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Friday, May 14, 2004
 
Remember those Vietnam War swift boat veterans...
who formed a group to claim that John Kerry is unfit to be President? (Although none of them actually served *with* Kerry) Remember how they claimed that this was a completely nonpartisan and independent group with out any political ties?

If you believe this, you need to read Joe Conason's latest.
While neither Franke nor Hayes returned calls seeking confirmation of their roles in the Swift Boat Veterans organization, it seems obvious that Waterman wouldn't have set up the group's Web site using Gannon's corporate address without approval from his employers.

Franke is well known in Missouri as a longtime Republican Party activist and financier. In 1976, he managed John Danforth's victorious Senate campaign; two years later, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress. He also failed in an attempt to resuscitate the defunct St. Louis Globe-Democrat (which was, despite its name, a staunchly Republican newspaper) in 1986. Before the Globe-Democrat finally went under in 1987, Franke had obtained a commitment from the state industrial development authority -- all of whose members were appointed by then Gov. John Ashcroft -- to raise $9 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds to keep the paper afloat.

Last June, Franke gave the maximum $2,000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign, and he has since donated an additional $2,000 to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, and $2,000 more to Keep Our Majority, the PAC operated by House Speaker Dennis Hastert
And don't forget that the mouthpiece for Swift Boat Vets for Truth, John O'Neill, was a toady of Nixon dirty-trick-meister Chuck Colson. (Oh, and O'Neill's law firm does beaucoup business with Halliburton and other "connected" energy firms.)
 
 
I've been working...
waaaay too much for my own good. I've got no fewer than 6 parties to cater tomorrow.

Hence posting will be very light until early next week.
 
Thursday, May 13, 2004
 
Are the Pundits finally starting to get it?
Tom Friedman is an impressive scholar regarding middle east issues, but I've always been disappointed in his attitude toward the war in Iraq. It appears that he's waking up:
"It is time to ask this question: Do we have any chance of succeeding at regime change in Iraq without regime change here at home?

"Hey, Friedman, why are you bringing politics into this all of a sudden? You're the guy who always said that producing a decent outcome in Iraq was of such overriding importance to the country that it had to be kept above politics."

Yes, that's true. I still believe that. My mistake was thinking that the Bush team believed it, too..."
He's not quite ready to say that Iraq was the terrible mistake that it is, but he acknowledges that the Bush administration has put politics above all else when it comes to the War on Terra®. He also admits that:
"...(the)White House always knew this was a war of choice - its choice - so it made sure that average Americans never had to pay any price or bear any burden..."
I can't believe this is Friedman writing. It's his best column in a long time.
 
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
 
How many millions of dollars...
in bad advertising will it take to cover up the mess that the new Medicare bill has created?
Sydney Bild, 81, a retired doctor in Chicago, compared the discount cards with the prices he paid ordering his drugs by mail from Canada. Dr. Bild pays $4,000 to $5,000 a year for five medications. When he checked the government Web site, he said the best plans were about 50 percent to 60 percent higher than what he was paying.

But Dr. Bild said his main objection to the new plans was that companies could change prices on drugs, or change the drugs covered. Medicare requires plans to cover only one drug in each of 209 common categories. Consumers can change cards only once a year. Committing to a card is "like love - it's a sometime thing," Dr. Bild said. "What if I chose one? They could drop my drugs two weeks later."
And seniors have to pick one card out of 73 choices! And the Gov't expects them to look up the competing plans on the internet. Hahahaha [sarcasm]yeah... that's good planning[/sarcasm]

Everything that BushCo touches turns to shit. Everything....
 
 
Blood on Their Hands?

The beheading of Nick Berg is a tragedy. Al Qaida has taken responsibility. But what isn't clear is how Nick Berg ended up in Terrorist hands... or why.

Let me be clear... the following is tin-foil-hat, too much time on my hands, rumor mongering speculation:

Freerepublic.com is a right wing internet community that prides itself on being more patriotic and God fearing than you and I. Many over there claim to know the one and only true way to be an American, and should you disagree with them, you are worthy of scorn... or worse. (These are the same folks who stood outside the White House waving mayonnaise stained blue dresses during impeachment.)

There are many activists within FreeRepublic. Some claim to be members of the military, active and retired, and law enforcement.

This morning I was lurking around their sight and I came across this thread: Nick Berg's Father and International A.N.S.W.E.R

In it, there is some speculation that Michael Berg, Nick's father was a petition signer of the socialist anti-war group International A.N.S.W.E.R. It seems that someone with the same name and listing the same company of the late Nick Berg, Prometheus Methods Tower Service Inc., has signed petitions with that group.

The discussion thread goes on in disgusting fashion, suggesting that Nick's father got what he deserved and that 'maybe the liberals will "get it", now that their children are being killed'.

Then, this evening I came across this:
Beheaded Man's Firm Was On Right-Wing 'Enemies' List

The family firm of beheaded American Nick Berg, was named by a conservative website in a list of 'enemies' of the Iraq occupation. That could explain his arrest by Iraqi police --a detention which fatally delayed his planned return from Iraq and may have led directly to his death.
[snip]
On 7th March, 2004, just three weeks before the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, an 'enemies' list of anti-war groups and individuals was posted on the Free Republic forum.

