Sunday, May 29, 2005

Something for Obama to aim for

BARRE, Vt. - Bernie Sanders jabs at the air, his flushed face a sharp contrast to his unruly white hair. Yet again, he pummels Washington, the Congress and the president.

"The government that we have today in the White House, the House of Representatives with Tom Delay, the Senate with Bill Frist, is the most right-wing, extremist government, perhaps in the history of the United States," he tells labor activists at a May Day celebration in the century-old Labor Hall.

"Time after time they pass legislation that benefits the rich and the powerful, and they pass legislation that hurts the middle class, working people and low income people."

In his eighth term in the U.S. House, the independent socialist has carved out a career in Congress as a Congress-basher. Now he is setting his sights on the Senate, and everyone agrees he is the man to beat for the seat now held by the retiring Jim Jeffords.

"He is the front-runner. Absolutely," said Del Ali of Research 2000 of Rockville, Md., which has conducted political polls in Vermont for many years. "He has high favorability ratings, high name recognition and lots of money."

Sanders remains a socialist, although not a member of the Socialist Party.

"What does it mean to me? I want government to stand up for working people, for the middle class, rather than representing, as is currently the case in the United States, multinational corporations and wealthy people.

"I also believe that as citizens in a democratic society people are entitled to certain inherent rights — and those rights include the right to health care, the right to form a union, the right to breathe good air, the right to send your child to college.

"There is something fundamentally wrong and very dangerous about a society in which so few have so much and so many have so little," he said.

Socialist Leads U.S. Senate Race in Vermont

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Next: Operation Maximize Profit

Operation New Market is the second major offensive in the area this month as U.S. and Iraqi forces step up their hunt for followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who heads al Qaeda's network in Iraq.

Well, at least they're dropping the pretense about spreading "freedom." Other planned operations include Operation Oil Revenues, Operation Sodomize Moslems and Operation Fuck You.
U.S. helicopter fired on in Iraq, crashes

Voinovich finds his conscience

Letter From Senator Voinovich to his Senate Colleagues

Published: May 24, 2005
May 23, 2005

Dear Colleague:

Throughout my time in the Senate, I have been hesitant to push my views on my colleagues. However, I feel compelled to share my deep concerns with the nomination of John Bolton to be Ambassador to the United Nations. I strongly feel that the importance of this nomination to our foreign policy requires us to set aside our partisan agenda and let our consciences and our shared commitment to our nation’s best interests guide us.

At a time when the United States strives to fight terrorism globally, to build a stable and free Iraq, to find a peaceful resolution to the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, to spread democracy in the place of oppressive regimes, and to enact needed reforms at the United Nations, it is imperative that we have the support of our friends and allies internationally. These strong international relationships must be built upon robust and effective public diplomacy.

I applaud our President for understanding this and for his leadership on U.S. public diplomacy. He and Secretary Rice have taken important steps to reach out to the international community and strengthen relationships. Additionally, I applaud the President’s decision to appoint Karen Hughes to enhance U.S. public diplomacy at the State Department, and recently to get even the First Lady involved in these important efforts to promote public diplomacy.

However, it is my concern that John Bolton’s nomination sends a negative message to the world community and contradicts the President’s efforts. In these dangerous times, we cannot afford to put at risk our nation’s ability to successfully wage and win the war on terror with a controversial and ineffective Ambassador to the United Nations. I worry that Mr. Bolton could make it more difficult for us to achieve the important U.N. reforms needed to restore the strength of the institution. I strongly believe that we need to reform the U.N., make it a viable institution for world security, and remove its anti-Israel bias. However, I question John Bolton’s ability to get this job done.

I know that you are very busy, but I would appreciate it if you would review my edited statement before the Foreign Relations Committee as to why I think we can do much better than John Bolton at the United Nations. In my closing words, I stated the following:

“Mr. Chairman, I am not so arrogant to think that I should impose my judgment and perspective of the U.S. position in the world community on the rest of my colleagues. We owe it to the President to give Mr. Bolton an up or down vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate. My hope is that, on a bipartisan basis, we send Mr. Bolton’s nomination to the floor without recommendation and let the Senate work its will. I would plead with my colleagues in the Senate, if this nomination gets to the floor, to consider the decision and its consequences carefully, to read all of the pertinent material, and to ask themselves several pertinent questions: Is John Bolton the best possible person to serve as the lead diplomat at the United Nations? Will he be able to pursue the needed reforms at the U.N., despite his damaged credibility? Will he share information with the right individuals and will he solicit information from the right individuals, including his subordinates, so that he can make the most informed decisions? Is he capable of advancing the President and Secretary of State’s efforts to advance our public diplomacy? Does he have the character, leadership, interpersonal skills, self discipline, common decency, and understanding of the chain of command to lead his team to victory? Will he recognize and seize opportunities to repair and strengthen relationships, promote peace, and uphold democracy -- as a team ­ with our fellow nations?”

If you have any comments or questions in regard to my deep concerns about this appointment, I would welcome them.

George V. Voinovich
United States Senate

God the Jeweler and Operation Wrist Bracelet

Iraq announced plans Thursday to deploy 40,000 police and soldiers in the capital and ring the city with hundreds of checkpoints "like a bracelet" in the largest show of Iraqi force since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

In Baghdad, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told a small group of Western reporters that next week's planned crackdown, dubbed Operation Lightning, was designed "to restore the initiative to the government." Insurgents have killed more than 620 people since his government was announced on April 28.

"We will establish, with God's help, an impenetrable blockade surrounding Baghdad like a bracelet surrounds a wrist," Defense Minister Saadoun al-Duleimi said.

These guys are living in a fairy world. Setting up these checkpoints doesn't do anything to change the underlying dynamics of the situation. It just provides more targets for suicide bombers. Am I missing something here?
40,000 Iraqis to Form Shield in Baghdad

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Ann Coulter degradation fantasy

"Let's say I go out every night, I meet a guy and have sex with him. Good for me. I'm not married."
-- Ann Coulter, Rivera Live, June 7, 2000

An inspired, and inspiring, story of one woman's fantasy. Obviously, not recommended for the easily offended. This one stuck with me for a couple of days, as my mind, independent of my conscious thought, contemplated the meaning of this story from multiple perspectives. Highly recommended.

[sidenote: There are those who believe that Ann Coulter is actually a man, and so refer to her as Mann Coulter, etc. This rumor helps give extra resonance to the Adam's apple comment in the story, which was funny enough on its own.]

Right-wing Christians continue their crusade to sully the name of Christ

"The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians." - H.L Mencken

A quaint story of religious tolerance, in which a Bush-supporting pastor kicks nine Democratic members of his congregation out of the church. These guys really are fucking nuts:
Dems Voted Out of Church Weigh Options

BTW, did you know that God hates fags? I suppose that includes Jesus. No, no, no. Jesus isn't a fag! Jesus hates fags! Being a part of the Trinity and all.

Fernando Botero Paints Abu Ghraib

Worth a look:
Fernando Botero Paints Abu Ghraib

Colombian Artist Depicts Abu Ghraib Abuse

Iraqi insurgents not ready to call it a night just yet

In case you've been watching Fox News recently...

