Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Oops

The Coast Guard said Tuesday that investigators believe much more oil spilled from a ruptured tanker in the Delaware River near Philadelphia than the 30,000 gallons initially reported. Coast Guard Lt. Buddy Dye said 473,500 gallons from the tanker Athos I are unaccounted for, but called a leak of that size a "worst-case scenario."

2+2=? (Part III)

Bradblog has been doing a fantastic job tracking the myriad of voting irregularity, fraud and recount stories (no not from the Ukraine, from the good old US of A). Risking blogging ettiquete I'm just going to link to his site rather than the individual story pages for the following items:
- a Delaware County, Ohio judge has issued a temporary restraining order "attempting to prevent Cobb from seeking a recount of the presidential ballots cast in that county."

The order, according to the statement, was issued "without contacting or seeking any input from the candidates or their attorneys."

I'm no legal eagle myself, but if true, that fact alone is certainly curious.

The Cobb-Lamarche media director, Blair Bobier, was more direct in a comment included in the release: "It makes you wonder if Delaware County has something to hide. Why else would they try to prevent a recount and issue an injunction without giving the candidates any notice to participate?"

- Black Box Voting files lawsuit against Palm Beach County, Florida for failure to provide public records.

- Yes, it's true! Two reporters from a major American, Corporate-Owned, Mainstream Newspaper are actually investigating the results of Election 2004!

Gonzalez reports this morning, in a piece titled "Ohio tally fit for Ukraine"(!), that he and reporter Larry Cohler-Esses have discovered yet more anomalies in the Ohio vote count! (All by themselves! And they're not even "disgruntled loony left-wing blogger conspiracy theorists!)

Specifically, Gonzalez reports that he and Cohler-Esses have uncovered unusual vote totals in several of Cleveland's black neighborhoods. They studied the precinct-by-precinct totals released by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (see the previous story about them) and found that third party candidates has surprisingly high vote totals! In several cases, candidates such as Constitutional Party's Michael Peroutka mysteriously received tallies as much as 600% higher than even George W. Bush's!

- Kerry's Lead Grows 9,242 from Cuyahoga County, OH Provisionals
...Even after 34% of Such Ballots Were Rejected.
What is fascinating to us here at What We Know is the sheer volume of irregularities. Every new story seems to pick up a completely separate incident from the last. When is the mainstream media going to wake up and realize that this isn't tin foil hat time? Something very wrong happened across this country on November 2nd. You don't have to go all the way to the Ukraine to find the fraud. It seems to have happened right here, under all our noses.

Again, this isn't about Bush/Kerry (although anyone who reads this site will know where my allegiances lie). This is about the sanctity of our democratic process. Would I like the recount in Ohio to swing the state to Kerry? Of course. But even those who wouldn't should be terrified at how easily this election was manipulated. Just because your guy "won" doesn't mean you should turn a blind eye from how it happened. If we let this stand, then mark my words it will happen again. And next time they'll get better at it.

A Confederacy of Dunces

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the United States took control of all of the Iraqi government’s bank accounts, including the income from oil sales. The United Nations approved the financial takeover, and President Bush vowed to spend Iraq’s money wisely. But now critics are raising serious questions about how well the United States handled billions of dollars in Iraqi oil funds.

Now, Frank Willis, a former senior American official in Iraq, tells NBC News the United States failed to safeguard the oil money known as the Development Fund for Iraq.
- - - - -
"A lot of money did get to the Iraqi people at the grass-roots level, and a lot of it got into the wrong hands," he says. In one photograph, Willis and colleagues showed off a $2 million payment to a security contractor.

"It was time for payment," he remembers. "We told them to come in and bring in a bag. It reminded me of the Wild West."
- - - - -
Iraq’s U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer, pledged last year to hire a certified public accounting firm to ensure proper controls. But the United States gave the contract not to an accounting firm but to a tiny consulting company, Northstar — which NBC News found is headquartered at a private home near San Diego.

"They violated the rules. They picked a contractor who didn’t meet their requirements," says Paul Light, a government contracting expert and professor at New York University.

Northstar’s president says the Pentagon knew Northstar was not a certified public accounting firm and that four experienced employees went to Iraq and did a good job. However, one audit notes that a single Northstar employee maintained spreadsheets tracking billions of dollars.
Add this to the teenagers Bremer hired to run the reconstruction and you get a sense of why the last year and half has been such a cluster-fuck.

Casualties of War Part III

A serviceman, apparently distraught over the prospect of being sent back to the war in Iraq, threatened to kill himself as he stood naked and screaming outside his house.
- - - - -
After struggling with officers, the man told police that he was scheduled to be sent back to Iraq in January, but didn't want to because he would be forced to kill more people, police said.
In this day and age of uber violent video games, a lot of these kid soldiers have years of experience "killing" which makes it a lot easier for them to pull the trigger than it was for their parents and great grandparents. Men who grew up being taught "thou shalt not kill."

But the up close reality of what a .50 caliber bullet (or a dozen of them) does to the human body, or the soul destroying image of a child with half a head or napalm burns is something these soldiers are ill equipped to deal and which, frankly, the armed forces doesn't want to acknowledge. After all, their job is to turn these kids into machines, to do whatever they can to help them dehumanize their enemy.

Because of this, I fear we will see a lot more of these kind of stories in the coming years.

I'm Singing in the Rain - AH, IT BURNS!!! IT BURNS!!!!!

Acid rain fell on more than 250 cities [in China] and caused direct annual economic losses of 110 billion yuan ($13.3 billion), equal to nearly three percent of the country's gross domestic product, the state-run newspaper said.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

By Any Means Necessary

In response to a Mathew Gross article equating Democrats to victims of domestic abuse, Steve Gilliard does us proud:
"I guess Gross doesn't know any abused women. I do. The GOP didn't come into my home and say "I love you" and knock me up. I didn't decide that I needed a strong, aggressive man in my home, or that I didn't mind being lied to. I never trusted the GOP and I worked for them. So did my family. I always knew that they never had my best interests at heart.

This sort of pathetic appeal to victimhood is revolting on it's face and innaccurate as hell.

