Saturday, November 20


Welcome to the new Iraq, where the police are untrained, the rebels run free, and we can't do a thing about it. Apocalypse now (pay later):

All of the jihadis in Najaf talk about faith -- it's a shorthand way of saying they're fighting for Islam. But this fighter also puts his beliefs in more sectarian terms, voicing an opinion that many believe is now shared by as much as eighty-five percent of the Iraqi population: "We fight with our friends and brothers, and every day we lose, but we continue to fight because this is our country," he says. "We cannot accept that foreigners will occupy our land -- that is our belief." And, he adds, "We believe that we are right."

This is a very bleak story about a very bleak place at a very bleak time. The world media have focused on the ever-present violence, but it is the quiet outrages that define life here today.

This is one of the better inside-Iraq pieces I've read. It also reminds me of watching the old movie Red Dawn on TV last night with Silmarill. This is the Patrick Swayze-Charlie Sheen-Powers Boothe vehicle where a coalition of Soviets, Cubans and Red Chinese invade and occupy the United States. The action all takes place in a smallish Montana town which has been taken over by the Reds (as has all of the US), and is replete with scenes of collective punishment, KGB intimidation, "re-education" camps for innocent citizens who happen to own guns or talk back, corruption of some the town's citizens and their leaders, constant military marching through previously commercial and residential streets, and an ex-revolutionary Cuban commander who wrestles with his unaccustomed position of aggressor rather than insurgent (yes, he actually uses that word). Swayze leads a pack of teenagers who hide out in the mountains and wreak guerilla havoc on the Red invaders. They are aided by an Air Force pilot (Boothe) who crash-lands in their mountains until he is killed by a Soviet tank. At some point their hiding place is invaded by an armed unit, but the kids are prepared and kill or repel all but a single survivor, who possesses a gadget that seems to be a location detector. They discover that one of their gang, the former H.S. Student Council President whose father is the Red-appeasing mayor of Calumet (their hometown), has snuck home and been turned in by his dad to the Reds, who force the boy to swallow a homing device and return to his friends. Now the Reds will be able to locate them, so the teens face the question: kill the boy or not? He has betrayed them, risked all their lives. They also have to dispose of the surviving Red soldier in some way. Swayze is in torment, but he cocks his gun. Sheen, younger brother of leader Swayze, screams at him: "What's the difference between us and them if we do this?" Swayze returns, "The difference is WE LIVE HERE." He shoots the Red, but he cannot bring himself to kill his friend. Another of the gang (a cold C. Thomas Howell) doesn't hesitate.

Silmarill, who had not seen the picture, (this might be my 10th or more viewing) was obviously struck by the resemblance to the situation in Iraq. I think Riverbend would agree.


The Big Dog has his say:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - In a prime-time television outburst, Bill Clinton ripped old nemesis Kenneth Starr and what the former president portrayed as a gullible media eager to report every "sleazy thing" leaked from a prosecutor bent on bringing him down.

The exchange came in an interview with ABC news anchor Peter Jennings that aired Thursday night, hours after Clinton opened his $165 million presidential library. Clinton blasted Starr and spoke disdainfully of a national media that he suggested was complicit in a scheme to ruin his presidency.

"No other president ever had to endure someone like Ken Starr," Clinton said. "No one ever had to try to save people from ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, and people in Haiti from a military dictator that was murdering them, and all the other problems I dealt with, while every day an entire apparatus was devoted to destroying him."

The former president said he would go to his grave at peace that, while he had personal failings, he never lied to the American people about his job as President.

Clinton added that he doesn't care about what his detractors think about him. Jennings then said it seemed to him that Clinton did care.

The former president responded, "You don't want to go here, Peter. You don't want to go here. Not after what you people did and the way you, your network, what you did with Kenneth Starr. The way your people repeated every, little sleazy thing he leaked. No one has any idea what that's like."


Wolcott has a must-read. He draws upon the Iraq-related prophecies of students of the Vietnam War and Israeli conflicts to conclude:

So thick is the euphoria and triumphalism post November 2nd that I wonder if most of our media, never mind the bovine American public, have any inkling of how ghastily Iraq is going down the drain, and taking the American military with it. We've been so bombarded with "Failure is not an option" that few are willing to assert, as van Creveld and Lind do, that failure may not be an option but it damn well may be the outcome, and quicker than anyone contemplates.

Andrew Sullivan and Thomas Friedman can petition for more troops all they please. It's too late for more troops. We don't have troops to spare as it is, but even if we did, it's too late. It's too late for everything. The blundering mistakes that were made in the first days and weeks of the occupation can't be reversed now--they're incorrectible. The window of opportunity dropped like a guillotine while Donald Rumsfeld was regaling the press corps with his pithy wisdom.


God bless him. The retired senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Los Angeles, is worried about the corruption of the Christian faith in America:

So it should come as no surprise that Townsend wasn't too happy with the role "Christianity" played in the recent presidential election. From where he sits, Christianity was used to divide and conquer.

