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Saturday, April 16, 2005
Another governing principle.
If bad news doesn't get published, then it doesn't exist.
...The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. "Who controls the past,"' ran the Party slogan, "controls the future: who controls the present controls the past."...

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Mullah Frist

Lots of folks in the blogsphere have been saying it:

The theocracy has arrived. All that remains now is to properly institutionalize it. The republican leadership has turned their sights on controlling the judiciary, just as they control everything else. It has become obvious that they intend to work in close partnership with the extreme Christian right in order to do so.

Senator Frist will participate in a broadcast on April 24 celebrating "Justice Sunday", sponsored by the Family Research Council. Here is what that FRC has to say regarding our noble experiment:
"As the liberal, anti-Christian dogma of the left has been repudiated in almost every recent election, the courts have become the last great bastion for liberalism," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and organizer of the telecast, wrote in a message on the group's Web site. "For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the A.C.L.U., have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms."
For years, anyone who used this sort of absurd, over-the-top language would have been laughed off the public stage. Now, they get our Congressional leadership to share it with them. President Bush has stated that he "favors" an "independent judiciary"; but as we have seen over and over again in matters like this, it's best to take what he says and think of the exact opposite concept in order to determine his actual position.

I don't think that the Republican party has suddenly undergone a mass conversion to extreme, Spongebob-hating, Bible-literalist fundamentalism. I think their leadership is determined to grab as much power in as many of the mechanisms of our government as possible; the purpose being to consolidate their grip on Congress, the Presidency and the Courts for at least the next generation or two.

To do this, they've made a deal with the mullahs of the Christian right, in much the same way that the Saudi Monarchy has an understanding with the extremist Wahabi Imams, whose twisted version of Islam produced Osama bin Laden. The eventual results could end up being frighteningly similar.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Must be a really slow news weekend.

After more than a year, another US media outlet has finally noticed what the Bush family has done to Haiti. This editorial column was picked up and printed by the Topeka Capital-Journal (registration required). An excerpt:
..."summary executions are a police tactic", and the jails are filled with political prisoners “including the ousted constitutional government's Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert.” Many of these prisoners are held without charge, beaten and denied medical help.

Cite Soleil, a horribly poor slum of 250,000 people, is under virtual lockdown, cut off from commercial traffic. Young men cannot leave for fear of arrest, since the neighborhood is known to support Aristide. People who are shot by police, army or pro-government thugs treat their injuries at home because anyone who shows up at a hospital with a bullet wound can be arrested. Bodies of victims can be seen in the streets, being devoured by dogs and pigs.

The goal of the present government seems to be to use violence and fear to intimidate the pro-Aristide population, which appears still to be the majority and who continue to demand the return of their elected president. It is eerily similar to the 1991-1994 dictatorship in both its objectives and methods....
OK, it's not the NYT, but at least the folks in Topeka had something to think about over their coffee this morning.
Friday Bat Blogging

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"I Believe in Open Government"
Our president knows what people want to hear, and he has no problem saying it. Then he just does what he wants to do, which is usually the opposite.

If he was a democrat, this would be called "lying", but since he's a republican and president to boot, it's just fine with everyone.

Thursday, April 14, 2005
This isn't really news anymore, is it? The White House is just doing the same thing here that they've been doing for the last four years. Lie, stonewall, lie, then stonewall some more. After a while, people get bored and change the channel.

They will never be forced to disclose. They will never be investigated. They are completely immune to any serious oversight or checks on their power. The press is toothless and mostly under their control. The only branch of government that occasionally gets away from them is the judiciary, and they'll have that little problem taken care of soon enough.

The only thing this country has going for it at this point is the power of free elections. Oh, that's right.....never mind.
Those helpful folks at the FDA
are up to their tricks again. You'll recall that not too long ago, to the surprise of many, they allowed Celebrex, Vioxx and Bextra to stay on the market in response to corporate pleading. This, in spite of all the evidence that these drugs are not particularly safe and have only marginal benefit--of course, the benefit to their manufacturer is considerably higher, especially if Congress manages to pass a cap on medical damages.

Well, the right of women who want big, natural feeling breasts that will inexorably poison them has been reinstated by our friends at the FDA. In spite of the horrific problems that silicone implants have caused for women over the years, and in spite of the inability of the implant manufacturers to show that these products are safe, the FDA has once again approved their use.

Silicone has always remained an option for women who undergo breast reconstruction due to disease or injury. It was only restricted for those who wanted them for purely cosmetic purposes; saline implants have been used for that purpose. Now, the FDA has determined that any woman who wants to look and feel better about herself has the right to be sold a product that will cause immune system problems and terrible pain from scar tissue and silicone migration.