No, we're not victims, any more than when you play football and one side cheats their asses off. Having seen this for real, you're first stunned, then you appeal to the refs, then you figure out, one, they ARE going to cheat, two, the refs will NEVER call it, and three, you better protect your own ass and get your shots in.
- - - - - -
Now, you can go along with Gross and feel sorry about the mean ol' GOP smacking the shit out of innocent little us, people who just want to do good, or you can say "fine, you wanna cheat? Fuck you. If those are the rules, then they're the rules and we'll play by them too."

It takes time to realize that you're playing dirty. You don't get it at first, or even second, It takes a while, because you think everyone is like you and has your values. You don't do cheap shots. You don't lie to the refs. But when you wake up and realize, well, this is football, then you start to find ways to win. Because once you know the rules, especially the unwritten ones, things become a lot easier.

You're no goddamn victim. You've just been in a game with people who will cheat to win."

A Grim Anniversary

On the night of 2 December 1984, poisonous methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal. Thousands were killed immediately. Thousands more were to die from the effects of that night in the months and years that followed.

Now, Amnesty International has claimed that neither the Indian government nor Union Carbide have done enough to provide proper redress for the victims or to clean up the site. "The disaster shocked the world and raised fundamental questions about corporate and government responsibility for industrial accidents that devastate human life and local environments," the report reads.

"Yet 20 years on, the survivors still await just compensation, adequate medical assistance and treatment, and comprehensive economic and social rehabilitation. The plant site has still not been cleaned up so toxic wastes still pollute the environment and contaminate water that surrounding communities rely on. And, astonishingly, no one has been held to account for the leak and its appalling consequences."

2+2=? (Part II)

Jesse Jackson visited Ohio today to talk about the recount.
Immediately after the election, there were reports that the number of voting machines brought to the state’s urban, Democratic-leaning precincts was deliberately shorted. There were numerous sworn statements from voters in urban areas that the voter rolls were old and out-of-date, forcing voters, many registered for years, to use provisional ballots – which get counted last or do not get counted at all unless the voter was in the right precinct. Voters also testified under oath about machines malfunctioning and recording votes for Bush when people believed they had selected Kerry.

All of these trends – plus the fact that the Bush victory did not jibe with at least two non-partisan exit polls taken on Election Day in Ohio – are behind Jesse Jackson’s trip to the state today, Sunday, Nov. 28.

2+2=? (Part II)

Jesse Jackson visited Ohio today to talk about the recount.
Immediately after the election, there were reports that the number of voting machines brought to the state’s urban, Democratic-leaning precincts was deliberately shorted. There were numerous sworn statements from voters in urban areas that the voter rolls were old and out-of-date, forcing voters, many registered for years, to use provisional ballots – which get counted last or do not get counted at all unless the voter was in the right precinct. Voters also testified under oath about machines malfunctioning and recording votes for Bush when people believed they had selected Kerry.

All of these trends – plus the fact that the Bush victory did not jibe with at least two non-partisan exit polls taken on Election Day in Ohio – are behind Jesse Jackson’s trip to the state today, Sunday, Nov. 28.

The War On Science

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same
god who has endowed us with sense, reason and
   intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
                                                                —Galileo
With the self-described mandate of Bush and the Religious Right, we are witnessing a revival of good old fashioned religious persecution of science; the most famous example of which is the father of modern astronomy, Galileo:
"In 1615 Galileo was summoned before the Inquisition at Rome, and the mine which had been so long preparing was sprung. Sundry theologians of the Inquisition having been ordered to examine two propositions which had been extracted from Galileo's letters on the solar spots, solemnly considered these points during ahout a month and rendered their unanimous decision as follows: "The first proposition, that the sun is the centre and does not revolve about the earth, is foolish, absurd, false in theology, and heretical, because expressly contrary to Holy Scripture"; and "the second proposition, that the earth is not the centre but revolves about the sun, is absurd, false in philosophy, and, from a theological point of view at least, opposed to the true faith."
Centuries later it has been well proven that the Earth revolves around the Sun and that it is not flat. Of course, it has also been well proven that evolution happened and continues to happen all around us. The very notion that we are still forced to have this conversation eighty years after the Scopes Monkey trial is ludicrous.

These religious facists remind me of nothing more than the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, the monster from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, who is so mind-bogglingly stupid it believes that if you can't see it, it can't see you.

There are Natural History Museums in almost every big city in the world. Inside them are tens of millions of fossils that date back hundreds of millions of years ago (and carbon dating is not a theory). These fossils are real. You can hold them in your hand. They weren't planted there as a gynormous hoax by the Almighty. The world was not created ten thousand years ago.

So why are we even talking about this?

Because we live under an Administration that's sole message is don't believe your lying eyes. On the economy. On Iraq. On healthcare. On the environment. As a result, the enlightened majority are forced to do battle with the intellectual equivalent of a urine sample.

And while we're forced to beat our heads against the brick wall of voodoo ignorance, other, more important battles aren't being fought. Millions of children and pregnant women are in danger from skyrocketing mercury levels. Thanks to budget cuts and "No Child Left Behind" our public schools have been forced to adhere to curriculums that discourage independent thinking in favor of regurgitating textbook answers (and forget about the Arts and Physical Education). We are raising a generation of fat, lazy, unimaginative children. who would rather play Grand Theft Auto than read a book or play outside. Something needs to be done or we will no longer lead the world, it will lead us.

So to those on the far right who want to de-educate our children with fundamentalist mumbo jumbo, I say get your ass to Saudi Arabia where you can open up your own Madrassa. The rock we're pushing up this hill is heavy enough without you sitting on top of it.

Click here for a further look at Science, Truth and the Church

i-toons

Bush's Bitch - Part I

And I'm not talking about Condi.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At the urging of the White House, a key Senate panel will put off consideration of the nomination of Condoleezza Rice to be secretary of state, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Sunday.

Sen. Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, said he had suggested "a very early time" for his committee to take up the nomination, which must be approved afterward by the full U.S. Senate.

"The White House suggested that that would not be appropriate -- that is, in December," Lugar said on "Fox News Sunday." "So we'll not be having hearings in December. But we'll have hearings as soon as possible in January."

