Friday, January 28


Former Clinton aide backs Dean for party chair

While Ickes would not comment on the Clintons' preferences, he is a close ally and would not be endorsing Dean against their strong objections. No one was immediately available in Sen. Clinton's office to comment.

Ickes said Dean "has a real ability to communicate with people in leadership, but also to grass-roots and average Americans. He understands the need for party building."

Ickes' endorsement comes at a critical time in the chairman's race and gives Dean almost 50 of the more than 215 votes he would need to win the post.

I'm just waiting to hear the usual cacophony from the right-wing yahoos that this only means that Hillary wants to put Dean out of competition for the '08 presidential race because he has said that if he becomes DNC Chair, he will not run for president in 2008.


Thanks to BOP News for a much-needed laugh:

How many Bush Administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?

None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. There is no shortage of filament. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?


Common Dreams has a piece asking, Do you feel guilty for the sins of Bush and Blair?"

I don't know about you, but I don't believe in collective guilt. I didn't vote for Bush either time, in fact opposed him bitterly, so I don't feel a single twinge of guilt. I opposed the invasion of Iraq, loudly, to everyone I know, and continue to scream bloody murder about his subsequent moves and policies, both foreign and domestic. I'm not about to assume responsibility for the actions of people I abhor and deride. Instead, I feel outrage, I feel sorrow.

Had I, like so many Germans did during the Hitler years, ducked my head and ignored what's been going on; had I pretended at work or church that I was a good conservative girl or held my tongue when I heard misinformation repeated; had I not proudly sported stop the war and John Kerry for President bumperstickers and slapped a Kerry sign in my yard (did I mention I live in Dallas?); had I not donated all I could to defeat this detestable administration; THEN I might feel guilt.

I'm very very sorry I didn't do more, but I am not the one who sent our young men and women into a disastrous war that would endanger their lives and cost those of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, nor did I support him in doing so. I don't even want to see Bush supporters assuming guilt that should rightfully be planted at the feet of George Bush and his pals. Let those pro-Bushies acknowledge their complicity in enabling the Resident's sins and repent and be forgiven for that. But don't pretend that they bear the same guilt as Bush himself. That's letting him off way way way too easy. I'd much rather those people put their regrets into an anger so great that it would spin the Bush foulness into the darkness forever. Guilty people brood; brooding won't chase the neocons and their puppets out of town on a rail.

I'm much more inclined to shout, "J'accuse!" than to sport sackcloth and ashes. How about you?


KOS asks, "What's the problem with Hillary? and he doesn't mean Hillary IS the problem.

There's been a lot of anti-Hillary flack from lefties lately because of her recent remarks about the abortion issue, and I think that's wrong. I didn't agree with every single word out of her mouth (in particular, I don't think that abortion is ALWAYS a moral tragedy), but her statement was in general a very good argument. Like Andrew Sullivan, I especially appreciated her expressions of respect to those who, because of moral and religious reasons, are on the other side of this issue. Practically every member of my extended family is a part of that group, and though I disagree with their stance, they're not yahoos or haters and I honor their convictions, as they do mine.

Hillary is one of my favorite women in public life and though I've been frustrated with quite a few of her votes as Senator (e.g., regarding Iraq) she deserves our admiration and appreciation. I've never understood why she evokes such animosity and downright hatred among so many Americans.

(I think this is the second time I've agreed with Andrew Sullivan publicly on this blog. Don't worry, he's still linked under "The Opposition.")


Aha! Juan Cole reports that Doug Feith (aka "the dumbest f---ing man in the world") resigned from his #3 post the Pentagon not for "personal and family reasons" but because of impending scandals resulting from multiple FBI and Congressional investigations.


Priceless.The United Church of Christ welcomes SpongeBob.

You know, I'm going to have to locate my nearest UCC and pay them a visit this Sunday.

Hat tip to Uggabugga.


King George will undoubtedly be patting himself on the back after Sunday's "democratic elections" in Iraq no matter the outcome: to these guys it's a triumph that elections have even taken place, never mind the results and the fact that Iraqis don't even know who or what they're voting for. But before he starts trying to export his own brand of "freedom" to other countries, let's consider just what will really be taking place this Sunday:

Iraqi Democrats can't win in this desperate election:

The Americans will undoubtedly urge the new government to include Sunni politicans, even though the main Sunni parties are boycotting the poll. Diplomats talk of a "corrective mechanism" by which Sunnis can be appointed to the constitution-drafting commission which the newly elected assembly will oversee.

While this may be laudable as a technique to lessen the risk of civil war, it serves to undermine the validity of the poll if unelected people are appointed to key institutions afterwards.

It also begs the question of whether American policies - excessive use of force in Sunni areas, and the use of Shia militias in the new Iraqi army in the campaign against Sunni insurgents - are not a bigger factor in exacerbating sectarian tensions than this election's regional imbalance.