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two suicide car bombers plowed into a foreign security company convoy in the heart of Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 22 people — including two Americans — in an attack that left a busy traffic circle strewn with burning vehicles, mutilated bodies and bloodied school children.

Nearly 300 people have been killed in insurgent violence since Iraq's democratically elected government was sworn in 10 days ago.

Iraq Blasts Kill 22, Including 2 Americans

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Gas prices, Social Security, Tom DeLay. What else can go wrong for Bush?

We've gone from the post-election headlines that Bush/Rove can do no wrong, to "A White House Adrift." Must click for picture of Bush giving a Saudi Prince a big smooch, while Condi looks away. Dont worry honey, it's just business.
A White House Adrift

In Praise of Bush

Do not let it be said that I've never had a positive thing to say about Bush. In his prime-time press conference on Thursday, in response to a question regarding the current political wrangling on nominations to the courts, Bush said "if you choose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship."

This was a particularly generous, and unexpected, statement of support for us infidel patriots out here.

Triangulation miscalculation

Early response to Bush's "sliding scale" proposal for Social Security reform suggests a serious miscalculation on Rove & Company's part. "Cutting benefits to the middle class" while preserving the current benefit structure for low-income workers doesn't seem to be the best way to gain support for his privatization (ie, gut Social Security) scheme. The implicit suggestion of unfairness in the approach to such a large and influential segment of the voting public gives opponents a lot of leverage to work with.

If anyone has a link to a cartoon of Bush grabbing the third rail and being electrocuted, please pass it on.

I'd have a lot more sympathy for Bush's courage in taking on Social Security reform if the true, long-term aim of his proposals wasn't to dismantle the guaranteed benefits of the program and replace it with private accounts, ie, to replace a successful government program created by Democrats that provides a significant social protection with a scheme to make us all into fledgling capitalist republicans sympathetic to domination by big business.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Random thoughts on the election of a new Pope

This post is not very respectful of the new Pope or his Cardinals. It isn't intented to offend but I don't feel like censoring my thoughts either. Several friends who read this blog are Catholic, and I'm not out to hurt your feelings. So, if you're sensitive regarding religion, please read no further.

There were approximated 115 cardinals who took part in the vote for the new Pope. I imagined them all sitting around in their red robes, solemnly figuring the derivatives of political calculus. I wondered how many of them have abused children at some point in their illustrious carreers. I heard that 4% of American priests have been implicated in the child abuse scandal, so that may mean that 4 or 5 cardinals have thing for little boys. This isn’t just an American problem, after all. The Austrian church was nailed in a scandal last year in which hundreds of thousands of pictures of child porn were discovered on Catholic monk’s computers. The Church highlighted its techno-savvy last week by showcasing radio jamming technologies in the Sistine Chapel. Yep, these guys know how to apply modern technology to their age-old hobbies. Do they swap pictures on their Motorola cell phones? Do these pederast priests know each other? Do they have a secret handshake?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Chimney Watch 2005 -- waiting for the new Pope

I imagine that CNN and the rest of the media are going to be running live camera shots, 24 hours a day, of the chimmey where the white or black smoke appears, signaling the results of the votes for the new Pope. This should be real interesting. I've got a case of beer on ice, ready for the show to begin.

States Rights my ass

At least one thing was made clear by the National Republicans meddling in the Schiavo circus -- that their committment to States Rights is less about Constitutional separation of powers, and more about a backlash against the Civil Rights Movement. I know, I was obvious before. But this should be compelling evidence to that final 1% of beer drinkers who failed to connect-the-dots before.

Orange Alert!

Is is just my imagination, or did all the Homeland Security alerts stop just before the election, never to raise their orange, pointy little heads again? Must be some kind of freakish coincidence.

Dump Delay?

Here is one of the main internet sites involved with the campaign to dump Tom Delay -- they're running ads to build support to get rid of the crooked bastard. This is a kind of "win-win" situation -- seeing him fall ignominiously would be satisfying, no doubt, but having him around just shows how fucked up the Republican party really is. The longer he's around, the more penetrating the stench. I have similar feelings about Bolton. I prefer the likes of Bolton and Delay to Colin Powell. Powell sold his soul and our country down the river, but he still gets warm fuzzies from the media. Having the crooks and thugs stand out starkly against the background is preferable, IMO.
Public Campaign Action Fund

Sunday, April 10, 2005

This just in: The Pope is still dead.

And the media are vile.

Opt Out!

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, if you attend a public high school, your school system is required to turn over YOUR private information to the US military unless you OPT OUT! Sec 9528 of The No Child Left Behind Act gives you the right to OPT OUT! by turning in a form signed by your guardian or parent stating that you do not want the military to have access to your private information.

check out these sites for more information:

No, no to Satan!

The natives are restless...

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Tens of thousands of supporters of a militant Shiite cleric filled central Baghdad's streets Saturday and demanded that American soldiers go home, marking the second anniversary of Baghdad's fall with shouts of "No, no to Satan!"

To the west of the capital, 5,000 protesters issue similar demands in the Sunni Triangle city of Ramadi, reflecting a growing impatience with the U.S.-led occupation and the slow pace of returning control to an infant Iraqi government.
Protesters burned the U.S. flag as well as cardboard cutouts of Bush and Saddam. Three effigies representing Saddam, Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair — all handcuffed and dressed in red Iraqi prison jumpsuits that signified they had been condemned to death — were placed on a pedestal, then symbolically toppled like the Saddam statue two years before.

Others acted out reports of prison abuse at the hands of American soldiers. Photos released last year showing U.S. soldiers piling naked inmates in a pyramid at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison have tarnished the military's reputation both here and around the world.

"Force the occupation to leave from our country," one banner read in English.

Protesters call for US pull out in Iraq

Mike Royko's son arrested in bank robbery attempt

Mike Royko was one of my early heroes, giving me a big heads-up on how the political scene really works. Sad to see this, particularly in a selfish sense. The thought just went through my head today that my kids have too much privilege, and not enough hard knocks. Maybe I should beat the little bastards. It might do them some good. Hmmm...well, not really. But it seems like damned if you do, damned if you don't.

A son of the late Tribune columnist Mike Royko was arrested Friday after he allegedly attempted to rob a Northwest Side bank while claiming to be armed with a bomb that turned out to be phony, authorities said.

An off-duty Chicago police officer working security at Associated Bank, 6355 N. Central Ave., quickly arrested Robert Royko, the FBI said.

Moments before his initial appearance in U.S. District Court, Royko, 41, could be overheard telling a court official: "I wish my name was Smith right about now."

Royko son held in bank heist attempt

Breaking News! Pope Still Dead.

Fuck the media!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

First it's masterbation, now it's Viagra

It looks like religion and science are conspiring to keep the rocket on the launch pad.

