Oh My God!

Tough New Tactics by U.S. Tighten Grip on Iraq Towns:
"As the guerrilla war against Iraqi insurgents intensifies, American soldiers have begun wrapping entire villages in barbed wire."
Oh my God!
"In selective cases, American soldiers are demolishing buildings thought to be used by Iraqi attackers."
Oh my God!
"They have begun imprisoning the relatives of suspected guerrillas, in hopes of pressing the insurgents to turn themselves in."
Oh my God!
"In Abu Hishma, encased in a razor-wire fence after repeated attacks on American troops, Iraqi civilians line up to go in and out, filing through an American-guarded checkpoint, each carrying an identification card printed in English only.

"If you have one of these cards, you can come and go," coaxed Lt. Col. Nathan Sassaman, the battalion commander whose men oversee the village, about 50 miles north of Baghdad. "If you don't have one of these cards, you can't."

The Iraqis nodded and edged their cars through the line. Over to one side, an Iraqi man named Tariq muttered in anger."
Oh my God!
""You have to understand the Arab mind," Capt. Todd Brown, a company commander with the Fourth Infantry Division, said as he stood outside the gates of Abu Hishma. "The only thing they understand is force — force, pride and saving face." "
"The next day, an American jet dropped a 500-bomb on the house that had been used to attack them. The Americans arrested eight sheiks, the mayor, the police chief and most members of the city council. "We really hammered the place," Maj. Darron Wright said.

Two and a half weeks later, the town of Abu Hishma is enclosed in a barbed-wire fence that stretches for five miles. Men ages 18 to 65 have been ordered to get identification cards. There is only way into the town and one way out.

"This fence is here for your protection," reads the sign posted in front of the barbed-wire fence. "Do not approach or try to cross, or you will be shot."
"With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them," Colonel Sassaman said.
"In Abu Hishma, residents complain that the village is locked down for 15 hours a day, meaning that they are unable to go to the mosque for morning and evening prayers. They say the curfew does not allow them time to stand in the daylong lines for gasoline and get home before the gate closes for the night."

This is AMERICA doing this!


Party Over ... Everything

L.A. Daily News - GOP guts projects by local Dems:
"If a congressional Democrat asked for it, Southern California won't be getting it.

In one of the year's ugliest political battles, Republican lawmakers have rejected almost every request made by a Democrat for a local education, job or health program.
[. . .]
Local GOP lawmakers said they are standing behind their party, despite losses to local communities.
[. . .]
"I think it's difficult to say, 'We're deciding how to spend your tax dollars depending on whether you have a D or an R representing this patch of land or that patch of land,"' said Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks.
[. . .]"Should we really build bridges based upon which areas have a conservative congressman and which have a Democratic member?" he said."
If you live in a Democratic district, you aren't Americans, and don't get any of the benefits of citizenship.

Surprise! Limbaugh Blames Liberals

Yahoo! News - Limbaugh Attorney Blames Politics in Probe:
"Rush Limbaugh's attorney accused the local prosecutor Friday of having political motives in investigating his client for allegedly purchasing painkillers illegally. "
Is this what they teach you in rehab? To blame others? What happened to the right-wing mantra of personal responsibility?

Oh, wait, I forgot -- laws, ethics, responsibility, honesty ... these things don't apply to Republicans!


Stage Management

This is Tom Spencer folks. Since my retirement a couple of weeks ago, Dave invited me to guest blog here whenever I wanted to.

I thought I'd take him up on it every now and then.

Everyone really should read this by Paul Vitello of Newsday.

Here's a bit of it:

I am no photo editor. But this is the time when we begin to see roundups of the best news photos of the past year. And just running the loop of the year's most memorable pictures in my head, a funny thing happens:

I keep seeing staged photos.


But between you and me, the most compelling images of the year have probably been the photos never taken - pictures one can only imagine, even if one might not actually want to see them.

There are no enduring photos, for instance, of the costs of the war in Iraq. I have seen some pictures of American soldiers killed. But usually these are met with angry denunciations by the public, and American newspapers are not publishing many.

There have been some pictures of killed and wounded Iraqi civilians, including children, but usually these too are met with angry denunciations by the public; and American newspapers are not publishing many.

