Saturday, October 16, 2004

The True Believer

Earlier today, I was reading Ron Suskind's NYT Magazine article Without a Doubt, which fairly nicely summarizes Bu$hCo's faith-based presidency. To give you a flavor for the article, here's a clip:

''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .

''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''

The whole thing's worth reading, as it lays out the fanaticism of George W. Bush and the Bush base. Mary of The Left Coaster has an excellent follow-up post that reminded me that I need to re-read Eric Hoffer's The True Believer - Hoffer's book offers a good synopsis on the psychology of mass movements and their potential for destructiveness.

As I see it, Mary essentially nails it in this passage:
Our modern world is facing two implacable threats based on the fanatism of mass movements facing off against each other, but joined in their mutual hatred of the modern heathen world. Those of us in between these fanatics must find ways to defuse and defang them or face the consequences of granting them power over our futures.

Those mass movements she's referring to? The Christian fundamentalists whose leaders have been increasingly effective in utilizing the GOP to force their radical social and political agenda on us, and Islamic fundamentalists who have been using whatever tools they have at their disposal to force their radical social and political agendas on their own people in the Middle East and Central Asia. The fundies from both faiths have undoubtedly been spoiling for a holy war between each other for a while now, but just as importantly they have their own domestic wars to wage against those whom they deem to be infidels, heretics, heathens. Given the mechanisms of a nation's legal and military power at their disposal they can do a tremendous amount of damage, and our recent history has been littered with examples of fanatics of one stripe or another causing mass human slaughter, famine, suffering as they singlemindedly pursue their presumably "utopian" goals. Those of us who are basically modernist in outlook (including Enlightenment-era throwbacks such as myself) have much to be concerned about.

Update: Before I totally forget, here's another follow-up post to the article found on Daily Kos.

Human Rights Bu$hCo Style

Stripped down to their pants and shackled to the floor



Broad Use Cited of Harsh Tactics at Base in Cuba

By NEIL A. LEWIS



Published: October 17, 2004



ASHINGTON, Oct. 16 - Many detainees at Guantánamo Bay were regularly subjected to harsh and coercive treatment, several people who worked in the prison said in recent interviews, despite longstanding assertions by military officials that such treatment had not occurred except in some isolated cases.



The people, military guards, intelligence agents and others, described in interviews with The New York Times a range of procedures that included treatment they said was highly abusive occurring over a long period of time, as well as rewards for prisoners who cooperated with interrogators.



One regular procedure that was described by people who worked at Camp Delta, the main prison facility at the naval base in Cuba, was making uncooperative prisoners strip to their underpants, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor, and forcing them to endure strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers, while the air conditioning was turned up to maximum levels, said one military official who witnessed the procedure. The official said that was designed to make the detainees uncomfortable as they were accustomed to high temperatures both in their native countries and their cells.


Friday, October 15, 2004

From the "Let no bad deed go unrewarded" Department:

GOoPers fired in SD now work for Bush/Cheney '04 in Ohio



Disgraced Abu Ghraib General to be PROMOTED

Today is the beginning of Ramadan,

the Islamic month of fasting.



To learn more about the Islamic faith, The Quran Reader is a good starting point.

Some Okie Political News From the "Almond Joy" Department

Via Mike of Okiedoke: High Noon for Good and Evil:



A Texas author will be speaking at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Republican headquarters in McAlester. The headquarters is at 120 E. Carl Albert Pkwy.



Doctor Marvin E. Sprouse Jr. is the author of the recently-released book, “High Noon for Good and Evil: Presidential Election 2004.”



According to Sprouse, “High Noon for Good and Evil: Presidential Election 2004″ describes how Satanic evil has migrated from ancient secret societies, through the 10 points of “The Communist Manifesto,” and into the planks of the platform of the Democratic National Committee.




Bring plenty of tinfoil hats.



And speaking of Oklahoma wingnut corruption, this story on Senatorial candidate Coburn.More Problems for Coburn:



Oklahoma's attorney general said Thursday he has no doubt that Republican Senate candidate Tom Coburn, an obstetrician, committed Medicaid fraud 14 years ago when he didn't fully disclose medical procedures he performed on a 20-year-old woman.



Allegations from the woman, Angela Plummer, have become an issue in Coburn's race against Democratic Rep. Brad Carson.



Attorney General Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma's top legal officer and a Democrat who supports Carson, told The Associated Press fraud arises from the fact that Coburn failed to include on a Medicaid reimbursement form the full procedure he performed on Plummer.

