Wolf Blitzer to Friend: Thank Fucking God That's Over

ATLANTA, GA - "Thank fucking God that's over," Wolf Blitzer was overheard saying to a confidant today. He added, "Now I can get some motherfucking sleep."

The CNN anchorman and reporter was overheard at Micah's, a local bar, after announcing on television that Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged Florida woman who had been the center of what some claim was a "media frenzy" for the past two weeks, had just died.

Blitzer added that he felt "just terrible for her family," while eyeing the bartender and tapping his recently emptied shot glass. Adding, "I can't imagine what they must be going through. But what a fucking relief."


Robert Creeley, 1926-2005

Water Music

The words are a beautiful music.
The words bounce like in water.

Water music,
loud in the clearing

off the boats,
birds, leaves.

They look for a place
to sit and eat--

no meaning,
no point.

Privatalooza Purity Test

Seems you have to pass a purity test to get into a Bush™ Privatalooza event. The Washington Post reports that
Three Denver residents yesterday charged that they were forcibly removed from one of President Bush's town meetings on Social Security because they displayed a bumper sticker on their car condemning the administration's Middle East policies....

Initially, the three believed Secret Service agents had grabbed them and ushered them out of the auditorium, Recht [their attorney] said. But he said that Lon Garner, the Secret Service agent in charge of the Denver office, told them the service investigated the matter and found it was a "Republican staffer" who removed them because they had a "No More Blood for Oil" bumper sticker on their car....

...a man in a blue suit told the three they had to leave and "in a physical, forcible way" escorted them out, refusing to explain why....
Kind of reminds you of the BC04 campaign, doesn't it? Except we're paying for this bullshit. Of course, as Pudentilla points out, if the "volunteers" or "staffers" are impersonating Secret Service agents, they're breaking the law. (Via TPM.)

As the WaPo article points out, these shenanigans have happened elsewhere on the Privatalooza campaign trail. And you may remember an encounter a Memphis coffee shop owner had with someone claiming to be a secret service agent a couple of weeks ago. The alleged agent asked the shop owner not to put up any signs of protest in the window of his shop, which would be visible from the Privatalooza campaign stop. Others elsewhere reported similar encounters. But I'm sure we're not seeing a pattern here. And I'm sure all the "volunteers" or "staffers" were merely overzealous, misguided souls who aren't getting instructions from higher up the food chain. After all, Bush™, isn't known for top-down management structure or strict message-discipline.

Sowell: No One Has Ever Advocated "Trickle Down Theory"

In a stunning display of irony, conservative columnist Thomas Sowell wrote that
People on the political left not only have their own view of the world, they have a view of the world which they insist on attributing to others, regardless of what those others actually say. A classic example is the "trickle down theory," which no one has ever advocated, but which the left insists on fighting against.
Sowell added that conservatives never set up straw men or distort the truth, and that Christians have never claimed that the resurrection of Jesus was an historical event.

Read about one of the most lazily composed editorials in history here.


Remember: It Had Nothing to Do with Oil II

Last week's Blog Call was with Greg Palast, who got hold of two US Gov't plans for Iraqi oil, one just after Bush™'s first inauguration; one right before the invasion. I'd written up most of a report on his new information, when I discovered he'd already done that. Read it here. If you're curious, also take a gander at the related report in this month's Harper's. The full Blog Call is here (worth a listen, even if you have to wade through a few insipid questions).

Oh, You Mean Those Flights

Well, whaddaya know:
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The FBI played an active role in arranging chartered flights for dozens of well-connected Saudi nationals -- including relatives of Osama bin Laden -- after the 9/11 terror attacks.

The New York Times reported that the documents show Federal Bureau of Investigation agents gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, while several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, citing newly-released US government records.
Read the rest here. (Via Kos.)

Schiavo and Money

Struggling to make sense of the Schiavo case? It may be about money. (Via TPM.)


He Isn't Risen

The Vatican's made farmfulls of hay over the inhistoricity of Dan Brown's DaVinci Code, but what they won't admit is that it's closer to the truth than anything they'll ever preach.

Like Christmas, Easter is a day of ritual for the media. Acknowledge that Christians are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. Maybe toss in a little about the (recent) origins of Easter eggs and bunnies. Talk about church clothes or something equally innocuous. If you're Time or Newsweek, publish a bland article reassuring everyone that while there are still a couple of open questions about the resurrection, orthodox beliefs are socially respectable to hold.

But never, ever ask difficult questions about the central tenets of Christianity. That would be like questioning Mohammed's sanity in Iran. Dan Brown's DaVinci Code has helped, though, since it's piqued the curiosity of so many Americans. But it's two-thirds fantasy based on questionable scholarship, even if it's better scholarship than the Vatican routinely displays.

That's because the Vatican vis a vis the Passion is in the same prickly position that the Bush administration was in vis a vis Iraq: The evidence doesn't point where they want it to, so evasion and deception determine the message and its method. (The Vatican's foot-dragging on releasing the full Dead Sea scrolls is classic government evasion technique.) And the media in countries with high numbers of Christian citizens can't say anything too bold about the dominant religion without hemorrhaging advertisers. Plus, wringing the truth out of scholars is hard, time-consuming work.

What the media can never say is that Christianity isn't really different from Paganism. It is Paganism. A perverted version of it. Our version of the mystery religion, Gnosticism, has been historicized, so that instead of taking the passion story as a metaphorical or allegorical tale, we're raised to believe that it actually happened. But it never did.

If you're in the mood for reading about this sort of thing, try this. Or this.

Oh, and the picture up top? That's Dionysus. He was crucified long before any carpenter was.

A few books on the subject:

Iraqi Insurgents Seeking "Exit Strategy"?

A "prominent Sunni politician" in Iraq who's "in contact with guerrilla leaders, said many insurgents including former officials of the ruling Ba'ath party, army officers, and Islamists have been searching for a way to end their campaign against US troops and Iraqi government forces since the January 30 election." Hopefully, it's true. (Via [wince] TKS.)

Frank Luntz Decoder

This is rich: A Frank Luntz decoder.

The Apocalypse Will Be Televised

If you've heard of the (in)famous Left Behind series of apocalyptic fundamentalist fiction but suspect you couldn't stomach reading them, here's a comprehensive review that confirms that suspicion.


Guest-Blogging at Irate Savant

For the next couple of days, I'll be guest-blogging at Irate Savant, along with PDS and possibly someone else. Feel free to stop by.

UPDATE: The third guest-blogger is none other than Captain Nigel P. Fritters III. All bets are off.

Republican Talking Points on Schiavo

Print version of Republican talking points on Schiavo, leaked to Raw Story.

CORRECTION: They weren't exactly "Republican" talking points. They were talking points that came from the office of Republican Senator Mel Martinez. Talking points 3 and 8 were used by DeLay, and 8 by Martinez. No one called them on it, even though Martinez disavowed the memo, mentioning perhaps by accident that they were not approved for circulation, indicating that his official rejection of the talking points was an outright lie.


The Old Negro Space Program

Oh. My. God.

