March 27, 2008 archive

BREAKING: Siegelman Released on Bail Pending Appeal

Great news from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals:

ATLANTA, Ga. — The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted former Gov. Don Siegelman’s request to be released from prison pending the outcome of his appeal.

Siegelman is currently serving a 7-year sentence in the Oakdale Federal Correctional Complex in Louisiana following his 2006 public corruption conviction.

Acting U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin confirms the 11th Circuit granted Siegelman’s release in a fou- page order which states Siegelman had raised a “significant question” about his conviction.


Let the celebrations begin.  I am delighted for Don Siegelman and his family.

But it would a mistake, a serious mistake not to note that Siegelman was whisked from his sentencing to imprisonment, something I consider unprecedented, that the Eleventh Circuit and the judge in the Middle District of Alabama have played patsy with this case for the ten months Don has been incarcerated sending it back and forth without deciding his motion for bail pending appeal, and that the timing of his release comes just as it was announced today by John Conyers that Don Siegelman likely be testifying in DC about his conviction.  Put simply, the conviction reeks, and it has Karl Rove’s fingerprints all over it.

The feds should make sure they keep Don’s cell in Louisiana open, so that Karl Rove can move in as soon as possible.

For the details on the Don Siegelman case, try this diary by OPOL and this one by me.

Iraq is imploding right before our eyes

Despite the fact that the corporate media is baffled by the fact that once they stopped reporting about Iraq, people had a “better” feeling about how things were going, the fruits of arming both sides, bribing Sunnis to not kill us but then not paying the bribe money, an end to al Sadr’s ceasefire and a lack of any positive movement on nearly every benchmark set at the beginning of “the surge” are all coming together in a perfect storm.

In short, things have gone from horrible to miserable over the past couple of days (even since I wrote about the rapidly devolving situation a few short weeks ago).


“Unbelievable” Abuse Reigns in Iraqi Jails

Released yesterday by Wikileaks, and seen for the first time (links within quoted material, and bolded emphases, are added):

Confidential memo from Maj. Gen. Kelly, commander of US forces in western Iraq (MNF-W, or Multi-National Force – West), written in late February 2008. Privately verified by Wikileaks staff and not denied or contradicted by MNF-W when questioned by UPI’s national security editor, Shaun Waterman.

Typed up version follows:

Four at Four

  1. Thousands in Baghdad Protest Basra Assault
    By James Glanz and Graham Bowley, The New York Times

    Thousands of supporters of the powerful Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia took to the streets of Baghdad on Thursday to protest the Iraqi Army’s assault on the southern port city of Basra, as intense fighting continued there for a third day.

    In Basra, there seemed to be no breakthrough in the fighting by either side; as much as half of the city remained under militia control, hospitals in some parts of the city were reported full, and the violence was continuing to spread. There were clashes reported all over the city and in locations 12 miles south of Basra…

    As a possible sign of the rising instability in the region, saboteurs blew up one of Iraq’s two main oil export pipelines from Basra, Reuters reported. The oil pipelines were regular targets for insurgents earlier in the Iraqi conflict, but Thursday’s sabotage was the first time for several years the southern oil supply route has been disrupted, and oil prices rose briefly after the attack…

    Mahdi Army commanders said Thursday that the cease-fire was still intact but said that if the Basra assault continues and their grievances are not addressed then they would follow the protests with a period of civil disobedience and after that they would take “appropriate next steps,” without saying what those steps would be.

  2. U.S. Steps Up Unilateral Strikes in Pakistan
    By Robin Wright and Joby Warrick, Washington Post

    The United States has escalated its unilateral strikes against al-Qaeda members and fighters operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas, partly because of anxieties that Pakistan’s new leaders will insist on scaling back military operations in that country, according to U.S. officials…

    A senior U.S. official called it a ‘shake the tree’ strategy… The campaign is not designed to capture bin Laden before Bush leaves office, administration officials said. “It’s not a blitz to close this chapter,” said a senior[anonymous] official…

    Senior officials in Pakistan’s leading parties are now warning that such unilateral attacks — including the Predator strikes launched from bases near Islamabad and Jacobabad in Pakistan — could be curtailed…

    Yet despite a series of strikes, some U.S. military officers and experts question whether the strategy will be effective and worth its political costs… Local politicians also complain that the strikes only encourage militants to undertake retaliatory actions in urban areas…

    U.S. strategy could backfire if missiles take innocent lives. “The [tribal] Pashtuns have a saying: ‘Kill one person, make 10 enemies,’ ” [Thomas H. Johnson, a research professor at the Naval Postgraduate School,] said. “You might take out a bad guy in one of these strikes, but you might also be creating more foot soldiers. This is a war in which the more people you kill, the faster you lose.

Four at Four continues below the fold with a look at the U.S. supplying 40-year-old arms to Afghanistan and John McCain’s abysmal environmental record.

“Unbelievable” Abuse Reigns in Iraqi Jails

Released yesterday by Wikileaks, and seen for the first time (links within quoted material, and bolded emphases, are added):

Confidential memo from Maj. Gen. Kelly, commander of US forces in western Iraq (MNF-W, or Multi-National Force – West), written in late February 2008. Privately verified by Wikileaks staff and not denied or contradicted by MNF-W when questioned by UPI’s national security editor, Shaun Waterman.

Typed up version follows:

Your RFID-Chipped Passport Is Made In Thailand and China ‘Stole’ the Chip Tech

Remember this?

