4.30.2005

I Want to Make a Romance Inside You

Sacha Baron Cohen movie Borat in pre-production.

UPDATE: Disappointing Variety.com subscription-only article (I registered for a free trial so you don't have to!):
Building a better 'Borat'
Faux doc spins talk


By CLAUDE BRODESSER

If Fox News Channel devotees had an allergic reaction to Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," wait until they get a taste of the movie "Borat," which sprang to life again last week ... at Twentieth Century Fox.

When shooting on the faux-docu began last January, the Borat character, created and played by Sacha Baron Cohen on "Da Ali G Show," did his typical naive foreigner shtick. Borat, a Khazakstani TV reporter known for being unwittingly but enthusiastically sexist, racist and anti-Semitic -- incited the crowd at a Virginia rodeo to a near-riot.

Brought in to sing the American national anthem, Borat instead attempted to curry favor with the Southerners by announcing, "I hope you kill every man, woman and child in Iraq, down to the lizards."

The character then launched into a mangled version of "The Star Spangled Banner," with the ending altered to "your home in the grave!" Cohen and the film crew had to be escorted out of the rodeo arena for their own safety.

Director Todd Phillips promptly decamped the "Borat" production, but now Fox is in talks with TV producer-director Larry Charles ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") to take over helming on the pic.

Will the Iraqi scene stay in Charles' new version? No one at Fox is sure.

Asked if the rest of the "Borat" movie is as stridently political, one insider says, "His show is political. Infer from that what you will."
BONUS FEATURES: The Borat line at the rodeo that Variety left out: "May George W. Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq"

HBO Borat "bio" here.
Unofficial page here.
Borat Soundboard here (recommended, and the unofficial page above has more).
Ali G's Harvard Commencement speech. No, we're not kidding.

4.29.2005

Just A Pile of IOUs That the Gov't Cannot Take Away

GW Bush, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, March 30, 2005
...what happens is we take your money, we pay money out for the promises for those people who have retired, and if we've got anything left over, we spend it on things other than Social Security.... And what's left are a pile of IOUs, paper.
GW Bush, Parkersburg, West Virginia, April, 5, 2005:
There is no "trust fund," just IOUs that I saw firsthand, that future generations will pay -- will pay for either in higher taxes, or reduced benefits, or cuts to other critical government programs.

The office here in Parkersburg stores those IOUs. They're stacked in a filing cabinet. Imagine -- the retirement security for future generations is sitting in a filing cabinet. It's time to strengthen and modernize Social Security for future generations with growing assets that you can control, that you call your own -- assets that the government cannot take away.
Later, in the same speech:
I think people ought to have...the chance to tap into the power of compound interest; the ability, if they so choose, to watch their money grow in an account, a savings account of bonds and stocks. That's why I proposed that Congress consider allowing younger workers to set aside part of their Social Security contributions in a voluntary personal retirement account.
...
I hear from a lot of younger folks, a lot of your grandchildren are saying, what you going to do about it, Mr. President, and, by the way, just give me a chance to make decisions for myself; give me a chance to build up hard assets, instead of paper assets in a file cabinet.
GW Bush, Press Conference, April 28, 2005:
I know some Americans have reservations about investing in the stock market, so I propose that one investment option consist entirely of Treasury bonds, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.
(Emphasis mine.)

So...Bush wants to create private accounts so young folk like me can invest in a "conservative mix of stocks and [treasury] bonds," which are "assets that the government cannot take away," in part because the bonds are "backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government," despite being "just IOUs," "paper assets in a file cabinet" instead of "hard assets." Uh, yeah...that makes perfect sense....

Coulteral Anthropology

An encyclopedic collection of coulteriana. My favorite: "We need to execute people like John Walker [Lindh] in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors." But remember, according to Time magazine, she's she's just a normal, happy person.

4.28.2005

Guantanamo Interrogations Faked?

Here.

UPDATE: WaPo story.

America, Fuck Heck Yeah!


Write your own caption. (Yes, that is Rumsfeld.)

Gerald Allen, Book-Banning Cocksucker

Alabama's favorite cocksucker Gerald Allen is at it again.
Republican Alabama lawmaker Gerald Allen says homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle. As CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, under his bill, public school libraries could no longer buy new copies of plays or books by gay authors, or about gay characters.

"I don't look at it as censorship," says State Representative Gerald Allen. "I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children."

Books by any gay author would have to go: Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and Gore Vidal. Alice Walker's novel "The Color Purple" has lesbian characters.

Allen originally wanted to ban even some Shakespeare. After criticism, he narrowed his bill to exempt the classics, although he still can't define what a classic is. Also exempted now Alabama's public and college libraries.
(Via Andrew Sullivan.)

Please, god, protect us from that soulless, santorum-lovin' Gerald Allen. Give him a call at home at (205) 556-5310 or work at (205) 556-5310

Tentative Congratulations

Iraq finally has a government, even if it still lacks agreed-upon ministers for defense, oil and electricity.
Twenty-seven ministers and five acting officials gained approval from 180 members of the 185 who were present in the 275-member Parliament, ending a three-month political stalemate that has appeared to be fueling violence.
Where were the other 90 members? That's about one-third of Parliament.

Another curiosity:
The acting oil minister will be Ahmad Chalabi, a Shiite once close to the Pentagon. He will also be one of four deputy prime ministers....
And then the shrug:
Dr. Jaafari's speech [announcing the formation of a government], widely broadcast on Arabic satellite television, drew an ambivalent response from some Iraqis, who seemed pleased at the apparent formation of a government after so many delays but baffled by his refusal to provide more details.
Not surprising, since a legislator was brutally murdered on Wednesday.

Juan Cole's overview of the cabinet is here. Biggest surprise: There's a Youth and Sports ministry. We humbly suggest adding a Ministry of Fun and Light-Heartedness. You know, for kids.

4.27.2005

Ethics Talking Points Memo Leaked

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear....


Another talking points memo (given to Raw Story), this time on (cough) "ethics." But unlike the Schiavo memo, this one's long and detailed and has a bullshit factor of nearly 100%. With any luck, we'll discover that Mel Martinez's uncontrollable hands were somehow involved; but we doubt it. Warning to all you kids out there with a sense of irony™: Put the coffee down. You don't want it all over your computer screen! Shovels ready? Start diggin':

Return to the Rules of the 108th Congress

Despite the best good-faith efforts of the Ethics Committee Chairman and the Republican Leadership, House Democrats have left no way to restart the ethics process without a full and complete return to the Rules of the 108th Congress. For the good of the House, an operating but flawed Ethics Committee is preferable to a more equitable, but non-operational Committee.
  • House Republicans stand by the changes made to the rules of the House at the outset of the 109th congress, but believe it is more important for the institution to have a functioning Ethics Committee that may be flawed, than to have a more perfect, but non-operational Committee.
  • The three major rules changes made at the start of this Congress greatly increased the bipartisan nature of the ethics process, prevented the Ethics Committee from being used as a political tool, and ensured fairness for Members targeted by politically motivated charges.
  • The three changes—guaranteeing Members the right to be represented in front of the Committee by counsel of their choice, ensuring Members' right to due process, and eliminating the possibility that a charge could wind up "in limbo"—were opposed by House Democrats in a blatantly political attempt to use the ethics process for electoral gain.
  • Despite the questionable motives behind Democrat opposition to the rules changes, House Republicans worked to come to an agreement with the Minority in order to get the Ethics Committee up and running. Unfortunately—but not surprisingly—each attempt by either the Republican Leadership or Chairman Hastings was rejected.
  • Chairman Hastings offered on numerous occasions to meet with Ranking Member Mollohan in order to craft a compromise, but was rebuffed. When he presented his written and signed guarantee addressing Mr. Mollohan's concerns, Minority Leader Pelosi called his good-faith effort "a sham" (Weekly Media Availability, April 21, 2005)
  • Just one week prior to Leader Pelosi's statement, Ranking Member Mollohan said: "We would proceed by our rules, not any other way" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 14, 2005)
  • The Democrat intransigence clearly indicates their intention to use the ethics process as a tool in their political arsenal. Their cynical attempt to corrupt the process by injecting political rancor is odious, and will be seen for what it truly is—partisan hackery in the guise of "good government."
  • But rather than let the Democrat "my way or the highway" strategy drag on, House Republicans have elected to take the high road.
  • By returning to the Rules of the 108th Congress, the House will once again have an operational Ethics Committee which, while flawed, will at least be able to begin functioning.
  • Unlike the obstructionist Democrats who would rather bluster about supposed abuses of power by the Majority than actually come to agreement on ethics, House Republicans are committed to moving forward and protecting the integrity of the House.
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

We're not sure, but we suspect that lying is, er, unethical, especially when it's for political gain. A little perspective*.

