Sunday, January 30, 2005


Yep, the Iraqis voted today, and now, the war is over. Democracy is spreading like wildfire throughout the Middle East. No need to worry anymore, and our troops...

Ah, I can't do it. I'm trying to be sarcastic but the fact is, it's actually sounding pretty good over there. I mean, 44 people died, which isn't good - but in a way, that's kind of not all that bad either. And 72% of Iraqis turned out. That's better than the turnout in the U.S.! Could it be possible that Bush is right on this one? I'll say it - I hope so. I hope that we're all wrong on this one. Wouldn't it be great if the election takes the wind out of the sails of the insurgency? Wouldn't it be great if we could start bringing our troops home?

Yes, it would. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. First of all, the Iraqis who voted have indelible ink on their fingers, so they can still be identified and targeted by insurgents. The ballots still need to be tallied, so those people could be targeted. And maybe most importantly, I don't take at face value anything our government says about anything. The 72% turnout and the 44 dead people could be false. But still! For now, things look really good. It sure would be great if we can look back on this day as the day that things started to get better. I'm not holding my breath, but I'm guardedly optimistic.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Maybe They Really Are Nazis

I always thought that was just hyperbole. But look at this.

Dick Cheney went to a ceremony at Auschwitz yesterday, but instead of dressing up like all the other grown-up world leaders, he wore a weird parka and a knit ski cap.

French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin, were wearing dark, formal overcoats and dress shoes or boots. Because it was cold and snowing, they were also wearing gentlemen's hats. In short, they were dressed for the inclement weather as well as the sobriety and dignity of the event.

The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.

Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood. It is embroidered with his name. It reminded one of the way in which children's clothes are inscribed with their names before they are sent away to camp. And indeed, the vice president looked like an awkward boy amid the well-dressed adults.

...a knit ski cap, embroidered with the words "Staff 2001." It was the kind of hat a conventioneer might find in a goodie bag.

Just last week, in a frigid, snow-dusted Washington, Cheney sat outside through the entire inauguration without so much as a hat and without suffering frostbite. And clearly, Cheney owns a proper overcoat. The world saw it during his swearing-in as vice president. Cheney treated that ceremony with the dignity it deserved -- not simply through his demeanor, but also through his attire. Would he have dared to take the oath of office with a ski cap on? People would have justifiably considered that an insult to the office, the day, the country.


Dick! Dick! Dick! Dick!

Some loony parent's group filed 36 complaints with the FCC which were instantly dismissed. Thank god for small miracles. But that's not the good part. In Salon today, Amy Reiter lists the complaints one-by-one. And they're fucking hilarious! Some of the jokes are funny on their own, but the complete lack of anything indecent in every one of these complaints is what cracks me up. Here are some of my favorites:

"Fastlane," September 18, 2002, 9 p.m. EST: one character threatens another by stating: " my next life I'm coming back as a pair of pliers and pull off your nutsack."

Nutsack. Huh, huh...

"Girls Club," October 21, 2002, 9 p.m. EST: a young female attorney says to an older male attorney: "...those power dicks are going to start giving me trials." The attorney responds: "Is that what you call us? Power dicks?"

"Girls Club," October 28, 2002, 9 p.m. EST: a female character remarks: "I'm not feeling too sexual these days ... Especially here, I'm having a little trouble with one of the power dicks."

"Dawson's Creek," October 30, 2002, 8 p.m. EST: one character remarks to another: "Listen, I know that you're pissed at your dad for flaking on you. It doesn't mean he's a bad dad, and it doesn't mean he doesn't love you. Another character responds: "No, it just means he's a dick."

"Dawson's Creek," December 11, 2002, 8 p.m. EST: one character tells another: "'re being a dick."

"Dick" is such a problem with these people. And in this context, it's not even dirty, as in, for example, "Holy crap, look at his dick!" How did they whittle this down to just 36 examples? I can't imagine watching any random half hour of television and not finding ten things more offensive than, "you're a dick."

"Friends," May 1, 2003, 8 p.m. EST: a female character and her husband encounter the husband's former girlfriend at a medical office. After a conversation concerning fertility treatment, the female character says that she has to go because she's got "an invasive vaginal exam to get to."

They're presumably watching dozens of Friends episodes, and they're upset with "invasive vaginal exam?" I saw an episode last night where Joey and Chandler are discussing what would happen if the two of them were in a three way with a girl and making rules - "Keep your eyes closed at all time! But what if I had my eyes closed and I reached out and touched... EYES OPEN AT ALL TIMES! How do we decide what goes where? We could flip a coin. So how do we know what is heads and what is tails? If you don't know that, then I don't want to do this with you!"

That's WAY more offensive than vaginal exam, isn't it?

"Run of the House," October 23, 2003, 9 p.m. EST: a female character teases her brother about dating a woman who looks like his mother and, after her brother and his girlfriend have been in the hot tub, tells him "I know what you're doing."

I kinda don't even get this one. And I definitely don't get what's offensive about it. Do you ever wonder if these parent group types are just thinking about sex, sex, sex all day long so they start these crusades as a way of flagellating themselves? Because I'm just not seeing it in this one.

"Gilmore Girls," November 18, 2003, 8 p.m. EST: in one scene, a character's grandfather reminisces about college pranks involving nudity; in another scene, two current college students discuss the night the male student spent nude in a dorm hallway. There is also another scene in which a female character listens to a brief message on her answering machine in which a male caller makes a reference to "growing a pair."

"Growing a pair" is short for "growing a pair of balls," freakparents. You see? The writers preemptively censored it already!

"One Tree Hill," November 18, 2003, 9 p.m. EST: in a school hallway, a male character tells a female character, "I've got something for you," and she replies, "I know you do, gorgeous." He then gives her a book, telling her she might want to "check it out," and she replies, "Oh, I definitely want to check it out. I suppose I could read the book, too."

Here's a bit of news for you super-censors: If you get the double-entendre, then you probably aren't offended by it. If you don't get the double-entendre, like say, maybe a kid, then no harm, no foul. She said, "I know you do, gorgeous." Not "I know you have that dick for me, gorgeous."

"Charmed," November 23, 2003, 8 p.m. EST: three female characters are talking, one remarks that she's late because she was "tied up," and another asks "where, at Richard's?" Later, one of the female characters talks about being afraid to "take it to the next level" with her boyfriend, and another character tells her to "relax and let it happen." She replies: "That's easy for you to say, you weren't the one sleeping with an angel for three years."

I know what this one's about. Sex with an angel is strictly forbidden by Christian law. Oh wait. There's no such thing as angels. Angel orgy! (oh - and let's invite SpongeBob) Oh yeah, and by the way, nutcase Christians, those three female characters - they're witches! The dark arts of Satan. Oooooohhh...

"Gilmore Girls," February 10, 2004, 9 p.m. EST: one character says to another: "you're a dick."

"Angel," February 11, 2004, 9 p.m. EST: one character says to another: "you're still a dick."

Again with the dicks? Lighten up. Oh, and again - that guy, Angel. He's a vampire. A good-guy vampire! Demons and vampires and blood and witches. Beelzebub is pissing all over that show, and you have a problem with "dick?"

"AUSA," March 18, 2003, 9:30 p.m. EST: one scene depicts Adam, a lawyer, lying on a hotel bed watching an adult movie on the hotel's video system (no video images are visible). Dialogue from one video, "Here Comes the Judge," is audible: Male voice: "The defense rests." Female voice: "Not tonight. Now hand over those briefs." The next scene shows the lawyer waking up and realizing that the adult channel continued to play while he slept. Remaining scenes contain jokes about his watching adult entertainment all night, to wit: Adam: "What's [my boss] going to say when he finds out I spent nine of my 16 hours here in Arizona watching porn?" Clerk: "You're a sad, lonely man with remarkable stamina." Another scene depicts a woman asking Adam if "he's decent," and he remarks: "I'm buttered from the waist down." Another scene has a character listing the movies Adam paid for: "Jurassic Pork, Laid in Manhattan, Catch Me in the Can."

I just had to include this one because I love fake porn names. Jurassic Pork. Ha!

"Night of Too Many Stars," May 31, 2003, 8 p.m. EDT: comedian Dana Carvey, reprising his role as the Saturday Night Live character, "Church Lady," says to the actor Macaulay Culkin: "...then we jumped on the puberty train and got all tingly ...we want to fornicate, so we thought it would be nifty to get married when we were twelve." Dana Carvey later discusses Michael Jackson and says of him: "Did he ever dangle anything in front of you at the sleepovers? ...Say, his happy man-loaf? ...When he moon walked, he didn't moon you as he walked, did he? ...Did he ever get into Billy's jeans?" Another character asks whether "his [Jackson's] shalonthaz [sic] ever rose up to salute you? You never played hide the toast?"

Um... NaziParents? You know that the Church Lady character is specifically clowning on you, right? OK, let's move on.

"The Simpsons," November 16, 2003, 8 p.m. EST: in this animated program, a scene depicts students carrying picket signs that read "Don't cut off my pianissimo" and "What would Jesus glue?" A male character says "Well, I guess this story has a happy ending after all. Just like my last massage."

