Saturday, November 13, 2004
The VP is in the hospital. He can't breathe so good.
Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a history of heart attacks, was taken to the hospital on Saturday with shortness of breath.
Cheney, 63, who has a cold, was to undergo testing at George Washington University Hospital, said White House spokesman Ken Lisaius.
You know, I've been awfully sick myself these past several days. I was talking to a friend on the phone last night, and I broke into one of my hacking fits, the kind that seem to be earing thie lining from your lungs. He said, "You should see someone about that." And I said. I can't.
As bad as it is, at least here in America George Bush doesn't actually own the media. Ain't so in old Italy.
Italy's most respected newscaster has been abruptly moved from his prime-time news programme on a network owned by Silvio Berlusconi, raising new fears over the prime minister's influence over the media.
"The management of Mediaset summoned me to tell me they wanted to change the editorship of the bulletin", [Enrico Mentana] said. "That is their right as business executives. My displeasure is equally clear."
Asked in an interview with the newspaper la Repubblica if there had been a "political demand from above", Mr Mentana replied: "Let's not be hypocrites. Of course, there was."
[The 14-year veteran] was the second high-profile TV personality to vanish this year. In April the anchorwoman of the main evening news on the state-owned Rai, Lilli Gruber, resigned to stand as an opposition candidate in the European elections and claimed her move was in protest at editorial interference.
Dare we even blush?
Some whiny, bad-toothed, UN-loving limeys are suing Uncle Sam for a teensy, tiny little no-big-whoop kinda accident dealie. Geesh!
Three British soldiers and an army interpreter are suing the American military after their vehicle was rammed by a US tank transporter in Iraq.
The $2.3m (£1.2m) suit is the first against the US army from coalition troops since the invasion of Iraq. It seeks to exploit provisions normally reserved for Iraqis claiming compensation for family members wrongfully killed in US raids.
The Britons, members of a Royal Military Police unit on duty with their Kuwaiti interpreter, suffered serious injuries on May 7 last year when their Land Rover was struck twice from behind by the hulking transporter.
Cpl McLauchlan suffered multiple skull fractures, and a punctured lung and liver. She still has some degree of permanent brain damage, including memory loss.
In 2002 a joint US-Canadian investigation concluded that American pilots had displayed "reckless disregard" in drop ping a 225kg bomb on Canadian forces in Afghanistan, killing four soldiers. However, the pilots were not subject to courts martial.
As I predicted -- and, really, anyone could have -- BushCo is already blathering about the Palestinian Question and his commitment to hope and optimism and bla blug ghasiflklk m b;kb;lkgd...
President Bush on Friday set a four-year goal of seeing a Palestinian state established and he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair vowed to mobilize international support to help make it happen now that YasserArafat is dead.
"I'd like to see it done in four years," said Bush, elected last week to a second four-year term. "I think it is possible."
[Blair] cited the need to revive the Palestinian economy, build up its security institutions to fight terror and its government to fight corruption, and reform the political system.
Yeah. Four years. And what is it you'll be doing to vitalize the Palestinian economy and security? Ask Israel nicely not to bulldoze all their olive trees? Ask Israel nicely not to build the barrier through the center of their main highway? Give them spit balls?
But while Bush spoke of strengthening trans-Atlantic ties, he did not leap to embrace Blair's proposal for an international conference on the Middle East early next year in Britain. U.S. officials said it did not seem the time was right for a conference.
"I'm all for conferences, just so long as the conferences produce something," Bush said. He also seemed doubtful about naming a U.S. envoy to the Middle East any time soon.
Ahhhh. He just wants the conference to actually mean something. And for now, the Ouija board points to "No" -- not that the President would ever come anywhere near a devil toy like that. I'm just saying. His gut says it ain't right yet.
Bush also says he'll be traveling to Eurpoe to patch up some differences and remind everyone that we're all better off working together (read: get in line, homos!).