Can't wait to see if Power Line jumps on this one as fake....

*Earlier, this linked to Bob Dole's OpEd in the NY Times. I had two Times stories open and copied the wrong link by accident.

The Future Will Be Better Tomorrow

I've been in a despairing mood all evening. Even Jon Stewart didn't help. But Dan Quayle did. Laurie Anderson has a long list of favorites. Remember these hits?
  • If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.
  • The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century.
  • Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.
  • I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.
  • The future will be better tomorrow.
  • People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.
  • I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.
  • We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe.
  • It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.

Family Research Council Supports Filibuster

“The Senate is not a majoritarian institution, like the House of Representatives is. It is a deliberative body, and it's got a number of checks and balances built into our government. The filibuster is one of those checks in which a majority cannot just sheerly force its will, even if they have a majority of votes in some cases. That's why there are things like filibusters, and other things that give minorities in the Senate some power to slow things up, to hold things up, and let things be aired properly.”

Steven Schwalm, Family Research Council senior writer, in 1998, explaining why his organization supports the filibuster to block the nomination of a gay ambassador

“Only 51 votes are needed to approve these nominees and most of these candidates, if not all, would receive more then 51 votes if a vote were held on the Senate floor. But a radical minority in the Senate is using the filibuster to block an up or down vote on the Senate floor....

“We must stop this unprecedented filibuster of people of faith.”

Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president

Whole story here.

UPDATE: Write FRC here and let them know how grateful you are that they support the filibuster.

Cultural Death Spiral Continues

Tonight on NBC: Dateline's Does the Devil Walk Among Us? followed by Revelations.

Iran: The Next War Is Closer Than You Think

Link to full article at bottom of post.

In the May 2005 issue of GQ, which I’m “borrowing” from my neighbor, Joshua Kurlantzick reports on the rollup to war against Iran. Seymour Hersh reported in January that military action may take the form of airstrikes or a US-intelligence-backed coup, and Kurlantzick's story confirms that assessment and adds much in the way of neoconservative-Pentagon as well as diplomatic context. The story's also paired with an interview with president Mohammad Khatami, from which I quoted earlier. Here's the knockout paragraph, which will no doubt be ignored:
Despite the administration’s lip service in support of European diplomacy, the hardliners’ plan also requires the scuttling of any deals with the ruling mullahs that the Europeans put on the table. According to one State Department official I recently spoke with, when Tim Guldimann, then Swiss ambassador to Iran (who served as the link between the United States and Iran), came to Washington in the spring of 2003, he brought with him a possible offer from Tehran—a “grand bargain” in which the United States would open relations with Iran and, in return, Iran would give up its nuclear-enrichment program. “The Pentagon and the National Security Council learned about it,” the State Department official told me. “There was no hashing this out. They said, ‘No, no discussion on this.’ That was it.”
(Emphasis mine.)

You read that correctly. The Bush administration balked at the chance to end the standoff with Iran and ensure that they abandoned their uranium-enrichment program. The reason why is clear.

UPDATE: After reading an article on Iran and oil by Michael Klare, a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, I sent him the above-quoted paragraph from GQ. His response is below.
...[I] find this report [of the Bush administration killing a possible deal, as cited above] highly credible. However, that was in 2003, before the outbreak of the insurgency in Iraq and the ensuring quagmire, so today the situation may be a bit different - Bush might favor a solution that can be viewed as a victory if it avoids another debilitating war.


UPDATE: Here's Kurlantzick's article in HTML. The PDF (2.76mb) is here.

4.26.2005

CIA Reports WMD Found

WASHINGTON - Preliminary to his final report for the CIA, Charles Duelfer announced today that after two years of searching, the CIA has located WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

"It's, like, all over the fucking place," Duelfer said. "I was flabbergasted."

Noting that the weapons were "being stored" in "metal buildings," Duelfer expressed surprise that they had not been found in previous searches for WMD.

"I mean, it's not like the buildings don't look suspicious," he said, adding that they dot the landscape of the undisguised military base "in a gridlike pattern. It's very clear from that satellite imagery."

The weapons found primarily consist of mustard agent, though Duelfer hinted that the Iraq Survey Group suspects that "like, tons" of sarin chemical munitions are being stored at US military bases in Okinawa and Germany. Mustard and sarin chemical agents were most famously used by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds in Halabja in 1989.

"You wouldn't believe the shit they've got out there," Duelfer said, adding that "we think they've even got nukes--thousands of them--somewhere out west. That shit will make your head spin."

According to a 1994 US Senate report, US companies, at the behest of the Reagan administration, exported biological and chemical materials, including bacillus anthracis (which causes anthrax) and clostridium botulinum (the source of botulism).

The report also noted that US exports to Iraq included the precursors to chemical warfare agents, plans for chemical and biological warfare facilities and chemical warhead filling equipment.

Duelfer's final report on the findings of the Iraq Survey Group is expected "soon."

AP Steals from Raw Story

Dear Associated Press:

I couldn't help but notice your 24-hour-late reporting of the Secret Service's release of James Guckert's White House briefing-room access documents. I found it especially puzzling that, after saying almost nothing on the matter, you gave no credit to the news organization who broke it: Raw Story. Do you steal regularly or is this just an isolated incident? When I report stories that I read on your wire service, should I include the caveat that they may have been stolen from elsewhere?

Rob [surname]


UPDATE: From a reporter:
I doubt AP 'stole' from Raw Story. If the stories read the same, then yeah. More likely, AP just was a day late and confirmed the release of the records themselves, which ain't stealing. It's just 'getting beat.'

Not to be a pill, but you might want to think twice before accusing a news org of plagiarism. It's a damn serious charge, and unless it's obvious -- like, the verbiage is exactly the same -- it's generally not the case. An AP reporter may well have found out about the records release through Raw Story, but as long as he or she did his or her own reporting, it's OK, and they're under no obligation to credit Raw Story with breaking the news.
Is my ass red or what? Anyway, AP never responded to our query. If you were them, would you?

Ralph Reed on Retainer for Microsoft

Ralph Reed, Microsoft Whore. Or is it the other way around?

4.25.2005

Quote of the Day

“Both Islam and Christianity, both Eastern civilization and Western civilization, have exceptional capacities for creating peace, understanding, and justice. But unfortunately, at present fundamentalists on both sides are the most active.”
–Mohammad Khatami, president of Iran, in
an interview for the May 2005 issue of GQ
(not available online)

Fristianity

Fristian n. Any takers?

Fristianity n. 1. The Fristian religion or sect, 2. The community of Fristian believers.

CREDIT: Some caller on the Randi Rhodes show used the term "fristian."

Goodbye to All That

Operation Enduring Bush

Enduring this administration feels like falling through a manhole into the open sewer but being unable to reach the ladder that leads back out because the current's too strong. And the Real ID Act is the giant turd between you and that ladder. Want all your personal information available to all states all the time? to all those private data-mining companies, like ChoicePoint™, who've oops! kinda sorta lost oodles of data on people recently? Do you want this to pass as an attachment to "emergency" war funding, without any floor debate? If not, fax your senator here. The vote is TOMORROW. (Thanks, Abby Taylor.)