I Smell a Luntz

Grover Norquist, founder of Republicans for a Laissez Faire Economy, is (in)famous for holding weekly right-wing conspiracy messaging meetings in which Republican talking points are disseminated to attendees from the media, gov't and thinktanks. Now I'm sure this is just a coincidence, but both Joe Scarborough and Peggy Noonan have strikingly similar columns out this week. Both feign befuddlement at all of us death-lovers who are bent on cruelly starving an innocent woman to death—you know, the majority of Americans. Both use their allegedly heartfelt concern for Terri Schiavo to (guess what) attack Democrats. (Snarky comments in brackets are mine.)

If they care so much about her pain, why are they unconcerned at the suffering caused her by the denial of food and water? And why do those who argue for Mrs. Schiavo's death employ language and imagery that is so violent and aggressive? The chairman of the Democratic National Committee calls Republicans "brain dead." Michael Schiavo, the husband, calls House Majority Leader Tom DeLay "a slithering snake." [But he is a snake. You can even see his rattler.]...

Why are they so committed to this woman's death?

They seem to have fallen half in love with death....

I do not understand their certainty. I don't "know" that any degree of progress or healing is possible for Terri Schiavo; I only hope they are. We can't know, but we can "err on the side of life." How do the pro-death forces "know" there is no possibility of progress, healing, miracles? They seem to think they know. They seem to love the phrases they bandy about: "vegetative state," "brain dead," "liquefied cortex." [Those pesky "scientific" terms used by "neurologists" and other "scientists"]...

...The PETA people, who say they are committed to ending cruelty to animals, seem disinterested in the fact of late-term abortion, which is a cruel procedure performed on a human.

I do not understand why the don't-drill-in-Alaska-and-destroy-its-prime-beauty people do not join forces with the don't-end-a-life-that-holds-within-it-beauty people.

I do not understand why those who want a freeze on all death penalty cases in order to review each of them in light of DNA testing--an act of justice and compassion toward those who have been found guilty of crimes in a court of law--are uninterested in giving every last chance and every last test to a woman whom no one has ever accused of anything.

Terri Schiavo may well die. No good will come of it. Those who are half in love with death will only become more red-fanged and ravenous....

...Our children have been reared in the age of abortion, and are coming of age in a time when seemingly respectable people are enthusiastic for euthanasia. It cannot be good for our children, and the world they will make, that they are given this new lesson that human life is not precious, not touched by the divine, not of infinite value.

Once you "know" that--that human life is not so special after all--then everything is possible, and none of it is good. When a society comes to believe that human life is not inherently worth living, it is a slippery slope to the gas chamber. You wind up on a low road that twists past Columbine and leads toward Auschwitz. Today that road runs through Pinellas Park, Fla.
I guess it goes without saying, but Peggy doesn't "know" much of anything, especially how to "think." But that's what happens when you have a liquified cerebral cortex.

Liberals are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore....

...Democrats and their allies have faithfully followed the party line and refused to answer questions about Terri Schiavo's sad physical state. And no one in the liberal spin cycle wants to discuss offering hope to this helpless woman. [Like what? cyanide? That would at least be humane.]

Instead, they lecture us on the intricacies of Texas law, or how this is all to save Tom Delay's hide, or what a hypocritical pig George W. Bush is—none of which has a thing to do with Terri Schiavo's imminent death.

For too many, the death of Terri Schiavo has become deeply personal. And for the life of me, I do not know why. [For once, I agree.]

I have always worked hard to understand the thought process of political opponents. And in most cases, I have grown to understand why reasonable people of good faith could disagree on issues as diverse as gun control, gay marriage, and abortion. On most issues, I have succeeded in walking in the shoes of those with whom I disagree.

But that's not the case with Terri Schiavo.

I can try to understand why many would side with the husband, but I will never comprehend why the same political activists that fight for the protection of the spotted oil and snail darter are so eager to see Terri Schiavo die.

Moveon.org, Air America, and a host of other left-of-center organizations have sprung to life to support the death of Terri....

Does the liberal wing of the Democratic Party really be known for supporting the killing of helpless women?

Of course not. But that is the corner in which they are painting themselves.

And that should trouble a Democratic Party whose two public relations moves over the past year have been opposing the spread of democracy in the Middle East and protecting the life of a helpless young woman.

Liberals can cite polls until they are blue in the face. They can talk about Texas laws and legislative hypocrisy. They can attack every last person who is trying to save this young woman from starvation.

But in the end, Americans shocked by this macabre chapter in American politics will see the Democrats as the party on the side of death and see George Bush as the defender of defenseless.

Maybe that's not fair. But it's a fact. [Yes, and those 4 Americans voted for Bush anyway.]

Why is it that the Democrats are so tone deaf on these visceral issues? [Gosh, Joe, I don't know. Why are you?]
Anybody see any other curiously similar editorials? Think maybe there's a memo involved? Maybe Joe, whose piece came out today, was just plagiarizing. (Peggy's blissful ignorance via Altercation.)

UPDATE: Write self-important shitsack Joe Scarborough at JScarborough@msnbc.com.


If this Terri Schiavo media orgy is making you chug you some pepto bismol™, check out the Daily Show’s take on it at Crooks and Liars. (Via Atrios.)

And if you’re in a witty mood (can a mood be “witty”?), we are now soliciting definitions for the following:
  • Schiavocity
  • Schiavosteria (and its companion, Schiavosterical)
  • Schiavolicious
  • Schiavotronic
and any other word beginning with “Schiavo” that you can think of.

Come to think of it, I might just rename this blog “schiavolique”.



Here's the website for the stellar Chinese diva "Wing" featured on last night's episode of South Park. Samples and downloads are here. We recommend her rendition of "Fernando."

Conservative Evolution of Thought on Climate Change

1. It's not happening.
2. Maybe it's happening, but we didn't cause it.
3. It's happening, and we caused it, but--whoops--it's too late to do anything about it.
4. Git yore filthy hands off my water afore I shoot 'em off!

The Kyrgyz Lights

BISHKEK (Reuters) - About 7,000 demonstrators, protesting against the rule of Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, on Thursday marched toward the main government building, a Reuters witness said.

Reuters correspondent Dmitry Solovyov said the column of protesters completely blocked Bishkek's Chui boulevard, its main thoroughfare, and its ranks had been swelled by students and ordinary people.

"They are being cheered on by residents from houses. There are anti-Akayev leaflets everywhere," he said.
For a better understanding of what's going on, read the Reuters story from Tuesday.

You'd think dictators would get the hint: people don't like rigged elections. Do not ask the obvious question here.

UPDATE: Akayev's fled. Parliament's appointed an acting president. Details here.

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

A nation's judicial system is deeply flawed when it supports the execution of convicted murderers by lethal injection but forces an innocent woman (albeit at the mental level of roasted garlic) to starve to death. If the courts agree that she wanted to die and that there's no point in keeping her alive, then there should be a legal mechanism for killing her quickly. But then law and logical consistency are merely acquaintances, not friends.

Study? What Study?

