Saturday, May 8

TOTAL RECALL


My husband (The Sage) and I are watching Total Recall (guilty pleasure), and when the mutant Quatto says to Quaid (Ah-nold), "Take my hands. Now open your mind to me. Open your mind," The Sage said, "Get real. What Republican ever had an open mind?"

HE'S LOSTSPORTS ILLUSTRATED


TOMPAINE.com - A Cronkite Moment?: "'Both did their duty for their country, but I wonder if their country did its duty for them. Tillman died in Afghanistan, a war with no end in sight and not enough troops to finish the job. Bates died in Iraq, a war that began with no just cause and continues with no just reason.

Be proud that sports produce men like this.

But I, for one, am furious that these wars keep taking them."

LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER


Okay, I'm finally going to speak as a mother and a Christian, and guess what? It might not be what you think.

I am sick and tired of listening to the ignorant but pseudo-religous George W. Bush assert that Americans are "better" than other people. What the ???? Does he think that American citizenship automatically confers upon a person a "new nature"? If so, he better start reading his Bible, even if he doesn't read anything else. According to the Bible, ALL human beings are born with a sinful nature, and require salvation because of it -- it can't be earned, because we'll never be "good enough," so it is offered by a benevolent God as a gift, providing we acknowledge that we are sinful and in need of help, and accept His authority. Or, if you don't believe that, ask any sociologist or psychologist if there is an inherent good nature in any human being. If that were so, we wouldn't have so many sick individuals scarred by the lack of parenting or by the presence of despicable parenting. And even God, as the good Father, explains in the Bible that the whole point of His commandments in the Old Testament were to define sin, so His children would know just what was and what wasn't acceptable behavior.

Any good mother (or good father) knows that children go through phases of testing their limits ("the terrible twos" are an early example) and can be absolutely wretched little human beings. It's an essential part of our responsibility as parents, to teach good values and to draw strict limits on unpermissible behavior.

An enlightened society recognizes this, and establishes laws for adults for the same reason.

So when I express pride in the U.S. (and, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, we Democrats ARE proud of and love our country, and obviously have more faith in it than you do since we do not find it necessary to demonize others in order to prevail), it's not because our people are inherently "better" than those of other countries, it's because we have a long history of establishing institutions and laws that help us to regulate our less-attractive urges and provide for a system of ever-revising them to meet the current needs and responsibilities of our people.

Barbara Bush was reportedly an acid-tongued mother while George 41 was largely an absentee father. So let me play mother for a minute (I have five children, so I expect I'm allowed a little expertise). So here goes: George, dear, what others do doesn't mitigate your own responsibility to do right (he threw a bigger marshmallow at Billy than I did), you must admit it and apologize when you are wrong; you must play well with others; you mustn't fight if there's any other way, but win others with kindness and understanding; I don't care what others do, would you jump off a bridge because someone else did?; your elders deserve at least respect, and when they have experience or knowledge that you lack, your attention; educate yourself, consult experts, and thoughtfully deliberate your decisions before you make them; always seek the wisdom of your heavenly father, but realize that you won't recognize His voice unless you understand His nature and teachings; honor your earthly father and mother -- especially your father, who, despite his faults and cronies, at least has more knowledge of geopolitical issues than you, in your willful ignorance, do; always and repeatedly examine your actions, admit your mistakes, and make appropriate adjustments; and last of all, but perhaps most importantly, humble yourself before you destroy a great nation.

I'm sure I could think of more if I didn't have to address the unkind, unjust ravings of an adult child of my own--

UPDATE: It just occurred to me, if we were so much "better" than the rest of the world, why would we need so many regulations upon our own bedroom-and-beyond behavior? Can't we "better" Americans be trusted to regulate our own actions, since we're so morally superior?

CONSERVATIVE CATHOLICS' DOUBLE STANDARD


I don't understand why everybody's so shocked that the Catholic groups continue to villify John Kerry.

The difficulty in achieving "moral purity in politics," as New York Times columnist Peter Steinfels noted over the weekend, was underscored by the case of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). A strong foe of abortion, Santorum campaigned hard in Pennsylvania's Republican primary for Sen. Arlen Specter, a supporter of abortion rights. Specter prevailed narrowly over Rep. Pat Toomey, a staunch antiabortion advocate. The question: Why is it acceptable for a committed Catholic abortion opponent such as Santorum to support Specter over an antiabortion candidate, but not Kerry over Bush? Might Specter's party label have something to do with it?

It is painfully obvious that the Catholic church in the U.S., after decades of scandals concerning the church's ignoring and, thereby, condoning, hundreds, maybe thousands, of documented actions of pedophiliac priests, is eager to regain its moral authority among its congregants. What is also painfully obvious is that many in the U.S. Catholic hierarchy have decided that the way to do this is to align the Church with the right-wing conservative movement. How pitiful. Not long after the Pope was declaring that the proposed Iraqi invasion by the U.S. did not meet the standards of a "just war," some American bishops and priests have decided that politicians that support a woman's right to choice should be denied communion. But this apparently applies only to Democratic politicians, not to Republicans such as George Pataki, Rudy Giuliani, or Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It is not much different among the Christian fundamentalists. They just have MORE litmus tests, including homosexual policy and "ungodly" public education.

Paula Zahn is a Bush proxy...but then, who isn't?

Okay, everyone's taken a hit at Aaron Brown, Wolf Blitzer, et al, of CNN (and rightfully so). But let's also look at Paula Zahn. How this woman can remotely be described as a journalist (my definition requiring a modicum of a show of objectivity) is beyond me. I heard her speak at the Dallas Women's Foundation mid-Clinton administration years, and even the Republicans were disgusted. The DWF invites a distinguished woman to their annual fundraising luncheon (past speakers have included Barbara Jordan, Helen Hayes, Rosalynn Carter, Benazir Bhutto, Tipper Gore, Mary Matalin and her husband James Carville, etc.), but that year they had a hard time booking anyone "distinguished," so they settled for Paula. She delivered an entire speech about her chumminess with Bush 41 and how neat it was to hob-nob with the rich and powerful. Nearly all of us walked out wondering how on earth a journalist could socialize repeatedly with the object of their reporting and still expect to be considered (for lack of a better phrase) "fair and balanced." She was so full of herself, there were few afterwards who were even interested in speaking to her.

But then, Maureen Dowd and Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times have described themselves similarly. And I don't for one moment believe that this is a female thing. Back in college, I was taught that it is a serious mistake for journalists to have personal relationships with the subjects of their reporting, and in fact, outside of political journalism I believe that is still a credo. But in the Beltway, all bets are off. I suppose some journalists would defend this practice by saying that they derive "access" thereby. But with the Bushies, it is well documented that journalists who displease them are denied that very access as punishment. So how are we to trust anything that comes out of their mouths?

I think most of us can agree that it is closer to a case of celebrity worship -- I just don't understand what it is about the Bushes (41 and 43) that makes journalists so eager to embrace them. They sure didn't embrace Bill Clinton, and he had two terms to charm them.

BushCo's attempts to link Osama bin-Laden and Saddam continue...

Repugs just won't quit trying to link Osama bin-Laden:

Chris Matthews' Hardball, May 6:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight all hell is breaking loose in Washington as new pictures of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners come to light. 