4.24.2005

Gannon Giveth. And Giveth. And Giveth.

Updates below.

Curioser and curioser: In response to a FOIA request from representatives Conyers (D-MI) and Slaughter (D-NY), the Secret Service has released the White House–access records of James Guckert nee Jeff Gannon. They are now available online for your perusal. According to Raw Story, the records reveal that Jeff had lots of trouble with the (ahem) ins and outs:
Guckert made more than 200 appearances at the White House during his two-year tenure with the fledging conservative websites GOPUSA and Talon News, attending 155 of 196 White House press briefings....

Perhaps more notable than the frequency of his attendance, however, is several distinct anomalies about his visits.

Guckert made more than three dozen excursions to the White House when there were no scheduled briefings. On many of these days, the Press Office held press gaggles aboard Air Force One—which raises questions about what Guckert was doing at the White House.

On at least fourteen occasions, Secret Service records show either the entry or exit time missing. Generally, the existing entry or exit times correlate with press conferences; on most of these days, the records show that Guckert checked in but was never processed out.

In March, 2003, Guckert left the White House twice on days he had never checked in with the Secret Service. Over the next 22 months, Guckert failed to check out with the Service on thirteen days. On several of these visits, Guckert either entered or exited by a different entry/exit point than his usual one. On one of these days, no briefing was held.

"I'd be worried if I was the White House and I knew that a reporter with a day pass never left," one White House reporter told RAW STORY. "I'd wonder, where is he hiding? It seems like a security risk."

Others who have covered the White House say not checking in or out with the Secret Service is unusual, especially in the wake of Sept. 11. The Secret Service declined to comment.
Read the full article here.

Here the crickets chirp at Gannon's blog here.

UPDATE: Since Gannon doesn't read Raw Story, he didn't know about the scoop till he read the stolen, expurgated AP version of it. From jeffgannon.com (permanent link not available):
AP reveals Gannon showed up for work!

The Associated Press is reporting that Secret Service records demanded by House Democrats Louise Slaughter and John Conyers prove that I showed up for work at the White House 196 times in two years.
UPDATE: The Secret Service answer procedural questions about White House briefing-room access.

Justice Sunday: the Skinny

We could hardly bear the disappointment of not watching our favorite clerics decry the treason of the American judiciary and raise the battlecry against it from the Virgin Megachurch in Kentucky. But we'll settle for what we can get. Crooks and Liars has the links to the Frist and Donahue portions of the show, and Reuters has a rundown of the event. I feel so sorry for Senators' receptionists tomorrow, cuz there's a tropical shitstorm brewin' in the Gulf:
Dr. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, portrayed minority Democrats and "about six or eight very squishy Republicans" as obstructionists to judicial appointments.

Mohler said those senators need to hear from conservatives who are concerned about the courts and blocked judicial appointments.

"Let them know that you don't want them to delay and you don't want them to postpone," Mohler said. "Tell them that you care and that you will remember how they vote."
So it begins.

UPDATE: Justice Sunday Dobson video (also via Crooks and Liars—keep checking them for more segments).

UPDATE (fun and games edition): The Family Research Council has a list of Democratic luminaries calling for up-and-down votes on judicial nominees and fussing about blocking nominees with fillibusters. You know, back when the Republicans didn't want certain nominees of a Democratic president to get to the floor....

Sunday Sunday Sunday!

Hey, kids! Don't forget, tonight's the webcast of Justice Sunday: Bite of Fristula! Click here to watch at 6 CST / 7 ET to see how you can help defeat the Satanic minions of the judiciary!

Background reading (learning can be fun!):UPDATE: I signed up for the Justice Sunday webcast, and the link above is what they sent me, but it's not doing anything it wasn't doing a week ago, i.e. showing a long, boring commercial. If you're able to get the real broadcast, please post a comment.

Yet Another "Bolton Unhinged" Report

This makes Bolton look really good:
Lynne D. Finney, now a therapist in Utah, wrote to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Friday, saying Bolton mistreated her when they worked in the General Counsel's Office at the US Agency for International Development. Her accusation is the latest salvo in a pitched battle over Bolton's nomination.
...
In the letter, Finney said she was an attorney-adviser in the General Counsel's Office working on policies involving the UN Development Program when Bolton called her into his office in late 1982 or early 1983. She wrote that Bolton asked her to persuade delegates from other countries to vote with the United States to weaken World Health Organization restrictions on marketing of infant formula in the developing world.

Finney said she refused because improper use of the formula can be deadly. For example, mothers in the developing world sometimes mix it with contaminated water or dilute it to make it last longer, humanitarian groups say.

Finney said that Bolton "shouted that Nestle was an important company and that he was giving me a direct order from President Reagan." The Swiss company is among the top makers of formula.

"He yelled that if I didn't obey him, he would fire me," she wrote. "I said I could not live with myself if even one baby died because of something I did.... He screamed that I was fired."
(Via Raw Story.)

Could it get any worse for the Boltster? What's next, revelations that, like Fristula, he experimented on kittens?

Retaking America for Christ

We put the "ban" in "Taliban." Well worth reading.

4.23.2005

Peak Oil: Coming Soon to a Planet Near You

A troubling and fascinating article on the rapid approach of peak oil. The primary source is Colin Campbell, an longtime oil-industry insider. Bonus: learn lots of extra neat stuff about the politics of reporting reserves, etc. Teaser paragraphs:
Campbell reckons global peak production of conventional oil - the kind associated with gushing oil wells - is approaching fast, perhaps even next year. His calculations are based on historical and present production data, published reserves and discoveries of companies and governments, estimates of reserves lodged with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, speeches by oil chiefs and a deep knowledge of how the industry works.

"About 944bn barrels of oil has so far been extracted, some 764bn remains extractable in known fields, or reserves, and a further 142bn of reserves are classed as 'yet-to-find', meaning what oil is expected to be discovered. If this is so, then the overall oil peak arrives next year," he says.

If he is correct, then global oil production can be expected to decline steadily at about 2-3% a year, the cost of everything from travel, heating, agriculture, trade, and anything made of plastic rises. And the scramble to control oil resources intensifies. As one US analyst said this week: "Just kiss your lifestyle goodbye."
...
"The first half of the oil age now closes," says Campbell. "It lasted 150 years and saw the rapid expansion of industry, transport, trade, agriculture and financial capital, allowing the population to expand six-fold. The second half now dawns, and will be marked by the decline of oil and all that depends on it, including financial capital."
(Emphasis mine.)

Read it here.

UPDATE: Apologies for the screwy link. It's fixed.

4.22.2005

Wiping Their Asses with the Constitution

Jesus. Tony "the Prick" Perkins and Mullah James Dobson caught on tape colluding to take down judges and "shake up" Republican senators. From the LA Times:
Evangelical Christian leaders, who have been working closely with senior Republican lawmakers to place conservative judges in the federal courts, have also been exploring ways to punish sitting jurists and even entire courts viewed as hostile to their cause.

An audio recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times features two of the nation's most influential evangelical leaders, at a private conference with supporters, laying out strategies to rein in judges, such as stripping funding from their courts in an effort to hinder their work.

The discussion took place during a Washington conference last month that included addresses by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who discussed efforts to bring a more conservative cast to the courts.

Frist and DeLay have not publicly endorsed the evangelical groups' proposed actions. But the taped discussion among evangelical leaders provides a glimpse of the road map they are drafting as they work with congressional Republicans to achieve a judiciary that sides with them on abortion, same-sex marriage and other elements of their agenda.

"There's more than one way to skin a cat, and there's more than one way to take a black robe off the bench," said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, according to an audiotape of a March 17 session. The tape was provided to The Times by the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

DeLay has spoken generally about one of the ideas the leaders discussed in greater detail: using legislative tactics to withhold money from courts.

"We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse," DeLay said at an April 13 question-and-answer session with reporters.
The rest here.