Wanted Dead or Alive (Or Not)

Pakistani soldiers abandon search for bin Laden.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

How Can I Be Broke? I Still Have Checks Left (Part V)

What a great idea. Borrow a lot of money in order to give it to a few big Republican donors like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. From tomorrow's NYTimes:
The White House and Republicans in Congress are all but certain to embrace large-scale government borrowing to help finance President Bush's plan to create personal investment accounts in Social Security, according to administration officials, members of Congress and independent analysts.

Casualties of War

A truly incredible article about the battle in Falluja from KnightRidder:
Ward said he'd ferried at least 10 injured soldiers the night before.

"It's been very intense," he said. "For a lot of our younger soldiers, it's overwhelming." He wore a bracelet with the name "Marvin Sprayberry III" etched on it, just above "KIA" and "True Friend."

Sprayberry was Ward's best friend. He was a good man. He was killed on May 3 when the vehicle he was in rolled over during a firefight. That was all Ward had to say on the matter.
- - - - -
When they got bored or scared of being on the rooftop, some of the men - young and with an awkward day's stubble on their upper lips - went outside and around the corner to see the Fat Man. "Hey dude, we're going to see the Fat Man, wanna come?" they said.

Their boots crunched hurriedly across the rubble outside the house and then slid down a muddy hill of trash and feces.

The Fat Man lay in his own blood. He was an Iraqi insurgent who'd hidden in an alley next to a garbage dump waiting for the Army to come by. A couple 25 mm high explosive rounds, shot from a Bradley, blew off his left leg, leaving a stump of bone, and, from the looks of it, punched a hole through his midsection. Two or three others died with him. A group of insurgents managed to drag the others away, but the Fat Man was too big. His arms were still splayed back from where his comrades tried to pull him through the narrow alley.

Some of his guts - perhaps an intestinal tract - were splattered on the wall. His eyes were open, peering out from his dirty face and scraggly beard, staring at the heavens. A traditional red-and-white checked Arab keffiyah headdress was wrapped around his waist, and a bag with slots for RPG rounds - all empty - lay on the ground next to him.

The Fat Man was the first dead person that many soldiers had seen. They grew solemn as they leaned over his body and peered into his eyes, but never too close, never close enough to touch his skin or take in too deep a whiff of death.
- - - - -
"When people say that war is the most terrible thing, they ain't wrong," Bowden said. "The things it does to people. You think that killing people for your country is cool, but when you do, it just numbs you."
- - - - -
The streets outside were littered with dead men, their corpses left for cats and dogs to gnaw on after the sun set. The sight of bearded insurgents, eyes open, lying in gutters was no longer a novelty.

Walking through the house, Ofori turned his gun toward a doorway. Shots rang out. A fighter in the room had been waiting with a grenade in hand. He'd probably been listening the entire time as the men sat on the sofa next door, their voices wafting through the holes in the wall.

When he jumped forward, he didn't scream "Allahu Akbar" - God is Great - as insurgents often did. He moved in silence, until Ofori's fire blew him back. Ofori looked down for a few seconds and walked out of the room. The soldiers behind him went inside to ogle. "Damn, look at Hajji," one said.

Walking into the garage, Ofori found a dead fighter lying on the ground next to a pickup truck outfitted with a machine gun.

Having heard of the incident, the New York Post wrote a headline calling Ofori a "Coney Island Hero."

His mother told the newspaper, "he doesn't like that Army food."

Later in the day, an RPG tore through the torso of Lt. Iwan, the company's executive officer, ripping his body apart. He was 28.

Friday, November 26, 2004

A Conspiracy of Dunces

A third or more of the government property Halliburton Co. was paid to manage for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq could not be located by auditors, investigative reports to Congress show.

Halliburton's KBR subsidiary "did not effectively manage government property" and auditors could not locate hundreds of CPA items worth millions of dollars in Iraq and Kuwait this summer and fall, Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen reported to Congress in two reports.

Bowen's findings mark the latest bad news for Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, which is the focus of both a criminal investigation into alleged fuel price gouging and an FBI inquiry into possible favoritism from the Bush administration.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that FBI agents have extensively interviewed an Army contracting officer who last month went public with allegations that the Bush administration was improperly awarding contracts to Halliburton without competitive bidding.

How Can I Be Broke? I Still Have Checks Left (Part IV)

The fact that Bush owns this will be of little consolation when we're all a colony of China.
Investors and market analysts are increasingly worried that the last big source of support for the American dollar - heavy buying by foreign central banks - is fading.

The anxiety was on full display Friday, when the dollar abruptly slid to a record low against the euro after a report suggesting that the Chinese central bank might start to reduce its holdings in the American currency.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Grampa's Going To War

More than three decades after he was last in combat, a Vietnam veteran has been called to active duty in Iraq.

Paul Dunlap, 53, of Pleasant Unity, will leave for Fort Bliss, Texas, on Monday after being called up as part of Operation Dragoon. Dunlap, a first sergeant in the Army National Guard Company C 28th Signal Battalion out of Torrance, Westmoreland County, hasn't been in combat since he was a 19-year-old Marine and served 11 months in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971.

"I'm thinking I'm going to be away for at least a year from my family and my grandchildren (and) friends," Dunlap told the Tribune-Review of Greensburg in a story published Wednesday. "I'm thinking it's been a long time since I've been in war."

No Shit

THE US is losing the war of ideas in the Islamic world, failing to elucidate its policies to Muslims wary of American intentions and "self-serving hypocrisy", a Pentagon advisory panel has found.

My Savior Is Bigger Than Yours

In a move that's sure to have escalating repercussions, a church in Ohio has erected a 62 foot paper mache statue of Jesus signaling a field goal. In a land where neighbors battle to outdo each other's Christmas decorations every year, Ohio has fired the first shot, but surely not the last, in this war of Religious Idols.

Already, neighboring West Virginia, suffering from severe Jesus Envy, is hurrying construction of a 100 foot interactive statue of Jesus' on the cross. According to Reverend Alwaysright at the Church of Our God Could Kick Your God's Ass Any Day of the Week, visitors will be able to ride an elevator built inside the cross and into Jesus' head. Inside, they will find a gift shop carrying everything from autographed bibles to the hottest seller in Christiandom: Passion nails.


When asked whether the tens of thousands of dollars spent on construction of idols like these wouldn't be better spent on the poor and hungry - especially now that the harsh winter months are here - Reverend Alwaysright replied "it's honestly more important that the poor know that we love Jesus more than anybody else. After all, Jesus preached at his Sermon on the Mount that blessed are the idol makers for they shall inherit the Earth."