INHOFE: Well, you know, this is a case—we‘re in the middle of a war right now.  They‘ve—you know, they‘ve gone through this thing where a lot of people used to think that there was not a connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.  Now that has been changed. 

People are looking for a political reason to be down on this administration.  And certainly, the Iraqis are the first ones in line. 

MATTHEWS:  What are you saying?  People now believe that the Iraqis had something to do with 9/11, Senator?

INHOFE:  Oh, yes.  I think so.  We have that pretty well down in recent reports that have come out, that there‘s no question about the connection.  In fact, I can hold up a report before you right now and read it to you, that this is something that was well known at that time. 

MATTHEWS:  The president himself, a couple weeks back said there‘s been no evidence of any connection between Iraqis and the attack on the United States on 9/11. 

INHOFE:  We‘re not talking about the attack on 9/11.  We‘re talking about the connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. 

Here is a report right here, that states in 1992, that the—of the four closest friends that they had and they were working with, the last one is Osama bin Laden.  He‘s well known Saudi business leader, founder of the Saudi opposition in Afghanistan.  And he has connections. 


Close friends? Here's a snapshot of Osama's resume:

* 1989 Bin Laden went to South Yemen and was banned from travel because he gave speeches warning of an imminent invasion by Sadam Hussein, which was embarrassing to the Yemeni leadership who had a good relationship with Hussein.
* 1990 After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, he volunteered to the king of South Yemen to bring all the Arab mujahedeen to protect the kingdom.
* 1991 Bin Laden was about to mobilize his forces, but was disappointed to learn that the U.S. was sending forces to Kuwait.
* 1991 (April) Bin Laden has his travel restrictions lifted temporarily but leaves South Yemen and goes to Pakistan and then on to Afghanistan.
* late 1991 Bin Laden leaves Afghanistan which was embroiled in disputes between various factions and goes to Sudan in his private jet.
* 1992 Bin Laden claimed responsibility for an attempted bombing on U.S. soldiers in Yemen.


Doesn't sound like a close friendship to me. Sounds more like he was really teed-off about Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. It seems unlikely that in 1992 (the date of Inhofe's document), he had forgiven Saddam...and it doesn't seem likely that he had feelings for Saddam that were much friendlier than he had for the USA...

SHOW US THE MONEY


It's about time for someone in Congress to demand an accounting of the $79- and $87-billion-dollar supplementary appropriations, especially the $9.8 billion slush fund that Rumsfeld was given to spend pretty much as he pleased. It's pretty nervy of Bush to be running ads misleading the American public that Kerry "voted against" body armor for our troops -- after all, he GOT the money despite Kerry's vote, but some of our troops are STILL without armored vehicles and body armor -- so where did the $87 billion go?

This administration has a problem not only with accountability, but with accounting. But don't believe me, ask Richard Foster or L.E. Brown.

MEET THE FREEWAY BLOGGER


The Freeway Blogger is a national treasure. If only we had his like in every town and city in the US.

WHY WE WENT TO IRAQ


Via the estimable Eschaton:

"There isn't a single sensible person who really believes that we went to Iraq to install a democracy. Tom Friedman's war existed in his head and nowhere else. The messianic instinct Roberts refers to isn't about promoting democracy, it's a messianic desire to expand the number of client states who serve our interests. Essentially, the cold warriors live on, using American force to further certain US business interests and to install buffers between us and the mythical united Union of Muslim Fascist Republics (a replacement for the non-existent USSR), which said cold warriors began warning about as soon as the USSR collapsed."

What he said.

Read the whole "Pat Roberts wakes up" post. You won't want to miss the reminder of Michael Ledeen's insanity.

BET BUSH REGRETS APPOINTING DAVID KAY


Unbelievable. Even David Kay has weighed in on the prisoner abuse story. Between his honest and candid report of the Iraqi WMD investigation and his repeated entreaties for Bush to come clean about the issue and now his assertions that he tried to bring the prison/interrogation/abuse issue to higher-ups but was ignored by the military, I'll bet the Bushies are regretting his appointment and their expressions of perfect confidence in him, as Dick Cheney would say, big-time.

THE MISUNDERESTIMATED MAN: HOW BUSH CHOSE STUPIDITY


Via Smirking Chimp, Jacob Weisberg of Slate:

The question I am most frequently asked about Bushisms is, "Do you really think the president of the United States is dumb?"
The short answer is yes.
The long answer is yes and no.


Read the whole thing.

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS


Okay, now I've got it. Rumsfeld and Bush didn't take the reports of abuses of prisoners seriously because they weren't accompanied by pictures. So THAT's why Bush didn't take the 9/11 warnings seriously, either. They had no pictures! After all, Bush doesn't read, Condi doesn't read, Rumsfeld doesn't read, Gen. Myers doesn't read, NOBODY in this administration seems to read, or if they do, it's probably just one of Lynne Cheney's novels, not a significant intelligence memorandum or economic forecast or EPA advisory. So next time something really important needs to be brought to their attention, just put it in a pop-up book with lots of vivid pictures and, if possible, accompanied by a video (preferably no longer than the average TV commercial).

WALKING THE WALK, NOT TALKING THE TALK


David Brooks:

I wish the U.S could still go off, after Iraq, at the head of "coalitions of the willing" to spread democracy around the world. But the brutal fact is that the events of the past year have discredited that approach...

We've got to reboot. We've got to come up with a global alliance of democracies to embody democratic ideals, harness U.S. military power and house a permanent nation-building apparatus, filled with people who actually possess expertise on how to do this job.

From the looting of the Iraqi National Museum to Abu Ghraib, this has been a horrible year. The cause is still just, but to keep it moving forward, we have to reinvent the enterprise. 


Take it from a Dallas gal, the group supporting Bush 43 is just a group of intellectually deficit cowboys. They really think you can deliver democracy at the point of a gun. Brooks, for example, thinks that "It was U.S. inaction against Al Qaeda that got us into this mess in the first place. It was our tolerance of Arab autocracies that contributed to the madness in the Middle East." What got us into this mess, if you go back, was a fundamental refusal on the part of our brave leaders to understand the root causes of Islamic anger -- the huge gaps in economic opportunity between Arab countries and those of the West; the fear that Western values would corrupt their own women and diminish the power of their men; the belief that an American [infidel] presence in Arab countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia) was an insult to Islam; the perception that the US is unfair in its heavy support for Israel vs. our seemingly contemptuous attitude toward the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world, and yes, our tolerance of Arab autocracies.

This is, of course, an oversimplification. Nonetheless, it points us to some of the solutions (and there must be multiple efforts, multiple fronts): massive humanitarian aid to countries with significant Islamic populations (i.e., not just Arab countries; Malaysis and the Philippines are breeding grounds for Islamic terrorists); a pledge that we will only use our military in their world for strategic strikes against terrorists or as a part of NATO or UN forces; a more even-handed approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues; a visible withdrawal of support to tyrants and autocrats. There's nothing much we can do about their attitudes towards women at the moment -- while I'm sure many right-wing Repugs (the true American Taliban) would be delighted to see American women sporting veils and walking behind their men by three paces, it isn't likely to happen (God help us).