The Simpsons is great, isn't it? What would Jesus glue, indeed...

"King of the Hill," November 23, 2003, 7:30 p.m. EST: in this animated program, a cartoon boy is shown about to enter a communal shower at his school. An off-screen voice emanating from the shower asks, "Is that a pimple or another nipple?" As the cartoon boy removes his towel and enters the shower, his buttocks are briefly depicted.

OH NO!! Cartoon buttocks!! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!

I guess I've made my point. As a final thought to all you parents out there, especially these psycho crusading parents who clearly enjoy watching way too much television - if you don't like it, if you don't want your kid watching, change the fucking channel. We can't have art stripped of everything that makes it interesting. Everyone is different, everyone has different tastes. Stop wasting our government officials' time with these ridiculously minor complaints. And stop trying to parent the whole country. As it is, you already have your way. When's the last time you saw breasts on tv?

Uh... Oh yeah.

Totalitarian Scribblers

You gotta love Joe Conason.

It is remarkable that Williams and Gallagher, who claim to understand why democracy and freedom are superior to tyranny, don't fully understand why pundit payola is so repugnant. American journalists don't take money from the politicians they cover because we don't live in a totalitarian regime where state-subsidized scribblers are expected to glorify the Beloved Leader.

And he wrote that before we found out about number three.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Goebbels Is Smiling Somewhere

Ah, yes. How the noble have fallen... A third (3rd) paid propagandist for the Bush administration has been uncovered.

It's pretty unbelievable when you think about it. That cocky son of a bitch needs to pay people to spread his lies for him, when there are so many willing to do it for free! Or are they? The media is (rightfully) in a tizzy about this. As Salon pointed out this morning, right-wingers are protesting especially loudly. Why is that? I mean, in theory, they aren't on the payroll, so there's no reason to worry, right? It's because this journalistic ethics "line" that they claim is currently being blurred is already blurred. It's been blurred for some time now. I've written about this in the past, but the key is that even before BushCo was paying them directly, they've been making money through his dishonest and shameful policies for years. But now that the pay-for-play has been discovered, they aren't going to be able to hide behind the facade of "fair and balanced" anymore. The more of these propagandists that pop up, the more the public is finally going to wake up and start wondering - "Do they believe this, or are they serving their own interests?" When Bill O'Reilly claimed that the tax cut went to everyone, not just the rich, was he only saying that because he's rich?

I wonder...

No on Gonzales

Just in case it wasn't clear here, here, here, and here, I'm emphatically stating for the record - for the love of god, NO on Gonzales.

Directly from the Daily Kos:

No on Gonzales
Tue Jan 25th, 2005 at 12:43:07 PST

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions. In this case, we, the undersigned bloggers, have decided to speak as one and collectively author a document of opposition. We oppose the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to the position of Attorney General of the United States, and we urge every United States Senator to vote against him.

As the prime legal architect for the policy of torture adopted by the Bush Administration, Gonzales's advice led directly to the abandonment of longstanding federal laws, the Geneva Conventions, and the United States Constitution itself. Our country, in following Gonzales's legal opinions, has forsaken its commitment to human rights and the rule of law and shamed itself before the world with our conduct at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The United States, a nation founded on respect for law and human rights, should not have as its Attorney General the architect of the law's undoing.

In January 2002, Gonzales advised the President that the United States Constitution does not apply to his actions as Commander in Chief, and thus the President could declare the Geneva Conventions inoperative. Gonzales's endorsement of the August 2002 Bybee/Yoo Memorandum approved a definition of torture so vague and evasive as to declare it nonexistent. Most shockingly, he has embraced the unacceptable view that the President has the power to ignore the Constitution, laws duly enacted by Congress and International treaties duly ratified by the United States. He has called the Geneva Conventions "quaint."

Legal opinions at the highest level have grave consequences. What were the consequences of Gonzales's actions? The policies for which Gonzales provided a cover of legality - views which he expressly reasserted in his Senate confirmation hearings - inexorably led to abuses that have undermined military discipline and the moral authority our nation once carried. His actions led directly to documented violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and widespread abusive conduct in locales around the world.

Michael Posner of Human Rights First observed: "After the horrific images from Abu Ghraib became public last year, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the world should 'judge us by our actions [and] watch how a democracy deals with the wrongdoing and with scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes.'" We agree. It is because of this that we believe the only proper course of action is for the Senate to reject Alberto Gonzales's nomination for Attorney General. As Posner notes, "[t]he world is indeed watching." Will the Senate condone torture? Will the Senate condone the rejection of the rule of law?

With this nomination, we have arrived at a crossroads as a nation. Now is the time for all citizens of conscience to stand up and take responsibility for what the world saw, and, truly, much that we have not seen, at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. We oppose the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States, and we urge the Senate to reject him.

There Is No Crisis

Satire is funny.

Tom the Dancing Bug

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Condi Wins!

We knew it was coming. Lying in order to get us into an unnecessary and bloody war is so *yawn* these days. But it still matters. Condoleezza Rice was confirmed as Secretary of State this morning by a vote of 85 to 13. If you're like me, you're wondering - how did my senators vote? For your edification, the "nays" are as follows:

  • Akaka (D-HI)
  • Bayh (D-IN)
  • Boxer (D-CA)
  • Byrd (D-WV)
  • Dayton (D-MN)
  • Durbin (D-IL)
  • Harkin (D-IA)
  • Jeffords (I-VT)
  • Kennedy (D-MA)
  • Kerry (D-MA)
  • Lautenberg (D-NJ)
  • Levin (D-MI)
  • Reed (D-RI)

    Kudos, John Kerry, for growing a set of balls since November! In fact, well done, all of you, for standing up for what we believe in.

    Disappointing names on the list of shame:
  • My own Senators Clinton and Schumer
  • Joe Biden? Joe! Joey! I thought we was tight, yo!
  • Dianne Feinstein
  • Joe Lieberman (just kidding, we all know he's already a Republican)
  • Barack Obama - Dude! You just got there. We love you! Why you gotta sell us out so soon?
  • Harry Reid, our noble leader
  • Debbie Stabenow (only because I'm originally from Michigan) Debs - Carl voted nay; what gives?

    Let's not forget this vote, and perhaps even more importantly, let's note how they vote in the Gonzales Affair. Remember that it's their job to represent our interests. Not the other way around. If you don't feel represented by this vote, write to them, call them - let them know.

    You can find out your senators, congressman and their contact information here.

  • Scalia For Chief Justice! (?)

    I'm not so sure about this, but I have to say, Slate's Nicholas Thompson makes a good argument in favor of allowing the Republicans to name Scalia Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

    Out of the Woodwork

    Oops! Another paid government propagandist is uncovered today in the Washington Post.

    In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush's push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families.

    But Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president's proposal.

    "Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it?" Gallagher said yesterday. "I don't know. You tell me."

    Yes, Mags. You did indeed violate journalistic ethics. Did you violate your own ethics? I doubt it.

    Attorney General / Secretary of Torture

    I could write 1000 posts about Alberto Gonzales and it wouldn't be enough. The Washington Post has a great editorial today. A Degrading Policy:

    Alberto R. Gonzales was vague, unresponsive and misleading in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Bush administration's detention of foreign prisoners. In his written answers to questions from the committee, prepared in anticipation of today's vote on his nomination as attorney general, Mr. Gonzales was clearer -- disturbingly so, as it turns out. According to President Bush's closest legal adviser, this administration continues to assert its right to indefinitely hold foreigners in secret locations without any legal process; to deny them access to the International Red Cross; to transport them to countries where torture is practiced; and to subject them to treatment that is "cruel, inhumane or degrading," even though such abuse is banned by an international treaty that the United States has ratified. In effect, Mr. Gonzales has confirmed that the Bush administration is violating human rights as a matter of policy.

    The constitutional amendments, he told the committee, technically do not apply to foreigners held abroad; therefore, in the administration's view the torture treaty does not bind intelligence interrogators operating on foreign soil. "The Department of Justice has concluded," he wrote, that "there is no legal prohibition under the Convention Against Torture on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment with respect to aliens overseas."

    He was asked if there were any legal prohibition against U.S. personnel using simulated drowning and mock executions as well as sleep deprivation, dogs to inspire fear, hooding, forced nudity, the forced injection of mood-altering drugs and the threat of sending a detainee to another country for torture, among other abuses. He answered: "Some might . . . be permissible in certain circumstances."

    In an attempt to close the loophole, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) sought to attach an amendment to the intelligence reform legislation last fall specifying that "no prisoner shall be subject to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment that is prohibited by the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States." The Senate adopted the provision unanimously. Later, however, it was stripped from the bill at the request of the White House. In his written testimony, Mr. Gonzales affirmed that the provision would have "provided legal protections to foreign prisoners to which they are not now entitled." Senators who supported the amendment consequently face a critical question: If they vote to confirm Mr. Gonzales as the government's chief legal authority, will they not be endorsing the systematic use of "cruel, inhumane and degrading" practices by the United States?