If you read this article, you begin to get the feeling that words must mean something different than you always thought they did. The discussion of the implants' reliability and Mentor Corp.'s "superior" data and procedures indicate that everyone concerned thinks these things are still time bombs waiting to go off in womens' chests. The article paints the damning information in front of your lying eyes as good news for implants.

It's not a question of if they will rupture, but when. And nobody knows the answer to that.

This is nuts. I have a feeling I'll be using this quote more and more, over the next several years:

"The first stage of fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power." --Benito Mussolini
Tuesday, April 12, 2005

It seems odd that the turf upon which the moral elitists would choose to drive a stake into the heart of secular society is the judiciary. But the rumors of a culture war have proven true and men and women in black robes are unwittingly on the front lines. For the past few weeks we have heard one highly placed right wing crackpot after another make ominous predictions about the souls and futures of judges who do not share their righteous views. The promised purge of the independent judiciary is no longer just wild-eyed saber rattling used to scare up campaign dollars. It is a real threat made by many of the leaders of the party in power.
Fill in the Blank:
When Bush's poll numbers go down, Terror news goes_____________.

CNN: Sources: U.S. to charge men in alleged terrorist plot.
MSNBC: 3 charged with plotting U.S. terror attacks
CBS: Three Indicted On Terror Charges
ABC: Three Indicted on Terror Charges in U.S.
FOX: Three Indicted for Plot Against Financial Sites

Did you notice that the surveillance took place before 9/11? Did you notice that these guys have been in custody for quite some time? So why now?

You know why, you silly, you. (The bread and circuses are getting a bit thin.)
Monday, April 11, 2005
Wife-blog Pimping

It appears that Mrs. 9Driver has lowered the boom on my brother's time management habits in regards to the perpetual question of blogging vs. stuff that actually matters.

Check out her new blog. It only has the one post, but she has always been a better writer than her brother-in-law (me!) or her husband. Hopefully she'll keep it updated in between toe-tapping and whip cracking. (not to mention the management of 3 rather energetic boys)

And in the spirit of equal time, here is my spouse's knitting blog. The puppy ate her knitting needle kit a few weeks back so her posting is lagging while she restocks.
Taxes Done!

It always amazes me when my tax software compares my return against the others in my income bracket. For some stupid reason, I always end up paying much smaller percentage of my income in taxes than the average "similar" return.

My wife and I file jointly and our income is solidly middle class. While I deduct a small amount for business expenses related to my freelance writing gigs (I don't make a profit... yet), well over 90% of our income is good old fashioned wage income with nothing but standard mortgage, child and charity deductions. All of these are, again, *lower* than the average returns in our bracket.

So, why do we end up paying lower taxes? Is it because I use comprehensive software? Does the average schmuck not take all of his/her obvious deductions?

Why? (Not that I'm complaining or anything.....)
Monday Headlines

CNN: Bolton--His hearing should be fun to watch. Democrats don't seem to like him, for some reason. Raid? What raid?

MSNBC: Did you know gas is expensive? Some guy named Bolton, and was there a raid somewhere?

CBS: GI's sweep through Baghdad. They arrested lots of bad guys. All of them are guilty. Really. Did you know that some people claim that the government wastes money on Homeland Security?

ABC: Iraq Raids Sweep Bagdad. Even though we copied from the same DoD press release as CBS, we'll use the word "suspected" when talking about those arrested. Some guy is having a hearing today.

FOX: Bolton, Iraq raids and dead football player get equal billing.

Funny how those Gitmo papers have slid off the page. Friday bad news releases are so cool.

Sunday, April 10, 2005
I know it's Sunday...
and I know that AP likely leaves menial tasks to its unpaid interns.

But is it too goddamned much to ask that these folks know the difference between Tom DeLay and Howard Dean?

Article Link. (Hopefully they'll have figured it out before you visit)

Two Pictures - three years apart

By now you have heard of the large protests in Baghdad calling for the withdrawl of US troops. The protestors marched to the exact same square in which the US Marine toppled Saddam's statue a few weeks into the war in 2003. Here is a photo of the protest march that gives you a feeling of the huge numbers involved:

The day the statue was pulled down, most of the photos and video were presented in way that there were 1000s upon 1000s of cheering Iraqs cheering the Marines on. Actually that was a little bit of embedded reporter propaganda. Here is a comprehensive photo of the scene. It looks like there were a few dozen Iraqis.

But actually I think that the protest is a *very* good sign. While it is very bad news for the long term designs of the Bushies for permanent military bases in Iraq, it demonstrates that the principle of Free Speech might be taking hold. (although the protestors were marshalled by a radical cleric... sigh) One can only hope that something positive is happening.

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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