Ophthalmologists at the University of Minnesota say that a condition that causes permanent vision loss has been diagnosed in a small group of men who have taken the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra. The condition, nonarteritic ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), described as "stroke of the eye," occurs when blood flow is cut off to the optic nerve, which injures the nerve and results in permanent vision loss. These cases were published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Neuro-ophthalmology. Seven patients, aged between 50 and 69 years, had typical features of NAION within 36 hours after ingestion of Viagra for erectile dysfunction. Seven similar cases have been previously reported.

Viagra Can Cause Permanent Vision Loss In Some Men

How do you know that the Pope is dead?

When it's Hammer Time.

As late as 1903, at the death of Pope Leo XIII, a pope's death was
verified by striking the pontiff's forehead with a silver hammer. It may also have been used on John XXIII, who died in 1963...

Vatican procedure to verify when a Pope dies

When rushing to war, the word of a drunk liar will do

Over 1500 US Soldiers dead, over 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed...I'd like to know how Bush's supporters can sleep at night, given the results of their enthusiasm for this misguieded war?

An alcoholic cousin of an aide to Ahmed Chalabi has emerged as the key source in the US rationale for going to war in Iraq.

According to a US presidential commission looking into pre-war intelligence failures, the basis for pivotal intelligence on Iraq's alleged biological weapons programmes and fleet of mobile labs was a spy described as 'crazy' by his intelligence handlers and a 'congenital liar' by his friends.

The defector, given the code-name Curveball by the CIA, has emerged as the central figure in the corruption of US intelligence estimates on Iraq. Despite considerable doubts over Curveball's credibility, his claims were included in the administration's case for war without caveat.

According to the report, the failure of US spy agencies to scrutinise his claims are the 'primary reason' that they 'fundamentally misjudged the status of Iraq's programs'. The catalogue of failures and the gullibility of US intelligence make for darkly comic reading, even by the standards of failure detailed in previous investigations. Of all the disproven pre-war weapons claims, from aluminium centrifuge tubes to yellow cake uranium from Niger, none points to greater levels of incompetence than those found within the misadventures of Curveball.

US relied on 'drunken liar' to justify war

Republican Judge smacks Bush and Congress on their weenies

The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals shot down the final appeal of Terri Schiavo's parents on Wedenesday.

The judge went on to deliver a scathing attack on politicians who got involved in the case, saying the White House and lawmakers "have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people — our Constitution."

"If sacrifices to the independence of the judiciary are permitted today, precedent is established for the constitutional transgressions of tomorrow," said Birch, an appointee of former President Bush.

U.S. Court Again Rejects Schiavo Appeal

Talking Point

Everytime the following statement is mentioned, support for dismembering Social Security drops:

Bush's Trojan Horse plan for privatizing Social Security would result in reduced levels of guaranteed benefits. Bush's Trojan Horse plan for privatizing Social Security would result in reduced levels of guaranteed benefits. Bush's Trojan Horse plan for privatizing Social Security would result in reduced levels of guaranteed benefits. Bush's Trojan Horse plan for privatizing Social Security would result in reduced levels of guaranteed benefits. Bush's Trojan Horse plan for privatizing Social Security would result in reduced levels of guaranteed benefits. Bush's Trojan Horse plan for privatizing Social Security would result in reduced levels of guaranteed benefits. Bush's Trojan Horse plan for privatizing Social Security would result in reduced levels of guaranteed benefits. Bush's Trojan Horse plan for privatizing Social Security would result in reduced levels of guaranteed benefits. Bush's Trojan Horse plan for privatizing Social Security would result in reduced levels of guaranteed benefits. Bush's Trojan Horse plan for privatizing Social Security would result in reduced levels of guaranteed benefits.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Whack Your Boss

Highly recommended Flash animation. The speech by the boss berating the cubicle slave is eerily reflective of actually corporate bullshit and doublespeak. Let it play for a few minutes, and then you can play the "Whack the Boss" game. I like the stapler to the head attack.
Whack Your Boss

Surprise! Business the big winner of Republican controlled government

One notes in passing that a few "pro-business" Democrats who received big campaign donations from relevant industries also helped push through these bills (drilling in Alaska's wildlife refuge, and bills to weaken class action lawsuits and benefit businesses regarding bankrupcies) that have been stuck in the Senate for years.

Fortune 500 companies that invested millions of dollars in electing Republicans are emerging as the earliest beneficiaries of a government controlled by President Bush and the largest GOP House and Senate majority in a half century.

MBNA Corp., the credit card behemoth and fifth-largest contributor to Bush's two presidential campaigns, is among those on the verge of prevailing in an eight-year fight to curtail personal bankruptcies. Exxon Mobil Corp. and others are close to winning the right to drill for oil in Alaska's wildlife refuge, which they have tried to pass for better than a decade. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., another big contributor to Bush and the GOP, and other big companies recently won long-sought protections from class-action lawsuits.

Republicans have pursued such issues for much of the past decade, asserting that free market policies are the smartest way to grow the economy. But now it appears they finally have the legislative muscle to push some of their agenda through Congress and onto the desk of a president eager to sign pro-business measures into law. The chief reason is Bush's victory in 2004 and GOP gains in Congress, especially in the Senate, where much of corporate America's agenda has bogged down in recent years, according to Republicans and Democrats.

Business Sees Gain in GOP Takeover: Political Allies Push Corporate Agenda

The Unscientific Unamerican Gives Up

An editorial in the Scientific American, in which they admit they've been wrong on global warming and evolution.

There’s no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don’t mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there’s no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.

In retrospect, this magazine’s coverage of socalled evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it.

Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists. Creationists believe that God designed all life, and that’s a somewhat religious idea. But ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells. That’s what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn’t get bogged down in details.

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody’s ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions.

Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more discussions of how science should inform policy. If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICBM defense system that can’t work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars and imperil national security, you won’t hear about it from us. If studies suggest that the administration’s antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that’s not our concern. No more discussions of how policies affect science either— so what if the budget for the National Science Foundation is slashed? This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fools’ Day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ghoulish Republican Opportunists

Here is the full memo circulated among Republicans on the floor of the Senate, obtained by ABC News. It reveals them to be ghoulish opportunists, licking their chops at the prospect of getting their whacked-out religious base's panties in a knot, as well as causing problems for the Democrats, especially Florida Senator Nelson, who is up for reelection soon.

S. 529, The Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act

Teri (sic) Schiavo is subject to an order that her feeding tubes will be disconnected on March 18, 2005 at 1p.m.

The Senate needs to act this week, before the Budget Act is pending business, or Terri's family will not have a remedy in federal court.

This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue.

This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats.

The bill is very limited and defines custody as "those parties authorized or directed by a court order to withdraw or withhold food, fluids, or medical treatment."

There is an exemption for a proceeding "which no party disputes, and the court finds, that the incapacitated person while having capacity, had executed a written advance directive valid under applicably law that clearly authorized the withholding or or (sic) withdrawl (sic) of food and fluids or medical treatment in the applicable circumstances."

Incapacitated persons are defined as those "presently incapable of making relevant decisions concerning the provision, withholding or withdrawl (sic) of food fluids or medical treatment under applicable state law."