Back in September 2006, Bruce Schneier wrote about the The ID Chip You Don’t Want in Your Passport in the Washington Post:

If you have a passport, now is the time to renew it — even if it’s not set to expire anytime soon. If you don’t have a passport and think you might need one, now is the time to get it. In many countries, including the United States, passports will soon be equipped with RFID chips. And you don’t want one of these chips in your passport…

RFID chips don’t have to be plugged in to a reader to operate…

The risk to you is the possibility of surreptitious access: …


The Never Ending Story Of The Left: A Parable

Terror has reigned in the land for a decade.

War has returned, the People are oppressed and have had their Rights and Freedoms…..”God”-given rights according to even their oppressors….stripped and trampled, hunger and homelessness increase day by day, while the Ruling Class grows fat, children and the elderly suffer and die for want of medical care, whole segments of the citizenry have been made into hated pariahs, all attempts at justice and accountability are crushed, not just by the minions of the Emperor, but by those sworn to oppose him and uphold the Law of the Land.


But….hosannas and trumpets ring out………..the reign of the Emperor is coming to an end! The only way the Reign of Terror can continue is if his successor is elected. But since two thirds of the People are very unhappy with the results of The Emperors Reign…and 80% are unhappy in general, this seems like almost a impossibility! Surely the Forces of Good will triumph over the Force Of Evil!!!



This country needs an enema

Diary title: fixing the crap detector

Diary title: So?

Seven degrees of crap

trail of deception………

The Global War On Truth

John ashcroft – “pouring” vs. “forcing”

1. Plain stupid

2. Hunh? Enemies of rational thought / Just how stupid do you think I am, anyway?

3. Bullshit/lies

4. Callous/out of touch

5. Fear mongering

6. Plain criminal (actions, not just words)

7. Torture

You’ve read, of course, the New York Times story from last week, yes? The one about how retired military officers had been paid by the Pentagon to spout administration propaganda to the news media in order to sell the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq?

It was a breathtaking and horrifying accounting of the lengths this administration will go to to mislead and lie to the American public so that certain people (not you and me) can be made richer, and the level of disgrace that certain members of the military are willing to bring upon the uniform by prostituting themselves for an illegal war that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

As I read the article, I thought of a snippet from a book I had read and re-read in high school:

[I]n the early 1960s, an interviewer was trying to get Ernest Hemingway to identify the characteristics required for a person to be a ‘great writer’. As the interviewer offered a list of various possibilities, Hemingway disparaged each in sequence. Finally, frustrated, the interviewer asked, ‘Isn’t there any one essential ingredient that you can identify?’ Hemingway replied, ‘Yes, there is. In order to be a great writer a person must have a built-in, shockproof crap detector.’

                   – Teaching as a Subversive Activity,

                     by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner

                     (excerpt; PDF file)

What the Times article reminded us was that – by Hemingway’s standard, anyway – there are almost no great writers working in American journalism today.

It’s difficult to argue with that. Indeed, the art and science of crap detection has never been in a sadder state of decline in my lifetime. And that is no accident.

Take a look at what the article said:

Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.”

It requires no great leap of the imagination to infer what Enemy these “force multipliers” were sent out to attack and destroy.  It is the same Enemy that has proven to be such an inconvenient stumbling block for so many Republican plans over the past 35 years. The “powdered princes” (as they are known in some circles) were and are mercenaries – erm, security contractors – in the BushCheney administration’s Global War On –


Or, as it is known in some circles, Reality.

The Enemy for Republicans is, was, and always will be The Truth. Reality. They and their plans don’t tend to do so well when subjected to Reality, so they prefer not to deal with it:

”That’s not the way the world really works anymore . . . We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

The technical term for the “reality” the BushCheney administration has “created” for itself and its followers is “bullshit” – or, to use Hemingway’s more polite coinage, “crap.”

Unfortunately, over the past 35 years Republicans have on the one hand developed crap proliferation to a high art, while on the other hand degrading the ability of and incentive for the American populace and the American media to exercise their respective crap detecting faculties. This result has been achieved incrementally, deliberately and without fanfare through the consolidation of corporate media, the rescission of the Fairness Doctrine and the intentional redirecting of school curricula away from the development of critical thinking skills.

All of which explains how it is that the current administration has been able for so long to sell so much crap to the American media and public; so few still had the ability to see the crap for what it was.

The results of the 2000 presidential election would seem to bear that out. Strongly encouraged by the corporate media, a lot of Americans just put their crap detectors in storage eight years ago, figuring, What do I need a crap detector for, when I can just have a beer with this guy?

The press – for so much of our nation’s history, the watchdog of our democracy, the unofficial “fourth branch” of government – evidently felt the call of Gee Dubya’s tall, cold one as well; here’s corporate media abandoning the field to Crap back in 1999, swallowing whole the “compassionate conservative” pitch:

[Bush says,] “I worry about the haves and the have-nots. [Mine] is a message that says nobody should be left behind.” . . .

There are important differences between Reagan and George W. Bush. Reagan paid only lip service to maintaining a safety net for the poor. Bush seems determined to improve their lives. . . “People who adhere to the conservative philosophy better figure out how to make sure it includes everybody,” he warns. “Not just say it, but mean it.”

(Still nursing that beer? Or did reading that little gem nine years later make you lose it all over your monitor?)

It’s sad, really. Pathetic, in fact. Modern-day “news” gatherers have mistaken “access” for openness. Their crap detecting skills are so poor, and they are so desperate for what they stupidly believe is “access,” that they can’t even tell when they’re being shat upon – and, just as pathetically, they don’t care. Members of the modern corporate news media don’t even recognize crap when they’re being forced to eat it. Rapping with Karl Rove has been the least of their embarrassments, and the fact that they don’t even realize that is a sad commentary.

