Thursday, March 31, 2005


So it was the intelligence on Iraq that was “dead wrong?” Oh, I see. What about this, from Alterman, back in fighting trim:

A former CIA agent quoted in The New Yorker: who resigned over his “sense that they were using the intelligence from the C.I.A. and other agencies only when it fit their agenda. They didn’t like the intelligence they were getting, and so they brought in people to write the stuff. They were so crazed and so far out and so difficult to reason with—to the point of being bizarre. Dogmatic, as if they were on a mission from God.”

Alterman provides several other such quotes. Was the Office of Special Plans looked at in this intelligence report (honestly, I haven’t even looked at it, but why should I or anyone else bother—with the Republicans in power, anyone could have predicted before this commission even met for the first time what the result would be; the pure and innocent president was misled by the evil, bumbling intel people)? Here’s what an investigative piece on the OSP in Mother Jones had to say:

Kwiatkowski, 43, a now-retired Air Force officer who served in the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia (NESA) unit in the year before the invasion of Iraq, observed how the Pentagon's Iraq war-planning unit manufactured scare stories about Iraq's weapons and ties to terrorists. "It wasn't intelligence‚ -- it was propaganda," she says. "They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together." It was by turning such bogus intelligence into talking points for U.S. officials‚ -- including ominous lines in speeches by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell's testimony at the U.N. Security Council last February‚ -- that the administration pushed American public opinion into supporting an unnecessary war.
Until now, the story of how the Bush administration produced its wildly exaggerated estimates of the threat posed by Iraq has never been revealed in full. But, for the first time, a detailed investigation by Mother Jones, based on dozens of interviews‚ -- some on the record, some with officials who insisted on anonymity‚ -- exposes the workings of a secret Pentagon intelligence unit and of the Defense Department's war-planning task force, the Office of Special Plans. It's the story of a close-knit team of ideologues who spent a decade or more hammering out plans for an attack on Iraq and who used the events of September 11, 2001, to set it into motion.

This is a fucking outrage. Bush should be led out of the White House in handcuffs, if not worse, for lying us into war. And after the more than 10,000 killed and wounded in his evil war of choice, he has the nerve to say today that “the strong should protect the weak” and that that attitude is spawned by a “culture of life?” Every American should be laughing in his motherfucking face. As Mike Malloy says, Bush is a giggling killer—maybe that’s why everyone holds their tongue (Happy Birthday, Air America, by the way)...


And then Hardball comes on tonight and guest host David Gregory says they’re working on “two big stories” and what springs to my mind is Schiavo (R.I.P) and the intelligence report. I was half right. The two “big stories” are Schiavo and the friggin’ Pope. I mean, Jesus Christ almighty, we’re fighting an illegal war that Bush and co. lied us into and a whitewash report comes out today about it and the big story besides Schiavo is the fucking decrepit Holy Father? For God’s sake, the man is old! Old people die! Is an old man dying a bigger story than a motherfucking war?

And speaking of Schiavo, why in hell’s bells did the mainstream media never cover that godawful story fairly? Why were there no doctors on Scarborough and Hardball with CAT scans and X-rays and MRIs showing what Schiavo’s cerebral cortex looked like? Is it because Randall Terry’s smug, adulterous ass gets better ratings than actually enlightening people? What the fuck?

Maybe these damn religious freakos are right—the end times are upon us…

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Why is the Schiavo case springing up now? What important and sordid story is being deflected by this story? Is it just delaying Tom DeLay's ethics violations becoming a major issue in the mainstream media? Are U.S. troops massing on the Iranian or Syrian border so that when the media wake up from this Schiavo nightmare, invasions of either or both those countries will be faits accompli? What the fuck is going on? Is there a new terrorist attack being plotted that will final bring about full-blown fascism in the U.S.--remember how the Gary Condit story numbed the media just prior to 9/11?