    What is wrong with these people? They're running around finding loopholes by way of questionable interpretations of the law to defend the United States' practice of TORTURE. That's torture, people. And not the cute kind like when you say, "That Titanic movie was three hours of pure torture." No, no - the bad kind like in Marathon Man where Laurence Olivier is drilling holes in Dustin Hoffman's teeth. You know? How can these supposed "men" sleep comfortably at night knowing that they're responsible for torturing people? Where is their humanity? Furthermore, how can they, with a straight face, claim that the Abu Ghraib situation was caused by a few "bad apples?" It's right there in their words! They think torture is ok.

    Is it, my fellow Americans? Do we live in a country where we look the other way, while the men we elected to govern in our name are torturing people? Does this fit the Founding Fathers' vision of America?

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    All men, Mr. Gonzales. Not just all American men.

    A New Nation, Conceived in Liberty

    There's an interesting article about the history (and legality) of seceding from the Union. Apparently, it wasn't all that uncommon to seriously debate the subject back in the day. And even before the debacle of November 2004, there are people out there who have been working to secede for some time. It makes for a good read. But something in the article leapt out at me:

    And if saving the union was Lincoln's sole purpose, then breaking the law appeared to be his method. One wonders what kind of union he hoped in the end to save. As DiLorenzo notes, Lincoln was the first and only president to suspend habeas corpus. He shut down hundreds of newspapers that preached peace or criticized his administration, arrested thousands of political dissenters en masse, censored telegraph communications, used federal troops to intervene in elections, even deported a congressional opponent. Church ministers too felt his heavy hand: They were threatened with imprisonment if they failed to include at the beginning of each service a prayer for Lincoln and the preservation of the union.

    According to Edward S. Corwin, writing in 1947 in his book "Total War and the Constitution," Lincoln probably "invented" the war-powers doctrine that has since provided such convenient legal cover for militarist ventures issuing from the White House. Oddly appropriate, then, that George W. Bush, announcing "victory" in his war, should have landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Following the attacks of Sept. 11, some news outlets, notably the New York Times, went so far, not incorrectly perhaps, as to dub Bush "Lincolnesque."

    It really puts it in perspective, doesn't it? Putin doesn't run his country as ruthlessly as Lincoln did. As angry and pessimistic as I am, sometimes it's good to take a step back and honestly reflect on all the progress we've made. Bush may have put us back a few steps on the road to legitimate freedom, but we've come a long way since Jefferson's slaves, Lincoln's political prisoners, and FDR's internment camps. We just have to keep fighting, and history will (eventually) declare us victorious.

    Sunday, January 23, 2005

    Iraq - A Country After Our Own Heart

    U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte was on Meet the Press this morning. Republican apologist Tim Russert asked him about allegations of stolen money and corruption in Iraq. Read it, (with my emphasis added):

    MR. RUSSERT:  The New York Times reported yesterday that $300 million was taken from the Bank of Iraq, put on a chartered jet to Lebanon.  What can you tell us about that and how did it happen?

    AMB. NEGROPONTE:  Well, first of all, we're looking into these allegations, but I would note that they have arisen in the context of an electoral campaign here and campaign charges that are being exchanged between two of the principal candidates.  So I'm not entirely certain what to make of them, but I would note that they come up one week before the election date.

    In any event, we're looking into it and trying to find out as much detail about those charges as possible.  My understanding is that these are Iraqi moneys that are involved, not United States government appropriated funds. Nonetheless, we are trying to gather as many facts about this situation as we can.

    MR. RUSSERT:  The Iraqi national security adviser said, "corruption is worse now than under Saddam Hussein."

    AMB. NEGROPONTE:  Well, I just--I simply can't accept that or can't agree to that allegation.  I would also point out that while he may still carry the official title of national security adviser, he is, in fact, a candidate for political office and not carrying out the national security adviser function at this time.  But when you think of the corruption in the Saddam regime, the oil-for-food scandals, the billions of dollars that were smuggled out of the country, I think those levels of corruption simply pale in comparison to anything that might possibly have been happening in recent months.

    Do you see what he's saying there? He's implying that the charges are bogus; a candidate simply said it about another candidate in order to win the election. What he isn't saying is the tacit acknowledgement that this is just how campaigns go - candidates file false charges against one another, "I mean, you know, Tim - think about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. You know how elections can be."

    *sniff* Iraq is all grown up now. And they're taking after their father. How sweet...

    Friday, January 21, 2005

    Right-Wing Echo Chamber

    I'm not saying not to watch cable news. I'm just saying - be aware that they have an agenda.

    Media Matters for America does an inventory of conservatives vs. progressives on cable news yesterday. I wish I could say it was shocking.

    There Is No Crisis

    Paul Krugman, once again, speakin' some mad truth about Social Security.

    President Bush is like a financial adviser who tells you that at the rate you're going, you won't be able to afford retirement - but that you shouldn't do anything mundane like trying to save more. Instead, you should take out a huge loan, put the money in a mutual fund run by his friends (with management fees to be determined later) and place your faith in capital gains.

    Sometimes I do find myself puzzled: why don't privatizers understand that their schemes rest on the peculiar belief that there is a giant free lunch there for the taking? But then I remember what Upton Sinclair wrote: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

    Remember, for more truth, click on the There Is No Crisis ad to the left.

    Proof That Texas Blows

    Two good (liberal) friends of mine are from Texas, so they being the only exceptions, everyone from Texas is an idiot. From the New York Times:

    The most surprising Lone Star delicacy, at least to some locals watching in dismay, was a new drink ordered by a group of Texans: merlot with 7-Up. It was described as a Texas version of sangria. As a teetotaler, Mr. Bush may be glad that is one bit of Texicana he won't have waiting for him back home.

    Sorry, Texans. I have my opinions, and I've seen nothing to demonstrate otherwise. So why don't you get off that high horse of yours, and stop being such condescending assholes! Merlot and 7-Up? Yugh!

    What high horse, you ask?

    "Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called 'walking.'"
    - President George W. Bush at the 2004 Republican Convention.

    That high horse.

    US Government Supports Torturing US Soldiers

    Slate writes about a new angle to our government's pro-torture policy.

    Some United States POWs of the first Gulf War sued Saddam Hussein for torturing them while they were in Iraqi custody. And won! Now the US government has blocked that ruling completely without merit. It's hard not to see why - we don't want to get sued by the people we're torturing now. And at whose expense? The poor suffering POWs who served their country in good faith. Support the troops, indeed.

    Yet when 17 of our tortured Gulf War POWs and 37 of their family members said "enough" and joined together to bring a historic civil action to hold their Iraqi torturers liable, they were shocked—having won their case in federal court—to find the Department of Justice seeking to erase their judgment and "absolve" their torturers.

    Sadly, along came the Abu Ghraib scandal, setting aside this historic tradition and the professional judgment of our military JAG officers and State Department experts. As is now well known, one effect of the abuse scandal was to undermine deterrence against the torture of American POWs in future wars (this, along with its catastrophic political cost to the Iraq war effort and, more broadly, to our nation's reputation). But, in a perfect storm of bad news for future American POWs, while the now infamous abuse decisions were still policy, the Justice Department went into court to erase the POWs' judgment and its message of liability for torture. Judge Roberts dismissed the government effort as "without merit," but, on appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia set aside the judgment on a technical issue neither raised nor briefed by the parties. Even the infamous Korematsu decision in World War II, legalizing the shameful incarceration of Japanese Americans, was not reached by simply ignoring the law and pleadings in its zealous support for a wartime executive branch—as did the Court of Appeals here.

    Now that's some activist judging that BushCo can get behind!

    It is wrong to seek to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq on the backs of American POWs brutally tortured by Iraq. It is wrong to place our nation in violation of the important POW convention, and it is wrong to interpret away the intent of Congress in adding a crucial new tool in the war on terror: that of threats of substantial judgments against terror states. Most of all, however, it is an abomination to treat real American heroes, who have given so much for their nation, with the disdain the government has shown in this case.

    Hot Orgies in a Pineapple Under the Sea?

    The whack-job conservatives are at it again. The target of their outrage today, you ask? SpongeBob SquarePants.

    Now, Dr. Dobson said, SpongeBob's creators had enlisted him in a "pro-homosexual video," in which he appeared alongside children's television colleagues like Barney and Jimmy Neutron, among many others. The makers of the video, he said, planned to mail it to thousands of elementary schools to promote a "tolerance pledge" that includes tolerance for differences of "sexual identity."

    It should be noted at this point that according to the video's creator, they didn't mention sexuality at all:

    The video's creator, Nile Rodgers, who wrote the disco hit "We Are Family," said Mr. Dobson's objection stemmed from a misunderstanding. Mr. Rodgers said he founded the We Are Family Foundation after the Sept. 11 attacks to create a music video to teach children about multiculturalism. The video has appeared on television networks, and nothing in it or its accompanying materials refers to sexual identity.