Why Does Rumsfeld Hate Our Troops?

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this week won his fight to install his man, Francis J. Harvey, as secretary of the Army.

In the midst of two and a half wars, at a time when the Army is struggling to transform itself and must use extraordinary methods to find enough soldiers to fill the rotations to Iraq, Rumsfeld selected a man who's never served in the military or in government to be the Army's CEO.

Rumsfeld told the man he's passing over for the job - acting Army secretary Les Brownlee, a retired Army infantry colonel and a highly decorated combat veteran - that he "wanted a businessman" to run the Army. Harvey, a longtime Westinghouse executive, was Rumsfeld's second choice in 18 months of bitter wrangling with some powerful senators.
- - - - - - - -
Rumsfeld told the man he's passing over for the job - acting Army secretary Les Brownlee, a retired Army infantry colonel and a highly decorated combat veteran - that he "wanted a businessman" to run the Army. Harvey, a longtime Westinghouse executive, was Rumsfeld's second choice in 18 months of bitter wrangling with some powerful senators.

Rumsfeld's long fight with the senators began in May 2003 when he fired Army Secretary Tom White, a retired Army brigadier general, over White's support of then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki (who angered Rumsfeld by saying that several hundred thousand American troops would be needed to occupy Iraq).

When the defense secretary tapped Air Force Secretary James Roche, another defense industry exec and a Navy and government veteran, to take over the Army job, he ran afoul of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. McCain was demanding that the Air Force and Roche hand over internal e-mails on its plan to lease new airborne tankers from Boeing, and when they weren't forthcoming he blocked Roche and all Defense Department civilian nominees.

While all of this was dragging on, the Army was left in the hands of acting secretary Brownlee, who'd spent 18 years on the Hill working for Sen. John Warner and the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Brownlee, who was awarded two Silver Stars for heroism in Vietnam, spent the last three Christmases with American troops in war zones. Although Brownlee may have been the ideal candidate for the job he was already doing, there was no way Rumsfeld would nominate him. He was angry at how McCain, and more recently Warner, had thwarted his appointment of Roche to run the Army. This time he'd have his way and his man in that job.

Put Your Money Where Your God Is.

From Kristoff:
Now we have the hugely profitable "Left Behind" financial empire, whose Web site flatly says that the authors "think this generation will witness the end of history." The site sells every "Left Behind" spinoff imaginable, including screen savers, regular prophecies sent to your mobile phone, children's versions of the books, audiobooks, graphic novels, videos, calendars, music and a $6.50-a-month prophesy club. This isn't religion, this is brand management.

If Mr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins honestly believe that the end of the world may be imminent, why not waive royalties? Why don't they use the millions of dollars in profits to help the poor - and increase their own chances of getting into heaven?

Mr. Jenkins told me that he gives 20 to 40 percent of his income to charity, and that's commendable. But there are millions more where that came from. Mr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins might spend less time puzzling over obscure passages in the Book of Revelation and more time with the straightforward language of Matthew 6:19, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth." Or Matthew 19:21, where Jesus advises a rich man: "Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor. . . . It will be hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

American Hero

Lt Malcolm was a good chess player. He looked like any other young marines officer: skinny, shaven-headed, although with a quite beaky nose.

Anyway, you could always pick him out. He would be the one with the chess board placed on an up-ended box of MREs (Meal Ready to Eat), working out moves.

I got to know him a little bit, as his bunk was opposite mine.

I would watch as he gave chess tips to those of his men who had not completely given in to poker or hearts.

About five hours into the battle, Lt Malcolm was killed.

He was the weapons officer in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, the unit I had joined as an "embed".

Just before dawn, Alpha Company blew a large hole in an outer wall, and entered the police station right in the heart of Falluja.

It was still pretty quiet then but as the sun rose the marines found themselves surrounded and under attack from all sides.

Lt Malcolm's squad went up on to the highest roof top they could find - but not higher than the two minarets on either side with snipers.

There was a wall about 40cm (16in) tall for cover. Everyone tried to get close to it while bullets skipped across the paving stones.

When he heard his men were in trouble - the men he'd been giving chess tips just the day before - Lt Malcolm came to get them.

Extraordinary valour

As he ran onto the roof, one of the sniper's bullets hit his helmet, bouncing off.

He kept going, and did not leave until he had shepherded all his men down.

He was killed by the second bullet. It got him in the back, just below the flak jacket, as he jumped down the stairwell.

He must have thought he was home free.

Monday, November 22, 2004

What Are The Odds?

See if this sounds familiar.

A close presidential election. An authoritarian president determined to win reelection. Exit polls that clearly show the challenger running away with it. But when the dust clears, the election "results" show the incumbent with a clear majority. The United States? Nope. The Ukraine. In an election that took place today.

Only, the challenger in that election didn't just roll over at the major discrepancy between the early exit polls and the results. Instead, he told his people to take to the streets and that's what they did. Now the election monitors, including Senator Lugar, are stating that there was definite voter fraud perpetrated by the incumbent.

Now, I'm sure that there is a statistical possibility that two national elections could be held within weeks of each other, in which both had early exit polls showing the challenger with a clear victory only to have the incumbent end up with a majority of the votes. But what are the odds that one of them was a legitimate failure of early exit polling while the other was a blatant case of voter fraud?

Pretty fucking slim.

Which are exactly the odds that anyone in the MSM will ask a similar question.

Witness To An Execution

From Kevin Sites, the Falluja cameraman:
This week I've even been shocked to see myself painted as some kind of anti-war activist. Anyone who has seen my reporting on television or has read the dispatches on this website is fully aware of the lengths I've gone to play it straight down the middle -- not to become a tool of propaganda for the left or the right.
. . . . . . .
Immediately after going in, I see the same black plastic body bags spread around the mosque. The dead from the day before. But more surprising, I see the same five men that were wounded from Friday as well. It appears that one of them is now dead and three are bleeding to death from new gunshot wounds. The fifth is partially covered by a blanket and is in the same place and condition he was in on Friday, near a column. He has not been shot again. I look closely at both the dead and the wounded. There don't appear to be any weapons anywhere.