"This is a scary time," he said. He wonders if the spreading stain of hypocrisy will drive some people away from faith, because under the guise of morality, bigotry was used to get the vote out for President Bush.
Townsend said he was having a conversation with colleagues before the election when someone asked what they should say about the gay issue.

"The answer was that we should say what Jesus said about it. Nothing."

One corruption of the faith, Townsend says, is the selective use of biblical passages by the religious right. Interpreting literally, he pointed out, you can use the Bible to perpetrate all manner of horrors.

"In Psalms, there's a passage about when the enemy comes, you should bash the heads of children against the stones," he said, going on to cite several more examples.

"The Bible must be read contextually, and the real test for us today is: What would Jesus say or do? If he's our touchstone, and Jesus says love your neighbor, that seems more Christian to me than judge your neighbor."
"This business of Bush's about reporting to a higher authority, well, I don't say he shouldn't feel that way. But why does he have to tell us? That's what I mean by triumphalism. How can I answer his claim if he's getting this from direct revelation? It pulls the plug on reasonable discourse.

"Isaiah said, 'Come, let us reason together, says the Lord.'"

So how exactly does one reverse the tide of an evangelical revolution and the cheapening of Christianity?
"By lifting up other voices," Townsend says. Last Sunday, he gave the sermon at Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa and called for "a new hearing of the gospel."

"As has often been said," he told the congregation, "the ground is level at the foot of Jesus' cross. No one is superior there; no one is inferior."

Townsend ended his sermon with the same simple idea he shared with me at the end of our conversation — an idea that has guided him since he began his L.A. ministry more than 40 years ago. "Jesus laid it out when he said, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' "


As an obvious sop to their religious right supporters, House Republicans have taken the first step in their campaign to outlaw abortion. They pulled another fast one, inserting a provision in the huge omnibus spending bill needed immediately to keep the government from having to shut down.

The abortion language would bar federal, state and local agencies from withholding taxpayer money from health care providers that refuse to provide or pay for abortions or refuse to offer abortion counseling or referrals.

Barbara Boxer isn't going to take it lying down:

"I am willing to stand on my feet and slow this thing down," Ms. Boxer said. "Everyone wants to go home, I know that, and I know I will not win a popularity contest in the Senate. But they should not be doing this. On a huge spending bill they're writing law, and they're taking away rights from women."

Frankly, I'm not sure that I oppose such legislation -- I support a woman's right to choose, but I also support a doctor's, or clinic's, right to refuse to perform abortions. It's a matter of personal conscience that I don't believe should be violated on either side by the government.

That being said, I abhor the way the Repugs continue to sneak into other bills legislation they know they couldn't get passed in an open and honorable manner. As I keep saying, these guys are just natural bullies. They love the sucker punch.

When they tried it on Clinton, on principle he just let the government shut down, remember? At that time, the Repugs were trying to impose sharp hikes in Medicare premiums and deep cuts in education and the environment as part of the spending package. The American people surprised Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole and the "Contact With America" victors by supporting Clinton's move. I don't know if they're in a mood to do likewise right now. Probably not.

It doesn't make it right.


Have they no shame? What a question. Most available evidence points to a resounding "NO."

House Republicans showed no shame when they gave Majority Leader Tom DeLay job security even if he comes to be indicted in a political corruption scandal back home in Texas.

Now they're going after one of DeLay's accusers.

The House ethics committee has ruled that a Democratic lawmaker exaggerated in the accusations he brought in June against the majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay.

Mr. DeLay invoked the finding to claim vindication Friday despite having been admonished by the committee after its inquiry into the complaint.

In a letter issued Thursday night, the two leaders of the bipartisan ethics panel told the accuser, Representative Chris Bell, like Mr. DeLay a Texan, that his charges violated a committee rule that prohibits "innuendo, speculative assertions or conclusory statements'' in accusations against a colleague.

"This is a serious matter,'' the senior members told Mr. Bell, who lost his seat in a March primary as a result of a redistricting plan that Mr. DeLay helped devise. They said that "the fact that the committee ultimately determined to issue a letter of admonition to Representative DeLay'' did not lessen Mr. Bell's violation.

In his complaint, Mr. Bell made a number of broad accusations, including bribery and use of government resources for partisan purposes. But the letter said that the facts "did not even come close to supporting this extremely serious claim'' of bribery and that other allegations had turned out to be unsupported as well.

And WaPo has this:

Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Tex.) absurdly termed the Bell complaint "one of the greatest abuses of the ethics process that the House of Representatives has ever seen" -- as if the ethics committee had not found grounds to admonish Mr. DeLay.

The article doesn't reference it, but I heard KRLD news radio report that at least one Republican Congressman is insisting that Bell pay the costs of the inquiry and DeLay's attorney fees.



Pacers brawl with fans at Pistons game.

I've never seen anything like it. It went on and on, getting worse and worse. What are we becoming, starting a war over a basketball game?

On a lighter note, I heard on the radio that ESPN came out with a list of the Top 10 college football helmets. Florida State was sixth, SMU seventh, so our family schools did well. Can't find it on the web, but I believe some of the others were Clemson, USC, and U. of Wyoming.

