Friday, August 19, 2005

Some Weekend Reading

If there's no other reason to be interested in politics, the effect our government's policies have on real-life issues is a start. You won't read a better or more gripping tale of George W. Bush's America than in this account. Prepare to be saddened and infuriated.

It's Fuck You Friday

To those Republicans who continue to tell us to "get over" the massive voting fraud that installed Little Boots in the White House for two horrible terms: fuck you.

In today's New York Times, Paul Krugman - one of the few journalists left at the Times who isn't either in jail or preparing to rot in hell for their massive disinformation campaign prior to the Iraq war - tells the stark truth about American "elections", and gives a frightening (and surely true) vision of the future of our electoral process.

By running for the U.S. Senate, Katherine Harris, Florida's former secretary of state, has stirred up some ugly memories. And that's a good thing, because those memories remain relevant. There was at least as much electoral malfeasance in 2004 as there was in 2000, even if it didn't change the outcome. And the next election may be worse.

In his recent book "Steal This Vote" - a very judicious work, despite its title - Andrew Gumbel, a U.S. correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, provides the best overview I've seen of the 2000 Florida vote. And he documents the simple truth: "Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election."

...Meanwhile, the whitewash of what happened in Florida in 2000 showed that election-tampering carries no penalty, and political operatives have acted accordingly. For example, in 2002 the Republican Party in New Hampshire hired a company to jam Democratic and union phone banks on Election Day.

...We aren't going to rerun the last three elections. But what about the future?

Our current political leaders would suffer greatly if either house of Congress changed hands in 2006, or if the presidency changed hands in 2008. The lids would come off all the simmering scandals, from the selling of the Iraq war to profiteering by politically connected companies. The Republicans will be strongly tempted to make sure that they win those elections by any means necessary. And everything we've seen suggests that they will give in to that temptation.

I'll pair Krugman's article with an excellent analysis of the 2004 election fraud that appears in Project Censored, which lists 18 almost impossible facts you must believe if you accept the legitimacy of Bush's 2004 "victory". The entire article is well worth the read. I'll note a couple from his list of 18:

2) Even though first-time voters, lapsed voters (those who didn’t vote in 2000), and undecideds went for John Kerry by big margins, and Bush lost people who voted for him in the cliffhanger 2000 election, Bush still received a 3.5 million vote surplus nationally.(3)

3) The fact that Bush far exceeded the 85% of registered Florida Republicans’ votes that he got in 2000, receiving in 2004 more than 100% of the registered Republican votes in 47 out of 67 Florida counties, 200% of registered Republicans in 15 counties, and over 300% of registered Republicans in 4 counties, merely shows Floridians’ enthusiasm for Bush. He managed to do this despite the fact that his share of the crossover votes by registered Democrats in Florida did not increase over 2000 and he lost ground among registered Independents, dropping 15 points.(4)

4) Florida’s reporting of more presidential votes (7.59 million) than actual number of people who voted (7.35 million), a surplus of 237,522 votes, does not indicate fraud.

So while the world remains shocked that we'd elect this ninny not only once but twice, keep in mind that chances are excellent that George W. Bush has never actually won a single national election. Blame can, of course, be assigned to the apathy of the American people, who have allowed this blatant fraud for three consecutive election cycles (I'm including the 2002 midterms in this count, and the Project Censored article covers the extensive fraud in this election very well).

Until the American people - including independents and moderate Republicans and the people who don't vote and don't give a shit, until they lose a son or daughter in Iraq - demand their democracy back, Krugman is correct that this fraud will continue unabated. The crime of the new century is not Iraq - it's how the ones responsible for Iraq were illegally given office.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

While Bush plays, his smear machine leaps into action

Republican lies and smears aren't very imaginative, and they tend to be the same group of Frank Luntz-inspired verbs and nouns thrown into the air and burbled out of their assholes in the order in which they fall. Mindless, meaningless crap.

We'll start the Bush smears (yes, I know he's on his assigned playtime, but be assured - he does nothing to stop it, it's done on his behalf, and this "uniter not divider" deserves the full responsibility for his smear machine) with RNC toadie Ken Mehlman, who gave a nice speech full of racist code words in West Virginia yesterday:

WHEELING - Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman told Republicans in Wheeling Wednesday that today's Democratic Party "isn't your grandfather's Democratic Party" of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the 1940s.