But the truest solution to the problem is the same solution that REALLY brought down the Iron Curtain. I've never believed that the fall of Eastern European communism was solely the result of Reagan's arms race, though it did come close to bankrupting the Soviet Union. On the contrary, it began with the grass-roots Polish Solidarity movement and was significantly enhanced by the example of a living, breathing, prosperous and free American democratic republic. BushCo thinks that the way you win wars is by doing back to the enemy what you THINK he has done to you (or "to his own people"). As a Christian and a rational thinking human being, I'm assured that the way to win a war (spiritual or physical) is to heap kindness ("like coals upon their heads") upon the enemy. That kindness in this case can be defined as the steps I've just outlined.

Bringing representative government to the countries of the world sounds like a lofty and noble goal. But this administration can't seem to understand that it can't be delivered like a gift. If the indigenous people don't support that goal and if they don't LEAD the movement themselves (sure we can help if asked), it is not likely to "take."

Brooks is right about one thing: we must "embody democrative ideals" -- and the actions at Abu Ghraib and similar ones elsewhere, the Patriot Act and Guantanamo, the move in the USA to blur lines between church and state, etc. are not reassuring anyone that the US the Bushies envision for the future will embody democratic ideals.

Bush panders to the Christian right in his rhetoric, but he just comes off sounding like any other religiously fundamentalist fanatic -- and between that and the CR's move to create our own madrassas, backtrack on women's rights, and extend autocratic power to our current (and hopefully soon, former) administration, we look more like we're adopting Islamic values than encouraging them to adopt our own.

Friday, May 7

SEND A COPIER TO THE PENTAGON


And then there is Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On CBS News's "Face the Nation" last Sunday, host Bob Schieffer asked Myers why he had not seen a report on these horrific events that was completed in March.

"It's just working its way up, up the chain," Myers replied.


"Up the chain"????? What does that mean -- that there's only one copy and it has to be passed around? Hasn't the military heard of copy machines? And doesn't it seem odd that the higher-up you are, the more likely you are to be the last one in the know? In the business world, when something's important it gets taken straight to the CEO. Isn't Myers the CEO of the military?

UNDERESTIMATING KERRY


Andrew Sullivan:

The conventional wisdom in Washington right now is that Kerry is such an awful candidate that he is doomed in the fall. If Bush can stay even after the last three, horrendous weeks - when he has shown that his administration has no real control over even the conduct of its own servicemembers and contractors in Iraq - then Kerry is toast. I'm not so sure. My instinct is that this election will not, in fact, be close. Either Bush will convince people that he is winning the war on terror and turning the economy around and win handsomely, or he won't, and Kerry will win big. Recent history suggests that incumbent presidents either lose badly or win well.

Scroll down to "Under-Estimating [sic] Kerry" and read the whole thing.

THE OIL CRUNCH IS COMING, SAYS KRUGMAN


Paul Krugman:

The collision between rapidly growing world demand and a limited world supply is the reason why the oil market is so vulnerable to jitters. Maybe we'll get through this bad patch, and oil will fall back toward $30 a barrel. But if that happens, it will be only a temporary respite.

In a way it's ironic. Lately we've been hearing a lot about competition from Chinese manufacturing and Indian call centers. But a different kind of competition — the scramble for oil and other resources — poses a much bigger threat to our prosperity.

So what should we be doing? Here's a hint: We can neither drill nor conquer our way out of the problem. Whatever we do, oil prices are going up. What we have to do is adapt.

A PRESIDENT ABOVE THE LAW


Anthony Lewis in the New York Times:

In all these matters, there is a pervasive attitude: that to follow the law is to be weak in the face of terrorism. But commitment to law is not a weakness. It has been the great strength of the United States from the beginning. Our leaders depart from that commitment at their peril, and ours, for a reason that Justice Louis D. Brandeis memorably expressed 75 years ago.

"Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher," he wrote. "For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself."

Thursday, May 6

SWIFT BOAT VETERANS FOR THE TRUTH (ha ha) ARE INTERESTING CREW


Angry at the smear job the organization "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" is performing on John Kerry and his military service, I looked into a few of the higher-profile signatories. Joe Conason has a good backgrounder on SwiftVets spokesmen John O'Neill and Merrie Spaeth. Here's just a little more on the chain of command above Kerry, all of whom consider him "unfit to be Commander in Chief":

Captain Adrian Lonsdale USCG (retired): Adrian Lonsdale remembers a young John F. Kerry as a naval officer who was a good debater, even back in his days in Vietnam. "He and I and others used to have long discussions at the officers club," said Mr. Lonsdale of Mattapoisett, a former Coast Guard officer who commanded a division in which the Massachusetts senator was attached back in 1969. "They were very spirited discussions about the war and the politics back home. He was opposed to the war but it didn't make any difference in his performance," said the former owner and still instructor at Northeast Maritime Institute in New Bedford. "He was a very good officer." Capt. Lonsdale was among a group of former Vietnam veterans the Massachusetts Democrat brought to the Charlestown navy yard recently to rebut a Boston Globe column that raised questions about Sen. Kerry's Vietnam service, particularly the Silver Star he won.

Well, he's just another flip-flopper. He was a very good officer then, but he's not fit now to be CiC.

Rear Admiral Hoffmann (retired): Captain Roy Hoffman was the commander of the Navy Coastal Surveillance Force, and it was Hoffman's decision to send Navy Swift boats up the narrow rivers in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam -- almost always without support from helicopters or artillery -- where they ran the risk of mines and were fired on almost at will by Viet Cong dug in along the river's banks. A Swift boat mission up a Mekong Delta river was a fool's errand, serving no greater purpose than showing the flag. At one point, Kerry and a fellow skipper named Don Droz protested to Hoffman's immediate superior, Area Commander Adrian Lonsdale, an act of courage in itself. Kerry told the commander: "Sir, I don't see how you can ask American troops to risk their lives when the priority in that area isn't high enough to warrant their getting certain support. I just don't think that's right." A career Navy officer, Lonsdale told Kerry and Droz he was doing what he was told and couldn't fight it.

Admiral Elmo Zumwalt (deceased, represented at SwiftVets by his son, Lt. Col. James Zumwalt): ...the fabled and distinguished chief of naval operations (CNO), Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, told me -- 30 years ago when he was still CNO -- that during his own command of US naval forces in Vietnam...young Kerry had created great problems for him and the other top brass, by killing so many non-combatant civilians and going after other non-military targets. "We had virtually to straight[sic]-jacket him to keep him under control," the admiral said.

[Boston Globe,
June 16, 2003:] Under Zumwalt's command, swift boats would aggressively engage the enemy. Zumwalt, who died in 2000, calculated in his autobiography that these men under his command had a 75% chance of being killed or wounded during a typical year. ...

Oh yeah, Kerry ranked up there with Calley and the My Lai massacre, but it's OK to put our men in the kind of danger referred to above for "no better reason than showing the flag."

Veterans who can't forgive John Kerry for his anti-war activities might want to give that a closer look -- looks like he was thinking of the troops' welfare even before he left the service. Certainly more than you can say for our current leadership.

MR. RUMSFELD'S RESPONSIBILITY


Wow. Rummy is sure-nuff in trouble (finally!). Both the Washington Post and New York Times editorial pages and Tom Friedman are on his case today, Friedman calling for his resignation or firing.