The irony, of course, is that many “news” gatherers believe they could not do their jobs without the golden-shower-masquerading-as-“access” that they are “granted” by the BushCheney administration, which no doubt would be true, if it weren’t that: (a) their “access” is no such thing; (b) they’re not doing their jobs anyway, with or without “access”; and (c) you don’t need the kind of “access” that puts you onstage with MC Rove in order to do real journalism.

The problem is that most “news” gatherers don’t understand Quality – or they don’t care about it. From amid the entire universe of facts out there waiting to be reported on and investigated, from amid the literally countless possible subjects that today’s corporate media “journalists” could choose to spend their time, money and talents on – the occupation of Iraq, food riots across the globe, an economy teetering on the edge of depression, the systematic destruction of the United States Constitution, the hunt for Osama bin Laden – out of all that, what do modern-day corporate journalists, those who would inherit the mantle of Edward R. Murrow, choose to give us?

Hannah Montana (her back!)!

Reverend Wright (he’s black!)!

Lapel pins (tie tack!)!

Corporate media? They’re hacks!

In his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig makes the case for the necessity of making decisions regarding Quality when processing all of the raw information that we as humans – and members of a democratic society – have to choose from. He cites the work of French mathematician, physicist and philosopher Jules Henri Poincaré. Poincaré was trying to figure out how it was that good scientists, out of literally an infinite number of possible hypotheses for a given phenomenon, knew which hypotheses to pursue. And Poincaré boils it down to a question of Quality:

Poincaré laid down some rules: There is a hierarchy of facts . . . Poincaré concluded, a scientist does not choose at random the facts he observes . . . Mathematics, he said, isn’t merely a question of applying rules, any more than science. It doesn’t merely make the most combinations possible according to certain fixed laws. The combinations so obtained would he exceedingly numerous, useless and cumbersome. The true work of the inventor consists in choosing among these combinations so as to eliminate the useless ones . . .

Pirsig – as the title of his book suggests – uses the maintenance of a motorcycle as a metaphor for life. In one of the book’s most telling passages, he deconstructs the problem-solving process of a mechanic confronted with a stuck crankcase-cover screw. Pirsig examines what will happen – or fail to happen – if the mechanic, faced with a universe of facts from which to choose – fails to bring the filter of Quality to his assessment of those facts:

We have been looking at that screw “objectively.” According to the doctrine of “objectivity,” which is integral with traditional scientific method, what we like or don’t like about that screw has nothing to do with our correct thinking. We should not evaluate what we see [, according to the doctrine of “objectivity”]. We should keep our mind a blank tablet which nature fills for us, and then reason disinterestedly from the facts we observe.

But when we stop and think about it disinterestedly, in terms of this stuck screw, we begin to see that this whole idea of disinterested observation is silly. Where are those facts? What are we going to observe disinterestedly? The torn slot? The immovable side cover plate? The color of the paint job? The speedometer? The sissy bar? As Poincaré would have said, there are an infinite number of facts about the motorcycle, and the right ones don’t just dance up and introduce themselves. The right facts, the ones we really need, are not only passive, they are damned elusive, and we’re not going to just sit back and “observe” them. We’re going to have to be in there looking for them or we’re going to be here a long time. Forever. As Poincaré pointed out, there must be a subliminal choice of what facts we observe.

The difference between a good mechanic and a bad one, like the difference between a good mathematician and a bad one, is precisely this ability to select the good facts from the bad ones on the basis of quality. He has to care! . . .

By returning our attention to Quality [we can get] out of the noncaring subject-object dualism and back into craftsmanlike self-involved reality again, which will reveal to us the facts we need when we are stuck.

Read that last sentence again:

By returning our attention to Quality [we can get] out of the noncaring subject-object dualism and back into craftsmanlike self-involved reality again, which will reveal to us the facts we need when we are stuck.

“The facts we need when we are stuck.” Hmmm . . .

Let’s take what Pirsig says about scientists and mathematicians and see whether we can apply it equally to another pursuit:

The difference between a good mechanic reporter and a bad one, like the difference between a good mathematician and a bad one, is precisely this ability to select the good facts from the bad ones on the basis of quality. He has to care! . . .

How often have you heard representatives of the corporate media talk about how all they’re doing is presenting “both sides” of an “argument”? Like, “both sides” of the global warming “argument”? Or “both sides” of the evolution “argument”?

As if there were an argument in the first place. As if “both sides” of such an illusory “argument” carried equal weight.

The reason we are bombarded 24/7 with crap in the corporate media is because no one involved in running corporate media – and way too few people involved in consuming corporate media content – gives a tinker’s damn about Quality.

As Pirsig would argue, what the corporate media have abandoned in their supposedly doe-eyed, innocent, fair and balanced presentation of the “facts” is an application of Quality. To give airtime and ink to the repeatedly and provably incorrect assertions and predictions of idiots like William Kristol and Doug Feith, or the global warming deniers, or those who would replace the teaching of evolution with the teaching of creationism, is to throw Quality out the window, and leave the consumer to decide what is valuable and what is, well, Crap. Caveat viewer.

violate the public trust, a trust that is codified in the Federal Communications Commission

as equivalent in merit to the demonstrably accurate assessments and prognostications of a Glenn Greenwald or

Whereas once upon a time in America, journalists served as a front line of Crap Detection against the onslaught of Crap emanating from the seats of government and the corridors of corporate power, now, if anything, most corporate media outlets serve their literal corporate masters; rarely does one see a decision about which content to present based on Quality – it’s up to consumers to sort that stuff out.

