Sunday, August 31, 2008

Stave of the Goths

Gustav, meaning "stave of the goths," is the name of the hurricane threatening to interrupt or possibly postpone the Republican National Convention. If I was a religious person, I'd think Gustav was God's gentle way of telling Stuart Shepard and the whole religious right to go fuck themselves (if video doesn't show, click here):

That's Stuart Shepard of Focus on the Family. Although he has issued a weak apology, I wonder if the torrential rains hitting the gulf coast are making him think about his own sins? Probably not. In fact, I'm sure his little evangelical group can spin this somehow. There's no way they will ever consider that God is NOT on their side.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mommy Cred

Thanks to HolyJuan for this great laugh:

Although I laugh now, and I laughed yesterday, I'm not sure if I'll be laughing in November. It's not that I think McCain will win on his own merits. It's because I have no faith in electronic voting. I may expand on this topic tomorrow...

Right now I'm simply contemplating Palin's "mommy cred." Palin has five kids and one of them is a baby with Down's syndrome. She knew her baby boy would have this disability, and she continued with her pregnancy, and I admire her for that personal choice.

But now she's making another personal choice that I can't agree with. She's taking on a 24 hour job campaigning with John McCain. And if they win? That's a big responsibility and commitment she's taking on. I'm a woman and I certainly have nothing against women having careers.

In fact that whole "being a mommy is the toughest job in the world" sentiment annoys the hell out of me. Being President is possibly the toughest job in the world. Being VP is also pretty tough, and she might be VP one day. And then she'll be one heart attack (or stroke or tumor) away from becoming President. And then what will happen to her very young and very needy children? Is this even compatible with social conservatism?

Of course, she's rich, and she'll probably just hire a nanny. That's the American way. Contract out the most important job in the world.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Candidates

"Enough!" That's what Barack Obama said last night to eight years of Republican rule. He said what needed to be said and accepted the nomination with gratitude and humiliation. I'm happy, proud, and relieved that's he's the Democratic candidate.

Of course, as you know, Obama has picked Joe Biden as his VP. Biden's electoral history goes back 38 years. Obama made a wise choice based on experience and governance.

Then today we get the news of John McCain's VP choice: Sarah Palin. What I've learned about her so far is that she is the governor of Alaska (elected a mere 20 months ago), a "hockey mom," a social conservative, has almost no foreign policy experience, and doesn't even know what the Vice President does. I haven't even written a punchline, and I'm laughing already.

Of course everybody will be contrasting these two VP choices, but I only have a few comments.

McCain did not make a wise choice. He made a very cynical and political choice. He's fishing for the angry PUMAs (Party Unity My Ass). Those are the bitter Clinton supporters who refuse to back Barack Obama and will instead, for some stupid reason, back McCain who is ideologically opposite of Hillary Clinton.

But I truly believe this group is a fraud. They are a handful of angry Clinton supporters being lead around by a bunch of Republicans. So if McCain wants to gamble on winning over a group of Democratic voters that are actually Republicans pretending to be Democrats, then he is sadly gullible.

And furthermore, wasn't McCain calling Obama inexperienced? Obama has served 8 years in the Illinois State Senate and 4 years in the U.S. Senate. Palin has been governor of Alaska for less than 2 years. These facts undermine the inexperienced argument. And remember the last time a governor became President? Bush!

Oh that brings me to Palin's innocent question about what the VP does. Traditionally, the VP is supposed to sit around and be prepared to be the most powerful leader on earth! You know, in case McCain keels over.

Anyway, the candidates are all lined up now. We know who's running for President and who they've picked for Vice President. We'll hear many debates of change versus experience, but in the end I always vote for whoever believes what I believe.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More Convention Coverage

Dennis Kucinich gets credit for the greatest line never spoken at a Democratic National Convention. Apparently Obama's campaign objected to this line addressing the Republicans: “They’re asking for another four years — in a just world, they’d get 10 to 20.”

Kucinich has balls for pushing the case for impeachment, but maybe the convention is not the proper time or place. This convention is for focusing on Barack Obama's message. Joe Biden did just that. He passionately pointed out that McCain has been wrong and Obama has been right on issues of national security:

That's the message the Obama campaign really needs to loudly proclaim.