THE HORRIFIC abuses by American interrogators and guards at the Abu Ghraib prison and at other facilities maintained by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan can be traced, in part, to policy decisions and public statements of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. Beginning more than two years ago, Mr. Rumsfeld decided to overturn decades of previous practice by the U.S. military in its handling of detainees in foreign countries. His Pentagon ruled that the United States would no longer be bound by the Geneva Conventions; that Army regulations on the interrogation of prisoners would not be observed; and that many detainees would be held incommunicado and without any independent mechanism of review. Abuses will take place in any prison system. But Mr. Rumsfeld's decisions helped create a lawless regime in which prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been humiliated, beaten, tortured and murdered -- and in which, until recently, no one has been held accountable.

The lawlessness began in January 2002 when Mr. Rumsfeld publicly declared that hundreds of people detained by U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan "do not have any rights" under the Geneva Conventions. That was not the case: At a minimum, all those arrested in the war zone were entitled under the conventions to a formal hearing to determine whether they were prisoners of war or unlawful combatants. No such hearings were held, but then Mr. Rumsfeld made clear that U.S. observance of the convention was now optional. Prisoners, he said, would be treated "for the most part" in "a manner that is reasonably consistent" with the conventions -- which, the secretary breezily suggested, was outdated.
...
The abuses that have done so much harm to the U.S. mission in Iraq might have been prevented had Mr. Rumsfeld been responsive to earlier reports of violations. Instead, he publicly dismissed or minimized such accounts. He and his staff ignored detailed reports by respected human rights groups about criminal activity at U.S.-run prisons in Afghanistan, and they refused to provide access to facilities or respond to most questions. In December 2002, two Afghan detainees died in events that were ruled homicides by medical officials; only when the New York Times obtained the story did the Pentagon confirm that an investigation was underway, and no results have yet been announced. Not until other media obtained the photos from Abu Ghraib did Mr. Rumsfeld fully acknowledge what had happened, and not until Tuesday did his department disclose that 25 prisoners have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. Accountability for those deaths has been virtually nonexistent: One soldier was punished with a dishonorable discharge.

On Monday Mr. Rumsfeld's spokesman said that the secretary had not read Mr. Taguba's report, which was completed in early March. Yesterday Mr. Rumsfeld told a television interviewer that he still hadn't finished reading it, and he repeated his view that the Geneva Conventions "did not precisely apply" but were only "basic rules" for handling prisoners. His message remains the same: that the United States need not be bound by international law and that the crimes Mr. Taguba reported are not, for him, a priority. That attitude has undermined the American military's observance of basic human rights and damaged this country's ability to prevail in the war on terrorism.


Wednesday, May 5

DAILY BUSHTOON


Here we have the tale of How the Bush Stole Florida part 1. It's a spoof on Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas. These guys do great animation and they're funny as all get out. Check in tomorrow for the hilarious conclusion. Without further ado we give you How the Bush Stole Florida
Enjoy.

THE TIES THAT BIND


We at nomoreapples intend to highlight the ties between the bush administration, and BIGENERGY companies and individuals responsible for poisoning the American people. Today we profile the multi-talented Earl Nye. His accomplishments include: Elite Bush fundraiser, poisoning American children-pregnant women-the elderly-and even the healthy and strong, and perverting the American political process as a child molestor perverts sexuality.

Name: Erle A. Nye
Appointed To: Energy transition team; National Infrastructure Advisory Council Chair
Industry: Energy & Natural Resources
Employer: TXU
Occupation: Chair
Address: Energy Plaza Dallas, TX 75201 
Status for 2000: Raised at least $100,000
Status for 2004: Pioneer
Profile:
TXU is the leading source of so-called “grandfathered” air pollution in Texas. The ‘71 state Clean Air Act exempted existing industrial plants from new pollution rules. Rather than investing in clean air, dirty companies have lobbied to protect their loophole. Bush responded by inviting polluters to voluntarily cut their emissions—even though they have had three decades to do this. Bush’s industry volunteers need not say how much pollution they plan to reduce—or by when. Today, every major city in Texas either flunks federal air standards or is on the verge of doing so. When state environmental officials complied with federal orders to devise a plan to clean up the Dallas Metroplex’s filthy air this year, TXU and other area polluters filed suit to try to dodge compliance. For other urban areas about to flunk the test, Bush urged the EPA in 2000 to let Texas cheat by pretending that there is insufficient data to classify their air quality. TXU and Reliant Energy (see Pioneers Don Jordan and R. Steve Letbetter) blocked plans to deregulate state electricity markets until ’99. The ’99 deregulation legislation granted their demand that consumers bail them out of their investments in nuclear power plants that cannot compete in a free market. Bush appointed Nye as a Texas A&M Regent

Earl Nye is one of the many energy-sector executives responsible for increases in pollution which kill the already ill, frail, and/or young. The chain begins with men and women like him. He spends the money--which influences the politician--who makes the policy--that allows the energy companies to pollute the air, land, and water--Which kills the elderly, the ill, and the young. Which causes miscarriages, harms the fetus or child in the womb, leads to debilitating health problems and poisons the animals and land we treasure for their beauty and count on for food and recreation. Earl Nye is a TRAITOR

Resources cited: WhiteHouseForSale.org | Home Page

THERE GO THE SOUTHERN BAPTISTS AGAIN


A resolution supporters hope will make it to the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting next month calls for the millions of members of the nation's largest Protestant denomination to remove their kids from public schools.

Sponsored by T.C. Pinckney, a retired brigadier general who has been active in SBC leadership for several years, and Bruce N. Shortt, an attorney who holds advanced degrees from both Harvard and Stanford and home-schools his children (ed.: and I also assume is the Bruce N. Shortt who majored in philosophy at Amherst, '74), the resolution asks "all officers and members of the Southern Baptist Convention and the churches associated with it to remove their children from the government schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education, for the glory of God, the good of Christ's church, and the strength of their own commitment to Jesus."

From the resolution: Whereas, the government schools are by their own confession humanistic and secular in their instruction, the education offered by the government schools is officially Godless, and

Whereas, the government schools are adopting curricula and policies teaching that the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable, and

Whereas, homosexual organizations are present as approved student "clubs" in thousands of government schools and are spreading rapidly, and Whereas, the Bible says, children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior (Ps. 127:3-5), we must understand that children are weapons (arrows) to be aimed for the greatest impact in the kingdom of God. Just as it would be foolish for the warrior to give his arrows to his enemies, it is foolish for Christians to give their children to be trained in schools run by the enemies of God, and

Whereas, training to be a faithful witness should be a vital part of a Christian child's education, and

Whereas, hundreds of thousands of parents who are members of churches associated with the Southern Baptist Convention send their children to the government schools, and

Whereas, the children of those parents are receiving a Godless, anti-Christian education, and

Whereas, the millions of children in government schools spend 7 hours a day, 180 days a year being taught that God is irrelevant to every area of life, and

Whereas, many Christian children in government schools are converted to an anti-Christian worldview rather than evangelizing their schoolmates, and

Whereas, the Nehemiah Institute has discovered through its extensive surveys of student attitudes and beliefs that acceptance of a secular humanist worldview by Christian children attending government schools has increased dramatically over the last fifteen years, and

Whereas, the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life reported to the 2002 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention that 88 percent of the children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return; and

Whereas, it is anti-intellectual to artificially divorce God from his creation, and many excellent curricula are available that demonstrate the beauty and working of God throughout His creation, and experience has proven the superior intellectual accomplishments of children educated in such curricula, and

Whereas, the Bible teaches that the companion of fools will be destroyed (Pr.13:20), and that people are prone to be deceived into thinking that evil company will not corrupt them (1Cor.15:33), it is incumbent upon ministers of the gospel to warn God's people that their children are being corrupted by spending half of their waking hours instructed by teachers who are required by law to inculcate a Godless education...


