Thursday, June 30, 2005

But We Have Casinos!

Perhaps I shouldn't say "we" after six years in New York. New York may be where I live, but Detroit will always be home. Oh, what am I talking about, you ask? The Times, for some reason, is looking at the decline of Detroit Rock City this week:

On the op-ed page last Sunday.

And on the front page today.

Bummer about my old town. Although I left, didn't I? I guess I'm not helping. Hey - I like it there, and I know where to go to get a drink, but the bars close at 2 and you have to drive home afterwards. That blows. Love ya, D-Town, but I'm staying put.

What, Me Take Hostages?

So, this hard-line, ultra-conservative guy gets elected President of Iran. They put his face on the TV. And this happens:

A quarter-century after their 444-day ordeal at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, several former hostages say Iran's hardline president-elect, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was one of their captors.

"As soon as I saw the face, it rang a lot of bells to me," Don Sharer, of Bedford, Indiana, told CNN. He had served as the embassy's naval attache when the hostage-taking occurred.

"...Take 20 years off of him. He was there. He was there in the background, more like an adviser."
The Iranians say no way, but several former hostages say yes way. I guess we'll have to see how it plays out. I wonder how a guy like this got elected, what with all the supposed democratic reform in the Middle East. Oh, oh yeah. Bush decided to shoot is mouth off. Nice going, Chimpy McFlightsuit.


I’m blown away. We may soon find out the name of the White House insider who illegally leaked the name of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame in an attempt to smear the truth-telling patriot Joe Wilson.

I won’t rehash the whole story, but basically the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of Judy Miller and Matt Cooper who were trying to protect the confidentiality of their law-breaking source and Time Magazine is caving. I’m of two minds about this case. One the one hand, I very strongly believe that we need to protect whistleblowers, and the only way they can blow whistles is if the media is permitted by this increasingly Orwellian government to protect their sources. On the other hand, this guy wasn’t blowing a whistle, he was both breaking the law and being a scumbag. As I wrote previously, there’s the right kind of source to protect, and the wrong kind. On a third hand, Judith Miller is a truly horrible reporter, and significantly contributed to the Bush propaganda machine when she wrote, to paraphrase - “My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw WMD at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious." And I was cruelly looking forward to her behind bars.

On a really creepy fourth hand, I really don’t understand why these two reporters were targeted while “Douschebag of Liberty” Robert Novak walks a free man. He’s the one who printed the story first.

Meanwhile, columnist Robert Novak, who was the first to identify CIA officer Valerie Plame in print, told CNN he "will reveal all" after the matter is resolved, adding that it is wrong for the government to jail journalists.
God, it makes my skin crawl to agree with that asshole. But it is wrong to jail journalists. Nice of him to reveal “all” after the whole situation is over though. What a saint. The bottom line - there clearly is someone in the White House who knows who leaked that name. The person who, you know, leaked the name. Why doesn’t he or she grow a pair of balls and end this charade? How can he stomach a situation where he’s allowing journalists go to jail as if we’re in the Soviet Union and not feel a little dirty? A lot dirty.

The true tragedy of this situation is that you know that the name is going to end up being some low-level staffer who will protect his own source – probably Karl Rove. Take one for the team and no doubt he’ll be rewarded with a huge salary in a cushy job at one of Bush’s cronies’ companies.

God bless America!

You, uh... You Got a Little Something On Your Face There...

A woman was paid $10,000 by someone to tattoo their company's name on her face. On her face! I won’t say the name of the business in much the same way the networks won’t show a jackass who takes his clothes off and runs on the field during a sports event – the jackass wants the publicity, and I refuse to give it to them.

This woman did this for her “children.” It’s always about the fucking children isn’t it? She’s concerned about tuition costs. Somehow I get the feeling that if this kid comes from her filthy genetic pool, he’s not going to have to worry too much about getting into college. He’ll be more concerned with figuring out which end of the fork to use while dining.

I think it’s time we start addressing a major issue of mine which as of today has gone unmentioned on these pages. We need a license to drive a car or to get married, when are we going to wake up and realize that we need child-bearing licenses? Why license people who get behind the wheel? Because they could hurt someone if they don’t know what they’re doing. These people, these idiot fucking people, get to raise as many kids as they like with little to no oversight, and are doing significant damage to their children for the rest of their lives. And then those kids go on to have their own kids and the cycle begins anew. We can even make the intelligence test mind-bogglingly easy, it can have just one question – “Would you tattoo your face for money?” If yes, please leave your reproductive organs at the door. Actually, maybe we could just tattoo the word “moron” on their foreheads instead.

On a tangential note, I wonder if this business will start putting ads on the bulletin boards of financial aid offices…

What Do YOU Think About the John Bolton Nomination?

From The Onion. My favorite:

"Man, if the Democrats are going to block every terrible idea Bush has, nothing's ever going to get done in Washington."

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I Know Something You Don't Know

With the president’s approval ratings in the dumper, the GOP is pulling out all the stops.  Despite all evidence to the contrary, they're turning it up to 11 and insisting that Saddam was directly responsible for 9/11.

A Republican congressman from North Carolina told CNN on Wednesday that the "evidence is clear" that Iraq was involved in the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

"Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11," Rep. Robin Hayes said.

Told no investigation had ever found evidence to link Saddam and 9/11, Hayes responded, "I'm sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places."

Hayes, the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism, said legislators have access to evidence others do not.
Funny, because even Dick "The Replicant" Cheney and George Bush - not to mention all these people - say that's total bullshit. All I'm saying is that if some crackpot congressman from buttfuck North Carolina gets better intelligence than our crackpot president, we're in more trouble than I thought.


Wonkette does these funny little pictures where they chart items or events along two axes, (which I’m told is a total ripoff from New York magazine, but that’s ok). Today they look at… well, read it in Greg’s own words:

Yesterday, WaPo reported that British concerns about an invasion of Iraq, as expressed in the Downing Street memos, "played a useful role" but weren't "paid a tremendous amount of heed." Today we examine the useful and the tremendously heeded, along with the useless and the completely ignored.
Click through to see the chart. But only if you enjoy a good chuckle at the expense of people like John Oates and Nobel Prize winning writers.

Yeah, I Thought So

One of my glib thoughtless comments during the madcap live blog of Bush’s speech last night was this:

8:13 - 160,000 security forces trained and equipped? Someone's going to look that up, right? Because that's more than we have U.S. soldiers for crying out loud. I started writing this sentence before he even said the number. I knew the number he was going to say would be at least three times what I thought it could possibly be in a perfect world.
I knew someone would be fact checking that bad boy, and I knew that someone was going to be Think Progress.
Fact: According to the Brookings Institution, as of May 2005, only 50,000 troops were proficient and well-equipped. [Brookings, 6/3/05]
I must say I’m as shocked and appalled as Senator Dorgan was to discover that President Bush would lie about something so important. It’s almost as if he wants to present a picture of Iraq that sounds brighter and more optimistic than reality would allow... Nah... He probably just looked at the wrong chart – maybe the chart with the number of dead Iraqi civilians. Easy mistake to make.

Bush: I Never Met A Cover-Up I Didn’t Like

As itemized on these pages, the Bush Administration has this pesky habit of funding studies and then suppressing the parts they don’t want to hear. It's a very convenient trait if you don't want anything smudging up your rose-colored glasses. But every so often, a tiny sliver of truth reaches the light, and just as quickly BushCo dismisses it as liberally biased bullshit.

Cut to today where some truth about CAFTA is peeking its nose out of the cracks.

The Labor Department kept secret for more than a year government studies that supported Democratic opponents of the Bush administration's new Central American trade deal, internal documents show.

The studies, paid for by the department, concluded that several countries the administration wants to be granted free-trade status have poor working conditions and fail to protect workers' rights. The agency dismissed the conclusions as inaccurate and biased, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

"In practice, labor laws on the books in Central America are not sufficient to deter employers from violations, as actual sanctions for violations of the law are weak or nonexistent," the contractor, the International Labor Rights Fund, wrote in one of the reports.

The studies' conclusions contrast with the administration's arguments that Central American countries have made enough progress on such issues to warrant a free-trade deal with the United States.

Hoping to lure enough Democratic votes to win passages, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman earlier this month promised to spend money and arrange an international conference to ensure "the best agreement ever negotiated by the United States on labor rights."

But behind the scenes, the administration began as early as spring 2004 to block the reports' public release.

The Labor Department instructed its contractor to remove the reports from its Web site, ordered it to retrieve paper copies before they became public, banned release of new information from the reports, and even told the contractor it couldn't discuss the studies with outsiders.