Here's a story that really needs more circulation!

No US signature on UN Women's Rights!



There are numerous reasons why I've often thought of Bu$hCo as a Western analog to the Taliban. This is one of them:



U.S. Rejects U.N. Plan for Women

The Associated Press

Thursday 14 October 2004



United Nations - The United States has refused to join 85 heads of state and government in signing a statement that endorsed a 10-year-old U.N. plan to ensure every woman's right to education, healthcare and choice about having children.



The Bush administration said it withheld its signature because the statement included a reference to "sexual rights."




Kelly Ryan, deputy assistant secretary of State, wrote to backers of the plan that the United States was committed "to the empowerment of women and the need to promote women's fullest enjoyment of universal human rights."



"The United States is unable, however, to endorse the world leaders' statement," Ryan said, because it "includes the concept of 'sexual rights,' a term that has no agreed definition in the international community."



Ryan did not elaborate. At previous U.N. meetings, U.S. representatives have spoken out against abortion, gay rights and what they see as the promotion of promiscuity by distributing condoms to prevent AIDS.



The statement was signed by leaders of 85 nations, including those in the European Union, China, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan and more than a dozen African countries, as well as 22 former world leaders.




I have never for a moment believed that Bu$hCo was anything other than hostile toward women and their rights. This is just one more piece of evidence.

Friday Cat Blogging

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Three of my cats doing what they do best. Will post some more pix as time permits.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Bu$hCo's Legacy: The Iraq Disaster

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The Green Zone Turns Red:



BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents penetrated Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone and set off bombs at a market and a popular cafe Thursday, killing five people, including three Americans, the U.S. military said, in a bold attack on the compound housing the U.S. and Iraqi government headquarters.



A top Iraqi officials said the attacks appeared to have been a "suicide operation." If so, it would be the first time insurgents have successfully infiltrated and set off bombs in the heart of the U.S.-Iraqi leadership of the country.





The birds have come to roost with a vengeance. This is the war that Bu$hCo rammed down our throats, and they can't even keep their so-called Green Zone safe.



Six troops were killed Wednesday in Iraq, and four more were killed today.



Also, in Fallujah, truce talks between insurgents and the Iraqi "government" break down, the program to disarm Muqtada al-Sadr's militia proves to be a joke, and a marine on the front lines says that the situation in Iraq gets worse each day. When do our leaders finally level with us and admit that an obvious disaster is a disaster.



If Bush's idea of being a "uniter" is to unite the rest of the planet against the US, he's succeeded, having squandered the good will that we once enjoyed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Way to go, Furious George!



Juan Cole reminds us that the "stakes is high" (to quote De La Soul) this election as four more years of Bu$hCo would mean that the US becomes a perpetual wartime nation, with all that entails in terms of increased instability in the Middle East, a return of the military draft (Bush's claims to the contrary are empty words, folks), and "and the US economy and society will be warped in favor of war industries." It sure as hell is not what I want for myself, my kids, my nation, or for the rest of our aching planet. Juan Cole is hardly alone in his observation that a Kerry administration will bring with it a return to sanity with regard to US-Middle East relations. There are even conservatives among us who will concede the point (I was just noticing Georgie Ann Geyer's column today along these very lines). We can do a lot better than Bu$hCo.

On a lighter note

Which South Park character are you? I took the quiz and got:



kenny pic results
You're Kenny! You don't say much, even though
people can't understand you anyway. You should
stop worrying about dieing-but wait! You're
kenny!



Which South Park Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The final debate

Not even a contest. Kerry did what he needed to do to win. He stuck to his populist message, and was reasonably effective at pointing out and countering Bush's fibs. He came across as sober, realistic, presidential. I'm both a liberal/progressive and a deficit hawk, and one of the things I've needed to hear from Kerry has to do with how we benefit regular Americans - the working folks, the middle classes, those in poverty - while reinstating some semblance of fiscal prudence. Kerry's gone a long way to addressing my concerns. He's addressed enough of my concerns regarding civil rights and civil liberties to where I am quite comfortable with the prospect of a Kerry administration. I'm still skeptical about his views on foreign policy regarding Iraq and Israel, but my concerns for his plans are minor quibbles when compared to what four more years of Bu$hCo would reap.