Friday, November 19


John LeBoutillier, a former NY Congressman, has launched his latest project, the Counter-Clinton Library. Not satisfied with a "virtual" library, LeBoutillier is constructing an actual edifice a few blocks down from the real Clinton Library, on the Arkansas River. Sounds like prime real estate to me. I wonder where the funding is coming from?

At any rate, I listened to LeBoot today on the radio telling Sean Hannity's substitute host why he's doing this: to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency in 2008.

These people are not only sick, demonizing this wonderful woman, wife, mother, and public servant (what did she EVER do to them? try to figure out how to provide health insurance for more Americans? heavens! she's the Antichrist!), but they're crazy. Frankly, Hillary doesn't stand a chance of securing the nomination. We KNOW how crazy they are. I wouldn't want her to get the nomination, not because she wouldn't be a terrific president but because (1) she's too polarizing a figure (though not her fault), and (2) because I'm afraid she wouldn't survive...really. And I value her too much to make her a target for all the crazies in the USA.

Can you imagine some Democratic leader erecting a "Counter-Nixon Library"? I can't. It's the kind of thing that would never occur to us.

Yeah, the Republican Party is the party of VALUES.


This is a discussion that needs to take place on a broader basis among progressives/Democrats. TAPPED debates: Should Dems should come out swinging on Capitol Hill or fight their battles more discreetly?

I'm firmly of the opinion that we should fight, fight, fight. I don't mean nastily, I don't mean unethically, I don't mean the way that Repugs fight. I mean speak out boldly and without pulling punches, I mean use every weapon in our arsenal to expose them and their agenda for what it truly is.

Lying back and playing nice with the Repugs has never worked. They interpret it as weakness, and like sharks smelling blood in the water, redouble their efforts to be uni-partisan and destroy our party and its supporters. How can we forget the past four years? How can we forget 2002? After 9/11, Democrats were the party of national unity, of trying to forge bipartisan approaches to the nation's problems. Repugs not only kicked us in the teeth for our troubles, they lied about it and said WE were the party of disunity.

Most recent example: John Kerry was gracious in his concession and the party leadership has been all-but-silent as they grieve, regroup and re-evaluate. Yet the right-wing yahoos have never been more vociferous than now in their screeching at the top of their lungs on radio, Fox TV, and everywhere else the ugliest and most contentious things about us and what poor losers we are for not just bowing down to worship at the shrine of Furious George and his Fourth Reichians.

You cannot play with the schoolyard bully. He only plays if he gets everything his own way, and even then, he wants you to eat dirt.


From the Transportation Security Administration -- Secret laws you can't even ask about.

Confessions of an Unwitting Accessory to Voter Fraud

This isn't over yet. Yale Law School Associate Dean Ian Solomon:

But then the stories of voting irregularities poured in. There was the Ohio county where a memory card showed several thousand more votes for Bush than there were total votes cast. There was the machine in North Carolina that "lost" several thousand votes. There were the reports of several counties in Florida, all using optical scanner machines, where democratic precincts voted overwhelmingly for Bush. There was the realization that exit poll errors were correlated with the use of electronic voting machines. There was the sense that the data from the precincts where I had worked understated what felt like a Kerry landslide. And there were the increasing allegations of machine vulnerability to hacking made public by and others.

And that's when I realized that I might have been an unwitting accessory to fraud. Like every other Democrat, I had prepared to avoid the problems of 2000 only to be blindsided by new problems in 2004. We had been so worried about the safekeeping of paper ballots that we neglected the security of digital memory devices. We had been so worried about voting law that we neglected voting technology. Most important, we had been so worried about voter suppression in poor and minority areas that we didn't pay attention to voter inflation in Republican areas.

We should have had trained observers - computer scientists, not lawyers! - verifying the integrity of polling data from machine upload through the tabulation of countywide and statewide results. Somehow we neglected the most vulnerable step in the vote-counting process, leaving a gaping hole for error and fraud, casting in doubt the validity of election results in many states.

So what is to be done now? My client conceded the race on the belief that the results were clear. The results are anything but clear, however, and American democratic legitimacy requires an honest reappraisal of the events in Florida and around the country. Three members of Congress have already requested that the General Accounting Office conduct an investigation into the troubling reports of problems with voting machines. The mainstream press must immediately realize that this issue rises above partisanship and demands attention. The time is now for voters from all states that used electronic voting machines to request an audit of results and a manual recount of ballots if possible.
We have a duty as Americans to fix these problems for the future and make sure there is a transparent and trustworthy voting system. What's at stake is not merely the outcome of a close election; what's at stake is our faith in democratic government and the rule of law.


Robert Parry on Bush's "perception management" plan:

Since then, I have talked with CIA veterans who acknowledge that they overstated the Soviet threat despite valid intelligence from their own agents inside the Soviet bloc who were describing the internal problems. But this U.S. intelligence failure was not just one of misjudgments; it was one of ideological pressure that distorted the reality that then became the basis for U.S. government policies and was sold to the American people as how they should perceive the world.