The urban middle class is spooked by the violence. The fears that the few foreign civilians in Iraq have for their own safety is nothing to what Iraqis feel for themselves and their families. There is no "green zone" for them. Even the most anti-occupation nationalists are torn between wanting a rapid departure of foreign troops and worries about surviving until nightfall.

Add to that the fear, almost certainly exaggerated, that religious extremists will come to power, and you begin to understand the worries of secular progressives. Although insecurity has increased under prime minister Iyad Allawi, some will vote for him in the hope that he will become the strong hand which he has not yet been. In this desperate process many secular democrats discredit their own values.

"Women are the new victims of Islamic groups intent on restoring a medieval barbarity."

I am an Iraqi woman, and I am boycotting Sunday's elections. Women who do vote will be voting for an enslaved future. Surely, say those who support these elections, after decades of tyranny, here at last is a form of democracy, imperfect, but democracy nevertheless?

In reality, these elections are, for Iraq's women, little more than a cruel joke. Amid the suicide attacks, kidnappings and US-led military assaults of the 20-odd months since Saddam's fall, the little-reported phenomenon is the sharp increase in the persecution of Iraqi women. Women are the new victims of Islamic groups intent on restoring a medieval barbarity and of a political establishment that cares little for women's empowerment.

Having for years enjoyed greater rights than other women in the Middle East, women in Iraq are now losing even their basic freedoms. The right to choose their clothes, the right to love or marry whom they want. Of course women suffered under Saddam. I fled his cruel regime. I personally witnessed much brutality, but the subjugation of women was never a goal of the Baath party. What we are seeing now is deeply worrying: a reviled occupation and an openly reactionary Islamic armed insurrection combining to take Iraq into a new dark age.

UPDATE: "Why insurgents may be the winners."

UPDATE: Mother Jones reports:

The popular wisdom in town is that the 275 assembly members have already been chosen, making the vote a Saddam-style farce, and seeing the IECI offices, barricaded somewhere in the Green Zone, it did seem rather hard to believe that they could really pull off a proper election. The offices also seemed strangely quiet (the man who was kicked out of his office didn't seem particularly busy) with only four days before the election. [Emphasis mine]

Thursday, January 27


Unbelievable. Our soldiers in Iraq need FOOD.

As a member of a military family, I am so disgusted with this administration words fail me. The list of their crimes against our fighting men and women is endless. Yet for reasons that elude me, my two nephews who have returned to the States from Iraq refuse to question their noble leader and voted for him in November. I just don't get it. My father retired after 25 years as an Air Force officer, and yet he was a lifelong Democrat. What's changed?

Check out the link to find a way to help. Do it now. And do it generously. It'll do a lot more good than a magnetic ribbon and meaningless "support our troops" rhetoric.

Someday Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld will have to answer to their maker and explain why they thought it was more important to put more millions of dollars in the pockets of the uber-wealthy than to provide the basic needs of the men and women putting their lives on the line for their leaders (I don't say for their country, though I know that's their intention -- but the fact is, this war has done nobody any good except those three apes).


This year's conference of the World Economic Forum is not saying much good about Bush economics.

But most expressed skepticism that the Bush administration would reduce the trade and budget deficits, which have fed those imbalances. Some said they doubted that China, which is financing much of the American debt, would bow to pressure to allow its currency to rise against the dollar this year.
"The U.S. current-account deficit is a problem for the whole world," Jacob Frenkel, an economist and former governor of the Bank of Israel, said. "I don't see the budget deficit being taken seriously."
"There's nobody home on economic policy in America right now," said Stephen Roach, the chief economist at Morgan Stanley. The twin burdens of household and public debt in the United States, he said, are unsustainable. He described American consumers as "an accident waiting to happen."
With the dollar trading above $1.30 to the euro, near its economically tenable limit for Europe, Roach said, the United States could not rely on currency markets to right the imbalance with the Asian countries that finance American deficits by buying Treasury bills.
The answer, he said, was in the hands of the Federal Reserve, which he said would have to raise rates aggressively to curb the spending binge. Whether it could do that without triggering a recession is an open question, especially given the impending retirement of its chairman, Alan Greenspan.

I heard someone say in the past day or so, "If you haven't sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better get it done right now."

UPDATE: Robert Kuttner has a good article about the situation here.


Bush at yesterday's press conference: "An upbeat president at his news conference on Wednesday as he declared, 'I firmly planted the flag of liberty.'"

Where would that be, I wonder. Certainly not in the U.S., where the Resident has presided over the greatest backslide in civil rights, workers' protections and freedoms in the past century; surely he didn't mean in Iraq, where the people are experiencing liberty from water, electricity and security. Perhaps he was referring to Afghanistan, where Kabul is now reported to be a bustling city but the rest of the country is pretty much subject to the warlords, and women are still imprisoned for running away from home.


Rolling Stone has a great post on its blog about Bush's inaugural speech and his so-called religious faith. I was speaking to The Sage about that very topic this morning.