When the results of an independent, publicly funded study don't suit your agenda, pretend the study never happened:
When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a rule last week to limit mercury emissions from U.S. power plants, officials emphasized that the controls could not be more aggressive because the cost to industry already far exceeded the public health payoff.

What they did not reveal is that a Harvard University study paid for by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist and peer-reviewed by two other EPA scientists had reached the opposite conclusion.

That analysis estimated health benefits 100 times as great as the EPA did, but top agency officials ordered the finding stripped from public documents, said a staff member who helped develop the rule.
Read it here.

And if you have an inkling that a, oh, I dunno, conflict of interest might lay behind this stellar move, read this.

UPDATE: The nominee for new head of EPA, Stephen Johnson,
...strongly supported a study in which infants will be monitored for health impacts as they undergo exposure to known toxic chemicals for a two year period.

The E.P.A. is targeting the poor and African-Americans for the study, presumably in the hope that they will be less informed about the dangers of exposing their children to pesticides, and will therefore continue to expose them over the two year period. The study actually mandates that participants not be provided information about the proper ways to apply or store pesticides around the home. And the parents cannot be informed of the risks of prolonged or excessive exposure to pesticides. Additionally, the study does not provide steps to intervene if the children show signs of developmental delay or register high levels of exposure to pesticides in the periodic testing.
The study’s on hold, pending review. If this story even makes the news, what will get lost is the real travesty here: The EPA wants to use poor black folk when there are so many legally unprotected immigrants who’ll do anything for money and don’t know English. Clear evidence that private industry trumps government in efficiency. Read more details here.



Former 30-day guardian ad litem of Terri Schiavo answers questions in the Washington Post. A must-read if you want an insider’s view of this unholy mess. For a limited time only, my cleaned-up yet unedited version of the article is here. (Via politicalstrategy.org.)

Good News from Iraq Day

From the NY Times: At Least 80 Killed in Raid on Insurgent Camp in Iraq (big camp, too, with training manuals and munitions). Notice that the article appears in the New York Times, the pinko, America-hating, leftie-bias paper that pushed for Bush™'s war, declared there was solid evidence for WMDs and never has anything good to say about the war. (Brent Bozell must be about to implode right now.)

From AP via the Washington Times: Baghdad residents battle terrorists. Average citizens whip out their guns and blow terrorists away. Too bad it’s a rarity.


Court Orders Feeding Tube Be Removed from Democratic Party

WASHINGTON DC — In a long-anticipated move, a federal appeals court today ordered that the tube providing life-giving nutrients to the Democratic Party be removed.

“It was inevitable,” said George Stephanopoulos, a long-time friend and advocate of the Party. “Everybody knew the Party died a few years ago. This was just a public recognition of that fact.”

The Party had been on life-support for four years, following the onset of a wasting disease that led to the deterioration of the spinal cord and, subsequently, of the cerebral cortex. Physicians say deterioration of the nervous system to such an extent renders normal mental life, such as thinking and feeling, impossible.

“That would explain a lot,” former liberal activist and Democratic Party confidant Jane Fonda said, calling the recent behavior of the Party “inexplicable.”

Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who is under investigation for possible House ethics violations, made similar observations. “It was clear that [the Party] was dying. Sometimes it was so quiet,” he said, “you barely noticed it was there.”

In recent months, family and friends of the Party had rallied to its aid. “We tried,” said former presidential candidate John Kerry, citing the recent election of controversial figure Howard Dean as the Party’s chair. “But the Party we knew is gone. In its place is just a hollow shell of what once was a vigorous, vibrant political group.”

Still, some close to the Party insisted that recovery was possible, citing occasional movement and utterances. “I heard it distinctly,” Niko Strada, relative of the Party, said. “It looked at the buttons on my shirt and shouted, “I waaant.” When asked if he knew what the Party wanted, Strada insisted that it wanted “to live.”

But doctors are skeptical of such claims. Ari Johansen, Chief of Neurology at Mount Sinai Hospital, confirmed last week’s diagnosis. “It’s typical for a national party, after suffering such extensive damage to its nervous system, to still move randomly and even seem to respond to stimuli. But it’s just an illusion.”


Hippie Couple Behaves According to Stereotype

ALBUQUERQUE — A young hippie couple behaved according to stereotype earlier today, witnesses said. Seen shopping in a local Sav-A-Center supermarket, two fellow shoppers witnessed the couple purchase Ben and Jerry’s “Phish Food” ice cream at the checkout counter.

“I like looked at Stacy,” said eyewitness Ryan Dupuis, “and she like looked at me, and we almost busted out laughing.”

Eyewitness Stacy Holsteinhoffer agreed. “It was like so surreal,” she said, adding that it was also like a bad joke, because it was “so obvious.”

Condoleeza Will Lead Us

In honor of Condi’s Asian Tour 2005, here’s the Tan Sleeve song “Condoleeza Will Lead Us” that Jon Stewart made famous. Sadly, I can’t get the goddamn thing out of my head—and it’s my birthday.


Senate Republican Memo on Schiavo

In case you haven't heard, ABC News got a Senate Republican memo on Terri Schiavo and passed it to the Washington Post:

An unsigned one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party's base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is up for reelection next year and is potentially vulnerable in a state President Bush won last year.

"This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue," said the memo, which was reported by ABC News and later given to The Washington Post. "This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats."

So where's the steroids-in-baseball memo?

UPDATE (slingin' shit watch): McCain on Schiavo (WaPo): "I hope we're not ... making this human tragedy a political issue," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. "We've got plenty of other issues that are political in nature for us to fight about."

Like what, steroids?



If you haven't yet discovered Gizoogle, it's da shiznit. Be sure you click on the links for MSNBC and CNN—tres infotaining.

The Age of Missing Information

Some of you may remember the Gov't Translucency Scale I introduced a week ago. Apparently, things are worse than I thought—but that's nothing new. A concerned reporter friend sent me this Slate article on the withdrawal of oodles of valuable information from gov't websites—the vast majority of it not a threat to national security if it remained public. Read it here.


Jeff Gannon on Tucker Carlson

[Ahem.] JimmyJeff was on Tucker Carlson Unfiltered tonight. Nothing new. The Tuckster did a so-so job of interviewing him. Might've asked some reasonable follow-up questions if he or his staff had, I dunno, done some research beforehand. Anyway, the clip and transcript are here.

And yes, this was all just an excuse for me to put Jeff Gannon's head on Tucker Carlson's body. What, you lookin' at me?

Remember: It Had Nothing to Do with Oil

Greg Palast, who brought you the 2000 election anomalies in Florida, now has two heretofore secret US Gov't plans for handling Iraqi Oil (thank you, FOIA). Reporting for BBC Newsnight, Palast points out something a little strange: the planning began before 9/11.
Why was Paul Wolfowitz pushed out of the Pentagon onto the World Bank? The answer lies in a 323-page document, secret until now, indicating that the allies of Big Oil in the Bush Administration have defeated neo-conservatives and their chief Wolfowitz. Tonight [last night] BBC Television Newsnight will tell the true story of the fall of the neo-cons. An investigation conducted by BBC with Harper's magazine will also reveal that the US State Department made detailed plans for war in Iraq -- and for Iraq's oil -- within weeks of Bush's first inauguration in 2001.
Read it here (nota bene: for a few more hours, the BBC program will be available online). Note: I don't know why Wolfie's leaving (sniff!), and Palast's story didn't convince me that it's because of his ignominy within the Bush administration. Maybe that's what you write when you're desperate for a segue. We'll see.