Friday, November 12, 2004
The Democrats are outnumbered 55 to 44 in the Senate. They're outnumbered by more than 30 in the House. Republicans control the White House and the Supreme Court. They control the newspapers and the television and the radio. It is virtual one party rule, and the only other party, the "opposition", continues to sit on its hands and shake its head. It's obviously time for a third party, a fourth party, any other force that will stand for something and offer representation and give a fight. It is time for grass roots movements based on issues and not based on party gains; based on justice and not on saving face; based on equality and not based on egoism. We must tear down the old guard and breathe life into the progressive ideals many many millions of Americans share -- not just the vocal minority and its lowest common denominator set of "values". This movement, along with a recognition of the dire state of our environment and the unsustainable path our country is heading down, must be taken up in earnest in order to make change for the better. Until then, however, we're stuck with the Democrats, and despite that donkey's inability to get it up, there are a few things an impotent mammal can still do in this republic. Listen up, Dems, especially the ones in the Senate:
Firstly, you can start acting like you have nothing to lose. Because you don't. The Democratic party is doing a deadman's float. Idleness will not help now. It's time to stop pretending at reconsiliation and start acting as if you were the majority party. No more acquiesence. No more "bipartisanship". No more obsequious tomfoolery. Make demands and expect them to be met. Be willing to take a beating for your insolence: you're going to take a beating no matter what. So fight back. Start swinging like the underdog with a chip on your shoulder. In short, offer an opposition. It's obvious that reality is finished. You are what you say you are in this political era, so say you're right and say you're stronger and act like it and so it shall be. Just keep saying it.
Block everything. Everything. Anyone Bush nominates for anything -- judge, Attorney General, Cabinet member -- should be run through the wringer. Send out a message that you will not be ignored. For those who fear for your jobs: just join the fucking Republican party and give up your daughters now, because there is no looking back. You're supposed to be Democrats, not shills. Stop worrying about the next six months and start thinking about your party and your country. If you can't handle that we don't need you anyway. This is one of the only power moves the Democrats have left and you'd better not squander it. The partisan game can be played both ways. No one Bush is likely to nominate will be even remotely palatable to a true Democrat, so stand up and give it to him hard. Hard. Block all of it. You have a 5 vote swing on this end, with a couple possible fence-jumping Republicans from New England. Go for it. Build solidarity and strength and confidence. Show your consitutents of what mettle you're made. Act like you're the US Senators you really are. Man. You're part of this government, for crying out loud, and we're counting on you. God help us.
Block even more. The Senate is a procedural body filled with, well, procedures. Filibuster like crazy. Draw deadlock. Slow things down to a snail's pace. Let them attack you in the media. Go on and let them. The media can't bring you to vote. Let them look desperate and arrogant and spoilt. That's what they are. You just stand firm. Act with some backbone. Clog this thing up like a cheap outhouse. This is the only chance the Left will have to stop a deluge of regressive and dangerous legislation. The Rightist sociopaths now in charge have been salivating for this very moment in time for 30 years. And they intend to steamroll over their opposition. You can stifle it. You can stop it. Let it be tried in the press. Eventually momentum will shift your way. Let them bitch and moan, but in time, they'll have to come to you to cobble together a package. Then you'll begin to feel an advantage again. Then they'll fear and respect you.
Keep hammering home your points. Accuse the Republicans of lying to the public and bullying them around. Accuse them of hubris. Accuse them of being out of touch with the mainstream. Accuse them of being unAmerican. Accuse, accuse, accuse. Attack, attack and never defend. The beauty here is that you won't have to lie. You won't even have to exaggerate. And never, ever, ever look like you're whining. Love your country -- especially if you really do -- and lament that the Republicans are so off the mark. You want to work with them, you really do, but they're blind with
arrogance and they're losing sight of what's important in this country. They're
misleading the American people. They're forgetting
real American values like freedom and opportunity and liberty and free speech. They're forgetting their
duty to their fellow citizens to act in their best interest. They're not following
Christian values, which means making sure every person has a meal and a place to sleep and a doctor to see when they're sick. The Republican party is
out of touch with everyday Americans.
By God, if you forget to snivel and cower, and listen to your base, you may just find yourself with a message and leverage and doing some good for this country.