In a nutshell, Christians are taught, and generally believe, that the only force that can change men's hearts is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It is why there is never a hint in the Bible that the world can or will be transformed by any earthly means. That teaching completely contradicts Bush's "grand, bold vision" of ending tyranny in the world. In other words, there will ALWAYS be bad guys, corruption, etc. and no form of government, no democratic movement, not even "freedom" can do the trick.

I'm no theologian. I don't claim to understand exactly what Bush is doing here. I only know enough to be creeped the fuck out. What's clearly evident here is Bush's messianic streak, front and center. I don't know if Bush sees himself as an agent of God spreading liberty in Jesus' name. Or whether he actually aims to spread Christianity, in the guise of liberty. Either way I'm not happy about it.

Even Republicans are wincing. "It was a God-drenched speech," wrote Peggy Noonan, a former Reagan speechwriter, in The Wall Street Journal, adding that its push for world freedom fell somewhere "between dreamy and disturbing." Quipped Noonan: "Tyranny is a very bad thing and quite wicked, but one doesn't expect we're going to eradicate it any time soon. Again, this is not heaven, it's earth."

Either Bush is using secular language to disguise a Messianic crusade on the part of the American government to convert the world to Christianity, or he's giving evidence that he doesn't know, or believe, diddly squat about his so-called "faith."

Either way, it's more than creepy.


The latest from Riverbend:

E. and I spent the day carrying up buckets of water. The water flow is so weak, it takes about 17 minutes to fill up a 10 liter plastic pail (I was timing it). We've carried up about 10 buckets until now. The water still doesn't reach the kitchen faucets so we've managed to move the dirty dishes to the bathroom and are washing them there.

Unfortunately, the electricity situation has deteriorated. We're getting about four hours for every twenty hours in our area- I'm not quite sure what's going on in the other areas. It feels like we're almost cut off from each other.

Baghdad has been unstable these last few days. We had several explosions this last week and although the number of explosions wasn't surprising, the force of a couple of them had us wincing. There's a real fear of the coming elections and what they might bring. I don't like the idea that they've selected schools as election sites. School is out right now, but the security threat is obvious- elections sites are most likely going to be bombed. Schools are having a difficult time as it is getting things fixed and replaced, they don't need the added trauma of an explosion. It's just a bad idea.

The curfew begins at six from now on and there's also a "driving curfew" in addition to the ordinary one. I don't have the exact hours but I know that during several hours of the day, it's ok to be on foot but not ok to be in a car. I don't have the slightest idea how they're going to enforce that one.

Ghazi Al Yawir, our alleged current president, was giving an interview on LBC yesterday. Apparently, he and Allawi aren't on the same election list anymore because they had a falling out as to who should head the list. Ghazi proposed the president should be the head of the list and Allawi claimed somebody Shia (Allawi himself) should head the list. Now, Allawi's group is 285 on the election ballot and Yawir's group is 288, I think.

My favorite question during the interview was when the reporter asked him what he thought of Chalabi possibly being arrested. Ghazi looked flustered and a little bit unsure (apparently he hasn't been watching CNN while abroad). He actually told her that the person who claimed Chalabi was wanted was probably speaking his own "personal" opinion and that it wasn't representative of the 'government'- never mind the person in question was the Minister of Defense. To be perfectly fair, he didn't mention which government he was referring to- I couldn't tell if he was talking about the US, the UK or the current group of Puppets. He claimed that for Chalabi to be arrested there needed to be 'proof' he had actually done something wrong... the Interpol wanting him really wasn't enough.

It's a bit discouraging to watch the current government so uncoordinated. It's like they don't even communicate with each other. It's also somewhat disturbing to know that they can't seem to decide who is a criminal and who isn't. Isn't there some "idiots guide to being a good Vichy government"?

They say communications are going to be cut off very soon. Telephones are often cut off and the mobile network is sometimes inaccessible for days at a time but we heard there also might not be web access. Students have a mid-year vacation right now but no one is going anywhere. Almost everyone is trapped at home because the security situation is quite bad and no one wants to be caught in an area where an explosion might occur. If the bomb doesn't kill you, the Iraqi security forces or the Americans might and if no one kills you then you risk getting a bag over the head and a trip to Abu Ghraib.

There's an almost palpable anxiety in the air these last couple of weeks and it's beginning to wear on people- fuel shortages, water shortages and a lack of electricity. It's like the first days of the war all over again.

Wednesday, January 26

"There is an ecological timebomb ticking away"

Countdown to global catastrophe:Climate change: report warns point of no return may be reached in 10 years, leading to droughts, agricultural failure and water shortages.

The countdown to climate-change catastrophe is spelt out by a task force of senior politicians, business leaders and academics from around the world - and it is remarkably brief. In as little as 10 years, or even less, their report indicates, the point of no return with global warming may have been reached.
The report starkly spells out the likely consequences of exceeding the threshold. "Beyond the 2 degrees C level, the risks to human societies and ecosystems grow significantly," it says.