Time Machine on Ebay

Need a second chance at life? Want to settle the debate over what really happened to Terry Shiavo? Want to return to the Bull-market, pre-Bush days? Here's your chance.

Quote of the Day

“Totalitarians are perfectly capable of achieving power through democracy, then destroying it.”
- Charles Krauthammer, October 14, 1993
(Via DailyKos in a different context)



Remember Hannidate? Well, now there's a [ahem] Democratic alternative. How...progressive....

Smell a(nother) Rat?

Accoring to Raw Story, yesterday the “House Judiciary Committee voted against adopting a resolution demanding Bush agencies turn over all credentialing information related to James D. Guckert 21-10, the discredited conservative reporter and prostitute who wrote under the nom de guerre ‘Jeff Gannon.’”

F. James Sensenbrenner, chairman of the committee, said he felt that “the Administration, in my opinion, has substantially investigated this matter.”

“The Secret Service has determined that Mr Guckert did not pose a danger to the President or his family,” Sensenbrenner said.

Sensenbrenner outlined his opposition to the measure in terms of not wanting to interfere with “competing investigations” by the Administration he said were already underway.
I'm sure that's the reason. It makes perfect sense. I'm glad everything's under control. Lather, rinse, repeat: Everything's under control.

P.S. The Extreme Low Frequency rumbling you hear is just the Angelo Badalamenti soundtrack for Lynch's latest feature.

404: That File Is Committing Suicide

Saddam's Minister of Information, Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, is alive in cyberspace. The buzz is that he'll be joining Ari Fleischer's new PR firm soon. Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf's fan site is here.

Cheap Lies

From The Raving Atheist: "A top Catholic cardinal has blasted 'The Da Vinci Code' as a 'gross and absurd' distortion of history and said Catholic bookstores should take the bestseller off their shelves because it is full of 'cheap lies.'"

The alternative history presented in The DaVinci code may be mostly fiction, based on the allegedly non-fictional Holy Blood, Holy Grail, but it's closer to the truth than anything the Catholic Church proclaims. It's revealing to substitute "the Bible" for "The DaVinci Code" in the Cardinal's remarks:

A top Catholic cardinal has blasted "the Bible" as a "gross and absurd" distortion of history and said Catholic bookstores should take the bestseller off their shelves because it is full of "cheap lies."

That said, Genesis still kicks ass.

Landrieu's Monkeyass

From my cousin Ned:

Senator Ass Grab Landrieu voted in favor of drilling in the Arctic Wildlife refuge. She was one of only two democrats to vote for the drilling. The measure passed 51-49. My letter to her is below. I suggest we all write bile and vitriol to her monkeyass.


[You can write her here:]

Senator Landrieu,

I find your vote in support of drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to be a shameless travesty. I shall never again hear the name Mary Landrieu without feeling the intense desire to expectorate.

A Former Supporter,

Edward Wisner P-----y III
Later, when he discovered she'd voted for the bankruptcy bill, he sent this:
Senator Landrieu,

I recently wrote you to express my extreme distaste for your vote on the National Arctic Wildlife drilling debacle. I believe I said, "I shall never again hear the name of Landrieu without an intense desire to expectorate."

I think I shall have to change 'expectorate' to 'vomit' after I have seen how you are helping fill corporate coffers on the bankruptcy bill. I further added that I was a former suporter. I shall now have to change my position on this as well. I am now a whole-hearted opponent of yours. I shall be certain to fund your opponent in the next campaign with all the funds I have available (well, with what's left after I've paid off my credit cards).

Are you in bed with President Bush?

Disrespectfully yours,

Edward Wisner P-----y III
UPDATE: This DailyKos diary entry gives interested parties ways of fighting drilling in ANWR. Pick up the phone:
Worst-case scenario--the budget passes both houses with a provision to open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge for drilling. Then we take it to the corporations. BP and ConocoPhillips, while not model corporate citizens, have renounced their desire to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. We can support them by only buying gas from them and their subsidiaries, while boycotting ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, the satan-spawn corporations behind this administration and drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. We can hit them where it hurts. A majority of Americans oppose drilling the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and we can get many of them to boycott the soulless Houston motherfuckers who are behind this bullshit.

Boycott update: Call these two corporations and tell them you refuse to buy their gas until they promise not to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

ExxonMobil: (972) 444-1000

ChevronTexaco: (925) 842-1000

Call these two corporations and thank them for refusing to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Inform them that they will benefit from your boycott of ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco.

BP: (281) 366-5174 and (202) 457-6603

ConocoPhillips: (303) 649-4065

David "Little Mao" Horowitz

An interesting exercise in juxtaposition. (Via Atrios.)

Harry Shearer at TPM

Now this is just too fucking weird. Harry Shearer is guest-blogging at Talking Points Memo. If you don't know who Harry Shearer is, watch The Simpsons. He does Flanders, Burns and approximately half the other voices on the show. If you've seen any Christopher Guest movie, you'll know who he is. What's next, Tom Cruise at Eschaton?


Freedom of Assembly

Lest we be accused of negativism, for the record we're happy for Iraq's new National Assembly, mortars notwithstanding. Given what's transpired in our own Congress, we wonder if the former Baathists who shelled the Green Zone might be coaxed into shelling Capitol Hill instead (Triumph: I keed, I keed).

Bush: Personal Accounts Do Not Solve the Issue

As everyone's noted, President Bush said today that "Personal accounts do not solve the issue [of Social Security solvency]." This is true, but it's not what he's been saying.

In North Carolina:

I like the idea of having an account where people say, I own this, and are able to look at a quarterly statement to watch their own asset base grow. And I like people being able to say, I've got an account that the government cannot take away; it's mine. (Applause.)

Some people say, well, you can't afford to do this. My answer is you can't afford not to do it -- if you look at the chart.

[The chart shows the increasing disparity between payroll taxes and SS payments. Earlier in the speech, regarding the chart, Bush said:] And so step one of my strategy is to continue saying to the American people, we have got a serious problem. In other words, sometimes they say, is it serious, is it a crisis -- look, whatever you want to call it, just look at the chart and you come up with the conclusions. It is serious because if Congress says no to the President, we're not going the move forward on this, imagine what the solutions will be when the $200 billion hits, or the $210 billion a year, or the $300 billion. I mean, you're looking at either major tax increases, major cuts in benefits, major cuts in other government programs or massive debt. And so now is the time to move. And that's what I'm saying to the Congress.

In Pennsylvania:

Now, once people see there's a problem, the next question is going to be, what are you going to do about it? And I have an obligation to participate in the process. As Rick mentioned, my predecessor, President Clinton, addressed this issue. And there was a lot of interesting ideas that were floated about how to permanently fix Social Security....

