Monday, February 27, 2006

Words Fail....

From the smoking rubble of the recently-freed cradle of civilization, Dahr Jamail asks "Cui Bono?" To which NY Times' Bob Herbert counters "Who else but?", reminding us of a certain series of ...events that disappeared with alarming speed down the memory hole six months ago.

And as rival factions begin to circle the wagons, the ever-brilliant Juan Cole exposes more you definitely won't be hearing about in the mainstream media:
The shoe seems to be on the other foot now, with Muqtada al-Sadr attempting to cool Iraq's Shiites down and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani threatening to create a paramilitary to protect Shiites.
Speaking of shoes, eyewitnesses have apparently filed reports that Cheney was wearing the wobbly boot when he "lightly peppered" his 78-year-old friend into an intensive care unit; but reports of how Secret Service agents refused to allow Sheriff's Captain Charles Kirk onto the 50,000-acre property are quietly being scrubbed clean (second story) as are Cheney's own inconvenient quotes.

Nor is it coincidence, according to Reagan-era power conservative Paul Craig Roberts.

Thankfully, however Bob Harris and his pudus are on hand to remind us of the most important lessons to be learned from the incident.

Quote of the Day:
The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -- if all records told the same tale -- then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'
-- Eric Blair, aka George Orwell

Saturday, February 25, 2006

What's in the Cards


Columnist Geov Parrish calls the Samarra mosque bombing "Iraq's 9-11", saying:

It's almost impossible to overstate the importance of Wednesday Morning's destruction of the Askari mosque, a key Shi'a shrine, in Samarra, Iraq. The response, of course, has been swift, violent, and overwhelming. As of late Thursday Iraq time, the Australian Broadcast Corp. placed the national death toll from reprisals at 130, with most of the victims being Sunni. The hardline Sunni Clerical Association of Muslim Scholars claimed that 168 Sunni mosques have been attacked, and some burned to the ground, with 10 imams murdered and another 15 kidnapped since the bombing....

In other words, it's a mess.... While the majority of Iraqis almost certainly want to avoid all-out civil war, with so much weaponry in the country and such a long history of injustices perpetrated by all sides, this may have been the match that lit the tinderbox.

What can the United States do? Almost nothing.... As the inevitable waves of violence and counter-violence wear on, America is left with virtually no friends on any side, and virtually no credibility (other than its sheer military manpower, which it has been reluctant to deploy en masse) as a mediator that can stop the bloodshed. One of the likeliest outcomes of this attack is an escalation, perhaps a dramatic one, in Iraq's civil war.... But don't look for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq any time soon. President Bush will keep them there due to the civil war and may perhaps even expand their presence, ostensibly to curb the violence -- even though we likely will provoke far more violence than we prevent.

But the biggest fallout is likely to be political.... If the present government fails to form and/or disintegrates, the void is likely to be filled by more radical leaders, particularly clerics like al-Sadr.... Out of this chaos, he, or someone ideologically similar, could well be the one who seizes power -- If so, Iraq's transition from a savage secular dictatorship (under Saddam) to a savage cleric-led dictatorship, a transition made possible by George Bush, will be complete.

In the interim, there is an immediate and stark risk of even more of an escalation in Iraq's bloodshed, and, as has already been the case, the primary victims will be civilians... the bombing is a critical turning point. This has been an attack which has turned not only a mosque, but George Bush's entire Iraq policy, to rubble.
It has also just surfaced that we've had a bumper crop of "bad apples" recently; according to the Pentagon, 100 prisoners have died in US custody -- 34 of them, again according to the Pentagon, suspected or known homicides -- prisoners we've tortured to death, and, not wanting to be left out of good thing, more of our allies are getting in on the bloody action.

Meanwhile, on war's other front -- the home front, that is, as the grip of our dark overlords continues to tighten, even the voices of the right are starting to shout out warnings as the strangest of policies are being quietly implemented... and, dear reader, if you think events don't involve you,

THINK AGAIN.

Quote of the Day:
"First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."
--Pastor Martin Niemöller about the Nazi rise to power.

"A frog that jumps into boiling water will quickly jump out if it can. But if the frog is put in cool water and then the water is slowly warmed, it will remain until it is cooked, not recognizing the pending danger."
-- attributed to Professor Paul Dayton, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Friday, February 24, 2006

How We Came to Own Iraq (Repost)

On the morning of December 10, 1983, Searle Drugs CEO Donald Rumsfeld flew into Baghdad for an historic meeting with Iraq's President Saddam Hussein. He was acting as a special envoy under the orders of President Reagan, who two weeks earlier had initiated policy aimed at preventing Iraq from losing its war with Iran, citing the need to protect America's Persian Gulf oil interests and regional military strength. (1)

Rumsfeld was no stranger to diplomacy; he'd been Secretary of Defense under Gerald Ford and was an Illinois Congressional Representative from 1962 to 1969. However, this was the first time a White House representative would meet with Hussein.(2)

The flamboyant Hussein was characteristically warm, articulate and charming, though by then it was well-known that he had been engaging in "almost daily use of CW [chemical weapons]". (3)

The two discussed the Iran-Iraq war and the U.S.'s efforts to find alternative oil transportation routes; its Persian Gulf facilities had been shut down by Iran, and Syria, Iran's ally, had cut off a pipeline transporting Iraqi oil through its territory.


They also touched upon Lebanon, strengthening Egyptian-Iraqi ties, and, what would prove to be the crowning irony "...the threat of terrorism, which targets both countries." (4)

It was Rumsfeld's task to ensure the dictator had whatever it took to defeat Iran. This opened the door to some of the most breathtakingly amoral, politically expedient alliances, black-market deals and betrayals ever documented in modern history.

It's almost impossible to conceive of a nastier set of transactions than the backroom funneling of weapons, money and military support to the regime of Saddam Hussein, not to mention his subsequent betrayal for possessing precisely the same weapons and money.

In his 1995 affidavit, National Security Council official Howard Teicher relates in general terms of how Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., Donald Rumsfeld and CIA director William Casey provided billions in US aid to Hussein, along with cluster bombs and other "unspecified munitions". (5)

Fortunately, with a little digging, we can get much more specific than Teicher:

Throughout the early 1980s, the National Security Council, CIA and other government agencies approved loans of more than $5 billion to Iraq through the Atlanta branch of the Italian Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL).

"About half of the money allegedly went to finance the purchase of US farm products, including $900 million guaranteed by the Agriculture Department's Commodity Credit Corp., but investigators said much of the rest had helped fuel Iraq's military buildup," wrote George Lardner in the Washington Post on 22 March 1992. He was citing information provided by chairman of the House Banking Committee Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez. (6)

Hussein used the remaining funds to buy "...computer-controlled machine tools, computers, scientific instruments, special alloy steel and aluminum, chemicals, and other industrial goods for Iraq's missile, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs." Then in 1982, Reagan authorized direct military assistance to Iraq:

"...This resulted in more than a billion dollars in military-related exports. According to Kenneth R. Timmerman (author of The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq) the US government under Reagan and Bush sold Iraq 60 Hughes MD 500 "Defender" helicopters, eight Bell Textron AB 212 military helicopters equipped for anti-submarine warfare, 48 Bell Textron 214 ST utility helicopters (sold for "recreational" purposes), and US military infra-red sensors and thermal imaging scanners (sold illegally to Iraq through a Dutch company). After the Gulf War, the International Atomic Energy Agency found the following US equipment in Iraq: spectrometers, oscilloscopes, neutron initiators, high-speed switches for nuclear detonation, and other tools used to develop and manufacture nuclear weapons."(7)