That pattern is now recurring. Intelligence is being manipulated to justify policy, rather than letting objective analysis inform policy. Bush makes his decisions based on his “gut” instincts and then the evidence is compiled to justify his decisions.

The next step will be the continued management of the perceptions of the American people. As U.S. intelligence agencies sing along to Bush’s tune, the propaganda will be amplified through the vast conservative media echo chamber. The mainstream press can be counted on to join the chorus.

Reality was on the ballot on Nov. 2. It seems to have lost.

This is a really good read. Don't miss the "Bush As Victim" passage.

Thursday, November 18


Here's proof of just how aligned BushCo and the Republican Party are with those fundamentalists who "won them the election." It's a tale that should arouse some sound and fury, signifying something:

This article proves I was right a couple of days ago when I said Bush's agenda was more about preserving the investment class and Republican Party as permanent elites:

Instead the administration plans to push major amendments that would shield interest, dividends and capitals gains from taxation, expand tax breaks for business investment and take other steps intended to simplify the system and encourage economic growth, according to several people who are advising the White House or are familiar with the deliberations.

The changes are meant to be revenue-neutral. To pay for them, the administration is considering eliminating the deduction of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns and scrapping the business tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance, the advisers said.
[emphasis mine]

Eliminate the business deduction for employers who offer health insurance to their employees, and you eliminate that worker benefit, guaranteed. That'll at least double the current number of Americans without health insurance. Think that includes a few right-wing Christians? Great trade-off, the wealthy get more tax breaks and the rest of us pay increased taxes and surrender our health insurance to make it happen.

Meanwhile, AmericaBlog points out that the Repugs have already turned their back on the gay opposition crowd:

Kiss the religious right goodbye. Now Bloomberg has caved on [gay] marriage. A day after Jeb Bush refused to endorse a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. A week after Karl Rove reiterated that George W. Bush was fine with civil unions. You get the picture. These guys may or may not think the religious right won them the election, but now they don't really care.

Wednesday, November 17


Falluja arithmetic:

Today's New York Times, page 1:
"American commanders said 38 service members had been killed and 275 wounded in the Falluja assault."

Today's New York Times, page 11:
"The American military hospital here reported that it had treated 419 American soldiers since the siege of Falluja began."

Questions for the class:

1. If 275 soldiers were wounded in Falluja and 419 are treated for wounds, how many were shot on the plane ride to Germany?
2. We're told only 275 soldiers were wounded but 419 treated for wounds; and we're told that 38 soldiers died. So how many will be buried?
3. How long have these Times reporters been embedded with with military? Bonus question: When will they get out of bed with the military?

Today's New York Times, page 1:
"The commanders estimated that 1,200 to 1,600 insurgents had been killed."

Today's New York Times, page 11:
"Nowhere to be found: the remains of the insurgents that the tanks had been sent in to destroy. ...The absence of insurgent bodies in Falluja has remained an enduring mystery."

"Every time I hear the news
That old feeling comes back on;
We're waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the Big Fool says to push on."

- Pete Seeger, 1967


Just discovered this hilarious site of election videos. Be sure to check out "Bush Wins Florida!"

Tuesday, November 16


There's an old saying: "When you're charged with protecting the sheep, don't lie down with wolves." My Christian brethren, those of you who voted for Bush 43, you're going to be sadly disappointed in this pResident. You expected him to be captive to your regressive social agenda, and you've been had. Oh, they'll continue to give you gratifying (but ineffective) lip service, but these BushCo people are the premier pragmatists, and you'd best get that into your heads. They don't care about the same things you do; they only care about winning, and power. And that includes your darling Rick Santorum, who is more concerned with his career than with principle, and isn't above hoaxing the state of Pennsylvania into paying
$100,000 to home-school his six children even though they live in Washington, D.C.

I'm not even genuinely sorry for you. It's been painfully obvious all along that Bush's preference for conservative judges is not to affect cultural regression but to support his soak-the-poor-and-further-enrich-the-wealthy-and-well-connected policies. You caved on the most important election of our time. You chose a morally bankrupt man, a dry (maybe) drunk, a proven liar who cynically promulgates wars and inflicts mass casualties to further his own political ends, a man who remarked, "it'd be a lot easier if this [USA] was a dictatorship," over one of our nation's most serious and faithful servants.

George W. Bush, that fraud, is not going to lead a Christian political revolution in America (thank God -- I don't think He'd approve). He's going to work to ensure an enduring Republican hegemony under which the working classes (and that includes most of us, bub, even if you're making $200,000 a year!) foot the entire bill for government, preserving the investment class as a permanent elite (take THAT, Laura Ingraham). If what you wanted was a spiritual leader, you were looking in the wrong place. Maybe you should have spent more time with the real Christ and less with your lord Bush and his disciples Hannity, Limbaugh and Coulter.

My brothers and sisters, you're going to get what you deserve.

Don't blame me, I voted for Kerry.


It took George W. Bush to reverse the flow of immigration.