Hence it is still possible for a film such as Ben Stein’s recent laughfest, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, to be made and marketed.

Hence the movie


how this abandonment of Quality is the only thing that makes such a film possible.

The difference between a good mechanic student and a bad one, like the difference between a good mathematician and a bad one, is precisely this ability to select the good facts from the bad ones on the basis of quality. He has to care! . . .

The difference between a good mechanic electorate and a bad one, like the difference between a good mathematician and a bad one, is precisely this ability to select the good facts from the bad ones on the basis of quality. He has to care! . . .

youtube is the republics’ enemy. facts are anathema to them.…

A skeptic hears a shill and thinks, “Bullshit!  Prove it!”  After making that demand enough times and receiving no reasonable response, that person becomes a cynic.  A cynic is one who, upon hearing a Republican or corporate shill, respondents simply, “Bullshit!”

air force times: nearly a million sorties in GWOT, triple the number of RAF in WWII

By the time you get down to the Seventh Level, torture seems merely a natural extension of the first six.  That is why Crap Detection at every level is so important: to call out the Crap for what it is, to remove the emperor’s clothes. Crap is the water that the little fishies who are the citizens of the United States of America swim in, and until we get yanked out of it, we are not even aware that it exists.

And we’re okay with that.  Recite a list of things that were okay with now that we worked before: torture, outing of CIA agents, secret trials, renditions, illegal surveillance, national debt exceeding $30,000 per person, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while the rest of the country drowns in their de


It wasn’t always just the big lie: an unending stream of little lies will derail the discourse just as well.


Seven years of political decisions based on fear ignorance and cynical power grabbing

Seven years of a snarling, mean-spirited, self-loathing vice president, the Willie Sutton of big oil, the president of the Senate who would tell another senator, Go Fuck Yourself, and who would say, “So?” when told that 70% of the American people oppose the war in Iraq.

Seven years of those who would deny the reality of global warming, the reality of evolution, the reality of contraception, the reality of hazardous mines, the reality of 2,000 people drowning in a major American city, and for that, linked to the Robert Siegel interview with Michael Chertoff

A Justice Department where being lesbian is even worse than being a Democrat.

Please, just shut up – you’re embarrassing us

How stupid do you think we are? How fearful do you think we are?

Seven years of are you asking kidding me?

Seven years of You Can’t Make This Shit Up has left me tired. Seven years of asking the question, Just Exactly How Dumb Do You Think I Am, Anyway? is enough already.

No Child left behind.  Clear skies initiative.  Patriot act.  Protect America act.  It’s part of the dumbing down of America; the effort to create, not well-informed voters, but over pressurized consumers.  Operation Iraqi liberation didn’t make the cut, because it was The Truth (link to ISG/{PNAC diary). Bipartisanship becomes another word for appeasement.

Modern Republicans have learned well the lesson of Don Corleone: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.  Truly independent, critical thinking journalists are considered the enemy – or at least an ally of the enemy; the real enemy is Truth.  So when the administration invites journalists in, those journalists should be doubly wary.  Unfortunately, when the current crop of slavering, lazy, spoonfed stenographers are with great fanfare given a peek behind the curtain chosen by the administration, they never bother to ask the obvious question: So,  what is it you are choosing not to show me?

Is it just that we don’t pay attention to these guys anymore?  Have we decided that they are insane and therefore we can safely ignore them, as long as we keep them away from sharp implements?  Well, we haven’t kept them away from sharp implements.  There’s still plenty of damage they can do to others, indeed to the entire world, in the time that they have left.

The layers of lies created over seven years, added to and embellished, built upon unchallenged by the corporate media, bought into and spouted by sheepish Democrats in Congress, cowed into submission and timid silence by the sheer weight and breathless audacity of the lives.  Cowed, for the most part, into timid silence.  Cowed, with a few notable exceptions, into timid silence.

The irony is, the Dick Cheney neocons have no respect for quality, either.  Rather than the cooked-up so-called “social Darwinism” espoused by the Nazis to justify their self-serving doctrine of “Aryan supremacy,” the modern Republican elitist neocon espouses an ostensible belief in “the power of the marketplace” to validate virtue and value. (Of course, in a truly free market there would be no such thing as federal subsidies for corporations, but the cynical modern neocon Republican capitalist justifies such artificial measures as merely “part of the game”.)

Americans to a very large extent have lost the power to discern.  This is the way the Republicans want it: it makes for more pliant consumers, more pliant subjects.

America over the past eight years has descended into a Night of hatred and violence, and a Fog of willful ignorance.

Thus a film like Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, about which (in spite of its unintentionally hilarious self-referential title) the right is in a fervor. And why wouldn’t they be? According to Scientific American (whose editors I am more inclined to believe than, say, those of The Washington Times),

Stein, however, is uninterested in paleontology, or any other science for that matter.…

So a film that über-seriously tries to blame the Holocaust on Charles Darwin (OMG, I can already see the sequel: Rick-Santorum-as-Arnold-Schwarzenegger-as-T1000 going back in time, only to prevent a buffed-out Ann-Coulter-as-Linda-Hamilton-as-Sarah-Connor from stowing away to the Galápagos on HMS Beagle and blowing away a bespectacled Darwin with a flintlock set to full auto as he looks up uncomprehendingly from scratching notes in his journal) is treated seriously instead of as the pitiful, expensive joke that it is.