Wow. The language here is way harsh. Whatever happened to Christ's teaching that we are to be "in the world but not of it?" I was taught IN SOUTHERN BAPTIST BIBLE LESSONS, and believe, that this meant that Christians are not to withdraw from the world, in which case we would have no influence on it or opportunity to bear witness to Christ's teachings, but that we are to hold ourselves apart from corruption. In other words, I may hear dirty words at the office, but I am not to repeat them. I may be given an immoral order from my commander in Iraq, but I am not to obey it. Christ doesn't instruct us to seek employment from Christian-only businesses or to avoid military service.

And there's more to this story. The move is part of a larger campaign to support "separation of SCHOOL and state." The Alliance for the Separation of School and State is running an Internet-based "Proclamation for the Separation of School and State", whose signers include Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza; Prof. Thomas Szasz, author of "The Myth of Mental Illness;" 1991 New York State Teacher of the Year, John Taylor Gatto; home school leader Mary Pride; Cato Institute President Edward Crane; Conservative Caucus founder Howard Phillips; Minority Leader of the Colorado State Senate, John K. Andrews, Jr.; and religious leaders Dr. Tim LaHaye, author of the popular "Left Behind" series; Dr. D. James Kennedy, Brig. Gen T.C. Pinckney, USAF ret., 2nd VP of the Southern Baptist Convention, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, and the late Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Here's how the proclamation reads: "I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education."

Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, urged California parents to withdraw their children from the state's public schools in 2002. When Dr. Laura said on her April 9 broadcast, "I stand with Dr. James Dobson: Take your kids out of public schools," she went even beyond Dr. Dobson, who had limited his comments to California. On the same day, popular Christian talk show host Marlon Maddoux also gave his support to Dr. Dobson.

More to come...


IN LIGHT OF THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION...


The pen is mightier than the sword
but
the canon is mightier than the pen.

(with regret and apology to Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton)

Tuesday, May 4

MY DAILY BUSHTOON


Here is a great Bushtoon. Dubya, Roverer, and Nitro interview first Richard Clark, then Pathologica aka Condi and decide who is fired and who is The Emperor's Apprentice

THE JUNK SCIENCE OF GEORGE W. BUSH


The Junk Science of George W. Bush

OUR CEO PRESIDENT


Josh Marshall has some of his usual excellent insights into our "CEO president":

From this exchange, the president seemed unaware of what the report even was and claimed to believe that he somehow couldn't get a hold of it until it came up through the chain of command.

The point here isn't that the president is stupid, but that he seems blithely indifferent to what is a huge setback to American goals and standing in the Middle East and indeed throughout the world.

There's an echo here of his response to the pre-9/11 warnings streaming up through the government bureaucracy. It hasn't landed on his desk yet, with an action plan, so what is he supposed to do? He talked to Rumsfeld who says he's on top of it. So what more can be done?

This isn't a matter of the aesthetics of leadership. It is another example of how this president is a passive commander-in-chief, how he demands no accountability and, because of that, allows problems to fester and grow. Though this may not be a direct example of it, he also creates a climate tolerant of rule-breaking that seeps down into the ranks of his subordinates, mixing with and reinforcing those other shortcomings.

The disasters now facing the country in Iraq -- some in slow motion, others by quick violence -- aren't just happening on the president's watch. They are happening in a real sense, really in the deepest sense, because of him -- because of his attention to the simulacra of leadership rather than the real thing, which is more difficult and demanding, both personally and morally.


As director of corporate marketing and strategic communications for a Fortune 250 company, I have worked with three different highly effective and successful CEOs over the past 15 years. I can tell you, they weren't passive and they READ every report they could get their hands on. They were always the MOST knowledgeable people in the company. Can you imagine a top-level CEO of a publicly held company making his quarterly conference call to financial analysts and NOT knowing the answer to any of their questions? The Board of Directors would have serious questions about their ability to lead the company, especially after the analysts lowered their stock price expectations on that basis. And believe me, the quality of company leadership has a great deal to do with the confidence the market has in the company. There may not be a lot of checks and balances in corporate America today, but there is still one that is effective -- the market's rating of the company. In Bush's case, I think the rating would have to be "sell" or at least "underperform."

THE PELICAN BRIEF REVISITED?


Has it occurred to anyone else that the mugging of Supreme Court Justice David Souter might have been more than just a run-of-the-mill attack? It gave me eerie flashbacks to the film The Pelican Brief, where two Supremes were murdered in order to enable the POTUS to appoint justices more friendly to his friends. Souter has long been a major dis-appointment to the Repubs because of his centrist rulings. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I wouldn't put anything past some of these guys.

MEDIA MATTERS: New web site fact-checks Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly et al


Media Matters is a new web site that "document[s] and correct[s] conservative misinformation in each news cycle. Media Matters for America will monitor cable and broadcast news channels, print media and talk radio, as well as marginal, right-wing websites that often serve as original sources of misinformation for well-known conservative and mainstream media outlets."

This is an important new resource.

GEORGE WILL WAKES UP


Time for Bush to see the realities of Iraq

I've been watching George Will squirm on talk shows for the past couple of months as he sought to find something positive to say about BushCo policies. He's getting it now. When you're a conservative who's lost Howard Stern, Aaron Brown, George Will, and Pat Buchanan, you're in trouble. If these guys would get on Fox and say the same things so the American people who worship the flyboy would hear them, it sure might make a difference in the election. I just wish John McCain would quit playing Colin Powell and stop campaigning for Bush -- the good soldier just looks like a hypocrite doing so.

Monday, May 3

GREENPEACE MOVIE


Here's a funny little video put together by Greenpeace. John Ashcroft and George Bush are our happy cartoon (south park-like animation) hosts on Administration's Most Wanted. Working together to protect Americans from free speech. Greenpeacevideo

"THE WHITE HOUSE DOESN'T HAVE A CLUE"


Poor Andrew Sullivan. He can't seem to make up his mind from day to day what to believe about His Hero:

WHAT THE FALLUJAH?

"All I can honestly say is that I have no clue what is going on in Fallujah, the critical battle of the war in Iraq. The obvious interpretation is that the Bush White House, under political pressure at home, has decided to all-but surrender the city to the enemy. That has certainly been the message sent to (and received by) the wider terrorist world. The Marine asault we were promised has failed to materialize. Various truces were negotiated and violated by the enemy many times. Then we responded by appointing a Saddamite Baathist in charge of eradicating the terrorist elements in the city, alongside the Marines. The only problem is that the Baathist general doesn't believe there are any foreign fighters in Fallujah. From the Washington Post:

--In Fallujah, Jassim Mohammed Saleh, the former Iraqi major general entrusted by the Marines with forming a new security force in the violence-wracked city, said in an interview with the Reuters news service that "there are no foreign fighters in Fallujah." He also insisted that onetime members of former president Saddam Hussein's Baath Party should be allowed to return to the government and the army, saying they were "capable of administering the country in times of crisis."--

More Sully: "This is the man the Bush administration is now entrusting the war on terror with. Or is it? Joint Chiefs Chairman, Richard Myers, says the mini-me Saddam is not the new commander in Fallujah:"

--Myers, who appeared on three Sunday morning news shows, cautioned that neither of the generals had been approved by the Pentagon. "They have not been vetted. They have not been placed in command. They are not in charge," Myers said on "Fox News Sunday." Myers said the leadership of the Fallujah Brigade also would have to be approved by the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad and Iraq's interim Defense Ministry. The decision to form the Fallujah Brigade and put Saleh in charge was made from "the bottom up," the senior official said. "Now we have to have a policy to catch up with what is happening on the ground."