By this time, it had largely become George Bush, Sr's. game. As Ted Koppel explained in June, 1990, "...George Bush [Sr.], operating largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980s, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence, and military help that built Saddam's Iraq into the aggressive power that the United States ultimately had to destroy."(8)

Most of the documentation has since been declassified, disclosing specific sales of helicopters to the Iraqi ministry of defense (9), heavy trucks for military purposes (10) and so-called "dual-use" hardware, including materials for the manufacture of nuclear weapons (11)

Nor, according to the NY Times, was the White House content with just giving Hussein special gifts:

"...60 officers of the Defense Intelligence Agency were secretly providing detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for airstrikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq." (12)

Then, in 1985, they stepped up the pace; the US Commerce Department licensed the first of 70 shipments of bioweapons to Iraq. What Senator Robert Byrd characterized as a "toxic brew" of the world's deadliest agents were delivered to the Hussein regime. They included botulinum toxin -- according to the American Medical Association the deadliest substance known to man -- 21 lethal strains of anthrax, and a gaseous form of gangrene, the deadly flesh-rotting disease. Complete detailed catalogs survive of the chilling arsenal with which the Reagan and Bush Administrations armed Hussein.(13)

Flash forward 17 years; On December 7, 2002, in the leadup to the Iraq invasion, Hussein's government released its 12,000-page weapons-program dossier to the UN Security Council.

The Bush Administration seized the dossier and censored 8,000 pages, much to the public's shock and puzzlement. The reasons were quickly made apparent, however, when the original dossier was leaked to the German daily Die Tageszeitung:

24 US firms had been named as suppliers of WMD technology to Iraq, along with the ministries of defence, energy, trade and agriculture and the Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories.

Hewlett-Packard, Dupont and Eastman Kodak had been specifically named, along with ‘50 subsidiaries of foreign enterprises [who] conducted their arms business with Iraq from the US' (14)

All 24 can be found at the link below, along with a list of their specific "contributions" to the people of Iraq and Iran. (15)

But in all fairness, it isn't just America's right-wing fruitbats who betrayed the security and trust of their citizens and millions around the globe; 17 British companies were also fingered for supplying Hussein with nuclear, biochem, rocket and conventional weapons technology. And five permanent members of the security council -- Britain, France, Russia, America and China -- were also involved, as were Japan, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Sweden and Germany.

Still, one cannot help but experience a special inner glow when hearing of the role played by our friend and ever-staunch ally, Israel:

"Shortly after the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war, the U.S. embassy in Ankara reports that Turkish ports have a backlog of goods awaiting transshipment to Iraq, and that a substantial amount of Israeli goods transit Turkey for "Islamic belligerents," including Israeli chemical products for Iran. It remarks on "Israeli acumen" in selling to both Iran and Iraq." (16)

1. National Security Decision Directive 114: "U.S. Policy toward the Iran-Iraq War," November 26, 1983
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/iraq26.pdf

2. Video clip: December 20, 1983 -- Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld in Baghdad
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/shakinghands_high.wmv

3. National Security Archive: declassified State Department Telegram
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/iraq29.pdf

4. National Security Archive: declassified State Department Telegram
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/iraq29.pdf

5. National Security Council agent Howard Teicher's sworn affidiavit:
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1413.htm

6. George Lardner, Washington Post, March 22, 1992

7. Kurt Nimmo, "Bush Senior: Hating Saddam, Selling Him Weapons" AlterNet, September 23, 2002
http://www.alternet.org/story/14160

8. Ted Koppel, "Nightline", ABC News, June 9

9. National Security Archive: declassified State Department Telegram
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/iraq55.pdf

10. National Security Archive: declassified State Department memo
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/iraq44.pdf

11. National Security Archive: declassified State Department memos
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/iraq38.pdf
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/iraq57.pdf

12. "Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas", Patrick E. Tyler, NY Times, Aug 18, 2002
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0818-02.htm

13. "U.S. Exports of Biological Materials to Iraq" - Senator Donald W. Riegle, Jr., Chairman Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs report to Congress, May 25, 1994
http://www.newsmakingnews.com/artwestnilereigle.htm

"A U.S. Gift to Iraq: Deadly Viruses" Business Week, September 20, 2002
http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/sep2002/nf20020920_3025.htm

14. "Revealed: 17 British firms armed Saddam with his weapons", Neil Mackay, Sunday Herald, Feb. 23, 2003
http://www.sundayherald.com/np/Neil-Mackay.shtml

15. http://www.thememoryhole.org/corp/iraq-suppliers.htm
(Note particularly the presence of Bechtel, which the astute reader will recognize is STILL providing "services" to Iraq during the current conflict.)

16. National Security Archive: declassified State Department Telegram
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/iraq01.pdf

Quote of the Day: "Sometimes to be silent is to lie."
- Miguel Unamuno

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Black Box Voting Needs Your Help


To preface this, I suggest you download the following four videos. each is about 20 minutes in length and, at 2 to 6 MB, will take a little time to download (If you don't have it, the shareware version of "Flashget will speed up your downloads tenfold, BTW):

UNPRECEDENTED -- the Trailer

Greg Palast

Votergate -- the Movie

The most chilling testimony I've ever heard

Incidentally, it was these very concerns that led us to begin this blog, after four years of writing about the dangers of evoting. Samples:

Diebold at it again

With a little help from my friends

Three eyeopening editorials are here and here and here. Oh, and of course, there's this and this. And, while I won't swear to its veracity, an engineer once told me one of these will take out a vote machine instantly.

At any rate, this arrived in my mail from Bev Harris, author of "Black Box Voting" and the impetus behind the national drive to fight back against paperless, demonstrably hackable vote machines. If you do nothing else in your life to help save your country and to stand by the prinicples of what made America great, I urge you to help out now:

This has national implications. For the first time ever, we have the opportunity to subpoena key voting industry witnesses to get them under oath in front of a senate hearing to investigate what the Sam Hill they were doing when they created and recommended tamper-friendly voting systems.

We're sure by now you're aware that Calif. did an about face and certified Diebold's entire line of products -- hackable touch screens, hackable optical scanners, and extremely hackable GEMS tabulators -- despite 100% public opposition and numerous attacks proving the sytems' fatal flaws and insecurities.

But this isn't just California. Get these people under oath in California,
and you get them questioned for the whole nation.

Everything is at stake.

We are putting some very important phone numbers and emails here along with simple instructions for what we all need to do.

We have everything to lose if we don't all take a few simple steps immediately. EVERY STATE is experiencing issues with secret, privatized voting equipment examined by mysterious private contractors who won't answer any questions at all about what they do.

Here is the most efficient, easiest strategy to counteract shoving illegal and insecure systems that we never asked for down our throats. This action is the culmination of years of hard-core work by Black Box Voting and others. JUST DO IT.

Here are the simple, painless suggestions. See below for why they are so important.

This comes down to only FIVE emails, FIVE faxes, FIVE calls.

Do you have one good excuse for not being able to make five contacts? On second thought-- don't think one up. Just do it, please.

Remember; your tax dollars are paying not only for this equipment, but for the voting machine examiners who refused to answer any questions in last week's Calif. Senate Elections Committee hearing.

WHAT'S DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS CALL TO ACTION:

1) All we need is three out of five senators.
2) All five are interested and willing to listen
3) This is the FIRST time Black Box Voting has issued a call to action.