This Schiavo thing is…sheesh, I don’t know. Is she or isn’t she in a persistent vegetative state? Can she or can’t she smile or talk? Is her cerebral cortex liquefied or not? As the brilliant Bob Somerby points out today, there are apparently now two realities—one for the freakos and the actual reality. Somerby points out daily the way in which the pundits from all media fuck up our public discourse.

The Schiavo case is a perfect example of a comment Eric Alterman made at the panel discussion held recently at the U.S. Comedy Arts festival in Aspen. He said something along the lines of “Today’s punditry has made uninformed opinion equal to objective fact.” And so it has.

The answer to all those questions above depend on who you ask. But I must say that the Republicans are giving a command performance—it’s an object lesson in professional bullshit-slinging, fakery, and rank hypocrisy. Err on the side of life, Dear Leader says patronizingly, when he oversaw a record number of executions while governor? While he signed a bill authorizing the discontinuation of life support ("Bioethicists familiar with the Texas law said yesterday that if the Schiavo case had occurred in Texas, her husband would be the legal decision-maker and, because he and her doctors agreed that she had no hope of recovery, her feeding tube would be disconnected")? When he lied us into war a war that has claimed over 100,000 lives? When his newly-proposed budget guts health-care programs that help families and people like Terri Schiavo?

I mean, if Bush and the ‘Pukes get away with this one, this game is so over it’s not funny. If they can claim to always be for states’ rights and then tell Florida its business in this case and so forth and just have people go along with it, then we are so fucked. If the majority of Americans can’t see his bullshit for what it truly is, then they deserve whatever ruin befalls them as a result.

Unfortunately, that ruin will come to all of us, even those of us who can see right through the ruse…

Monday, March 21, 2005


I’ve been seeing ads for the Army a lot lately. You know, the ads that are kind of like the trailer for a movie, and then you’re supposed to go see the thrilling conclusion at (I’ve also been seeing Navy ads that play up the whole “get your degree” in the Navy—the ones where the narrator says “wear your school colors proudly” as the camera pans past guys with camo makeup on—it’s the very picture of masculinity)?

Well, surprise, surprise, those ads kinda bug me. Not necessarily because they try to make a loathsome activity (i.e., fighting in a war) look cool and exciting (I’m quite sure that it is actually very exciting—until your arms get blown off), although that’s a big part of it. I mean, the very problem with selling peace rather than war is because peace is the absence of conflict and conflict, as any beginning fiction class will tell you, is what makes something interesting.

On that note, I should mention that I also saw a commercial for the Peace Corps recently. The thing is, I didn’t look up to see it until it was almost over and the Peace Corps logo was on the screen. So I can’t really comment on it, but I did see an ad for peace—or rather, I am aware that someone is trying to advertise helping people rather than killing them.

But I’ve seen many more military ads than Peace Corps ads. And that’s the point I was trying to get to—why don’t we see peace and cooperation glorified in the media the same way that we see war and conflict glorified? And I don’t really know the answer, but it seems to me that if there were a Dept. of Peace, we could have lots of ads and propaganda that would make peace and peacekeeping attractive to young people.

Department of Peace

If there were a Dept. of Peace, the Secretary of Peace would argue for huge expenditures for canvasses, paint, paper, ink, orchestras, gardening tools, books, etc.—the tools of peace. Who knows, maybe Bush will create a Peace Department. But that would only be to confound progressives and it would be an Orwellian type of agency that would merely be an extension of the “Defense” Department. In fact, since everything that comes from the Bush admin. is the opposite of what it purports to be, the Peace Dept. would actually be just a way to funnel more money to arms makers and the like, but under the guise of seeking peace.

Self-Defense Force

It seems to me that we should not have a standing army—and I’m not sure exactly what I mean by that, but I think I have a pretty good idea. And that idea is, we shouldn’t have a military machine built up during peacetime—i.e., there shouldn’t be hundreds of thousands of soldiers in training or on duty during peacetime. And I say that for two reasons: 1) it costs a lot of money to do that, and that money could be put to far better use than maintaining an army we’re not even really using (i.e., to provide health care, education, shelter, etc. for our citizens) and 2) it would make starting wars a really big hassle, which would be a great thing.