"It is likely, for example, that average-temperature increases larger than this will entail substantial agricultural losses, greatly increased numbers of people at risk of water shortages, and widespread adverse health impacts. [They] could also imperil a very high proportion of the world's coral reefs and cause irreversible damage to important terrestrial ecosystems, including the Amazon rainforest."

It goes on: "Above the 2 degrees level, the risks of abrupt, accelerated, or runaway climate change also increase. The possibilities include reaching climatic tipping points leading, for example, to the loss of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets (which, between them, could raise sea level more than 10 metres over the space of a few centuries), the shutdown of the thermohaline ocean circulation (and, with it, the Gulf Stream), and the transformation of the planet's forests and soils from a net sink of carbon to a net source of carbon."

But Social Security -- now THAT's a CRISIS. How do these bozos expect us to end tyranny all over the world, defeat global terrorism (which includes waging war here and there), phase out Social Security, make the tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, and invest in saving the ecology as well? We can't do EVERYTHING. But there's just no pleasing some people.


Bad Attitudes' Moe Blues on Social Security Privatizing: Pick A Truth:

Using only the most pessimistic projections for future economic conditions, Bush and his privatization acolytes claim Social Security will be bankrupt. “Private accounts,” they tell us, will provide better returns.

These two statements are mutually exclusive. If future long-run economic conditions are so poor that Social Security goes “bankrupt,” then the return on any form of private accounts will likely be flat or even negative. If economic conditions are such that private accounts will grow to provide adequate retirement incomes for all Americans, then Social Security itself will be awash in new money and will not go bankrupt.

It is not physically possible to have it both ways.


A great argument against confirming Condi:

Her failed policies and decisions have cost thousands of American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives, encouraged terrorism, and made our nation less secure, distrusted and despised around the world. It's a tribute to her cunning that she usually escapes responsibility for her horrible negligence and the willful deeds that have resulted in violence and suffering.

On three important counts, Dr. Rice failed her nation as she covered for the man she serves. She ignored specific warnings about bin Laden's evil intentions and the threat of al-Qaeda terrorist attacks. She was a leading fabricator of the phony reasons for war in Iraq, helping shift attention from the real threat. She is responsible for overseeing the stabilization of Iraq and the rebuilding of Afghanistan.

Failure on any one of those counts would be career-enders for just about anyone, but Dr. Rice is not judged by conventional standards. Condi has George W.'s ear, and advancing and defending their shared failures assures her longevity in office.


Everday on my commute into Dallas I have to pass a billboard with a huge picture of Osama Bin Laden and a caption reading "Some people want you dead." It's one of about 20 scattered throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex advertising radio talk station KLIF, home of Darrell Ankarlo, Glenn Beck, Greg Knapp, Bill O'Reilly et al. This "shockvertising" is a milder version of the original campaign, which included a television commercial depicting a sweet little American family with crosshairs over the baby's head. The TV ad still runs, but now the crosshairs aren't fixed over the baby.

Listening to someone I THINK was the station manager this morning made me sick. He asserted that the station is not trying to use fear tactics to promote itself but rather, (paraphrased) trying to wake us up to reality.

My reality does not include or necesssitate worrying night and day about whether or not some wild-eyed Muslim extremist is perched somewhere unseen getting ready to put a bullet into my grandson's skull. Gangs, home invaders and carjackers are a much greater danger to our personal safety here in the Metroplex, but I don't see anyone mounting a huge campaign to "wake us up" to those threats. Personally, I feel more threatened by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice and their actions, which could very well be the cause of one or more of my loved ones being drafted to fight a war we didn't choose, but you can bet if I put up such a billboard here in Texas I'd be lynched.

The truth is, there are people who want to change our reality, and they're not just Muslim extremists--they're called the Bush administration, right-wing talk radio, Fox News, and others of that ilk. I'm not buying.

Tuesday, January 25


Boy, can Greg Palast tell the painful truth:

But, dear Reader, there's one cold statistic Kerry voters must face. The fact that Republicans monkeyed with the votes in swing states doesn't wash away that big red stain: 59 million Americans marched to the polls and voted for George W. Bush.

If Osama doesn't scare you, THAT should.

Because if 59 million Americans agreed with George Bush that every millionaire's son, like him, shouldn't have to pay inheritance taxes; that sucking up to Saudi petrocrats constitutes a foreign policy; that killing Muslims in Mesopotamia will make them less inclined to kill us in Manhattan; that turning over social security to the casino operators that gave us Enron, WorldCom and world depression is smart economics; then, fine, Mr. Bush deserves the job. But most Americans, bless'm, don't actually believe any of that hokum. YET MOST STILL VOTED FOR HIM!

What we witnessed on November 2, 2004 was a 59-million strong army of pinheads on parade ready to gamble away their social security so long as George Bush makes sure that boys kill each other, not kiss each other; who feel right proud that our uniformed services can kick some scrawny brown people in the ass in some far off place when we're mad and can't find Osama; who can't bring themselves to vote for a guy with a snooty Boston accent who's never been to a NASCAR tractor pull and who certainly thinks anyone who does is a low-Q beer-burping blockhead. And they are.