Quality – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

It wasn’t just government that the Republicans wanted to drown in a bathtub; a bunch of other inconvenient ideas were getting in the way of unrestrained corporate profits: Compassion.  Truth.  Justice.  Transparency.  Accountability.  Equality.  Liberty.  All of those things came in an awkwardly large American size that kept the corporatocracy from achieving its unfettered aims.  The only thing they wanted to supersize was our fries and our SUVs.

Most of the news media in this country who have been out of the crap detection business for several years.  With the end of the fairness doctrine and consolidation of media, they’ve decided instead that crap collection and crap dissemination are more profitable.

And even for those members of the media who want to to be in the crap detection business, or at least to say they want to be in a crap detection business, or who think they want to be in a crap detection business, they have, unfortunately, allowed their quality discernment muscles atrophy, if they ever had used them in the first place.

While right wing believers and blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly make a great show of protesting “moral relativism,” the right wing itself, of course, engages in moral relativism to a degree unheard of by anyone on the left.  Hookers, pedophilia, gay sex in bathrooms, torture, corruption, stealing presidential elections – all of these are okay if you’re a Republican “limited to the present circumstances”

And at the same time they supposedly eschew moral relativism, they are perfectly okay to live with relativism when it comes to science.  Assertions that would have sent my classmates in eighth-grade earth science into paroxysms of laughter when I was a youngster nowadays often are accorded equal time with real science in the news media, in the halls of our deliberative bodies and, God help us, in our schools.  An unwillingness to use the knife of quality when weighing scientific evidence is what makes possible a waste of time, energy and money such as Ben Stein’s film expelled.  (And put in here the paragraph about the movie)

It’s a rhetorical question.  It does need to be answered even though it’s always being asked

Although the American people might be tired of having a rhetorical question put to them, it sometimes seems as though Congress is intent upon answering it.

Not stupid venal lies like, “- but I never inhaled,” or, “depends on what the definition of ‘is,’ is,” or “depends on what the definition of ‘sniper fire’ is.” Those are little lives, not lies that make somebody rich or keep somebody out of jail or keep somebody in power

In tomorrow’s second installment, we’ll work together, you and I, to compile a catalog of the crap the BushCheney regime has tried to foist upon the American people over the past several years, and we’ll look (audaciously) for hope.

beacon of democracy

lady liberty


these are not isolated – they happen over and over and over again, on a regular basis. that’s becuase that’s how these people are, this is what they truly believe, this is how they see the world.

and americans have turned off their crap detectors. they don’t have to parse these statements, or analyze them, or ponder their deeper meaning or divine some hidden truth – they just have to go, “Bullshit. What kind of an idiot do you take me for?” or, in the case of the callous statements, “What kind of a monster are you?”


“Can you really say that and still be allowed to procreate?”  That is the definition of the plain stupid remarks

Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz both said the war would cost $50 billion. Oh – and we will be greeted as liberators, right, Mr. Vice President? Six days, six weeks – I doubt six months.

limbaugh not indicted because “being stupid is not a crime” – it’s a prerequisite for republicans…

lieberamn compares mccain to jfk



– also known as, If it could be a Monty Python punchline,

There’s plain ol’ stupid, and then there’s “Just how stupid do you think I am?” stupid.

rahm emanuel’s line about iraq…

“We’ve put about $45 billion into Iraq’s reconstruction . . . and they have not spent their own resources,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.). “They have got to have some skin in the game.”

Strict constructionalist: torture not “punishment,” therefore not banned. Habeas corpus not in the Constitution

boise only top 10 terrorist target on west coast…

dhs report:…

mccain wants clone of roberts, alito…

While Dick Cheney reminded us that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass what the public thinks about the occupation of Iraq (“So?”), he did go on to take the time to explain that that’s because no one understands that George Bush is like Abraham Lincoln.

Bush says that there is progress in the war in Iraq.

condi blames iraq on iraqis…

condi Rice – dying for sadr…

“I guess it’s all-out war for anybody but him.

“His followers can go to their death and he will still be in Iran.”

rice on gun ownership…

But clearly, the prime minister has laid down some ground rules which any functioning democratic state would insist upon, having to do with, you know, arms belonging to the state, not to — not in private hands,

ohio resident spouting rightwing talking points upon hearing of the death of Staff Sgt. Keith “Matt” Maupin…

“I see these protesters in California and elsewhere on TV, talking about pulling out of Iraq, and it makes me furious,” said Barb Bruner, co-owner of the Batavia Heights Christian Child Care center. “I hear these politicians come here to Ohio, wanting our votes and talking about how Iraq was such a mistake. We’ve sacrificed too much to protect our country for you to tell me this was a mistake.”

Congressman Mike Pence wants us to know that a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime features shoppers wearing bulletproof vests, 100 heavily armed American soldiers, armored Humvees, Apache helicopters and Army snipers on rooftops.

President Bush says the recent violence in Basra and Baghdad shows just exactly how Iraqi defense forces are standing up for themselves, particularly, like the Indiana outdoor market, in the way the Iraqi defense forces are standing up in their Apache attack helicopters, and their F-18s…

admin – if we don’t give the telcos immunity, the terrorists win

bush – tv is a terror weapon…

Prime Minister Maliki’s bold decision — and it was a bold decision — to go after the illegal groups in Basra shows his leadership, and his commitment to enforce the law in an even-handed manner. It also shows the progress the Iraqi security forces have made during the surge. Iraqi forces planned this operation and they deployed substantial extra forces for it. They’re leading the operation. Prime Minister Maliki has traveled to Basra to oversee it firsthand.