Oh, well that’s stupid, some will say. We have to have a standing army, ready to fight at a moment’s notice. Other countries have standing armies, just waiting for us to drop our defenses. Oh please…other countries have standing armies because we have a standing army, not the other way around. In other words, we don’t need any more military force in peacetime than that required for self-defense. We need a self-defense force, and that’s it.

And here’s something that most Americans wouldn’t want to contemplate and I don’t have the energy to get into right now, but this article talks about the domestic threat of a standing army…

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Says Greg McBride in the Personal Finance Minute (March 10th broadcast). He points out that the rate for a platinum variable card "spiked" from 12.3% to 12.9% "and is now the highest in more than three years." Average car loan rates also surged, McBride says, jumping to a "two year high of 7.61%" on a four-year loan.

So why is it that the credit card industry feels that they have to kick people when they're down? The Moral Bankruptcy Act of 2005 passed the Senate this evening. Remember if the jag-offs who represent you (and who you may have even voted for) voted for this when you have a medical emergency or your job gets outsourced or you get divorced or any number of other emergencies happen to you over which you have no control and you want to try bankruptcy but these new rules say that, "No, you earn enough income to pay them off" and you have to pay for credit counseling and you have debt on top of debt. And if your jag-offs voted for it (mine did), fucking throw them out at the earliest available oppportunity.

MS MEDICAID-Will 1/4 of MS Be Let Down Tomorrow?

Still no fix. Barbour's answer is to ask health care providers to continue to treat Medicaid patients even if Medicaid goes bust tomorrow because somehow, some way, he says, the doctors will eventually get paid. And how the fuck will that happen? Hopefully when Haley Barbour is impeached and removed from office and somebody who is not a repeal-the-20th-century-and-court-the-racist-vote-fat-fucking-jackass will get in office and raise some motherfucking taxes and help out our needy like Jesus has told us to do. We'll see...

Remember this, you who voted for Haley. His campaign had signs and stickers with every imaginable group of people "for Haley"--Sportsmen for Haley, Fuck-The-Poor-Racists For Haley, and so forth. The thing is, Haley is not for you! If this Medicaid debacle doesn't prove it, what the fuck will?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


So the Republican Congress feels that the most important things to do right out of the gate are to let Wall Street hijack the Social Security system and to punish people for having medical/job-loss-related financial problems. All this while the country's infrastructure is going to shit.

Speaking of Social Security, always remember that "personal/private accounts"=Wall Street hijack. Also, even though it's sometimes excruciating to read, the Daily Howler covers and corrects the Social Security misinformation in a fashion and with a passion that is second to none. Oh, and the head of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office has said today that Social Security "does not face an immediate crisis."


Like the Iraq war and the Congressional election of 2002 before it, I predict that saber-rattling toward and/or actual invasion of Syria or Iran will be the Republican strategy of attempting to get a stranglehold on the Congress in the 2006 midterm elections. The strategy should be transparent: they use war to get in/stay in office and then set about making the country a hellhole for the less fortunate and making it a haven for the super-rich. It worked in 2002 and 2004 and you can bet your sweet ass they'll be trotting it out again in 2006 in one form or another.

Checked out the book "Secrecy & Privilege" by Robert Parry this week. It opens with an observation I never really thought about: when Clinton took office in '92, there were still several Reagan/Bush malfeasance investigations and hearings going on but Clinton let them die on the vine (things like Iran-Contra, Iraqgate, the 1980 October Surprise, and so forth--read an interview with Parry about these matters here if you scroll about 3/4 of the way down). Parry points out that if Clinton had pursued those investigations, chances are that by the present, people would have had a very different and much more negative perception of the Reagan/Bush years than they currently do. And that had that been the case, the Bush name might not have been so appealing to some in the 2000 election.