Today we witnessed more than the coronation of some privileged little munchkin of mendacity. It is the triumphal re-occupation of our nation by nitwits who think Ollie North's a hero not a conman, who can't name their congressman, who believe that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were going steady, who can't tell Afghanistan from Souvlaki-stan. Bloated with lies and super-size fries, they clomped to the polls 59 million strong to vent their small-minded little hatreds on us all.

When I looked today at the oaf of office, I could not shake the feeling that this election was an intelligence test that America flunked.


'nuff said.

Where are Bill, Chet, David and Walter when we need them? Two are dead, two have tried, but nobody's listening anymore.

It's not your independent, fact-based news anymore. Stick to the Internet.

Just heard from Brit Hume: Former TNT and CNN founder Ted Turner re Fox News: Fox is the Bush administration's propaganda tool.



I was searching for a post a reader inquired about and came upon this post from April of last year. This excerpt seemed worth remembering:

DOESN'T ANYONE REMEMBER what it was like in the later years of the VietNam War? Very similar to the current conflict in Iraq in these respects:

(1) politicians were running the war instead of the generals;
(2) politicians were lying to the nation about the progress of the war;
(3) our fighting men were mostly boys drafted because they couldn't afford or gain entry to college, National Guard duty and other deferments that saved the hides of the more affluent;
(4) these young men were ordered or encouraged to exhibit animalistic behavior;
(5) lower-echelon officers such as Calley and Medina were crucified for such behavior while their masters went unpunished;
(6) these young men died for nothing. VietNam today is a united country, and communism has been pretty much discredited in most of the world.
(7) we didn't take much better care of our wounded than we're doing today -- soldiers just don't seem to count to some people unless they're on the front line -- and judging by how poorly equipped our men and women are in this conflict, not even then. When I was a teen, the best surfer in our town came back from Nam with no legs -- and the military wouldn't provide prosthetic ones for some reason that escapes me now. Our city threw a fit and eventually he got those prosthetics, but I penned a poem at the time that included the line, "The surfer man returned to town but with a certain lack; the government took his legs from him and wouldn't give them back."

Where John Kerrey is going wrong is in not remembering what he felt when he said, "How do you ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake?" The invasion of Iraq was a criminal mistake, and I don't want one more American soldier to die for that mistake -- Bush's mistake, Cheney's mistake, Rumsfeld's mistake, Rice's mistake -- and yes, Colin Powell's mistake. Say what you will, Colin, about "good soldiering" -- that's the same excuse the Nuremberg defendants used.

Rumsfeld is bulletproof now, but Condi Rice isn't. She should be made to answer for the crimes and errors of the Bush administration foreign policy apparatus before she is confirmed (a foregone conclusion) as Secretary of State.



"It is true, of course, that the phrase 'separation of church and state' does not appear in the Constitution. But it was inevitable that some convenient term should come into existence to verbalize a principle so clearly and widely held by the American people.... [T]he right to a fair trial is generally accepted to be a constitutional principle; yet the term "fair trial" is not found in the Constitution. To bring the point even closer home, who would deny that "religious liberty" is a constitutional principle? Yet that phrase too is not in the Constitution. The universal acceptance which all these terms, including "separation of church and state," have received in America would seem to confirm rather than disparage their reality as basic American democratic principles."..............Leo Pfeffer

DISCLAIMER:  The "Religious Freedom Coalition of the Southeast" is in no way connected to the Right Wing Christian "Religious Freedom Coalition".  In fact we were organized prior to 1992.

Famous Quotes Regarding Freedom Of Religion:

"The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine." George Washington

"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion ..." from the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams, June 10, 1797.

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State." Thomas Jefferson, in his historic Danbury letter, January 1, 1802

"Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?"   James Madison, in "Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785

"The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of church and state."  James Madison, March 2, 1819

Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State."    The U.S. Supreme Court, 1947

"They have kept us in submission because they have talked about separation of church and state.  There is no such thing in the Constitution. It's a lie of the left, and we're not going to take it anymore." Pat Robertson, adressing the ACLJ, 1993

"The national government ... will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality."  Adolf Hitler

I have just been informed by a reader that there is a right-wing blog also entitled "No More Apples" that has mainly been documented in reactionary e-mail messages to right-wing blogs.

I trust that there is no confusion as to where I stand politically.



Whoa. The indispensable Corrente gets a huge tip of the hat for this one -- The voice of reason:

In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.

The Iraqi War is serving as a great catharsis for multiple conservative frustrations: job loss, drugs, crime, homosexuals, pornography, female promiscuity, abortion, restrictions on prayer in public places, Darwinism and attacks on religion. Liberals are the cause. Liberals are against America. Anyone against the war is against America and is a liberal. "You are with us or against us."