"I think the obvious answer to the question as to what is happening in Fallujah is that the White House doesn't have a clue. In a critical battle, we have made sure that the enemy understands we can have overwhelming military power and not be willing to use it; we have appointed a new commander who hasn't even been vetted; and people on the ground are making up policy that has far-reaching political and military implications, while the White House has to adjust. The only word for this is incompetence and chaos."

I hate to tell Sully, but there are lots of reports that there may be far fewer foreign fighters in Iraq than BushCo and the SCLM have told us:

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. officials have for months publicly promoted the notion that foreign fighters and terrorists are playing a major role in the anti-American insurgency in Fallujah and the rest of Iraq. By blaming foreigners, U.S. authorities hope to quash the idea that Iraqis are rising up against military occupation and frame the conflict as part of the wider war on terror. However, foreigners play a tiny role in Iraq's insurgency, many military experts say.

In Fallujah, U.S. military leaders say around 90 percent of the 1,000 or more fighters battling the Marines are Iraqis. To date, there have been no confirmed U.S. captures of foreign fighters in Fallujah – although a handful of suspects have been arrested.

Those who have spent time inside Fallujah have described a city consumed with the fight – fathers and sons fighting for the local mujahedeen and wives and daughters cooking and caring for the wounded.

"The whole city supports this jihad," said Houssam Ali Ahmed, 53, a Fallujah resident who fled to Baghdad when his neighborhood was caught in the fighting. "The people of Fallujah are fighting to defend their homes. We are Muslim mujahedeen fighting a holy war."

Elsewhere in Iraq, U.S. military commanders say foreigners have an even smaller role in the insurgency.

In Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey has said foreigners account for just 1 percent or so of guerrillas. Of 8,000 guerrilla suspects jailed across Iraq, only 127 hold foreign passports, the U.S. military said.

In the south, no one has suggested that foreigners pack the ranks of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Army. The group, which has fought U.S. and allied troops across southern Iraq, is made up of Shiite Muslim radicals, many of whom hail from the slums of Baghdad.

In March, Dempsey called the idea that foreign fighters were flooding Iraq "a misconception."

Foreigners are present, and have had a greater impact on the insurrection than their numbers would suggest, Dempsey and others have said. Foot soldiers of Jordanian terror suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are thought to have operated in Fallujah and launched devastating bombings elsewhere.

At least one al-Qaeda-linked suspect has been detained in Iraq, and a Yemeni man attempting to set off a car bomb was detained last summer. A Kuwaiti newspaper reported Sunday that four of the country's citizens have been killed fighting the occupation.

Marines have captured at least one foreigner in Fallujah, a Sudanese man, said Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, a Marine battalion commander. Five foreign passport holders have been detained in the city, a top military official said. Byrne said he was unsure whether any had fought in the uprising.

But foreign participation appears far lower than U.S. occupation officials like chief spokesman Dan Senor have suggested. Senor has portrayed the battle of Fallujah as one in which foreign fighters and terrorists were holding the city's "silent majority" hostage.

"I would also say that there is a sense of frustration we are hearing among the silent majority of Fallujans about the foreign fighters and international terrorists that are hanging their hats in Fallujah right now," Senor said in a news conference last month. "That is not something the majority of Fallujans support."

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the command's chief spokesman, suggested this week that foreign fighters and terrorists were "driving a wedge" between Fallujah's residents and the Americans.

"I find it hard to imagine that the people of Fallujah would tolerate outsiders turning their town into a battlefield," said Jeremy Binnie, a Middle East military analyst with London consultancy Jane's. "The foreign fighters are not the primary problem. Iraqi nationalists and Islamists are the problem."

Guerrillas in Fallujah have the support of many, a U.S. defense official in Washington said. Referring to the brutal March 30 killing of four U.S. contractors and the mutilation of their corpses, he said, "It wasn't Fedayeen cheering those burning bodies. It was young children and adults."

A British aid worker, Jo Wilding, 29, spent five days working with an ambulance crew inside Fallujah during the fighting. Wilding said rebels detained her and took her to meet local imams and tribal leaders who appeared to be leading the uprising.

"We probably saw hundreds (of fighters) and talked to a couple dozen," she said. "I had the impression it was very much grounded in the local area."

One top U.S. military official – who had publicly blamed foreign fighters for a large measure of the revolt – conceded privately that the U.S. military may never find out whether many foreigners had fought in Fallujah. Many may have escaped, he said.

Previous U.S. claims that foreigners were behind attacks in Iraq have turned out to be shaky.

In March, after suicide bombers killed up to 271 people during the Shiite holiday of Ashoura, U.S. and Iraqi leaders quickly blamed foreign terrorists – fingering al-Zarqawi as the chief suspect. Officials said 10 foreigners had been arrested, five of whom were released, and five of whom later turned out to be Iraqis.

Other suicide bombings, including two in February that killed almost 100 police and army recruits, were initially blamed on foreign groups. Subsequent evidence suggested Iraqis were behind the attacks.


SHOW CONGRESS THE MONEY


From Tom Paine:

April 26, 2004

Dear Mr. President,

On Sept. 14, 2001, just three days after the tragic events of September 11, the Congress of the United States established a $40 billion Emergency Response Fund to assist the victims of those terrorist attacks and to strengthen homeland and national security.

In response to the extraordinary events of that day, the Congress chose to grant an extraordinary amount of flexibility to the Executive Branch. However, the terms of the law were clear. Namely, the president was required by law to keep the Congress fully informed through consultation with the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees prior to the expenditure of funds. Also, the administration was required by law to provide Congress with quarterly reports detailing the use of these funds.

To the best of our knowledge, as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee during 2002, we were provided no consultations by the White House, as required by law, about the use of the $20 billion of funds that were made available to the president for allocation. If this is not an accurate view, please advise us of any record of consultations with Appropriations Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate, as was required by statute prior to the expenditure of these funds.

We have numerous concerns about the administration's stewardship of these funds. According to a recent book by Bob Woodward entitled Plan of Attack, the White House used $700 million of appropriated funds in 2002 to prepare bases in the Persian Gulf region for an attack on Iraq. The Department of Defense has confirmed that $178 million that was transferred from the $40 billion Emergency Response Fund was used in the summer of 2002 for "Supporting the global war on terrorism" in Kuwait, Qatar and other nations in the Persian Gulf region, several months before Congress approved the Iraq war resolution. These funds were spent on 21 projects. We have no record of consultation prior to the expenditure of these funds, nor is there sufficient detail in the Department of Defense quarterly reports to indicate whether funds were used to prepare for the war in Iraq.

In addition, the administration has failed to effectively manage the September 11 Emergency Response Fund. The law required the Office of Management and Budget to report to the Congress on a quarterly basis on the uses of the fund. Yet Congress has not received such a report for nearly one year. The last report was sent on May 9, 2003, reflecting obligations through Feb. 28, 2003, some 14 months ago.