Now, I've got some ideas myself. And one of the ideas is to allow younger workers to take some of their own money and set up a personal retirement account. (Applause.) The idea is to allow a younger worker to be able to earn a better rate of return on his or her money than that which is being earned as a result of the Social Security money going through the federal government. It's called the compounding rate of interest.


Personal accounts alone will not solve the problem. But personal accounts coupled with other reforms that fix the problem will make it more likely a younger worker is going to get the benefits that the government has promised -- closer to the benefits the government has promised.

Note the shift from "personal accounts alone" to "personal accounts do not."

In the President's Feb. 12 Radio Address:

Social Security will go broke when some of our younger workers get ready to retire, and that is a fact. [Actually, it's not, but nevermind.]

And as we fix Social Security permanently, we must make it a better deal for younger workers by allowing them to set aside part of their payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts. ...it would replace the empty promises of the current system with real assets of ownership.

The President may not have explicitly asserted that his plan would make Social Security solvent, but he implied it, just like he implied that Al Qaeda and Saddam were in cahoots. The context makes it clear.

Bush: I have not laid out a plan yet

In the his press conference today, the President said, "I have not laid out a plan yet, intentionally." That's odd, because on the White House website, there's a Social Security section called "The President's Plan." Beyond that, we've found that the President employs the word "plan" when stumping about Social Security.

In Shreveport last week, he said:

Secondly, you can pass this account on to whomever you choose. It's yours. Social Security system right now, as you'll hear, isn't fair for people who pass away prior to age 62. The money just goes away. But under this plan, you'll have an asset base, something you own, something you can leave to whomever you choose.

If you're a worker making $35,000 over your lifetime, and this plan says you can take 4 percent of your payroll taxes and set it aside in a personal savings account, that by the time you retire, having invested in conservative stocks and bonds, you will have a capital base of $250,000 in your personal account.

The White House "fact" sheet on Social Security says:

If you're a worker making $35,000 over your lifetime, and this plan says you can take 4 percent of your payroll taxes and set it aside in a personal savings account, that by the time you retire, having invested in conservative stocks and bonds, you will have a capital base of $250,000 in your personal account.

In North Carolina:

By the way, our plan is one where I believe we ought to phase in the accounts so they're more affordable, so that the transition costs are more manageable to get to such accounts.

Bush: Personal Accounts Do not Solve the Issue

Nevermind that you can't "solve" an "issue." In a news conference today, President Bush stated the following regarding Social Security:

I fully understand the administration must work with the Congress to permanently solve Social Security.

And so one aspect of the debate is: Will we be willing to work together to permanently solve the issue?

Personal accounts do not solve the issue. Personal accounts will make sure that individual workers get a better deal with whatever emerges as a Social Security solution.

You heard that right: Personal accounts do not solve the issue. We're so happy that the President has finally acknowledged what Democrats, the GAO and others have been saying all along. Remember, this flip flop comes on the heels of his recent claim that private accounts would be added on to, not carved out of social security benefits—a huge reversal that most of the media failed to notice.

He Stinketh: for He Hath Been Dead Four Days

Jonathan Chait of The New Republic is guest blogging at Talking Points Memo and has two posts on Social Security worth perusing: one on Lindsay Graham going gay switching sides and one on the demise of piratization, of which Il Duce apparently has not heard (as Triumph sez, I keed, I keed). Teaser quote:
The privatizers’ weakest assumption turned out to be their belief that the elderly would support privatization if they knew they wouldn’t be affected. For weeks, as polls have shown rising hostility to privatization, GOP pollsters and strategists have conceded that they need to do more to reassure seniors on this point. Bush has obligingly harped on it at every stop.

Yet senior citizens overwhelmingly oppose Bush’s approach. And it’s not because they think their benefits will be cut—polls show they overwhelmingly they buy his reassurances

Why I Live Here

David Brooks on New Orleans v. The Rest of the Country. Money quote: “Now we lead lives in which everything is a pallid parody of itself: fat-free yogurt, salt-free pretzels. Gone, at least among the responsible professional class, is the exuberance of the feast. Gone is the grand and pointless gesture.” Life is a grand and pointless gesture. Enjoy it while you can. (Via New Orleans metroblog.)

Blogger apologizes for lack of posts

Claiming that he has "been busy," blogger Brian apologized to readers for the lack of new posts on his blog, The Autopsy Report. "There is a possibility for more posts soon," said Brian, "but we'll see."

Brian added that he was "in the process of responding to many of the emails I received over the past few months." If you sent him an email and did not receive a response, he said, "send it again."


O Hammer, My Hammer

Raw Story has done more intensive investigation than (apparently) anybody on the tangle of connections involving Tom “The Hammer” DeLay. During lunch today, we were privy to the third in a series of “blog calls,” this week’s concerning The Hammer himself and his shady connections with Louisiana Senator David Vitter.

Vitter seems to be having Ollie North–style memory lapses when it comes to helping out the clients of uber-high-level Republican fundraisers who hold parties for him. He claims to’ve met former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who's under investigation, “only once and that he didn’t know Abramoff was behind the drive to aid the Louisiana Coushatta tribe.” An interesting claim, considering that “then-Rep. David Vitter (R-LA) attended a $1,000-a-plate dinner hosted by Abramoff for the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee while he was meeting with Abramoff’s attorneys in an eleventh hour maneuver to insert a provision worth tens of millions of dollars to Abramoff’s Native American client.” Read the story here.

Raw Story has also detailed the complex underground Republican network involving just about all your favorites, including Abramoff, Ralph Reed, the Eberle brothers, Morton Blackwell, Grover Norquist, Richard Viguerie and Karl Rove. All of them—about twenty people—converge on three points:

  1. College Republicans (many were in the same class),
  2. Responsive Dynamics (who helped bring you Willie Horton), and
  3. The Leadership Institute (which “trained” Jeff Gannon)

Raw Story has developed a map of this network, which should be available soon.

The Blog Call will be available at 5 PM Central / 6 PM Eastern at Radio Left. It will be archived thereafter at The White Rose Society.

Without Delay

Spread love. Oust the SOB. (Via Pacific Views via Daou Report.)


Bad Sushi Face

If, like me, you missed Eric Alterman’s recounting of the cocktail-party conversation he had with Paul Wolfowitz, it’s worth reading. Remember: At Realitique™, we endeavor to bring you the news, several days after “informed people” read it. Fun quote:
When I asked Wolfowitz who he read outside of official channels that he found particularly profitable, he reeled off the names of a bunch of Iraqi blogs. I asked him if he read Juan Cole. He made a munched up face like his sushi had gone bad. He said that yes, he had read him, but did not do so much, because of all the—I forget his exact words, but I’m thinking “awful crap”—through which he had to slog in order to get the information that Cole presented. I said I thought it would be useful since even if one disagrees, Cole certainly knows what he’s talking about, and his view is closer to the rest of the world’s than are those published in the MSM. He made another bad sushi face.

Steal This Post

Republicans are trying to sneak drilling in ANWR through Congress by including it in the budget. But right now the legislation is only in the Senate version of the bill. Want to help strip drilling in ANWR from the budget? Go here.