Of course Hillary and Bill also gave good speeches, but I think the most remarkable speech you probably missed came from John Kerry. He spoke of a mission to restore America's influence and position in the world... using our values. He was also bold and brutal in his assertion that the Republicans have not made us safer. Where was this John Kerry in 2004?

I haven't really been following the Republican analysis of the Democratic National Convention, but I heard that their panties are in a bunch over the elaborate stage where Obama will deliver his Thursday night acceptance speech. I think maybe the neocons are taking the debate over the party platform a little too literally. Next they'll complain about the carpet and the feng shui.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


So last night after watching some of the convention analysis I switch over to The Tonight Show -- I'm so glad it's back after a two week hiatus because of the Olympics -- and I see that McCain is on. And damn it, I watch the interview for one minute and I can't believe what I'm hearing. Here is the cringeworthy clip (if the video doesn't show, click here):

When McCain is confronted with any awkward question, anything he can't deal with honestly, he pulls the "POW card." I know it's a comedy show, but is McCain's POW status really a punchline? He's turning it into one.

And it looks like McCain is leading in the polls despite surveys that say 76% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. It's the unlikeliest political comeback in history.

I think part of this comeback is because voters believe McCain has more foreign policy experience... but a big part of his experience is being wrong. Do you think the surge he supported is working? The Seattle Times explains why our current strategy in Iraq is in danger of collapsing.

And did McCain promise the President of Georgia that the U.S. would intervene if they went to war with Russia? The answer isn't clear, but one of his foreign policy advisers is a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government!

And let's not forget that John McCain wants to bomb Iran.

If McCain can continue to frighten the American public about threats from Russia and Iran, then he will win on a "war president" platform. That's more than just cringeworthy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Convention Coverage

I'm reporting live from in front of my TV. Believe me, it's a dirty job watching real reporters work. Here's a fine example of Chris Matthews calling bullshit when he sees bullshit (if video doesn't show, click here):

I'm highly suspicious of these bitter Clinton supporters. Are they really Clinton supporters? Or are they Republicans up to more dirty tricks? The second woman's talking points remind me a little too much of this other guy that Chris Matthews smacked down earlier this year. The common trait is an obnoxious ability to stick to a script while shouting dubious "facts" louder and louder. These twits are unable to answer any questions beyond their shouting points.

And then there is still this issue of religion that unfortunately we can't ignore. I view religion as an inner personal thing, and therefore, in my mind, you are whatever religion you say you are. If you say you're Christian, then you're Christian. That goes for Obama. That goes for Bush.

There might exist some preschool application where Obama's parents filled in "muslim," but I think it has no bearing on his adult beliefs. My parents baptised me Catholic when I was an infant. I had no control over it. Neither did Barack Obama.

Anyway these stupid lies were debunked seven months ago by CNN, but some closed minds are impervious to reason.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Counterculture Time Machine

I bought myself a cool little present this week: Rolling Stone Cover to Cover: The First 40 Years ($32 on It's 4 DVD ROMs containing issues 1 through 1006 of Rolling Stone Magazine. The archive consists of full image scans, so you get every cover, every photo, every advertisement, and of course every article.

I'm certainly no classic-rock music buff, but I have a fascination with the political articles. Reading the stories on Nixon, Watergate, Vietnam, G. Gordon Liddy, and Patty Hearst is better than any history lesson, because reading opinions on events as they were happening, without the benefit of hindsight, erases the distance between then and now.

This little time machine also reminds me that corruption and lies have always been a malignant part of politics. But... and maybe my view is skewed because I'm only studying one magazine archive... it seems the reporting was so much better back then. Consider that when Dan Ellsberg and recently deceased Anthony J. Russo leaked Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, their actions actually sparked controversy and hastened the downfall of a president. Now, despite the various Senate committees, blogs and books pointing to corruption, lies and forgeries of the current administration, we still can't get rid of Bush!

Anyway, if you like perusing this kind of counterculture material, but don't want to invest in the RS collection, you might want to check out The Realist Archive Project. It's another unexpurgated slice of history.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pipe Dreams

Electric cars can free us from our addiction to oil. That has been the dream for 100 years. Shai Agassi thinks we can achieve this dream. He has a new approach. It's not a new technology, but a new business model.