It began: "Here you are, Freepers. Here is the enemy."

The list had been copied from publicly available endorsements of a call to action for an imminent anniversary antiwar protest on 20th March, 2004. The protest was being organized under the banner of the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism).

Among those listed as having endorsed the call to action was this entry: "Michael S. Berg, Teacher, Prometheus Methods Tower Service, Inc."
[snip]
Within minutes of getting their hands on the antiwar names, one was boasting of having contacted the military about active service personnel who were on the list:
"I forwarded the list to the ISC (the command you listed), the district officer... the district legal office and the investigative services office."

The response:
"The poor moron is not going to know what hit him. Is this being mean-spirited? NO! Someone against our military does not belong in the military!"
Yet, within two weeks of the list being posted, Nick Berg --back in Iraq on his final fatal trip-- was reportedly detained in Mosul at an Iraqi police checkpoint. The official explanation is that authorities thought his identification might have been forged and were checking his authenticity.

But a more likely reason is that by then authorities in Iraq had discovered that a 'Berg' of Prometheus Methods Tower Service was in the country, and issued a detention instruction to Iraqi police because they misidentified Nick Berg as an antiwar activist entering Iraq to work for the 'enemy'.

That could explain why he was held incommunicado for 13 days, without recourse to a lawyer; why US officialdom was singularly unheeding of his mother's pleas; why the FBI visited his family to question them; why it took a US court order secured by the family to pressure his release.
If this list caused Nick Berg to be detained by Iraqi police and/or the US military...
If that detention made it impossible for Nick to leave Iraq as planned...
If there is any truth to the speculation that the Iraqi police handed Berg over to militants...

Then the Freepers may just have Nick Berg's blood on their hands.
 
 
MSNBC tossed Ted Rall
Ted is a talented guy. His Pat Tillman cartoon upset a lot of people, but there is an element of truth there. Too bad, Ted. That's what you get for being too brutally honest with your opinions. His comics are still available here.
 
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
 
A Kerry Landslide?

Well that depends on your definition of landslide. Chuck Todd writes of an intriguing possibility:
2004 could be a decisive victory for Kerry. The reason to think so is historical. Elections that feature a sitting president tend to be referendums on the incumbent--and in recent elections, the incumbent has either won or lost by large electoral margins. If you look at key indicators beyond the neck-and-neck support for the two candidates in the polls--such as high turnout in the early Democratic primaries and the likelihood of a high turnout in November--it seems improbable that Bush will win big. More likely, it's going to be Kerry in a rout.


I would like to think that this is a real possibility. The idea that Kerry could win nationally by 10 percentage points is not out of my personal realm of belief. However, the combination of the infamous electoral college with the fact that red states have become "redder" and blue states "bluer" I doubt that even a huge Kerry victory in the popular vote will translate to a big win in the electoral college.

The possibility that Kerry could win the large blue states (CA, IL and NY) by 10 - 15 points but only lose the large red states (TX and FL) by 1 -5 points creates the possibility that Bush could once again win the electoral college even though he would loses the popular vote by *several million* ballots. In 2000, Al Gore's margin of victory in the popular vote was approximately +550,000 votes.

This year the actual election will only be fought in 12, or so, states that are still up for grabs. This fact alone makes it unlikely that either candidate will run away with the electoral college.
 
 
Denial, part 4

Is it just me, or am I imagining that there are still a huge number of pro-war folks who think like Sen Inhofe? (see below)

In cruising the web, I am finding numerous bloggers and commenters who don't get it. These folks are completely focused on the actual acts of abuse. That is exactly the wrong way to look at this.

I am decent at math and understand that several dozen folks in a country of several million being tortured in a prison doesn't amount to much in and of itself. The behavior is reprehensible and those who committed condoned and/or ordered it, should be prosecuted.

But, because I am good at math, I undestand that millions upon millions of Iraqis among others have seen the photos and heard the stories. If these folks did not have any doubt about America's integrity, they sure do now.

A Pentagon source summed up the effect of the intial six soldiers charged and their abuses: "You mean the six morons who lost the war?"

I wonder how long it will take before this sinks in with the hardcore right?
 
 
Outraged over the Outrage Over the Outrage

Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe earlier today:
"I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment.... I am also outraged that we have so many humanitarian do-gooders right now crawling all over these prisons looking for human rights violations, while our troops, our heroes are fighting and dying,"
Please allow me to say "Fuck You!"

Sen. Inhofe you are soooo friggin' stupid that you don't even understand that the torturing (as well as possible murder and rape) of Iraqi prisoners has completely doomed our present goal of creating an America-friendly Iraq. That is what you want out of the debacle that we call Operation Iraqi Freedom, is it not?

You are so dumb that you probably don't realize the the UN Ambassador from Sudan found it appropriate to lecture us, the United States, about human rights. If you need help finding Sudan on a globe, start by looking in Africa.

Your IQ is so low that you doubt that these disgusting revelations will end up costing dozens, if not hundreds, of Americans their lives because of continued unrest and revenge. It has already started. $5 bucks says that your comments will end up in the next Al Qaida recruiting video. YOU have likely cost somebody their life, Jackass!