This is the mindset of delusion, and delusion permits no facts or analysis. Blind emotion rules. Americans are right and everyone else is wrong. End of the debate.

That, gentle reader, is the full extent of talk radio, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal Editorial page, National Review, the Weekly Standard, and, indeed, of the entire concentrated corporate media where noncontroversy in the interest of advertising revenue rules.
It is amazing that only a short time ago the Bush administration and its supporters believed that all the US had to do was to appear in Iraq and we would be greeted with flowers. Has there ever been a greater example of delusion? Isn't this on a par with the Children's Crusade against the Saracens in the Middle Ages?

Delusion is still the defining characteristic of the Bush administration. We have smashed Fallujah, a city of 300,000, only to discover that the 10,000 US Marines are bogged down in the ruins of the city. If the Marines leave, the "defeated" insurgents will return. Meanwhile the insurgents have moved on to destabilize Mosul, a city five times as large. Thus, the call for more US troops.

There are no more troops. Our former allies are not going to send troops. The only way the Bush administration can continue with its Iraq policy is to reinstate the draft.

When the draft is reinstated, conservatives will loudly proclaim their pride that their sons, fathers, husbands and brothers are going to die for "our freedom." Not a single one of them will be able to explain why destroying Iraqi cities and occupying the ruins are necessary for "our freedom." But this inability will not lessen the enthusiasm for the project. To protect their delusions from "reality-based" critics, they will demand that the critics be arrested for treason and silenced. Many encouraged by talk radio already speak this way.

The author of this article, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy during 1981-82. He was also Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review.

$1.5 billion for a U.S. embassy in Iraq????

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I work for a Fortune 250 company that counts among its diverse operations one of the largest construction firms in the world. I won't be specific about the many national landmarks that we've erected over the years, but I will say that as Director of Corporate Marketing I have a credible knowledge base about construction projects that allows me to SCREAM BLOODY MURDER at the idea of spending $1.5 BILLION for an embassy in Iraq. What the Sam Hill are we contemplating building? The dadgum Library of Congress didn't cost a fraction of that amount; not even the entire Orlando International Airport cost so much! We could build a world-class embassy for around $100 million, and THAT would be excessively luxurious for an embassy in IRAQ. My company has constructed world-class resorts for a fifth of the $1.5 billion estimate being bandied about. In fact, the World Trade Center cost about the same $1.5 billion.

Now what, exactly, are we talking about here?

I suspect we're talking about huge graft and corruption costs -- I want to see, immediately, who is the contractor for this job. No reputable American construction firm would give such an estimate unless there were such huge security problems and attendant costs that the job shouldn't be performed in the first place.


I finally read Bush's inaugural speech. What a load of codswollop. "Freedom this and freedom that blather blather blather." It's alternately frightening and boring. Did someone say the rhetoric was "soaring"? Yeah, soaring as in over the top. I found it puerile. I wrote a better speech for the D.A.R. competition (which I won) in the ninth grade.

EJ Dionne:

But the Freedom Shuffle is a terrible mistake for Bush, because the greatest barrier to Bush's success in his second term is the intense cynicism he has inspired about his motives. [emphasis mine] This cynicism affects the near majority that voted against him at home but also a vast number of citizens in nations around the world that were once American allies. It is a cynicism that, if it spreads further through the Muslim world, could doom the very best aspirations of Bush's policy.

Bush supporters see this cynicism as mean-spirited. In fact, it is the bitter fruit of bitter experience. A war originally justified in the name of ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction is transformed with some well-chosen phrases into -- presto! -- an episode in the long struggle for freedom. The shifting rationale is never acknowledged. His disquisition on this struggle did not even mention the central theater of battle in Iraq. No need to mire grand dreams in grim realities. A nation that should be the world's leading advocate of human rights gets caught up in a torture scandal, and the president has yet to hold himself or high officials accountable for this deep stain on his country's reputation.

And now we learn that we should not read too much into the president's enchanting freedom talk. He just wants to look "bold."

For his own sake and ours, Bush and his advisers should not be making it easier for adversaries and skeptical allies to dismiss freedom as an advertising slogan used to justify whatever foreign policy the administration decides to pursue. All presidents need a dose of realism, but surely this president doesn't want it said that his willingness to stand up for freedom depends on what the definition of "freedom" is.

You can spin a lot of things. Freedom shouldn't be one of them.

UPDATE: Dan Froomkin has a good wrapup of reaction to the speech.


So what else has he lied about?

Senate Democrats put off a vote on White House counsel Alberto Gonzales's nomination to be attorney general, complaining he had provided evasive answers to questions about torture and the mistreatment of prisoners. But Gonzales's most surprising answer may have come on a different subject: his role in helping President Bush escape jury duty in a drunken-driving case involving a dancer at an Austin strip club in 1996. The judge and other lawyers in the case last week disputed a written account of the matter provided by Gonzales to the Senate Judiciary Committee. "It's a complete misrepresentation," said David Wahlberg, lawyer for the dancer, about Gonzales's account.