Disclaimer: We freely acknowledge that tacking special-interest legislation onto the budget is an age-old strategy used by everyone in office.

Muslim Extremist Killing in London?

Note: This was a purely ironic post (by LNS) designed to elicit a response from conservative bloggers. It failed. I'm saying this now in case anyone is reading it after the London bombings. -Rob

No indication yet from the MSM or pro-Islamofascist moonbats that there's any religious connection to this brutal murder, but from my vantage point in the land of the free, I think the evidence is pretty clear.

In fact, my sources, esp. a college friend of mine in London, tell me they know people who have heard that the accused murderer's cousin "works with a few Pakis," and that a neighbor had once heard the accused killer express his fondness for tabouli.

CIA Torture Reprise

While more and more reports and documents are coming out regarding abuse of prisoners by CIA and US military personnel, and extraordinary rendition is getting some press, it's worth revisiting the roots of the forms of torture America prefers: the kind developed by the CIA decades ago and propagated through classified manuals such as KUBARK. An overview is here (via Riggsveda). The actual documents are here.


Divine Interventions

What Monday morning wouldn't be complete without a little sex and blasphemy?

Jews for...See for Yourself

While we were busy hunting for good images of Bush “waving”—you know, for fun ’n shit—we happened across this little gem. Note how creative they got with the logo....


Signs Are OK If They're Invisible?

Since we've been bitching about state propaganda lately, here's an interesting story. It's from a Memphis reporter who interviewed the owner of Empire Coffee about a call he got from someone claiming to be a federal agent, asking him "not to put up any negative signs in their windows that were negative toward President Bush. He said there were designated areas of protest and this would cut down on the possibility of problems."

A business-owner in Alabama also claims to have been contacted by the "feds." The owner of Empire Coffee, Gasquet, has been interviewed by NPR and Salon and will be on Air America on Monday afternoon. We'll see if a pattern develops.... (Via Corrente.)


FEC Blogger Petition

If you don't want to run afoul of the Federal Elections Commission by merely stating your opinion, consider signing this.

No Izvestia in Pravda, No Pravda in Izvestia

In case you missed this AP story from a few days ago, here it is again: Bush™ is setting up a Social Security war room in the Treasury Department. (You may remember the infamous internal memo from January that didn't get much play. Read the related NYT article here.) Your tax dollars at work:
For the administration, the communications effort is being coordinated out of Treasury's public affairs office through the new Social Security Information Center. Three people have been hired, with two more hires possible soon. The first three employees are veterans of the Bush-Cheney campaign or the Republican National Committee. (Italics mine.)
Read the whole story here.

In a related development, the NYT details the widespread use of pre-packaged administration “news” stories and how they wind up on the air. While this is upsetting enough for the present, it's much more so for what it portends for future administrations.

Yes, the entire system is FUBAR. All such video releases should be clearly identified; the FCC could regulate that. But another, even better place to start would be to cut the government out of the business altogether.

And yet look at how hard some reporters labor to "rework" the stories:

"I didn't actually go to Afghanistan," [Tish Clark Dunning] said. "I took that story and reworked it. I had to do some research on my own. I remember looking on the Internet and finding out how it all started as far as women covering their faces and everything."
Geez, really? Did you find out why the men wear those funny hats?


US Gov't Translucency Scale

There are all sorts of indices for determining how close the world is to things like nuclear armageddon or the rapture, so why not one more? I hereby introduce the US Government Translucency Scale. "Transparency" would be catchier, but "translucency" covers both opacity and transparency, or at least comes close.

Haven't developed a methodology yet, so I set the position on a whim. After all, few Americans appreciate the extent of our vast, worldwide military empire as well as of what we've wrought covertly through the years, nevermind the telling influence of cold, hard cash on the actions of the government. Plus, we're classifying documents at an alarming rate. Feel free to argue about where to put the pointer. But I don't think it belongs past the halfway mark toward the "transparency" end of the scale. Disclaimer: Position of pointer depends on country.

(Feel free to use the image, just be courteous enough to give me credit.)

Once de Marzo

Latest FOIA Torture Documents


Jim Pinkerton on Gannon

From Fox NewsWatch:

JIM PINKERTON [NEWSDAY]: Guckert/Gannon getting a pass: I worked at the White House for six years, and I can tell you that to clear somebody in on a false name is, with the Secret Service--
NEIL GABLER: On a daily basis.
PINKERTON: --on a daily, takes an incredible amount of intervention from somebody high up in the White House to do this.
ERIC BURNS: So it wasn't just that somebody overlooked this. Somebody was complicit.
PINKERTON: It's conscious, yes.

JANE HALL [AMERICAN UNIVERSITY]: It's hard for me to imagine that this would have happened if the bias were on the other foot....
NEIL GABLER: I think you were unfair when you called him a journalist....
HALL: He was clearly posing questions that fed into their story line about Democrats divorced from reality, soup lines--Rush Limbaugh said, gee that was I line I used. He used it as a White House reporter allegedly. It's different.
GABLER: There are many many journalists, and we know a lot of them, who act like partisan hacks. This guy was a partisan hack. And there's a difference....He worked for a GOP operative. He would not have been credentialed, and was not credentialed by Congress, for precisely that reason....This person should never have been credentialed, was not credentialed by Congress....The White House wanted him there.
PINKERTON: Some investigation should proceed and they should find that out....
BURNS: But the point is, Jane, we have a finite amount of space here, so there have to be some distinctions about who can get in.
HALL: There is actually a serious question of security for the President. If you have that kind of a lapse, and somebody's intervening, that's a serious issue.
CAL THOMAS: I agree with that.

(Via Johnny Dollar.)

For the record, I actually agree with Cal Thomas for once. Who'd'a thunk?

Note: Pinkerton's comments confuse matters a little, since Gannon apparently gave the Secret Service his real name for the daily passes.

Gay Necrophiliacs Do the Strangest Things

In case you missed this important development, here's the scoop on a gay, necrophiliac duck. (Via Andrew Sullivan.) Funny how Mullah Dobson has nothing to say on the subject. After all, this is further evidence that homosexuality is unnatural. Maybe the duck was the victim of bad parenting. (But to be fair to the duck, he didn't dig up his partner, he just took advantage of him once he was dead. So it was more like raping an unconscious person. For, you know, 75 minutes.)


Fuck the Poor

Thank god I voted for Mary Landrieu, my senatrix, so she could give it to me from behind with a strap-on. She's cute 'n all, but I don't want to be The Really Big Bank of America™'s prison bitch.

If you've heard anything about the pending bankruptcy bill, you know what I'm talking about. He's big. He's hairy. He's sweaty. He's staring at you from the corner of your new home with a lascivious grin on his face. And the jailer just clicked the door shut behind you.

Lube up.

Now I'm all for "personal responsibility," but The Really Big Bank of America™ gets to hand out credit like jello shots at a frat party, like torches at a Klan rally, like blow at Studio 54, charges insane interest rates to cover the costs of bankruptcies, and still makes more money than Ponzi. Does the bill restrict their practices in any way? Of course not. But it does restrict your options. Hell, even Glenn Reynolds says it stinks.

