is a long shot, no pun intended, due to the fact that our forces on the ground don't have the intelligence and security apparatus the Butcher of Baghdad possessed. It is the absence of this apparatus that leads to things like the car bombing today--which was massive, the biggest car bomb detonated by the insurgents to date. A decently run occupation would catch something like this. A poorly run occupation will hide behind walls and do nothing.

I think the evidence makes it pretty clear what kind of occupation we've got.
Tom Tomorrow on Jeff Gannon:
"It's Getting So a Man Can't Even Post Naked Pictures of Himself on the Internet Anymore!"*

(*Subscription or Ad Viewing Required)
Or you can stop by America Blog and view the cartoon here. As most folks probably know, America Blog has been at the forefront of the story, and you can't go wrong linking to the main page. John Avarosis also found these two articles by OpEd News and The Philadelphia Inquirer that present a good recap to date.

Or, if you prefer to look at the Guckert/Gannon story from the angle of a man who's wringing every ounce of self-pity out of it like sweat from a gym towel--check out this page (Barf Bag optional but strongly recommended). Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media also weighs in with this feather-light column from the wingnut perspective.

Whod've thunk it? Wingnuts, heretofore enamored of "family values," suddenly are quite ok with a United States of Amsterdam, at least when it comes to White House correspondents.