This offensive builds on the security gains of the surge, and demonstrates to the Iraqi people that their government is committed to protecting them. There’s a strong commitment by the central government of Iraq to say that no one is above the law. This operation is going to take some time to complete, and the enemy will try to fill the TV screens with violence. But the ultimate result will be this: Terrorists and extremists in Iraq will know they have no place in a free and democratic society. (Applause.)

yeah – u.s. “joins” basra fight…

“energy task force” divvies up Iraq (link diary)

missing e-mails bullshit…

bush – we’re not in a recession


Right off the bat? Yeah – the Pentagon would like us to believe they have “suspended” the very program we opened this little diary with.

hillary on tuzla, nafta

hillary on not going after texas delegates

mukasey lies about law, says we didn’t do anything about call before 9/11…

Don’t micturate on my lower extremity and call it precipitation.


I used to believe that the entire Republican philosophy could be summed up in as little as five words: “I’ve got mine – fuck you!”  But Cheney has succeeded in shrinking it down to the point where it can be drowned in a thimble of crocodile tears: So?

If the BushCheney administration and its Republican enablers over the past eight years have accomplished anything in the past eight years, they have succeeded in stripping away the veneer of “compassion” that they felt it necessary to cloak their self-absorbed brand of conservatism in eight years ago when they were trying to convince the American people that the single placesetting just wasn’t enough; but they needed the whole set: terrine, gravy boat, salad bowl, and, for good measure, et cetera.

A Republican looks at rising unemployment and skyrocketing gas prices and thanks terrific my commute into work will be quicker

Diary title: mortgages: I got mine – F**k you.  That will be the Republican response to the mortgage crisis.

Charlie Gibson “middle class” $200,000/yr……

“I think that is what Congress people are supposed to do for constituents,” he said. “When you have a big, significant businessman like myself, why wouldn’t you want to help move things along? What else would they do? They waste so much time with legislation.”

. . .

Mr. Diamond is close to most of Arizona’s Congressional delegation and is candid about his expectations as a fund-raiser. “I want my money back, for Christ’s sake. Do you know how many cocktail parties I have to go to?”

Lindsey Graham knows what benchmarks matter in Iraq (“I bought five rugs for five bucks”).

And, frankly, Lindsey’s traveling partner, John McCain, doesn’t give a damn what anyone says about Iraq; neither, of course, does Dick Cheney: “So?”

After Katrina, George Bush was excited to rebuild Trent Lott’s porch, while Bush’ s mother reminded us how well things were going for the evacuees.

Laura Bush wants us to know that no one suffers more than the president and her while watching video footage from Iraq.

Donald Rumsfeld was irritated that soldiers didn’t think he did a good enough job equipping the army we went to war with; c’mon, he said, people are fungible.

Cheney reminds us that the president carries the biggest burden of anyone involved in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – besides, all those soldiers, sailors and airmen volunteered.

Bush – my base…


cheney on iran’s nuclear program…

fear – the repubs traffic in that alone

mark’s fear of obama raising taxes – i tried to explain that the richest repubs have run up the family credit card, and then excused themselves from having to repay it

ellen’s fear of muslims – unreasoning, all-encompassing. it’s about the religion to her, not about the actions of a few. ironic, considering the republics’ supposed belief in individual responsibility

islamofascism awareness week


I say this country needs an enema.  Republicans say this country needs an enemy. Just as Adolf Hitler and the national socialists did during the 1920s and 1930s, the Republicans have done in this new millennium: Create an external enemy, an “Other,” who will serve as a convenient scapegoat in order to cover for all kinds of excesses and abuses.  Domestic repression, gigantic buildup of the military to the benefit of private contractors, illegal invasion and occupation of foreign lands in order to control resources, torture,

Marx was wrong: the opiate of the masses is not religion, it is fear and hatred.  The Republicans recognize this. Instead of relying merely on religion to hold Americans in thrall, they fomented fear of The Other, and part of the “otherness” of The Dreaded Enemy was their religion (Islam). The Other Others, inconveniently enough, were Christians coming across our southern border-but they conveniently had brown skin, also,; they were conveniently brown skinned.

And, so help me, the Republicans have succeeded. Through many years of trying, they have succeeded in convincing otherwise intelligent people that Islam is a Uniquely Violent Religion, and that brown-skinned Christians are The Enemy Of Democracy. I have heard these words come out of the mouths of people who should know much better.


feinstein wants investigation of dismantling of l.a. u.s. attorney’s offices…

latimes story on it…

my kos diary on it

fisa violations

plame outing

siegelman prosecuted

After failing miserably to prosecute “terrorists” in American courts, the Pentagon now wants to retry a suspect from a 1998 bombing in a military hearing, using the Military Commissions Act. Even the victims of the 1998 bombings themselves think it’s a dumb idea:

Said one former FBI official who helped build the criminal case against Ghailani and the 10 other suspected Al Qaeda members in 1998: “I’m shocked and amazed at this. He’s already been charged with all of that in federal court. Why the hell do they need to do this? Are they afraid of the court system?”

Susan F. Hirsch, who was injured in the Tanzania bombing and whose husband was killed, said she was angry and disappointed that Ghailani would probably be tried in a military tribunal rather than in an open civilian court where the public can hear the case against him.

supreme court decides judges can punish acquitted defendants…


This is the category that most beggars imagination. How can top advisers to this administration blithely discuss, on national television, the legality of crushing children’s testicles, and not be challenged on it? How can top administration officials – including the president and vice president themselves – be known to have approved actions against prisoners which were crimes for which war criminals were put to death after World War II, and not be challenged on it?