Bush just looked lost, clueless, out of touch. The poor joke attempts, the rambling semi-coherent responses to questions, the evasiveness in answering the most basic questions (e.g., regarding Supreme Court appointments) failed to impress me. Aside from some empty slogans and platitudes, Bush has nothing to offer. Four years at the helm to answer for, and he fails to face up to his record. If he were CEO and I were a stockholder, I'd be wanting him fired pronto - else I'd be calling up my stockbroker and making some investment changes. The other thing I noticed, Bush just looks unhealthy. While I didn't quite notice the obvious facial ticks and lip smacks that apparently characterized Bush's first debate, I did notice that the left side of his face (especially the mouth) seemed to droop. That coupled with the noticeable decline in his verbal ability over the years and I'm left to conclude that there's something physiologically wrong with the man. So why is he skipping this year's physical? Gotta wonder.



My conclusions: Kerry's done well enough to show that he has what it takes to handle the office, and Bush has done poorly enough to be sent packing. Hopefully this will translate into an electoral victory for Kerry, and given my layperson's reading of the tea leaves, I think such an outcome is very likely. For me a Kerry win will not mean complacency. Getting our men and women in uniform back from Iraq safely, preventing a reinstatement of military conscription are tops on my list of issues that will require a great deal of vigilance. We can also expect that the jihadists that compose America's right-wing will be working overtime to smear, smear, smear. It happened in the 1990s during the Clinton years, and we can expect nothing better from the wingnuts next year.

Keep up with GOP efforts to disenfranchize voters!

Voter Registration Fraud Clearinghouse has the lowdown.

McCarthyism is Alive and Well

Secret Service Calls on Owner of "King George" Sign, on The Progressive Magazine's McCarthyism Watch. Props to Johnny Trauma of Subliminal Punk.

Human Rights in Bu$hColand

Some things that caught my attention:



Abu Ghraib Interrogator Tells His Story



Says Brokaw, "The prisoner was very skittish, very uptight, 'cause every time I'd just adjust myself in my seat he'd flinch. And he said, 'You're gonna hit me.' And I told him 'No. I'm not going to hit you.' I says, 'Why do you say that?' And he said, 'Well the other guy was beatin' me.' And then he opened his shirt and had a bunch of bruises all over his torso."



Brokaw asked the prisoner to identify the person who beat him. He pointed to a man dressed in civilian clothes. That meant he was either contracted by the U.S. government or he worked for the FBI or the CIA. Brokaw reported the incident to his superiors.



"Well, first I told the sergeant there and he just kind of smiled and said, 'Oh, you know Iraqis are all liars,'" says Brokaw. "And then when I reported it to the warrant officer, he just kind of, just 'Oh, yeah, yeah, we'll look into it' and continued on with what he was doing and never did anything."



On another occasion, Brokaw says he witnessed a military police officer abusing a kid at the prison who didn't raise his arms properly during a search.



Says Brokaw, "He had his hands maybe a couple inches below horizontal and the M.P. just went berserk on him and just flipped him on the ground and smashed his head in the ground in the dirt and was screaming all kinds of epithets at him and he did this right in front of me. I mean I was like three feet away when he was doing this and I said 'Hey, what did he do?' 'He didn't put his hands up like he was supposed to.' And I says, 'I saw him put his hands up.' 'Yeah, it wasn't high enough.' So I reported to a sergeant in my office and he said, 'Oh, it's an M.P. problem. Let them deal with it.'"




Hearts and minds - a transcript of some remarks by Seymour Hersh:



I got a call last week from a soldier -- it's different now, a lot of communication, 800 numbers. He's an American officer and he was in a unit halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border. It's a place where we claim we've done great work at cleaning out the insurgency. He was a platoon commander. First lieutenant, ROTC guy.



It was a call about this. He had been bivouacing outside of town with his platoon. It was near, it was an agricultural area, and there was a granary around. And the guys that owned the granary, the Iraqis that owned the granary... It was an area that the insurgency had some control, but it was very quiet, it was not Fallujah. It was a town that was off the mainstream. Not much violence there. And his guys, the guys that owned the granary, had hired, my guess is from his language, I wasn't explicit -- we're talking not more than three dozen, thirty or so guards. Any kind of work people were dying to do. So Iraqis were guarding the granary. His troops were bivouaced, they were stationed there, they got to know everybody...



They were a couple weeks together, they knew each other. So orders came down from the generals in Baghdad, we want to clear the village, like in Samarra. And as he told the story, another platoon from his company came and executed all the guards, as his people were screaming, stop. And he said they just shot them one by one. He went nuts, and his soldiers went nuts. And he's hysterical. He's totally hysterical. And he went to the captain. He was a lieutenant, he went to the company captain. And the company captain said, "No, you don't understand. That's a kill. We got thirty-six insurgents."