Democrats "used to tell people you have nothing to fear but fear itself," Mehlman said. "Now they have nothing to offer but fear itself."

I'll be glad to translate the coded race-baiting, although it's fairly obvious. Now, when a Republican goes into a state like West Virginia, or any southern state, and claims that today's Democratic party "isn't your grandfather's Democratic party", he's issuing a not-so-gentle reminder that their grandfather's Democratic party supported segregation, Jim Crow, and German Shepherds set upon small children. Today's Democratic party does not. Horrors! What's a racist to do, where to go? Thank God for Ken Mehlman, leading them into the arms of today's racist lily-white GOP.

The ridiculous claim about fear - the Republicans specialize in a'fearin' the red states, what with visions of mushroom clouds and all - is simply padding. Mehlman had one message to deliver to his audience, and he did it. You can see in advance the filthy coded tactics they'll use next year trying to unseat Robert Byrd.

The Bush Vacation Smears take on an entirely different tone when it comes to Cindy Sheehan, for while the smears are all so alike they must come from the same playbook they're far more personal and mean-spirited.

Leading the charge - at least until he passes out from drink - is Chris Hitchens, a Brit who seems to feel he has the right to lecture Americans about their insufficient warlust. MSNBC gave him airtime - why? Ask their bosses at war contractor General Electric - last night on Hardball, and while the transcript is not yet available I can report that he raved almost incoherently that Sheehan is a "liar and paranoid" and "hysterical" and a "fraud" (funny coming from him, really), that Camp Casey should be renamed "Camp Nuthouse", repeating the discredited "Casey died for Israel" smear and, in the most bizarre accusation of all, kept trying to tie her to David Duke. I suppose that attaching himself to Bush's ass pays the bar bills.

I'll add that Hardball guest host Nora O'Donnell was soaking this up like the gin in Hitchens' gullet, throwing out inflammatory questions ("will Sheehan hurt the Democrats?" she brayed repeatedly, almost screeching) and getting herself worked up in an absolute froth over Cindy Sheehan. Considering that she calls herself a "journalist", and not a pundit, she might consider a less emotional approach in the future (as well as not being an open advocate for the Right).

Earlier in the day, David Horowitz had this to say, again on MSNBC (funny how MSNBC keeps giving these kooks airtime, isn't it?):

HOROWITZ: This is way beyond just criticism of the war. It's very hard to have respect for a woman who exploits the death of her own son and doesn't respect her own son's life. This young man volunteered twice. This is not a draftee. This is somebody who volunteered, did a tour of four years and volunteered back for Iraq, and volunteered for the specific mission. I haven't heard one word out of Cindy Sheehan's mouth that respects what her son did. She portrays him as an idiot who was used by deceitful liars.

...REAGAN: You've said some pretty tough things about Cindy Sheehan. I'm not sure how you know that she disregards her son. That seems like a pretty ugly thing to say, frankly. And, frankly, it doesn't do much credit to your side.

HOROWITZ: Well -- look, I've got eyes, and so do you, Ron. This young man -- if I had a son who died and I opposed the war --

REAGAN: But you didn't, did you, David?

HOROWITZ: The first -- look --

REAGAN: You don't have a son who gave his life, do you, David?

HOROWITZ: I -- I have -- I have, myself, lost dear friends to the left in this country, who were murdered by the left. I know what pain is. I don't know what it is to lose a child. That's a terrible thing. But I am telling you, if my child had gone into a war that I disapproved of and was heroic in that war, the first thing I'd do is pay credit to him.

Props to Ron Reagan, who correctly nails Horowitz that his children are not currently slogging through the streets of Baghdad. I saw this segment and it brought Horowitz up short. It's a tactic we should use relentlessly with these warmongers. The bizarre claim about people "murdered by the left" is a sign of the hysteria Sheehan is creating among the nutters on the Right.

And of course no discussion of nutters on the Right would be complete without hearing from Ann Coulter, a woman who's never been married and has no children, attacking a mother who has lost her son in Iraq in a piece tastelessly titled Cindy Sheehan: Commander in Grief

To expiate the pain of losing her firstborn son in the Iraq war, Cindy Sheehan decided to cheer herself up by engaging in Stalinist agitprop outside President Bush's Crawford ranch. It's the strangest method of grieving I've seen since Paul Wellstone's funeral. Someone needs to teach these liberals how to mourn.