One lawmaker said he was shocked that a federal agency charged with protecting the rights of Americans workers would go to such lengths to block the public from seeing its own contractor's concerns before Congress votes on the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

"You would think if any agency in our government would care about this, it would be the Labor Department," Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said.
Shocked! Dumbfounded! Utterly bewildered!! Bush suppressing information that he doesn’t want us to know? Why, that’s horrifying! What if he did that relating to a matter of national security like war or a rogue state’s level of WMD? Why, we might find ourselves misled into an unnecessary war or something even more terrifying! Let’s hope THAT never happens.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Live Blog!

Seriously, who doesn't love knee-jerk reactions to something the instant it's said? Based on the success of cable news, the evidence suggests that we eat it up with a spoon. Wait! Shhhh!! It's starting!

  • 8:01 - No applause. There was a lot of applause and hooting on the USS Lincoln. But that didn't stop his smug little monkey smirk tonight. One wonders how low his approval ratings would have to go to wipe that shit-eating grin off his face.

  • 8:02 - If you wanna thank the soldiers - pay them. Give them armor. Stop trying to cut their health benefits and hazard pay.

  • 8:02 - September the 11th quack quack September the 11th

  • 8:03 - The terrorists hate freedom and reject tolerance? Or do they hate U.S. policies? I'm not saying it's one or the other, but it would be nice to have some evidence for your claims, Mr. President.

  • 8:04 - September the 11th quack quack September the 11th. Isn't it annoying how he has to say September THE eleventh, instead of just September eleventh like a normal person? Is that some sort of downhomey redneck bullshit like saying nucyular? Another affectation to make him seem more "one of the guys" instead of the richy-rich entitled upper class prep school twit that he actually is?

  • 8:04 - Take the fight to the enemy. It's been said a million times before - IRAQ NEVER ATTACKED US.

  • 8:05 - Defeat them abroad so they don't attack us here. That old chestnut. Again - cite something showing that this is effective. It sounds so much like the kind of thing that someone makes up, sounds good enough, so fuck it - let it become fact. Like the world being flat.

  • 8:06 - "It is vital to the future security of our country [that we succeed in Iraq]." Yeah, it is NOW. Thanks to you, asshole.

  • 8:07 - Democracy growing in the Middle East and the whole shining example crap. He really is in a different world than, oh I don't know, the real one, isn't he? If we're fucking LUCKY, we'll get a stable dictatorial regime that will work with us like our best friends, Saudi Arabia.

  • 8:09 - September the 11th quack quack September the 11th

  • 8:10 - Our goals - have free elections by January 2005? They FORCED you to have those elections.

  • 8:11 - Progress is being made quack quack Progress is being made

  • 8:13 - 160,000 security forces trained and equipped? Someone's going to look that up, right? Because that's more than we have U.S. soldiers for crying out loud. I started writing this sentence before he even said the number. I knew the number he was going to say would be at least three times what I thought it could possibly be in a perfect world.

  • 8:14 - "...a safe haven from which they could launch their attacks." Wouldn't dangle the preposition, Mr. President? Sounds a little hoity-toity to me. Have you been chillin' with John Kerry?

  • 8:17 - Here's where Bush lists a bunch of things they're actually "doing" on the ground to help with the war. Do we really need to know all that stuff so precisely? I mean, if they're going to launch certain units with certain other units, are we, the American public, such micro-managers that we need to be told not what the White House and the Pentagon are doing, but what the colonels and captains are up to? We don't think our troops are a group of teamsters taking naps and playing dice all day.

  • 8:19 - Bush claims it's bad to set a deadline or "artificial timeline" for withdrawal. Of course, when Bill Clinton was in Kosovo, Bush didn't quite see it that way.

  • 8:21 - What is freedom of "assembully?"

  • 8:22 - "Many Sunnis." Say that five times fast.

  • 8:23 - Who told him that the word "a" always has to be a long A? Listen closely, he never uses a schwa "a." As in the sentence, I would like to buy a car -- "uh car" right? When was he taught that he had to say A car? Did he talk like that even back in college? "My big brother during pledge week was A son of A bitch." "I would like to buy A gram of coke." "When you get the drinks, slip the girls A mickey."

  • 8:23 - I'm confident he's always said "nucyular."

  • 8:23 - Oh! Holy shit! Our strategy to defend ourselves is working! Christ! Why didn't he say so before? I've been wasting all this time on this stupid pointless blog when the strategy has been working all along. I feel so dumb.

  • 8:24 - September the 11th quack quack September the 11th

  • 8:25 - "We are in a conflict that demands much of us." I forget - what is it demanding from me exactly? What is it demanding from you? Oh! It's demanding that we can stomach all the death and destruction. The only sacrifices being made are from those who chose to join the military. Fair enough, they did volunteer. But I wouldn't mind if Bush would demand some sacrifices from everybody else. Why don't we start with keeping the Paris Hilton Inheritance Tax that Bush wants to eliminate? Oh - and maybe some of those capital gains tax cuts. In fact, I'm willing to sacrifice all the tax cuts for the sake of our troops and this war. Are you?

  • 8:25 - He talks about Iraq being the terrorists big last stand as though he reluctantly had to face them there. Uh, dude? You like totally invaded that shit. It was all blitzkrieg and shit, yo. I 'member. I seen it on TV. They didn't like force your hand or nothin'.

  • 8:26 - He's going on now about how this is like the Revolutionary War and World War II and that when fascists and crazy motherfuckers come and attack us, we can't retreat. Setting it up as a "fight or be a pussy" choice. But there's a hidden third choice. Don't fight a war with such massive incompetence and on the cheap without asking anything of the American citizens in return. Yeah, that's what I would think about doing. Get rid of the tax cuts. Wean America off foreign oil. Stop with your pork barrel bullshit and wasting time and energy worrying about Terri Schiavo. Fight the goddamned war and do it right!

  • 8:27 - He calls on us to fly the flag or to help out a military family in the neighborhood. That's nice, but it's roughly the equivalent of putting one of those insipid stickers on your SUV. How about asking us to get rid of the SUVs and stop wasting so much gas maybe?

  • 8:28 - "The best way to honor the lives that have been given in this struggle is to complete the mission." Wait, what? I thought the mission was already accomplished.

  • 8:29 - September the 11th quack quack September the 11th
  • Well, there you go. Bush's people promised a forward looking speech with some sort of a plan. But I didn't hear anything I hadn't heard like a million times already. Did you? What, that bit about which road the troops were going to take to get breakfast in the morning? The bit giving the DoD website? Yeah, it'll be nice to have a "I wanna help the troops" site. But for some reason I don't think it's going to help all that much. But you know what? Here's the link - America Supports You. It certainly can't hurt.

    Bush said nothing. He tried to set a new tone, but I didn't see any evidence demonstrating that he's moved from the fantasyland that they described in the lead-up to the war to reality in the here and now where things are going, shall we say, not as well.

    No doubt I'll write again tomorrow with more analysis upon further reflection. In the meantime we can all sleep well because now we know that we're making progress in Iraq.

    Left Behind Again

    Bush’s obstinacy about technology and innovation is screwing us again. Really, it’s not entirely Bush’s fault, it’s an American trait – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” You might be saying - but Michael we invented computers! We invented the internet! We invented cars! True. Airplanes, television, light bulb. But what really happens after we invent it? We sit high on the hog for a few years until someone else steals our thunder and becomes the market leader for decades.

    Do we make TVs any more? Any? No, the Japanese do all that. Airplanes? Boeing is perpetually on the verge of bankruptcy while Airbus is going like gangbusters. Toyota is kicking ass and taking names while GM is laying off tens of thousands. My favorite example is cellphones. Over the years we’d built this massive infrastructure of telephone lines. Sweden and Finland were all fuck that – we’re not building that shit. I wonder if we can make phones work without plugging them into anything (except with an adorable accent). Now they’re crazy rich with all their mobile technology, while I’m paying Verizon $149/hour to fix the fuzz on my line. All because we were too lazy to bother to look into it.

    The most frightening example of this, and where Bush comes in, is our energy plan. We all know we have problems. Oil is over $60/barrel, a chunk of which goes to the terrorists who want to kill us in the first place. Not to mention we wouldn’t even give two shits what they do and vice versa if we didn’t need all their oil. The Senate just passed an energy bill which does, um... let’s see... carry the one... roughly... nothing to help our energy problems. Bush’s big ideas are “drill for more oil!” “burn more coal!” “add corn to the gas!” All these backward thinking, and incredibly pollution-filled plans.

    Meanwhile, the rest of the world is looking forward. They’re working together to build a fusion reactor in fifty years. Yeah, fusion is a bitch, and no one’s sure if we can do it. But if we do, it’s like free energy without pollution for thousands of years. Shouldn’t we at least try? Iceland has already started with their fifty year plan to become energy independent.