You read those stories where the Americans, we take a city, we had a combat, a hundred and fifteen insurgents are killed. You read those stories. It's shades of Vietnam again, folks, body counts...



You know what I told him? I said, fella, I said: you've complained to the captain. He knows you think they committed murder. Your troops know their fellow soldiers committed murder. Shut up. Just shut up. Get through your tour and just shut up. You're going to get a bullet in the back. You don't need that. And that's where we are with this war.




Plus these articles: Civilians killed in Falluja missile strike and Iraqi mosque ablaze after US air strike

Pre-Debate Preview

Paul Krugman's got the goods. Checking the Facts, in Advance



Here's the primo quote:



Mr. Bush's statements, on the other hand, are fundamentally dishonest. He is insisting that black is white, and that failure is success.




The editorial does a wonderful job of looking at several Bu$hCo lies, exposing each one to the light of day.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Looking for excuses to vote for Kerry?

Who would you rather have appointing Justices to the Supreme Court? Here's what Bu$hCo will have in store:





The next President will probably get one, two or even three nominations, and Bush has said he wants more Justices in the Scalia/Thomas mold. Depending on who leaves, the balance of forces may not change right away. But even if Bush merely trades a worn-out reactionary like the 80-year-old Rehnquist for a fresh young one, he's locking up a seat for the right wing on the nation's top Court--for what, the next thirty years?



[...]



What's the worst that could happen if Bush wins? The 5-to-4 balance the Court is famous for could tip the other way. Take abortion rights: Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which affirmed Roe v. Wade (while permitting states to apply restrictions as long as they were not an "undue burden"), was 5 to 4. So was Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), which struck down Nebraska's "partial birth" abortion ban for not including a health exception. Some pundits, and of course Naderites, pooh-pooh feminists who fear Bush appointees would overturn Roe v. Wade. Bush wouldn't let that happen, they say, because that would wake up the sleeping pro-choice voter giant. Maybe--but why then is he nominating to the federal bench such anti-Roe zealots as Michael Fisher, John Roberts, Michael McConnell and John Rogers, and going so far as to give recess appointments to Charles Pickering and William Pryor? Why are antichoice Edith Jones, J. Harvie Wilkinson III and Janice Rogers Brown on the Supreme Court short list? The whole tenor of this Administration is to go for as much as it can get, to keep the Christian right happy, and to restrict reproductive rights in every conceivable way--down to the last stem cell. Once on the bench, the far-right, ideologically driven judges Bush favors could throw caution to the winds and act on their sincere hatred of abortion, politics be damned--Scalia and Thomas have been doing so for years.




Would you rather have a president who is responsive to his citizens, or a court jester who plays "emperor" and requires citizens to sign loyalty oaths and write pro-prez essays in order to gaze upon him?



How about science? Wouldn't it be nice to have a President who would have the gumption to curb Congressional meddling in funding of scientific research?. How about a President who wouldn't be so dead set against stem cell research?.



More things to ponder as we hit the remaining weeks before Election Day.

Gotta love it

The Republican Senatorial candidate from Oklahoma (Coburn) is obsessing about rampant lesbianism in Oklahoma public schools (who knew that the state was a hotbed of lesbianism?).



A Texas Republican has been caught with his pants down, so to speak. Cue chorus to Ray Stevens' novelty tune "The Streak": ("Oh yes they call him the streak/He likes to turn the other cheek/He's always makin' the newsWwearin' just his tennis shoes/Yes you could call him unique"). Yes, Texas; the land of the full moon. Pete Sessions will no doubt be the butt of many jokes.



Speaking of being caught with one's pants down, here's a classic gem about Sinclair's CEO being arrested for having sex with a hooker in one of his company's cars. I'm increasingly convinced that the "Red" used to identify Republicans is really shorthand for "red light district."



Finally, in a move that would make an increasingly demented George Bush look like a genius, Sinclair Broadcasting Group's spokesman Mark Hyman likens Networks to Holocaust deniers. Yeah, this is the media group that wants to run an anti-Kerry propaganda piece filmed by a Rev. Moon propagandist. So we've got Pete Sessions mooning Texans and some media wingnuts trying to "Moon" their viewing audience.



Thank you very much! You've been a wonderful audience. Don't forget to tip your waitress.