This legislation ensures that individuals like Terri Schiavo are guaranteed the same legal protections as convicted murderers like Ted Bundy.

Schiavo: The Official History

Here is the offical history on the Schiavo case, up to the end of 2003. It is worth reading to understand what "persistent vegetative state" is, why the state allows discontinuing food and water in these cases, what Theresa's current state is, as well as many other aspects of the case. Surprisingly readable.


Although nefarious motives have been imputed to Michael, after reading this report it is clear that he deeply cared for his wife. The interesting thing is that the Schindlers come out looking less than angelic -- in fact, they seem to have lied about Michael in their first suit against him, by alleging that he wasn't taking care of her.

Another interesting factoid not commonly mentioned: the Schindlers encouraged Michael to date after Teresa entered her current vegetative state. He even brought several of the women to the Schindlers home to meet them. They all got along fine until the malpractice money was awarded. Then the Schindlers seemed to turn on Michael and attempted to get him replaced as the guardian.

Taken from the REPORT TO JEB:

On 19 July 1991 Theresa was transferred to the Sable Palms skilled care facility. Periodic neurological exams, regular and aggressive physical, occupational and speech therapy continued through 1994.

Michael Schiavo, on Theresa's and his own behalf, initiated a medical malpractice lawsuit against the obstetrician who had been overseeing Theresa's fertility therapy. In 1993, the malpractice action concluded in Theresa and Michael's favor, resulting in a two element award: More than $750,000 in economic damages for Theresa, and a loss of consortium award (non economic damages) of $300,000 to Michael. The court established a trust fund for Theresa's financial award, with SouthTrust Bank as the Guardian and an independent trustee. This fund was meticulously managed and accounted for and Michael Schiavo had no control over its use. There is no evidence in the record of the trust administration documents of any mismanagement of Theresa's estate, and the records on this matter are excellently maintained.

After the malpractice case judgment, evidence of disaffection between the Schindlers and Michael Schiavo openly emerged for the first time. The Schindlers petitioned the court to remove Michael as Guardian. They made allegations that he was not caring for Theresa, and that his behavior was disruptive to Theresa's treatment and condition.

Proceedings concluded that there was no basis for the removal of Michael as Guardian Further, it was determined that he had been very aggressive and attentive in his care of Theresa. His demanding concern for her well being and meticulous care by the nursing home earned him the characterization by the administrator as "a nursing home administrator's nightmare". It is notable that through more than thirteen years after Theresa's collapse, she has never had a bedsore.

By 1994, Michael's attitude and perspective about Theresa's condition changed. During the previous four years, he had insistently held to the premise that Theresa could recover and the evidence is incontrovertible that he gave his heart and soul to her treatment and care. This was in the face of consistent medical reports indicating that there was little or no likelihood for her improvement.

In early 1994 Theresa contracted a urinary tract infection and Michael, in consultation with Theresa's treating physician, elected not to treat the infection and simultaneously imposed a "do not resuscitate" order should Theresa experience cardiac arrest. When the nursing facility initiated an intervention to challenge this decision, Michael cancelled the orders. Following the incident involving the infection, Theresa was transferred to another skilled nursing facility.

Michael's decision not to treat was based upon discussions and consultation with Theresa's doctor, and was predicated on his reasoned belief that there was no longer any hope for Theresa's recovery. It had taken Michael more than three years to accommodate this reality and he was beginning to accept the idea of allowing Theresa to die naturally rather than remain in the non-cognitive, vegetative state. It took Michael a long time to consider the prospect of getting on with his life – something he was actively encouraged to do by the Schindlers, long before enmity tore them apart. He was even encouraged by the Schindlers to date, and introduced his in-law family to women he was dating. But this was just prior to the malpractice case ending.

As part of the first challenge to Michael's Guardianship, the court appointed John H. Pecarek as Guardian Ad Litem to determine if there had been any abuse by Michael Schiavo. His report, issued 1 March 1994, found no inappropriate actions and indicated that Michael had been very attentive to Theresa. After two more years of legal contention, the Schindlers action against Michael was dismissed with prejudice. Efforts to remove Michael as Guardian were attempted in subsequent years, without success.

Hostilities increased and the Schindlers and Michael Schiavo did not communicate directly. By June of 1996, the court had to order that copies of medical reports be shared with the Schindlers and that all health care providers be permitted to discuss Theresa's condition with the Schindlers – something Michael had temporarily precluded.

In 1997, six years after Theresa's tragic collapse, Michael elected to initiate an action to withdraw artificial life support from Theresa. More than a year later, in May of 1998, the first petition to discontinue life support was entered. The court appointed Richard Pearse, Esq., to serve as Guardian Ad Litem to review the request for withdrawal, a standard procedure.

Theresa's neurological tests and CT scans indicate objective measures of the persistent vegetative state. These data indicate that Theresa's cerebral cortex is principally liquid, having shrunken due to the severe anoxic trauma experienced thirteen years ago. The initial oxygen deprivation caused damage that could not be repaired, and the brain tissue in that area continued to devolve.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Recession Alert

Jim Stack, a highly respected financial advisor who publishes an investment newletter out of White Fish, Montana, has given a "Ression Alert" in his latest issue. Several pages of detailed statistical and data analysis support the notion that the risk of slipping into recession in the next 18 months or so has increased significantly.

We're talking increased risk, and nothing to worry about immediately. However, Stack's perspectives on the economy and the stock market are among the best in the investment world, and so this very early warning is something to keep in mind as the year progresses.

So one needs to understand the rising level of risk, and why we may be forced to shift to a more defensive, higher cash position as this year progresses.

In a simplified nutshell...
- Today's tightening labor market may soon lead to wage inflation surprises. That, in turn, could accelerate interest rate hikes and increase the odds of triggering a recession.
- Falling consumer "expectations" (relative to their feelings about the present) reveals an increasingly unstable economy. Those same factors that are causing consumers concern may also start affecting the economy and lead into the next recession.
- Headline inflation appears tame - but intermediate (or in-the-pipeline) inflation does not. There are some scary inflation pressures building out there. If they don't cool off-and soon-then interest rates are heading substantially higher...with bear market repercussions for Wall Street, and a probable recession for Main Street.

Investech Website
Most content is only available to subscribers, but there is enough free stuff to get a feel for Jim Stack's work, including a free sample newsletter.

Disclaimer: Obviously, I have no connection to Jim Stack.

Social Security Privatization: Significant Risk of Reduced Benefits

Nearly three-quarters of workers who opt for Social Security personal accounts under President Bush's "default" investment option are likely to earn less in benefits than those who stay with the traditional Social Security system, a prominent finance economist has concluded.

A new paper by Yale University economist Robert J. Shiller found that under Bush's default "life-cycle accounts," which shift assets from stocks to bonds over a worker's lifetime, nearly a third of workers would bring in less in benefits than if they remained in the traditional system. That analysis is based on historical rates of return in the United States. Using global rates of return, which Shiller says more closely track future conditions, life-cycle portfolios could be expected to fall short of the traditional system's returns 71 percent of the time.