He imagines an "automotive ecosystem" functioning much like the mobile phone industry. We would get our electric cars through an operator at a steep discount (or even free), and then subscribe to service plans -- unlimited miles, a maximum number of miles each month, or pay as you go, etc. The profit would come from selling the electricity much like the mobile phone companies sell minutes.

One of the biggest inconveniences of electric cars is recharging the battery when you don't have time to recharge. Agassi has the solution for that problem too. Drivers would go to battery exchange stations where one battery would be pulled out and a fully charged one would be put in, and then off you go!

Agassi has launched Project Better Place with the goal of building an electric car network, and I think his ideas make a lot of sense. But I do wonder how or even if this system can emerge in a big oil-addicted country like the U.S.

Consumers will have to switch to electric cars, automakers will have to build them, the network must be completed, and somewhere there has to exist the political will. I have no hope of that ever coming from Washington, but I will be one proud Californian if the clean-tech revolution starts here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Is There a Draft in Here?

It looks like old-timer McCain wants to reinstate the draft. (If video doesn't show, click here.)

I know that's sappy "Baby Alex" ad was mocked by just about everybody. One of the biggest criticisms was that our army is voluntary, and so of course, that means baby Alex won't have to serve unless he wants to fight. Right? Our army will always be voluntary... right?

But raising the specter of a draft changes everything. Do young people even know what it involves? Heck, do I even know what it involves? I was still a child when the draft ended in 1973, so I never saw my high school or college friends conscripted. It was something that only happened in those TV shows about the 60's.

Well, Selective Services operates a little differently than it did in the 60's:

  • Before and during the Vietnam War, a young man could get a deferment by showing that he was a full-time student making satisfactory progress towards a degree; now deferment only lasts to the end of the semester. If the man is a senior he can defer until the end of the academic year.
  • The government has said that draft boards are now more representative of the local communities in areas such as race and national origin.
  • A lottery system would be used to determine the order of people being called up. Previously the oldest men who were found eligible for the draft would be taken first. In the new system, the men called first would be those who are or will turn 20 in the calendar year or those whose deferments will end in the calendar year. Each year after the man will be placed on a lower priority status until his liability ends.
Nobody can say for sure how these reforms will work because they haven't been tested yet. But should McCain reinstate the draft, I know two definite results. McCain will be the least popular President ever, and the Iraq war will end very quickly after the fact.

Don't underestimate the power of baby Alex's mom and all the other moms who won't sacrifice their child for an unnecessary war.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Grounded for Life

Today I learned about an important court victory: a federal appeals court ruled that would-be passengers can ask a judge and jury to decide whether their inclusion on the government's secret no-fly list violates their rights. So, who would object to this ruling?

The "no fly list," also known as the "terrorist watch list," is a secret list maintained by the FAA of people who are not permitted to board a commercial aircraft for travel in the United States. The list has swelled to over 1 million names. In the past it has famously included some very unlikely suspects like Nelson Mandela and Edward Kennedy. The list has brainlessly included air marshals hired to protect us. The list has also been used as a political weapon.

So, shouldn't ordinary people (like those who are NOT a Kennedy) be able to challenge their inclusion on the list? Who would be against this recent court ruling? The answer is my father.

For those who don't know me personally, I'm embarrassed to admit that my father is a neocon. I know there is nothing I can do about it. He hasn't always been this way. I think he became more extreme after retirement when he had more time to watch FOX News.

Anyway, his nonsensical argument goes something like this: "I love these people who come to our country and think they can challenge our Constitution. There should be some kind of reciprocal rule. They should only have the rights of their own country when they come here. Then Sharia can apply here and they can be beheaded."

Anyway, I'm paraphrasing a bit, but that's very close to what he said. And when he said "love" he didn't really mean "love." I'm pretty sure the word he was looking for was "hate," but that's typical for Mr. Cranky Pants.

But doesn't his argument leave you with your jaw on the floor? The factual errors are bad enough -- the would-be passenger challenged the no-fly list not our Constitution -- but the saddest mistake in my father's argument is not understanding fundamental human rights -- the ones we call inalienable rights. Inalienable rights are natural rights. They are not granted. They are not conditional. They apply to all humans.