    You know what Dobson's problem is? Tolerance. To religious nutjobs, tolerance is code for gay. Just like in the sixties, "states' rights" was code for white power. Dr. Dobson wants states' rights and intolerance. In a world without intolerance, who would Dr. Dobson subjugate to gain more money, power, and influence? No worries about that, "doctor," you'll always have the horrible, evil, dirty gays to pick on. Oh - and cartoon characters, too!

    The Smurfs had better keep a low profile. All those men and one girl?

    Anybody's Fault But My Own

    From the AP today - Cheney says Iraq's slow recovery is Saddam's fault.


    Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday that he overestimated the pace of Iraq's recovery from the U.S.-led invasion because he didn't realize the lasting devastation wrought by Saddam Hussein on his people after the first Gulf War.

    Oh, so THAT'S it! Saddam Hussein wrought devastation! Gotcha. See, some unamerican, commie bastards might say that the United States has wrought some devastation of our own. But what do they know, eh Dick? Fucking hippies.

    "I think the hundreds of thousands of people who were slaughtered at the time, including anybody who had the gumption to stand up and challenge him, made the situation tougher than I would have thought," he said on "The Don Imus Show" on the radio.

    Hmmn... Now he's not blaming Hussein? Now he's blaming the people who were slaughtered? Read that again. The people who were slaughtered made the situation tougher. Now he's just lashing out at anything that pops into his head that doesn't contain the words "donald", "rumsfeld", "no", "planning", or "bad idea to invade a country that hadn't attacked us and hates us to begin with." Of course, none of those phrases have quite the zing of blaming people in mass graves.

    "I would chalk that one up as a miscalculation, where I thought things would have recovered more quickly," Cheney said.

    Yep. Chalk it up as "lesson learned." Hee hee... Won't make that mistake again. What's 100,000+ civilian dead between friends? Silly!

    Cheney, interviewed hours before he was sworn in for his second term, also said that Iran now tops the list of "the world's potential trouble spots."

    Um... You're not thinking what I think you're thinking... Right? I mean you just said you learned your lesson... Right? Oh boy.

    Is there a twelve step program to cure people of invasion addiction?

    Thursday, January 20, 2005

    How Creepy Is This?

    Some crazy cult raised a half-million dollars for Bush. What's it all about?

    A mysterious committee backed by members of a secretive religious group whose members are forbidden to vote spent more than $500,000 on newspaper ads last year supporting President Bush and U.S. Senate candidate Mel Martinez.

    The Brethren are thought to have about 50,000 members, mostly in England and Australia. They are Christians and stay apart from anyone who does not follow Exclusive Brethren teaching. Members do not make friends in the outside world and have traditionally shut out family members who are caught having contact with worldly things like rock music, television or non-members.

    Former members say the Brethren offer a family-centered way of life. Members often work in Brethren-owned businesses. They meet in windowless rooms for long Sunday worship sessions that often begin at 6 a.m.

    So they're a bunch of religious freaks and they don't read newspapers. I wonder why they support Bush...

    What World?

    These rich Republican bastards have no sense of shame or decency. The Progress Report explores how the ungodly amount of money being spent on this week's pat-ourselves-on-the-back-fest could have been put to better use:

    $40 million: Cost of Bush inaugural ball festivities, not counting security costs.

    $2,000: Amount FDR spent on the inaugural in 1945…about $20,000 in today's dollars.

    $20,000: Cost of yellow roses purchased for inaugural festivities by D.C.'s Ritz Carlton.

    200: Number of Humvees outfitted with top-of-the-line armor for troops in Iraq that could have been purchased with the amount of money blown on the inauguration.

    $10,000: Price of an inaugural package at the Fairmont Hotel, which includes a Beluga caviar and Dom Perignon reception, a chauffeured Rolls Royce and two actors posing as "faux" Secret Service agents, complete with black sunglasses and cufflink walkie-talkies.

    400: Pounds of lobster provided for "inaugural feeding frenzy" at the exclusive Mandarin Oriental hotel.

    3,000: Number of "Laura Bush Cowboy cookies" provided for "inaugural feeding frenzy" at the Mandarin hotel.

    $1: Amount per guest President Carter spent on snacks for guests at his inaugural parties. To stick to a tight budget, he served pretzels, peanuts, crackers and cheese and had cash bars.

    22 million: Number of children in regions devastated by the tsunami who could have received vaccinations and preventive health care with the amount of money spent on the inauguration.

    1,160,000: Number of girls who could be sent to school for a year in Afghanistan with the amount of money lavished on the inauguration.

    $15,000: The down payment to rent a fur coat paid by one gala attendee who didn't want the hassle of schlepping her own through the airport.

    $200,500: Price of a room package at D.C.'s Mandarin Oriental, including presidential suite, chauffeured Mercedes limo and outfits from Neiman Marcus.

    2,500: Number of U.S. troops used to stand guard as President Bush takes his oath of office

    26,000: Number of Kevlar vests for U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan that could be purchased for $40 million.

    $290: Bonus that could go to each American solider serving in Iraq, if inauguration funds were used for that purpose.

    $6.3 million: Amount contributed by the finance and investment industry, which works out to be 25 percent of all the money collected.

    $17 million: Amount of money the White House is forcing the cash-strapped city of Washington, D.C., to pony up for inauguration security.

    9: Percentage of D.C. residents who voted for Bush in 2004.

    66: Percentage of Americans who think this over-the-top inauguration should have been scaled back.

    And So It Begins... Again

    Inauguration Day, 2005. Oh, how we've grown these last four years. Who knew in 2000, when I naively voted for Ralph Nader because, fuck it - they're the same, that it all could go so horribly awry? Lies, death, and destruction everywhere and getting worse every single day. Well, it's too late to cry about it now. Bush takes the oath of office in about 90 minutes.

    Hey - it's pretty cold down there in Washington. Dare we dream for a William Henry Harrison repeat?

    Fingers crossed...

    Wednesday, January 19, 2005

    There Is No Crisis

    Thus far, I've remained fairly quiet regarding the faux Social Security crisis other than linking to a column or two from the always brilliant Paul Krugman. Today, I take a tiny step forward, as you can plainly see, by adding a blogad for the new venture:

    There Is No Crisis - Protecting the Integrity of Social Security.

    Click on them and join the good fight! This is going to be a big topic in the coming weeks, so stay tuned...

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    Them Dern Werds

    I'm catching up with my Sunday shows. Dan Bartlett, (no relation to fake President Jed Bartlet), former White House communications director, and soon to be counselor to the President, on Meet the Press:

    (Videotape, July 2, 2003):

    PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH:  There are some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there.  My answer is bring them on.  We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.

    (End videotape)

    MR. RUSSERT:  "Bring them on."  Was that too macho by the president?

    MR. BARTLETT:  I think the president later has realized that his words mean something.

    Well it's about fucking time!

    99 Problems (But to Bush - Ain't One)

    This morning, Salon itemizes all of the Bush scandals to date. Thirty-four scandals, every one of which more scandalous or deadly than Monica Lewinsky, yet a grand total of zero have come to hurt the Republicans politically. I'll list them here in short form; click the link above for more information.

    1) Memogate: The Senate Computer Theft - From 2001 to 2003, Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee illicitly accessed nearly 5,000 computer files containing confidential Democratic strategy memos about President Bush's judicial nominees. The GOP used the memos to shape their own plans and leaked some to the media.

    2) Doctor Detroit: The DOJ's Bungled Terrorism Case - The Department of Justice completely botched the nation's first post-9/11 terrorism trial, as seen when the convictions of three Detroit men allegedly linked to al-Qaida were overturned in September 2004. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft had claimed their June 2003 sentencing sent "a clear message" that the government would "detect, disrupt and dismantle the activities of terrorist cells."

    3) Dark Matter: The Energy Task Force - A lawsuit has claimed it is illegal for Dick Cheney to keep the composition of his 2001 energy-policy task force secret. What's the big deal? The New Yorker's Jane Mayer has suggested an explosive aspect of the story, citing a National Security Council memo from February 2001, which "directed the N.S.C. staff to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the 'melding' of ... 'operational policies towards rogue states,' such as Iraq, and 'actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.'" In short, the task force's activities could shed light on the administration's pre-9/11 Iraq aims.

    4) The Indian Gaming Scandal - Potential influence peddling to the tune of $82 million, for starters. Jack Abramoff, a GOP lobbyist and major Bush fundraiser, and Michael Scanlon, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), received that amount from several Indian tribes, while offering access to lawmakers.

    5) Halliburton's No-Bid Bonanza - In February 2003, Halliburton received a five-year, $7 billion no-bid contract for services in Iraq.

    6) Halliburton: Pumping Up Prices - In 2003, Halliburton overcharged the army for fuel in Iraq. Specifically, Halliburton's subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root hired a Kuwaiti company, Altanmia, to supply fuel at about twice the going rate, then added a markup, for an overcharge of at least $61 million, according to a December 2003 Pentagon audit.

    7) Halliburton's Vanishing Iraq Money - In mid-2004, Pentagon auditors determined that $1.8 billion of Halliburton's charges to the government, about 40 percent of the total, had not been adequately documented.