Find some Republicans who share your values, and sell them on the long term. Look, you'll say, your party is selling us all up the river. That's obvious. You're a goodhearted, well-intended American, you'll say, who knows what's good and what's right. Work with us now, and you'll be a hero later. Hell, you're already a hero Olympia Snowe/ Lincoln Chafee/ Susan Collins. Take the President's ideas and make them your own (Clinton, for good or ill, was a master at this, and W has done it, too); work with someone across the aisle and advertise it like crazy and force the President into a second tier position. But do this responsibly. Do not sell out. Do not sell out. Maybe it's too late.
Lastly, be proud. Americans love pride. Blind, ignorant or misguided, as long as you're proud of it, they'll respect you. You look like wimps right now. You have for a while. Be proud to be in opposition. If the President calls you unpatriotic, say it's unpatriotic to call you that. If he says you're not working for the country, say he won't listen to anything your side of the country wants. Agree to disagree or whatever you have to do, but never back down, hone your message, act like you own the place, and pull the rug out from under them. And do it with pride. Stand up tall. Act like a statesman even if you have to fake it. And act like you're right, and this you got to believe, because you are. So act like it. How do you want to be remembered? You're a goddam American senator, for the love of all that's holy. I don't care what happens to either party; in fact, I hope they both go down hard. But I'd at least like this to be interesting and I love a good fight. You're battered, bruised and broken, boys, but by God, you got some fight left in ya. So get up there and rub the blood and spit from your shirt and clench your fists and stand up straight and pull back your teeth and let out a howl and fight, fight, fight! By God, you're all we got.
It's one of the modern wonders that the Christian Coalition's platform has somehow fused with current politics and into the mainstream. This election on "values" is based on hatred, fear and gay-bashing, yet somehow framed as a moral signpost. More frighteningly, millions of Americans apparently agree. What can bode worse for the future of a country than to have one of its most relevant social and political issues revolve around the active persecution of a segment of its population?
"We are pleased that both the executive branch and the legislative branch will be controlled by pro-family conservatives and that every one of the 11 state constitutional amendments to ban homosexual "marriages" passed overwhelmingly. There is no doubt that because 4 radical left-wing Massachusetts judges ruled that homosexual "marriages" are constitutional last year, there was a conservative backlash which played a major role in the election outcome yesterday. Christian evangelicals made the major difference once again this year."
The Christian Coalition will also begin work for passage of the "Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act" to ensure the church has free speech. Radical liberals have used every trick in the book to try and silence the church. The sleeping giant has been awakened and will refuse to be intimidated by secular fundamentalists.
They hate gay people. That about sums it up. Why can't Democrats turn this into the civil rights issue it so clearly is? People will look back on this time with shame and wonder. How could it have been that the President tried to lead the nation in the active prejudice of God's own children? Yell it from the rooftops that this is persecution. Persecution of American citizens. Let the lunatics who are ripened homophobes come crawl out of the woodwork as the most vocal critics, then people will have to be lumped with them. Of course there's a religious attachment to this for millions of Americans, but it's still a minority. They've already made it a culture war, so let's fight it. This is a civil rights battle.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
What does it mean to be gruntled? Is that the state of perfect satisfaction? Oh, nothin' much doin', ya know, pretty gruntled overall. At any rate, this CIA employee is definitely disgruntled.
A senior CIA officer who has become an outspoken critic of the fight on terrorism turned in his resignation this week, citing a desire to speak more freely about problems in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the debate over intelligence reform.
"I have concluded that there has not been adequate national debate over the nature of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and the forces he leads and inspires, and the nature and dimensions of intelligence reform needed to address that threat," Scheuer said in a statement sent to reporters Thursday via electronic mail.
Scheuer's CIA assignments included running the bin Laden unit from January 1996 to June 1999. He hopes his experience and views will produce a more substantive debate.
During a wide-ranging interview Sunday evening, Scheuer was highly critical of the Sept. 11 Commission's "refusal" to point fingers at senior government officials whose actions contributed to the attacks. Rather than changing the structure of government, as Congress is considering, he said a signal must be sent that people will be held accountable for their actions.