    Where’s our fifty year plan, Mr. President? Are you so busy looking at the day-to-day ups and downs in your poll numbers that you can’t be bothered to have a real vision for the direction of this country? Even assuming the worst and you couldn’t care less about the environment, what about your cronies? France and Iceland and the corporations involved are going to become insane Bill Gates-rich during the course of and especially at the end of those projects. Imagine when some French company is like, “Alright, we built a fusion reactor. Anyone who wants one can pay us 10 Kazillion Euro.” (And by then the dollar will be to the Euro as the peso is to the dollar today.)

    We’re being left behind because Bush and Shell and Mobil and Unocal and whoever are so short-sighted that they can’t see past the end of the fiscal quarter. They would be wise to sacrifice a few quarters for the real money at the end of the road when the oil runs out.

    The good bet says they won’t.

    Is That Your Final Answer?

    And I bet you thought DoG was above writing headlines that were trite five years ago. Never misunderestimate us!! Anyway, we might have gotten somewhere in Cheney Health Watch 2005. The timeline goes a little something like this:

  • What hospital? Can you see a hospital? I don’t see no hospital.

    Strike one!

  • Old football injury. His knees are crap, I mean look at how fat that sonofabitch is!

    Strike two!

  • Well, he did go for his knees, but then we thought we might have a look-see at the old ticker.

    Fouled off to stay alive, but he’s still down in the count.

  • [Cheney] received an EKG after medical personnel noted that his breathing was labored.

    And he drives a base hit into shallow right field!
  • See the Republicans, they really like to stay on message. It’s just that sometimes they need to see a few pitches before they get comfortable at the plate. So, despite some investigation by Arianna and some perfectly responsible speculation that Cheney’s programmers had to implant a few new subroutines, it looks like it’s just plain old run-of-the-mill "multiple heart attack victim with high stress career is having trouble breathing." YAWN!

    By the way, speaking of being trite and boring, can any of you name any characters in popular fiction who have trouble breathing?

    More on the Freaky Cult

    Salon has day two of Scientology week today. Read it; it further explores how batshit crazy this crap is. In today’s piece, poor Laura Miller was forced (at gunpoint, as I understand it) to read Dianetics, the Scientology bible. She has too many money quotes to put here, but the one that sums it up best:

    From reading "Dianetics" alone, you can glean a picture of Hubbard as a man wrestling with mental illness, who saw his mind as a potentially superhuman machine beset by invaders and parasites. Without knowing anything about his life, you can tell that this is someone raised in an environment of betrayal, secrecy, bullying and violence, someone who stands a good chance of re-creating the same conditions in his adult life if he's not careful. You can figure out all of this just from reading "Dianetics," like I did. Then, afterward, you can go on the Web and check out the many sites devoted to critiquing Scientology and documenting the truth about Hubbard. Chances are what you find there won't surprise you at all.
    You’ll find a good link to Scientology debunking here and more of my take on it here.

    Why You Hatin’, NBA?

    Salon’s King Kaufman, (the best sports columnist in the world) has a piece today exploring an issue that honestly had never occurred to me before. The NBA, currently rolling in hella-Benjamins, is miserly with its old-timer pension plan.

    Shaquille O'Neal once gave a photo to George Mikan, the NBA's first great big man and first great star, inscribed, "Without you, there would be no me." The Miami Heat star repeated the sentiment earlier this month when he publicly offered to pay for Mikan's funeral.

    It doesn't appear to be a sentiment widely held by NBA players, or by the league itself. In a little over a half century the NBA has grown from a struggling entity vainly hoping to fill hockey arenas on dark nights to a $3 billion international business that turns young ballplayers into millionaires by the dozen.

    But as the finishing touches are being put on the league's new collective-bargaining agreement with the players union, some of the game's pioneers, men who played in front of small crowds for teams like the Chicago Stags and the Tri-Cities Blackhawks -- but also for the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks -- are hoping for an increase in what they consider an ungenerous NBA pension.

    Others are hoping, after two decades of fighting, to be included at all.

    The former players in both groups are in their late 70s and 80s mostly, some of them doing fine and others in desperate financial straits. They see the billions being generated by the league they helped build and wonder why today's millionaires won't shake loose what amounts to chump change to help them out.

    "We were responsible for starting the league and keeping it going," says John Ezersky, 83, who played in the old Basketball Association of America and then the NBA in a three-year career that ended in 1950. "I think we're entitled to a little bit."

    Ezersky gets no pension, and he and his wife, Elaine, live on about $15,000 a year in Social Security. He retired five years ago after spending a half century driving cabs in New York and San Francisco.

    Bill Tosheff, who leads a group of three- and four-year veterans who are not included in the pension plan, says $400,000 a year would take care of them all, diminishing annually as the bell tolled.

    That's a little more than a third of what the San Antonio Spurs paid forward Tony Massenburg this year to sit on the bench. It's less than 1 percent of the average payroll of a single team. It's significantly less than what just two teams, the Celtics and the Toronto Raptors, donated to tsunami relief.

    "It's like we're pressing our noses against the window of a restaurant where everyone inside is just gorging themselves," says Bob Cousy, the Celtics point guard of the 1950s who is among the greatest players ever and one of the most prominent of the so-called pre-'65ers, men who played before the league's pension plan was introduced in 1965 and were thus excluded.
    It’s really sad, isn’t it? The league is rich on the backs of these pioneers, and the NBA can’t even be bothered to make sure that they aren’t living their final years driving a cab until they’re 80 or just plain suffering in poverty. I know we can’t get upset about every little issue, every little injustice. But it can’t hurt to shine a little light onto this travesty. Maybe we can shame David Stern into doing the right thing.

    So This Is What It Feels Like

    Not since 2000, when I wanted Al Gore to win have I been in with the majority of Americans. Look at how much you all hate George W. Bush. Only three more years, folks…

    I Love Larry David

    The Roving Thoughts of a Liberal Insomniac

    Monday, June 27, 2005

    Apologies All Around

    I see that the DoG traffic for Monday was more than quadruple the highest traffic we've ever had. I also see that everyone was coming to my post entitled Respect the Cock. It was a post about Tom Cruise and his erratic behavior of late. The title refers, of course, to a line of his from the fine film Magnolia by hipster director Paul Thomas Anderson.

    Considering the traffic, I'm forced to assume that many if not most of you were dropping in hoping that I had the goods on Tom Cruise's junk. I honestly had no intention of misleading anyone. As it happens Delusions of Grandeur is a mostly political, sometimes pop culture commentary weblog. No goods. No junk. We extend our full apologies to anyone who found themselves browsing our site under false pretenses. But we hope you'll stick around and learn something you hadn't heard before.

    Our best.
    Editors of DoG

    Debate Over Cheney's Health

    Lines are being drawn in the sand here at DoG HQ. I made reference to Cheney possibly being a replicant from the brilliant Ridley Scott film Blade Runner. My idiot coeditor thinks Cheney is more like Adam, the murderous Frankenstein-like monster composed of various demon parts in season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Here’s where you come in, our faithful readers. This debate must be settled, ideally without the invasion of a sovereign nation. We’ll leave the comments section open for a vote – is Cheney more like Adam or a Blade Runner replicant? Maybe he’s more like another character from popular fiction? Let us know… (If you say Darth Vader, we’re going to make fun of you for being pathologically obvious.)

    Maybe It's Just a Fever for More Cowbell

    Arianna has been tracking a new potential cover-up coming out of the White House.

    So now in the space of 48 hours, we have three stories:

    First, denial that Cheney was ever at the hospital.

    Second, an acknowledgement that he was at the hospital after all, but only for an old knee injury.

    Third, that after he was checked for the knee injury, he was taken to the cardiac unit to have an EKG, but only prophylactically.

    So: why all the secrecy? And if this was only a routine knee check-up, why check in under a false name, Dr. Hoffman -- which sources tell us is the name of the vice president’s doctor in Washington.

    And if it was a routine knee exam, why not have Dr. Steadman go out to Beaver Creek, where Cheney was staying?

    And why is the White House so forthcoming with health details about President Bush, including his cholesterol increasing from 167 to 170 and his body fat percentage increasing from 14.5% to 18.25%, but somehow the nation doesn't have the right to know what exactly the vice president was doing at the Vail hospital?

    So many little leveling with the American people.
    It is admittedly kind of small potatoes compared to lying about WMD, about the length and cost of the war in Iraq, about the Mt. Fuji piles of coke that W used to freebase in a typical weekend back in the good-ol’ days. But still, it’s weird, isn’t it?

    Personally, I wonder if the hospital has a secret Alias-style secret basement where Cheney’s circuits get the once-over from the U.S. Navy’s own Commander LaForge. A little tune-up every now and again to ensure he doesn’t go on another killing rampage in true Rutger Hauer style. Mixed movie metaphors be damned!!