    8) The Halliburton Bribe-apalooza - This may not surprise you, but an international consortium of companies, including Halliburton, is alleged to have paid more than $100 million in bribes to Nigerian officials, from 1995 to 2002, to facilitate a natural-gas-plant deal. (Cheney was Halliburton's CEO from 1995 to 2000.)

    9) Halliburton: One Fine Company - In 1998 and 1999, Halliburton counted money recovered from project overruns as revenue, before settling the charges with clients.

    10) Halliburton's Iran End Run - Halliburton may have been doing business with Iran while Cheney was CEO.

    11) Money Order: Afghanistan's Missing $700 Million Turns Up in Iraq - According to Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack," the Bush administration diverted $700 million in funds from the war in Afghanistan, among other places, to prepare for the Iraq invasion.

    12) Iraq: More Loose Change - The inspector general of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq released a series of reports in July 2004 finding that a significant portion of CPA assets had gone missing -- 34 percent of the materiel controlled by Kellogg, Brown & Root -- and that the CPA's method of disbursing $600 million in Iraq reconstruction funds "did not establish effective controls and left accountability open to fraud, waste and abuse."

    13) The Pentagon-Israel Spy Case - A Pentagon official, Larry Franklin, may have passed classified United States documents about Iran to Israel, possibly via the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a Washington lobbying group.

    14) Gone to Taiwan - A high-ranking State Department official, Donald Keyser, was arrested and charged in September with making a secret trip to Taiwan and was observed by the FBI passing documents to Taiwanese intelligence agents in Washington-area meetings.

    15) Wiretapping the United Nations - Before the United Nations' vote on the Iraq war, the United States and Great Britain developed an eavesdropping operation targeting diplomats from several countries.

    16) The Boeing Boondoggle - In 2003, the Air Force contracted with Boeing to lease a fleet of refueling tanker planes at an inflated price: $23 billion.

    17) The Medicare Bribe Scandal - According to former Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.), on Nov. 21, 2003, with the vote on the administration's Medicare bill hanging in the balance, someone [Tom DeLay] offered to contribute $100,000 to his son's forthcoming congressional campaign, if Smith would support the bill.

    18) Tom DeLay's PAC Problems - One of DeLay's political action committees, Texans for a Republican Majority, apparently reaped illegal corporate contributions for the campaigns of Republicans running for the Texas Legislature in 2002. Given a Republican majority, the Legislature then re-drew Texas' U.S. congressional districts to help the GOP.

    19) Tom DeLay's FAA: Following Americans Anywhere - In May 2003, DeLay's office persuaded the Federal Aviation Administration to find the plane carrying a Texas Democratic legislator, who was leaving the state in an attempt to thwart the GOP's nearly unprecedented congressional redistricting plan.

    20) In the Rough: Tom DeLay's Golf Fundraiser - DeLay appeared at a golf fundraiser that Westar Energy held for one of his political action committees, Americans for a Republican Majority, while energy legislation was pending in the House.

    21) Busy, Busy, Busy in New Hampshire - In 2002, with a tight Senate race in New Hampshire, Republican Party officials paid a Virginia-based firm, GOP Marketplace, to enact an Election Day scheme meant to depress Democratic turnout by "jamming" the Democratic Party phone bank with continuous calls for 90 minutes.

    22) The Medicare Money Scandal - Thomas Scully, Medicare's former administrator, supposedly threatened to fire chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster to prevent him from disclosing the true cost of the 2003 Medicare bill.

    23) The Bogus Medicare "Video News Release" - To promote its Medicare bill, the Bush administration produced imitation news-report videos touting the legislation. About 40 television stations aired the videos. More recently, similar videos promoting the administration's education policy have come to light.

    24) Pundits on the Payroll: The Armstrong Williams Case - The Department of Education paid conservative commentator Armstrong Williams $240,000 to promote its educational law, No Child Left Behind.

    25) Ground Zero's Unsafe Air - Government officials publicly minimized the health risks stemming from the World Trade Center attack. In September 2001, for example, Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman said New York's "air is safe to breathe and [the] water is safe to drink."

    26) John Ashcroft's Illegal Campaign Contributions - Ashcroft's exploratory committee for his short-lived 2000 presidential bid transferred $110,000 to his unsuccessful 2000 reelection campaign for the Senate.

    27) Intel Inside... The White House - In early 2001, chief White House political strategist Karl Rove held meetings with numerous companies while maintaining six-figure holdings of their stock -- including Intel, whose executives were seeking government approval of a merger. "Washington hadn't seen a clearer example of a conflict of interest in years," wrote Paul Glastris in the Washington Monthly.

    28) Duck! Antonin Scalia's Legal Conflicts - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia refused to recuse himself from the Cheney energy task force case, despite taking a duck-hunting trip with the vice president after the court agreed to weigh the matter.

    29) AWOL - George W. Bush, self-described "war president," did not fulfill his National Guard duty, and Bush and his aides have made misleading statements about it.

    30) Iraq: The Case for War - Bush and many officials in his administration made false statements about Iraq's military capabilities, in the months before the United States' March 2003 invasion of the country.

    31) Niger Forgeries: Whodunit? - In his January 2003 State of the Union address, Bush said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

    32) In Plame Sight - In July 2003, administration officials disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative working on counterterrorism efforts, to multiple journalists, and columnist Robert Novak made Plame's identity public. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had just written a New York Times opinion piece stating he had investigated the Niger uranium-production allegations, at the CIA's behest, and reported them to be untrue, before Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.

    33) Abu Ghraib - American soldiers physically tortured prisoners in Iraq and kept undocumented "ghost detainees" in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

    34) Guantánamo Bay Torture? - The U.S. military is also alleged to have abused prisoners at the U.S. Navy's base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. FBI agents witnessing interrogations there have reported use of growling dogs to frighten prisoners and the chaining of prisoners in the fetal position while depriving them of food or water for extended periods.

    Monday, January 17, 2005

    We've Sullied Ourselves Enough

    Bob Herbert bustin' out the truth:

    The most hopeful thing to be drawn from Mr. Dorfman's play and Ms. Kennedy's book is that effective leadership can come from anywhere, at any time. From my perspective, this is a dark moment in American history. The Treasury has been raided and the loot is being turned over by the trainload to those who are already the richest citizens in the land. We've launched a hideous war for no good reason in Iraq. And we're about to elevate to the highest law enforcement position in the land a man who helped choreograph the American effort to evade the international prohibitions against torture.

    Never since his assassination in 1968 have I felt the absence of Martin Luther King more acutely. Where are today's voices of moral outrage? Where is the leadership willing to stand up and say: Enough! We've sullied ourselves enough.

    Play Freebird!

    The entire Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn is fascinating to me; especially the Huygens probe landing on Titan, one of Saturn's moons. Titan is the only moon in the solar system with an atmosphere. Titan is bigger than Mercury and our moon - almost as big as Mars. Its atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, like our own, but because it's so freakin' cold there, all of the water is ice, harder than rock on earth. On the other hand, it has methane vapor in the atmosphere, and possibly (although we haven't seen it yet), methane lakes and oceans, and the best part - methane clouds and rain. Whatever, I told you I found it fascinating!

    And because aliens like to rock too, we've sent a music CD along with the probe down to Titan. The unexpected part, however, is that the music is actually pretty cool! None of that Pygmy shit or music from hacks like Bach and Mozart as on the Voyager mission. This time, we commissioned the French musicians Julien Civange and Louis Haeri to write something the alien kids would like.

    The four instrumental tracks are Lalala, Bald James Dean, Hot Time and No Love and are described as "edgy, punk, music themes". The music, available through Apple's itunes, has already made the charts in France, Germany and America.

    And "Lalala" is downloadable for free. If you're on iTunes, check it out. Unfortunately, the others (particularly "Bald James Dean") are the better tracks, but still! And let's thank the almighty Christian God that the Europeans sent this probe up. If the Americans were in charge, the aliens' first impression of us would have been Toby Keith. The resulting invasion would leave no survivors!

    Don't forget that the ESA sent the eminent English pop band, Blur to Mars. This begs the following two questions: a) how cool are European scientists? and b) Will this be a new trend? You haven't made it until you're a hit on Neptune? I bet Ashlee Simpson sounds better in the vacuum of space...

    How Does William Safire Still Have a Job?

    Good lord, this man is so wildly out of touch. Look what he has to say about the sorry state of the mainstream media. But he's surprisingly optimistic! Wonder why?

    Oh, I remember, because he's ridiculously out of touch:

    On widespread suspicion of political bias in news coverage: Here's the good news: Bad news is newsier than good news. Even when media try to be "fair and impartial," they can be expected to annoy rather than please the party in power. That's because clean government needs a snooping adversary, not a cheerleader; the Outs need help from the press to hold the Ins accountable.

    That much is true, that the press should be holding the Ins accountable. I'm waiting for them to actually do so, however.