This is the category, too, that combines elements from all of the other categories. Scalia  stating that torture is not “punishment,” and therefore is constitutional. The Justice Department claiming that torture is legal under certain circumstances.

torture is now part of the american political lexicon

this administration has adopted the Nazi lexicon: enhanced interrogation, night and fog; all part of The Big Lie

And tell me: did you ever in your life think that we would be discussing torture?  And don’t tell me, what we’ve never been attacked on our soil before with the deaths of 3000 Americans.  We have been.

we have to borrow language from the Nazis “enhanced interrogation”…

torture came from the top…

ashcroft said,

“Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.” Why are we talking about this in the White House? WTF? Why are we talking about this in America? Why are we talking about this in the 21st century?

Ashcroft on “pouring is not forcing”

John Ashcroft tortures the language itself, insisting that “pouring” is not “forcing.”

John Yoo reminds us that it’s OK to crush children’s testicles (as long, presumably, as they’re not his own children’s testicles)

dhs seeks new torture device; incidents on planes…

sectys of state call for gitmo to be shut down…

a day in the life of gitmo detainee…

harpers article on torture…

is life so dear…

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?

Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.…

new yorker magazine on abu ghraib…

Check for the 81 page torture memo addressed to the Pentagon by John Yoo.


American’s unwillingness to swallow crap is even being demonstrated now by one of our presidential candidates: and here put the Obama objection to the questions at the ABC debate.

Talking about unity and oneness and separation: and maybe that’s what Barack was talking about: this idea of oneness, of working together, of eliminating the differences between us.

There is hope. Americans are beginning in greater numbers to come to their senses. They are rejecting more and more the cooked-up “wedge” issues, the trumped-up stupidities that the Crap Purveyors would have them swallow whole. Reverend Wright? Not an issue. (etc.)

And there is a qualitative difference to these things.  Can you even imagine Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or John Edwards saying anything even remotely resembling any of these things?  I can’t.

Compare Obama to Gandalf in Lord of the rings when he breaks the spell of Saruman.  Saruman continues to try to weave his spell, and some still fall under it, but Gandalf speaks and everyone understands the distinction.

YouTube is the new “news” medium. Blogs such as this are part of the new “news” media. The true voice of the people is being heard, not at the network level, but at the grassroots level.

The real reason the New York Times story is news is that it demonstrates, in the typical behind-the-curve fashion of the modern corporate “news” media, that America and American citizens have begun to wake up.  Beginning with Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, and the elimination of the fairness doctrine, and continuing to the Clinton administration of the 1990s, and a telecommute telecommunications act and its concomitant consolidation of corporate media, the fourth estate in this country has been on a long downhill slide into irrelevance, to the point where it has become-as the Times article so clearly demonstrates-simply an advertising outlet for corporate interests, or: in the case of Iraq, corporate interests which make their billions by selling war and oil.

Unrelated paragraph, put this somewhere else: it would be too much to expect every American to break through the fog of the corporate media, and that indeed has not occurred.  But more and more Americans are becoming deeply skeptical of the corporate media and the corporate masters they represent,including those who run the Republican Party.

This is for the second part of the diary: one of the most fundamental tasks facing the new Democratic administration and Congress will be the long overdue restoration of this nation’s infrastructure.  In addition to the old-school analog portions of infrastructure such as sewers, roadways, bridges, schools, and power distribution systems, it is long past time that the United States recognize that a key component of its national security and economic success is the maintenance and enhancement of its information infrastructure.

an enema called impeachment?

The AIPAC spying case: 15 high-ranking Bush administration officials have been subpoenaed; in cases will be dismissed in the next two weeks.

‘In 1492, Columbus discovered America….’ Starting from this disputed fact, each one of us will describe the history of this country in a somewhat different way. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to assume that most of us would include something about what is called the ‘democratic process’, and how Americans have valued it, or at least have said they valued it. Therein lies a problem: one of the tenets of a democratic society is that men be allowed to think and express themselves freely on any subject, even to the point of speaking out against the idea of a democratic society. To the extent that our schools are instruments of such a society, they must develop in the young not only an awareness of this freedom but a will to exercise it, and the intellectual power and perspective to do so effectively. This is necessary so that the society may continue to change and modify itself to meet unforeseen threats, problems and opportunities. Thus, we can achieve what John Gardner calls an, ‘ever-renewing society’.

So goes the theory.

In practice, we mostly get a different story. In our society as in others, we find that there are influential men at the head of important institutions who cannot afford to be found wrong, who find change inconvenient, perhaps intolerable, and who have financial or political interests they must conserve at any cost. Such men are, therefore, threatened in many respects by the theory of the democratic process and the concept of an ever-renewing society. Moreover, we find that them are obscure men who do not head important institutions who are similarly threatened because they have identified themselves with certain ideas and institutions which they wish to keep free from either criticism or change.

Such men as these would much prefer that the schools do little or nothing to encourage youth to question, doubt, or challenge any part of the society in which they live, especially those parts which are most vulnerable. ‘After all,’ say the practical men, ‘they are our schools, and they ought to promote our interests, and that is part of the democratic process, too. True enough; and then we have a serious point of conflict. Whose schools are they, anyway, and whose interests should they be designed to serve? We realize that these are questions about which any self-respecting professor of education could write several books each one beginning with a reminder that the problem is not black or white, either/or, yes or no. But if you have read our introduction, you will not expect us to be either professorial or prudent. We are, after all, trying to suggest strategies for survival as they may be developed in our schools, and the situation requires emphatic responses. We believe that the schools must serve as the principal medium for developing in youth the attitudes and skills of social, political and cultural criticism. No. That is not emphatic enough. Try this: in the early 1960’s, an interviewer was trying to get Ernest Hemingway to identify the characteristics required for a person to be a ‘great writer’. As the interviewer offered a list of various possibilities, Hemingway disparaged each in sequence. Finally, frustrated, the interviewer asked, ‘Isn’t then any one essential ingredient that you can identify?’ Hemingway replied, ‘Yes, there is. In order to be a great writer a person must have a built-in, shockproof crap detector.’