Friday Cat Blogging



Secret Service Opens Privatalooza Investigation

Remember the three Denverites ousted from Bush™'s Privatalooza event on March 21? The Secret Service has opened a criminal investigation, and Diane Carman of the Denver Post reports that beads of sweat have been sighted on Scott McClellan's brow. The "volunteer" who ousted the three was (apparently) impersonating a Secret Service agent, which is a crime. Carman writes:
When asked if the volunteer [who ousted the three] was acting on the instruction of the White House, McClellan responded, "Not that I'm aware of."

Hmmm. So who might be aware?

I asked two other White House spokesmen that question Wednesday. They declined to answer.

Dan Recht, attorney for the so-called Denver Three, says interest in the story of ideological cleansing at an official government-sponsored event just keeps gathering steam.

Reporters call every day, begging to be the first to know when the bouncer's name is released.

Pressure is mounting.
(Via Kos, who posted on the story last night, before it hit the papers. We were too tired to pass it on. But hey, we do this for free.)

Elephant Cock

It was inevitable. For several years, my main email address has ended with @cox.net. Whenever I tell someone my email address over the phone, I have to clarify that it's spelled see oh ecks dot net. I've often stifled laughter while doing this. But the person on the other end of the line never acknowledges the elephant in the room.

Now I've gotten an email from a client's employee. Good thing she sent it to two different addresses, because she got my main address wrong. She ended it with @cock.com. It's going to be fun correcting the error without mentioning the elephant in the room.

And don't bother going to cock.com. Nothing's there.

4.21.2005

Digby Does Coulter

Digby on the hateful (that's right, non-liberal hate—did you know it exists?) comments of Coulter et al.

UPDATE: Now it's a threesome: Bob Somerby on Coulter.

Torture is on the March

Par for the course (e.g. this).

Microsoft Messes with the Wrong Faggots

Sweet.
How to help.

UPDATE here.

Abramoff Keeps on Giving

More from Raw Story: Tribal dispute raises new questions of Abramoff; Donations to senator scrutinized.

In a related story:
Organizations headed by two of the best-known figures in conservative political circles, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist, have been subpoenaed by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in its long-running probe of GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the paid-restricted Roll Call reveals Thursday.
Excerpts here.

Questions Surround Election Reform Panel

It's hard to keep up with Raw Story. Their report on the questionable happenings surrounding the Carter-Baker Election Reform Panel, including the sudden appearance of ACVR, a group allegedly seeking election reform but run and funded by Republican operatives, raises serious questions. The story also contains an expurgated version of the long-awaited map Raw Story's made of Republican operatives, politicians, alleged think tanks, lobbyists and marketing groups. We can't wait to see the full map when it's done. (Disclosure: I'm working on the map—web work, not journalism.)

How Da Ratz Became Benedict 16

The WaPo has a terrific run-down of how Da Ratz ascended the throne of Mithra. Highlights:
From the very first vote on Monday evening, Ratzinger was at the front of the pack of contenders. And almost before the electors knew it, the grave atmosphere of the conclave was over, and they were singing Latin songs, eating chicken cordon bleu and toasting the new pope with spumante.

"It's wonderful to be in a group of 115 people, and you're all equals. You're all talking: Eminence this, Eminence that, first name this, first name that. And then suddenly, one of you is different," said Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington. "He's no longer one of you. He's the Holy Father, the successor to Peter and the Vicar of the Christ."

For years, Joseph Ratzinger was a rarity in the church, the only Vatican official other than John Paul with global name recognition. His book-length interview with an Italian journalist, "The Ratzinger Report," was a European bestseller in the mid-1990s and sold 50,000 copies in English.

Already the best-known member of the College of Cardinals, his profile only increased after John Paul died on April 2. He presided over the pope's funeral, led the cardinals in their closed-door sessions to discuss the state of the church and celebrated Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on Monday, the day the conclave began.

Deliberately or not, Ratzinger reduced the attention other cardinals got from the news media by persuading his colleagues to agree to stop talking to reporters on the day after John Paul's funeral. That news blackout put an end to the traditional floating of candidates during the novemdiales, or nine-day mourning period, after the death of a pope.
Nah. I'm sure it wasn't for political reasons.
...
Asked when the cardinals began focusing on Ratzinger as a candidate, McCarrick replied with a grin: "When we read the newspapers. Because the newspapers were telling us that Cardinal Ratzinger is the favorite. So we see, the Holy Spirit may speak through the newspapers -- sometimes even the Italian newspapers."
...
On Monday...Ratzinger gave a stinging homily against the West's creeping "dictatorship of relativism." Those who hold firmly to belief in God and moral absolutes, he said, are accused of fundamentalism, while the only socially acceptable attitude seems to be that everything is relative and nothing is clearly right or wrong.
Can I get a witness? Why, here in the godless United States, we just can't decide whether murder, assault, misleading the public, slaughtering thousands by crashing airplanes into buildings, stealing, beating up old ladies, fucking fornicating with goats, or raping children and then covering it up is wrong. Up is down, black is white, gray is green. Mass insanity!

Effect of article on yours truly: Hunger for chicken cordon bleu.

For a little fun with Mithra, try this page by someone who actually thinks Judaism is somehow "pure" and non-pagan. Did his homework, though.

UPDATE: The New York Times today (Friday, April 22) has an excellent interactive Flash presentation on Benedict "Bennie" 16. It's in the right-hand column about halfway down. I'd link to it but it's a popup window and life is too short.

4.20.2005

God Hates Shrimp

From Godhatesshrimp.com:

Shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, mussels, all these are an abomination before the Lord, just as gays are an abomination. Why stop at protesting gay marriage? Bring all of God's law unto the heathens and the sodomites.... We must stop the unbelievers from destroying the sanctity of our restaurants.

Leviticus 11:9-12 says:

9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.

10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
The rest here.

O'Reilly: ACLU Drinks the Blood of the Innocent

Y'know, I keep meaning to get around to posting about less newsworthy matters, like torture, duplicity in election reform, the rising theocratic tide, the upcoming simulcast of Bite of Fristula, but then there's Fox News performance art. On the heels of O'Reilly's goat-fuckers diatribe, Media Matters reports O'Reilly's latest:
...Remember, it is the American Civil Liberties Union which is now behind all abortion on demand, euthanasia, and coming soon perhaps, infanticide for impaired babies.
guf·faw n. A hearty, boisterous burst of laughter. intr.v. guf·fawed, guf·faw·ing, guf·faws To laugh heartily and boisterously.

Almost as good as Gannon at giving good copy.

SPECIAL BONUS FEATURE: Media Matters gives a list of O'Reilly's advertisers, complete with contact information (scroll down). Have fun, kidz!

4.19.2005

Cause We Kinda Miss Him

From Jeff Gannon's blog:
[Helen] Thomas points out that Edward Wasserman, a professor of journalism at Washington & Lee University, has determined that I am a propagandist because I reported exactly what the White House said about its position on an issue without putting a spin on it.
snick·er v. To utter a partly stifled laugh. n. A snide, slightly stifled laugh.

UPDATE: Reader PDS asks why we miss JimmyJeff. Answer: Because he's 8+" and cut, silly! so much more fun than, say, PVS women in hospitals, dead pontiffs, ANWR and the like. Mel Martinez comes close with his faux hand-wringing, but he's not an ex-prostitute Republican operative with porn sites and no apparent USMC records.

Frank Luntz: Amoral Yoda

Tonight on The Daily Show, Samantha Bee didn't mention the Luntz playbook per se, but she aired an entire piece on Luntz's verbal gymnastics, calling Luntz an "amoral Yoda." In one segment, she threw out words and phrases and he retooled them to suit the Republican agenda. The last word was "Orwellian." Luntz stared down for a while, silent.*

Snip.

*An earlier version of this post said, "manipulation," to which Luntz responded, "Education and explanation." The term "Orwellian" followed; I confused the two.