    Today that media bias is undeniably liberal. That's natural when conservatives are the Ins; five years ago, the bias often ran the other way. As future elections near, that tilt must disappear from news pages to let the voters do the tilting. Some mainstreamers flopped on necessary election evenhandedness in 2004 and should be grimly thankful for a corrective kick in the teeth from other media, bloggers and righteous right-wingers.

    I guess he has the same reaction to the news as Bush does - "la la la la I can't hear you!" Essentially, Safire has written a column that I might have written (admittedly, less eloquently than he), confusing left with right at every opportunity. Mr. Safire, have you noticed that whenever you appear on Meet the Press, you're teamed up with Robert Novak, John Harwood, Gloria Borger and the like? Did you ever notice that none of those "journalists" ever seem to disagree with your fascist rhetoric?

    Crazy left-wing mainstream media...

    Saturday, January 15, 2005

    Not One Damn Dime Day

    Not One Damn Dime Day
    Thursday, Jan 20
    All Day
    Location: Anywhere, AnyCity, AW

    Not One Damn Dime Day
    Thursday, January 20, 2005 (Inauguration Day)

    On Not One Damn Dime Day those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending. During Not One Damn Dime Day please don't spend money. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases in person or online or by credit card. Not one damn dime for anything for 24 hours.

    It doesn't really matter that everyone will be out spending what they didn't the next day -- a point or two will have been made. Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20, 2005 is Not One Damn Dime Day in America.

    On Not One Damn Dime Day, please boycott Walmart, KMart and Target. Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that matter). For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut down the retail economy. The object is simple. Remind the people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and that it is their responsibility to stop it. Not One Damn Dime Day is to remind them, too, that they work for the people of the United States of America, not for the international corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and funnel cash into the coffers of US politicians.

    Not One Damn Dime Day is about supporting the troops. The politicians put the troops in harm's way. Now more than 1,200 brave young Americans and some estimated 100,000 Iraqis have died. The politicians owe our troops a plan -- a way to come home.

    There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left- or right-wing agenda to rant about. On Not One Damn Dime Day you take action by doing nothing. You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed. For 24 hours, nothing gets spent, not one damn dime, to remind our religious leaders and our politicians of their moral responsibility to end the war in Iraq and give
    America back to the people.

    Contact Person: Unknown

    Friday, January 14, 2005

    He Can Do More Than Just Torture

    So much more!! Alan Berlow writes about the Attorney General nominee, Alberto Gonzales, and his irresponsible behavior as Bush's legal council in Texas.

    If you haven't been paying attention, Gonzales was responsible for briefing Bush regarding the many, many, many clemency pleas from Texas' many, many, many death row inmates. Gonzales didn't see fit to bother to report any of the mitigating circumstances about the crime; circumstances like proof of innocence, for example.

    In response to questions from Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold and Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter, Gonzales repeatedly stated that each of the so-called execution memos he wrote for then Texas Gov. George W. Bush was nothing more than a "summary" of what he suggested had been an elaborate, ongoing review process for each and every execution Bush approved. "It was not unusual -- in fact, it was quite common that I would have numerous discussions with the governor well in advance of a scheduled execution," Gonzales told Feingold. "There would be a rolling series of discussions in connection with every execution."

    This explanation of how executions were reviewed is essential to Gonzales' defense of his record because the documentary evidence is so damning. What it shows is that the only reports Bush reviewed were Gonzales' three-to-seven-page summaries, which not only were heavily biased against clemency but repeatedly failed to make any mention of the most powerful claims on a defendant's behalf, including plausible claims of innocence. Rather than writing a balanced summation of arguments for and against commutation, Gonzales' work product was frequently little more than a brief for execution.

    Because the written summaries were so thoroughly unprofessional, Gonzales no doubt felt he had to downplay their significance in his Senate testimony. He did this by suggesting that the summaries were invariably preceded by a real meat-and-potatoes review -- in-depth, scrupulous and balanced discussions of the evidence. Yet senators never asked Gonzales to substantiate this claim, which is unfortunate because Gonzales would have been hard-pressed to do so.

    These more complete summaries, the archives report, were sent to the governor's office along with affidavits, court records and clemency petitions -- none of which Gonzales saw fit to submit to Bush, in all likelihood because Gonzales knew his boss would not be interested in them and had no desire to commute the sentences of anyone on death row.

    During the period that Gonzales was handling clemency matters for Bush, there were sometimes as many as two executions per week, as many as eight in a single month. And Bush's top legal advisor would have us believe that the way he and Bush kept track of these executions and ensured that no innocent person died -- and that all of the condemned had had a full and fair review in the courts -- was through a series of informal discussions. That's just not believable.

    There you have it, Alberto Gonzales, your new attorney general, the highest law enforcement officer in the country. Let's list the things he's in favor of:

  • Torture
  • Secret detention in secret prisons
  • Lying under oath
  • Death penalty for innocent men and women

    Are you looking forward to the next four years? You'd better be, or off to Gitmo with you!

  • Thursday, January 13, 2005

    All the President's Newsmen

    Frank Rich. Just read it. Read it every week.

    His column is so thorough and spot on - I have nothing to add. However, I would like to highlight a single passage. A brilliant line summarizing what worries me most about this country today.

    That almost no one would notice, let alone protest, is a snapshot of our cultural moment, in which hidden agendas in the presentation of "news" metastasize daily into a Kafkaesque hall of mirrors that could drive even the most earnest American into abject cynicism.

    Read the rest...

    Reality-Based Judges!

    A minor victory in the battle between science and religious whackjobs.

    A federal judge on Thursday ordered the removal of stickers placed in high school biology textbooks that call evolution "a theory, not a fact," saying they were an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

    "The Cobb County school board is doing more than accommodating religion," Michael Manely, an attorney for the parents, argued during the trial. "They are promoting religious dogma to all students."


    Those Bastards at the UN

    Kofi Annan must resign! This oil-for-food scandal has gone on long enough! He was in charge; it happened on his watch! He's either complicit in this terrible criminal offence, or he is wildly incompetent. Either way he MUST step down!!


    But a joint investigation by the Financial Times and Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian business daily, shows that the single largest and boldest smuggling operation in the oil-for-food programme was conducted with the knowledge of the US government.

    These unbelievable bastards at the UN have to... uh... come again?

    However, FT/Il Sole have evidence that US and UK missions to the UN were informed of the smuggling while it was happening and that they reported it to their respective governments, to no avail.

    Oh yeah, right. I believe that. What possible motive would the glorious US of A have to participate in this unthinkable embezzling scheme? We're the moral center of the universe! We only do what is righteous and true! A shining paladin of justice!

    Oil traders were told informally that the US let the tankers go because Amman needed oil to build up its strategic reserves in expectation of the Iraq war.

    Last week Paul Volcker, head of the independent commission created by the UN to investigate failures in the oil-for-food programme, confirmed that Washington allowed violations of the oil sanctions by Jordan in recognition of its national interests.

    Ah... The war, eh? Well, YES, of COURSE the war! We needed to protect our children from that madman Saddam and his huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction! Any difficult choices we had to make were worth it; we were all on the verge of extinction!


    Mr. Duelfer issued a comprehensive report last fall that acknowledged that Iraq had destroyed its chemical and biological weapons in the early 1990's, years before the American invasion of 2003. But Mr. Duelfer returned to Iraq for further investigations after that report was issued. In an article in its Wednesday issue, The Washington Post reported that he had ended that work in late December.

    The intelligence official said that Mr. Duelfer was still likely to issue several small additional statements on his findings, but that none would contradict the central conclusions that Iraq did not possess illicit weapons at the time of the American invasion.

    Go fuck yourself.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    Do as I Say, Not as I Do

    Via Daily Kos, we find The Poor Man's chart comparing and contrasting the Rathergate faux-scandal and Bush's WMD mega-scandal.

    The Rich Get Richer - The Poor Get Deader

    In today's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof finds another example demonstrating that Bush may be Pro-Birth, but he's most definitely not Pro-Life.

    We have Bush's stance on the death penalty, which, to put words in his mouth, could be summed up with a hearty, "Woo-doggie!" with guns fired into the air ala Yosemite Sam. There is his penchant for starting wars, killing hundreds of thousands for no good reason. We have his opposition to medical research. And don't forget Bush's tacit approval of genocide.

    Now, some new reports come out showing that our infant mortality rate is on the rise since Bush took office. Why is that? Crappy health care for poor people. Oh, and a LOT more poor people.

    Here's a wrenching fact: If the U.S. had an infant mortality rate as good as Cuba's, we would save an additional 2,212 American babies a year.

    In every year since 1958, America's infant mortality rate improved, or at least held steady. But in 2002, it got worse: 7 babies died for each thousand live births, while that rate was 6.8 deaths the year before.

    Those numbers, buried in a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, didn't get much attention. But they are part of a pattern of recent statistics dribbling out of the federal government suggesting that for those on the bottom in America, life in our new Gilded Age is getting crueler.

    Singapore has the best infant mortality rate in the world: 2.3 babies die before the age of 1 for every 1,000 live births. Sweden, Japan and Iceland all have a rate that is less than half of ours.