Well, if Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood could be denied the job because they hired undocumented domestics, this should do it for Alberto. Everyone knows that LYING is an impeachable offense, no? (Ask Bill Clinton) SOOO much more serious than endorsing and justifying torture, or failing to brief the governor properly in death penalty cases.

But then again, with this teflon president, who knows if ANYTHING will stick?

If one single Democrat votes for this punk, I really WILL throw my shoes at the TV.


If the rumors/reports are true that the Clintons are trying to derail Howard Dean's campaign for DNC Chair, I think it's time for them to face reality: Bill can't run again for president, and Hillary is dead meat for the job. I respect her, I admire her, I even have a great deal of affection for her. But she ain't going to be POTUS, and I'm not even sure she should be.

The Big Dog had his day, and it was a good one for all Americans. Hillary, despite all her accomplishments, just hasn't lived up to my expectations since they left office. First, she voted for the Iraq invasion, which Howard Dean, courageously and correctly, opposed. She has been all-too-quick to support Bush in some of his most tendentious appointments and policies, positioning herself as among the more Bush-lite of Democrats. Despite this, she is still perceived among non-progressives as too liberal for America. That's farcical since it is nonetheless true that she is too centrist or moderate to lead the Democratic Party under current conditions. She cannot appeal to moderates since she is perceived as too "liberal." And she cannot appeal to true liberals, since she is not one of us.

Howard Dean is the man for these times. If the Clintons wage a political war against him, they will have despoiled their own legacy and injured the future of the Party. I hope and trust that they will recognize this and cease any attempts to steer the Party back to the center. When the Republican Party has pulled so far to the right, as it has under Bush, the center is no longer a viable position -- that's Richard Nixon's old place. At this point in time, the former DLC center is too far to the right; it's all about toadying to corporate interests and denying, or minimizing, the needs of the common man. I'm for a new FDR, a fiscally responsible but socially engaged Democrat with the guts to preserve Social Security and formulate a national healthcare program, reassert American moral leadership and prestige in the world, and renew the optimistic spirit that has kept America a global beacon of light for two centuries. Americans (including, or especially, those who voted for Bush in 2004) are obviously hungering for a strong father figure to protect them in these perilous times. Howard Dean is a strong enough personality to provide that assurance. Hillary is not.


Keep the mantra going. After all, it's the administration's own verbage...they're just trying to change it now to make the package more attractive.


The Left Coaster documents Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's Democratic agenda.


I was amazed and confounded today when a couple of our IT guys came up to investigate a problem I was having with my PC (I'm primarily a Mac person, one of only a half-dozen of 17,000 employees but of enough stature to command some limited support -- suffice it to say, I have both a PC and a Mac in my office). My password had been "johnkerry" but when prompted today to change it, I selected "democrat." When I defiantly explained the change, I was delighted to find that both IT guys were themselves Democrats, one formerly a Lithuanian national (now a U.S. citizen) and the other a born-and-bred American.

The Lithuanian, interestingly, was initially cautious in his support for my politics. He was obviously very frightened of being out of the mainstream or majority of American political thought. But when his superior said he also was a Democrat, he became (by his standards, I would suppose) bolder. The two of them spent quite a long time trying to solve my minor problem, interspersing it with mild comments upon the state of the nation.

I relate this because the Lithuanian guy finally delivered a short but compelling statement about "freedom" and "liberty" re Bush's inaugural speech. "How does he [Bush] mean to stand by those seeking freedom?" he asked. "Is he going to wage war against all the countries in the world who don't encourage it? There are so many nations where people are fighting in the name of freedom. Some of them use that word to disguise their true motives, which are freedom from the current government, but not liberty for those who oppose their own doctrines. Who decides what is freedom, and from what?"

A good question. It's my own.


They'll get what they deserve. Backers of Gay Marriage Ban Use Social Security as Cudgel.

Har-de-har-har-har. They fostered the blasphemous cult-worship of GWB as the new Messiah -- now they get the reality of the most "political" president in recent memory. He was never a principled person, much less a dyed-in-the-wool Christian fundamentalist. He doesn't even often attend church or demonstrate much knowledge of the Bible. But his speechwriters do! How often do these guys have to put their faith in a politician and be disappointed before they realize that God cautioned against such for a reason?

Billy Graham and his support of the corrupt Richard Nixon should have been a wake-up call.

I'm usually loathe to criticize religionists who have helped others to find their way to God. But
isn't it ironic that the most devout evangelical (Southern Baptist, to be precise) politicians, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, are both despised by most of their own evanglical Christian brethren?

I can't find it in Google, but both The Sage and I vividly remember an interview with Billy Graham in his later years where he confessed that his biggest mistake was in equating Christianity with "Americanism" and thus with Republican politics.

Would that he, or his son-and-heir Franklin, would speak such again. I cannot but conclude, from my observations of current "Christian right" rhetoric, that God the Father will say to them at the end, "I knew you not."