We believe grass roots calls to action lose their punch when overused. We have waited until now because, like the Black Box Voting Hursti project, we know THIS effort is highly strategic and can create real change, quickly.

WHO TO CONTACT:

California Senate Rules Committee. Only they have the power to authorize subpoenas.

WHY DO WE NEED SUBPOENAS?

Key voting industry witnesses, including all federal testing lab personnel, chickened out of Calif. Senate Election Committee's Feb. 16 hearing on how this stuff got certified in the first place. They don't want to answer questions.

Subpoenas will legally compel them to show up so they can be questioned under oath. Black Box Voting believes that perjury will follow. A plan is in the wings for what to do if/when key witnesses perjure themselves.

By the way, documents can also be subpoenad - like the NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS signed by voting system examiners, which reportedly have prevented them from telling what they know. And like the documents requested under Calif. public record law by the Senate Elections Committee which the current secretary of state -- in violation of the law -- has failed to answer or provide.

HERE IS THE CONTACT LIST FOR THE FIVE RULES COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

Urge support for subpoenas of election industry and certification insiders. (Among those who chickened out of testimony on Feb. 16: Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and Hart Intercivic; Ciber labs, Wyle labs, and voting system examiners).

IT'S ONLY 5 EMAILS/FAXES/CALLS. MAKE THEM ALL.

Senator Don Perata (Chair) D
(916) 651-4009
District office (510) 286-1333
Senator.Perata@sen.ca.gov
Fax (510) 286-3885 Perata

Senator Jim Battin (Vice-Chair) R
(916) 651-4037
Jim.Battin@sen.ca.gov
Fax: (951) 653-9524 Battin

Senator Roy Ashburn R
(916) 651-4018
senator.ashburn@sen.ca.gov
Fax: (661) 323-0446 Ashburn

Senator Debra Bowen D - She is on the rules committee and
is also the chairperson of the Senate Elections Committee.
EMAIL ONLY
Debra@debrabowen.com -
(Ms. Bowen is mounting this case and will be busy preparing,
emails are welcomed-- See below*)
Fax (310) 318-6733 Bowen

Senator Gilbert Cedillo D
(916) 651-4022
Fax (916) 327-8817 Cedillo

This is about volume of calls logged, emails sent.
Make the contacts and make sure this goes out to your list.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

WHAT TO SAY:

Be concise, be polite, be professional. Here's your message:

You want Rules Committee support for subpoenas of election industry and certification insiders to answer the Elections Committee's questions about voting machine programming, examination and certification.

A sample letter is provided below. That's it. Short and simple. Polite, professional, firm. Short clear message.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

WHO ARE THE KEY WITNESSES?

Diebold head programmers, federal testing labs (Ciber, Wyle) that repeatedly certified flawed systems, voting system examiners who took taxpayer money, spent hours on so-called "security exams" on systems a 12-year old can hack, repeatedly recommending for certification.

BACKGROUND

The Calif. Secretary of State's office decided to certify Diebold -- again -- despite the new UC Berkeley report.

QUOTES FROM THE LATEST REPORT, COMMISSIONED BY THE STATE
OF CALIFORNIA:

"Harri Hursti's attack does work: Mr. Hursti's attack on the AV-OS (Optical scanner)is definitely real. He was indeed able to change the election results by doing nothing more than modifying the contents of a memory card. He needed no passwords, no cryptographic keys, and no access to any other part of the voting system, including the GEMS election management server."

-- (Comment from Black Box Voting: Note that Diebold has lied repeatedly to election officials and secretaries of state about this. We have videotape and documents from Diebold documenting this posted at our Web site) --

...and:

"Interpreted code is contrary to standards: Interpreted code in general is prohibited by the 2002 FEC Voluntary Voting System Standards, and also by the successor standard, the EAC's Voluntary Voting System Guidelines due to take effect in two years. In order for the Diebold software architecture to be in compliance, it would appear that either the AccuBasic language and interpreter have to be removed, or the standard will have to be changed."

-- (Comment from Black Box Voting: Note that California can only run software certified by the Federal ITA process, by state law. The "Berkeley team" is saying flat-out that such certification was not done correctly. It follows that the entire
Diebold product line should be illegal under state law.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT KEY WITNESSES CHICKENING OUT?

The Feb. 16 California Senate Elections Committee hearing on certification was hit with no-shows by ALL FOUR major vendors (Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and Hart Intercivic). Representatives from Wyle and Ciber testing labs also declined to appear. The Secretary of State's office is now "legally late" on a series of public records requests made by California Elections Committee Chairperson Debra Bowen.

Sen. Bowen has to get permission from the California Senate Rules Committee to have subpoenas issued.

Only three of the Rules Committee Senators are needed to invoke port subpoenas.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SAMPLE LETTER

Senator ____,
California Senate Election Committee

Dear Senator ____,

I urge you to take a courageous stand to issue port subpeonas to key representatives and officials from Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and Hart Intercivic, as well as Wyle and Ciber Testing Labs and state voting system examiners who fail to appear for your hearings on this matter.

I also urge you to subpoena documents as needed, including the non-disclosure agreements signed between examiners and vendors, and all other documents needed to assess the integrity of the certification process.

Voters must be able to ensure that voting systems are secure from tampering, either by outsiders or by insiders. If the citizenry cannot see for itself that elections are secure, that our votes are being counted as we cast them, it is only a matter of time before the very fabric of our nation is torn to pieces.

Flawed, hackable systems have been approved that violate FEC guidelines. Some of these systems are so deeply flawed that they defy common sense. It is imperative that the elections industry insiders who were party to the design, examination and recommendation of these systems appear before California's Senate Election Committee in open hearings under oath to answer questions and address these serious concerns.

Sincerely,

[name]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FROM CALIF. SENATE ELECTIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSON BOWEN:

"We are going to need an enormous amount of people power in the next couple of weeks. Together we can change this whole pathetic mess. Let's stand up for our democracy RIGHT NOW."

"Email is great because it is easy for us to log and report -- and we can actually prove how many emails we've received!"

"Please email me in support of issuing subpoenas rather than calling you will save my staff a great deal of time logging calls, and you know what kind work we have to do right now. You can always call and fax later!"

Debra Bowen

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Black Box Voting will work with any who volunteer to send customized public records request letters. We will help you learn the ropes, will suggest strategic records to start collecting NOW to protect Election 2006.

This year, it is all about mentoring individuals to regain their power as citizens. It takes no more effort to write a public records letter than to write your congressman -- but when you write for public records, you end up with something tangible: Evidence.

To participate in the 2006 Election Cleanup Crew, email crew@blackboxvoting.org. Please allow a few days to respond, due to our heavy schedules -- this is a one-on-one, personalized project, and we are so very proud of the many citizens who are stepping up to the plate.

We are quietly developing leaders in "cells" throughout the country, helping citizens learn the skills to oversee their own government.

Black Box Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501c(3) organization that is teaching citizens how to take back oversight of our own electoral process. We do not accept funding from any vendor or anyone associated with any corporation that stands to benefit from electronic voting. We are funded solely by citizen donations.

To donate by credit card: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/donate.html
To donate by check:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98055


Quotes of the Day: "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." -- Josef Stalin

***

"It's already over. The Election's over. We Won."

"How do you know that?"

"(laughing)It's all over but the counting. And we'll take care of the counting." -- Congressman Peter King to author Alex Pelosi at a White House function before the 2000 election results had been tallied)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Oh, I Get it....