    I Was Totally Trippin' Balls When I Said That

    Think Progress takes an amusing look at Rumsfeld’s flip-flop on the necessity of transparency in government during a time of war.

    A 1966 article in the Chicago Tribune quoted Rumsfeld as saying the following: “The administration should clarify its intent in Viet Nam,’ he said. ‘People lack confidence in the credibility of our government.’ Even our allies are beginning to suspect what we say, he charged. ‘It’s a difficult thing today to be informed about our government even without all the secrecy,’ he said. ‘With the secrecy, it’s impossible. The American people will do what’s right when they have the information they need.” [Chicago Tribune, 4/13/66]
    The article goes on with a long list of similar quotes from The (Other) Donald. It would be pretty damn hilarious if so many soldiers weren’t dead courtesy of his incompetence.

    Your Government: Protecting You From Harm!

    If you happen to be a cattle rancher, that is. So, they've found mad cow disease here in America again. But the USDA found out immediately, right? And swung into action to protect consumers, right? RIGHT?!


    A third and more sophisticated test on the beef cow suspected of having mad cow disease would have helped resolve conflicting results from two initial screenings, but the U.S. refused to perform it in November.

    That additional test, ordered up by the Agriculture Department's internal watchdog, ended up detecting mad cow -- a finding that was confirmed on Friday by the world's pre-eminent lab, in England.


    U.S. officials in November had declared the cow free of the disease even though one of two tests -- an initial screening known as a rapid test -- indicated the presence of the disease. A more sophisticated follow-up -- immunohistochemistry, or IHC -- came back negative.

    "They had two diametrically opposed results which begged to be resolved," said Paul W. Brown, a former scientist at the National Institutes of Health who spent his career working on mad cow-related issues.

    "If you had what they had, you would immediately go to a Western blot and get a third test method and see which one of the previous two was more accurate," Brown said.

    Consumer groups and scientists urged the department to perform a Western blot test and seek confirmation from the lab in Weybridge, England.

    In a letter to Consumers Union last March, the department said there was no need for the British lab to confirm the results and that the Western blot test would not have given a more accurate reading.
    See, this is why I only buy organically raised meat from Whole Foods. I read Bushwhacked by Molly Ivins, in which she examines the meat and poultry industry, and the relaxing of restrictions under the Bush administration. She got to the part where the USDA was debating HOW MUCH fecal matter was allowable in meat, and I started to feel sick. HOW MUCH is allowable? How about ZERO? The gist of it was that the meat and poultry industry had lobbied to reduce the restrictions because contamination means they have to shut down production and clean their facility, which means lost profits. So, of course, our government said "Fuck your health, there's money to be made!"

    This is all part of a larger movement by this administration to screw the average American in order to reward big-time contributors. So, you get guys like Chris Cox being put in charge of the SEC, a neutering of the EPA, a lawyer who "began her career litigating on behalf of cattlemen, miners and oil companies" being put in charge of the Department of the Interior, an FDA that approves dangerous drugs because they have a stake in the companies that make them. Do I have to go on? Because I can.

    Look, I have no illusions about the fact that ANY administration makes choices that sometimes go against the public interest (although this shouldn't be the case). But have you ever seen such a wholesale sell-out of the health and well-being of the American public? But there is some good news:
    The department is pledging that, from now on, it will conduct such testing on suspicious animals.
    Whew! Man, I feel SO much better.

    There's No Communism in Baseball!

    It never ceases to amaze me what Congress will stick their noses into while actual problems in this country go unexamined. Today it’s the Montreal Expos Washington Nationals Major League Baseball franchise. It would seem that congressional Republicans don’t want George Soros, known liberal collaborator, to have a share of ownership in the ballclub.

    But to some Capitol Hill Republicans there is a dark cloud on the Nats' horizon: the potential that their newly adopted home team could be purchased by billionaire financier George Soros.

    Earlier this month, Soros joined an ownership bid being led by entrepreneur Jonathan Ledecky. Their group is one of more than a half-dozen angling to take over the Nats, who are currently owned by Major League Baseball.

    In addition to being a well-known currency speculator and philanthropist, Soros is also known in political circles for having pumped more than $20 million in the last cycle into groups seeking to unseat President Bush and elect Democrats.

    "I think Major League Baseball understands the stakes," said Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R), the Northern Virginia lawmaker who recently convened high-profile steroid hearings. "I don't think they want to get involved in a political fight."

    Davis, whose panel also oversees District of Columbia issues, said that if a Soros sale went through, "I don't think it's the Nats that get hurt. I think it's Major League Baseball that gets hurt. They enjoy all sorts of exemptions" from anti-trust laws.
    What the fuck? Was that a goddamned threat?? Congress is going to tell MLB who is allowed to own a baseball team based on their political views? That’s weird considering the like, you know, history of America with the freedom of speech and the fighting for liberties and all that crap. After all, I seem to recall some dumbass conservative who used to own a slice of the Texas Rangers...

    Baseball, America’s pastime – ONLY CONSERVATIVES NEED APPLY.

    Freaky Cult or Blossoming Religion?

    This morning, Salon has part one of a four part series exploring Scientology. It goes a touch farther in demonstrating how nutty it is than my Pinter analogy from last week.

    The piece got me to thinking. Hear me out on this. Scientology seems crazy, but is it possible that it just seems crazy because it’s only been around a little while? Think about it. Say you grew up in a bomb shelter, came out at 30 years old, you’d never been exposed to any religious theory at all in your whole life and you had to choose a religion. Do either of these sound more plausible than the other?

  • About 75 million years ago, a nefarious intergalactic warlord called Xenu rounded up the inhabitants of numerous planets, killed them, and brought them to Earth, then set off a chain reaction of cataclysmic volcanoes (the volcano pictured on the "Dianetics" cover was Hubbard's favorite symbol for the notion of breakthrough and self-actualization), which dispersed their thetans into the atmosphere. These thetans now fester inside the bodies of all humans. They are to be located in specific body parts and summoned out.
  • or
  • An invisible man living in the clouds who was previously so violent and so vengeful that he wiped out almost all life on earth by way of a massive flood chose a new path of peace, so he sent his son to earth to be born to a married virgin impregnated by his ghost sidekick. This man walked the earth preaching, walking on water, turning water into wine, healing the sick, until eventually he was brutally tortured and murdered. After three days lying in some grave, he came back to life and physically rose up into the sky, never to be seen again except in mildew stains and potato chips.
  • I don’t mean to offend everyone, but think about it. Does the one sound more reasonable only because you've heard that story all your life? Maybe all it takes for a creepy cult to become a religion is a few hundred years...

    Ugh, imagine our ancestors discussing L. Ron Hubbard, the prophet.

    Friday, June 24, 2005

    Karl Rove is a Big Fat Idiot

    What is happening to this country? Just when you think the Republicans can’t get any nastier, they find a way to stink up the national discourse with a little more of their bile. Let’s back up a step if I may. A few weeks back, Howard Dean called the GOP a white Christian party. And the Republicans flew into one of their echo-chamber-induced tizzies of feigned outrage. How DARE he throw around this sort of divisive language?!?! Of course, Dean’s statement is absolutely true if you consider first that the country is mostly white and Christian in the first place and then take a look at the photos from the 2004 GOP convention – white people / black people. And have you ever, like, heard the president speak? He’s not talking about 50 Cent and mosques unless it’s a speech about building prisons or starting a new bombing campaign. Furthermore as Greg at Wonkette points out – when did white Christian become an insult? Whatever.

    Moving to this week, we have Dr. Evil himself, Karl Rove coming into MY TOWN and horking up insults like this:

    "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Conservatives, he said, "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."
    And according to the Republicans, that sort of talk is absolutely fine. In New York he said this! Where was Karl Rove on September 11th? I ask because I was on top of my building watching in stunned horror with my liberal elitist neighbors as the Towers collapsed into a stinking, burning pile of death. That stench hung in the air citywide for weeks too. To this day, every once in a while I’ll smell burning rubber or plastic or something and it will take me back to that horrible morning. I’d like to be able to explain the rage I felt. As opposed as I am to unnecessary military conflict, I distinctly remember talking with my friend about possibly joining the service so we could go after the terrorists ourselves. Lucky for us, we were wise enough not to make any life-changing decisions that week. But some people did have to make some decisions back then.
    In the aftermath of 9/11, liberal Democrats on Capitol Hill stood proudly with conservative Republicans to pledge their support for military action against al-Qaida and the Taliban. The wobbly weakness of George W. Bush's initial response to the terror strikes went unmentioned, as did anything else that might hint at dissension at a moment of crisis. When Bush delivered his powerful speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, he won standing applause across the bitter divide left by the 2000 election. For the first time, Democratic congressional leaders declined free airtime to answer a Republican presidential address.
    The Senate voted 98-0 to authorize war in Afghanistan. The House 420-1. The Democrats might be down in numbers, but I’m pretty sure there were at least a few of them participating in those votes. The chutzpah of Karl Rove to suggest that liberals are weak in the very city most affected by terrorism, yet vote 90% Democrat is beyond outrageous.