The State of Afghanistan

A relatively optimistic report from Afghanistan. Précis: Sure, Afghanistan's in the toilet, but that's progress when last year it was in the sewer. Speaking of which, what ever happened to Haiti? (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

4.18.2005

The Pentagon and Domestic Espionage

The Pentagon could spy on you:
...all over America, law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been making information about the public available to a Pentagon power center most people have never heard about: U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. Hidden deep inside Cheyenne Mountain, more than 100 intelligence analysts sift through streams of data collected by federal agents and local law enforcers—continually updating a virtual picture of what the command calls the North American "battlespace," which includes the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as 500 miles out to sea. If they find something amiss, they have resources to deploy in response that no law enforcement agency could dream of. They've got an army, a navy, an air force, the Marines, and the Coast Guard.
...
More troubling than being watched, though, is what might happen after the spying is over. NORTHCOM is still prohibited from doing much of the work police departments and the FBI do, but it could end up doing work that its parallel commands do overseas. Joseph Onek of the Constitution Project in Washington, D.C., a bipartisan nonprofit focused on civil liberties during wartime, puts it this way: "We're worried that some hotshot military intelligence guy gets back from the Middle East and goes to work with NORTHCOM, using some of the same interrogation methods used at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay."
After 9/11 the torture techniques developed by the CIA decades ago and used most infamously in Latin America migrated to Rumsfeld's special terrorist-kidnapping group, who spread the techniques to Abu Ghraib and beyond.

But then those techniques might not be used here.

Instead, if you're lucky, you might be sent there, to the bowels of some unnamed nation—sans lawyer, sans diplomatic recourse—where mustached men with Napoleon complexes and a secret hatred for rich Westerners strip you naked and beat you with clubs while shouting at you in thick accents, sweat trickling down their shadowed faces, their halitosis adding insult to a welter of aches and gashes, as you draw a slow and rattling breath and try to focus between swollen lids at the dim and sputtering bulb swaying overhead, hinting at a darker fate should you fail to comply. But then you're an innocent American, right...?

Read the whole article here.

A Bit of the Ole Honduran Ultraviolence

An outstanding article in the Baltimore Sun on our participation in (and setting the scene for) the hundreds of violent disappearances in Honduras that Negroponte was careful not to report.

It's happening again. This time in Asia. A franchise, if you will.

Is That a Banana in Your Cart...?

Singles night at...Wal Mart? Now's the time to (ahem) whip out the innuendo in the produce and meat sections. (Via Think Progress.)

WOMAN: That's a really big...jicama you've got there.
MAN: [Eyes jicama in his cart, then eggplants in her cart] Thanks. I like your eggplants. They look firm.
WOMAN: Thanks.

Awkward pause. The two eye vegetables on the shelves.

MAN: Do you like pork loin?
WOMAN: [Pause] Only if it's marinated.

Kurds Training for Action in Iran

An intriguing article on Kurdish preparations for covert action in Tehran, almost as much for what it says as for what it doesn't say—which is volumes. Fully have of the uber-skimpy article is this:
Rebel leader Ebrahim Alizada said: "Our armed struggle began in Iranian Kurdistan and will continue until we have freedom."

The fighters are members of Komala, a group of militant socialist Kurds dedicated to bringing down Tehran. Hundreds of young men and women armed with AK47 rifles, machine guns and RPGs are training in northern Iraq for this mission.

Many more are based across the border and group leaders say the rebels are already carrying out "covert actions" in Iran.
Gulf News claims it had "exclusive access" to the group, and yet they could barely fill a page. No background. Barely any context. It could almost be a CNN report. (Via Project for the Old American Century.)

Considering that Seymour Hersh told us in January that the Bush administration planned on acting in Iran in 2005, and that Rumsfeld now has his own private intelligence service, and that Special Forces have been working with Iraqi Kurds for a while now, and that the US was allegedly organizing "bandits" back in 2002 to act in Iran, do I even need to pose the question? Given our government's predilection for supporting proxy armies, I'd be shocked if we weren't up to our necks in this. Here's what Komala has to say for itself.

DISCLAIMER: I don't like them mullahs either.

SPECIAL BONUS FEATURE: Satellite pics of this year's pretext Iranian Arak Plutonium Reactor.

FUN ISRAELI SIDENOTE: There are some humdingers on the Project for the Old American Century site. This one is especially interesting. It's a an unconfirmed report of a miles-long convoy of American military who-knows-what disguised as IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) in the Negev desert. The writer's pretty paranoid, and his opinion of what the convoy means is dubious at best. My guess*: We have bases in Israel, and I believe the big one is in the Negev, far from the prying eyes of sentient Israeli citizens. That's next to useless as an opinion; all I'm saying is that it might just be a matter of moving troops and equipment from one place to another, for whatever reason.

*Assuming the story's not apocryphal (I thought that went without saying, but then I decided I should cover my ass).

4.16.2005

The Magdalene's Lipstick on the Holy Grail

Possibly a huge leap forward for our understanding of the ancients. We're crossing our fingers that portions of lost gospels or mystery plays (i.e. The Passion of the Sun) will be recovered. Read it here. (Via Irate Savant.)

Bandwagon Patrol

Update below.

Assrocket of Power Line:
...why is it it that when a minor Republican staffer wrote that the Schiavo case was a "great political issue," it was a scandal that was reported in every newspaper in America, whereas, when the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee says, "We're going to use Terri Schiavo" in the 2006 and 2008 elections, the response is a yawn? I'm sure there must be a reason why Dean's comment is different, but offhand I can't think what it is.
Oh, come on, you can think, can't you? Or did the obvious just not occur to you? In his talking-points memo, Brian Darling promoted using a family tragedy for political gain. In contrast, Dean was talking about using what the Republicans did with that tragedy against them. The two things are entirely different, and only the former is scandalous. Hands Power Line a clue.

UPDATE: Whaddaya know. He wrote me back:
Difference? What difference? The "great political issue" was that the Dems wanted to kill her. Dean wants to "use" her because the Republicans wanted to save her. Same thing. No difference.

Hercules the Liger II: the Sequel

Realitique's seen a mild spike in traffic the last couple of days. Not a Kossalanche or anything, like we got with the Luntz playbook, but the traffic's up by at least one third. Is it for our soporific drivel incisive commentary? our 4-AM efforts to bring you the most outdated latest in irrelevant overlooked news? our kneejerk, ignorance-fueled pinkotry refreshingly witty perspective?

Nope.

It's for the liger. Hercules the liger. LNS sent us the link back in February, and we posted it. Ever since then, it's remained the #1 listing for "hercules the liger" in Yahoo!™ search results. We're mystified but we're not complaining. Traffic is as traffic does. But it's got us thinking. What terms get hits? We hereby offer some random terms. Let's see what happens.

feet foot back ape ache sock tight pants bikini wax canoe hair hairy breast tv color compressed air fetish bondage leather rope keyboard mouse mousepad digital camera wolphin snafu

Got any terms? Let me know and I'll add them to the list. I'll announce the results as soon as there are any.

UPDATE: eRobin of Fact-esque was kind enough to donate the following terms:
Theresa Wright
WalMart bad for America
You don't win friends with salad
Man butt

Lemony Snicket on HP Lovecraft

Lemony Snicket reviews the new HP Lovecraft anthology, and it ain't pretty.

4.15.2005

InJustice Sunday

In an effort to demonstrate that there is no limit to how low you can go (Terri Schiavo? Nigga, please.), Presidential Butt Puppet Bill Frist will be pushing to change Senate rules to rob the minority party of the fillibuster, so that Republicans can push through the few judicial nominees that Democrats are dead-set against. How? Through evangelical churches.

As we've mentioned (via Wonkette), most federal judges are Republican appointees. Like so many dollars, this fact has unfortunately not trickled down to some "people of faith," or, more specifically, to the Family Research Council, run by the author of the "nation's first Covenant marriage law," Louisiana's own self-righteous prick Jimmy Swaggart Tony Perkins. The FRC argues on its website that
For years activist courts...have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms. Federal judges have systematically grabbed power, usurping the constitutional authority that resides in the other two branches of government and, ultimately, in the American people.