Madness in High Places.

The crazies are confident that the lessons they've learned politically (i.e., how to use Christian fundamentalism to gain "political capital" to promote a program of indefinite war throughout Muslim Southwest Asia) will produce smoother regime-change in Syria and Iran. And even if we don't, they may ask themselves, what's wrong with the worst-case scenario?

Say in 2008 there are 300,000 US troops deployed from Afghanistan and Iran to Syria and Lebanon, holding some key cities, losing 20 KIA every day. That's a small price to pay for US strategic control over the region, which can in fact occur in a climate of what "Dr. Strangelove" Rumsfeld calls "creative chaos." It will take a generation to reform the Arabs and prepare them [to] embrace an American-style political setup ("democracy"). Maybe the world will turn on us completely, and accuse us of Nazi-like aggression. Maybe we'll have to pull out of the UN to display our contempt for those foreign pissants. So what? So think the madmen.

I don't think for one moment that George W. Bush has seriously considered, or deliberated, in his own mind the consequences of his rhetoric or actions. This is a man who doesn't want to hear bad news. It might "shake his faith," I suppose.

What can we expect during the next four years? More and more I'm convinced that the amazing and frightening disconnect this administration suffers from reality will either lead us to (1) the very armageddon the Christian Right longs for, but which will in reality be as painful for us Americans as for the rest of the world; or (2) a complete repudiation of Bush, and thus the Republican Party, policies that will guarantee a Democratic majority for some decades hence.

God help us towards the latter scenario before we perish. We progressives take no pleasure in catastrophe. It's our children who will suffer the consequences of this disastrous course written in our blood, and that of our fellow men.

What could go wrong in 2005? Read this.

Monday, January 24


Senate Democrats Speak of Slowing Confirmation Votes.

Hey, we may be seeing signs of a true "loyal opposition" --

"The honeymoon is over and we are now in the full throes of our new marital arrangement here," said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, after he and other Democratic leaders introduced a priority list on Monday sharply at odds with that put forward by Republicans.

While Republicans listed changes in Social Security as their No. 1 objective, Democrats made enlarging the armed forces and providing new military benefits as their top goal, rejecting the idea that the retirement program needed urgent repair. A poll of all Democratic senators by the Democratic staff of the Senate Finance Committee found none who supported diverting Social Security tax revenue into personal investment accounts, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's initiative.

"This isn't a crisis, so why should we be lurching forward?" asked Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the new Democratic leader.

Democrats conceded that the new 55-45 split against them in the Senate put them at a severe disadvantage in pushing their legislative ideas or derailing those they did not like. And they acknowledged that, in the end, Mr. Bush would get his cabinet choices.

Yet they also demonstrated a willingness to use procedural weapons to make their points, even at the risk of being branded obstructionists.

UPDATE: After speaking to multiple Republican voters (mostly corporate executives) since the election, I'm convinced that many of them voted for the Shrub in a knee-jerk reaction, out of a habit of voting for Republican candidates. They neither support Bush's policies nor his ideology, and are in fact frightened to death that the next four years will see a continuation or escalation of his foreign policy adventurism. They don't even back his domestic policy agenda, fearing his fiscal policies will cause greater damage to the trade balance, grow deficits wildly, bow to right-wing fundamentalist Christian causes they do not support, and further endanger the prestige and influence of the U.S.A. abroad.


The latest report from Riverbend:

There hasn’t been a drop of water in the faucets for six days. six days. Even at the beginning of the occupation, when the water would disappear in the summer, there was always a trickle that would come from one of the pipes in the garden. Now, even that is gone. We’ve been purchasing bottles of water (the price has gone up) to use for cooking and drinking. Forget about cleaning. It’s really frustrating because everyone cleans house during Eid. It’s like a part of the tradition. The days leading up to Eid are a frenzy of mops, brooms, dusting rags and disinfectant. The cleaning makes one feel like there's room for a fresh start. It's almost as if the house and its inhabitants are being reborn. Not this year. We’re managing just enough water to rinse dishes with. To bathe, we have to try to make-do with a few liters of water heated in pots on kerosene heaters.

Water is like peace- you never really know just how valuable it is until someone takes it away. It’s maddening to walk up to the sink, turn one of the faucets and hear the pipes groan with nothing. The toilets don’t function… the dishes sit piled up until two of us can manage to do them- one scrubbing and rinsing and the other pouring the water.
People in many areas are being told that if they don’t vote- Sunnis and Shia alike- the food and supply rations we are supposed to get monthly will be cut off. We’ve been getting these rations since the beginning of the nineties and for many families, it’s their main source of sustenance. What sort of democracy is it when you FORCE people to go vote for someone or another they don’t want?
It's amazing how as things get worse, you begin to require less and less. We have a saying for that in Iraq, "Ili yishoof il mawt, yirdha bil iskhooneh." Which means, "If you see death, you settle for a fever." We've given up on democracy, security and even electricity. Just bring back the water.