"These were the same wounded from yesterday," I say to the lieutenant. He takes a look around and goes outside the mosque with his radio operator to call in the situation to Battalion Forward HQ.

I see an old man in a red kaffiyeh lying against the back wall. Another is face down next to him, his hand on the old man's lap -- as if he were trying to take cover. I squat beside them, inches away and begin to videotape them. Then I notice that the blood coming from the old man's nose is bubbling. A sign he is still breathing. So is the man next to him.

While I continue to tape, a Marine walks up to the other two bodies about fifteen feet away, but also lying against the same back wall.

Then I hear him say this about one of the men:

"He's fucking faking he's dead -- he's faking he's fucking dead."

Through my viewfinder I can see him raise the muzzle of his rifle in the direction of the wounded Iraqi. There are no sudden movements, no reaching or lunging.

However, the Marine could legitimately believe the man poses some kind of danger. Maybe he's going to cover him while another Marine searches for weapons.

Instead, he pulls the trigger. There is a small splatter against the back wall and the man's leg slumps down.

"Well he's dead now," says another Marine in the background.

I am still rolling. I feel the deep pit of my stomach. The Marine then abruptly turns away and strides away, right past the fifth wounded insurgent lying next to a column. He is very much alive and peering from his blanket. He is moving, even trying to talk. But for some reason, it seems he did not pose the same apparent "danger" as the other man -- though he may have been more capable of hiding a weapon or explosive beneath his blanket.
. . . . . . . . .
I can't know what was in the mind of that Marine. He is the only one who does.

But observing all of this as an experienced war reporter who always bore in mind the dark perils of this conflict, even knowing the possibilities of mitigating circumstances -- it appeared to me very plainly that something was not right. According to Lt. Col Bob Miller, the rules of engagement in Falluja required soldiers or Marines to determine hostile intent before using deadly force. I was not watching from a hundred feet away. I was in the same room. Aside from breathing, I did not observe any movement at all.
. . . . . . . . .
The Marines have built their proud reputation on fighting for freedoms like the one that allows me to do my job, a job that in some cases may appear to discredit them. But both the leaders and the grunts in the field like you understand that if you lower your standards, if you accept less, than less is what you'll become.

There are people in our own country that would weaken your institution and our nation –by telling you it's okay to betray our guiding principles by not making the tough decisions, by letting difficult circumstances turns us into victims or worse…villains.

I interviewed your Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Willy Buhl, before the battle for Falluja began. He said something very powerful at the time-something that now seems prophetic. It was this:

"We're the good guys. We are Americans. We are fighting a gentleman's war here -- because we don't behead people, we don't come down to the same level of the people we're combating. That's a very difficult thing for a young 18-year-old Marine who's been trained to locate, close with and destroy the enemy with fire and close combat. That's a very difficult thing for a 42-year-old lieutenant colonel with 23 years experience in the service who was trained to do the same thing once upon a time, and who now has a thousand-plus men to lead, guide, coach, mentor -- and ensure we remain the good guys and keep the moral high ground."

I listened carefully when he said those words. I believed them.

So here, ultimately, is how it all plays out: when the Iraqi man in the mosque posed a threat, he was your enemy; when he was subdued he was your responsibility; when he was killed in front of my eyes and my camera -- the story of his death became my responsibility.

The burdens of war, as you so well know, are unforgiving for all of us.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Fuzzy Math

Looks like the Pentagon's playing hide and seek with non-combat wounded numbers in Iraq to the tune of 15,000 more wounded.

Friday, November 19, 2004

What Do You Call A Conspiracy Theory That's True? Part II

Looks like garbage men in Florida need to make sure they're wearing their weight belts these days.

From Bev Harris and her crew from Blackboxvoting.org who are down in Florida investigating voter fraud:
Bev showed up bright and early the morning of Wednesday the 17th - well before the scheduled meeting - and discovered three of the elections officials in the Elections Warehouse standing over a table covered with what looked like poll tapes. When they saw Bev and her friends, Bev told me in a telephone interview less than an hour later, "They immediately shoved us out and slammed the door."

In a way, that was a blessing, because it led to the stinking evidence.

"On the porch was a garbage bag," Bev said, "and so I looked in it and, and lo and behold, there were public record tapes."

Thrown away. Discarded. Waiting to be hauled off.

"It was technically stinking, in fact," Bev added, "because what they had done was to have thrown some of their polling tapes, which are the official records of the election, into the garbage. These were the ones signed by the poll workers. These are something we had done an official public records request for."

When the elections officials inside realized that the people outside were going through the trash, they called the police and one came out to challenge Bev.

Kathleen Wynne, a www.blackboxvoting.org investigator, was there.

"We caught the whole thing on videotape," she said. "I don't think you'll ever see anything like this - Bev Harris having a tug of war with an election worker over a bag of garbage, and he held onto it and she pulled on it, and it split right open, spilling out those poll tapes. They were throwing away our democracy, and Bev wasn't going to let them do it."
- - - - -
And then things got even odder.

"We were sitting there comparing the real [signed, original] tapes with the [later printout] ones that were given us," Bev said, "and finding things missing and finding things not matching, when one of the elections employees took a bin full of things that looked like garbage - that looked like polling tapes, actually - and passed by and disappeared out the back of the building."

This provoked investigator Ellen Brodsky to walk outside and check the garbage of the Elections Office itself. Sure enough - more original, signed poll tapes, freshly trashed.

"And I must tell you," Bev said, "that whatever they had taken out [the back door] just came right back in the front door and we said, 'What are these polling place tapes doing in your dumpster?'"
- - - - - -
But the Ollie North action in two locations on two days was only half of the surprise that awaited Bev and her associates. When they compared the discarded, signed, original tapes with the recent printouts submitted to the state and used to tabulate the Florida election winners, Harris says a disturbing pattern emerged.

"The difference was hundreds of votes in each of the different places we examined," said Bev, "and most of those were in minority areas."

When I asked Bev if the errors they were finding in precinct after precinct were random, as one would expect from technical, clerical, or computer errors, she became uncomfortable.

"You have to understand that we are non-partisan," she said. "We're not trying to change the outcome of an election, just to find out if there was any voting fraud."

That said, Bev added: "The pattern was very clear. The anomalies favored George W. Bush. Every single time."