I'm hoping that BushCo's second term will offer an opportunity to the CIA to get their balls out of their grandma's pocketbook and stand up for themselves. They've taken an awful beating, and the wimp who took it all, George Tenet, has been able to walk offstage. Of course, Porter Goss is a complete and utter partisan who seems unlikely to offer much independence to what BushCo tells him to do. Nonethelss, the Agency's history is of looking out for its own, and it will be intersting to see if anything develops.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Someone named Lapsed Modernist over at Live Journal has compiled another list of voter, um, er, irregularities from last week's election.
You know, this makes me wonder just how much voter fraud is involved in every election. Is it just because of the dire circumstances surrounding this year's that we're all poring over the results, hence seeing chicanery; or does this always happen? Certainly e-voting has a lot to do with it, but how clean have our elections ever been?
There's a new sheriff in town, y'all, and he goes by Gonzales.
President Bush has picked White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales, a trusted adviser from Texas and prominent Hispanic, as his new attorney general, and planned to announce it on Wednesday, administration officials said.
If he is selected, Gonzales's confirmation hearing would likely delve into what role he played in a legal opinion that defined the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq, which critics said contributed to the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, a charge denied by the administration.
Gonzales, whom I felt certain would top Bush's short list for SCOTUS replaccements, is the one who advised that the President simply, you know, ignore international law if it came to that, and do with the prisoners what he liked. Gonzales is a CYA kind of guy all the way, and he's been by George's side since his his high, hallowed days in the Lone Star State. And he's had a bone to pick with international law for a while now.
On June 16, 1997, Gonzales first showcased his proclivity for torturing international law when he sent a letter to the U.S. State Department in which he argued that, "Since the State of Texas is not a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, we believe it is inappropriate to ask Texas to determine whether a breach … occurred in connection with the arrest and conviction" of a Mexican national. Or, put another way, he asserted that an international treaty just didn't apply to Texas.
The Mexican in question, Irineo Tristan Montoya, was a fisherman convicted of brutally stabbing and murdering John Kilheffer in Brownsville, Texas, in 1985. Tristan, who insisted he was innocent, was executed two days after Gonzales sent his memo to State, despite protests from the Mexican government. Mexico alleged that Texas had violated Tristan's rights under the Vienna Convention because it had failed to inform the Mexican consulate at the time of his arrest.
Better the evil you know than the evil you don't know?
My friend, political buddha Kevin, has directed me to these lovely maps that reproportion that sea of red states into something more accurate. And blue.
The (contiguous 48) states of the country are colored red or blue to indicate whether a majority of their voters voted for the Republican candidate (George W. Bush) or the Democratic candidate (John F. Kerry) respectively. The map gives the superficial impression that the "red states" dominate the country, since they cover far more area than the blue ones. However, as pointed out by many others, this is misleading because it fails to take into account the fact that most of the red states have small populations, whereas most of the blue states have large ones. The blue may be small in area, but they are large in terms of numbers of people, which is what matters in an election.
We can correct for this by making use of a cartogram, a map in which the sizes of states have been rescaled according to their population. That is, states are drawn with a size proportional not to their sheer topographic acreage -- which has little to do with politics -- but to the number of their inhabitants, states with more people appearing larger than states with fewer, regardless of their actual area on the ground. Thus, on such a map, the state of Rhode Island, with its 1.1 million inhabitants, would appear about twice the size of Wyoming, which has half a million, even though Wyoming has 60 times the acreage of Rhode Island.
And there are plenty more maps to puff up our liberal chests.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
I can't keep track of all the rulings in these tribunals of "unlawful combatants", but some judge just said something about something.
A federal judge ruled Monday that President Bush had both overstepped his constitutional bounds and improperly brushed aside the Geneva Conventions in establishing military commissions to try detainees at the United States naval base here as war criminals.
The ruling by Judge James Robertson of United States District Court in Washington brought an abrupt halt to the trial here of one detainee, one of hundreds being held at Guantánamo as enemy combatants. It threw into doubt the future of the first set of United States military commission trials since the end of World War II as well as other legal proceedings devised by the administration to deal with suspected terrorists.