Likewise, justice isn't exclusively for American citizens. If our laws really work, then they work for everybody. If the woman challenging the list is innocent, then she is innocent no matter what her country of origin. And why would any thinking person even dream of legitimizing another country's primitive laws?

I don't know. It's frustrating. I'm a person concerned with our loss of liberties and our government's unchecked power. My father is an authoritarian septuagenarian raised on WW II propaganda and fear of Communism.

Turns out there are some aspects of Communism he really really likes.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I think President Bush and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili have taught us one important lesson. Even leaders of democratic nations can become unhinged. (If the video doesn't show, click here.)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Faith in Education

The little man in the above comic might be trying to tip the scales in favor of creationism "science," but in reality (or at least in California) he's not fooling anybody. From The San Francisco Chronicle:
A federal judge says the University of California can deny course credit to applicants from Christian high schools whose textbooks declare the Bible infallible and reject evolution.

Rejecting claims of religious discrimination and stifling of free expression, U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles said UC's review committees cited legitimate reasons for rejecting the texts - not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking.
And I, as a critical thinker, support this decision. Parents are still free to send their kids to Christian high schools, but if those kids have been indoctrinated in the untruths of Christianity's Influence on America, then they'll have to continue their education at that lousy bible college Monica Goodling attended. Or they can play catch up at any one of California's wonderful community colleges.

I do, however, feel sorry for any kid who was forced to attend a science class with a textbook that proclaims on its first page, "if (scientific) conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong." Religious parents might as well give their children lobotomies rather than send them to that class.

Scientific theory, historical facts, and critical thinking for all.

Friday, August 15, 2008


On Tuesday I wrote a quick post about the South Ossetia War. I said I hope the presidential candidates are listening to the experts on the situation, and then I added that it was a scary thought that Bush is still president. I wanted to expand on that thought.

I don't think Bush listens to experts. He never listened to the CIA in 2002 when they said Saddam Hussein was not an imminent threat. He didn't listen to General Eric Shinseki when he famously said that the military would need "several hundred thousand" troops to secure Iraq. However, he does listen to Cheney, but what really worries me is that Bush bases way too much on blind faith. Here is an example of an evangelical preacher he studies:
If you debate for even one second when God has spoken, it is all over for you. Never start to say, "Well, I wonder if He really did speak to me?" Be reckless immediately— totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything— by casting your all upon Him. You do not know when His voice will come to you, but whenever the realization of God comes, even in the faintest way imaginable, be determined to recklessly abandon yourself, surrendering everything to Him. It is only through abandonment of yourself and your circumstances that you will recognize Him. You will only recognize His voice more clearly through recklessness— being willing to risk your all.
That quotation is from the widely-read devotional My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers (1874 - 1917). It's not the kind of advice I want my president following.

So of course I'm worried about this new crisis involving Russia, Georgia and Ossetia. The truth is already a casualty in this war. The majority of Americans believe that the Russian army invaded Georgia first. If that's not true, then the mainstream media is misleading the public -- again -- just like in the run up to the Iraq war.

And just to complicate matters more, John McCain is now stepping in and sending his own delegation to Georgia which will certainly confuse our foreign policy further. In fact, McCain is so confused himself that he believes the Georgian conflict is the "first serious crisis" in the post-Cold War era.

I can't decide what's worse: Still-President Bush, or Pretend-President McCain?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Threat of Electronic Voting

Velvet Revolution Interviews Stephen Spoonamore: segment 1, segment 2, segment 3, segment 4, segment 5, segment 6, segment 7, segment 8.

The problems with electronic voting are complex, and if you're even a tiny bit computer-phobic (like John McCain), you might be intimidated by discussions about computer memory, IP addresses, and encryption. But in segment 2, Stephen Spoonamore, one of the world's leading experts in cyber crime, gives us this metaphor:
Here's my finger, and if I were to write on a ballot, that ballot is now a permanent document. What is happening now is when you touch that screen, that screen has circuitry inside it and the circuitry inside talks to a datafield. That datafield below it is basically like you walking up and opening a curtain and there's a little man who says, "hello, what's your vote?" And you say "well I'd like to vote for this person," and he says "thank you," and then he closes the screen and goes to a different screen and tells someone else. That next layer is the operating system. Now you don't really know what the screen is telling the operating system because you can't see it, so unlike a vote that you marked, the screen now takes that information and passes it to a fieldset of the operating system. Who knows who wrote the operating system? Diebold won't tell us.
In another interesting segment, Spoonamore says that he believes that Kerry won in 2004, not Bush... and Spoonamore is a Republican. If you care about the election, if you care about democracy, you'll watch those 8 video segments.