I'd make a crack about the Ownership Society™ if it wasn't for Democrats needing a spine transplant. Or maybe they're "choosing their battles"--you know, picking the less important ones to stand firm on. Biden is bought and paid for by Delaware creditors, but the rest? eRobin of Factesque has a list of Senate traitors corporate fluffers. See if yours is one of the pro-cloture majority. Call them. Tell them that if they're gonna sell you out, you'll make sure they join the unemployment line after the next election. Who knows, maybe they'll have to declare bankruptcy.

UPDATE: A little insight on the Dems' fluffing from a Democratic staffer.

Irate Savant on Jumping to Conclusions

In light of the revelation that the Coptic couple in New Jersey was slain over mammon, not God, Irate Savant calls for gun-jumping bloggers to pause and reflect on their standards of behavior.

Saving Social Security

"As Public Trustees we strive to work in a nonpartisan way to ensure the integrity of the process by which these reports are prepared and the credibility of the information they contain."

-- Social Security Trustees Report 2004

Except when they don't. Josh Marshall and Atrios point out the curious behavior of the ironically named Social Security Trustee Thomas Saving, who seems to have a slight conflict of interest. One wonders what he's getting in return for being Bush™'s butt puppet.


Quote of the Day

"Always let the truth be your guide. [Pause for laughter. Breathe. Wipe your eyes.] that is the single most important thing for the press secretary. And, if you are guided by that, then you'll be fine in dealing with all the other controversies and everything else that swirls."

- Ari Fleischer on Morning Edition


Hamster MIDI

See. Hear. Believe. (Via Blind Mind's Eye.)


How do you spell "procurement problem"? C-L-U-S-T-E-R F-U-C-K. The NYT's story on the bureaucratic nightmare that led to thousands of soldiers waiting months for body armor when our allies got it in just 12 days. But then, it was only an emergency. Callous lethargy inaction:
"Our planning process wasn't keeping up with the changes that were required," said Gen. Paul J. Kern, the head of the Army's Materiel Command until he retired in January. "That resulted in the lag in response in acquisition. While we would all like to be faster and more responsive, it was fairly responsive."
"We would have liked the ambulance to have arrived at the scene while the victim was still alive, but we did eventually arrive," head of Emergency Services said. "We were able to render assistance to the coroner."


Paradise Vendors

My friend Jeanne's band, Paradise Vendors, debuted their new CD, Candy, at the Circle Bar last night. Their singer, the diminutive diva Jeanne Stallworth, has a smoky, sinuous voice and likes to toss novelties to the audience. Their most popular song, Mistress Genevieve, is about my former neighbor, the dominatrix, whose bed of nails and wheelchair are still for sale (hint, hint). You can download or listen to three of their songs here. The Offbeat Magazine review of the CD is below.

Paradise Vendors

Jeanne Stallworth is an "It" girl waiting to happen: anyone who's ever witnessed her sashaying across the impractically shallow Lounge Lizards stage will tell you that. Like Clara Bow before her, she has that indefinable something that sets her apart from the pack. Call it what you will-stage presence, star quality-Stallworth has it by the truckload. The problem, of course, is such crowd-pulling charisma rarely makes the transition from smoky French Quarter bar to small, shiny disc. Thankfully, Stallworth's personality, as well as those of her fellow Paradise Vendors, survives relatively intact on this, the band's debut long-player. The album took them the best part of a year to record, and that attention to detail is to be found in the subtle layers of texture which add to an already solid set of songs.

Robert Vicknair's unique Latin-surf guitar comes into its own here, while Anton Gussoni's keyboard swirls bring a touch of early Roxy Music weirdness to tracks like "Y Tu Mama" and the instrumental "Waltz," elevating them above the usual, standard rock plodding fare. Elsewhere, the infamous "Mistress Genevieve" appears in whip-cracking good form, beating the band's previous recording into healthy submission. Spartie Tucker's clean, yet spacey, production further impresses. Stallworth's vocals float mesmerizingly over live favorites "Proloft" (cunningly renamed from "Prozac" to avoid any unnecessary legal entanglements) and "Eddie," proving that, in another lifetime, she might have made a fine jazz singer. But this is 2005, and if there is to be a future for New Orleans music outside the increasingly sectional interests of jazz and roots aficionados, this is how it must sound.

Candy, then, is a thoroughly modern confection for a thoroughly old-fashioned city. Treat yourself, New Orleans. You've earned it.

-Stephen Perrin

The News-Record on Gannon

If you don't get why the Gannon story is more than just "gay bashing," Edward Cone of the News-Record has this to say. (Via Americablog.)

Aravosis on Gannon

In the "Outside the Tent" column today, John Aravosis of Americablog takes the LA Times to task for giving the Gannon story short shrift.


Post Iraq II

Visitor Pursuit had this to say about the last post on Iraq:
Your post sooooooo begs the question, why now? I think you have to give Mr. Bush a substantial amount of the credit. Indeed, wasn't this always the subtext of the Left's Bush lied mantra—that he really had ulterior motives, like destabalizing the ME. It's just that nobody on the Left believed it would work. Now that it has produced some positive change, we need to give the guy credit.
Young man, you are seriously behind on your homework—but that may indicate only that, unlike me, you don't have too much time on your hands.

Look: I hope that this wave of democratic reform is like the falling of the Berlin Wall or the Velvet Revolution; my fingers are crossed. But why is it happening now? Because Lebanon was about to boil over. The Hariri assassination was the catalyst. Or maybe it was because they saw on TV what happened in Palestine (thanks to Arafat's death), and before that Ukraine, and before that Georgia, and before that Eastern Europe and Russia. All of which happened without violence. Probably all of the above. The information I linked to in the previous post gives a good overview of how Lebanon got to this point. Mass protests against the Syrian occupation were occurring long before Bush™ started talking about freedom, let alone doing something to advance it. That said, I'm sure the purple fingers, like cloves, added a nice aroma to an already fragrant dish.

Now to Bush's motives. Whether or not you agree with the strategy of "reshaping the Middle East" by invading Iraq (there's an honest debate), you cannot sincerely argue that Bush was above-board about his motives. Should he have been? Again, another issue, though no sane person would use "reshaping the Middle East for democracy" as a marketing campaign—hence the need to lie dissemble. Wolfowitz admitted as much. Didn't you find it odd that he lurched into calling for "regime change" when we were still tied up in Afghanistan? Weren't you suspicious when, during the run-up to the war, the "convincing evidence" of those piles of weapons failed to appear? Did his hysterical urgency to invade now not seem unwarranted until you factored in the upcoming election? Are you still unaware that Perlowitz's Project for a New American Century (Rumsfeld and Cheney included) were calling for "regime change" to "reshape" the Middle East years before Bush ever took power? You can't "reshape" the Middle East without first destabilizing it, and destabilize it we did. (Whether that was a worthwhile strategy is debatable but the die is cast.) Do you still not know that the evidence Powell presented at the UN was, shall we charitably say, loosely interpreted? Surely it occurred to you that Saddam was not likely to use biochemical weapons against us unless we invaded, or to hand them off to al Qaeda unless he felt cornered. None of this was Bush's idea, but I give him credit for having balls. He may never mean what he says, but he sure as hell does what he wants—at great risk to himself and especially those he's courageous enough to send to war in his stead because he knows "in his gut" that it's "the right thing to do."