Of course finding possible voting "anomalies" in one Florida county doesn't mean they'll show up in all counties. It's even conceivable there are innocent explanations for both the mismatched counts and trashed original records; this story undoubtedly will continue to play out. And, unless further investigation demonstrates a pervasive and statewide trend toward "anomalous" election results in many of Florida's counties, odds are none of this will change the outcome of the election (which exit polls showed John Kerry winning in Florida).

Nonetheless, Bev and her merry band are off to hit another county.

As she told me on her cell phone while driving toward their next destination, "We just put Volusia County and their lawyers on notice that they need to continue to keep a number of documents under seal, including all of the memory cards to the ballot boxes, and all of the signed poll tapes."

Why?

"Simple," she said. "Because we found anomalies indicative of fraud."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Science vs Religion



Tough choice. But I think I gotta go with Intelligent Design. (I just love me the grilled cheese.)

Watch Your Mouth

From Frank Rich at the NYTimes:
What makes the "Ryan" case both chilling and a harbinger of what's to come is that it isn't about Janet Jackson and sex but about the presentation of war at a time when we are fighting one. That some of the companies whose stations refused to broadcast "Saving Private Ryan" also own major American newspapers in cities as various as Providence and Atlanta leaves you wondering what other kind of self-censorship will be practiced next. If these media outlets are afraid to show a graphic Hollywood treatment of a 60-year-old war starring the beloved Tom Hanks because the feds might fine them, toy with their licenses or deny them permission to expand their empires, might they defensively soften their news divisions' efforts to present the graphic truth of an ongoing war? The pressure groups that are exercised by Bono and "Saving Private Ryan" are often the same ones who are campaigning to derail any news organization that's not towing the administration line in lockstep with Fox.
The whole article is worth a read (sub. req.)

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell shared information with reporters Wednesday about Iran's nuclear program that was classified and based on an unvetted, single source who provided information that two U.S. officials said yesterday was highly significant if true but has not yet been verified.
Hmmm. Why does this seem so familiar...?



Nope, can't think of it. I'll let you know if it comes to me.

Who We Be

From Oliver Willis













.

I Lost My Job. My Kids' School Shut Down. But Thank God Gays Can't Marry

From the Cincinatti Enquirer. (Wasn't that a swing state that went for Bush?)
Cincinnati school officials plan to close seven schools by next school year and cut hundreds of staff members to reduce the annual budget of the financially strapped district.

The plan would make more than 2,000 students attend different schools and cost more than 10 percent of the district's 5,800 employees their jobs. The goal of the plan, announced Wednesday, is to save more than $100 million in three to five years.

i-toons

Poor and Middle Class Advised to Stock Up On Lubricant, Cause This Is Gonna Hurt

The administration plans to push major amendments that would shield interest, dividends and capitals gains from taxation, expand tax breaks for business investment and take other steps intended to simplify the system and encourage economic growth, according to several people who are advising the White House or are familiar with the deliberations.

The changes are meant to be revenue-neutral. To pay for them, the administration is considering eliminating the deduction of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns and scrapping the business tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance, the advisers said.

George Bush: Freedom Pusher

The UN has warned that Afghanistan could become a "narco-state" after opium cultivation rose by two-thirds this year.

A UN report released on Thursday urged the US and Nato forces to fight drugs as well as Taleban insurgents.

It said Afghanistan now supplied 87% of world opium. In 2003, the trade was worth $2.8bn, representing more than 60% of gross domestic product. One in 10 Afghans are now estimated to be involved in the business. The UN said it would be an "historical error" to abandon the nation to opium.
Now I'm not saying that Bush liberated Afghanistan in order to turn it into the Wal-Mart of Heroin that it was before the Taliban took over (although I kind'a did here), but this is yet another example of the disaster that our rush into Iraq has turned out to be.

Abu Ghraib. Guantanamo. New Jersey?

NPR is running a chilling two part story about abuses to immigrant detainees at two New Jersey prisons. The whole story is worth a read/listen. Some excerpts:
Since Congress revamped the nation's immigration laws in the 1990s, the government has rounded up tens of thousands of immigrants each year who've committed a crime -- from murder to offenses such as overstaying their visas -- even if the offenders had already been punished.

These immigrants have been jailed for months or years while Homeland Security officials obtained a court order to deport them. Some have allegedly experienced brutal and violent conditions while in detention.
- - - - -
...before returning to his native country, Mohabir was detained for almost two years at New Jersey's Passaic County Jail, where he alleges that guards taunted and beat detainees and terrorized them with dogs. One detainee was attacked by a dog earlier this year and sent to the hospital. Evidence obtained by NPR during the course of a five-month-long investigation suggests Mohabir's tale of abuse, corroborated by other detainees, is true.
To those who think anyone deserves this kind of treatment I leave you with this quote from Thomas Jefferson:
"A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither"

Don't Worry, Be Happy

In Bush World, it's All Fear All The Time.

Is it any wonder then that Americans are hooked on Anti-Depressants?

What Do You Call A Conspiracy Theory That's True?

Evidence has been accumulating at breakneck speed about serious vote counting irregularities across this country. The BradBlog has been doing a fantastic job tracking this Grand Theft America. Now comes news today that:
"irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000 - 260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004 presidential election"
Hang onto your hats - this could get interesting.

Cops To Bush: Stop Being Part Of The F*ing Problem

A day after Attorney General John Ashcroft told the nation's largest association of law enforcement executives that the Bush administration had made the nation more secure from terrorist attacks and violent criminals, the group lashed back at the White House on Tuesday.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) said that cuts by the administration in federal aid to local police agencies have left the nation more vulnerable than ever to public safety threats. The 20,000-member group also said in a statement that new anti-terrorism duties for local cops - which have come as state and local budgets have declined and historically low crime rates have crept upward - have pushed police agencies to "the breaking point."

The statement reflected the ongoing tension between the administration and many local police chiefs, who believe the White House has saddled them with anti-terrorism tasks without much regard to the cost.