Haley Barbour Is A Fat Fuckhead of an Asshole

He won't raise taxes, not even on cigarettes. The Medicaid program in Mississippi only has enough money to operate through this Friday, March 11. Mississippi has always been among the poorest, if not the poorest states. Could that be why so many people in the state are dependent on Medicaid? And why it will be such a disaster if they don't come up with the money to fix the problem?

If Medicaid does go unfunded after Friday, Grover Norquist and Stephen Moore will rejoice. So will that fat, greedy, evil motherfucker Haley Barbour. This is what they want, to get back to a time when there was no Medicaid and the less fortunate had to be in constant debt to private individuals and companies. When Barbour says "I cannot think of any worse public policy or any bigger dereliction of duties by elected officials than to let this program shut down," he is doing what is known as bullshitting. He takes a high and mighty stance but yet won't actually do anything about it. GRRRRR...stay tuned...

Monday, March 07, 2005


The full transcript is here. The relevant section is this:

MR. RUSSERT:: Senator McConnell, 1,500 Americans now dead. How long will we be there?

SEN. McCONNELL: The ink-stained index fingers of the Iraqis going to vote are a symbol of how the president's Iraq policy has galvanized this change that's sweeping the Middle East. We--this Iraq policy is changing the area of the world most resistant to the things we believe in: democracy, human rights and freedom. It's sweeping the whole area.

Here's the poem (and notice how McConnell didn't answer Russert's question--he just held up his index finger)...

They got ink on their fingers
we got blood on our hands
the ink will eventually fade away
but the blood—not so much

The blood stays with you
it’s the mark of a killer
to God if to no one else
most men can’t see the red hands
after soap and water is applied
but it’s there

The men who can see it
are the victims or the victim’s friends
or tribesmen or countrymen
and they know whose hands
their blood is on
and they figure maybe
bloody hands aren’t such a bad thing
after all

So then your son
was ripped apart by that IED
and your brother
was in the the way of that RPG
bloody bloody hands for everyone

Maybe a finger dipped in ink
will stop your silent sobbing
in line at Wal-Mart
(now populated like the PX
with queues of future IED/RPG targets)
or mitigate your rage in the hallway
when you pass the photographs there
that you can’t bear to take down
or look at
or maybe not

Maybe it would take another hand
ripping out another heart
on another dusty desert highway
then dripping with blood
to make you feel better
or maybe, hopefully
that’s the opposite of what it would take

Stories To Ignore

Martha Stewart: Who knew insider trading and jail time could be good for your career?

Michael Jackson: What will the media do when the testimony gets explicit?

STORIES TO NOTICE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bankruptcy Rape Bill-S.256: Those campaign donations sure make a difference. Here's a good summary of what's happening:

Rhetoric can tell you a lot about what senators really stand for—maybe even more than their actual votes. If you listen closely, you quickly realize that the bankruptcy debate is not just between supporters and opponents, but also between two distinct visions of the world: one which corresponds to reality, and one which does not.

Supporters of the bill are determined to ignore the empirical data that shows about 50% of bankruptcies are traceable to medical emergencies (and about 90% stem from illness, divorce, job loss or deaths in the family) and that this bill would disproportionately harm those who go broke through no fault of their own. Instead, they mouth empty platitudes about “morality” and “responsibility,” as if it was immoral and irresponsible to have a heart attack or get laid off. Exhibit A, B and C:

“I think everybody knows when they take those credit cards and they accrue debt, they are supposed to repay that debt. Frankly, we have far too many people taking advantage of credit cards and not paying their debt.”(Senator Orrin Hatch, R-UT)

“Instead of falling back on bankruptcy as an option of last resort, more Americans misuse it as a financial tool to wipe away their debts altogether.” (Senator Charles Grassley, R-IA)

“We are drifting a bit to suggest there is no real obligation to pay the debts we incur. If we get to that point, then we have eroded some very important fundamental moral principles about commerce in America.” (Senator Jeff Sessions, R-AL)