Both the White House and the Social Security Administration have relied on historical returns in estimating the earnings of proposed personal investment accounts. Shiller used 91 computer simulations to analyze the past performance of stocks and bonds in a variety of portfolios. He measured the returns in 44-year increments, beginning in 1871, to approximate a worker's lifetime contributions to personal accounts.

The results "showed a disappointing outlook for investors in the personal accounts relative to the rhetoric of their promoters," concluded Shiller, a leading researcher in stock market volatility who gained fame in the late 1990s for his warnings of a stock market bubble.

Retirement Accounts Questioned

Big Talk on Democracy Not Followed Up with Cash

In the weeks after a popular uprising toppled a corrupt government in Ukraine, President Bush hailed the so-called Orange Revolution as proof that democracy was on the march and promised $60 million to help secure it in Kiev. But Republican congressional allies balked and slashed it this week to $33.7 million.

The shrinking financial commitment to Ukrainian democracy highlights a broader gap between rhetoric and resources among budget writers in the Bush administration and on Capitol Hill as the president vows to devote his second term to "ending tyranny in our world," according to budget documents, congressional critics and democracy advocates.

The administration has pumped substantial new funds into promoting democracy in Muslim countries but virtually nowhere else in the world. The administration has cut budgets for groups struggling to build civil society and democratic institutions in Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia, even as Moscow has pulled back from democracy and governments in China, Burma, Uzbekistan and elsewhere remain among the most repressive in the world.

Funding Scarce for Export of Democracy

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Candide Visits the Congo

Militiamen and renegade soldiers have raped and beaten tens of thousands of women and young girls in eastern Congo, and nearly all the crimes have gone unpunished by the country's broken judicial system, an international human rights group said Monday.

Hundreds of new rapes are reported every week, but only 10 soldiers and militants have been convicted of rape in relatively lawless eastern Congo since the end of the country's devastating war in 2002, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report.

"Perpetrators of sexual violence are members of virtually all the armed forces and armed groups that operate in eastern Congo," according to the 52-page report.

"The Congolese justice system has to date failed to address the egregious problem."

Rape is often a preferred weapon of armed groups fighting the east's myriad battles, as it was during the 1998-2002 war — Monday's report quotes a World Health Organization (news - web sites) study that documented over 40,000 rapes in two eastern provinces during the conflict.

Marauding gunmen gang-raped children as young as 3-years-old, and often raped women and young girls — some to the point of death — as their families helplessly watched, the report said.

Tens of Thousands Said Raped in East Congo

What I don't get is the idea that rape isn't considered a crime in the Congo. One would think that any father would think that the rape of his daughter was a crime. At a minimum, the Neanderthal would think it was a crime against himself.

Maybe Hobbes was on to something.

For those with the stomach for it, see my previous post Candide Visits Sri Lanka

Crappy nominees for the bench

Bush continues to push nominees who cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered the best candidates for the federal bench. By voting for these losers, the Republicans in the Senate demonstrate they have little self-respect.

William Myers III, one of the seven filibustered nominees, has built a career as an anti-environmental extremist. He was a longtime lobbyist for the mining and cattle industries. Then, as the Interior Department's top lawyer, he put those industries' interests ahead of the public interest. In one controversial legal opinion, he overturned a decision that would have protected American Indian sacred sites, clearing the way for a company to do extensive mining in the area. Mr. Myers has been nominated to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco. That court plays a major role in determining the environmental law that applies to the Western states.

Terrence Boyle, who has been nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, is also a troubling choice. He has an extraordinarily high reversal rate for a district court judge. Many of the decisions that have been criticized by higher courts wrongly rejected claims involving civil rights, sex discrimination and disability rights. Mr. Boyle's record is particularly troubling because the court reversing him, the Fourth Circuit, is perhaps the most hostile to civil rights in the federal appellate system, and even it has regularly found his rulings objectionable.

Thomas Griffith, who has been nominated to the powerful Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has the unfortunate distinction of having practiced law in two jurisdictions without the required licenses. While practicing law in Washington, D.C., he failed to renew his license for three years. Mr. Griffith blamed his law firm's staff for that omission, but the responsibility was his. When he later practiced law in Utah as general counsel at Brigham Young University, he never bothered to get a Utah license.

They're back, and Still Unworthy

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Bush Admits Drug Use

From the New City, covering the tortured logic the weasels at the Chicago Tribune used to rationalize their censorship of a recent Boondocks cartoon. The only word missing from Bush's comments on his drug use is the word "admit." But that's not the point, despite the fact that headline of this post seems to suggest it (reading the New City article will shed light on this little joke). The point is to highlight the rationalizations that major media use to avoid running afoul of the powers that be. Sure, once there's blood in the water, reporters go on a feeding frenzy. They're certainly not above kicking someone when they're down. Until then, they're cowardly weasels.

Controversial "Boondocks cartoonist Aaron McGruder ran into even more trouble this week when several newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, pulled a cartoon story he wrote. The cartoon had one character saying, "Bush got recorded admiting he smoked week," and another character replying, "Maybe he smoked it to take the edge off the coke." The Trib ran a notice above the replacement comic saying the yanked version "presented inaccurate information as fact." Trib features editor Geoff Brown elaborates: "When you read the account of the taped transcript, Bush didn't admit anything, and all other transcripts of reputable news outlets didn't say he did. You would never get a headline that said "Bush Admits Drug Use." Brown says McGruder's strip just didn't meet their standard of accuracy -- "a real-life fact has to be totally accurate before you can start to satirize off of it. You can't say that something happened in the news that didn't happen, and then poke fun at the person who supposedly made it happen." The strip refers to a nine-hour recording David Wead, a Bush family friend, made before Bush became president. As reported in the New Your Times, Bush can be heard in the recording saying, "I wouldn't answer to the marijuana question. You know why? 'Cause I don't want some little kid doing what I'd tried. Bush also says, "Do you want your little kid to say, 'Hey daddy, President Bush tried marijuana, I think I will." The White House has not denied the transcripts' legitimacy, calling them "casual conversations with someone he considered a friend."

Calling a spade a spade, and a hack a hack

It's about time the unseemly idolatry toward Greenspan was smashed. Fed chairmen typically look after the interests of Wallstreet and the big banks first. Very undemocratic, in my opinion.

The Senate's top Democrat, Nevada's Harry Reid, Thursday called the central bank chief "one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington." Reid charged that Greenspan had called for fiscal discipline when Democrats ran Washington but is more tolerant of the government debt run up by President Bush, a fellow Republican.
The New York Times editorial page jabbed Greenspan on Friday for what it called "his familiar act of fealty to Mr. Bush: a vague endorsement of private accounts for Social Security." On the opposite page, Princeton economist and Times columnist Paul Krugman called Greenspan deceitful in his partisanship. Washington Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles on Friday mocked Greenspan as a Bush stooge.