    On the other hand, while we liberal weenies here in New York were giving blood, contributing to the WTC cleanup, reading handbills posted everywhere around town with pictures of missing loved ones, crying and comforting our friends, Karl Rove had more important plans:
    But we now know that even then, at the peak of national unity, Rove was planning to make suckers of the Democrats and liberals who had spoken out in support of the president. He didn't care about bipartisan cooperation, or about the benefit of the doubt that Democrats had given Bush. He behaved as a partisan, not a patriot.

    Rove would soon discard the inspiring presidential rhetoric that had joined Americans across race, religion and ideology. The slogan of a nation at war that blossomed on billboards, bumper stickers and storefronts -- "United We Stand" -- was no longer operative.

    Or so Rove explained to his fellow "patriots" at a closed meeting of the Republican National Committee during their winter conference in Austin, Texas. Less than four months after Bush's Sept. 20 address to the joint session of Congress, he was scheming to win the midterm elections by transforming the "war on terror" into a war on Democrats.

    "We can go to the country on this issue, because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America," he said. Provocative as those remarks were, they were mild compared with the kind of slanders that ensued against Daschle -- who was paired with Saddam and bin Laden -- and many other Democratic candidates.
    Let’s face it – there are a few places in this country who actually have to worry about terrorism. New York and Washington for sure. Probably Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago too. The rest of you are pretty much safe and you don’t see for example, soldiers in fatigues with automatic rifles in the subway on the way to work every morning. You don’t have posters all around town telling you to "inform a police officer if you see an unattended bag." I don’t think the FBI has uncovered a nefarious plot to blow up the Corn Bazaar and Mystery Spot in Prairie Lakes, Nebraska. A funny thing about all the cities I mentioned above – we all vote overwhelmingly Democrat. You know why? Because they’re the party that we believe are better suited to protect us from terrorists.

    Bush is without question making it less safe to live here. Frankly, I believe that he really couldn't care less if New York did blow up. He saw his approval ratings before we were attacked, and he saw his ratings after we were attacked. And we city slickers ain’t votin’ for his redneck ass in the first place. So all of you out there, Karl Rove included – don’t tell us what we are. You don’t know us. You didn’t experience what we experienced that day. We pussy liberals are the ones who are facing certain future attacks with courage and conviction and not letting the terrorists “win” by moving out to the countryside (and in so doing, devastating the American economy). So until it happens in your town, until it’s you and your neighbors’ lives who are increasingly threatened by Bush’s inept policies – shut your fucking mouth.

    Respect the Cock

    In light of the frightening developments in Tom Cruise’s personality including the latest – an attack on Matt Lauer on the Today Show this morning - DoG thinks it’s best to provide some background into Scientology.

    Operation Clambake - The Fight Against the Church of Scientology on the Net.

    No matter what you think you know about Scientology, it’s WAY crazier than that. Imagine the craziest thing you can think of. Got it? Now imagine that you got Harold Pinter to write a play about it. Translate it into Japanese, translate it back into English. Now take about 10 hits of acid and watch the play with a Wesley Willis soundtrack. That would be almost as crazy as Scientology.

    Thursday, June 23, 2005

    Freedom of Uh... What Now?

    I wondered how long it was going to take. Finally, Bill O'Reilly has taken it to the next level and officially declared his own personal jihad on the First Amendment.

    And when he [Durbin] went out there, his intent was to whip up the American public against the Bush detainee policy. That's what his intent was. His intent wasn't to undermine the war effort, because he never even thought about it. He never even thought about it. But by not thinking about it, he made an egregious mistake because you must know the difference between dissent from the Iraq war and the war on terror and undermining it. And any American that undermines that war, with our soldiers in the field, or undermines the war on terror, with 3,000 dead on 9-11, is a traitor.

    Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything and they don't care, couldn't care less.
    Bill O'Reilly would prefer that everything Republicans say is immediately erased once they change their minds as easily as changing from being at war with Eastasia to being at war with Eurasia. Unfortunately for Billy, they haven't quite perfected the Memory Hole just yet. Daily Kos has compiled a list of GOP anti-war comments during the Kosovo conflict. I'd ask O'Reilly to read the list and tell us which of the statements would be forbidden in his world, and which of these Republican leaders should go to jail and presumably be executed.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    You Gotta Love Ana

    These pages are pretty hard on Senator Frist and his predilection for murdering innocent animals. But only Wonkette can say it so damned hilariously.

    War Costs Money

    Do you want to be annoyed? I know I do. While the bodycount rises every day, so does the amount of money we’re spending in this unnecessary war in Iraq. At Cost of War, they’re tracking that war spending. The counter is running faster than Tom Cruise into a sham marriage. For shits and giggles, they’re also comparing what the money could have been spent on if we didn’t have a planning deficient warmonger for president.

    For example, we could have given health care to over 106 million kids for a full year. Or we could have ensured that every child on the planet was immunized for the next 59 years. You get the idea.

    Are you annoyed?

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    You Can't HANDLE the Truth!

    Or at least the Bush Administration thinks you can't. Or maybe it's just that THEY can't. Whatever the case, they've decided to change some information in yet another scientific report, this one about cows and grazing and such. The list of withheld or altered information, and the history of pressuring people to lie by this administration is truly horrifying, and it just keeps on growing. So, here's the tally in just the last few months:

    Of Cows and Grazing:

    The Bush administration altered critical portions of a scientific analysis of the environmental impact of cattle grazing on public lands before announcing Thursday that it would relax regulations limiting grazing on those lands, according to scientists involved in the study.

    A government biologist and a hydrologist, who both retired this year from the Bureau of Land Management, said their conclusions that the proposed new rules might adversely affect water quality and wildlife, including endangered species, were excised and replaced with language justifying less stringent regulations favored by cattle ranchers.


    The original draft of the environmental analysis warned that the new rules would have a "significant adverse impact" on wildlife, but that phrase was removed. The bureau now concludes that the grazing regulations are "beneficial to animals."

    The Tobacco Settlement:
    A top Justice Department official threatened to remove a government expert from its witness list if he did not water down his recommended penalties for the tobacco industry, the witness said in an interview yesterday.


    In the six-year lawsuit, the Justice Department has argued that the United States' six largest tobacco companies lied about the dangers of smoking. The Justice Department stunned anti-smoking activists and members of Congress two weeks ago by announcing in the closing days of the eight-month trial that the government would cut its demand for an industry-funded smoking-cessation program from $130 billion to $10 billion.

    The Global Warming Thing:
    A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.

    In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.

    On Liberal Bias at PBS:
    [The Bush-appointed head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting conducted a poll to find out about the perceived liberal bias on PBS. Then they took a second poll.]
    Why "re-measure"? Because, according to public television insiders, the first batch of polling done in 2002 produced unsatisfactory results from the CPB board's perspective; it showed little viewer concern about bias. "Tomlinson commissioned two polls. The first results were too good, and he didn't believe them," says one source. "After the Iraq war, the board commissioned another round of polling, and they thought they'd get worse results." But the board didn't. Asked specifically about PBS's war coverage, only 7 percent of respondents thought it was "slanted." "They couldn't use any of it" to bolster any claims of bias, says the source. Overall, just 21 percent of respondents thought PBS was too liberal.

    Of course, if Tomlinson and his colleagues were looking for good news about PBS instead of bad, the wider poll results -- a healthy 80 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of public broadcasting -- would have been trumpeted as a triumph.

    About those documents pertaining to John Bolton:
    Democrats said they objected to the Bush administration's refusal to release two sets of classified documents that they say are relevant to the Bolton nomination.

    Bolton is still on track to gain confirmation since Democrats made clear that they will drop their stalling tactic as soon as the Bush administration allows lawmakers to review the material.

    I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more I’m not remembering. Anyone want to volunteer their favorite? It makes you wonder, if they have to keep changing or hiding their own findings just to jibe with their policies (and they keep getting caught doing it!), how long is it going to take before people realize that their policies are bullshit and are wrong for this country?

    Say Hello To My Little Friend

    It’s time to debut the newest DoG segment – How Would You Play It?

    Let’s say that you’re, oh I don’t know... let’s say the President of the United States. Now, in our little thought experiment, here are the givens:

  • You’ve nominated one of your Vice President’s best friends (BFF!) to serve as the ambassador to an agency that in light of all the wars you want to start, has come to be very, very important.
  • This nominee is on record more than once saying how unimportant and crappy that agency is.
  • There is evidence that this nominee has falsified reports about national security.
  • The nominee is also on record as being completely batshit crazy - threatening employees, flying off the handle for no reason, beating coworkers with a paddle he nicknamed "The Weasel," and feasting on the entrails of animals he finds on the side of the road.
  • The post is one that requires the highest order of diplomacy, honesty and integrity.
  • OK. So that’s the situation. Now let’s say that in order to get him approved by the Senate, the senators ask you for some information related to his work history so they can research his record.