    If we had a rate as good as Singapore's, we would save 18,900 babies each year. Or to put it another way, our policy failures in Iraq may be killing Americans at a rate of about 800 a year, but our health care failures at home are resulting in incomparably more deaths - of infants. And their mothers, because women are 70 percent more likely to die in childbirth in America than in Europe.

    As readers know, I complain regularly about the Chinese government's brutality in imprisoning dissidents, Christians and, lately, Zhao Yan, a New York Times colleague in Beijing. Yet for all their ruthlessness, China's dictators have managed to drive down the infant mortality rate in Beijing to 4.6 per thousand; in contrast, New York City's rate is 6.5.

    China! And Mr. Kristof didn't even go into the fact that abortions have actually increased since Bush took office. Why's that? Again with all the extra poor people - they can't afford to have kids in the first place.

    It's like Midas, instead of turning things to gold, you turn them to dead. Well done, Mr. Bush!

    Monday, January 10, 2005

    It's Only a Matter of Time

    Now there's a smoking ban in Italy. Italy!

    New York City, Ireland, now Italy. Is France next? I guess the writing is on the wall. It's just sad to see the classic "smoke-filled room" go the way of the dinosaur. Watch your back, North Carolina!

    Newsflash: The Earth Goes Around the Sun

    I graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan, if you’re curious. I never became a scientist, but I spent a good percentage of my life studying science, and therefore, I get really, REALLY upset when the scientific principles that I hold dear are marginalized by willfully ignorant fools.

    There is a great cover story in Salon today about the fundamentalist movement in place in this country that is seeking to eliminate scientific discussion in our schools: The New Monkey Trial by Michelle Goldberg.

    For starters, let’s discuss some definitions:

    Scientific method: The principles and empirical processes of discovery and demonstration considered characteristic of or necessary for scientific investigation, generally involving the observation of phenomena, the formulation of a hypothesis concerning the phenomena, experimentation to demonstrate the truth or falseness of the hypothesis, and a conclusion that validates or modifies the hypothesis.

    Dogma: A doctrine or a corpus of doctrines relating to matters such as morality and faith, set forth in an authoritative manner by a church.

    Do you see the difference? Observation of phenomena. Formulation of a hypothesis. Experimentation to demonstrate the truth or falseness of the hypothesis. And the key – a conclusion that validates or modifies the hypothesis.

    You see? You have a hypothesis, you test the hypothesis, if all of your observations validate that hypothesis, it becomes a theory. If your observations contradict the hypothesis, you modify your hypothesis and go looking for evidence again. You can’t have a theory just because you dern thunk it up. Contrast that with religious dogma – someone says something, and you take it as fact despite whatever evidence might be contrary to that position.

    So these days, we have people who want to force our public school system to indoctrinate our children with their religious dogma. Good thing those Christian freaks don’t live in India, eh? What would they think if someone was forcing their children to hear about: Thousand-headed Purusha, thousand-eyed, thousand-footed he, having pervaded the earth on all sides, still extends ten fingers beyond it. Purusha alone is all this—whatever has been and whatever is going to be. Further, he is the lord of immortality and also of what grows on account of food... Well, you get the idea. Religious dogma can get pretty weird. Including our own precious Christianity.

    Let’s go to the article. You know how when you sit on jury duty, and the judge gives his instructions to the jury? One of the rules is always about when you have two witnesses whose statements conflict, it’s up to the jury to decide which one seems more reasonable; which person makes more sense. In that vein, I’m going to list a bunch of quotes from the article, (particularly from the Creationists), and let you make up your mind, (that is to say, tell you what I think):

    "This country wasn't founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution," Buckingham, a stocky, gray-haired man who wears a red, white and blue crucifix pin on his lapel, said at the meeting. "This country was founded on Christianity, and our students should be taught as such."

    Our country was founded on freedom from tyranny, bubs. Yeah, they wanted to practice Christianity, but they left the door open for others to practice other things as well. Even nothing at all, if you like. *gasp*

    Speaking to the Times, state Rep. Cynthia Davis seemed to compare opponents of intelligent design to al-Qaida. "It's like when the hijackers took over those four planes on Sept. 11 and took people to a place where they didn't want to go," she said. "I think a lot of people feel that liberals have taken our country somewhere we don't want to go. I think a lot more people realize this is our country and we're going to take it back.”

    I missed the part where science went around killing innocent people.

    As the cameras rolled, a few protesters tried to edge their way into the frame. A man named Carl Jarboe, in a purple sport coat and a fur hat, stood near the parents holding a fluorescent green sign saying, "ACLU Censors Truth." His wife, wearing a kerchief on her head and small round glasses, held a similar sign saying "Evolution: Unscientific and Untrue. Why Does the ACLU Oppose Schools Giving All the Evidence?"

    Um… actually, the only evidence here is being presented by the scientists. You have no evidence for your Creationist scheme other than some book written by a bunch of dudes a few thousand years ago and translated thousands of times by people with a strong interest in getting people to do what they want. Remember all those corrupt popes, for example, who were mostly interested in getting laid, getting rich, and killing as many Muslims as possible? Anyhow, I and the scientific community would be more than thrilled to have an open minded discussion with the facts for and against all of it. Now, you just need to present some.

    Jarboe, who introduced himself as a former assistant professor of chemistry at Messiah College, a nearby Christian school, was convinced that the parents were being used by the ACLU to further its sinister agenda. Like a great many members of the Christian right, he sees the ACLU as a subversive, possibly demonic institution. Quoting James Kennedy, an influential Fort Lauderdale televangelist, he called the ACLU the "American Communist United League." "I maintain it's a communist front," he said.

    First of all, communists? You’re out of date, dude. Your colleague has moved on and started comparing her political opponents to terrorists. Wake up! Personally, I’m old school, and I still like to go with the Nazis when I’m making vituperative comments, know what I’m saying, Goebbels? Secondly, the ACLU is about civil rights. You remember civil rights, right? The rights of the minority. Right to vote. Right to speak your mind. You know, mundane, boring stuff.

    Robert Eckhardt, a professor of developmental genetics and evolutionary morphology at Penn State. Eckhardt had spoken at the press conference about the central role of evolution in biology. "The idea that intelligent design is a powerful upwelling of controversy within the scientific community is absolute nonsense," he said. Jarboe was unfazed by Eckhardt's expertise; he called him a "screaming leftist unbiblical liberal."

    A scientist is supposed to be unbiblical. It’s sorta one of those quirky science things. Perhaps you’ve heard of Galileo? He was a good guy…

    The core idea in "Pandas" -- and in the intelligent-design movement generally -- is that of "irreducible complexity," the theory that the structure of proteins and amino acids in cells -- the building blocks of life -- is so complex that only a supernatural force could have choreographed it. "Because of the high level of improbability that cells could be generated by the random mixing of chemicals, some scientists believe that the first cells were created from the design of some outside, intelligent force," the book says.

    So there you have it. This is their “theory” – People are complicated, therefore God created us. So, when they’re driving in their car, do they understand everything about their internal combustion engine? And if not, do they think God created it? Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean God created it, and secondly, that’s not evidence!

    Evidence: A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment.

    You see, the Creationists have what you might call a lack of evidence. They don’t understand the scientific evidence, so they dismiss it as rubbish, and make up something that explains the lack of evidence.

    But Buckingham was determined. "Two thousand years ago, someone died on a cross," he said at the meeting. "Can't someone take a stand for him?"

    Objection, your honor! Relevance?

    Jeff Brown spoke up in response, saying it was the wrong time and the wrong place for a religious debate. Buckingham called him a coward and said it was a good thing that he wasn't fighting the revolutionary war "because we would still have a queen."

    Your honor! Please!

    Jonathan Wells, author of the influential intelligent-design book, "Icons of Evolution," has a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from Berkeley and another in religious studies from Yale. A member of the Unification Church whose education was bankrolled by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, he's written that he sought his degrees specifically to fight the teaching of evolution. As he put it in an article on the Moonie Web site True Parents, "Father's words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father [Sun Myung Moon] chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle."

    Yeah, THAT Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The one who believes himself to be “humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent." The one who had Congress present him with a crown and call him the “King of Peace.” The head of the Moonies. Yeah, that guy. Father? He calls him Father. [insert cuckoo noise here]

    "Their current strategy is not to have an intelligent-design policy passed," Matzke said. "They just want a policy that says students should analyze the strengths and weakness of evolution." CSC did not return calls for comment.

    Hey, that’s all any scientist wants. But you have to listen as well as talk. Listen to their evidence.

    It's not hard for creationists to convince the public that the evidence for evolution is weak. Scientists accept evolution as something very close to fact, but Americans never have. In a November 2004 CBS News/New York Times poll, about evolution, 55 percent of the respondents said that God created humans in their present form. Twenty-seven percent believed in the evolution of man guided by God, and 13 percent believed in evolution without God.

    This part really irks me. I can’t believe that I’m in a minority of 13%. Furthermore, I wish this article had the stats for other countries. Countries that support book-lernin'.