On a related note, do you realize that in the U.S. there is no Constitutional guarantee to the right to vote? I think it's time for an amendment. But what a radical idea that is. Amending our Constitution to affirm basic rights? Our current government only passes legislation to take away rights and freedoms.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Geography Lessons

War: God's way of teaching Americans geography.

If you're trying to follow developments in the South Ossetia war, I hope you're not completely relying on the major networks, because we all know their coverage is utter rubbish. They automatically frame the war in terms of our presidential election. And looking at our presidential candidates, it's become painfully clear that after all these years we still don't know how to handle Russia.

I prefer not to listen to the bellicose posturing of McCain. I prefer to listen to those with some practical experience with the former Soviet Union... like Henry A. Kissinger and Richard Holbrooke. I hope the candidates are listening. Also, I hope still-President Bush is listening. I keep forgetting he's still the one in charge. That's a scary thought.

Monday, August 11, 2008

French Bashing

I never quite understood French bashing, but I've heard these jokes a million times. I always took them to be lighthearted. The more malicious bashing, however, comes from guys like this one.

What got me thinking about the absurdity of Francophobia was a passage in The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder: "But the reality is that France never opposed the notion of war with Iraq. Responsibly seeking to avoid, if possible, the inevitable horror of armed conflict, it only opposed Bush's mad and irresponsible rush to war in Iraq. Such a war, French president Jacques Chirac feared, would outrage Arab and Islamic public opinion and 'create a large number of little Bin Ladens.'"

So we single out France and change our menus to read "freedom fries" while forgetting that Germany, Russia, China and other UN members also opposed our rush to war. We characterize the French as pacifists even though they sent thousand of troops to join our efforts in Afghanistan.

Anyway, why am I talking about this? French bashing is so 2003. China bashing is the newest trend... Though they deserve every bit of scrutiny over their human rights abuses. And so do we.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Brave New World

"But do you like being slaves?" the Savage was saying as they entered the Hospital. His face was flushed, his eyes bright with ardour and indignation. "Do you like being babies? Yes, babies. Mewling and puking," he added, exasperated by their bestial stupidity into throwing insults at those he had come to save.
---BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley
I came across this passage today while reading the dystopian 1932 novel by Aldous Huxley. The exasperation and frustration toward the masses drugged and conditioned into ignorant bliss is a pain I feel all too often. Every day there is something new to be outraged about, and it takes discipline and a deep breath to prevent cursing at those whose minds I'd like to change.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Subversion is a Crime Against The State

Isn't that one cute and non-threatening avatar? In China, he pops up every thirty minutes on web surfers' screens to cheerfully remind them that subversion is a crime against the state.

Beijing has declared war on cybercafes, the Internet, and bloggers. The government has frequently raided cybercafes claiming that pornography and violent, addictive video games are cultural pollution and threaten their youth and their future.

But the control-freak government doesn't stop there (they never do). Project "Golden Shield" is the name of the Chinese high-tech surveillance and censorship program. The program involves some 300,000 surveillance cameras, often disguised as lampposts, connected to a single, nationwide network. This network involves a massive, searchable database of names, photos, residency information, work history, credit records, Internet usage and biometric data.

When I read about these tools of oppression, somehow I don't shout "wow, great opportunity to make money!" Maybe that's why I'm not rich like those people at Cisco who are helping to build the Great Firewall of China (while possibly violating U.S. sanctions). Western companies -- even those that proudly attach themselves to the Internet’s reputation for anarchy -- peddle their wares to China’s Ministry of Public Security. Shanghai Business Magazine recently estimated that the Chinese security industry is enjoying 15% annual growth.

Undermining privacy is a profitable business. And privacy is the rock that dignity, freedom of association and freedom of speech are built on.

China, hosting the summer Olympics, is trying to awe us with their technology, planning, efficiency and social order, but this is not progress.