Call me old-fashioned, but a grief-stricken war mother shouldn't have her own full-time PR flack. After your third profile on "Entertainment Tonight," you're no longer a grieving mom; you're a C-list celebrity trolling for a book deal or a reality show.

Nice of Coulter, who has no idea what it is to be a "grief-stricken war mother" to take time from her cigarettes and booze to lavish advice on a subject in which she has no first-hand knowledge.

This shameless right-wing hysteria - which Bush is doing nothing to stop, so it's on his doorstep - shows what a tipping point Sheehan represents in this country. And I believe this truly isn't about Iraq, but about the case they're laying for a war with Iran. The country attaching itself to Sheehan's peace movement would end the Iranian adventure before it begins, and thus the hounds from hell are on her trail.



Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Pentagon Propaganda Walk Losing Steam

So, the Washington Post has finally pulled out of the grotesque Warapalooza that is the so-called "Freedom Walk" sponsored by your friends in the Pentagon to exploit 9/11 and again attempt to tie that event into the war in Iraq.

Personally, instead of having the Pentagon celebrate the spectacular failure of 9/11, I'd rather hear them explain how they left the airspace over the Pentagon completely undefended by even a single fighter aircraft on that day. Honest answers would honor the victims of the Pentagon attack far more than a silly, foppish "Freedom March" that replaces thought with mindless jingoism.

It's surprising that the Post made this decision, since they themselves did so much to promote this senseless war with their unquestioning acceptance of the administration's claims prior to the U.S. led invasion, although the New York Times and Judy Miller managed to eclipse the Post's shameful record in this regard. The management of the Post didn't come to the decision to pull out of this event because of some earth-shattering cosmic sign from the universe, or even common sense; no, the hand of the Washington Post was forced by their own union employees (is it any wonder the right hates unions? They really do spoil their fun):

WASHINGTON - The Washington Post is withdrawing its offer of free advertising for an organized event by the Defense Department to memorialize the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the newspaper announced.

The Post backed out of the agreement after critics said the event, scheduled to take place four years after the attacks that hit New York and Washington and resulted in the crash of a commercial airliner over western Pennsylvania, would have a pro-war slant and that support of the event by the newspaper would compromise the Post's journalistic integrity.

"The Post has a code of conduct that says employees should avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest," said Rick Ehrmann, a Local representative for the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. "In this case The Post was sponsoring the Pentagon's Freedom Walk, which ties the attack on Sept. 11 to the Iraq war, and of course, The Post's reporters have proven ... that there is no connection between the two, that that link is false."

...Critics of media support for the event also pointed to the free concert by Clint Black that is to take place at the end of the march route. Black's Web site features lyrics to his song entitled "I Raq and I Roll," including "Our troops take out the garbage/ for the good old U.S.A."

This little ditty by Clint Black (who appears to have never served in uniform, natch) is one of the most disgusting pieces of trash to litter our cultural landscape in quite a while. Little wonder the rest of the world hates us with this ignorant flotsam churning through the airwaves:



"I RAQ AND ROLL"

Words and Music by Clint Black and Hayden Nicholas

YOU CAN WAVE YOUR SIGNS IN PROTEST
AGAINST AMERICA TAKING STANDS
THE STANDS AMERICA'S TAKEN
ARE THE REASON THAT YOU CAN

IF EVERYONE WOULD GO FOR PEACE
THERE'D BE NO NEED FOR WAR
BUT WE CAN'T IGNORE THE DEVIL
HE'LL KEEP COMING BACK FOR MORE

SOME SEE THIS IN BLACK AND WHITE
OTHERS ONLY GRAY
WE'RE NOT BEGGING FOR A FIGHT
NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY

WE HAVE THE RESOLUTION
THAT SHOULD PUT'EM ALL TO SHAME
BUT IT'S A DIFFERENT KIND OF DEADLINE
WHEN I'M CALLED IN THE GAME

CHORUS
I RAQ, I RACK'EM UP AND I ROLL
I'M BACK AND I'M A HIGH TECH GI JOE
I PRAY FOR PEACE, PREPARE FOR WAR
AND I NEVER WILL FORGET
THERE'S NO PRICE TOO HIGH FOR FREEDOM
SO BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU TREAD