We now have a President who is committed to nominate judicial candidates who are not activists, but strict constructionists -- judges who will simply interpret the Constitution as it was written. We now have a majority in the U.S. Senate that will confirm these nominees. However, there is a radical minority that has launched an unprecedented filibuster against these outstanding men and women.
The obvious solution? Television. As the New York Times reports, on Sunday the FRC will hold a nationwide church-based simulcast of a Francis Ford Coppola production of Bram Stoker's Fristula. Featuring: Mullah Dobson! Tony Perkins! Chuck "Watergate" Colson! and, of course, Elmo! Bill Frist! Why? That's...unclear. Presumably Fristula wants to rally the undead to call their senators and demand the Senate rules be changed. According to the FRC's website, "The Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist of Tennessee, is committed to returning Constitutional order to the Senate by requiring an up-or-down vote on these nominees. To do this, he urgently needs the help of every 'values voter.'"

UPDATE: Go here to register for info on hosting the simulcast. When you register, the following text is displayed (they email you the same text):
Here's how your church can take part in the April 24th simulcast:

1. Watch via live webcast

Click this link for more information on how to participate via webcast:

http://www.lightonthehill.tv/justice.html
[This link should take you directly to the webcast. Just click the link for the bandwidth-version you want. -ed.]

2. Watch the live simulcast via SkyAngel (no charge for SkyAngel subscribers)

Angel 2 - Channel 9702
Sunday APRIL 24, 2005, 7PM-8:30PM EST

If you already subscribe to SkyAngel then you are all set. If you have Dish Network equipment, you can subscribe to one month of SkyAngel programming and watch this along with other SkyAngel programming for the month.

Cost: $11.99 (Dish Network equipment not included)

Call 1-888/759-2643 (SkyAngel) to sign up or get more info or visit SkyAngel's website:

http://www.skyangel.com

Please note: your church's participation will be made known to interested attendees in your area. Registering indicates a willingness to host them for this simulcast. You must have access to SkyAngel2 (via satellite dish) or the ability to run a live Webcast between 7:00 and 8:30PM EST on April 24.
QUICK DISCLAIMER: This is not to say that there's no such thing as "judicial activism" or that it shouldn't be debated and perhaps curtailed. But not like this. Never like this. Oh, and if you're interested in the book Men in Black, Slate's Dahlia Lithwick has a withering review.

Follow the Yellowcake Road

We cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.
—GW Bush, Oct. 7, 2002

Remember Michael Ledeen, that National Review columnist and AEI fellow key player in Iran-Contra? Remember the forgeries that were the basis for Bush's 16-word claim in the 2002 State of the Union that Saddam had purchased yellowcake from Niger? the claim that Joseph Wilson bitch-slapped da Prez for making and that subsequently led to Robert Novak revealing Wilson's wife as a CIA operative? Well, guess who might've forged them. From First Draft:
VINCENT CANNISTRARO [former CIA head of counterterrorism operations and intelligence director at the National Security Council under Reagan]: ...It isn't that anyone had a good source on Iraq - there weren't any good sources. The Italian intelligence service, the military intelligence service, was acquiring information that was really being hand-fed to them by very dubious sources. The Niger documents, for example, which apparently were produced in the United States, yet were funneled through the Italians.

QUESTION: Do we know who produced those documents? Because there's some suspicion...

VINCENT CANNISTRARO: I think I do, but I'd rather not speak about it right now, because I don't think it's a proven case...

QUESTION: If I said 'Michael Ledeen'?

VINCENT CANNISTRARO: You'd be very close...
An intriguing answer, which fuels even more speculation. According to this little article from Al Jazeera (yeah, yeah), Ledeen's involvement would be
...consistent with the theory that the documents are the work of Iraqi dissidents associated with Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. [Remember "Curveball"? -ed.]

The documents would have flowed from Chalabi to Ledeen to SISME [SISMI -ed.], and thus would have been laundered to make them appear as legitimate products discovered by a legitimate intelligence agency.

This sophistication in the use of foreign intelligence agencies appears to be part of the modus operandi of the neocons, and may derive from the particular expertise of Ledeen and Richard Perle, developed in various shenanigans going back to the 1970's in particular the Iran-Contra affair.
And lest we miss the connection with current events, John "Loose Cannon" Bolton, Bush's nominee for dom ambassador to the UN, helped push said bogus claim in the State Department when he wasn't busy intimidating functionaries.

The source of the forgery-author speculation, Ian Masters' interview with Vincent Cannistraro, is here. It's worth reading, esp. if you're interested in recent intelligence distortions failures.

Scary Michael Ledeen quotes here. I cannot vouch for context, since I don't have the book Machiavelli on Modern Leadership, but here are three quotes worth checking out:
"Paradoxically, preserving liberty may require the rule of a single leader—a dictator—willing to use those dreaded 'extraordinary measures, which few know how, or are willing, to employ.' (p. 173)

"Machiavelli's favorite hero...Moses exercised dictatorial power, but that awesome power was used to create freedom." (p. 174)

"We should not be outraged by Machiavelli's call for a temporary dictatorship as an effective means to either revivify or restore freedom." (p. 174)
UPDATE: LNS told me that a friend of his told him that Ferris passed out at 31 Flavors last night the Niger forgeries were written in French. While I have found nothing about this and have better things to do than spend hours trolling the Internet for—no, wait. Anyway, it makes sense, since the language of Niger is, you know, French, it being a former French colony. According to The Financial Times, Rocco Martino, the Italian huckster businessman to whom the forgeries were traced, gave the documents to French intelligence (the DGSE?). The same article says that, "according to senior intelligence officials [UK, presumably; it's not clear], the forged documents were produced with the involvement of people familiar with Niger, and were created in 2000." I'll leave it there for now. If you find a story that mentions the documents were written in French, please let me know and I'll post it.

Busted

Media Matters busts the Heritage Foundation on their bogus Social Security calculator.

4.14.2005

Damn Their Oily Hides!

Where is Congress when you need them? Not only did they let Republican presidents appoint activist judges, but they let Men in Black* befoul the once-pure river of democracy with such demon seed as the separation of church and state, the right to privacy and judicial review. From an April 13 interview with Tom DeLay in yesterday's Washington Moon:
Mr. Dinan: You've been talking about going after activist judges since at least 1997. The [Terri] Schiavo case gives you a chance to do that, but you've recently said you blame Congress for not being zealous in oversight.

Mr. DeLay:
Not zealous. I blame Congress over the last 50 to 100 years for not standing up and taking its responsibility given to it by the Constitution. The reason the judiciary has been able to impose a separation of church and state that's nowhere in the Constitution is that Congress didn't stop them. The reason we had judicial review is because Congress didn't stop them. The reason we had a right to privacy is because Congress didn't stop them.
When asked about his ethical troubles, DeLay replied that they had "nothing to do with the rumour that the B3 bomber will be implemented ahead of schedule."

*In an earlier version of this post, I accidentally wrote "Congress" when I meant "judiciary."

Poop for Peace

Bizarre. (Via Wonkette.)

Bin Laden and Bribery at Tora Bora

According to the BBC yesterday, the head of German intelligence, August Hanning,
told German newspaper Handelsblatt that using Afghans was the key mistake in the hunt for Bin Laden.

He said Bin Laden paid "a lot of money" to buy a safe passage from the Tora Bora caves, which he had retreated to during the US assault in 2001.

The US has said it used Afghan fighters to reduce casualties among its troops.
John Kerry, October 29, 2004:
Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida were cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, and it was wrong to outsource the job of capturing them to Afghan warlords who a week earlier were fighting against us.
President Bush, October 29, 2004:
"My opponent continues to say things he knows are not true." He said, "It's especially shameful in light of the new tape from America's enemy."