Robertson said that Salim Ahmed Hamdan, as a POW, is entitled to a court martial -- not a military triubunal. According to the Geneva Conventions (confound them!) Hamdan would also have to be put before a separate tribunal to determine his POW status; but King George the Bush, in all his imperial and legalistic wisdom, ignored that little step and declared all Arabesque people to be unlawful enemy combatants just after 9-11.
BushCo continues to receive rebukes from the lower federal courts; I wonder at what point they'll begin ignoring them, though with the Supreme Court in your pocket, there's little need for that kind of behavior.
Hezbollah has apparently gotten its hands on an aerial drone and flown it over Israeli airspace.
Hezbollah on Monday released footage of an drone aircraft it had sent into Israeli airspace a day earlier, a flight which the United Nations said violated the U.N.-drawn border between Lebanon and Israel.
The flight is believed to be the first hostile aerial incursion from Lebanon into Israel since Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command members flew over in a hang glider in 1987 and killed six soldiers before being shot dead.
Information Minister Elie Firzli defended Hezbollah's incursion, calling it "an act of resistance." But he said the group had not told Lebanese authorities about its plans to fly the plane
Voters are relieved that there were no problems with last Tuesday's results -- AHEM! -- and, even though the American public apparently saw fit to give BushCo another four years, none of them seem to agree with anything BushCo is actually doing: a fascinating paradox.
Most American voters say the decisive presidential election last week has given them renewed confidence about the nation's electoral system and they're hopeful about the next four years, an Associated Press Poll finds.
At the same time, they feel a sense of urgency about Iraq, their top priority for President Bush to tackle after his re-election, questioning disclosed. Iraq was followed by terrorism among voters' leading concerns.
The voters' concerns stood in contrast to the priorities Bush cited after he defeated Democrat John Kerry. Bush pledged to aggressively pursue major changes in Social Security, tax laws and medical malpractice awards. Terrorism was a chief concern both for Bush and many voters in the poll.
By more than a 2-1 margin, voters said they preferred that the president balance the budget rather than reduce taxes further.
Asked whether Bush should appoint a justice who will uphold or overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to abortions, six in 10 said they want a justice who will uphold the landmark ruling.
And yet Bush intends to spend his politcal capital like a drunken sailor, whether or not the human capital behind his "mandate" agrees with it. But this is nothing new, is it? Somehow moral values, whatever they are in this postmodern America, trumped actual values: voters disagree with BushCo and the direction this country is going. And yet he still managed to get eight-million more votes this time than last. We'll all just cross our fingers and hope that this time he gets it right... or something.
How does this jibe?
I'm working nights for the next week. It's an interesting expansion of time, like stretching out into the unreal, unnoisy parcels of the day. There is quiet and stillness. No one else is around. It feels almost privileged to be the only one in the office, to be the busybody behind that soul light in the window spied from the street. I'm the one in there, that mysterious worker, unseen. There's a weird feeling of reversal when I get on the subway to go home and NYC's service industry is slouching toward Manhattan for their day: tired faces, the smell of coffee, yet a shared camaraderie: the workers occupy the times and spaces of the day unpopulated by their bosses and customers, and when you enter those pockets, with the weary workaday expression of your neighbor, there's some kind of understanding.
Easing into bed, reading with sore eyes, the sun begins to rouge the outter edges of midtown. The Empire State Building looks incomplete as dawn fills up. I sleep for 10 hours, and start my day as others shuffle home.
Monday, November 08, 2004
The Old Grey Lady is in on the game to give BushCo II legitimacy. It seems his highness feels emboldened by last week's whatever-it-was. Election. Selection. Pageant? And that, friends, must be good news.
One thing is certain: Four years after the disputed election of 2000, Mr. Bush is reveling in winning the popular vote and feels that he can no longer be considered a one-term accident of history.The President thinks not of "legacies" or how he'll be remembered by future generations, the Times reports without so much as a wink or a yawn. Doesn't care about legacy? What in tarnation has all this historical plate-techtonics amounted to, then? Fun and games?!
"It's a huge validation for him," said Thomas Rath, a New Hampshire Republican leader who is close to the Bush family. "There was always this set of issues about the first victory. This is real, this is palpable. I think it's empowering, I think it's a relief and I think the political options he has will be different."