Aw, Helen Caldicott, that rabble-rouser. What does an Australian pediatrician, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee who runs the Nuclear Policy Research Institute in Washington, know about anything?

Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr Helen Caldicott fears US President George Bush's re-election will lead to Armageddon and she isn't sure if mankind would survive another four years.

"This is the most serious election that has ever occurred in the history of the human race, without a scrag of doubt," she told

"I don't know if we'll survive the next four years ... I don't think the Americans have, on the whole, the faintest idea - and I have to say also I don't think most Australians do either. But it's not just the threat from nuclear war. It's the threat of what's happening to the environment, the global warming which is occurring rapidly now, to ozone depletion, to species extinction, to deforestation - it's the whole thing."
Mr Bush's win meant "endless war and I think it could mean nuclear war", she said.
"They [the Bush administration] have been able to con the American people with their extremely brilliant propaganda and brainwashing, with the help of the media ... they consistently lie. On the whole the American people don't really understand the dynamics of the right at all. They don't know that Bush et al want to go into Iran next and that they want to dominate the world militarily and that they want to put weapons in space.

"I don't think they [the American public] understand. It is a mandate for Bush to do absolutely anything he wants. I know people don't like me using this word but they're fascists."

She's not too happy with John Howard either.


We've long enjoyed former sportscaster-turned-news-personality Keith Olbermann for his gutsy, witty news show on MSNBC, though we've never had a real read on his political affiliation. For all we know, he could be a right-winger with a sense of humor, though I tend to think of him as a centrist. But now he's under attack by the right-wing media for virtually the only high-impact reporting of voting irregularities in the 2004 election.

Remember Phil Donahue. MSNBC has little or no guts. Write, call, e-mail (;, do what you can to let MSNBC know that his show is the only remaining reason for 48% of the American public to watch the cable network. If he goes, we're gone.


What would we do without Jon Stewart and The Daily Show? Just heard for the third or fourth time on TV and radio today that Condi Rice and Bush are so close "she can finish his sentences." JS: "Well, that makes one of them!"

Gotta love it. She's close to the pResident because she briefed him on foreign affairs (mainly her field of expertise, cold-war Soviet Union, which hasn't been our enemy since it ceased to exist) when he was first a presidential candidate (a decade or so after her field of expertise evaporated). She's now qualified for the job of Secretary of State because she's been close to the pResident, even though "...many experts consider her one of the weakest national security advisers in recent history..."

UPDATE: As Silmarill heard again how extremely close are Condo-LIE-zza and Shrub are, he asked, "Isn't there some kind of a term for that kind of relationship?" I replied, "Yeah. She's his office wife."



It's tragic to see a good man in a situation beyond his ken:

But it's now clear that Mr. Powell long ago chose loyalty over leadership and was not a major figure in the biggest foreign policy decisions of the Bush administration. Most accounts of the rush to war in Iraq show that Mr. Powell was deeply troubled about the planning for the war, its timing and the intense opposition of most of Washington's European allies. But he was unwilling or unable to exert much influence over the president in that critical time, and it's not clear whether Mr. Bush even consulted him before making his decision to go to war.

There were moments in his tenure when Mr. Powell could have resigned over principle. But he soldiered on, leaving when it was safe and convenient for his boss.

If I've learned anything from the Colin Powell saga, it's that the Peter Principle is alive and well. Powell may have been an outstanding soldier, general, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, but he clearly was beyond his depth when it came to the office of Secretary of State. I don't imply he didn't have the requisite intellectual power or diplomatic skills -- he clearly did, and does. But also clearly, he did not have the moral strength to "speak the truth to power," to stand behind his own principles and expertise. Instead, he played the role of the loyal retainer.

And that's a tragic ending to what was, but is now diminished, a distinguished career of success following success in his professional endeavors.

Well, if Condi doesn't make a diplomatic impact with the "furriners," she can always impress them by playing the piano while she ice-skates and lectures them on great moments in the Cold War with a now non-existent Soviet Union.

Monday, November 15


Get acquainted with five new Republican Senators that should scare the pants off you.


If there's anyone reading this blog who doesn't understand that the ultimate goal behind Bush's desire to revamp the tax code is to protect inherited and investment wealth at the expense of ordinary wage-earners, you need to read this:

Doing away with deductions and exemptions would preclude tax incentives that are at the core of the president's domestic policy - tax breaks that help people save for retirement, pay medical bills, cover college expenses, afford state and local taxes and meet the costs of raising a family.

A flat tax that exempts investment income would probably raise the taxes of 90 percent of taxpayers and give a large tax cut to the very wealthy.

There's no way to have revenue-neutral tax reform without winners and losers. Under Bush, it's clear who will be the losers. We have a track record to judge, after all.

And isn't it disheartening and depressing that the mainstream media is suddenly getting semi-bold when it comes to questioning BushCo, much too late to do the country the desperately needed pre-election service of informing the public of the truth? I hope their dereliction of duty, and the attendant consequences for all of us, keeps them up at night.