The traditional photographing of flag-draped coffins descending from U.S. military planes, bearing home the bodies of American soldiers killed in the war, has been banned, for the time being, by the Pentagon.

We do not have these images engraved on us, as we do the images of the statue falling, and the president flying here and there.

But these are real pictures for me, and perhaps for you. I keep them in the photo loop of my inner eye, where they run every time I am told again that things are improving, or that 60 percent of the people of Iraq (according to a recent Zogby poll) are glad to see us.

OK, this is not about the Year in Photos. It's about the country's conscience.

Photo images - not the staged ones, but the ones that capture life unfolding in all its unpredictability and awesomeness - are among the most powerful informers of the national conscience. Without them, we are left making only choices that have been stage managed: To vote or not, to shop or not, to see or look away.


Now go read the rest of it.

And Vitello apparently didn't know about the administration's lies about the flight over to Iraq and the turkey itself when he wrote the column.

The way this administration has played the media and a distressingly large number of Americans for suckers through deft stage management is truly frightening.

We truly have reached the point in American politics where it's all about the style and not the substance, haven't we? Of course, American politics have really been largely about style for quite a while -- ever since television started playing a major role in the late 1950s actually.

However, W and the boys really do excel at the photo-op presidency. The current situation in Iraq is a perfect example. They are quite capable of making it look like things in Iraq are progressing nicely to the average uninformed American. Meanwhile, outside the administration's carefully constructed reality, everything over there is obviously falling apart.

Okay. That's all. I hope you enjoyed it.

Losing Money

"Out of Change" by Bruce Reed:
"He turned a $5 trillion projected surplus into a $5 trillion projected deficit. With a trillion dollars in deficits in a single term, Bush has done what baseball owners do best--lose money. "
Great line.


FT.com / World / US:
"Boeing has taken a $20m stake in an investment fund run by Richard Perle, a top Pentagon adviser, underlining the close links it has built to Washington's defence establishment.

Mr Perle, a former Reagan assistant secretary of defence, is considered one of the most influential civilian advisers to the Pentagon and an architect of the US policy on Iraq.
[. . .]
Two other members of the Defence Policy Board, a retired admiral and a retired Air Force general, featured in an internal Boeing e-mail from January identifying them as company consultants, and claiming they were "engaging" Pentagon circles on the tanker deal.

Mr Perle, whose mixture of high-level business and political contacts has drawn scrutiny, was out of the country, and did not return phone calls or e-mail messages."
The blatant corruption and criminality just DOES. NOT. STOP.

New Group - Go Sign Up

America Coming Together.

Oh, Please!

A line toward the end of this story, Dean Now Courting Party Insiders (washingtonpost.com), says:
While Dean has criticized Bush for relying on fundraisers known as "Rangers," who collect at least $200,000, and "Pioneers" who round up $100,000, Dean has his own roster of party insiders raising big bucks. [. . .] In early September, Lofgren raised more than $200,000, the largest amount collected for Dean's campaign at a single event. The fundraiser at her home was attended by more than 1,300 people, some of whom donated $1,000 each.
Oh, please! I was at that event, and I paid I think $35.

If there were 1,300 people there, and she raised $200,000 ... well, I guess any of us can do the math better than the Washington Post can.

It is OUTRAGEOUS that the Post compares this to Bush's high-dollar corporate contributors, who in turn receive huge government handouts!

Dean's Hardball Transcript

"Where we’re at right now in this cycle is that we need somebody to mitigate the power of corporations. Corporations are not bad things. They’re neither good nor bad. But the problem is, they’re a bad influence on society if they get too much power, because their basic interest is the bottom line. And they forget that human being have-human beings have souls. We’re not meant to be simply cogs in a machine.
And right now, we’re at that cycle where we are cogs in a machine. When I first went to Iowa, the lesson I learned from about 20 ordinary people was, we don’t trust our employers anymore because they don’t value us, because they’ll move our jobs anyplace, including offshore. "

Who Tried To Bribe Rep. Smith? The Question Should Be Repeated!

Someone at the very top of the Republican Party offered Representative Nick Smith, R-Michigan, over $100,000 to change his vote on the Medicare bill. This is a Federal crime. According to this story, President Bush was himself calling Republican Representatives trying to change their votes. The bribe was offered either by President Bush himself, or someone on behalf of President Bush.