Kerry's account "does not square with reality," Bush said.

"It's the worst kind of Monday-morning quarterbacking."
The Washington Post, April 17, 2002:
The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.
UPDATE: Dick Cheney:
"He was equipped to go to ground there," Cheney told ABC News in late November 2001. "He's got what he believes to be fairly secure facilities, caves underground. It's an area he's familiar with."
UPDATE: General Tommy Franks, in his book American Soldier (as reported by NY Daily News):
Franks reports that on Nov. 27, 2001, he and Gen. Gene Renuart were working on the air support for the Afghan proxies moving into Tora Bora. He was interrupted by a phone call from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"Gen. Franks, the President wants us to look for options for Iraq," Rumsfeld said, by Frank's account. "What is the status of your planning?"

Franks said they had something called OPLAN 1003, but it was "out of date."

"Please dust it off and get back to me next week," Rumsfeld directed.

The book recounts Franks saying to himself, "Son of a bitch. No rest for the weary." He turned to the general with whom he had been planning air support at Tora Bora.

"Gene ... new work to be done," Franks said.

Honest Rummy Saves the F-16

The unflinchingly honest Donald Rumsfeld dropped in on Iraqi leaders on Tuesday to warn "against political purges and cronyism that could spark 'lack of confidence or corruption in government.'"*

He would know a little about that, since today he was in Pakistan helping Lockheed Martin save its F-16 line. As the Washington Post reported a couple of weeks ago, production's been dropping for a while now, and Lockheed was going to close the plant if it didn't get new orders before the fall. Plus, there's a hidden bonus: If Pakistan buys the F-16s, India, their rival, is going to buy a hundred of them too.

*Rummy also expressed impatience over the time the Iraqis were taking to form a new government.

Bolton Acid Flashback

Rude Pundit reminisces about "lying sack of shit" Bolton's views during the Clinton administration.

Quick thought: It's interesting how the NY Times and others, such as The Washington Note's Steve Clemons, have criticized Bush™'s choice of Bolton as a bad one. True, if your goal is to engage the UN and the rest of the world. But Bush rarely says what he means or means what he says. And this is no exception. Bolton wasn't nominated to the UN to engage it but to gut it. His hard-core opposition to ElBaradei was one arm of the pincer attack against the UN after the November election, the other being the assault on Annan. Don't mess with Texas.

The Politics of John Paul II

Lest the popement pass without comment, here are two pieces putting John Paul II's political actions in a broader context:

4.13.2005

Spamalot

I get a lot of spam in my Lycos mail account, which is why I use it to sign up for anything that looks like a spam risk. More than half of the spam allegedly comes from people with names that have middle initials, but I figure it's the same company, no matter whether they're trying to get me to "work from home!," buy "Big Discount Cialis!," or "Fu!ck my 18y.o. daughter!" Here is a selection of said names:
  • Retinue M. Epithet
  • Itinerant H. Secludes
  • Odessa E. Blevins
  • Stanza P. Avoidance
  • Budgetary G. Abjuration
  • Smiling D. Grater
  • Empathy P. Insurgence
  • Lynne Beaver
  • Hun E. Joselli
  • Parochial L. Brutalizes
  • Dawning I. Predispositions
  • Ðåêëàìíîå ïðåäëîæåíèå
  • Photoelectric G. Poniards
  • Resolves G. Spaniard
  • Disaster Q. Glaciers
  • Hung
  • Trimester A. Vane
  • Jerrod Haywood
  • Colt D. Somalia
Now I understand creating random names to put in the from field, but why not use a database of real names, like a phone book? You know, a phone book? Why throw random nouns in there, like "Somalia" and "Predispositions"? And why the middle initial? Why no middle name?

Incitement to Assassination? Er...not.

The Secret Service got its art on the other day by visiting a new exhibit featuring a fake 37-cent stamp that showed a gun pointed at Mr. Bush's head. As we noted earlier, this is the Secret Service's job, though maybe it shouldn't be. (Note to SS: John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald and his cohorts didn't make art installations of what they were planning to do.) Thanks to the SS's visit, the exhibit's been getting a lot of publicity and thus more traffic.

Now the homoerotic blog Powermadline has weighed in with a predictable screed entitled, "Incitement to Assassination?" Assrocket writes, "There is no parallel in modern American history for the virulent hate that the left has generated against President Bush." Given Powerline's track record, we'll take that with a shakerful of salt. I seem to recall nothing but hatred coming from the right during the Clinton years. As a dyed-in-the-wool Bush-hater, though, I hasten to point out that my hatred of the man has taken years to build up and is a direct response to his actions. And I don't own a gun.

But for the record, I don't want anyone to assassinate Bush. That would undermine the rule of (some) law—and it would leave us with President Cheney.

UPDATE: More Assrocket antics.

4.12.2005

Fuck the Poor II: Lube Up!

Because here it comes, boys and girls, the pro-credit strap-on Bankruptcy Bill! If you're well-off, you probably won't care that Congress is about to make it harder to get out of debt—without imposing a shred of restraint on the long out-of-control Really Big Bank of America™, whose Tommy Chong–high interest rates already cover the cost of bankruptcy. But woe betide you if you lose your job or get stuck with unpayable hospital bills that your miserly HMO won't cover. Republican columnist Debra Saunders has this to say on the bill:
...the industry's woes suggest that Washington should make it easier to file for bankruptcy, in order to protect the banks from themselves. As Travis Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America noted, lenders "have it within their power to control the bankruptcy rates by controlling their practices."

As a Republican, it disappoints me to say this, but I understand why people call the GOP the party of big business. When Washington pushes for more responsibility among debtors, but not loan-shark-like lenders, when its "ownership society" principles don't make big corporations own up to their role in the bankruptcy problem, the GOP is toadying to big business. (Ditto the 18 Democrats and one independent senator who voted for the bill.)
(Via TPM)

That means you, Mary Landrieu.

This isn't a partisan issue. Or a class issue. It's a fairness issue. The vote is expected Thursday. If you want to stop The Really Big Bank of America™, write your representative here. If using a Democrats.com page makes you queasy, go here or here.

UPDATE: Looks like it's a threesome in New Orleans. Not only has Mary Landrieu been sodomizing us with a strap-on, but she's handed off the (ahem) baton to whore Congressman William Jefferson. We let the underpaid email-reader on his staff him know that the most descriptive term for him begins with a "w."

King Karl

Think Karl Rove screwed up with Social Security? Think again. Here's an excellent article on Rove's grand strategy. (No, not the one to dominate all life; the other one.) Key paragraph:
Yet as ugly as the Social Security debate has been for Bush and the GOP, it has served—perhaps intentionally—one salutary purpose: distracting Democrats while Republicans legislate, with ungodly brio, the rest of their agenda. Class-action reform, the bankruptcy bill, drilling for oil in the Alaskan wilderness: Republicans are teeing up pet legislation and knocking it down the fairway like Tiger Woods with a brisk wind at his back. "Without Social Security," Grover Norquist, a Rove confidant and head of Americans for Tax Reform, told me, "this other stuff would've been the front line of battle. Instead, Democrats are holding us up on Social Security, while we get everything else we want done."

4.11.2005

Dandruff Dims Sunlight?

Over the past few years you may have noticed that sunlight was a little less sunny that it'd been before. Or not. Anyway, a number of scientists have noticed it over the last decade or so and have chalked it up to the preponderance of particulate matter in the atmosphere. Well, some of that matter might be...dandruff. According to The Independent:
Flaky as it may seem, the research - partly funded by the German government - may provide the solution to one of the world's most enduring pollution mysteries: the origin of much of the vast clouds of fine dust in the atmosphere. It suggests that more than half of the dust is a rich soup of organic detritus, including particles of decaying leaves, animal hair, dead skin and dandruff.
Read the rest here.