Bob Herbert:

As for the kids. Well, forget about them. They don't have any money. For 30 years, at least, they've gotten the back of the hand when it comes to playgrounds and athletic facilities. Nearly a fifth of the city's schools lack gymnasiums. Ninety-four percent have no athletic fields. More than half have no playgrounds.

The politicians will tell you we can't afford to do better than that for the kids in the public schools. But a billion-and-a-half-dollar playground for the rich and famous, hard by the Hudson River? No problem.

In the article about Mr. Johnson, The Times's Duff Wilson said:

"He is one of the biggest Republican fund-raisers in the nation, and his grateful allies - President Bush, Gov. George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg - make up a rare triple play of powerful support."

When you lavish money on politicians, you expect something in return.

Someday these pseudo-Bible-thumpers (not true Christians, but faux) will face Their Maker and have to answer the challenge: "Remember how I said what you did for the least of these my brethren, you did unto me? Well, please explain how building a bilion-dollar stadium with taxpayer money for a billionaire businessman was a more godly act than providing basic education facilities for our poorest children. And reflect on just what it was you thought you were doing 'for me', 'cause I just don't get it."

I don't get it either. Bush said he wanted to be the "education president" and during the debates referred to education as the panacea for all our economic ills, especially a lack of jobs. So how does funding a sports venue where individual tickets cost more than a month's worth of school lunches and a few dozen highly paid athletes and their owners reap enormous economic benefits advance the economy? Yeah, just tell me about the jobs that will be created -- peanut seller, beer vendor, etc. -- those are careers with a future a young person can really aspire to. And if the Ballpark at Arlington, American Airlines Center and Texas Stadium, the sports venues I'm most famliar with, are any example, I've yet to see any meaningful development or job creation in the surrounding areas, which in all cases was the primary selling point to the taxpaying public.

But then there's good news too! William Safire is stepping down as a NY Times columnist.


What a way to end a hard day of out-of-town meetings (Charlotte, NC, this time). I come into my room, switch on CNN, and find that as feared, Condi Rice is likely to be the next Secretary of State of the USA.

Which only goes to prove, nothing succeeds like failure -- in BushWorld, at least.

Sunday, November 14

Reach out and touch a wounded soldier.

Thanks, Skippy.


Still catching up from my most recent trip and anticipating next week in Charlotte, via Sysiphus Shrugged Amy Goodman v. Tucker Carlson:

Goodman: We look at the record, a very sad record when it came to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the coverage. There was a simple icing out of a -- Of dissent. That is the greatest disservice in this country to the service men and women of this country. I go back to -- We write about in the exception to the rule, that title, "the exception to the rulers" should be what all media is. Not the motto of "Democracy Now!". We should be the exception to the rulers. There is a reason why our profession, journalism, is the only one that's explicitly protected by the U.S. constitution. We are supposed to be the check and balance on government. We are not supposed to be a megaphone for those in power. During the Persian Gulf, 10 years ago, that's when the media landscape -- NBC was owned by General Electric and still is. CBS was owned by Westinghouse. General Electric and Westinghouse, two of the major nuclear weapons manufacturers in the world making most of the parts for most of the weapons in the Persian Gulf, I don't think it was any accident what we watched on television was a military hardware show. But even during that time I did have the opportunity --

Carlson: They also make medical equipment for the record.

She's one of my soulmates.

Blogger is getting unbearably frustrating. It keeps reverting to prior settings.

Just setting the record straight. The weirdness is not us.


Checking in with Riverbend in Baghdad. You may not want to hear her thoughts and sentiments, but she was once the epitome of the educated and pro-American Iraqi Bush expected to greet us with flowers and then man a new American-installed-and-style democratic government. What hath we wrought?

Iraqis will never forgive this- never. It's outrageous- it's genocide and America, with the help and support of Allawi, is responsible. May whoever contributes to this see the sorrow, terror and misery of the people suffering in Falloojeh.

Does anyone else hate the word "homeland" the way I do?

It just brings back too many memories of "the fatherland." And these days I don't need any reminders since I see the Reich and Stalag looming on every corner.


Letter from a New Yorker to red-state voters:

I am lonely. I feel that we, as a nation, have alienated all our friends and further provoked our enemies. I feel unprotected. Most of all I feel alienated from my fellow citizens, because I don't understand what you are thinking. You voted for a man who started a war in Iraq for no reason, against the wishes of the entire world. You voted for a man whose lack of foresight and inability to plan has led to massive insurgencies in Iraq, where weapons are disappearing into the hands of terrorists. You voted for a man who let Osama Bin Laden escape into the hills of Afghanistan so that he could start that war in Iraq. You voted for a man who doesn't want to let people love who they want to love; doesn't want to let doctors cure their patients; doesn't want to let women rule their destinies. I don't understand why you voted for this man. For me, it is not enough that he is personable; it is not enough that he seems like one of the guys. Why did you vote for him? Why did you elect a man that lied to us in order to convince us to go to war? (Ten years ago you were incensed when our president lied about his sex life; you thought it was an impeachable offense.) Why did you elect a leader who thinks that strength cannot include diplomacy or international cooperaton? Why did you elect a man who did nothing except run away and hide on September 11?