From The Obfuscation Report:
Rightwing Humor -- It's Funny When People Die
I have to admit I've never understood rightwing humor. I just didn't get it and I often don't find it funny. For example, the running joke among conservatives this week is that they would rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than ride in a car with Ted Kennedy. I have to admit I didn't think it was funny. You see, the joke is a reference to a car accident in which a woman in the car with Ted Kennedy died. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized the Republicans think death is funny. It's funny when people die. There's the joke.

Once I realized this simple truth it became much easier to understand Republican humor. For example, when Ann Coulter said of Arab nations, "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity", I finally understood the joke. You see, killing people is funny. It's funny when people die.

Coulter also said "We need somebody to put rat poison in Justice Stevens' creme brulee." She followed the statement by saying, "That's just a joke, for you in the media." See, it's just a joke. Funny. I get it now. It's funny when people die.

And after I figured that out it was so much funnier to listen to new CNN host Glenn Beck when he said, "I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore." You see, that's comedy folks. It's not that the guy telling the jokes isn't funny, it's that you just don't "get it."You see, in a Republican world, It's funny when people die.

So, armed with my new found understanding of what Republicans consider funny, I've decided to try my hand at writing jokes like them. Here we go:

I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney, than ride in a car with Laura Bush. (You see why it's funny? Laura Bush killed a guy in a car accident when she was 17.) It's funny when people die.

I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney, than be an intern for Joe Scarborough. (Joe's intern died mysteriously in his office in 2001.) It's funny when people die.

I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than be a U.S. soldier in Iraq. (Ha, Ha, Ha. It's funny because 2,200+ soldiers have died in Iraq. Now there's Republican Humor on a grand scale.) It's funny when people die.

I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney, than be a coal miner during the Bush Administration. (You see why it's funny? It's funny because Bush cut enforcement of mine safety regulations and appointed people to investigate violations who think corporate profits are more important than mine safety. And coal miners died.) You see, it's funny when people die.

I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney, than be a poor person in New Orleans during a Hurricane with George Bush as President. (Again, with Bush appointing political hacks to important government positions instead of competent people with experience, people died.) Again, it's funny when people die.

Armed with my newfound understanding of rightwing Humor, I can now laugh it off when Ann Coulter says, "When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty" or "We need to execute people like John Walker 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." You see, it's funny when people die.

and from Radical Bible Quotations, we have this:

Fantasies of Genocide in Right-Wing America
Perhaps there's been no real shift of opinion in the last several years over what constitutes acceptable discourse. Perhaps the dread that any thinking person feels these days is just a side-effect of the way in which blogs have democratized the sharing of information, since they've also provided windows into the minds of thousands of people who otherwise would have to suffer their deranged thoughts in silence.

Nonetheless, there's no question that one way to understand the last few years in political terms is as a steady normalization of the abhorred, the unthinkable, the un-American and the un-Christian. Ideas that once occupied the fringes even of the American Right (theocracy, wars of aggression, the use of chemical weapons, torture, warrantless spying), even if they now are matters of dispute, no longer seem as aberrant as they once did. To me, this is the most disturbing thing of all about the Bush presidency. Power is always exercised in sinister ways, but it has rarely done such an effective job of corrupting people's consciences.

And maybe these windows into the private reflections of rank-and-file ideologues that blogs provide are somewhat useful, especially when we're talking about a blog--Little Green Footballs--that's won a great deal of praise from the mainstream media. It's not a fringe website: it's one of the principal blogs of the American Right. So when the blog features a story about thousands of British Muslims planning to demonstrate peacefully against the publications of anti-Muslim cartoons (whose overt racism is probably more offensive than their blasphemy), it probably says something about the state of our culture when the story generates many, many comments like these:

"100,000 targets"

"Cut the welfare check of each and every demonstrator.:)"

"3 words:

Target

Rich

Environment"

"i hope the sun does a piece saying where were you after the london bombings you parasites.
burn the lot of them with flame throwers.
i know i am wrong to say it but thats the way i feel at the moment, and i bet i am not alone."

"Well, either 7.62 mini-gun, M-61s, or GAU-8s mounted on trucks at eye level might help them remind themselves to keep peaceful, lest there be a remake of 'Predator.'"

"Target-rich environment!"

"No, think Mecca. What happens when a small city's worth of people convene in a small quadrant?

If there is a God, he has a sense of humour. I bet one of the protestors will "see Satan," thus triggering a stampede, and causing a couple hundred believers do die."

"At least there won't be any lines at the welfare offices that day."

Fantasies of extermination are not merely an occasional, embarassing element of today's "conservative" discourse. Since "conservatism" as a coherent political philosophy has pretty much imploded--a consequence of the Republicans' ruinous dependence on the most backward and ignorant elements of the population to keep their power--lashing out at a universe of phantom enemies with threats of extermination has now become the very basis of "conservative" politics. It's a scary thing when combined (see post below) with what seems like the Right's new comfort with arguments for ethnic cleansing. Pat Robertson of course didn't spell out what he meant when he recently said the Europe is "right now in the midst of racial suicide because of the declining birth rate," but I think Lindsey's essay allows us to fill in the blanks.

What's really scary is that the Republicans will have to appease these people somehow during the next election cycles, just as they've had to adopt continually more extreme positions on abortion, gay rights and church/state separation.

Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska), Vietnam vet, tells The Omaha World-Herald, "If [Cheney]'d been in the military, he would have learned gun safety."
--Nedra Pickler, Associated Press

Their Levees vs. Our Levees....

This was sent to me by Barbara at Dare to Dream Network (link above):

Here's how the British hold back the waters from flooding London:



And the Dutch solution to protecting an entire nation that mostly rests below sea level:



The Italians are defending their city on the sea, Venice:

Giant platforms on hinges raise up to break the waves when they get too high

And the levees of the richest, most powerful and technologically advanced nation on earth...USA!!!!!!



Thanks Bush cronies!!!

For ALL you do...

Quote of the Day: "It's gruesome. I guess that is the best word for it. If you think about a hospital, for example, the morgue is in the basement, and the basement is completely flooded. So you can just imagine the scene down there. But when patients die in the hospital, there is no place to put them, so they're in the stairwells. It is one of the most unbelievable situations I've seen as a doctor, certainly as a journalist as well. There is no electricity. There is no water. There's over 200 patients still here remaining. ...We found our way in through a chopper and had to land at a landing strip and then take a boat. And it is exactly ... where the boat was traveling where the snipers opened fire yesterday, halting all the evacuations."
--Dr. Sanjay Gupta, reporting live on CNN from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as Bush rushed across the country....
to present a birthday cake to Senator McCain

What It Means To Be A Republican -- Larry Beinhart

The vice president shoots you in the heart and in the face. Then you apologize for all the trouble it’s caused him. That’s what it means to be a Republican.

Despite almost hysterical warnings the president stays asleep at the wheel. He does nothing about terrorism and 9/11 happens. He responds by running away to Nebraska. Three days later he makes a supposedly impromptu speech with a bull horn on the rubble of the World Trade Center. He is universally cheered as a hero. That’s what it means to be a Republican. The president puts together false claims to go to war with the wrong country. His party universally supports him. That’s what it means to be a Republican.

The administration mismanages the war in Iraq so that it creates chaos, a breeding ground for terrorists and political opportunities for Islamic fundamentalists. Along the way, the reasons for going to war are exposed as false. The president runs on national security as his main issue. He is re-elected. That’s what it means to be a Republican.