Digging Our Own Graves

The shooting of an unarmed Iraqi by a Marine is sending horrified ripples across the globe. Nowhere fiercer than in the very country whose hearts and minds we are supposedly trying to win over. The view from Baghdad Burning shows that that war is officially over: Guess what? We lost.
We sat, horrified, stunned with the horror of the scene that unfolded in front of our eyes. It's the third day of Eid and we were finally able to gather as a family- a cousin, his wife and their two daughters, two aunts, and an elderly uncle. E. and my cousin had been standing in line for two days to get fuel so we could go visit the elderly uncle on the final day of a very desolate Eid. The room was silent at the end of the scene, with only the voice of the news anchor and the sobs of my aunt. My little cousin flinched and dropped her spoon, face frozen with shock, eyes wide with disbelief, glued to the television screen, "Is he dead? Did they kill him?" I swallowed hard, trying to gulp away the lump lodged in my throat and watched as my cousin buried his face in his hands, ashamed to look at his daughter.

"What was I supposed to tell them?" He asked, an hour later, after we had sent his two daughters to help their grandmother in the kitchen. "What am I supposed to tell them- 'Yes darling, they killed him- the Americans killed a wounded man; they are occupying our country, killing people and we are sitting here eating, drinking and watching tv'?" He shook his head, "How much more do they have to see? What is left for them to see?"

They killed a wounded man. It's hard to believe. They killed a man who was completely helpless- like he was some sort of diseased animal. I had read the articles and heard the stories of this happening before- wounded civilians being thrown on the side of the road or shot in cold blood- but to see it happening on television is something else- it makes me crazy with anger.

And what will happen now? A criminal investigation against a single Marine who did the shooting? Just like what happened with the Abu Ghraib atrocities? A couple of people will be blamed and the whole thing will be buried under the rubble of idiotic military psychologists, defense analysts, Pentagon officials and spokespeople and it will be forgotten. In the end, all anyone will remember is that a single Marine shot and killed a single Iraqi 'insurgent' and it won't matter anymore.

It's typical American technique- every single atrocity is lost and covered up by blaming a specific person and getting it over with. What people don't understand is that the whole military is infested with these psychopaths. In this last year we've seen murderers, torturers and xenophobes running around in tanks and guns. I don't care what does it: I don't care if it's the tension, the fear, the 'enemy'… it's murder. We are occupied by murderers. We're under the same pressure, as Iraqis, except that we weren't trained for this situation, and yet we're all expected to be benevolent and understanding and, above all, grateful. I'm feeling sick, depressed and frightened. I don't know what to say anymore… they aren't humans and they don't deserve any compassion.

So why is the world so obsessed with beheadings? How is this so very different? The difference is that the people who are doing the beheadings are extremists… the people slaughtering Iraqis- torturing in prisons and shooting wounded prisoners- are "American Heroes". Congratulations, you must be so proud of yourselves today.

How Can I Be Broke? I Still Have Checks Left (Part III)

How Far We've Fallen.



More than by brain size or tool-making ability, the human species was set apart from its ancestors by the ability to jog mile after lung-stabbing mile with greater endurance than any other primate, according to research published today in the journal Nature.

Indeed, human beings evolved as the cross-country stars of a primordial runner's world 2 million years before the advent of jogging shoes, tracksuits and arthroscopic knee surgery.

Mounting a challenge to the conventional wisdom about human origins, researchers at Harvard University and the University of Utah concluded that the ability to run long distances was the driving force shaping the modern human anatomy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

i-toons

No Child Left Alive

From The Guardian
Evidence began to emerge yesterday of civilians, including children, who were seriously injured in the US assault on the Iraqi city of Falluja.

As American troops sought to consolidate their control over the city, patients in a hospital in Baghdad described how they had been hurt during US bombing raids before the ground assault began last week.
- - - - -
The Iraqi government insisted last night that there was no humanitarian crisis in the city and no civilians had been killed.

But there is evidence to suggest that there have been civilian casualties and shortages of medical care.

Lying next to each other in the al-Nouman hospital in Baghdad's Adhamiya district yesterday were Ala'a Farhan, 11, and his brother Nafar, seven. The elder boy was injured on his left shoulder, the younger child was missing the lower part of his left leg. He lay on a hospital bed still dressed in a jumper and trousers, watching as blood seeped through the dressing on his leg.

The boys' father, Farhan Khalaf, said his sons had been injured in an air or artillery strike on the city in the days before the ground assault began last Monday. It came just as the family was preparing to flee to the nearby village of Saklawiya, where many other refugees are sheltering.

"We were collecting our things to go out of Falluja to a place called Saklawiya where there are other members of our tribe," Mr Khalaf said.

"That's when we got hit by the Americans. My cousin was with me and we took the children to Falluja hospital."

On the Sunday night, before the assault began, US marines and Iraqi forces seized control of Falluja hospital.

Mr Khalaf took his injured children, left the hospital, and tried to take them 40 miles to Baghdad with other relatives.

But as they moved they came under attack a second time, from what they believe was an American tank round.

His cousin Falah Hassan, 38, was killed and his two children were badly injured. Both are also recovering in the al-Nouman hospital.

The younger boy, Ahmed Falah, aged two, was in the arms of a veiled female relative. He had bandages around wounds to his chest, his right hand and above his right eye. On a bed to the side was his brother, Salah, seven, who had his left leg wrapped in plaster and many bandages protecting a serious wound to his stomach.

"When my cousin was hit and killed his two children were hit as well," said Mr Khalaf. "We pray that the government will see all this and do something about it. These children are not terrorists, they are not al-Qaida."

You Mean It Could've Been Worse?

From Juan Cole:
But insiders in Washington have told me enough stories about Powell victories behind the scenes that I am not sure the marginalization argument is decisive. Powell had an alliance with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the two of them could sometimes derail the wilder plans of the Department of Defense. Blair, and probably Powell, convinced Bush to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan before going on to an Iraq war. Imagine how dangerous the situation would be if the US were bogged down in Iraq as it is now, but Bin Laden's 40 training camps were still going full steam!

Likewise, I have it on good authority that Powell and Blair derailed a Department of Defense plan to install Ahmad Chalabi as a soft dictator in Iraq within 6 months of the fall of Saddam. Jay Garner had been given this charge, and Powell was able to get Paul Bremer in, instead, with a charge to keep the country out of Chalabi's corrupt hands.

So at some crucial junctures, Powell has played an essential role in ensuring the implementation of a more sensible policy. Without him in the administration, hotter heads may well prevail.
Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it?