Okay, so there seems to be a debate about what to call those voters who supported Bush from a singularly "values-based" perspective. Evidently, they no longer want to be called the "religious right" since they deem that a perjorative term. It seems they prefer "evangelical Christians."

I've been referring to them as such, in quotes, because that's what I've been reading lately. But as an evanglical Christian (note: no quotes) who supported Kerry and is a lifelong progressive (I don't say Democrat since I vociferously opposed LBJ's pet war in Vietnam) (but let's also not forget his wonderfully progressive, for the most part, domestic policies), I totally reject that appellation for that voting class.

From here on in, I stick to "religious right." There's a difference, you know, between "religious" (which could include everything from the Taliban to the practicioners of Obeah and Voodoo) and "Christian," which should be restricted to the teachings of Jesus Christ -- and certainly not reflected in the popular American "evangelical" movement.


Does this remind you of anyone or anything?

Matt.23, 1-7; 13-17; 23-25; 28-29:

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Courtesy of The Left Coaster.


Watching James Carville and Mary Matalin on Meet The Press. So many people ask, "How can they be married, live together?" I met the couple several years ago at a party and came home with this explanation: each thinks the other is just adorable.

UPDATE: Matalin is running as fast as she can from Tim's questions about evangelical Christian influence upon the Republican agenda. She says their concerns will now be "discussed," but asserts that the country, and the evangelicals, really are more concerned about terrorism and the economy. Unlike the Democrats, she says, the pResident appreciates the governing "process" and won't expect activist judges to enable his agenda. (Note: is this the approved excuse to the EC's?)

Carville, God bless his Southern upbringing, is speaking about Jesus' values, and he points out that Christ never uttered a word about gays but sure spent a lot of his words on caring for the poor.

Mary's steaming at James asserting that Bush wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. What a couple. They're in love, but they sure are individuals. I should add my speculation that the reason their marriage works is because James is a Democrat -- when I met them, she did 3/4 of the talking, with James standing by and beaming in pride. His ego, where she's concerned, is nil. He's a uniter, not a divider. She says, you're wrong, I'm right; he says, let's find a middle ground that doesn't violate principle.


How did I miss this?

On Tuesday, this nation rejected liberalism, primarily because liberalism has been taken captive by the left.

Does anyone else read that as I do? "The nation rejected liberalism because it's the stuff of liberals." Great mind at work here. Liberalism might be OK if it weren't for the liberals promoting it.

...we must help those Democrats who truly want to be free to actually break free of this evil ideology.

Yeah, see, liberalism is an addiction, and we have to help the few Democrats who want to, to escape its nasty throes. And hey buddy, we never called you "evil" -- but give me a little more of this, and maybe I'll get there.

The left bewitches with its potions and elixirs, served daily in its strongholds of academe, Hollywood and old media. It vomits upon the morals, values and traditions we hold sacred: God, family and country.

Excuse me, I and other Democrats happen to hold family and country sacred too. I don't have to "hold" God sacred since by definition He is, and sets the "morals, values and traditions" standards for me. Who sets them for you, James Dobson and George W. Bush? That's idolatry, buddy, and blasphemy to boot.

"Potions and elixirs"? Yeah right, our magic is so powerful it won us control of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

We are one nation under a God they reject. We remain indivisible despite their attempts to divide Americans through their relentless warfare against class, ethnic and religious unity.

Who says we reject God? I evidently hold Him higher in esteem than Pastore does, since to me He's just God, not "A God." He's the only one in my book.

"Indivisible"? Well, since I'm an evangelical Christian and I oppose you to the hilt, I guess there's at least a LITTLE division, huh? And just what do you mean by warfare "against class, ethnic and religious UNITY"? Is your implication that the rich and well-connected should all vote the same way, the poor and disenfranchised should vote the same way, Hispanics should all vote the same way, etc.? Is such unity per se a good thing? Aren't we all supposed to think for ourselves and rise above our personal niches to be Americans?

We continue to be that shining city set on a hill. And we fully accept the responsibility; we are proud to be the envy of the world.

Who in the world is envying us these days? If anyone does, it's for our relative prosperity and freedom, both of which are on the endangered species list until we get rid of this mindless, soulless crowd. It's certainly not for our moral superiority, which was done to death the day BushCo invaded a non-threatening Iraq.



If they were so concerned about moral values they wouldn't be chuckling along while the drug addicted Rush Limbaugh makes jokes about pornographic images with a knowing nod and wink. They wouldn't so easily forgive their leaders who are divorced two and three times in ugly and cruel circumstances. They wouldn't stand for media personalities who call female employees on the phone and regale them with sexual fantasies. These are the icons of their Republican party and media elite. Yet, they are held to a much lower standard than Michael Moore, who may have said inflammatory things but never to my knowledge actually did anything blatently [sic] immoral or illegal.