The president cheerfully gives away the surplus to the richest people in the country. Then he runs up record debts, just to throw more money their way. He claims it has helped America’s economy. People act like they believe him. That’s what it means to be a Republican.

The administration continues it’s magnificent tradition of going to sleep when it is warned of disaster. It does nothing when Katrina is coming. It continues its record of doing nothing when disaster arrives. As New Orleans was lost, just as when the World Trade Center was lost, the president got as far away as possible. But he can’t be blamed for what nature did. That’s what it means to be a Republican.

The president orders wiretaps without warrants, a straightforward violation of the constitution. When the Attorney General is called to testify, the head of the Judiciary Committee insists that his testimony not be under oath. The head of the intelligence committee suggests that the law be changed, now, to make it legal after the fact. That’s what it means to be a Republican.

Alberto Gonzales helped come up with the program that rejected the Geneva Conventions, that permits torture, that says that the president is above the law and that “I was only following orders” should be a defense against a charge of war crimes. Ah, if only the Nazi war criminals who were hung at Nuremberg had Gonzales there to defend them. The president nominates Gonzales to be his new Attorney General. He is confirmed with little debate and no outrage. That’s what it means to be a Republican.

This needs to be understood.

What it implies is that Republicans can’t be dealt with as if reason and facts will sway them. Because it wont. It’s hard for reality based people, regular Democrats and Liberals to understand that.

What it let’s us know is that reality based people, Democrats, Liberals, real Conservatives, old-fashioned Republicans and non-profit Christians have to take more vigorous and rigorous stands. Or reality and real American values and the American landscape will disappear, not just temporarily, but forever.

Larry Beinhart is the author of Wag the Dog

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A Modest Proposal for Israel

So we have Israel's mass internment of the Palestinians, denying them water, segregating them to ghettos, destroying their homes, confiscating their property and shooting their children for sport.

Why haven't they simply continued down the path of efficiency, providing Palestinians with seperate, special uniforms (there may even still be a few perfectly serviceable ones lying about), recreation and facilities? After all, inside every problem is a solution waiting to be discovered -- and who better than the state of Israel to remember that maxim, right?

Quote of the Day:
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
--George Santayana

Friday, February 17, 2006

Is it just me or does it feel warm around here?





















Folks, if Whittington dies, Cheney will have to stand trial before a grand jury. Maybe that's why he's so frantically spinning for the media -- do we really need to be TOLD getting mistaken for a ten-inch wing-clipped bird and shot in the face really isn't the victim's fault?!?

At any rate, unless Whittington makes a speedy recovery, this could spell doom for the Bush administration. And none too soon, as quite literally the fate of the planet hangs in the balance.

Think I'm engaging in hyperbole? Think again.

Confirming findings by the UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change, Professors Philip Jones (director, University of East Anglia climatic research unit), and Michael Mann (University of Virginia climatologist) conducted the most comprehensive climate study in history, concluding without reservation that "Earth is warmer now than it has been at any time in the past 2,000 years."

And 120 scientists from 11 countries in a Canadian-led research project begun in 2002, will meet this week to present and discuss their findings.... [that] polar ice is melting at a rate of about 74,000 square kilometres each year - an area about the size of Lake Superior - and has been for the last 30 years.

"Climate change models have long predicted global warming would be felt first, and strongest, in the extreme north and south. This research is proving that claim to be bang on, said [lead researcher Donald] Barber....

Great international hope rests on the Kyoto Protocol to help slow the pace of global warming, although the recent election of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has thrown the extent of Canada's participation in doubt. [A colleague] calls Kyoto a small step, "like a toddler starting to walk," but said North America and Europe will have to do as much as 20 times more than what is outlined in the deal to really solve the problem. "
But how bad can it really be, right? Well, worse than you can imagine. At least according to the Pentagon, in a chilling report kept well away from American media last year. An excerpt:

Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us
-Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war
-Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years
-Threat to the world is greater than terrorism

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters. A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world. The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents. 'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'

The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.
Aside from trying its best to scuttle the Kyoto Protocols, muzzling the nation's top climatologists and looking for ways to profit from the disaster, the Bush Administration has only worsened the situation, something which is making our allies very unhappy.

In fact, as TV News Lies puts it, "The environmental policies of George W. Bush will result in more death and destruction than anything else in history. It is almost as if they are trying to end life on earth."

Nor is Britain's fate mere conjecture, says Jonathan Leake, science editor of the UK Times Online:

CLIMATE change researchers have detected the first signs of a slowdown in the Gulf Stream -- the mighty ocean current that keeps Britain and Europe from freezing. They have found that one of the "engines" driving the Gulf Stream -- the sinking of supercooled water in the Greenland Sea -- has weakened to less than a quarter of its former strength. The weakening, apparently caused by global warming, could herald big changes in the current over the next few years or decades. Paradoxically, it could lead to Britain and northwestern and Europe undergoing a sharp drop in temperatures. Such a change has long been predicted by scientists but the new research is among the first to show clear experimental evidence of the phenomenon....

Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, hitched rides under the Arctic ice cap in Royal Navy submarines and used ships to take measurements across the Greenland Sea. "Until recently we would find giant 'chimneys' in the sea where columns of cold, dense water were sinking from the surface to the seabed 3,000 metres below, but now they have almost disappeared," he said. "As the water sank it was replaced by warm water flowing in from the south, which kept the circulation going. If that mechanism is slowing, it will mean less heat reaching Europe."

Such a change could have a severe impact on Britain, which lies on the same latitude as Siberia and ought to be much colder. The Gulf Stream transports 27,000 times more heat to British shores than all the nation's power supplies could provide, warming Britain by 5-8C. Wadhams and his colleagues believe, however, that just such changes could be well under way. They predict that the slowing of the Gulf Stream is likely to be accompanied by other effects, such as the complete summer melting of the Arctic ice cap by as early as 2020 and almost certainly by 2080. This would spell disaster for Arctic wildlife such as the polar bear, which could face extinction.

Wadhams's submarine journeys took him under the North Polar ice cap, using sonar to survey the ice from underneath. He has measured how the ice has become 46% thinner over the past 20 years.... Wadhams suggests the effect could be dramatic. "One of the frightening things in the film The Day After Tomorrow showed how the circulation in the Atlantic Ocean is upset because the sinking of cold water in the north Atlantic suddenly stops," he said. "The sinking is stopping, albeit much more slowly than in the film -- over years rather than a few days. If it continues, the effect will be to cool the climate of northern Europe."
Little wonder they're somewhat anxious for a change in American strategies.

But events will force change, no matter how the neocons resist reality. Princeton University Professor Kenneth S. Deffeyes, author of "Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak" has been monitoring world oil production for decades and says we have gone past the point of "peak oil" -- production at its highest. From December 16, 2005, the planet's supply will slow, causing gradually ratcheting crises that will be felt in every level of human society.

And now here's the kicker. Remember the dorky conspiracy theorist at school who was always mumbling cryptically about Nikola Tesla and secret government suppression of patents and crazy things like that?

Well, Horatio, there are indeed inventions that could completely solve our energy and climate crises, but the more Huxleyan corporate solution is simply to co-opt them by paying for them and then dismissing them as cute novelties. Take, for example, the "Shell Eco-Marathon", an annual engineering competition in fuel economy hosted in the UK, with worldwide "...competitors ranging from 11 year-old students through to senior university academics and semi-professional independent teams."