It seems to us that, in his response, Hemingway identified an essential survival strategy and the essential function of the schools in today’s world. One way of looking at the history of the human group is that it has been a continuing struggle against the veneration of ‘crap’. Our intellectual history is a chronicle of the anguish and suffering of men who tried to help their contemporaries see that some part of their fondest beliefs were misconceptions, faulty assumptions, superstitions and even outright lies. The mileposts along the road of our intellectual development signal those points at which some person developed a new perspective, a new meaning, or a new metaphor. We have in mind a new education that would set out to cultivate just such people – experts at ‘crap detecting’.

Any one of these should have provoked the journalistic equivalent of the journalistic equivalent of RU staffing hitting me?

It’s easy to be cynical about the proliferation of crap in American politics today.  But many times-a lot of times-peoples lives literally are at stake.  In my work researching the issue of the testing and procurement of body armor by the US military, there’s been no shortage of crap to go around.  When the dust finally this when the dust finally clears on this matter, I fully expect that

But sometimes people’s lives are at stake, like when the crap is being spewed by the purveyors of inferior body armor.  And there friends in high places.  An important survival skill in life in general and society at large is the ability to know when you’re being lied to.

I have reserved the seventh and lowest level of crap for those who would lie about, defend, or somehow try to rationalize the practice of torture.  (And put in here some of the other writings about torture.)

That the news media have not been screaming about the officially sanctioned use of torture and extraordinary rendition by this administration is nothing short of astonishing to me.  While some argument theoretically can be made that corruption, incompetence, venality, and stupidity are nothing more than “business as usual” in a government, (albeit having been taken to new heights – or depths – by Republicans over the past 12 years), the use and sanctioning of torture is unprecedented in American history.  The fact that into your put a blank is reflected in the fact that the language chosen – “enhanced interrogation techniques” – is exactly the same as that used by the Nazis.  And even though the same language of night and fog was not chosen, the methodology of extraordinary rendition and disappearance is exactly the same as those practiced by the Nazis.


Y’know, I can’t even tell you the name of my high school librarian. But she m

When I heard of the New York Times story about how retired military officers had been paid by the Pentagon to spout administration propaganda to the news media in order to sell the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq,

The New York Times last week published a seminal article that detailed how, since before the start of the invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon had paid retired military officers to spout administration propaganda about the invasion and occupation to the news media. The officers did it, in spite of knowing much of the information was blatantly false. These officers were cited in many media – television, radio, print and online – as “experts” who had unique access to high-level information not available to civilian reporters.

The New York Times earlier this week ran an article that detailed how the Pentagon had paid retired military officers to lie and spread propaganda on behalf of the Bush Cheney administration in order to sell the Iraq invasion and occupation to the American public.

Besides being a breathtaking and horrifying accounting of the lengths this administration will go to to mislead and lie to the American public, and the amount of disgrace that certain members of the military are willing to bring to the uniform in order to prostitute themselves for an illegal war that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives,

the article was instructive in another sense: it shone a light on a different war, a war that Republicans have been waging much, much longer than the so-called war on terror.

The New York Times spent 11 pages detailing what anybody who’s been paying attention has known for many years: the White House has been paying people – in this case, retired military officers – to lie to the American people in order to sell a war so that military contractors and, in many cases, the liars themselves can make a ton of money.

This is news only to people who have not been paying attention.  The invasion and occupation of Iraq was being planned long before George Bush took office.

Republicans, in contrast, have developed to a high art the proliferation of the opposite of Truth, or what I call simply, “Crap.”  Whenever the two are arrayed on a field of battle on anywhere near equal terms, Truth will eventually prevail.  What Republicans have succeeded in doing over the past four decades is to cause Truth to abandon the field or at the very least to prevent Truth from being able to take the field.  They have achieved this slowly and deliberately, primarily through the consolidation of corporate media and the concomitant transformation of news into infotainment

Talk about why didn’t anybody in the media ask once the documents came out why Iraq had been partitioned a few weeks after the inauguration and why was a list of potential suitors for oil contracts being drawn up at that time?

· I could be wrong, but I’m gonna guess Papa used a rather more indelicate term

ironic that yoo teaches at berkeley, a publicly-financed institution

Bill Clinton? He was ALWAYS a Republican

this is a short one… but none the easier to digest…

Bill Clinton? He was ALWAYS a Republican

this is a short one… but none the easier to digest…

Been on the bread line yet? Food crisis sneaks up on world.

    Cross-posted on Orange

Today I learned the news. The world already has a food crisis, an enormous problem, possible social upheavals, perhaps even  a “perfect storm.” Add that to your gas tank!

I’d heard bits about grain prices for a while, been shocked at prices of bread, eggs, flour and cheese–even soup! Silly me, I thought I could stock upon a few items and make do. Just about everything is going up and not just a little. I try not to panic but it’s not easy living on a small fixed income since I rather like to eat.

Frightening implications abound for the poorest of the poor the world over as a new UN Report makes clear. There’s a lot happening that we do not hear about from our pathetic media. Just as one woman says she knew she was poor, but “this is worse than poverty,” a UN official says watch for the “new face of hunger.”

Follow below for a little tour, a tiny glimpse of what’s going on, if you dare, if you care.

Load more