The theme of President Bush's campaign for office was that he would "restore honor and integrity to the White House." But those of us who get our news from non-mainstream or foreign sources hear story after story of bribery, lies and cover-ups from the White House and the leadership of The Party. Each story of corruption dies after a few days because no one is willing to pursue it. The Justice Department, the FBI, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Courts and the mainstream corporate media are all controlled by the Republican Party, so we can expect no investigation from any of them.

Now another day passes with the story receiving little attention. This story should not die. It should be repeated every day by every weblogger, and Progressive news site until pressure builds and something is done. The weblog community and the public are not yet under the thumb of The Party and we can continue to make noise! All of us should repeat the demand for an investigation. All of us should call their representative's office and demand to know who tried to bribe Rep. Smith.

The Republicans understand the power of a story like this one. This is the kind of story that Newt Gingrich would use to full advantage. He would arrange all night sessions on the House floor, with Representative after Representative speaking into C-Span's cameras, demanding an investigation. This is the kind of story that the Right's Wurlitzer would repeat endlessly as an example of the corruption of their opponents. This is the kind of story that the public will easily understand. So why shouldn't we continue to demand an investigation until someone in authority if forced to do something? This is the Republican Party caught red-handed engaging in the worst kind of corruption and criminality. If it is investigated someone is going to jail, and The Party will be exposed for what it is!

Stick with this. Webloggers - do not let this drop. People, keep calling your representatives, newspapers, television and radio stations.



This, about Dean and why he will not only win, but will bring with him a new Congress.

Just How Far To The Right Is Bush?

Just how far to the right is Bush? How divisive, nasty and harmful to civil discourse? How closely linked to the worst of the Far Right's character assassins?

Here's a clue:
"The White House announced Wednesday former Wall Street Journal Editor Robert Bartley has been selected to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The citation terms Bartley one of the most influential journalists in American history.

The award characterizes Bartley as: "A champion of free markets, individual liberty, and the values necessary for a free society. His writings have been characterized by profound insights, passionate convictions, a commitment to democratic principles, and an unyielding optimism in America.

"The United States honors him for his contributions to American journalism and to the intellectual and political life of our Nation."
Robert Bartley is the guy Clinton aide and friend Vince Foster's suicide note was talking about when he wrote, "The [Wall Street Journal] editors lie without consequence. I was not meant for the job or the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport." Bartley has been one of the very worst of the Right's liars and character assassins. Bush gives him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The current talking point of The Party is that liberals are viscous haters. Remember, their tactic is to accuse you of what they are doing.

Domestic Terrorism Ignored

Check out this at Orcinus.

Just For The Hell Of It

You know by now that one of the talking points of The Party is that those who are upset by Bush as not rational, are simply full of hate, etc. You have heard almost the entire Wurlitzer repeat that theme. (Remember also, one of the tactic of The Party is to acuse us of what they do.)

Just for the hell of it, read this, posted at Heritage's Town Hall, from yet another guy funded by Scaife, Gary Aldrich: Hate speech.

All I can say is Jeeze.

Another Day, No Bribery Investigation

Rep. Smith still has not shared with the Justice Dept. information about who tried to bribe him.

The Congressman says a bribe was attempted, but won't say who did it. Naturally, Congress, the FBI, and no one else is launching an investigation, because it might embarrass The Party. And it's Party over Law and Country every time with this crowd.

Is This Supposed To Be A Good Thing?

Productivity Grew at Fastest Rate Since 1983.

This means that businesses need to hire fewer people to get the same amount of work done. If the resulting profits were SHARED with workers and the public this might be a good thing. In Europe they have a shorter workweek, six weeks paid vacation each year, health insurance for everyone, and generous pensions when they retire. (And they can retire earlier.) But in America it means that a few rich fucks will be even richer, while the rest of us are competing with more and more un- and under-employed people for fewer jobs, losing our health insurance, working longer hours, losing the right to overtime pay, etc.

Who is our economy for? Until we take our country back, good economic news will be BAD news for most of us.