Naomi Klein describes the new police state:

The goal of all this central planning and spying is not to celebrate the glories of Communism, regardless of what China's governing party calls itself. It is to create the ultimate consumer cocoon for Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cell phones, McDonald's happy meals, Tsingtao beer, and UPS delivery -- to name just a few of the official Olympic sponsors. But the hottest new market of all is the surveillance itself. Unlike the police states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, China has built a Police State 2.0, an entirely for-profit affair that is the latest frontier for the global Disaster Capitalism Complex.

I used to believe that free people and free markets were a package deal. It's not true, unless you only value your freedom to buy stuff.

BBC News has an online video exploring China's cyberspace. I had to pause at the point where Sherang Chen, editor for BBC China, says that the Chinese "do feel they are enjoying quite a degree of freedom..." When Police State 2.0 arrives in the U.S., "quite a degree of freedom" won't be enough for me.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Anthrax Answers?

Government officials asserted yesterday that Bruce Ivins acted alone to perpetrate the anthrax attack that killed five people, but others believe the evidence is inconclusive. (If video doesn't show, click here.)

Gerald Posner raises the question about how Ivins could have weaponized the anthrax. This mystery alone is one critical reason for the public to scrutinize the government's conclusions.

However, as I wrote about earlier this week, there is another reason for scrutiny over the entire anthrax case. The media's reporting on the attack was used to advance Bush's plan for a war in Iraq. Some people, notably Glenn Greenwald, Jay Rosen and Dan Gillmor, want ABC News to answer vital questions about the sources behind the initial reports connecting Saddam Hussein to the anthrax attacks. Bloggasm has an exclusive interview with Greenwald asking him about ABC's responsibility in the matter:
“I think first of all that this is a basic principal of journalism, that if you get a story wrong, you explain what happened that led to the bad reporting,” Greenwald told me. “That’s what the New York Times did to explain how they got those Judy Miller stories wrong. When people get stories wrong, the credibility of the journalistic outlet depends upon them explaining what happened. If Brian Ross wants to say, ‘our sources acted in good faith, they just got it wrong,’ then he needs to explain the basis of that.”
Yesterday, Brian Ross, ABC's lead reporter on the anthrax stories in late 2001, explained what happened and what it means now: "Our sources were current and former government scientists who were all involved in analyzing the substance in the letter." He says that Ivins was not one of those scientists. He also denies that his reports contributed to the case for war. "The people who say the White House lied to us to build a case on Iraq or something doesn't hold." He says that the White House denied it was bentonite from day one.

I find it strange enough that Ross doesn't believe the Bush administration lied to us to start a war... but his other claims also lead me to wonder why is he a reporter if he believes his own reports are so ineffectual that they don't influence the public? I remember the hype, and I remember the fear. Every claim that went unchallenged and uncorrected added to the public's anxiety. You can't convince me that those reports didn't matter.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Seven Years Ago Today

"During the spring and summer of 2001, President Bush had on several occasions asked his briefers whether any of the threats pointed to the United States. Reflecting on these questions, the CIA decided to write a briefing article summarizing its understanding of this danger. Two CIA analysts involved in preparing this briefing article believed it represented an opportunity to communicate their view that the threat of a Bin Ladin attack in the United States remained both current and serious. The result was an article in the August 6 Presidential Daily Brief titled 'Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.' It was the 36th PDB item briefed so far that year that related to Bin Ladin or al Qaeda, and the first devoted to the possibility of an attack in the United States." --The 9/11 Commission Report

Too bad Condoleezza Rice, then the National Security Adviser, didn't realize it was her job to make recommendations regarding these briefs. From The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation by Philip Shenon:
Domestic issues seemed to bore her. Her deputy, Stephen Hadley, had told the commission something remarkable in his private interview the month before: He and Rice had not seen themselves as responsible for co-ordinating the FBI and other domestic agencies about terrorism. But if they weren't responsible, who was? There was no separate domestic security adviser in the White House. They had just demoted Clarke.
Seven years later, Bush, Cheney, and Rice are still in the White House, and bin Laden is still free. Happy Anniversary.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Worse Than Watergate?

If the video doesn't show, click here. Also, watch the follow-up exclusive with Ron Suskind.

Another new scandal, and if the charges are true, this is impeachable.