THIS TERROR ISN'T MAN TO MAN
THEY CAN BE NO MORE THAN COWARDS
IF THEY WON'T SHOW US THEIR WEAPONS
WE MIGHT HAVE TO SHOW THEM OURS

IT MIGHT BE A SMART BOMB
THEY FIND STUPID PEOPLE TOO
AND IF YOU STAND WITH THE LIKES OF SADDAM
ONE JUST MIGHT FIND YOU

CHORUS II
I ROCK, I RACK'EM UP AND I ROLL
I'M BACK AND I'M A HIGH TECH GI JOE
I'VE GOT INFRARED, I'VE GOT GPS AND I'VE GOT THAT GOOD OLD FASHIONED LEAD
THERE'S NO PRICE TOO HIGH FOR FREEDOM
SO BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU TREAD

BRIDGE
NOW YOU CAN COME ALONG
OR YOU CAN STAY BEHIND
OR YOU CAN GET OUT OF THE WAY
BUT OUR TROOPS TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE
FOR THE GOOD OLD U.S.A.


I ROCK, I RACK'EM UP AND I ROLL
IN THE USA
I ROCK, I RACK'EM UP AND I ROLL
I'M TALKIN' ABOUT THE USA



Another play patriot who writes tough lyrics such as "when I'm called into the game" who actually isn't "in the game" but sitting on his ass in his comfortable home while those actually fighting and dying are suffering in 100 degree heat, forced on patrols without the proper armour or manpower to support their mission.

One would think that their own empty hubris would embarrass moronic dress-up warriors like Clint Black, but they long ago lost any shame. Meanwhile, Black rakes in cash from his NASCAR loving fans for his bloodlust, profiting from the suffering and sacrifice of those "in the game". The right could hardly sink any lower.

Meanwhile, back to the Warapalooza: the big bash Rummy is planning has an odd twist given the "Freedom Walk" moniker. According to the registration form for the event, the walk is "free" (nice) and open to anyone who registers. If you send them all kinds of personal information, such as your name, home address, email address, phone number and age group you'll receive back from our warlords a registration number, which you must have to check in. The registration information goes on to note that "The first 1,000 to arrive for screening...will receive the official America Supports You campaign lapel pin."

Screening? You have to be screened to slog in a "Freedom March"? This sounds exactly like the screening that goes on prior to one of Bush's fake public events, where you must be a Republican and a Bush supporter to attend. No doubt the Pentagon is going to screen out any opposing voices in what is billed as a "Freedom Walk". Like I said...they have no shame.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bush-style "Christians"


Photo courtesy of TexasLady at Democratic Underground

Last evening we saw another example of the Christian "values" that Bush inspires.

A knuckle-dragger in a pickup truck stopped near Camp Casey, disembarked from the cab and attached a pipe to the trucks' undercarriage with a chain (talk about premeditated) and cut a swath through the crosses like an extra from Dukes of Hazzard. A witness from Crawford Update said that "we heard the pipe being dragged over the gravemarkers and the pick-up's wheels crushing them." Crawford Update reports that "out of the 800 crosses, 500 were knocked down and 100 are irreparable."

Given the idiocy of the act, it's not a surprise that the driver was caught red-handed, as he had crosses sticking out of the undercarriage of his truck and was quickly arrested. A real genius, this one.

Not only did this "patriot" desecrate crosses, he also destroyed the American flags that decorated them - the same flag the right-wing trumps up fake campaign issues over with their candy-assed and dreary flag-burning hysteria.

These extreme right-wingers cannot stand freedom of speech, or our two-party system, or the rights of citizens to protest their own government. These self-described "patriots" are anything but.

Will Bush take time from his daily naps and playtime to condemn this act of violence, and the desecration of both the cross and the flag? Will he discourage his extreme followers from committing further acts of violence against a peaceful protest? Will he even give a shit?

Nah.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Bush: "All right, let's go have fun."