    How would you play it?

    Would you:
    a) Turn the documents over to the Senate and let the senators vote with his full record being out in the open.
    b) Beg the senators to “trust your honest face” and ask them to vote without releasing his records.
    c) Kidnap Harry Reid, ship him to Guantanamo and "hold" him there until he "agrees" to convince the Democratic caucus to vote "Yea" on your nominee.
    d) Drop your pants, wipe your ass with the Constitution, use a loophole that permits you to appoint nominees without Senate oversight, and tell Senator Fuckface to suck it.
    Wrong! The correct answer is d. Good news for Bush is bad news for the appeasers and pantywaists at the United Nations.

    I Guess Bush IS Changing Things in the Middle East

    Too bad it's not necessarily for the better. Apparently, thanks to Bush's rhetoric about Iran, a hard-line ultra-conservative is now in a surprise 2-way run-off with a moderate former president for the top office in Iran.

    Iran's spy chief used just two words to respond to White House ridicule of last week's presidential election: "Thank you."

    His sarcasm was barely hidden. The backfire on Washington was more evident.

    The sharp barbs from President George W. Bush were widely seen in Iran as damaging to pro-reform groups because the comments appeared to have boosted turnout among hardliners in Friday's election - with the result being that an ultraconservative now is in a two-way showdown for the presidency.


    "Unknowingly, (Bush) pushed Iranians to vote so that they can prove their loyalty to the regime - even if they are in disagreement with it," said Hamed al-Abdullah, a political science professor at Kuwait University.

    In 2002, most Iranians were indignant when Bush placed their nation in an "axis of evil" with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Since then, U.S.-led pressure over Iran's nuclear program has put even liberal Iranians on the defensive.

    Bush's pre-election denunciations seemed to do the same. Iranian authorities claim Bush energized undecided voters to go to the polls and undercut a boycott drive led by liberal dissidents opposed to the Islamic system.

    The unexpectedly strong turnout - nearly 63 per cent - produced a true surprise in the No. 2 finish of hardline Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, He will face the top finisher, moderate statesman Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, in a Friday run-off.


    "You only have to look at the comments" by Bush to understand that he "seeks hostility" against Iran, Ahmadinejad said.
    Ahmadinejad is the ultra-conservative dude. Oh well, maybe he won't be so bad. Maybe when they say he's conservative, they mean he'll just be like an Iranian George W. Bush... Oh shit. We're doomed.

    Seriously, though, hopefully he'll lose the run-off. Now if we can just get Bush to keep his stupid lipless mouth shut...

    BushCo seem to think that everything they do has a positive result in the Middle East, or at least that every positive step in the Middle East is a direct result of their policies (which they're not). Think they'll claim responsibility for the daily suicide bombings in Iraq, the hard-line conservative resurgence in Iran, the election victories by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and near-universal negative public opinion toward the U.S. in the Middle East?

    Friday, June 17, 2005

    Asleep at the Wheel

    For your viewing pleasure, Delusions of Grandeur Players presents…

    Hide the Truth! (or How to Not Report Something for Years and Then Tell Everyone that It’s Old News)

    Bush (in secret): I’m going to invade Iraq.

    Bush (in public): I don’t want to invade Iraq.

    Press: Bush really doesn’t want to invade Iraq.

    Press: Look at all these WMD!

    Press: Bush is trying to get Saddam to disarm peacefully.

    Press: Bush the peacemaker, a monument of courage, is standing up to the terrorists wherever they may be.

    Bush: I don’t want to go to the UN.

    Press: Bush wants to go to the UN.

    Powell’s presentation at the UN was brilliant and frightening. We will all die if we don’t invade Iraq.

    Bush: Unfortunately, we must invade Iraq.

    Press: Bush, the reluctant warrior is forced to invade Iraq.

    Press: Check out the size of Bush’s package in that flight suit.

    Bush: We found WMD!

    Press: We found WMD!

    Press: There are no WMD.

    United Kingdom:
    Bush made the decision to go to war long, long ago, and made up a whole bunch of shit to make sure it would happen.

    *crickets chirping*

    Press: Ah… we all knew that. Hey! Look at Michael Jackson, what a freak!! Oh, and this missing white girl. What’s that? Tom Cruise is getting married? Drugs were found in the car of… A shooting on the… Star Wars grossed… Lindsey Lohan’s dog was… Olsen Twins were…
    And... Scene!

    Thank you! Thank you! Try the veal…

    Yep. This is the world we inhabit, friends. This sad, pathetic world where Tom Cruise proposing to his beard makes the front page, but Bush lying to get us into an increasingly deadly war is relegated to the back pages and editorials. Joe Conason explores in detail the gaping chasm between what reporters said then and what they’re now saying they said.
    They tell us the memo wasn't news because everybody understood that George W. Bush had decided to wage war many months before the United States and its allies invaded Iraq. The memo wasn't news because anyone who didn't comprehend that reality back then has come to realize the unhappy facts during the three ensuing years. The memo wasn't news because Americans already knew that the Bush administration was "fixing the intelligence and facts around the policy," rather than making policy that reflected the intelligence and the facts about Iraq.

    Only a very special brand of arrogance would permit any employee of the New York Times, which brought us the mythmaking of Judith Miller, to insist that new documentary evidence of "intelligence fixing" about Saddam's arsenal is no longer news. The same goes for the Washington Post, which featured phony administration claims about Iraq's weapons on Page 1 while burying the skeptical stories that proved correct.

    A classified document recording deliberations by the highest officials of our most important ally over the decision to wage war is always news. A document that shows those officials believed the justification for war was "thin" and that the intelligence was being "fixed" is always news. A document that indicates the president was misleading the world about his determination to wage war only as a last resort is always news.
    Yes, I knew that Bush was planning to go to war all along. My buddy, Emeryroolz knew. Joe Conason probably knew. The Times and Post editors probably knew. But clearly, the majority of American people didn’t know, at least not the 51% of people who voted for him, right? Would they have voted for a lying warmonger? Maybe some. But not 51%. I haven’t become cynical enough to believe that just yet. So, now that it’s more than those of us who read the news putting two and two together – now that we have evidence from the highest echelon of the British government that Bush was lying and fabricating evidence – shouldn’t these reporters be, oh I don’t know, reporting on it? They don’t think so. Joe thinks so. Thank you, Joe.

    Exhibit 959 in People v. Lazy, Lazy Mainstream Media

    It's About Time Somebody Said It

    USA Today takes time out from its Missing White Girl in Aruba coverage to point out that the media ignores missing person and murder stories when the victim is not white.

    Cable news executives say they don't pick stories based on the race of the victims. "The stories that 'go national' all have a twist or an emotional aspect to them that make them interesting," said Bill Shine, senior vice president of programming at Fox News.
    I would say they all (or most of them) have a number of elements that make them "interesting" to news agencies and at-home voyeurs:
    • White chicks
    • Attractive white chicks
    • Affluent attractive white chicks
    • Not terribly bright affluent attractive white chicks
    • No fatties, please
    • Non-white suspects
    • Loads of irresponsible speculation
    Speaking of irresponsible speculation, do you think that idiotic news agencies figure, "Well, minorities are the victims of crimes all the time, that's not news. But hey, this rich white girl might be the victim of a crime! Now that's news!" Are we really that stupid and racist and disgusting? Probably. I can think of a bunch of white women at the center of huge media stories: Natalee Holloway, Laci Peterson, Susan Smith, Jennifer Willbanks, JonBenet Ramsey, Jennifer Smart, that kid who fell down the well many years ago, that girl that Gary Condit killed, uh, I guess that’s it off the top of my head. The only minority woman I can think of is Tamika Huston, and only because I just read an article about her about 5 minutes ago. And she’s been missing for like a year.

    My co-editor Mr. Grant points out that it’s like the reporting about Darfur. “Would it be "news" if that many French people were dying every day? Because it's not "news" that it's happening in Africa.” Well, maybe not the French, but the British, certainly. He further points out that the audience now drives what’s considered news, rather than the news organizations, or, you know, important worldwide events, and since the cable news audience is probably mostly white folks, the news corporations just give them what they want to see rather than what they need to see. I haven’t seen any figures about cable news viewer demographics broken down by race (anybody know where I can find some?) but I think the fact that Fox News is the leader in cable news viewership should tell you everything you need to know about who’s watching cable news the most.

