Friday, September 24, 2004

Musical Interlude

imagine...walk on the wild side by rx.


this is a mashup of imagine and walk on the wild side, george bush on vocals.


john lennon lou reed tribe called quest george bush rx johnny & nik

That's right: George Bush's own words set to music. It's effin' brilliant. I must remind myself to burn this today and play it on my radio show tonight. It's just too good not to.

Props to

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo for the tip. Skippy's blog is great and a heartily recommend checking it out, even if my little corner of blogtopia is unworthy of his blogroll.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

More from the "Winning the Hearts and Minds" Department

Abuse, Torture and Rape Reported at Unlisted U.S.-run Prisons in Iraq

Some clips:

American legal investigators have discovered evidence of abuse, torture and rape throughout the US-run prison system in Iraq. A Michigan legal team meeting with former detainees in Baghdad during an August fact-finding mission gathered evidence supporting claims of prisoner abuse at some 25 US-run detention centers, most of them so far not publicly mentioned as being embroiled in the Iraq torture scandal.


The list includes some actual prisons, such as Al-Salihiya Prison in Baghdad, the notorious prison in Abu Ghraib, and a prison at Camp Bucca, a Coalition-built POW camp in the southern port city of Um-Qasr. Other detention centers have been established at military bases, such as the US Military compound at Al-Dhiloeia, north of Baghdad; a US base outside Fallujah; and the Hilla military compound, a joint US-Polish base where Alomari said he has recently been informed of allegations against US and Polish personnel.

"Nobody talks about it. All everyone talks about is Abu Ghraib because of the pictures," said Alomari. "But in these other places, there’s tons of acts of torture, abuse, rape."

Go on and read the rest.

Iraq: The Official Bush Doctrine

We're Losing 'Cause We're Winning

Maier's Law: "If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of." [1]

A corollary to Maier's Law: "If the facts do not conform to the theory, pretend that they do any way."

[1] Maier, N. R. F. (1960). Maier's law. American Psychologist, 15, 208-212.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy

OK-Sen: Okie papers demand Coburn step down

Kos has a run-down on various Oklahoman newspapers' editorials on Republican Coburn's campaign. It isn't looking good, given the last few weeks. Great news for a Democrat pick-up in the US Senate if Coburn's campaign is indeed on the verge of meltdown.

Around Blogtopia

Ddjangowire has a series on progressive women all this week. Lots of interesting reading, and links to explore.

David Neiwert has begun a six-part series entitled The Rise of Psuedo Fascism. The first entry Part 1: The Morphing of the Conservative Movement was posted Sunday. He follows that post up with one entitled Pseudo-fascism at work, which covers the recent vandalism of the Democratic Party Headquarters at Lafayette, Louisiana.

Steve Gilliard has a post on GOP efforts to intimidate African American and other ethnic minorities in order to prevent them from voting, titled Niggers, vote? Why you must be kidding. The effort to suppress the political voices of ethnic minorities is arguably much more subtle than it was 40 years ago, but every bit as ugly.

Gilliard also has a post on the latest twist in the story of the RNC protester who was kicked by a young goon a couple weeks back: Kicking victim may sue . Atrios has more on the story here. So, yep, looks like we eventually got an ID on the young man, and no, apparently he's not the offspring of Dr. Laura.

Speaking of Atrios, here's a post regarding Roger Stone's possible involvement as the source of the phony CBS documents, along with the Bu$hCo candidacy trying to run far away from the questions of its own possible involvement regarding those document, and some great gossip regarding Roger Stone & his wife and their alternative lifestyle. Gotta hand it to those right-wingers. They sure know how to swing, if you know what I mean.

Steve Soto at the Left Coaster has been looking at problems with Gallup Poll sampling in Wisconsin and Iowa.

Dr. Menlo of American Samizdat shares with us the latest miracle of modern technology, the FOX Blocker, which can be plugged into your tv enabling you to filter out FAUX News altogether. My cable package doesn't have FAUX News, otherwise I'd definitely be in the market.

Juan Cole offers a gedanken experiment: If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?

Nick Lewis of NETPOLITIK looks at John Kerry's assessment of the Bu$hCo-induced disaster in Iraq with his post Trading a Dictator for Chaos.

Bruce at This is Class Warfare posts about his friend's newly published suspense thriller, Politics and Patriotism: The Fisk Conspiracy, and also comes to the realization that in the bizarro world of Bu$hCo, he is evil. As I am also evil, I now feel like I am in good company.

A few days ago, the woman behind the blog Baghdad Burning broke her silence and shared her latest oservations in a post entitled Fahrenheit 9/11.... It's always good to see her posting.