On Sept. 30, 2003, the administration notified Congress of the allocation of $290 million from the Emergency Response Fund. to support the government in Afghanistan. In the transmittal, the director of the Office of Management and Budget indicated that the funds would be drawn from funds previously allocated to the Department of Defense. Yet the May 9, 2003 OMB quarterly report indicated that as of Feb. 28, 2003, DoD had already obligated all but $21 million of its funds. While we had objection to the support for the government of Afghanistan, your report begs the question, from whence came the money? Further, why has there been no quarterly report since May 9, 2003?

On March 12, 2004, the administration transferred $4 million from the Emergency Response Fund to finance a Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. This commission was created, without authorization from Congress, by an executive order that does nothing to guarantee the panel's independence from the White House, and that does not endow the commission with the power to subpoena necessary information from potentially uncooperative witnesses. Again, there was no consultation with the Congress, as required by law, prior to the allocation of these funds.

When the Congress provided the extraordinary authorities in response to the Al Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it expected that tax dollars would be managed carefully so as to provide assistance to the victims of the attack, to secure our homeland and to improve our national security. The letter of the law and consultation with the Congress in the expenditure of appropriated funds provides our citizens with assurance that their tax dollars are spent in accordance with congressional intent. Transparency in this regard is critical. We need a full accounting of the entire $40 billion Emergency Response Fund.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

David R. Obey
Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations
United States House of Representatives

Robert C. Byrd
Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate

QUESTION AUTHORITY


Kerry, unlike Bush, has seen waste of war up close
Questioning war is a mark of one who has been there

by Cynthia Tucker

"John Kerry's campaign has suffered from a curious redefinition of patriotism and heroism -- a revisionism that glorifies armchair warriors while denigrating combat veterans. His combat medals haven't quieted the Bush campaign machine, which sends its minions out to denounce Kerry as unpatriotic and anti-military."

...

"Kerry was, as he now acknowledges, angry about the official lies, the ludicrous military strategies, the lives lost. His rhetoric, as he concedes, was over the top. But his crusade to end the war -- based on his observations as a naval officer who had come under fire after volunteering for hazardous duty -- was the very definition of patriotism."

...

"But, in public at least, Bush seems almost obscenely serene about his decision to send young Americans to die by the hundreds in Iraq. Never mind that he avoided combat in the relative safety of a National Guard "champagne unit" that sheltered other sons of the wealthy and well-connected."

...

"Kerry, by contrast, has seen the waste of war up close. After the combat death of his close friend, Dick Pershing, in 1968, he wrote a letter to the girlfriend who would become his first wife, Judy: "If I do nothing else in my life, I will never stop trying to bring to people the conviction of how wasteful and asinine is a human expenditure of this kind.

"He knows what it means to send other people's children off to die."


TRAGIC FIRE DESTROYS PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY


In an e-mail from a friend (thanks, Sally):

A tragic fire on Sunday destroyed the personal library of President George W. Bush.

Both of his books have been lost.

A presidential spokesman said the president was devastated, as he had not finished coloring the second one.

DISAPPEARING VOTES: IT COULD HAPPEN AGAIN


The indispensable Greg Palast has a must-read at The Nation called "Vanishing Votes." Remember the Florida voter purge? Greg warns it could happen again:

"On October 29, 2002, George W. Bush signed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Hidden behind its apple-pie-and-motherhood name lies a nasty civil rights time bomb.

"First, the purges. In the months leading up to the November 2000 presidential election, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, in coordination with Governor Jeb Bush, ordered local election supervisors to purge 57,700 voters from the registries, supposedly ex-cons not allowed to vote in Florida. At least 90.2 percent of those on this 'scrub' list, targeted to lose their civil rights, are innocent. Notably, more than half--about 54 percent--are black or Hispanic. You can argue all night about the number ultimately purged, but there's no argument that this electoral racial pogrom ordered by Jeb Bush's operatives gave the White House to his older brother. HAVA not only blesses such purges, it requires all fifty states to implement a similar search-and-destroy mission against vulnerable voters. Specifically, every state must, by the 2004 election, imitate Florida's system of computerizing voter files. The law then empowers fifty secretaries of state--fifty Katherine Harrises--to purge these lists of 'suspect' voters."

...

"If you're black, voting in America is a game of chance. First, there's the chance your registration card will simply be thrown out. Millions of minority citizens registered to vote using what are called motor-voter forms. And Republicans know it. You would not be surprised to learn that the Commission on Civil Rights found widespread failures to add these voters to the registers. My sources report piles of dust-covered applications stacked up in election offices.

"Second, once registered, there's the chance you'll be named a felon. In Florida, besides those fake felons on Harris's scrub sheets, some 600,000 residents are legally barred from voting because they have a criminal record in the state. That's one state. In the entire nation 1.4 million black men with sentences served can't vote, 13 percent of the nation's black male population.

"At step three, the real gambling begins. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 guaranteed African-Americans the right to vote--but it did not guarantee the right to have their ballots counted. And in one in seven cases, they aren't.

"Take Gadsden County. Of Florida's sixty-seven counties, Gadsden has the highest proportion of black residents: 58 percent. It also has the highest 'spoilage' rate, that is, ballots tossed out on technicalities: one in eight votes cast but not counted. Next door to Gadsden is white-majority Leon County, where virtually every vote is counted (a spoilage rate of one in 500).

"How do votes spoil? Apparently, any old odd mark on a ballot will do it. In Gadsden, some voters wrote in Al Gore instead of checking his name. Their votes did not count.

"Harvard law professor Christopher Edley Jr., a member of the Commission on Civil Rights, didn't like the smell of all those spoiled ballots. He dug into the pile of tossed ballots and, deep in the commission's official findings, reported this: 14.4 percent of black votes--one in seven--were 'invalidated,' i.e., never counted. By contrast, only 1.6 percent of nonblack voters' ballots were spoiled.

"Florida's electorate is 11 percent African-American. Florida refused to count 179,855 spoiled ballots. A little junior high school algebra applied to commission numbers indicates that 54 percent, or 97,000, of the votes 'spoiled' were cast by black folk, of whom more than 90 percent chose Gore. The nonblack vote divided about evenly between Gore and Bush. Therefore, had Harris allowed the counting of these ballots, Al Gore would have racked up a plurality of about 87,000 votes in Florida--162 times Bush's official margin of victory.

"That's Florida. Now let's talk about America. In the 2000 election, 1.9 million votes cast were never counted. Spoiled for technical reasons, like writing in Gore's name, machine malfunctions and so on. The reasons for ballot rejection vary, but there's a suspicious shading to the ballots tossed into the dumpster. Edley's team of Harvard experts discovered that just as in Florida, the number of ballots spoiled was--county by county, precinct by precinct--in direct proportion to the local black voting population."

Read the whole thing.