Update: And amidst the crowd calling for an encore, here's this: Theres this NY GOP candidate who's auditioning for an appearance on the upcoming new reality series "You Beat Your Wife." Here's the skinny at Daily Kos. Now there's a fine upstanding Christian gentleman: the kind of guy we hope our sons one day grow up to be like, and that our daughters will marry. A man whose motto is "spare the rod and spoil the bride." A man who truly digs that there's one set of rules for him and another set for everyone else. A veritable Nietzschean overman.

Around Blogtopia

Steve Gilliard's Act Blue list is up. Check it out, and if you have some spare change it's a worthy cause.



What's up with those cats at Sinclair Broadcasting Group? Apparently they've ordered their affiliate stations to play an anti-Kerry propaganda piece right before the election. Josh Marshall has several posts, on the matter and what actions can be taken here, here, here, and here. Daily Kos provides a Sinclair Advertiser Database, and lists Sinclair's top institutional investors. Steve Soto also has some ideas for how to deal with wannabe kingmakers such as Sinclair. Atrios even suggests we new friends with the Sinclair brass, and provides the email addresses to do so.



David Neiwert has his latest installment of The Rise of Pseudo Fascism posted under the title, Part 4: The Apocalyptic One-Party State. Well worth taking the time to read.



The Sideshow reminds us that October 11th is the day Superman died. RIP Christopher Reeve.



Check out the Freeway Blogger, and see how you can celebrate Freeway Free Speech Day (October 13th). If you're in the mood, try some freeway blogging yourself. I'm now wondering if the stuff I post outside my office would be considered hallway blogging?



Spadehammer adds a new installment to his pictorial series, Where Will You Be When Your Laxative Kicks In?



And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Blogtopia, the final frontier. Mahalo.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Here's a lightbulb joke

via Corpus Callosum:



How many members of the Bush administration does it take to replace a lightbulb?



The answer is 10.



1. One to deny that a lightbulb needs to be changed,



2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the lightbulb needs to be changed,



3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the lightbulb,



4. One to tell the nations of the world that they either favor changing the lightbulb or support darkness,



5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Haliburton for the new lightbulb,



6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner "Lightbulb Change Accomplished",



7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally "in the dark",



8. One to viciously smear #7,



9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong lightbulb-changing policy all along,



10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing in a lightbulb and screwing the country.

Bush/Cheney need to do their homework before spouting off

U.S.Businesses File Four Times More Lawsuits Than Private Citizens And Are Sanctioned Much More Often for Frivolous Suits: But Corporate America and Political Allies Bush and Cheney Campaign to Limit Citizens’ Rights to Sue

A useful electoral tracking tool

Weekly Electoral College Status

Sunday, October 10, 2004

How will YOU vote?

To say "Republicans have become the Democrats they overthrew in 1994" is an understatement

Kevin Drum has the skinny on what has become a notoriously corrupt and secretive House of Representatives in the years since Newt's Contract On America became reality.

Worth reading

the end of republican dominance: the fire this time, by Kid Oakland at DailyKos. Pretty inspiring reading. I'll still stand by an earlier remark I made: if Kerry manages to win this election, Americans win. Part of what shapes my thinking is a sense of the fire that awaits us if Bu$hCo gets another four years. "The future's so bright I gotta wear shades" (Timbuk 3), but it's the brightness of conflagration, the continued consumption of civil rights and liberties and the continued decimation of human rights abroad. Simply dousing the fire before it spreads further is enough of a victory for now. I'd like to think that many of us over on the left end of the dial dig the concept that there is much work to be done, even if a Kerry White House makes our lives just a bit easier, and that the task of creating the architecture of a genuinely progressive popular front - a truly herculean effort - lays ahead. We've witnessed the embryonic stage of such a movement in the last two years. That's good. With persistence, what comes next will be better.

Some discographies

Alan Shorter, Wayne Shorter's older brother. I've got one of the albums he recorded under his name (Orgasm) and have tracked down some of the albums on which he played and sometimes contributed compositions. Any one got Tes Esat? Man, I'd love to hear that one!



Center of the World Records - mainly a vehicle for Frank Wright. Alan Silva led a session for this short-lived label. A more extensive Frank Wright discography can be found here.



Noah Howard, another unheralded sax player and composer, who has played with cats like Framk Wright and Arthur Doyle. I've tracked down several of his albums, and am still trying to track down some of the more obscuroid live 1970s dates.



Frank Lowe



Rashied Ali, drummer who played with Coltrane during Trane's final two years of life, and who has led several sessions under his own name.

RIP Jacques Derrida

Not without a trace.