    Anyway, hopefully they find Natalee alive and well and partying on the beach somewhere. And it'd be nice if they could find Tamika too, while they're at it.

    Thursday, June 16, 2005

    Lynching Isn’t Bad?

    There was this whole anti-lynching vote in the Senate yesterday. It’s this bill that does virtually nothing other than symbolically say that we, the Senate, think lynching was no good. Sorry. Anyone can cosponsor the bill, and even sign up to cosponsor it retroactively. 85 senators have put their names on the bill. In case you’re not up to speed on the whole government thing, there are 100 in the Senate. That leaves fifteen behind. Who are the fifteen pro-lynching senators? I’m glad you asked:

    Lamar Alexander (R-TN) - (202) 224-4944
    Robert Bennett (R-UT) - (202) 224-5444
    Thad Cochran (R-MS) - (202) 224-5054
    John Cornyn (R-TX) - (202) 224-2934
    Michael Crapo (R-ID) - (202) 224-6142
    Michael Enzi (R-WY) - (202) 224-3424
    Chuck Grassley (R-IA) - (202) 224-3744
    Judd Gregg (R-NH) - (202) 224-3324
    Orrin Hatch (R-UT) - (202) 224-5251
    Kay Hutchison (R-TX) - (202) 224-5922
    Jon Kyl (R-AZ) - (202) 224-4521
    Trent Lott (R-MS) - (202) 224-6253
    Richard Shelby (R-AL) - (202) 224-5744
    John Sununu (R-NH) - (202) 224-2841
    Craig Thomas (R-WY) - (202) 224-6441
    Strange coincidence that all 15 are Republicans, isn’t it? What are those digits after their names? Oh! That must be their phone numbers! Why don't you give 'em a ring and tell them what you think about lynching. I'm sure Trent Lott in particular has a few things to say on the subject.

    Why Doctors Don’t Diagnose Videotapes

    Remember how Senator Bill Frist watched that heavily edited videotape of Terry Schiavo and declared that she was fine and about to snap out of her spell any minute?

    Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a renowned heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader, went to the floor late Thursday night for the second time in 12 hours to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a "persistent vegetative state."

    "I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office," he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli."
    Yep, Dr. Frist, renowned surgeon and Feline Son of Sam (it rubs the catnip on its fur – it places the catnip in the basket) is such a brilliant doctor that he was able to tell us Ms. Schiavo’s condition by viewing five minutes of videotape. Al Franken has an idea to better leverage this unprecedented talent. We should place cameras in every hospital room in the country. Frist can sit in his office with a live feed and switch from room to room, giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down for every patient. Who should live and who should die? Only Senator Frist knows.

    Before we get ahead of ourselves, maybe we should review his work. An autopsy was done on poor Ms. Schiavo to find out more about her condition.
    An autopsy on Terri Schiavo backed her husband's contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state, finding that she had massive and irreversible brain damage and was blind, the medical examiner's office said Wednesday. It also found no evidence that she was strangled or otherwise abused.
    Interesting… Blind, you say? So in that videotape that made it look like she was watching a balloon, it was just a coincidence? Wow, Dr. Frist, it’s not like you to get a video diagnosis so wrong.

    And for the record, I don’t mean to sound like I’m belittling the hopes of Ms. Schiavo’s parents. I’m sure if there was any hope for a child of mine, I would do everything I can to help her too. But unfortunately for everybody, it turns out that all the doctors who actually saw her in person were right and there was no hope. It’s a shame. But there is angst in this post and that angst is focused like a laser beam on Senator Frist and Tom DeLay and all those bastards in congress (and the White House) who tried to take this family’s tragedy and turn it into their own personal political gain. They bring shame upon the entire human race.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

    Is Lack of Shame an Administrative Error?

    Salon’s War Room writes about the death of Pat Tillman again today. They’ve been covering this story pretty extensively, actually. Have you heard about it? A refresher – Pat Tillman played in the NFL, but gave up his multi-million dollar contract to go fight in Afghanistan. Then, he was killed in a heroic battle, giving his own life to save the lives of those in his platoon.

    Or did he? Nope. Turns out an “administrative error” was made which they didn’t “discover” until after his nationally televised funeral, after the story had been usurped by Bush to boost his own popularity, and after Tillman had been posthumously given the Silver Star. The “administrative error” was calling it heroic, when actually he was killed by his own bumbling unit. Oops! By the way, Pat Tillman’s mom isn’t buying the “administrative error” bit.

    I admit I’ve been a little blasé about this story. I feel for the guy, and for his mom, but I guess I’ve felt that this was just another case of Bush lying, and there are so many lies that you have to be selective about those which cause the outrage. There’s another side to this story too. The man still died serving his country. It’s still heroic. Just as heroic as the other 1,700+ men and women who have given their lives in these wars. I’m certainly not offering up any personal sacrifice, am I? Bush isn’t asking anyone to give up anything to help support these wars, not even the rich motherfuckers and their massive tax cut. So big ups to Pat anyway. And there’s a strange cloud that hovers over fratricide in wars. Parents are ashamed and sometimes alienated by other soldier’s parents as though the soldier killed by friendly fire did something wrong. But think about how that might happen. You’re in a firefight with the enemy when suddenly you realize you’re surrounded or trapped. Oh no! Call in air support! Hiding in some bunker, hoping just to survive, you hear the American bomber planes coming in to the rescue. What a relief! I might survive! And in the haze of war, they start attacking your position! Fuck! Stop! Stop! It’s too late, and your buddy is dead. In a way, it’s worse than just being killed by the enemy, isn’t it? Your hope shattered in an instant. Why should that soldier’s parent be ashamed of him? He still died a hero.

    Anyway, like I said, I haven’t really been following this story too closely until I read this line in Salon this morning:

    "The publicly unreleased files also present major contradictions of fact and logic as to how this fratricide occurred, including questions about the decision to split Tillman's unit; why the shooting continued even after the identification of the target as friendly by the driver of the attack vehicle; what were the light conditions and distances involved; what was the medical treatment administered; and how was it decided to burn Tillman's clothes and body armor, which bore tell-tale markings of penetration by U.S. ammunition.
    That’s the part that got me. It’s one thing if the Pentagon decides to sort of play along with Bush’s preferred storyline. But they actually burned the evidence of their mistake. That’s like CSI kind of shit there. That means that they weren’t just lying, they were going out of their way to cover it up. There’s a word for that – conspiracy. It sullies the Army, the president, and unfortunately poor Mr. and Mrs. Tillman.

    I’d like to say “for shame” but that’s not even the worst thing our armed forces have done in the last few years.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    What Do I Do, Mommy?

    We find out today why no one covered the Downing Street Memo. All of the news agencies in America wanted to cover it, but the AP never told them to.

    On Sunday, the ombudsman at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune addressed readers' complaints about the paper's lack of Downing memo coverage. According to that account, the paper's nation/world editor, Dennis McGrath, was aware of the memo story when it broke in May, and he and his deputies "began watching for a wire story. A week later, they were still watching. 'We were frustrated the wires weren't providing stories on this,' McGrath said." The paper eventually assigned the story to a local reporter.
    I'm not pissing on the AP. For the most part, I find them one of the most unbiased news outlets around. They're certainly better than the "paper of record." No. The point is that this is exhibit 429 in the case of people v. lazy, lazy mainstream media.

    Stupid, Lazy Old People!

    NY Times editorialist and total jackass John Tierney thinks old people should shut up and work longer, and that would solve all our social security problems.

    Americans now feel entitled to spend nearly a third of their adult lives in retirement. Their jobs are less physically demanding than their parents' were, but they're retiring younger and typically start collecting Social Security by age 62. Most could keep working - fewer than 10 percent of people 65 to 75 are in poor health - but, like Bartleby the Scrivener, they prefer not to
    Because everybody has a job where they sit on their pasty white ass and write phoned-in columns for major newspapers, right? Right?!
    The problem isn't that Americans have gotten intrinsically lazier. They're just responding to a wonderfully intentioned system that in practice promotes greed and sloth. Social Security is widely thought of as a kumbaya program that unites Americans in caring for the elderly, but it actually creates ugly political battles among generations.
    I... whuh... guh... so, social security makes people lazy, greedy, and slothful? Just like welfare, apparently. Or any government assistance program, according to the Fuck Everyone Who Isn't Rich and White party. Except the rampant corporate welfare that the GOP doles out to its friends, I guess. That's ok and helps us all out. Unless you work at Enron.