Sessions is indeed drifting to suggest anyone wants to eliminate that obligation. Opponents of the bill want no such thing; they too want to fight fraud, but not by punishing moral and responsible people who have simply fallen on hard times. In their own words:

Isn't it interesting at a time when health care in America is so hard to come by and so expensive, when the Government is talking about cutting back on Medicaid … that we come up with a bill that is going to make it tougher for those who cannot pay their medical bills? It tells you about this Congress and its priorities. (Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL)

This legislation … rewrites the bankruptcy laws in a way that kicks average families while they're down, in order to pad the already high profits of the credit card industry and other lenders. It is greed, pure and simple. (Senator Ted Kennedy, D-MA)

1,500 U.S. Soldiers Dead In Iraq: Stop the war. The war is wrong. It was based on lies. And now people are dead. And not just any people--people you know and people I know.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


If you didn't see "Wife Swap" this evening, you missed a treat. An Air Force (?) veteran mother of 3 younger kids switched places with a peacenik art teacher. It was fascinating, especially the confrontations between the peacenik's adopted son Dan and Cheri, the military mom.

Dan refused to pledge allegiance to the flag and was actually able to coherently defend his positions. As his mother pointed out later after the families were reunited, he should probably learn to express his views in a way that comes across as less cruel. I thought the best exchange was when Cheri was telling Dan he needed to respect the soldiers that died for his right to be able to say the things he was saying, and Dan used that opportunity to point out that even though the U.S. may have played defense a time or two, we also did a lot of aggressive killing of our own not the least of which was the theft of the land from the Indians.

Anyhoo, Dan was hardcore (looked like a pretty good drummer, too)...

Security Fence?

Today was the first I'd ever heard of a security fence between Mexico and the U.S. near San Diego. And a couple weeks ago the House passed the "Real ID Act" which apparently would give the Homeland Security Director vast powers--dictatoresque powers. To wit:

WSWS : News & Analysis : North America

House passes “Real ID Act”
US legislation targets immigrants, refugees in “terror war”
By Bill Van Auken
16 February 2005
Use this version to print | Send this link by email | Email the author

The US House of Representatives passed legislation February 10 that would intensify a repressive crackdown against immigrants and refugees under the pretext of combating terrorism.

The bill, known as the “Real ID Act,” would effectively slam the door in the face of refugees fleeing persecution, facilitate the deportation of both asylum seekers and legal residents and deny drivers’ licenses to the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the US. Another provision would grant the Secretary of Homeland Security extra-legal powers to complete the walling off of a section of the US-Mexican border.

This is the first major piece of legislation to be considered by the Congress since the beginning of the Bush administration’s second term, and it underscores the reactionary trajectory of both big business parties. The bill passed the House in a 261-161 voice vote, with 42 Democrats joining the Republican majority to support the measure.

The anti-immigrant initiative was originally attached to intelligence “reform” legislation approved last year, but was removed because of opposition within the Senate. Now it is expected that the bill will be attached to other “must pass” legislation, like the funding of the US war in Iraq.

The “Real ID Act” requires that states demand proof of legal immigration status in the US from anyone seeking a driver’s license. The legislation’s author, Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, claimed that it would “prevent another 9/11-type attack by disrupting terrorist travel.” He and other supporters of the bill pointed to the ability of the September 11 hijackers to obtain drivers’ licenses in several states.

In reality, the measure would do nothing to avert terrorist attacks, but would have the effect of reinforcing the pariah status of an estimated 10 million undocumented immigrant workers in a country where the ability to drive is often a precondition for finding work.

At present, 11 states issue licenses without requiring proof of legal residency, but a number of others are considering granting them to undocumented immigrants, rather than forcing millions of people to drive illegally and without accident insurance.

The other key component of the bill would impose insurmountable new hurdles for refugees seeking asylum in a system that—as a government-organized commission recently admitted—already treats those fleeing oppression as criminals.