I'm sure I'm missing something, but then again, blogtopia is a big place. Free your mind and your heart will follow. Mahalo.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Rationales for Iraq War - All 27 of 'Em!

Bush administration has used 27 rationales for war in Iraq, study says

Quite a senior thesis to say the least, from what I gather. The article also links to a website that will hook you up with a downloadable copy of the thesis (I haven't read it - yet, but am putting it on my list of things to read). Clearly, the Bushies were on a fishing expedition when it came to justifying the Iraq war. The author of the thesis also notes how the focus on Osama wanes within months of 9-11 as the focus on Saddam gains in intensity. We also get an idea of just how much in tune the mass media was with the official White House line.

The Problem With The Gallup Poll

From Steve Soto of The Left Coaster: Upon Closer Inspection, Another Gallup Poll Is Suspect

There are numerous ways in which polls can be misleading, as I suspect many of us are aware. I typically suggest to my research methods and stats students to ask themselves a few basic questions when interpreting poll data:

  1. How were the questions worded?
  2. What was the method of sampling?
  3. If the pollsters claim to have used a random sampling technique, did they rely on simple random sampling or stratified random sampling?
  4. If they relied on stratified random sampling, how did the pollsters define their strata?

Poorly worded questions can create problems either because the respondents can't understand the question. Biased or leading questions tend to result in data that are skewed in the direction of the pollster's biases. As far as I know that's not the problem with the Gallup Poll.

Instead, the problem with the Gallup Poll is one of sampling. Sampling methods can broadly be divided into probability and nonprobability sampling. Most cases of nonprobability sampling fall under the label of convenience samples in which the pollster simply questions anyone s/he can find. If you look at the nonscientific polls that CNN and MSNBC put on their websites, you'll see convenience sampling in action. Probability sampling is a method in which we can actually estimate the probability of someone being selected to participate in the survey. The two most common methods of probability sampling are simple random sampling and stratified random sampling. In simple random sampling, everyone in the population has an equal chance of being selected to participate. Sometimes a researcher wishes to divide the sample into subsets, and to make each subset proportional to what is found in the population. In such cases stratified random sampling is in order. A stratified random sample is one in which the pollster determines in advance the proportion of various subsets (strata) in the population and then randomly selects participants within each subset. This basically is what Gallup is doing.

Now that in and of itself is not a problem. What is problematic for Gallup is how they are defining their strata, their subsets. As Steve Soto notes, the proportions of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents specified by Gallup do not accurately reflect those proportions found in the population. In Gallup's case, the samples end up consisting of a disproportionately greater number of Republicans relative to what is likely to be the case in the population and a disproportionately smaller number of Democrats. Not too surprisingly, the effect is to inflate the numbers for Republican candidates and to deflate the numbers for Democrat candidates.

I'll refrain from reading anything sinister into Gallup's sampling methods. That said, I do think it is important to interpret the Gallup data skeptically and to question the validity of Gallup's results. In survey research, one's data are only valid to the extent that they generalize back to the target population (in methodologyspeak we call this external validity). At this point Gallup's results are of questionable generalizability, to say the least.

The Harris Poll's Got The Goods

President Bush's Ratings Slip to Lowest Level of His Presidency, According to Latest Harris Poll

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - September 17, 2004 - President Bush's ratings have slipped to 45 percent positive and 54 percent negative, the lowest ratings of his presidency, according to a new Harris Poll. These numbers compare to 50 percent positive, 49 percent negative in June and 48 percent positive, 51 percent negative in August. This downward trend no doubt helps to explain why the lead which the president enjoyed over Senator Kerry immediately after the Republican convention in New York - the so-called "convention bounce" - has now disappeared.

Dig that: old Junior Caligula's approval ratings are sinking into the quicksand. At the end of the day the facts remain: the economy's lousy for us regular folks, Bush's war against the Iraqis is an unqualified disaster, and the war in Afghanistan (the one that was supposed to bag Osama) was poorly executed and the birds are coming home to roost over there.

So "The Greatest Generation" is Anti-American

according to Grover Norquist:

"Yes, because in addition their demographic base is shrinking. Each year, 2 million people who fought in the Second World War and lived through the Great Depression die. This generation has been an exeception in American history, because it has defended anti-American policies. They voted for the creation of the welfare state and obligatory military service. They are the base of the Democratic Party. And they are dying. And, at the same time, all the time more Americans have stocks. That makes them defend the interests of business, because it is their own interest. Because of that, it's impossible to bring to the fore policies of social hate, of class warfare."