    And it seems to me that the political battles between generations are stirred up by GOP plant articles like this one. Most people will happily pay into social security, because they know they'll get that money back when they retire. Unless BushCo has its way, of course.
    With the help of groups like AARP, the elderly have learned to fight for the right to retire earlier and get bigger benefits than the previous generation - all financed by making succeeding generations pay higher taxes than they ever did themselves.
    Grandma, you greedy bitch! You insidious, dastardly villain! I see now that all those cookies you baked for me were merely a ploy, an opiate to keep me compliant and paying into a system that allows you to have a roof over your head, and to pay for your nursing services, and to keep your wheelchair in a state of repair. How dare you!
    The result is a system that burdens the young and creates perverse incentives for people to retire when they're still middle-aged.
    Perverse incentives! Now we get to the real heart of the matter. It's obviously perverse to want to retire from the daily, soul-crushing grind of work at the office or factory or local mass-merchandiser while you're still able to enjoy your life and your free time. What will these people want next, affordable health care? Reasonably priced medications? Orthopedic back pillows? Christ, it never ends!
    If the elderly were willing to work longer, there would be lower taxes on everyone and fewer struggling young families. There would be more national wealth and tax revenue available to help the needy, including people no longer able to work as well as the many elderly below the poverty line because they get so little Social Security.
    So go turn in that application at Wal-mart, Granny, and greet, greet, greet us into the Utopia! Or, uh, maybe we could stop throwing money down a deep, dark hole in Iraq, or stop giving away money to GOP fundraisers and PR people, or quit giving billions of dollars in tax breaks to the rich, and to oil companies already so flush with cash that they don't know how to spend it.
    Getting that kind of system seems politically hopeless at the moment here, but it already exists in Chile. Its pension system has a stronger safety net for the older poor than America's (relative to each country's wages) and more incentives for people to work, because Chileans' contributions go directly into their own private accounts instead of a common pool like Social Security.
    What the fuck, did he just say we should be more like Chile? CHILE?! Raise your hand if you would rather live in Chile than the United States! Yeah, I thought so. Now, could someone inform John that comparing two economies of such different size and scale is, well, retarded, and that what works for one small country might not work as well for a gigantic country? Although, sometimes it seems like BushCo’s policies are trying to scale our economy back to about the size of Chile’s.
    Before the private-account system began in 1981, Chile had a traditional pension system going broke with the same problems as America and Europe: rising taxes on the young to pay for older workers who were retiring earlier and earlier. But under the new system, there's been a 30 percent increase in the labor force participation by workers in their 60's
    Um, so, have those people CHOSEN to continue working, or have they been FORCED to continue working? Does John Tierney CHOOSE to write idiotic columns about how lazy old people are ruining the country, or does his dark lord Satan FORCE him to?
    Best of all, Chileans who control their own private-account pensions don't have to count on politicians or groups like AARP to decide when they can retire. It's a personal choice, not a public battle, and the Chileans I interviewed had a saner attitude about retirement than the American baby boomers dreaming of retiring to decades of golf.
    Again, it seems that the public battle over social security is less a generational battle than it is a GOP vs. any sort of assistance program issue. Do young people really hate social security? Do they resent old people for the taxes they have to pay? Do they begrudge them the meager allowance that Social Security gives them? Or do they say, "Well, Grandma busted her ass her whole life to make life better for me and my family, maybe she deserve a little money and the right to enjoy the last 20 some odd years of her life?" And, uh, Tierney seems to think it's INSANE to not want to work until you drop dead? Spoken like a guy who's never done an honest day's work in his life.
    A 57-year-old schoolteacher, Maria Clara Meyer, told me she was thinking of spending her 60's running her own tutoring program or setting up an ecotourism business in Chile. "I'm a little tired of my teaching job," she said, "but I'm not stupid, so I shall keep doing something. It's not healthy for you to stop working if you're still able." And not healthy for your country, either.
    Christ, this sounds like something right out of the Stalin-era USSR. I envision a propaganda poster of with a saggy, wrinkled Rosey the Riveter flexing her withered arm and getting ready to kick ass on two sneering old people in background wearing Hawaiian shirts stomping a young worker to death. "Retirement isn't healthy for your country!" it would say.

    I have a feeling I won't be paying the Times when they institute a subscription fee, if this is the type of ridiculous tripe I'd be paying for. In fact, I would happily pay higher Social Security taxes if John Tierney would opt for early retirement.

    Monday, June 13, 2005

    Being For the Benefit of Mr. Blair

    At this point, Bush has to be thinking two things:

    1) Who invited the Brits to the party in the first place?
    2) Don’t those damned limeys know that when you’re planning an illegal war, you don’t take fucking notes?!

    As you all know by now, more nasty (and obvious) stuff from Downing Street has come to light in the Washington Post. It’s more of the same:

    The eight-page memo, written in advance of a July 23, 2002, Downing Street meeting on Iraq, provides new insights into how senior British officials saw a Bush administration decision to go to war as inevitable, and realized more clearly than their American counterparts the potential for the post-invasion instability that continues to plague Iraq.

    In its introduction, the memo "Iraq: Conditions for Military Action" notes that U.S. "military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace," but adds that "little thought" has been given to, among other things, "the aftermath and how to shape it."

    The July 21 memo was produced by Blair's staff in preparation for a meeting with his national security team two days later that has become controversial on both sides of the Atlantic since last month's disclosure of official notes summarizing the session.

    In a section titled "Benefits/Risks," the July 21 memo states, "Even with a legal base and a viable military plan, we would still need to ensure that the benefits of action outweigh the risks."

    Saying that "we need to be sure that the outcome of the military action would match our objective," the memo's authors point out, "A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise." The authors add, "As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden."

    The Blair government, unlike its U.S. counterparts, always doubted that coalition troops would be uniformly welcomed, and sought U.N. participation in the invasion in part to set the stage for an international occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, said British officials interviewed recently. London was aware that the State Department had studied how to deal with an invasion's aftermath. But the British government was "shocked," in the words of one official, "when we discovered that in the postwar period the Defense Department would still be running the show."
    Hey – me too! In fact, it’s stunning how almost perfectly absolutely spot-on 100% correct we liberals were about this war. Let us count the ways:
  • There are no WMD. (Those who say that everyone was certain that they had WMD are lying – ask former weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Scott Ritter.)
  • It will be crazy expensive.
  • They won’t welcome us with flowers and chocolate.
  • It will be worse to be bogged down in Iraq for years and years than to allow Saddam to stay in power, as long as we have the weapons inspectors in place (which we did).
  • Iraq is too unstable, with too many different factions to force them at gunpoint into a lasting peace.
  • If we go into Iraq, we’ll be taking the eye off the important mission – Osama bin Laden.
  • Worst-case scenario is they are allowed to vote and install a brutal Islamic regime that allies itself with Iran. (stay tuned)
  • Bush doesn’t know what he’s doing, and he’s ignoring all the planning being done by Colin Powell and the State Department.
  • You see? Every single one of these points has been proven correct, and we were saying them for months leading up to the war, which Bush clearly and provably was going to start come hell or high water. Sometimes the dirty hippies and peaceniks can keep you safer than the warriors, eh? In this case, our predictions were eerily prescient. And now 1,700 American soldiers are dead. The U.S. is a pariah world-wide. We’re torturing and killing prisoners. Our economy is in the shithole. Pretty much everything sucks. Thanks, Bush.

    As a final thought (for now) – do you think that people don’t realize that Downing Street is the British equivalent of saying White House? If we had a White House memo that said we didn’t plan for the post-war and that intelligence was being fixed around policy, do you think people would be a little more upset? A lot more upset? I sure hope so.

    Sunday, June 12, 2005

    Spice Up Your Life!

    Proof positive that Bush needs to urge Iran along not with an iron fist, but with a supportive hand:

    Hundreds of women staged an unauthorized demonstration in Tehran today, protesting sex discrimination under Iran's Islamic leadership just days before the June 17 presidential elections.

    The protest was the first public display of dissent by women since the 1979 revolution, when the new regime enforced obligatory veiling. "We are women, we are the children of this land, but we have no rights," they chanted. More than 250 marched outside Tehran University, and about 200 others demonstrated two blocks away after hundreds of riot police swarmed in and barred them from joining the main protest.
    Isn't that great? You see, we don't need to run around invading everyone; sometimes freedom comes around uninvited. Just today on The McLaughlin Group, John was talking about his recent trip to Iran. Despite the veil law, many women don't wear veils even right out on the street. And slowly but surely, their headdresses are inching back as well as their skirts inching up. It'll take decades, but hey - when did we get mini-skirts? In the 60s? And people freaked. Our women were allowed to vote 85 years ago, but when did they become equals in the workplace? The 80s? Maybe not, hey, I saw 9 to 5. The point being, it takes time.

    So let's be generous and say Iran is 100 years behind us. Unfortunately, they have to deal with nuclear weapons and oil and religious fundamentalism. But I'll make you a bet that I never have to honor - in 100 years they're going to have women running for office, wearing what they want, and an honest to god democracy.

    If Bush fucks this shit up, all bets are off.