If these people were truly concerned about moral values you'd think they'd start at home.
Nope. This is a marketing ploy set forth by the Republican party to exploit the tribal differences between the red and the blue the urban and the rural by creating a very convenient illusion of middle American (read: Republican) moral superiority. It's a crock. They consume just as much of this allegedly toxic culture as anybody else in this country. They just lie about it.

Every time I hear the holier-than-thou Sean Hannity interviewing moral deficients such as Dick Morris, Rudy Giuliani (who kept his mistress in the NY Governor's mansion along with his wife and children) or the thrice-married Newt Gingrich and commiserating with them about the decadent liberals, I want to throw up. A cultural revolution, or "evangelical revolution" as envisioned by Jerry Falwell, cannot be led by such men or women. Do you "Christian" right-wingers really believe God would anoint such people?

What was that thing we learned in Girl Scout camp about when you point your finger at someone, your fist is pointing three fingers back at yourself?

The venerable Helen Thomas:

To understand the Iraqi resistance, I suggest reading the Scottish poet Sir Walter Scott. He wrote: "Breathes there a man with soul so dead who never to himself has said this is mine own my native land."

Woa. MoDo has it on for Christian wingers. I'd say her antennae are picking up the same vibes as mine. She's a good Catholic girl, and I'm a good Baptist girl. And who knew that George Stephanopoulos was the son of a Greek Orthodox priest?


I can't cite all the articles that have motivated me to publish this post. I'm just too tired. But I will tell the truth right now, as I know it, with no attribution other than my own experience; after all, a web log is a personal journal, isn't it?

I'm a grandmother now (a YOUNG one!), born and raised in the South. My daddy retired as an Air Force officer, ran JFKennedy's northwest Florida campaign but in later years supported George Wallace. I married into a family of rock-rib Midwest Republicans, who proudly claim to the closest extant relationship to Abe Lincoln while shame-facedly acknowledging a similarly close tie to cousin Rick Perry, currently governor of Texas.

With that said, I have to confess to loving but not relating politically to my extended family, who mostly despise non-whites, the economically challenged, and "liberals" as a point of pride. I don't know where that attitude of hate/fear originated. My childhood memories are filled with Patty, our sweet, hardworking ironing girl; my third-grade class president Kirk, a black American child with so much ability and charm I still wonder what and where he is now; our military chaplain in England, an African-American USAF colonel; and the talented, handsome and fascinating black tenor in my late-teens folk music group. I remember highly charged family circle discussions over the Vietnam War and civil rights, when I was the sole voice anti- and pro- the two issues. Uncle Jimmy, in particular (FSU head coach Bobby Bowden was a pallbearer at his funeral, and his son, my "twin cousin," was largely responsible for convicting Ted Bundy), loved to get me going.

But that's me. Just a month ago I visited my beloved 80-year-old Uncle Johnnie in panhandle Florida and he reinforced all of what I'd hoped were my ancient and now incorrect assessments of my homefolks' political views. In the early eighties, Uncle Johnnie threatened with a shotgun the Puerto Rican beau of his daughter (my cousin and bridesmaid) because he was of a different race. I'd hoped he'd evolved over the last 20 years, but since his sole visitor during our time together was one of his former (black) employees just checking on his well-being out of the goodness of his heart, who Uncle Johnnie insulted with his Lord-of-the-Manor attitude and to whom he gave orders he no longer can enforce, I guess that hope is futile.

I'm wandering, as I often do. Uncle Johnnie is just an example of what urban northern Democrats don't get about Southern voters.

I adore my sisters, brothers-in-law, uncles and aunts and cousins. We're close and supportive of one another in all of life's trials. It's often remarked how unusual it is, the ease with which The Sage and I can assemble our brood of five young adults to visit my Florida family. But the reason is, we're just exceptionally tight, and the kids love them as much as I do.

I wish I were half the woman my younger sister is -- she's my ideal in so many ways. And if I could choose a little brother from all the men in the world, I couldn't find a better man than her husband. My older sister is such a fascinating conversationalist, a multi-talented artist, so amazingly full of life, drama and humor that everyone who meets her falls completely into her thrall. Her husband, too, is one of the greatest men I know, a retired Air Force fighter jock who'd do anything in his power to make the women he loves happy. Our adored AF dad has been gone from us for over a decade now. But Mama, who's into her eighties, is still the same lovely, brilliant, energetic, kind-hearted, genuine LADY she has always been. Eerily, she just gets neater and more lovable every year. But she, like most of her well-to-do widowed friends, still voted for Bush.

I don't to this day understand how I could be so different in my political views from the people I love and respect most -- my family. I even have two daughters who voted Republican (two sons and a daughter voted for Kerry). They're not anti-gay (anything but) but fervently anti-abortion and pro-Israel (so am I, but we see things differently). They're not comatose, in fact very well-informed, but their choices and priorities differ from my own. Yet we're as different in our political outlooks as night and day.

Remember the Judds' hit, "Love Can Build A Bridge"? I used it as the theme music for a video years ago benefitting the Dallas Women's Foundation.

If love's not the answer, I just don't know what is.

Maybe it's time we recognized the differences without judging them. How, exactly, can that be done?