And in response to this news, I have a question for Nancy Pelosi. How do you do it? How do you stand up there in front of the U.S. House of Representatives? I mean, I heard that it's impossible to walk or even stand if you're spineless!

Monday, August 04, 2008

ABC, Anthrax and Deception

Was Bruce Ivins the lone crackpot responsible for the anthrax mail attacks in 2001? Perhaps. But I think we, as a nation, have bigger fish to fry...

The first anthrax-laced letters were mailed September 18, 2001 -- one week after the 9/11 attacks -- to several news media offices and two Democratic U.S. Senators. The country was already traumatized, but the fear of biological weapons, deadly and imperceptible, was escalating our panic.

It made sense to blame the same people who attacked us on 9/11. When we were told by ABC News that, according to "four well-placed and separate sources," Saddam Hussein was behind the anthrax attacks, we didn't question.

And remember, it was mostly journalists who received the anthrax letters. And journalists asked their doctors to prescribe Cipro, an antibiotic effective against anthrax. And journalists opened their mail in secure rooms wearing latex gloves and face masks. And journalists, conceivably because of this panic, supported the Bush administration and linked Saddam to the anthrax and September 11.

At least one columnist, Richard Cohen, has written about the role that anthrax played in his support to take out Saddam Hussein: "I was not going to stand by and simply wait for another attack -- more attacks. I was going to go to the source, Hussein, and get him before he could get us. As time went on, I became more and more questioning, but I had a hard time backing down from my initial whoop and holler for war."

However, Saddam Hussein was not behind the attacks. The anthrax spores came from a U.S. Army research lab.

Salon's Glenn Greenwald has written several scathing reports about anthrax, ABC News and the concocted lies that took us to war:

Greenwald asserts that the role ABC played cannot be overstated:

Much more important than the general attempt to link the anthrax to Islamic terrorists, there was a specific intent -- indispensably aided by ABC News -- to link the anthrax attacks to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. In my view, and I've written about this several times and in great detail to no avail, the role played by ABC News in this episode is the single greatest, unresolved media scandal of this decade. News of Ivins' suicide, which means (presumably) that the anthrax attacks originated from Ft. Detrick, adds critical new facts and heightens how scandalous ABC News' conduct continues to be in this matter.

ABC News has to respond. Jay Rosen and Dan Gillmor have posted three vital questions that ABC should answer:

1. Sources who are granted confidentiality give up their rights when they lie or mislead the reporter. Were you lied to or misled by your sources when you reported several times in 2001 that anthrax found in domestic attacks came from Iraq or showed signs of Iraqi involvement?

2. It now appears that the attacks were of domestic origin and the anthrax came from within U.S. government facilities. This leads us to ask you: who were the "four well-placed and separate sources" who falsely told ABC News that tests conducted at Fort Detrick showed bentonite in the anthrax sent to Sen. Tom Daschle, causing ABC News to connect the attacks to Iraq in multiple reports over a five day period in October, 2001?

3. A substantially false story that helps make the case for war by raising fears about enemies abroad attacking the United States is released into public debate because of faulty reporting by ABC News. How that happened and who was responsible is itself a major story of public interest. What is ABC News doing to re-report these events, to figure out what went wrong and to correct the record for the American people who were misled?

I, like everybody who follows these stories, have my suspicions about the "four well-placed and separate sources." You don't have to be a genius to come up with four liars in the Bush administration. And knowing now about message-force multipliers and revised CIA documents, I find it easy to imagine government insiders hand-feeding lies to ABC.

Another person who needs to be questioned is John McCain.

I'd really like to know what he knew, when he knew it, and how he learned it.

If we keep pushing and demanding answers, the story of the anthrax attacks will slowly come to light.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Dick Moves

“Politics is just show business for ugly people” -- Jay Leno

The theme this week, courtesy of the McCain campaign, is that Barack Obama is a celebrity. Of course, before starting this new narrative, they scrubbed the McCain web site! Yes, McCain and his people are slowly learning about the Internet. However, they desperately need to learn what a Google cache is:

March 1, 2007

Article Excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) - Republican Sen. John McCain said he will officially enter the presidential race ... with a formal announcement in early April after a trip to Iraq.

The Arizona senator discussed the timing of the long-expected announcement with reporters at an awards reception Wednesday evening a few hours after taping an appearance on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman."