Last year's winning team set a new world record by debuting a vehicle that can travel, oh... TEN THOUSAND MILES ON A SINGLE GALLON OF GAS.

To put that in perspective, that's ONE AND A QUARTER TIMES AROUND THE PLANET ON A SINGLE GALLON OF GAS. What, you've never heard about this great event? Well, no surprise there; news like that is certainly something the world's most powerful oil tycoons wouldn't want getting around....

Quote of the Day: "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment."
--Ansel Adams

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney's got a Gun....





















As desperate recruiters troll medium-security prisons and schools for the mentally handicapped to replenish the Pentagon's dwindling supply of fresh bullet bags, and that champion of wholesome American values, Kenneth "Mad Dog" Starr assists homeland security by delivering a file in a birthday cake to the convicted rapist-murderer who bludgeoned 17-year-old Terri Winchell to death with a hammer, a croaking chorus of loyal Red House toadies delivers some real knee-slappers about Whittington's being shot in the face and suffering a heart attack, and Rove's favorite sock puppet cheerfuly lies to the press about it.

But intrepid Bushwhacker Molly Ivins has spotted the Dick's tell just in time for Firedoglake's Reddhedd to point out some serious... oddities in the official story; and then we learn the Secret Service barred the Sheriff's department from seeing the Dick until the following day, then
made a point of noting that they could find no evidence of alchohol use... 24 hours after the incident. But not to worry, MSNBC's on hand to scrub things clean.

Far be it from me to suggest, however, that such behavior is chronic in this >cough< "Administration" (or facsimile thereof). But the Oz Press is about to spring a really nasty surprise on the Red House -- something they've had coming for an awfully long time.

Quote of the Day:
"People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war,
or before an election."
-- Karl Otto von Schonhausen Bismarck

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Real Story Behind the Story

Yes, it's true; Cheney managed to mistake a six-foot man standing behind him for a ten-inch wingless bird. It's no less plausible than the idea that his Office of Special Planning could have mistaken the country of Iraq, which was completely incapable of launching an attack on America, with Saudi Arabia, from which the hijackers of the 9-11 planes are alleged to have come.

By now, you've heard the story many times over, no doubt. What you may NOT have heard, however, is how the White House first tried to delay, then later downplay the story, finally outright lying about it -- understating the severity of the incident:

[Ranch owner Katherine Armstrong] told reporters that the small shotgun pellets "broke the skin" and that the blast "knocked him silly. But he was fine. He was talking. His eyes were open. It didn't get in his eyes or anything like that."

"Fortunately, the vice president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there and probably more cautious than we would have been," she said. "The vice president has got an ambulance on call, so the ambulance came."

Turns out the 78-year-old Harry Whittington had to be airlifted to an intensive care unit after being SHOT IN THE FACE, where he is listed as "stable" after three days.

The most important element of this story isn't the alleged accident itself; one could almost feel as sorry for the shooter as the victim (almost), were it not for the characteristic coverup and lying. And, as Firedoglake points out, there's a few... ODD details about the story. Having been trained to use an M-16 by the Army, I have to agree that wheeling around to fire blindly in the direction of your "friendlies" is hardly normal gun protocol.

But - big surprise - it also turns out Cheney likes to engage in the most sadistic forms of "hunting" -- forms either outright illegal or looked upon as immoral and ugly by most hunters: he prefers to shoot at birds as they're released en masse from cages, and to kill them in apallingly excessive numbers, with the wide spread of shotgun pellets. How charmingly sporting of him.

While I hate to engage in speculation, preferring only to post what can be verified with documentation and the most ironclad of corroboration, let's face it folks, it's not too difficult to imagine this distasteful old draft-dodging warmonger and champion of state torture enjoying front-row seats at the Roman circuses, shouting in excitement as the soldiers and wild animals tore each other to pieces.

Quote of the Day: "At five o'clock I looked in on him, and found him seemingly as happy and contented as he used to be. He was catching flies and eating them, and was keeping note of his capture by making nailmarks on the edge of the door between the ridges of padding. When he saw me, he came over and apologized for his bad conduct, and asked me in a very humble, cringing way to be led back to his own room, and to have his notebook again. I thought it well to humour him, so he is back in his room with the window open. He has the sugar of his tea spread out on the window sill, and is reaping quite a harvest of flies. He is not now eating them, but putting them into a box, as of old, and is already examining the corners of his room to find a spider. " -- Bram Stoker

Update: Crooks and Liars has posted a link to the Texas Parks and Wildlife hunter education website which lists, among others, the following gun safety rules:

Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
Control the direction of the muzzle at all times. Do not point a firearm or bow at anything you do not intend to shoot.

Be sure of your target and what is in front of and beyond your target.
Before you pull the trigger you must properly identify game animals. Until your target is fully visible and in good light, do not even raise your scope to see it. Use binoculars! Know what is in front of and behind your target. Determine that you have a safe backstop or background.

Know your safe zone-of-fire and stick to it.
Your safe zone-of-fire is that area or direction in which you can safely fire a shot. It is "down range" at a shooting facility. In the field it is that mental image you draw in your mind with every step you take. Be sure you know where your companions are at all times. Never swing your gun or bow out of your safe zone-of-fire. Know the safe carries when there are persons to your sides, in front of, or behind you. If in doubt, never take a shot. When hunting, wear daylight fluorescent orange so you can be seen from a distance or in heavy cover.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Bully Smirk - Get Used to It, America


The modern Republican party is setting new standards for freedom in America. While Anne Coulter receives a standing ovation from Dick and a colosseum full of sweaty-faced Republicans for that perennial right-wing favorite, the nigger joke, teachers are fired for having the temerity to mention peace favorably to their elementary school students. As opposed to advocating, you know, genocide, crucifixion or other right-wing approved subjects for elementary school kids.

Meanwhile, Amurkins may no longer wear the wrong t-shirts in the presence of the Red King, but God forbid anyone try to rein in the bloodshed by suggesting maybe churches AREN'T appropriate venues for packing concealed handguns or halting the public sale of 50-caliber sniper rifles.

Nor had anyone on the government dole better speak about forbidden topics like our experimental global sauna courtesy of Exxon, Shell and BP.

See, freedom in America has become selective. After the rightwing slot machines have selected a Preznint, he apparently has carte blanche to peek at the little people's porn spam and grocery lists, eavesdrop on their phone calls, or, courtesy of the smirking vampire pictured above, lock them permanently away in dungeons to be tortured and killed on his whim, without charges, trial or even word to their families.

But (war) pigs'll fly before the public's allowed to hear about how their money's being spent on killing in the name of the new Republic.

I have to admit feeling a momentary pang of sympathy for Brownie though, as his icewater dash of epiphany came, and he realized he'd been thrown to the wolves with the cold-blooded utilitarianism at his dark masters are peerless.

But such lapses were quickly forgotten upon seeing the triumphant smirk of Gonzales -- an ever-so-subtle "go fuck yourself" aimed at those Congressional Democrats naive enough to think their opinions any longer had any bearing upon what the Boy Chimp has decreed.

And so all Americans high and low have the same freedoms to enjoy courtesy of the once-Grand Old Party -- the freedom to shut up, pay taxes, and send their children into whatever new military meat-grinder das Amerikan Fuehrer has chosen to serve his insatiable lust for power.

Quote of the Day: “Naturally the common people don’t want war. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
-- Hermann Goering

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Interesting news....