Pattern Recognition

Poor Mel Martinez. Seems his "staff" has a habit of writing inflammatory memos and putting them in the wrong hands—unbeknownst, of course, to Mel. From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
In last year's Senate primary, a mailer from Martinez's campaign accused his top rival, Bill McCollum, of trying to appease "the radical homosexual lobby" for his support of a failed federal hate-crimes bill. McCollum, a staunch conservative, criticized the mailer and said Martinez was unfit to serve in Washington. Martinez defended the mailer and won the primary.

Weeks later, Martinez blamed a member of his staff for sending out a campaign press release that described federal agents as "armed thugs" for seizing Elián González from his relatives' Miami home. The Senate nominee called the wording "inappropriate" and promised to do a better job of watching what comes out under his name.

There's a disturbing pattern emerging here, suggesting either mendacity or an inability of Martinez to manage his staff. Either way, it doesn't bode well for a man who promised to tailor his Senate tenure as a trusted centrist.
My bet's on mendacity.

4.10.2005

Breach of Contract

Perhaps it is time for the Democrats simply to embrace their destiny as the party of grown-ups. No members of congress threatening judges. No gonzo federal legislation cooked up in the middle of the night to game a family struggle in Florida. Borrowing money and saving money are not the same thing. A reasonable respect for the rules under which the country has long been governed. Congressional staffers will neither steal work material from members of the opposition party nor stand on principle when caught. Bribes tendered on the floor of Congress will be frowned upon...

We need a new Contract with America. Tom DeLay and the Republican Party wiped their collective asses with the old one. Here's a start.

UPDATE: The Left Coaster has a break-down of said breach.

Another Reason to Hate the Vatican

Bush isn't the only world leader to slap other countries in the face. The late John Paul II, who deserved great credit for forgiving his would-be assassin but not so much for fighting AIDS with chastity, had the temerity to give Cardinal Bernard Law refuge, a shaggerific pad and a sweet assignment running a basilica. CBS News reports that today, the Vatican tapped the ironically named pedophile-protector Law to say mass. He'll be saying mass for the late Pope tomorrow, too. This is an affront not only to the sexual-abuse victims who suffered indirectly as a result of Law's egregious judgments but also to the United States. Once again, the Vatican demonstrates that it's just another hypocritical state, unconcerned with the lives of those it presumes to care for. What's next? Law as ambassador to the US?

4.08.2005

When at First You Don't Succeed...

I am confused by Gannon's claim that he got a day pass for the White House briefing room "the old-fashioned way, I called up and I persevered." That was in February 2003, a month before the invasion of Iraq. At the time, he was working for GOPUSA, which would not create Talon News until April 2003. Gannon, it seems, was slated to be the not-yet-existent Talon News' Washington correspondent.

I guess at that point, representing GOPUSA, he just picked up the phone and started trying to get a pass to the White House briefing room. He tried and he tried, and then, after "weeks more than days," he struck gold. The White House simply confirmed that GOPUSA "existed" and let him in. As Scott McClellan told Editor and Publisher:
"He faxed a letter in on his [GOPUSA] letterhead, they checked that it was a conservative news Web site he worked for," McClellan explained, referring to his staffers who handled such credentialing at the time. "There was a check to make sure it was a news organization and a news Web site. There was a determination made at that point [that it was legitimate]."
What spunk! What sticktuitiveness! Didn't know anyone in the White House or on the Hill. He just phoned faxed his information to the White House, and voila!

His boss, Bobby Eberle, apparently didn't know anyone either. Apparently, GOPUSA was a homegrown Texas affair, unconnected with the Bush administration. Eberle didn't know anyone, couldn't help out his lone correspondent-to-be by making a few phone calls on his behalf. Even though, as Eric Boehlert of Salon reported in February, Eberle was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2000. Even though in a "Holiday Greetings from the GOPUSA Team" message Eberle sent "a special thank you to all those who personally provided me with their assistance, guidance, and friendship, including...Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, and G. Gordon Liddy." Nope. Eberle couldn't help Jeff get into the White House briefing room. Poor Jeff was all alone. Fortunately, Gannon was a 100% red-blooded American male: he persevered until he got what he wanted!

Boehlert's article also had this to say about Eberle and the difficulties of getting into the WH briefing room:
Yet, if there's one other person [in addition to Gannon Guckert] who did manage to receive the same type of kid-glove treatment from the White House press office, it was Guckert's boss at GOPUSA and later at Talon News, Bobby Eberle. A Texas-based Republican activist and a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2000, Eberle founded Talon News after he became concerned that the name GOPUSA might appear to have a "built-in bias." With no journalism background, he too was able to secure a White House press pass, in early 2003, on the strength of representing GOPUSA, dedicated to "spreading the conservative message throughout America."

This is not how the White House press office has traditionally worked. "When I was there we didn't let political operatives in. It was completely contrary to what the press room should be used for," says Joe Lockhart, who served as White House press secretary to President Clinton during his second term. Asked what would have happened if a reporter from a clearly partisan operation, say "Democrats Today," had requested a White House press pass, Lockhart said that if the chief of the Democratic National Committee were attending an event at the White House, then perhaps the Democrats Today reporter might be allowed in for that one day. "But to be admitted as a reporter and sit in a chair and act like a reporter" for months on end the way Guckert did? "No," said Lockhart, "that's not within the realm of what [is] proper."
(The rest of Boehlert's story, which has gone widely unreported in the rest of the media, is even more revealing.)

Charming liar and sociopath Former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, in an interview in Editor and Publisher, echoed Lockhart on the proprieties of the briefing room:
"I found out that he worked for a GOP site, and I didn't think it was my place to call on him because he worked for something that was related to the party," Fleischer said in a phone interview. "He had the editor call me and made the case that they were not related to the Republican Party. He said they used the GOP name for marketing purposes only."

He said he resumed calling on Guckert, who used the alias Jeff Gannon, after Bobby Eberle, owner of both GOPUSA and Talon News, "assured me that they were not part of the Republican Party."
...

"I don't think that party organizations should have people in that room acting as reporters," Fleischer said, explaining his initial concerns. "They are advocates, not reporters, and a line should be drawn." But, after speaking with Eberle and looking at Talon News, he was convinced that GOPUSA.com and Talon News were not official party sites.
...

"It looked like a conservative news organization," Fleischer said. "If I thought that they were part of the party, I would not have [resumed] calling on them."
(Emphasis mine.)

Technically, he's correct. GOPUSA isn't "part of the party" or an "official" party site. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

O'Reilly: ACLU Supports Pot-Smoking Goat-Fuckers

Or something like that. Fissures have appeared in his skull. Doctors fear the worst.

From O'Reilly's The Radio Factor, March 30:
O'REILLY: All right, this hour's devoted to the most intense threat to your freedom in the world. It's not Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is not the most intense threat to your freedom -- it's the American Civil Liberties Union. And I will back up what I say...
Funny, I thought the Bush administration was the most "intense threat to [my] freedom." But I'll settle for Al Qaeda.

The Radio Factor, March 29:
O'REILLY: The judges in Massachusetts knew they weren't going to be impeached when they said to the state legislature, "Gay marriage is now legal in Massachusetts because we say it is. We the judges" -- they knew they weren't gonna be impeached. They knew the legislature didn't care. You get the government you deserve. In California, the prevailing wisdom is marijuana is no big deal, let's legalize it. And since we can't get that through the legislature, we'll do it this way. And they did it! You see?
No, frankly, I don't see. It was a logical decision that flowed from Massachusetts law. But why bother with pesky details?
And 10 years, this is gonna be a totally different country than it is right now. Laws that you think are in stone -- they're gonna evaporate, man. You'll be able to marry a goat -- you mark my words!
(From Media Matters.)

"Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!"

What I really want to know is, will I be able to marry a gay goat? How about more than one goat? a goat and a sheep? a pot-growing sheep? If my gay goat husband is in a persistent vegetative state and I start shtupping a female human abortionist, can I kill my husband quickly with cyanide instead of letting him die slowly of dehydration?