Greenspan under attack

Sunday, February 27, 2005

A message from our Leader

Chemical Industry Uses Stooges to Attack Historians

No, Moe and Shepp haven't turned to the dark side. It's the story of how the Chemical Industry faces "essentially unlimited liability to the entire US population," as one chemical company supervisor wrote in a 1973 memo, for the production and use of vinyl choride in consumer products (but especially in hair spray). Given the severe nature of the threat they face to their bottom line, they're using "experts" of dubious quality to attack the two historians who have exposed the long history of their evil doings. The chemical industry attack threatens to put a big chill on academic freedom wherever it counters industry's prerogative to pollute and profit.

Twenty of the biggest chemical companies in the United States have launched a campaign to discredit two historians who have studied the industry's efforts to conceal links between their products and cancer. In an unprecedented move, attorneys for Dow, Monsanto, Goodrich, Goodyear, Union Carbide and others have subpoenaed and deposed five academics who recommended that the University of California Press publish the book Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution, by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner. The companies have also recruited their own historian to argue that Markowitz and Rosner have engaged in unethical conduct. Markowitz is a professor of history at the CUNY Grad Center; Rosner is a professor of history and public health at Columbia University and director of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia's School of Public Health.

The reasons for the companies' actions are not hard to find: They face potentially massive liability claims on the order of the tobacco litigation if cancer is linked to vinyl chloride-based consumer products such as hairspray. The stakes are high also for publishers of controversial books, and for historians who write them, because when authors are charged with ethical violations and manuscript readers are subpoenaed, that has a chilling effect. The stakes are highest for the public, because this dispute centers on access to information about cancer-causing chemicals in consumer products.

For Rosner and Markowitz the story began in 1993, when they traveled to Lake Charles, Louisiana, to look at what they were told was "a warehouse of material" about vinyl chloride and cancer. The address they were given turned out to be a "decrepit hovel in the desolate center of town," as Markowitz describes it. They found it "full of chemical industry documents, lining every wall and filling every corner." The material, Rosner told me, was "incredible. Not just company documents but records of meetings of the trade association for the chemical companies. No one had ever seen anything like it."

Cancer, Chemicals and History

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson Kills Himself

If you haven't read "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," nows your chance.

Hunter S. Thompson, the acerbic counterculture writer who popularized a new form of fictional journalism in books like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," fatally shot himself Sunday night at his Aspen-area home, his son said. He was 67.

Thompson was a counterculture icon at the height of the Watergate era, and once said Richard Nixon represented "that dark, venal, and incurably violent side of the American character."

Humphrey? Of him, Thompson wrote: "There is no way to grasp what a shallow, contemptible and hopelessly dishonest old hack Hubert Humphrey is until you've followed him around for a while."

The approach won him praise among the masses as well as critical acclaim. Writing in The New York Times in 1973, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt worried Thompson might someday "lapse into good taste."

"That would be a shame, for while he doesn't see America as Grandma Moses depicted it, or the way they painted it for us in civics class, he does in his own mad way betray a profound democratic concern for the polity," he wrote. "And in its own mad way, it's damned refreshing."

Hunter S. Thompson Kills Himself

Bush stifles science, sticks head up ass

No big surprise here. The Bush administration is cutting science funding and ignoring scientists when it comes to input on policy. They're even attempting to pressure them to change the results of their studies. If it ain't in the Bible, it must not be true. Also very convenient to ignore independent standards of truth, since they tend to conflict with the rationalizations that Bush's corporate cronies put forward in their frenzied grab for money and power.

Long term, this (and the rest of the Bush agenda) is a house of cards. But as Bush said, we'll be dead by then. The implication is, why give a fuck? I guess the wealthy can always find a way to make ends meet in a world that's been pissed on from all angles. I wonder who will have the honor of cutting down the last tree (as occurred on Easter Island -- a fascinating story of suicidal human achievement). Maybe they'll make it into a reality TV show.

The voice of science is being stifled in the Bush administration, with fewer scientists heard in policy discussions and money for research and advanced training being cut, according to panelists at a national science meeting.
Speakers at the national meeting of the American Association for Advancement of Science expressed concern Sunday that some scientists in key federal agencies are being ignored or even pressured to change study conclusions that don't support policy positions.

Scientific Influence Wanes, Research Funding Weakened in Bush Administration, Experts Say

Some blogs worth visiting

World O' Crap

Jesus' General

Shrinking glaciers evidence of global warming

Differences seen by looking at photos from 100 years ago

A couple of readers have commented that global warming is an impossibility, apparently because they can't conceive of puny humans impacting something as large as the globe's climate. Since their brains can't seem to grasp the possibility, here is compelling visual evidence of global warming -- all you have to do is trust your eyes and drop your political preconceptions.

Glaciers throughout Alaska are shrinking more and more rapidly, and scientists comparing old photos taken up to a century ago with digital images made during climbing expeditions today say the pictures provide the most dramatic evidence yet that global warming is real.

And it's not only the glaciers reflecting the climate change. Everywhere on the treeless tundra north of the jagged slopes of Alaska's Brooks Range, explosive bursts of vegetation -- willows, alders, birch and many shrubs -- are thriving where permafrost once kept the tundra surface frozen in winter.

Two geophysicists and a government geologist who spend much of their working lives exploring changes in the Arctic displayed dozens of photographs from the thousands in their files Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

"You don't need science to prove the point," said Matt Nolan of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. "This evidence is visual, and it's real.

Shrinking glaciers evidence of global warming

Here are the pictures of the non-glaciers in southeast Alaska; click on the "Next" button to see the same glacier today, and then any of the images on the left side to see the before and after images:

Pictures of glaciers receding

What I heard

Quotations from various administration officials over the years -- an amazing collection of lies, deceptions and delusions -- collected by Eliot Weinberger. Here's a taste - the link at the end points to pages and pages more:

In 1992, a year after the first Gulf War, I heard Dick Cheney, then secretary of defense, say that the US had been wise not to invade Baghdad and get ‘bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq’. I heard him say: ‘The question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is: not that damned many.’

In February 2001, I heard Colin Powell say that Saddam Hussein ‘has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours.’

That same month, I heard that a CIA report stated: ‘We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction programmes.’

In July 2001, I heard Condoleezza Rice say: ‘We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.’

What I heard

Gay Hustler White House Reporter Denies Being Plant

Here's the latest on the Gannon story. I don't think it's a big story, but it does fit well with the string of hypocritical Republicans who've been outed over the past several months. These guys are a bunch of cynical bastards, no doubt about it.

The mystery of White House reporter Joe Gannon shows no sign of dissipating.

In a CNN interview, J.D. Guckert, who wrote under the pseudonym of Gannon, would not deny that he was responsible for several gay sex websites in which his picture was displayed as a man seeking sex with other men for pay. Neither would he confirm it, despite screen captures of the sites on the popular which first exposed him.

Guckert also admitted that many of his stories were direct lifts from White House and GOP news releases.

Gannon's right-wing writing often has been homophobic. During last year's election campaign Gannon wrote that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry "might someday be known as 'the first gay president.'"

He then noted that Kerry has enjoyed "a 100% rating from the homosexual advocacy group Human Rights Campaign since 1995 in recognition of his support for the pro-gay agenda."