On the talk show, McCain told Letterman: "I am announcing that I will be a candidate for president of the United States," then added that he would give a formal speech to that effect in early April.

He later told reporters that he would visit Iraq first and that his campaign would be about "whether I have the vision, experience and knowledge to lead the nation."

Former New York Gov. George Pataki introduced McCain to reporters before the Irish-American 10th Annual Awards reception Wednesday night. Asked about polls showing him trailing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, McCain said: "We keep doing the best we can. We're very happy with the way things are going."

There had been no doubt that McCain would eventually become a full-fledged White House candidate, and he had been expected to make his candidacy official in the spring.

The 2006 midterm campaign had just ended when McCain took the first formal step toward a presidential run in November. He formed an exploratory committee and gave a speech casting himself as a "common-sense conservative" in the vein of Ronald Reagan who could lead the party back to dominance after a dreadful election season by returning to the GOP's core principles.

A political celebrity, McCain is considered a top contender for the nomination.

McCain's own press release last year referred to him as a celebrity. But the humor doesn't end there. In a nationally televised ad, McCain attempts to equate Obama's fame with that of the annoying, narcissistic socialite Paris Hilton. I wonder how Paris Hilton's parents feel considering they donated $4600 to the McCain campaign. Jon Stewart describes this dick move:

So why does the GOP air these ads? They know that simply by raising a question like "is Obama arrogant," it will be debated over and over again in the media. Media Matters explains how these narratives emerge:

But attacks don't just stick and narratives don't just emerge. The only reason that the topic of the week was whether Obama is presumptuous instead of whether McCain is a liar who will do anything to get elected is that the news media decided to make Obama's purported flaws the topic of the week -- even after debunking the charges upon which the characterization is based. It's as though the news media -- so concerned about lies (that weren't really lies) in 2000 -- have suddenly decided that it doesn't matter that the McCain campaign is launching false attack after false attack. That it's the kind of thing you note once, then adopt the premise of the attack.
So even after an attack has been debunked, the MSM devotes an extraordinary amount of time to the lie repeating it like some kind of he-said-she-said lover's quarrel.

When a claim is proven to be false, don't call it "misleading." Call it a lie! And then move on to some other ugly business. There's plenty out there.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Bang Bang! Kiss Kiss!

A guy walks into a bar on Pennsylvania Avenue and spots George W. Bush and Dick Cheney having drinks.

So the guy introduces himself and says, “Wow, this is a real honor. What are you guys doing in here?”

Cheney says, “We’re planning WW III. And the guy says, “Really? What’s going to happen?”

Cheney says, “Well, we’re going to kill 10 million Iranians and one blond with big boobs.”

The guy exclaims, “A blond with big boobs! Why kill a blond with big boobs?”

Cheney turns to Bush, punches him on the shoulder and says, “See, dummy! I told you no one would care about the 10 million Iranians!”

Jokes always have an element of truth. This one, a little too much.

The big news today is that there were only 13 Iraq-related U.S. deaths last month. But go over to and do a search on "Round-up of daily violence in Iraq," and you'll see a more complete picture. On July 28 alone, female suicide bombers killed at least 51 people and injured 95 others. Four more people were killed by a roadside bomb. And I get the distinct feeling we don't really care. We scroll past these headlines. They're just numbers to us. Heck, we don't even look at the numbers.

But going back to the above Bush joke, there is a darker element of truth: U.S. leaders provoking world wars. Think it's not true? From Think Progress:

That's Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for The New Yorker, revealing that Bush administration officials recently held a meeting in the Vice President’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran. Or in other words, this is the how-to on launching a false flag attack.

Hersh: There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives.

And it was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. That’s the kind of — that’s the level of stuff we’re talking about. Provocation. But that was rejected.

So I can understand the argument for not writing something that was rejected — uh maybe. My attitude always towards editors is they’re mice training to be rats.

But the point is jejune, if you know what that means. Silly? Maybe. But potentially very lethal. Because one of the things they learned in the incident was the American public, if you get the right incident, the American public will support bang-bang-kiss-kiss. You know, we’re into it.

Warmongers going to war to maximize profits for themselves and their cronies without regard to the human lives they take. It's called stealing. It's called murder.

And that describes the disgustingly criminal state of the Bush administration. No joke.