Refugees would be compelled to bear an extraordinary burden of proof to establish their right to asylum. They would be required to produce corroborative evidence of their claims of persecution, and even then would have to prove that the intent of their persecutors was to punish them for their race, religion or political beliefs. These requirements constitute a clear breach of international treaties signed by Washington that govern the treatment of refugees.

Human rights activists have pointed out the obvious: those engaged in such persecution are not likely to issue documents explaining their actions, and proving the intent of those who carry out killings, torture and other abuse is next to impossible.

The bill further expands the arbitrary power of immigration officers and judges to reject asylum claims on entirely subjective grounds. Asylum could be denied based solely on their assessment of the “demeanor” of applicants, meaning that these officials could send people back to be murdered, tortured or imprisoned just because they didn’t like the look on their faces or the tone of their voices.

Another provision allows for denial of asylum based on any inconsistencies between written and oral statements “made at any time and whether or not under oath.” Such discrepancies are common among people fleeing state persecution, who fear retribution. Under this statute, a woman who reveals that she was raped by her persecutors can be sent back on the grounds that she did not provide details of her ordeal to the first immigration cop who interviewed her at the airport.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which issued a report on the treatment of asylum seekers on February 8, found that records of such statements are, in any case, “unreliable and incomplete.”

The House legislation’s impact extends well beyond those seeking asylum. It allows for the summary deportation of immigrants who have been legally living and working in the US for decades for supposed offenses that include providing nonviolent, humanitarian assistance to organizations labeled “terrorist” by the US government. This penalty can be applied retroactively for contributions made to groups that were not designated as foreign terrorist organizations at the time and were therefore entirely legal.

Deportation for “terrorist” speech

Terrorism itself is defined to include not just acts of violence, but to “endorse or espouse” policies or positions with the aim of inducing others to “support a terrorist organization.” It thus abrogates the constitutional protection of free speech for immigrants.

The bill also specifically declares that “an alien who is an officer, official, representative, or spokesman of the Palestine Liberation Organization is considered, for purposes of this Act, to be engaged in a terrorist activity.” The US State Department has never officially defined the PLO as a foreign terrorist organization, and Washington hailed the recent election of its chairman Mahmoud Abbas to replace Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority.

The penalty of deportation would apply not only to individuals charged with supposed support for terrorism, but also to their spouses and children.

Taken together, these clauses would allow the deportation of a Palestinian immigrant residing in the US legally for the “crime” of writing a newspaper article or an essay critical of the state of Israel and expressing sympathy for the PLO, or of a Colombian criticizing the state repression against anti-government guerrillas in his or her country. Moreover, their entire families could be thrown out with them.

The bill also places severe new limits on the jurisdiction of courts to reverse rulings by immigration officials. The language is directed at overriding a 2001 US Supreme Court ruling in the case of St. Cyr vs. the INS, which affirmed that immigrants have the constitutional right to challenge their deportation and cannot be held without charges. The case, which involved the deportation of an immigrant for a minor criminal offense, was cited in the recent court ruling on the illegal detention of prisoners at the US Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Finally, the legislation contains an extraordinary passage that grants the Secretary of Homeland Security the unilateral power to override all laws—federal, state and local—in order to complete construction of a security fence along a stretch of the US-Mexican border near San Diego, California.

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary’s sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads,” the legislation states. It adds that no court shall have any jurisdiction over the Secretary of Homeland Security’s actions and that no cases, either civil or criminal, may be heard in the matter.

That strikes me as troublesome, a testing of the waters. It's like a mini-Reichstag Fire Decree--short and to the point and devastating. Maybe if this gets passed without much hassle, we'll have real, national Reichstag Decree and Enabling Act (if we don't already). I mean, "no court shall have jurisdiction over the Secretary?" What incentive is there for the fence to ever be finished, then? Why wouldn't the Secretary just keep work on the fence going ad infinitum, so he could savor his above-the-law status.

This, I think, amounts to a dry run for the right wing...