Gay Hustler White House Reporter Denies Being Plant

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Polishing my Peabody, Banging the Gavel

A little old, but here's an interactive animation, featuring Bill O'Reilly's own words. Fun for the whole family! Hold the falafel.
Polishing my Peabody

And in other news, red state judge Donald Thompson has a unique way of insuring justice is blind:

Jurors and others in Judge Donald Thompson's courtroom kept hearing a strange whooshing noise, like a bicycle pump or maybe a blood pressure cuff. During one trial, Thompson seemed so distracted that some jurors thought he was playing a hand-held video game or tying fly-fishing lures behind the bench.

The explanation, investigators say, is even stranger than some imagined: The judge had a habit of masturbating with a penis pump under his robe during trials.

Judge's Career Ended by Allegations of Masturbation in Court

Boob of the Day

Science is always a dangerous thing in the hands of right-wing fanatics:

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), a new member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was at last week's meeting on a bill restricting class-action suits. "You know," he said, "I immediately thought about silicone breast implants and the legal wrangling and the class-action suits off that. And I thought I would just share with you what science says today about slicone breast implants. If you have them, you're healthier than if you don't. That is what the ultimate science shows...In fact, there's no science that shows that silicone breast implants are detrimental and, in fact, they make you healthier."

Lying, Misinformed or Head of the National Security Council

Nevertheless, if anyone tells you that they "don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon -- that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile," rest assured that person is lying or woefully, woefully misinformed.

Kamikaze Jet Hijacking

9/11 Report Cites Many Warnings About Hijackings

52 warnings, to be exact. If we had known what seats the hijackers were in, we would have done something.

In the months before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal aviation officials reviewed dozens of intelligence reports that warned about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, some of which specifically discussed airline hijackings and suicide operations, according to a previously undisclosed report from the 9/11 commission.

9/11 Report Cites Many Warnings About Hijackings

Of course, the Bush administration blocked the release of the report for the last 5 months. Cowboys have nothing to hide, so it must have been for some other reason.

Truth held hostage

The Emperor's New Hump

Here was a veteran government scientist, whose decades-long career revolves around interpreting imagery like features of Mars, who decided to say very publicly that, without reservation, he was convinced there was something under a president’s jacket when the White House said there was nothing. He essentially put his hard-won reputation utterly on the line (not to mention his job) in doing so and certainly with little prospect that he might gain something as a result—except, as he put it, his preserved integrity.

Preserved integrity...Unlike the New York Times, which decided not to break the story of the President wearing a receiver during the first Presidental debate.
The Emperor's New Hump
The New York Times killed a story that could have changed the election—because it could have changed the election.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Chile privatization falls short of promises

No surprise here: the privatization of the Chilean social security program was a big mistake. Funny how the military guys got to opt out of the privatized system and stay with the original program of guaranteed benefits. They must have been socialists at heart.
Chile privatization falls short of promises

Some additional perspective on Social Security privatization -- it's not doing so well in England, either.
Bush has been wrong on Social Security before

Top 25 Evangelicals

Since the Evangelical movement has aligned itself with forces of darkness, it is worth knowing who they are:
25 Most Influential Evangelicals

Who Wants To Be A Medical Malpractice Millionaire?

Ted Rall does a good job of exploring the phony crisis in medical malpractice that Bush is pushing. Note to those who think caps on awards should be limited to $250,000 -- Rall will smash your legs with a sledgehammer for $500,000, if he gets to retain the TV rights. Sounds like a win-win situation!
Who Wants To Be A Medical Malpractice Millionaire?

Ex-CIA analyst states the obvious: Bush is corrupt and inept

Stephen Pelletiere addressed an audience at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, telling them that the United States likely will be stuck fighting a poorly conceived war that it can't afford long term.

Pelletiere, who holds a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, is the author of "America's Oil Wars." He served as the CIA's senior policy analyst on Iraq throughout the Iran-Iraq war and, in 1988, became a senior research professor at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle. He headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States.

Pelletiere studied Arabic for a year in Cairo and is the author of four books on Iraq.

He said the Bush administration is corrupt in that it has put its self-aggrandizement ahead of the needs of the country. The administration also has refused to admit to its ineptitude, he said.

"Bush is tarred with both," he said.

For more insights, visit the original story:
Ex-CIA analyst criticizes Iraq war

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Menstruating Torture Chicks in Miniskirts

New techniques in spreading democracy -- having women in miniskirts smear fake menstrual blood on Arab detainee faces, among other things.

"The concept was to make the detainee feel that after talking to her he was unclean and was unable to go before his God in prayer and gain strength," says the draft, stamped "Secret."

The interrogator used ink from a red pen to fool the detainee, Saar writes.

"She then started to place her hands in her pants as she walked behind the detainee," he says. "As she circled around him he could see that she was taking her hand out of her pants. When it became visible the detainee saw what appeared to be red blood on her hand. She said, 'Who sent you to Arizona?' He then glared at her with a piercing look of hatred.

"She then wiped the red ink on his face. He shouted at the top of his lungs, spat at her and lunged forward"-- so fiercely that he broke loose from one ankle shackle.

"He began to cry like a baby," the draft says, noting the interrogator left saying, "Have a fun night in your cell without any water to clean yourself."

Guantanamo abuse tactic: miniskirts?

Maureen Dowd weighs in:
By the time House Republicans were finished with him, Bill Clinton must have thought of a thong as a torture device.

For the Bush administration, it actually is.

A former American Army sergeant who worked as an Arabic interpreter at Gitmo has written a book pulling back the veil on the astounding ways female interrogators used a toxic combination of sex and religion to try to break Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba. It's not merely disgusting. It's beyond belief.

Torture Chicks Gone Wild

Site worth visiting: Crisis Pictures

Each day Crisis Pictures shows pictures of Iraq you should see in your morning newspaper but for some reason don't.

Warning: Some pictures contain graphic depictions of death and injury.

Crisis Pictures

She ain't talking about Rummy, is she?

Recent quote from a live report by Brenda Starr, a CNN reporter who covers the Department of Defense:

"The feeling I get in the Pentagon from the military is totally different from the civilians in charge. The military are deeply concerned about the strain on personnel. Some troops that were in the drive on Baghdad are now serving a second one year tour of duty. They are shot at daily, IED's hit convoys daily. They are also concerned with the wear on equipment. It is a harsh climate, where is the replacement going to come from. I get none of this concern from their civilian bosses."

The Greatest Action Story Ever Told

Here's a short video worth a few chuckles -- the Terminator goes back in time to save Jesus from being killed. Jesus gets a little stressed.
The Greatest Action Story Ever Told

Beelezebub ready to blow snow at Auschwitz

Cheney is taking some heat over the snowblowing get-up he wore to ceremony remembering the victims of Auschwitz on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the camp. Just a little strange.
Cheney ready for snow blowing action
Click on link to the right of the picture for the full story.

Mencken on Bush

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
- H.L. Mencken

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The bad news: Point of no return is inevitable

Global warming is reaching the point of no return, with widespread drought, crop failure and water shortages the likely result, according to a new international report highlighted in the British press.