    Bryan, the nation's leading anti-evolutionist, made his case in populist terms. In his 1993 book "The Creationists," historian Ronald Numbers wrote, "Throughout his political career, Bryan had placed his faith in the common people, and he resented the attempt of a few thousand elitist scientists 'to establish an oligarchy over the forty million American Christians' to dictate what should be taught in the schools."

    This past December, Republican strategist Jack Burkman appeared on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" to back creationism in terms of populist democracy. "Why should the state and the federal government have a monopoly on defining what constitutes science?" he asked. "I see no problem with presenting a creationist view in the schools, given that 70 percent of Americans want that. The law should reflect democratic desires. It should reflect public desires."

    These, on the other hand, are my favorite quotes. He places his faith in people? HA! So, next time you get on a plane, why don’t you do a vote – and if 50% of the people sitting on the plane think the wings are too big, we’ll have them made smaller. I mean, what do aeronautical engineers know? Fuck them! More than half the people on this plane think it’ll fly with smaller wings, so let’s do it! Better yet – more than half of the country thinks that you, sir, can fly. Why don’t you jump of a tall building? The majority is always right!

    The majority of people a few hundred years ago thought the earth was flat. Duh. I mean, it’s trite to even have to argue against the idea of a majority-rules science class.

    Despite the law firm's help, though, the lawsuit will likely be financially devastating to the district, the second poorest in the county. Dover would have to pay for lost wages of people called to testify, and it would have to provide outside counsel for some witnesses, like the Browns, who don't want Thomas More representing them. Jeff Brown guessed that depositions alone would cost the district $30,000. Then, if Dover loses, federal civil rights law would make it liable for the ACLU's legal fees. "It won't be cheap," said Witold Walczak, the ACLU's Pennsylvania legal director.

    "It will kill us," said Casey Brown. In fact, Dover is already broke. The board had just been forced to cut its library budget almost in half, from $68,000 to $38,000, and to eliminate all field trips.

    So how do you like that? In an effort to force their extremist religious agenda upon all of us and our kids, they are bankrupting the school. On the other hand, I’m sure the zealots are pleased that of all things, they’re cutting the library and field trip budgets. Hell, that’s the whipped cream on top for them! This way, the kids won’t get any crazy ideas from those nogoodniks like J.D. Salinger, Mark Twain, or Claude Monet. Dodged a bullet there, we wouldn’t want our kids to grow up and not be automatons programmed in our own image.

    "It is going full circle now from the religious community ruling what can be thought -- that's what they tried to do in the Middle Ages," he said. "We've come down to the scientific community trying to tell us what we can think. Basically what the scientific community currently is doing is saying, 'You'll have no god before mine. Mine happens to be Darwin.' Any other thought will not be tolerated."

    Sigh… You’re the one who refuses to tolerate independent thought. The scientists have all this evidence piled up and they’re plain begging you to read it. You won’t. And frankly, as far as they’re concerned you can believe whatever you want. But if you want to teach a science class, they’d like you to be teaching science. Understand?

    Here’s the bottom line, as far as I’m concerned:

    "Evolution by natural selection, the central concept of the life's work of Charles Darwin, is a theory," wrote award-winning science author David Quammen in National Geographic. "It's a theory about the origin of adaptation, complexity, and diversity among Earth's living creatures. If you are skeptical by nature, unfamiliar with the terminology of science, and unaware of the overwhelming evidence, you might even be tempted to say that it's 'just' a theory. In the same sense, relativity as described by Albert Einstein is 'just' a theory. The notion that Earth orbits around the sun rather than vice versa, offered by Copernicus in 1543, is a theory ... Each of these theories is an explanation that has been confirmed to such a degree, by observation and experiment, that knowledgeable experts accept it as fact."

    Sunday, January 09, 2005

    Honest Reporting

    I write on this page every day documenting unimaginable outrages perpetrated on the American people by this corrupt administration. And because I have other things to do as well, I have to select only the most egregious examples, letting many more pass without examination. It’s interesting, then, to see which ones actually break into mainstream television media, or to put it another way – which ones that the supposedly liberal news editors have deemed important enough to tell the dimwits of this country to get upset about.

    This week, it was reported that BushCo paid right-wing hack Armstrong Williams $240,000 to promote the already underfunded No Child Left Behind initiative on his show and in interviews. For some reason, the mainstream news media is running with this story – I’ve seen it all over television. Why this, TV News? Yes, it’s horrible, but is it as horrible as the House Republicans lowering their own ethics standards to help Tom DeLay keep his job after he’s arrested? Is it really worse than allowing Bush and his cronies to mislead the American people about the state of our economy, tricking people into thinking the real economic problem we’re facing is social security, and not the plummeting dollar and massive trade and budget deficits? Is it really worse than the President honoring George Tenet, Paul Bremer and Tommy Franks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom - three men who, at best, are lazy yes-men, and at worst are guilty of negligent homicide and war crimes? I could go on and on.

    I agree that the Armstrong Williams situation is outrageous, but from a TV news editor’s point of view, what is so special this time? These television pundits are all comically wringing their hands about this situation, while they’re actually sitting there on a panel next to other paid propagandists. The difference is those propagandists are being paid not by the American taxpayers, but instead by the companies that make money through Bush’s unconscionable policies. The war profiteers, the drug companies, the polluters, NewsCorp, etc. And you see, this is the bigger problem that mainstream media doesn’t want to address. We’re surrounded with propaganda every day. Mainstream news will interview one reasonable journalist and offset him with a batshit-crazy right wing hack like Ann Coulter under the pretense of “balance.” Right wing radio nuts are allowed to spread lies, hate, and fear every single day on their shows, and collect their paychecks from the Bush profiteers.

    So why the manufactured outrage? I’m glad you asked, because I have a theory. In this case, BushCo went just a touch too far for their taste. The pundits love riding this gravy train, but the direct line of money from the government to the pundit too graphically illustrates the nature of the corruption. Before Armstrong Williams, the media had plausible deniability about where their money comes from. But with this, even the dumbest of the dumb can see the road we’re on. So, these hacks are forced to denounce Williams in the hope that they keep the wool over our eyes about their own dark connections long enough to maintain the status quo. What would happen to their jobs if the American people finally woke up and demanded accuracy in news and anti-libel laws with teeth? The media would be forced to actually do something to earn their paycheck. Honest reporting, real investigation, actual sources. Hard work, as Bush might say.

    And hard work is the last thing the media wants to do.

    Friday, January 07, 2005

    What a Joke!

    The Times editorial staff discusses the farcical dog and pony show that was the attorney general hearing yesterday.

    Alberto Gonzales, Bush's favorite ass-kissing yes-man - when he wasn't dodging questions that he had months to come up with answers for, he lied or answered questions that weren't asked:

    And then he equivocated astonishingly when asked whether American soldiers or intelligence agents could "legally engage in torture under any circumstances."

    "I don't believe so, but I'd want to get back to you on that and make sure I don't provide a misleading answer," said Mr. Gonzales

    Dude! Did Georgie tell you about it the day before? Jesus, you managed to invite your mom and get your kids the day off from school, couldn't you have pieced together a single fucking torture answer? What, did you think no one would bring it up? Perhaps it's just that he spent as much time preparing as he spent "vetting" Bernie Kerik.

    The worst part? He's going to get the job. Who would have thought Bush could come up with anyone worse than Ashcroft? I'm always misunderestimating MonkeyBoy.

    Mr. Gonzales is said to face a sure confirmation. But thanks to the members of the committee, including some Republicans, who met their duty to question Mr. Gonzales aggressively, the hearing served to confirm that Mr. Bush had made the wrong choice when he rewarded Mr. Gonzales for his loyalty. The nation deserves an attorney general who is not the public face for inhumane, illegal and clearly un-American policies.

    See also:
    The Yes Man - Joe Conason
    Promoting Torture's Promoter - Bob Herbert

    And to broaden the discussion a little, Paul Krugman describes a bad novel that you'd never want to read, but oops! We're living it:

    How did we find ourselves living in a bad novel? It was not ever thus. Hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels have always been with us, on both sides of the aisle. But 9/11 created an environment some liberals summarize with the acronym Iokiyar: it's O.K. if you're a Republican.

    when the Senate confirms Mr. Gonzales, it will mean that Iokiyar remains in effect, that the basic rules of ethics don't apply to people aligned with the ruling party. And reality will continue to be worse than any fiction I could write.

    It's Something I Believe In

    Every time I think the administration has gone too far, they take another step down their road to hell. USA Today reports:

    Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists [USAT apparently has a different definition of "journalist" than I] to do the same.

    The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.

    Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the arrangement unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."

    I mean, really. I know that many, if not most, pundits are hacks with a partisan agenda, but now WE (you and I) have to pay them with our tax dollars?

    The contract may be illegal "because Congress has prohibited propaganda," or any sort of lobbying for programs funded by the government, said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "And it's propaganda."

    You know, that Stalin fella was good with the propaganda too. Funny how the United States didn't think it was so cute back then.