TALKING SHRUB DOLL


One of the things that troubles me about the modern Republican Party is their cult of personality. Have you seen their conventions? Talk about terrifying. All these oxford button down white-folks given their first, and for many of them-only, chance to vent their many repressed emotions until the next congregation in four years. They can scream boy howdy. I'll leave it to you to contemplate the similarities. In the past I've seen this exemplified in the bush memorabilia. It disturbed me the way "they" were plastering his smirking visage all over the popular culture. Then the Bush doll came into my life. Of all the liberal households in America he had to be brought into mine.
So I'm thinkin,"someone in my family supported this?! this..."(choose your own slur). My sister pressed the button at his feet and his oversized head began turning first this way then that, his jaw opened and closed as he spoke,"It isn't the pollution that is harming our environment. It's the impurities in our water and air that are doing it." I started laughing. It was a sickly sort of laugh, since I was still unsure this would turn out well, but I was amused and began to thaw. He next said,"I understand small business growth. I was one." Now I'm really laughin. These are all actual GWShrub quotes. Another was, "The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country." But the one that really tore me up,"I know the human and the fish can co-exist peacefully." I almost fell the hell over on that one. But oh no, that wasn't all, )"Verbocity leads to unclear, inarticulate,things.)I stand by all the mis-statements that I have made.) Will the highways of the internet become more few?) Low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.) My tax cut plan is realistic, because it avoids meaningless fifteen-year projections.) I was raised in the west. The west of Texas. It's pretty close to California.In more ways than Washington D.C. is close to California.) I am not part of the problem. I am a Republican.) It's clearly a budget. Its got a lot of numbers in it.) The future will be better tomorrow.) I know how hard it is to put food on your family.) I have made good judgements in the past. I have made good judgements in the future.) If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure.) If there is water that means there is oxygen. If oxygen that means we can breathe.) Rarely is the question asked Is our children learning.") And thank the ever-merciful Lord for it. All those poor children saying "is" in place of "are" until the damage could be set to rights by the hard-working teachers at the school Bush gave his speech at, who also happening to be getting the shaft by Bush's education slash-happy administration. Suffice to say I don't mind if there is a doll out there quoting Bush's idiocy, even if it gives me the same feeling as the monkey with symbols on the cover of Stephen Kings' Skeleton Crew. Freakish creatures the two of em.

Sunday, May 2

THE BUSH-MERCURY CONNECTION


President George Bush is as close to Big Coal as the prehistoric toads making up their product. Big Coal, How Coal Got Its Glow Back , including such industry giants as Peabody Energy, Consol Energy, Arch Coal, and Massey Energy is responsible for the rise in mercury levels throughout the U.S. The health of all Americans, Republican and Democrat, is in danger because of this evil alliance. What else can you call it when the POTUS ok's the poisoning of millions of innocent Americans in exchange for some cold hard campaign cash. Bush signed the ban on partial birth abortion. However, just like his other positions, his anti-abortion stance is merely window dressing to get him elected. If he cared about the unborn, then he would protect them from the mercury level's threatening their development and, most probably, their very lives as well. There is one thing Bush does better than anyone: KILL. Starting in Texas and spreading like a plague across the globe, nobody kills like Bush. Nobody cares less than Bush. Just meet his price.

For more on the axis of evil: Bush-Mercury-BigCoal check: Campaign Money Watch or NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council

More on this from nomore apples. Much more.

FSU rocks again

No politics please, Florida students tell Cheney

"Students at Florida State University asked for assurances that Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) won't deliver a 'political diatribe' or launch a campaign rally when he speaks at their graduation on Saturday."

Yahoo for my alma mater. Of course, I'd love to know whose harebrained idea it was to ask Cheney to speak in the first place.

SHAME


I'm no expert, but then there don't appear to be too many experts in how to withdraw from an untenable position where the outcome is a foregone conclusion -- when democratic elections are held in Iraq, the result is more than likely to be a theocratic government of some kind that will not align itself with American interests. And why should it? What are we to them other than occupiers, humiliators aligned with Israel against Muslims worldwide? (their perception) Now that the Abu Ghraib prison scandal has broken, we have no choice but to get out of Iraq. There simply is no way to win the support of the Iraqis after they have become convinced that we hold them in contempt and are not much better than Saddam.

I'm so ashamed of so much about the past few years -- the fact that we permitted and even sponsored the looting of Iraqi assets, first by standing by while historical treasures were stolen and then by privatizing and selling off to foreign interests everything else worth hard dollars (as opposed to spiritual worth). I'm ashamed of our attitude that the Iraqis should be "grateful" for "bringing them freedom" by killing thousands of noncombatants and occupying their country, when we can't provide jobs, clean water, steady flow of electricity, or basic security. I'm ashamed of our president and his administration, that they would propose offering to the Iraqi people benefits that our own people don't enjoy -- guaranteed healthcare prominent among them -- and that the administration is doing everything in its power to oppose for Americans. I'm ashamed of our media and many Democratic politicians, who were too cowed by Bush's surge in popularity post-9/11 to question his policies and speak publicly about their doubts, therefore abdicating their responsibility as public servants. I'm ashamed of Republican politicians who have gleefully exploited the tendency of the American people to rally round their president in times of crisis, to equate every issue with 9/11 in order to pass cynical legislation, exclude Democratic legislators from the deliberative process, and advance an extreme right-wing agenda that would not be acceptable to an American majority were it not largely sub rosa. I'm ashamed of the rest of us who, despite the critical nature of the times, ignore what is happening unless "personally touched by tragedy." Aren't we all touched by this tragedy, this travesty that is being carried out in our name?

THEIR ELITE VS. OUR ELITE


In the past few weeks I've read quotes by both George Bushes referring to certain journalists or public servants as "elitist." I got a couple of good hoots from that, considering the administration's efforts to create a permanent moneyed elite. There are more palatable elites, and recent episodes of Meet The Press highlight them for me.

I just got through watching Kofi Annan and Ambassador Joe Wilson being interviewed by Tim Russert, and then Lt. Paul Reickhoff (he delivered the Democratic radio message yesterday) on This Week with George S. As was John Kerry last Sunday, they were direct, articulate, candid and thoughtful. Contrast that with George Whiney Bush, Rice-a-roni, and Dick Chaingang, who in their turns with Tim and George repeated ad nauseum the same old same old, "Saddam was a threat. The situation in Iraq is going nicely. We must stay the course. Our enemies hate freedom. The economy is robust and on the right track. We must stay the course." You bet I like an elite that is educated, nuanced, principled, and meritorious. Why would anyone prefer an elite founded almost entirely on money and/or cronyism? Is it that fragile egos have a fear of being looked down on, and so bond with those who do not threaten, by their speech, intelligence or erudition, their self-image?

Also on This Week was Sen. John McCain. Warning: my quotes may not be verbatim, but they're accurate.

"The perception is that we are not acting decisively in Iraq, and there can be no greater mistake in warfare."

"These decisions [ed., number of troops] are not made by the commanders on the ground, but at the highest level. There was a tacit admission that we didn't have enough troops in extending tours of duty. Commanders on the ground have seen what happened to Gen. Shinseki when he suggested that we would need hundreds of thousands of troops to provide security after the invasion. We've got to adjust to the realities of the situation as it exists."

Steph ended his program with a special edition of his regular "In Memoriam" segment. Lt. Col. Scrobel accompanied the body of Chance Phelps, a soldier killed in Iraq, to his home in Dubois, Wyoming, where he presented the soldier's personal effects to his family. Scrobel read, in an emotion-packed voice, an account of his experience. "I didn't know Chance Phelps before he died, but now I miss him." Having watched Ted Koppel's Nightline Friday night and then this, I was in tears in minutes.

At this point, I say get our troops out of this CF and home now.