One adviser said that Mr. Bush was showing more confidence, and that it was not insignificant that he joked to reporters at his news conference that "now that I've got the will of the people at my back, I'm going to start enforcing a one-question rule."
Nary is there a mention of any discrepencies in this year's election, a bulky, bothersome fact that everyone seems to be trying to sweep under the rug. No, no. Last time was a bit dodgy, but this year's results are clean as a babe on baptism day.
David Gergen, who occasionally shows some sense, says Bush should be aware of the trappings hubris. Indeed.
Continues. After his wife accused his underlings of trying to bury him alive, PLA officials called off their trip to Paris to check on the ailing Arafat and, some said, to "pull the plug".
Palestinian leaders abruptly called off a visit to Yasser Arafat's bedside on Monday after the ailing leader's wife accused them of trying to depose her husband.
Mrs. Arafat is one of three people to see him and has tightly controlled any information on his condition.
[E]arly in the day, in a screaming telephone call from Arafat's bedside, Mrs. Arafat said her husband was "all right" and accused his top aides of coming to Paris to oust Arafat.
"You have to realize the size of the conspiracy. I tell you they are trying to bury Abu Ammar alive," she told Al-Jazeera television in a telephone call, using Arafat's nom de guerre. It was her first public comment since Arafat was hospitalized.
It will be fascinating to see what develops here. It could wind up being a breakthrough or the worst thing to happen to Palestine. A good friend of mine who is from Palestine says she completely mistrusts the leadership there and would like to see some new blood. As it is, Hamas has been stealing loyalty from Arafat and the PLA; with him gone it's impossible to say what sort of chaos could break out.
We've all seen this I'm guessing, but it boggles the mind, and anything that commits any kind of boggling, to the mind or any other organ, deserves a place on this humble electronic repository.
PS. Sorry, it's so hard to read.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Okay. So. Bush ran on the premise that he was the better man to protect America. Now, it may be true that 9-11 happened on his watch, due, many would argue, to incompetence, neglect, perhaps even the complicity, of BushCo. Since then, he has underfunded Homeland Security, helped create more terrorists abroad, overburdened the military at home and abroad, and failed to insulate America's borders or routes of transit from terror.
But at least, by God, they're doing all they can to cut terror funding. Oh, what's that you say? He... hasn't...? Ah crap.
WASHINGTON - Despite the Bush administration's pledge to battle terrorist financing, the government's average penalty against companies doing business with countries listed as terrorist-sponsoring states fell sharply after the Sept. 11 attacks, an Associated Press analysis of federal records shows.
The average penalty for a company doing business with Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan or Libya dropped nearly threefold, from more than $50,000 in the five years before the 2001 attacks to about $18,700 afterward, according to a computer-assisted analysis of federal records.
A Treasury Department spokeswoman said that despite the smaller average fines, the administration was doing a good job of enforcing economic penalties against nations considered sponsors of terrorism.
The smaller average fines could indicate that companies are making fewer large deals with terrorist countries, said Adam Pener, who advises businesses on how to avoid dealing with terrorist nations.
Nineteen executives or directors of companies fined by OFAC for dealing with state sponsors of terrorism were top campaign fund-raisers for Bush.
One example is Joseph J. Grano Jr., chairman of the federal Homeland Security Advisory Council, which the president created by executive order and whose members he selected. Grano formerly headed the U.S. subsidiary of the Swiss bank UBS AG. It paid more than $100 million in fines for trading U.S. currency to Iran and other nations and for transferring funds to Iraq during Saddam's rule.
The agency does not release the names of individuals fined for trading with the enemy, the article goes on, so some of that money was not included in the final tally. Which is reason to believe that it's morning again in America.
I ask, again, what happened to logic in this country? Bush ran on the thing that should have been his weakest point; he accused Kerry of committing things his own Administration as done; he lies outright; he -- and those who voted for him -- ignored reality; he purposefully says the opposite of what he will do; and they leaves his scandals out in the open. Yet millions voted for him. Is anything real anymore? Ask Dan Bartlett and Karl Rove and see what they tell you. And ask Ron Suskind, while you're at it.