So this asshole is celebrating the deaths of men and women who largely buttressed this country during two prolonged crises: The Great Depression and WWII. Word to the Norquist chump: that's my dad's generation you be dissin'. That's my grandparents on my mom's side of the family that you be dissin'. That's just wrong on so many levels. So while Grover's been sucking on the dick of Coolidge's ghost and swallowing vapid platitudes like "the business of America is business" let's check the facts. The New Deal brought about a great deal of stability for a great many people. Many from the Greatest Generation did their honest best to pass on such values as frugality and civic responsibility, and worked through hard times to try to put the Boomers and later Gen Xers into college. And the thanks they get: a bunch of whiners like Grover who know nothing of bread lines, the Dust Bowl, of losing everything and struggling to gain some semblance of it back go off and do their soft shoe shuffle on the graves of a generation. If Grover had the guts, which he doesn't, he'd step outside his posh gated community, country clubs, and office suites and talk to those who live life on the edge every day - cats who have an idea of what living in the Depression was like because the good times never came for them. Something else: as much as I dislike the military draft this much needs to be said - forms of conscription date back as far back as the Civil War followed by WWI before the continuous conscription of the mid-20th century. Of course little elite shits have figured out how to buy their way out of actually having to serve each time, but that's another rant for another time. The very politicians Norquist embrace are going to make a reinstituted military draft a reality. It's the only way to keep the neocon game of perpetual war going. Maybe that's the thing that I find most disturbing about chumps like Norquist: they seem to worship death to an extent that doesn't just border on pathological but goes over the edge and wallows in pathology. My dad would call cats like Norquist degenerates. On that point I heartily agree with my old man.

Quick update: props to Daily Kos for having the info on their front page. I forgot to add the attribution when I first posted this rant.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Another Favorite Jazz Label

ECM: The label was an acronym for Editions of Contemporary Music. The first actual jazz recording that I owned was a gift of sorts from my parents: a sampler of recordings that ECM had released during the 1970s. My parents listened to it once and decided it was too "weird" for them - their idea of jazz was more along the lines of 1940s big band and some of the variants of bebop that evolved during the 1940s and 1950s.

Actually I consider the music this label churned out during the 1970s to be some of the best in contemporary improvised music, and easily ECM's golden age. The label was known for its uniform packaging (e.g., the impressionistic cover art that graced each recording, etc.) and although representing a wide variety of jazz subgenres, production values seemed fairly uniform as well - if there was one over-arching characteristic of the "sound" it was that of the use of space, of quiet moments. If you dug the pleasant fusion of Pat Metheny or early Chick Corea, ECM had it. Terje Rypdal's atmospherics on guitar (the man plays guitar like Miles played the trumpet - out of this world) have been well-documented by ECM for over three decades now. If you were more into the more deep kozmigroov meditations, a few classics led by Herbie Hancock sextant alums Bennie Maupin and Julian Priester were released around the middle of the 1970s. Of course ECM was also home to free jazz firebrands like the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Dewey Redman, and Old and New Dreams (Ornette Coleman alumni). Don Cherry did some interesting world fusion collaborations with Nana Vasconcellos and Collin Walcott under the name CODONA releasing three wonderful albums, and also went on to do a rather fascinating collaboration in a similar vein with Swedish jazzer Bengt Berger around the beginning of the 1980s. And just to give you some idea of just how quirky ECM was, it was the label to first release a performance of minimalist composer Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. Some of the combinations of seemingly disparate musicians led to some strikingly beautiful results.

There honestly is not too much from ECM's first decade or so that I wouldn't recommend. If it's in print, grab it up. Regrettably, rumor has it that the master tapes of ECM's out-of-print albums were not stored very well, and have apparently in some cases deteriorated to the point of being useless (the aforementioned album by Bennie Maupin and the albums by Julian Priester are apparently among those that have now become lost to us - meaning my mp3s are likely going to be as good as it gets in the digital age).

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Baghdad Bush?

We report. You decide (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

George W. Bush Meets "Baghdad Bob" by Greg Mitchell. The author takes some classic statements by "Baghdad Bob" (aka Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Saddam Hussein's former Defense Minister), known for his delusionally optimistic statements as what was left of Hussein's regime was crumbling rapidly against the US onslaught last year. Here's an excerpt (and ask yourself if you could imagine Preznit Dubya saying these statements):

"I will only answer reasonable questions."

"No, I am not scared, and neither should you be."

"Be assured: Baghdad is safe, protected."

"We are in control, they are not in control of anything, they don't even control themselves!"