Bottom of the Barrel

Bottom of the Barrel:
"Given a choice between a new set of matching tableware and the survival of humanity, I suspect that most people would choose the tableware. "
Running out of oil.

Repeating Myself (Again)

After a long phone conversation on fighting the Right, I wrote up a summary to send via e-mail. I think it's worth sharing here:

My research and the research of others shows that the Right has been so successful because they developed an "infrastructure" of organizations specifically designed to follow a long-term plan to move public opinion to the ideological right. After the public is "primed" with repeated messaging from the Right's echo chamber of organizations and media, they are softened up and prepared to be responsive to the right's politicians. In contrast, our (centrists, moderates and progressives) politicians are faced with the entire burden of developing a message themselves, from scratch, each election cycle, usually on their own, to a public that is NOT primed ahead of time to be responsive. Even if we manage to elect a new President, he will not be in a position to be effective because of the power of the Right's network of organizations -- look at what happened to Clinton.

We can't be successful without fighting the Right's underlying ideological messaging. We need to fund and develop our own advocacy organizations designed to move public attitudes back toward "the center." Our organizations can be modeled after the Right's successful organizations, but would operate within our value system -- no lies, trickery, gimmicks and deceit needed because we aren't trying to trick people into giving up their health care, Social Security, etc.

War Pigs

Black Sabbath's War Pigs:

Generals gathered in their masses,
just like witches at black masses.
Evil minds that plot destruction,
sorcerers of death's construction.
In the fields the bodies burning,
as the war machine keeps turning.
Death and hatred to mankind,
poisoning their brainwashed minds.
Oh lord, yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away.
They only started the war.
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor, yeah.

Time will tell on their power minds,
making war just for fun.
Treating people just like pawns in chess,
wait till their judgement day comes, yeah.

Now in darkness world stops turning,
ashes where the bodies burning.
No more War Pigs have the power,
Hand of God has struck the hour.
Day of judgement, God is calling,
on their knees the war pigs crawling.
Begging mercies for their sins,
Satan, laughing, spreads his wings.
Oh lord, yeah!

Update - Anyone else out there old enough to tell me what year this came out?

Another This Just In

This just in - an e-mail I received:
"The Daily Show" - absolutely the best show on television. This back and forth between Jon Stewart and "White House Correspondent" Stephen Colbert says it all:

Jon Stewart: It sounds like no one in the White House press corps had even a clue that this trip was going to take place...

Stephen Colbert: That's right, Jon! Gotta give the White House credit on this one. My colleagues and I are incredibly impressed by how well we were misled. And this was for a good cause. Just imagine if they were doing something they were ashamed of? We'd never find out! This just proves that we journalists shouldn't even try. Which we don't.

Jon Stewart: ...Clearly an incredible amount of logistics and foresight had to go into all this.

Stephen Colbert: Yes, Jon. This visit was an extremely well-coordinated operation. And the Bush team has learned a lot from this mission that they can now apply to the rest of their work in Iraq. For instance, when it comes to planning - do some.

Jon Stewart: That's interesting...

Stephen Colbert: Yes, this Thanksgiving trip has shown the president that a lot of the best preparation is done in advance. Unfortunately, with regard to our occupation of Iraq, we did all our preparation afterwards. And now it's a seething cauldron of death and rage. But hey! That's why pencils have erasers.

Now lesson two of this Thanksgiving trip: With respect to an exit strategy - have one. What we saw last Thursday was a president with a clear idea of when and how he would leave Iraq: Specifically - at noon and full of giblets.

My Birthday

Had a big party for my 50th. Here's what you missed:

My wife, Sudeep, is in the middle.

The end of a skit about being old.

It's a real sword. (Clcik a picture for more.)

OK, enough, now back to Bush-bashing.

This Just In

From the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:
From Florida, to California, to Colorado, to Texas, Republicans are attempting to hold onto power by any means necessary. On December 1, 2003, the GOP's plan to RE-redistrict congressional boundaries in Colorado was stuck down by the Colorado Supreme Court which stated clearly: "the Colorado Constitution requires the General Assembly to redistrict after each census and before the ensuing general election, and does not allow redistricting at any other time."