The countdown to climate-change catastrophe is spelt out by a task force of senior politicians, business leaders and academics. In 10 years or less, they predict, the catastrophic point-of-no-return may be reached...

Interestingly, the committee that created the report recommend changes that won't kick in before the point of no return is reached. Seems kind of strange to make pointless recommendations, no? Maybe those are the only kind left to make.

For more details, including how they came up with the 10 year, point of no return calculation (based on C02 ppm data), check out the original story here:
Global warming reaching point of no return: report

The Food Racket

Felicity Lawrence is the Guardian's consumer affairs correspondent. She gave the Rachel Carson memorial lecture at the Museum of London in early December. Here, she highlights some of the big picture political and economic forces that must be radically changed in order to bring about an ethical and sustainable model of food production and consumption.

Processed food is routinely adulterated with artery-clogging fats, obesogenic sugars and constipating starches, which are then disguised by chemical colourings and flavourings, without which they would be unpalatable. We have come to depend on this junk food, and it is making us sick. Our nutritionally depleted diet is now nearly on a par with tobacco as a cause of ill-health and premature death.

Manufacturers use these raw materials instead of good-quality, fresh food because enormous subsidies, mostly paid by western taxpayers, have made them cheap. About 70% of the value of the US soya bean comes from the US government. No wonder soya derivatives are found in two-thirds of all processed foods. Subsidised US corn is turned into ubiquitous corn sweeteners and modified starches for the same reason.

This food racket just can't go on

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Not One Dime Day - Jan 20, 2005

From: Bill Moyers

Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime Day" in America. On "Not One Damn Dime Day," those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending.

During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases. Not one damn dime for anything for 24 hours. On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, the Post Office.... Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that matter).

Please alert your teenagers, your children, your workplace associates. This is passive resistance at its keenest and most effective, and everyone in the U.S. can participate. Do you have the courage to make an impact on this nation? For 24 hours, please do what you can to tell our consumer-driven economy that Americans have a message. The object is simple. Remind the people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and that it is their responsibility to stop it.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them, too, that they work for the
> people of the United States of America, not for the international corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and funnel cash into American politics. "Not One Damn Dime Day" is about supporting the troops. Now 1,200 brave young Americans and over 100,000 Iraqi men, women, and children have died.

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

Please share this email with as many people as possible. Commercial speech must not be the only free speech in America!

With great love for our country,

Bill Moyers


I'll be right back -- gotta go buy a six-pack tonight!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Next stop Iran?

The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday.

The article, by award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh, said the secret missions have been going on at least since last summer with the goal of identifying target information for three dozen or more suspected sites.

Hersh quotes one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon as saying, "The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible."

One former high-level intelligence official told The New Yorker, "This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign."

Report: U.S. Conducting Secret Missions Inside Iran
While this is no surprise, given that the grand plan of attacking Iraq, Iran and Syria was laid out several years ago by the Neocons, I had hoped that the fiasco in Iraq would prevent them from moving on to step 2 of their plan.

It is hard to see how they'll shove this down our throats, unless they plan on taking advantage of the next 9-11 type attack on the US by blaming it on Iran. If/when we suffer a huge attack, the Democrats in Congress will no doubt fold again and support the President in seeking retribution, whether or not the specific action we take makes any sense in terms of defending ourselves. The American people will demand blood be shed. Traditionally, it doesn't really matter whose blood it is.

Maybe we should bring back animal sacrifices? Makes more sense than attacking every Moslem country in the world.

Bush Names the Animals

W likes to give nicknames to almost everyone he knows. He's fairly compulsive about it, and he uses them even when people object to them -- Bush seems to think it's funny.

"Sen. Ben Nelson finally has succeeded in getting President Bush to stop calling him by the nickname 'Nellie.'

Bush had been referring to the Nebraska Democrat as 'Nellie' since 2001.

Nelson disliked the nickname and had asked the president to stop using it. But Bush heeded Nelson's request to scrap his moniker, and at the recent White House Christmas party, the president referred to Nelson as 'Benny.'

'The president had a twinkle in his eye when he called me that,' Nelson said. 'He knew what he had done. I said, 'Thank you, Mr. President.''"

Nellie is so grateful that the President finally stops shitting on him after 3 years. Twinkle, twinkle -- a Hallmark moment.

Bush uses new nickname for senator

Here's a partial list of some of the nicknames that Bush has for his closest friends and advisors. No doubt additional ones will be coming out once more people leave his administration in the next few weeks:

Laura BushTeach, Pooh Bear, Pookie
The Bush TwinsGin and Tonic
Barbara BushThe Nutcracker
George H W BushThe Old Spook
Dick CheneyBeelzebub, BSD (from “Big Swinging Dick”)
Condoleeza RiceBrown Sugar, Minute Maid
Don RumsfeldHit Man, The MoP at The DoD (from "Master of Puppets")
Colin PowellMr Pottery Barn, B-1
George TenetMJ (short for Michael Jordan)
Paul WolfowitzSlick, Slickowitz
Alberto GonzalezChalupa
Karl RoveSvengoolie (derived from Svengali?)
Tony BlairThe Water Boy
Arnold Schwarzenegger & Maria ShriverAdolph & Karen (from Karen Carpenter)
Charles ColsonWoodchuck, Woody Woodpecker, Pecker
Pat RobertsonHarry Krishna
James DobsonThe Stepfather
Jerry FalwellJabba the Hut
The PopeZombie Boy
Speaker HastertKrispy Kreme, Homer
John McCainPyscho Killer
Tom DelayThe Snake, Snakie
Newt GingrichItchy Boner
Paul BremerThief of Baghdad
Ken MehlmanTinkie Winkie
Kenneth LayKenny Boy, The Bag Man
George WillBowtie, Ex-Lax
Bill O'ReillyThe Stalker
Ann CoulterIlsa (from "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS")
Bush even has nicknames for events:
9-11The Gift

Evidence that there is hidden good in the evils of the world

Jaw-dropping pictures of vacationeers relaxing in Tsunami-land.
A cheep holiday in other peoples misery, as John Lydon once sang in "Holiday in the Sun."

The Conservative Marketing Machine

While Democrats are still debating whether John Kerry was likeable enough or whether the Party ought to change its position on gay marriage and gun control, they are failing to see the big picture. What they were up against wasn't a poor debater, his Machiavellian consultant, and a portfolio of privatization policies, but a well-established, conservative movement with media outlets, think tanks, foundations and advocacy organizations as well as a host of pundits, journalists, consultants, and politicians all working collaboratively to advance their right-wing agenda (and many of the latter, like Williams, working the double shift as "entrepreneurs" and getting mighty rich).

While the leaders of the conservative movement like to boast that the power of their movement lies in the power of its ideas, the ideas of today's conservative movement are the same old failed policies from years gone by, spit-shined and with user-friendly names. The power of the conservative movement is not in its ideas, rather it is in the marketing of these ideas, primarily through effective packaging, promotion and distribution.

The Conservative Marketing Machine