"The battle is very fierce and God made us victorious."

"They mock me for how I speak. I speak better English than they do."

"I have detailed information about the situation...which completely proves that what they allege are illusions . . . They lie every day."

"I blame Al-Jazeera."

"I can assure you that those villains will recognize in the future how they are pretending things which have never taken place."

"We're giving them a real lesson today. Heavy doesn't accurately describe the level of casualties we have inflicted."

"They are becoming hysterical. This is the result of frustration."

"Just look carefully, I only want you to look carefully. Do not repeat the lies of liars. Do not become like them."

"Search for the truth. I tell you things and I always ask you to verify what I say."

"The United is all their fault."

"This is unbiased: They are retreating on all fronts. Their effort is a subject of laughter throughout the world."

"They are achieving nothing; they are suffering from casualties. Those casualties are increasing, not decreasing."

"Our estimates are that none of them will come out alive unless they surrender to us quickly."

There's some more, but you get the idea.

Lets add to the list of wingnut violence

Cheney's folks beating a protestor, from zic's Daily Kos diary:

ABC TV Local affiliate KATU Portland Oregon, on Friday night, September 17, 2004; was covering the Dick Cheney band wagon swing through Oregon for the umpteenth time. They have footage showing the "crowds" pushing up to the "stage" which is set up at the edge of a private airfield (I think near Eugene OR). The camera is at the back of the crowd; elevated a bit looking at the "candidate".

All of a sudden a member of the "crowd" took off his shirt, and on his back was painted an anti-war message. The guy was "going to" try to say something, but as soon as the members of the audience saw him, THEY PUMMELED HIM TO THE GROUND AND KICKED HIM.

IT WAS UNBELIEVEABLE!!!! And a little while later, ABC News actually INTERVIEWED the "NUMBER ONE" perpetrator of this violence, asking him why he assaulted the guy. The guy answered, "The guy came here really sneaky, like a snake in the grass. And when see a snake in the grass, you stomp it! So I stomped the little snake in the grass!"

This was on the 5 Oclock News (and damn it I didn't tape it).

So I got ready to tape it a half hour later, and the STORY WAS PULLED. The part where they interviewed the guy was gone, and it was replaced with the moderator saying, "THE SECRET SERVICE DETAINED THE GUY".

If anyone's got a tape from the news coverage (or a link to the tape), please send it to zic.

Update: Still no video footage, but thanks to a couple Kossacks (silence and sara seattle) here are a couple media outlets who've picked up on the story: The Eugene Register-Guard, and Portland Independent Media Center.

The key graph from the Register-Guard:

Two people in the crowd shed their outer layers of clothing after the speech began to reveal white T-shirts with anti-war slogans. One of them started shouting "Stop the war!" until an elderly man in the crowd rushed over to grab the demonstrator from behind and put a headlock on him. After security personnel broke up the scuffle, they escorted the two dissenters from the hangar.

"Treat him with kindness and maybe he'll see the light," Cheney remarked before resuming his speech.

The man who attacked the protester, 66-year-old Art Briga of Springfield, was allowed to stay.

"I just thought it was discourteous of the man to be doing that. He's the vice president of the United States," Briga said afterward. "And I'm an ex-Marine."

The graph from the Portland Independent Media Center:

A chilling aspect of the 6:00 news report on Cheney's Eugene bund rally yesterday was the completely tolerated violent group assault on a protester. A man in a white t-shirt with "Pro-Jesus, Bring the Troops Home" written on it began shouting during Cheney's speech. A 66 year old man, Art Briga of Springfield, in a red-orange jacket, lunged at the protester and put him in a wrestling headlock -- with a hand clamped over the protester's mouth. Another man shoved the protester backwards as others began pulling the protester from behind. The protester's female companion (similar t-shirt) seemed to be appealling to them to stop the assualt. The TV report then showed the man (Art Briga) who committed the initial assault outside after the rally, saying that protesters are "snakes in the grass" and need to be stamped down.

This is certainly similar to the hand-over-mouth assault on Kendra in Beaverton during the Bush bund rally, and a pictured hair-pulling attack on another protester inside another Republican rally recently. The double standard is obvious -- imagine if a protester did such a thing -- we would be doing time. But apparently for Bu$h/Cheney supporters it is open season on protesters, with impunity. The violent attack in Eugene was so obvious that Cheney himself had to mention it: "Treat him with kindness, now."

See some previous posts by me and Dave Neiwert for coverage of similar incidents. Again, I must ask, what is it with these right-wing geezers attacking relatively young protesters?