Our "war president" attempted to defend his cowardly avoidance of Cindy Sheehan Saturday with the following appalling statement:

Bush said he is aware of the anti-war sentiments of Cindy Sheehan and others who have joined her protest near the Bush ranch.

"But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job," Bush said on the ranch. "And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say."

"But," he added, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

Isn't it swell that Little Boots can "go on with his life" when he's responsible for ending the lives of so many thousands? As usual, it's all about him and his selfish needs and the rest of the world be damned.

And how is he demonstrating his thoughtfulness and sensitivity to Mrs. Sheehan's concerns? This was his schedule on Saturday, the day he made these bone-headed comments:

In addition to the two-hour bike ride, Bush's Saturday schedule included an evening Little League Baseball playoff game, a lunch meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a nap, some fishing and some reading.

Amazing stuff, eh? His nap is a higher priority than meeting with the mother of a dead soldier. How incredibly thoughtful and sensitive!

His "sensitivity" plummeted to new lows as he exchanged rollicking banter on his Saturday bike ride with the sycophantic press corps at their worst, asking fluff questions while ignoring the fact that Cindy Sheehan was within bike-riding distance, sitting in a ditch in the hot Texas sun surrounded by fire ants:


President Bush: We'll take a look at the countryside, come back, and that'll put us at about eight-and-a-half miles or so. And then we'll go down in these canyons and we can fool around on some trails. And for the unbelievably fit, there are some great mountains, little climb-outs that you're welcome to do -- I may join you; I may not join you.

I love the outdoors. If I'm not exercising here, I'll be fishing over there. If I'm not fishing, I'll be working with the chainsaw. I really enjoy being outside, and mountain biking is a way for me to spend a fair amount of time -- four or five days a week -- outdoors. I love exercise. Prior to learning about mountain biking, I was a jogger. And then, like a lot of baby boomers, my knees gave out. And I believe that mountain biking is going to be an outlet for a lot of people my age. I'm 59, and people are going to realize you get as much aerobic exercise -- if not more on the mountain bike -- without being hobbled.

I like speed. Again, it's not a race, but there's something exhilarating about heading down a hill at 25 mph on a mountain bike -- or trying to grind up a hill at 9 mph on a mountain bike. (Laughter.)

Question: Mr. President, you probably have the most stressful job in the world. And, yet, with your busy schedule, you make time to exercise. For Americans whose jobs are not as stressful as yours, what can you -- do you have any advice for them, for making time? [Note: Most Americans don't have a personal chef, valets, limo drivers or someone else doing their jobs. This question demonstrates just how out-of-touch our DC media barons really are.]

Bush: I do. I think it's -- first of all, it doesn't take that much to get some good exercise. If people were to walk 20 minutes a day, the incidence of heart disease would go down significantly. What people have got to understand is when you get into an exercise routine, your habits begin to change: your eating habits change, your sleeping habits change, your coffee habits change, your cigarette habits change.

I mean, exercise for me has been good preventive medicine. And it is a part of living a disciplined life. And I would hope Americans would exercise. Part of my responsibility as the president is to try to set a good example, and exercising on a -- I exercise six times a week; if I'm not mountain biking, I'll be on the elliptical machine or lifting weights. And it just doesn't take that much time. What it takes is organization and discipline and setting priorities. And I think exercise ought to be one of the top priorities for Americans.

Q: Do you have now in your possession, or have you ever had a pair of form fitting lycra shorts?

Bush: No, I have not, and probably won't have them. (Laughter.) I mean, there are certain things that age brings with it, and not wearing the form fitting lycra short is one of them, if you know what I mean. (Laughter.)

All right, let's go have fun. This will be great. Again, hang in there and do not force the President too hard. Be kind. Then afterwards we'll have a good visit.

Note that not one member of the press could stop laughing at his feeble-minded jokes long enough to ask when he might have a "good visit" with Cindy Sheehan. Heavens, no; they might lose "access" to things like joining this idiot while he plays on the monkey bars while Iraq burns.

Sickening. Nauseating. And this sociopath of a "war president" actually considers his juvenile in-your-face playtime to be "sensitive" to not only Cindy Sheehan but to the over 1,800 families who have had sons and daughters slaughtered in George Bush's war of choice. He's a disgrace to his office and he's not worthy to lead a country in peace, much less war.