But even as Colorado rejected this blatant GOP power grab, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and White House master strategist Karl Rove are attempting to force through an even bigger RE-redistricting plan in Texas. John Ashcroft's Department of Justice is believed to be within days of "pre-clearing" the proposed GOP plan that would suppress the voting strength of up to 3.6 million Hispanic and African-American voters.

The NAACP, The Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the American GI Forum have filed suit in U.S. federal court to stop this unconscionable attempt by the GOP to undermine the integrity of our electoral system in order to consolidate their hold on power.

PLEASE VISIT www.DemocraticAction.org and sign our petition demanding that John Ashcroft allow Justice Dept. voting rights professionals - and not partisan political appointees - to rule on the GOP plan.

Really Shitty Court Decision - Literally

Nathan Newman writes about a literally shitty court decision. Read this, then ask: Who Is Our Economy FOR, Anyway?


Krugman On Voting Machines

Hack the Vote.

This should break this whole issue into the mainstream.

Blatant Bribery

Thanks to Atrios: Who Tried To Bribe Rep. Smith? - Stop protecting him, Congressman. By Timothy Noah.

Another blatant crime, committed in public, with the Republicans getting away with it. Every one of us should be calling the press, and our representatives, and forwarding this article to everyone we know, demanding an investigation!

The Party controls the House of Representatives, the Senate, the White House, the Justice Department, the FBI, the military, and the Courts. They believe they can get away with anything, and so far are priving this to be true. They are going to continue their blatant lawlessness and cover-ups until enough people make enough noise, and the press understands that we are PISSED OFF.

Perhaps you could ask the ombudsman at the Washington Post who to write to? Can anyone else make any suggestions of who to write to about this?

What Have You Done Today?

Have you done your part? Have you sent e-mail to people you know, letting them know about BuzzFlash.com, and MoveOn.org? If you send an e-mail to the right person, they might know 10 or 20 more people who would be interested and don't know about these resources. And those people might know even more people. Every little bit helps. Spreading the word is so important! It's vitally important that everyone who might see things our way become connected!

As MoveOn says, "Democracy is not a spectator sport."

MoveOn House Parties Sunday

From MoveOn.org:
This Sunday, December 7th, over 2,000 MoveOn members are hosting house parties to screen the new documentary Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the Iraq War. Some of these folks are opening up their homes to other MoveOn members, and you’re invited to attend. You can find a public party in your area and sign up at: http://action.moveon.org/meet/parties.html

Political Problem

OK, I've been listening to Rush and O'Reilly in the car... The Republicans have their finger on something. If you criticize what's happening in Iraq by just telling the truth, you sound unpatriotic. That's all there is to it. You CAN'T criticize them with the truth because the truth is so far out there!

Here's my thinking. You would think that the Republicans have been doing so much bad shit that there are SO MANY things you could go after. Things like Cheney still receiving money from Halliburton, and Halliburton getting no-bid contracts in Iraq, then buying gas in Kuwait for 50 cents and selling it to the US military in Iraq for $2.60. Or Bush and Harken Oil. Or Bush going AWOL in a time of war. Or privatizing Medicare and selling seniors to drug companies. There;s just SO MUCH SHIT going on! You would think with all this bad shit they do there would be something there you could use to get the public to see what's going on.

But that's just the problem. Here's what I think we're missing. They are the government, and a reasonable government just wouldn't do that. And America is a good country with a reasonable government.

I think a lot of what is going on is that they have successfully done SO MUCH that is SO BAD that the public just won't believe it.

Iraq - the simple fact is that we already did invade Iraq. The American public simply will not accept that we would do something like that for reasons unrelated to 9/11. The US would never do such a thing, therefore we didn't. To believe that we invaded a country that had done nothing to us -- in the middle of a national emergency requiring our full attention after we were attacked on 9/11, doing things like transferring Arabic translators and intelligence assets FROM the terrorists who attacked us TO a country that did not -- who would ever think that America would ever do such a thing. And if you say we did you sound like a paranoid fanatic nutcase.

These things just don't happen in America, therefore they didn't happen. These things don't happen in America, and don't you dare say they do.

How the hell do you fight THAT?

Ralph Says

The Nader Page | Pharmaceutical Prices: "If Sam's Club can negotiate for lower pharmaceutical prices, why can't Uncle Sam?"