BUT... you probably realize that the vast majority of those who vote for you believe, as Rush Limbaugh does, that these incidents were nothing more serious than a Fraternity Hazing Party. You and your ilk believe that those who died, or were brutalized had it coming. (...even though the Red Cross' recent report said that 90% of all the Abu Ghraib detainees were innocent and shouldn't even be imprisoned.)

You sir, are a disgrace to the state of Oklahoma, the United States Senate and to America.

If, by some god-forsaken reason, you should ever visit my town, please spare yourself embarassment by not coming into my restaurant. Because if you do, I will personally throw your ass out on the curb.

(Senator Dayton (D-MN) visited and dined in our establishment last year. He was a pleasure.)
 
Monday, May 10, 2004
 
The Wall Street Journal Opinion Page....
is full of lunatics. We've known that for years. But today's Victor Davis Hansen contribution caught my eye, because it is echoing what appears to be the newest GOP talking-point on Bush's Presidency.

Look for it on a talk show soon:

George Bush Stood up to the Arab tyrants. He is the first post Cold War President to do so. If any of the last four American leaders of the 20th Century had been so bold, 9/11 would never have happened, the world would now be at peace and everyone would love us.

However this is completely assinine. Here is his lede:
Imagine a different Nov. 4, 1979, in Tehran. Shortly after Iranian terrorists storm the American Embassy and take some 90 American hostages, President Carter announces that Islamic fundamentalism is not a legitimate response to the excess of the shah but a new and dangerous fascism that threatens all that liberal society holds dear. And then he issues an ultimatum to Tehran's leaders: Release the captives or face a devastating military response.

When that demand is not met, instead of freezing Iran's assets, stopping the importation of its oil, or seeking support at the U.N., Mr. Carter orders an immediate blockade of the country, followed by promises to bomb, first, all of its major military assets, and then its main government buildings and residences of its ruling mullocracy. The Ayatollah Khomeini might well have called his bluff; we may well have tragically lost the hostages (151 fewer American lives than the Iranian-backed Hezbollah would take four years later in a single day in Lebanon). And there might well have been the sort of chaos in Tehran that we now witness in Baghdad. But we would have seen it all in 1979--and not in 2001, after almost a quarter-century of continuous Middle East terrorism, culminating in the mass murder of 3,000 Americans and the leveling of the World Trade Center.
He's right, things would have been different. We would have started WWIII with the country that shared Iran's northern border .... the USSR. Instead Hansen's previous hero, Ronnie Raygun, gave hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons and aid to Saddam Hussein for the Iran/Iraq war, which killed 3 million+ and cemented Hussein's leadership of the largest and most powerful Arab military. [sarcasm] Yeah... that worked. [/sarcasm]

The utter incompetence of this stable of writers should have shamed them into obscurity years ago. And this idiot claims to be a historian... sheesh.
 
Sunday, May 09, 2004
 
The Crusade Against the Intellectual Elite


From an interesting blog in Belgium, Non Tibi Spiro.
 
 
Happy Mother's Day!

On the brief, but always entertaining obligatory Mother's Day phone call with my mom, the 70-something matriarch of our family decided that the phraseology of a younger generation more aptly described Ralph Nader.

She called ol' Ralphy a "Motherfucker".

Right on, Mom!
 
 
Intelligence of the Blogs

Perhaps the most impressive thing about blogs is that they enable a collective wisdom to develop which creates a situation where the sum is much greater than the total of the parts. Case in point, G. Jones in the comments Kevin Drum:
Narcissistic Personality Disorder

From Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association, 4th edition, 1994, commonly referred to as DSM-IV.

"An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or in behaviour), need for admiration and a marked lack of empathy which starts at early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts."
At least 5 of the following should be present to qualify a person as suffering from NPD:
(1) Possesses a grandiose sense of self importance (for example: exaggerates his achievements and his talents, expects his superiority to be recognised without having the commensurate skills or achievements).
(2) Pre-occupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance and beauty or of ideal love.
(3) Believes that he is unique and special and that only high status and special people (or institutions) could understand him (or that it is only with such people and institutions that it is worth his while to be associated with).
(4) Demands excessive and exceptional admiration.
(5) Feels that he is deserving of exceptionally good treatment, automatic obeisance of his (usually unrealistic) expectations.
(6) Exploitative in his interpersonal relationships, uses others to achieve his goals.
(7) Lacks empathy: is disinterested in other people's needs and emotions and does not identify with them.
(8) Envies others or believes that others envy him.
(9) Displays arrogance and haughtiness.
This one commenter, by referencing his/her area of expertise, has reframed the entire discussion of the Abu Ghraib scandal, as well as the entire Bush Presidency for me.

And, at least to my untrained eye, this diagnosis hits the nail squarely on the head of Commander Bunnypants.
 
Shouting into the closet to inform and entertain the 10 people who actually read this thing. In our new format as an online magazine, we take pride in our reporting and opinions. Please leave reader feedback on our online magazine message board so that we can better serve you.

“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” -Paul Wolfowitz

Cost of the War in Iraq
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