Maybe nobody on the Left believed PNAC's scheme would work. Then again, few in the middle or on the right did either. But I don't know what you mean by "Left." PNAC's political ideology and the strategies they employ are closer to Trotskyism than to anything resembling "conservatism." Which should not surprise you, since the neocons are cut from Trotsky's shroud. I admire their idealism but not their methods, and I detest their near-hysterical paranoia in offense defense planning. It creates the very problems it purports to solve. If I were really paranoid, I'd say that's the point.

I was all for getting rid of Saddam. But only through shrewd maneuverings that would lead him to hang himself. Only if we could do it with some international consensus—and I don't mean Poland.

Now back to hoping that the Cedar Revolution succeeds and that Syria and Palestine follow in its wake.

Bush "Touched It"

Bush: "I've touched it. I touched it in 2000 when I campaigned here and around the country. I touched it in 2004. And I really touched it at the State of the Union."

Funny, I thought his hands were on the podium the entire time....

Watch It Wiggle

And...we're back. Not my hard drive—that's still an open question—but Bush. Back to the stump. Except that his message has, uh, changed. You might even say he's flip-flopped. Last time I looked, he was pushing for carved-out private Social Security accounts. About a third of a person's payroll taxes would be diverted into such an account. This would somehow "save" a system "in crisis" that will be "broke" in 2042—three out-and-out lies. Well, no longer:
This is a retirement account we're talking about. But it's your money, and the interest off that money goes to supplement the Social Security check that you're going to get from the federal government. See, personal accounts is an add-on to that which the government is going to pay you. It doesn't replace the Social Security system. It is a part of making -- getting a better rate of return, though, so -- to come closer to the promises made. That's important to know.
I'm not sure what he's proposing here, but it sure as hell ain't what he was proposing before. (And don't we already have IRAs?) If you suspect something funny's going on, read this.


Post Iraq Ergo Propter Iraq

post hoc n. the logical fallacy of believing that temporal succession implies a causal relation.

Humorless sheep like Chris Muir assume this current wave of democratic reform is primarily Bush's doing. Ahhhh... no. Not in Ukraine. Not in Lebanon. Iraq? Well, yes, that goes without saying. Sistani pushed for elections and Bush eventually agreed to hold them, and then pretended it was his idea. If we hadn't killed thousands of people, that could've happened only by an (unlikely) popular uprising.

But I will give Bush credit for his administration's shrewd pro-democratic meneuvering vis à vis Hosni Mubarak. We 1) offered him an extra chunk of change if he let an opposition candidate run against him, and 2) threatened not to give him the huge chunk of change we always do for "humanitarian" aid if he did not. This worked. And amazingly, without firing a shot. One wonders what we might've accomplished over the past decade if we'd taken half of what we spent on offense defense and used it to lure similar nasties toward the greater good.


Luntzing Toward Bethlehem

The complete Frank Luntz playbook is now available in searchable text format. Several versions are available:

PDF (1.64mb)
Word 2003 (671kb)
RTF (908kb)
RTF (zipped--185kb)
XML (1.53mb)

Tom Ball helped me clean up the text, which I scanned, and is putting the guide in HTML at politicalstrategy.org. Most of it's up there now. Throw some money his way.

Bush Calls for Reform of Math

DAYTON, OH — President Bush announced plans to reform the mathematics system in the US on Tuesday. At a meeting of the Concerned Mathematicians for Growth in Dayton, Ohio, he told reporters that the current system of mathematics in this country is "outmoded" and called for a "new, modernized math that's robust and will be there when we need it thirty, forty years down the road."

When questioned by reporters on the specifics of the plan, the President refused to "be tied down," citing the need to put "all options on the table, except for leaving" the mathematics system unchanged.

"What we need," he said, "is a pro-growth math. That's why I'm proposing that we tackle addition first. We should develop a math that, when you add two and two, won't give you just four, but five. Or even six. There's all sorts of things we can do."

He added that the current system of math, if allowed to continue, will eventually stop yielding results.

"Way it works now, when you add things together, you only get what you put into it. Problem is, numbers increase over time, so that down the line, four is worth less than it was when you added two and two. Eventually, when you add two and two, you're gonna get zero. And that's unacceptable. What we need to do is to harness the power of multiplication to make addition give better results over time."

Some mathematics experts, however, expressed skepticism at the proposal.

Dr. Henry Adday, professor of theoretical mathematics at MIT, disagreed. "That makes no sense," Dr. Adday said. "Everybody knows that the results of mathematical equations are the same now as they ever were, and they won't change in the future, either."

But Alain Kahn of the conservative thinktank the American Enterprise Institute holds a contrasting view. Citing the difficulty in "ascertaining the precise value" that results from combining two separate values, he stated that "it's a wash. The common assertion that 2+2=4 is nothing more than received wisdom. It has yet to be tested in the real world." In fact, he argued, there is reason to believe that the answer "may lie anywhere between 2.3 and 7.09."

The Brookings Institution, a liberal thinktank, urged caution. "We think the proposal should be examined thoroughly," Applied Mathematics expert Virendranath Viswanathan said. "It is folly to approach such a radical re-examination of mathematical constructs without first addressing its possible impact on theoretical models."

Brookings expects their report to be ready by summer.

In a related development, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Summers v. Kansas. The case concerns 8th grade math teacher Dorris Summers' suit against the Topeka, Kansas School Board over their 2002 directive that stickers claiming that math is "just a theory, not a fact" be put on all math textbooks in Topeka public schools. The Court is expected to hear the case in October.


Juan Cole on Lebanon

Juan Cole has an excellent piece on how Lebanon got to where it is today.

Huh. Fuckin. Larious.

Rude Pundit on the Christian Right's silence over JimmyJeff.

Leo Strauss Stiftung

Sweet. From the "prices" page:
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(Via Whiskey Bar.)

Craig's List Addict

My uncle, the Craig's List addict, has expanded his fake-ad operation. His latest venture is here. Highlight:
I'm single, have no children, am 6'-1" with dark hair and easy on the eyes (I guess you could say I'm tall, dark and handsome!). With two degrees (in Education and Library Science) I'm educated and a good conversationalist. I'm a good listener, like to cuddle and am a gourmet cook. I'm also very fit, enjoy ballroom dancing and listening to music. I'm spiritual; in fact I'm an active Methodist, but would consider changing churches or religions for the right woman. Or even not going to church at all if that's a problem for you.

In Which Somebody Actually Writes to Us

A Lebanese American writes:

Nice new template--but are you Lebanese now?

Thanks. Yes. I even make my own baklava. No: just happy for the Lebanese.

I *think* that if PDS wipes out the homepage and email info AND adds a blank space to the field, he should be able to post comments without the broken link.

I *think.*

Danke schoen.