Folks, the blog has been offered syndication, which sounds just amazing to me! Apologies for the less frequent postings, but life has been intruding. I will try to maintain a regular pace of at least three posts a week.

Thanks for all your support. A Liberal Dose is now being read in virtually every country around the world and its articles translated into several languages. Let's hope we can work together to expose the treachery of the Bush cabal and effect real change, however small.

best,
Eric

Thursday, February 09, 2006

REAL Support for the Troops...

The next time some foaming-at-the-mouth right winger starts babbling about "liberals hurting our troops", remind them that about these nifty little facts:

Soldiers die as vital equipment money is taken by Halliburton

Halliburton charges millions to move empty trucks

--and steals food money from soldiers


Base pay for a private: $15,480 after one year
Base pay for a corporal: $19,980 after three years
Base pay for commissioned officers: $26,200
Base pay for a movie usher: $14,144,


Base pay for private security personnel in Iraq: $130,000 to $390,000


Base pay for Cheney from Halliburton: $150,000 (deferred compensation) + tax deferments from 433,333 Halliburton stock options (worth over $25 million at the time of this writing)

Base pay for Cheney from taxpayers: $208,100 + $10,000 for expenses


Base pay for Halliburton corporation from YOU:$4,000


$1.3 billion/month -- 1/3 of Iraq costs -- pays contractors

To offset his trillion-dollar tax cuts for the richest .01 percent in the country, Bush cut veterans' medical care by $844 million in 2003, and has implemented policies to continue slashing it by an eye-popping $9.7 billion over the next 10 years. Oh, and, he still hasn't shown up for a single soldier's funeral.

Now, HERE's some real LIBERAL-style support for our troops:

Newspaper Story on Soldier Forced to Pay for Body Armor Sparks Fundraising
(Editor & Publisher Staff)

It may have been a case of financial insult added to injury. Now an article in the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette has sparked a fundraising appeal on a popular political blog.

The newspaper reported today that a local man, 1st Lt. William "Eddie" Rebrook IV, had recently paid a bill for $700 for lost body armor he used in Iraq -- which was purportedly pulled off his body after he suffered severe wounds in a roadside bombing one year ago. The last time he saw the body armor "he was lying on a stretcher in Iraq, his arm shattered," the article explained.

Rebrook, 25, left the Army for good because of his injuries. Apparently there was no record that the body armor had been stripped from him in battle, he said. He "scrounged up the cash from his Army buddies and returned home to Charleston last Friday," the Gazette related.

His mother, Beckie Drumheler, "said she was saddened -- and angry -- when she learned that the Army discharged her son with a $700 bill. Soldiers who serve their country, those who put their lives on the line, deserve better, she said. 'It's outrageous, ridiculous and unconscionable,' Drumheler said. 'I wanted to stand on a street corner and yell through a megaphone about this.'"

Rebrook, who graduated with honors from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., spent more than four years on active duty. He served six months in Iraq, according to the newspaper. The story, by reporter Eric Eyre, does not include confirmation or comment from the military.

When John Aravosis, creator of the Americablog site, read this story, he immediately put up an appeal for funds at his site, at: http://americablog.blogspot.com/

"We liberal folk may disagree with the Bush administration over the reasons for going to war and over how they're fighting this war," he declared, "but one thing you'd expect no disagreement over would be the treatment of our soldiers. They fight for their country and they deserve some respect in return. And that means not charging them for their body armor because someone blew them up on the battlefield."

Aravosis later reported receiving $4400 in donations from 187 people in the first two hours.

Clap, clap. Bravo, Mr. Aravosis. And you've also always done a helluva job with your website too.

Quote of the Day:"...the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."
- Mark Twain

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Colin Powell's Chief of Staff Admits "We Perpetrated a Hoax on America" to Boost War Bid

Astounding.

In quick succession after the minutes of a meeting surfaced last week disclosing how, in 2002, Bush proposed flying spyplanes over Iraq disguised in UN colors hoping Hussein would fire on them, thus "justifying" a "defensive response", we've got AG Gonzales dodging the obligation to be sworn in before giving "testimony" (safely making him immune from prosecution for perjury), then foisting upon us the outrageous lie that GEORGE WASHINGTON APPROVED WIRETAPPING (before they had telephones, or even, um ELECTRICITY).

Meanwhile, we find out that, too bad, so sad, Diebold machines really did help fuck up the 2000 election, and then there's THIS from PBS:
02/03/06 "PRNewswire" -- -- Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson makes the startling claim that much of Powell's landmark speech to the United Nations laying out the Bush Administration's case for the Iraq war was false:

DAVID BRANCACCIO: We now know that there was deep skepticism within the intelligence community about some of these pre-war claims than what's being expressed publicly at the time. Is it reasonable to think that the administration knew about this skepticism?

LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Six months ago I would have said "no." Since that time, however, there have been some revelations. Principally about Sheik Al Libbi's testimony and how it was obtained. And how there was a DIA, for example, Defense Intelligence Agency, dissent on that testimony, apparently I'm hearing now, around the time the testimony was actually given.

And even more to the point than Al Libbi, Curve Ball. And the revelations that have come out about Curve Ball. And in particular the German dissent from the integrity of CurveBall's testimony.

I can tell you that having been intimately involved in the preparation of Secretary Powell for his five February 2003 presentation at the UN Security Council, neither of those dissents in any fashion or form were registered with me or the Secretary by the DCI, George Tenent, by the DDCI, John McLaughlin, or by any of their many analysts who were in the room with us for those five, six days and nights at the Central Intelligence Agency.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: And they didn't give you any inkling that--

LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Not a bit.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: -- there was this debate about some of this information?

LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Not a bit. In fact it was presented in the firmest language possible that the mobile biological labs and the sketches we had drawn of them for the Secretary's presentation were based on the iron clad evidence of multiple sources.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: Maybe they at the most senior level, like you, just didn't know?

LAWRENCE WILKERSON: I have to believe that. Otherwise I have to believe some rather nefarious things about some fairly highly placed people in the intelligence community and perhaps elsewhere....


LAWRENCE WILKERSON: And you have to listen to dissent. You must. You can't squelch dissent. You can't put dissent in an obscure footnote on page 495 of an intelligence annex. You must listen to dissent.

You must-- I-- I today regret the fact that I didn't listen better to the Intelligence Bureau and the State Department. The-- the Intelligence Bureau and the State Department at this time we were preparing Secretary Powell dissented on one key issue. And they essentially said there was no active nuclear program in Iraq....

DAVID BRANCACCIO: We now know from published reports that Vice President Cheney and his right hand man, Lewis Libby, went over to the headquarters of the CIA about 10 times in late 2002 and early 2003. We don't know what was said. What do you think was going on?

LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Well, if the Vice President was exercising his right as one of the leaders of this country to go to one of its intelligence agencies and to-- check on how they're doing and to make sure that they're doing their jobs properly and so forth, I find it difficult to believe that took 10 times. And as I've said, it's absurd to think that intelligence isn't somehow politicized at times.

It's equally absurd for the Vice President to assert that his trips out to the agency were not bringing undue influence on the agency. That's preposterous. Anytime a leader of his stature visits a single agency that many times, he is, by simply the virtue of his position, bringing undue influence on that agency....

I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community and the United Nations Security Council. How do you think that makes me feel? Thirty-one years in the United States Army and I more or less end my career with that kind of a blot on my record? That's not a very comforting thing.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: A hoax? That's quite a word.... You've said that Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld managed to hijack the intelligence process. You've called it a cabal.

LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Decision--

DAVID BRANCACCIO: And--

LAWRENCE WILKERSON: -- making process.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: The decision making process.

LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Right.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: Well, let me get it right. You've said that Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld somehow managed to hijack the intelligence decision making process. You called it a cabal.

And said that it was done in a way that makes you think it was more akin to something you'd see in a dictatorship rather than a democracy. Now those are strong words. Why a cabal?

LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Well, the two decisions that I had the most profound insights into and which I have spoken to are the decision to depart from the Geneva Conventions and to depart from international law with regard to treatment of detainees by the Armed Forces in particular. But by the entire US establishment, now including the CIA and contractors in general.

And the post-invasion Iraq-- planning, which was as inept and incompetent as any planning I've witnessed in some 30-plus years in public service. Those two decisions were clearly-- made in the statutory process, the legal process, in one way and made underneath that process in another way. And that's what I've labeled secret and cabal-like.

Now let me hasten to add that I've taught the national security decision making process in the nation's war colleges for six years. I'm a student of that process. I will teach it again-- starting in January. This is no aberration. It's been done before. It was done with regard to the Bay of Pigs with John F. Kennedy. It was done with regard to Watergate with Richard Nixon. It was done with regard to Iran-Contra with Ronald Reagan....

Normally nothing happens as long as the decision is effective, it's well executed and it produces success. It's when the decision produces failure that historians, politicians, Congressmen, American citizens want to know why. And in this case I think both decisions did produce failures and so they're going to want to know why. And-- we're seeing some of the investigations and-- looks into those decisions now to decide why they were failures.

I would rather have the discussion and debate in the process we've designed than I would a dictate from a dumb strongman. And that dumb strongman is his felicitous phrase.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: You're worried that we not have come to that but that we're heading down this path of--

LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Oh I think it's come to that. I think we've had some decisions at this administration that were more or less dictates. We've had a decision that the Constitution as read by Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo and a few other very selected administration lawyers doesn't pertain the way it has pertained for 200-plus years. A very ahistorical reading of the Constitution....

Dictatorships work on occasion. You're right. Dictatorships do work but I-- I'm like Ferdinand Eberstadt. I'd prefer to see the squabble of democracy to the efficiency of dictators.


Folks, it's like they're testing to see just how much they can get away with. And so far, it seems to be pretty much everything. At least we've got Helen Thomas on our side.

Quote of the Day: “A great war leaves the country with three armies - an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves”
--German Proverb

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Bush Family Tree


Just goes to show that, if people live together a long time, they do start to look alike.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bush is beating the war drums as loudly as ever. Seems the neocons only know one song.

Quote of the Day: "O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the sun-flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave & denied it -- for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge & friend of all that are sore beset, & seek His aid with humble & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord & Thine shall be the praise & honor & glory now & ever, Amen."

--Mark Twain, "The War Prayer"

Friday, February 03, 2006

Hahahahaha... WhatanIdiot... (wipes eyes)... hee

Today there's this from Sploid.com:
The nation collectively scratched its head and muttered "What the hell?" when George W. Bush began jabbering about the threat of "human-animal hybrids" during Tuesday night's State of the Union speech.


While many Americans have gotten used to the president's increasingly weird crusades -- such as high-school steroid testing and canceling Social Security -- his bizarre remarks about "human-animal hybrids" suggest the White House is now focusing its limited brainpower on mythical beasts such as mermaids and centaurs.


Some commentators said he might be scared of human-animal hybrids he's seen in science-fiction movies or television shows, such as "The X-Men" or "Manimal."


Even if the threats are purely fictional, there was no doubting Bush's sincerity. The fear in his eyes was palpable, and his voice cracked and quavered as he told America about this fantastic new enemy of the United States.


But careful research suggests Bush's latest "threat" may be both more mundane and much more important than his terrified fantasies of werewolves and snake-people.


Scientists are finally figuring out the mechanics of genetic diseases such as Down's Syndrome, and one startling new advance is the creation of "chimeras" -- animal cells that have been genetically modified to have more human traits, such as a pig with human blood that could be used to research cures for human blood diseases.


As with all new genetic research involving human cells of any kind, the Bush Administration is strictly against these "chimeras" because it could interfere with God's ability to kill sick people.


Bush apparently hasn't been told that a human-animal hybrid is being used by millions of diabetics every day ... and it's totally legal.



Quote of the Day:"Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid."
Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Stephen Crockett on the Abramoff Sleaze....

The reporting on the Abramoff lobbying corruption scandals by the mainstream corporate dominated media has demonstrated an anti-Native American bias. This anti-Native American media bias has been effectively exploited by Republicans to paint Democratic lawmakers as being an equal partner in the Republican culture of corruption partially revealed by the Abramoff operation.

First of all, the Native American tribes were victims of Republican exploitation. Abramoff was a major Republican operative. He headed the national College Republicans early in his political career and stayed connected at the highest levels of national Republican politics from that point until now. Jack Abramoff was a frequent guest at the Bush White House. His personal donations were huge and Republicans received the money. He was hardly on speaking terms with the Democratic political establishment.

The Native American tribes were being threatened by Republican politicians in DC and in the various state governments with taxes and laws aimed at their newly organized gambling facilities. Republicans were looking to balance state budgets and offset the deficits created by the tax breaks they had given large corporations by taxing the profits of the Native American businesses. In some cases, the Republicans involved seemed to be acting to protect large corporations already engaged in gambling from the new upstart Native American competitors.

When the Bush Republicans took control of the White House after the disputed 2000 Presidential Election, Native American tribes had real reasons to worry about the future of their businesses. After the 2002 Congressional Elections, Republicans were in full control. Jack Abramoff was able to exploit the situation to his personal benefit and to the benefit of mostly Republican officeholders. Abramoff robbed the tribes blind with the active help of other Republican politicians and officeholders. Money for direct government actions seemed to be part of the normal operating procedure among this Republican cabal. Democratic officeholders did not engage in such blatantly illegal behavior.

Native American tribes had traditionally supported mostly Democrats. They continued some donations to Democrats. Democrats had been friendly to the interests of the tribes to a much larger degree than the Republicans. Political donations by Native Americans are not inherently dirty. Only the racism of the mainstream media can explain why these donations are being portrayed as corrupt by the media.

Institutional racism by newspapers, cable, TV, radio and Internet journalists has combined with institutional laziness to falsely color the story. What is essentially is a republican scandal has been colored as bi-partisan. More importantly, Native Americans have been largely frozen out of playing an important role in national politics. They have been denied the use of their new wealth to influence political campaigns because politicians they support are unable to accept donations from them without being falsely tarred by the media with an unsupported taint of corruption.

Large corporations like Enron could act illegally and give huge amounts of their illegal profits to Bush and his Republican allies without those politicians being directly connected to corruption by the media. The Native American tribes were not engaged in crimes. They were victims of crimes. The criminals were all highly placed Republican political figures. The Democrats were just friends of the victims and hopefully will remain friends of the Native American tribes.

I am of mixed pioneer and Cherokee blood. I am a Democratic activist. The Abramoff rip-offs personally offend me. The racism of the mainstream corporate dominated media toward Native American political involvement is worse.

Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host, Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com ). Mail: P.O. Box 283, Earleville, MD 21919. Email: midsouthcm@aol.com . Phone: 443-907-2367.

bravo, sir.

Quote of the Day: When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
~ Cree wisdom