I Hope Bush Can Swim Part XI

Melting glaciers caused by climate change are posing an urgent threat to Mount Everest's unique environment, activists said Wednesday, launching a campaign to protect the Himalayan mountain range and the world's highest peak.

Lakes have swolen from the runoff, and unless urgent action is taken, many lakes could burst, threatening the lives of thousands of people and destroying the environment, said the campaigners a collection of mountaineers, Nepalese climbers and a lobby group Friends of the Earth.
- - - - -
The environmentalists also said climate change threatens the coral reefs in Belize and glaciers in Peru, and will submit petitions to include them on the endangered list.

More than 700 sites are currently on the U.N. Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Danger List. Inclusion of the Everest park would commit UNESCO to assessing the risk to the area and developing "corrective measures" in conjunction with the government of Nepal.

The climate change problems in Nepal, Belize and Peru were caused by gas emissions from industrialized countries, the group said, adding that it will ask the World Heritage Committee to press countries around the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Shot Heard Round The World

The killing of a wounded and apparently unarmed Iraqi by a US marine, videotaped by an embedded reporter from NBC on Saturday and broadcast around the world, is stirring anger in the Middle East and elsewhere.

That anger, reminiscent of the outcry that followed the release of torture photos from Abu Ghraib prison, is the latest upsurge in a propaganda war that the US has been embroiled in from the get-go in Iraq. US officials say an investigation has begun.

The act itself, perhaps a result of the fog of war, perhaps an act of revenge, represents a key challenge for the Marines. Keenly aware that US excesses in the past have turned global opinion against the war in Iraq, and thereby threatened US strategic objectives, commanders repeatedly have warned their subordinates not to shoot unarmed or seriously injured men.
- - - - - - -
The footage has already become more fodder on jihadi websites peddling the conspiracy theory that the US is on a crusade against global Islam. It also caused cringing in the capitals of US friends and allies. Tuesday, UN Human Rights chief Louise Arbour called for an investigation of alleged US abuses in Fallujah.

Charles Smith, a professor of modern Middle East history at the University of Arizona, says the military triumph in Fallujah could be undermined by global anger at how the victory was achieved. In the coming weeks, he says, observers are likely to see "the Bush administration trumpeting 'victory' and much of the rest of the world, including Europe, considering some of our practices as war crimes."

Smooth Criminal

House Republicans were contemplating changing their rules in order to allow members indicted by state prosecutors to remain in a leadership post, a move designed to benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, GOP leaders said today.

Scrooged

Pay-for-performance compensation is helping speed the demise of the Christmas bonus.

Human-resources consultant Hewitt Associates in Lincolnshire says nearly half of companies it surveyed have never offered a holiday bonus. Another 16 percent have dropped bonuses, most of them since 2000. "Many companies are telling us they're shifting resources from the symbolic type of bonus to something that follows how the company has been performing," said Ken Abosch, who manages Hewitt's talent consulting practice.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Free Speech

Sick and tired of the MSM talking about how "depressed" we are? Fed up with having our values questioned by a bunch of fanatics who'd be right at home in the Spanish Inquisition? Chomping at the bit to express a little of the rage and frustration that's bottlenecked inside of you?

Watch this NSFW video. Crank up the volume. Testify along at the top of your lungs. Then get back right back up in Dubya's face. We got work to do.

Quicktime version 1

Quicktime version 2

(streaming) Real Player version

Quicktime version 3 courtesty of Am I Patriotic


(Thanks to IndyMedia.org for all that you do)

Big Man On Campus

Speaking Thursday night to 500 Northwestern University students, many of them journalism majors, Dean noted there was little "statistical difference" between the percentage of voters who deemed moral values the top issue (22 %) and those who ranked as their top concern Iraq or the economy/jobs, according to exit poll data.
- - - - -
"The truth is the president of the United States used the same device that Slobodan Milosevic used in Serbia. When you appeal to homophobia, when you appeal to sexism, when you appeal to racism, that is extraordinarily damaging to the country," Dean charged. "I know George Bush. I served with him for six years [as a fellow governor]. He's not a homophobe. He's not a racist. He's not a sexist. In some ways, what he did was worse … because he knew better."

Dean also criticized Bush for the ballot initiatives in 11 states calling for gay marriage to be outlawed, saying this "had only one effect, which is to appeal to homophobia and fear and gay-baiting in order to win a presidential election."

And he took a shot at Rev. Jerry Falwell.: "Most Americans are decent people -- not all. I mean, there are those hate-mongers. I wouldn't call Jerry Falwell a decent person."

Scolding Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for, in Dean's opinion, humiliating people from the bench, he said, "Justice Scalia ought not to be on the bench. Never pick anyone who's sarcastic and mean-spirited."
- - - - - -
The former Vermont governor also responded to an ad by the conservative Club for Growth in which two ordinary Americans said Dean should take his "tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left wing freak show back to Vermont where it belongs."

He explained, "I don't drink coffee. I have three cars -- all of which are American. No part of me is pierced that I'm willing to discuss publicly. And if you want to see a freak show, go look at the people who wrote that ad -- you won't believe it."

On The Ground In Ohio

A slice of life in Ohio on Election Day from CleveScene:
In Akron, Alan Perella, owner of Larry's Main Entrance, pulls up a seat at the bar, where his regulars wait for televised results. "You think there's still hope?" he asks.

A balding drunk in a Hawaiian shirt places an elbow on the bar as if he's about to answer, but instead, he lifts his beer to his lips, takes a sip, and sighs. He looks dejected. Next to him, Dawn Williams, a bulky woman in a cardigan, appears apologetic.

"I feel really guilty for voting for Bush," she confesses.

People raise their heads from their drinks and exchange puzzled looks.

"Wait. Wha--? Why did you vote for him then?" asks a bulb-nosed customer with a southern Ohio accent.

"Well, I only voted for Bush because I don't like Kerry's wife," Williams answers.

The geezer in the Hawaiian shirt tries to steady himself in the face of his own drunkenness and Williams's stupidity. He grips his pint as he stares blankly at the glowing red map of Florida on TV.

"We're fucked," he slurs.

The Surreal Life

Hyped up on No-Doz and survival instincts, the soldiers thrust toward rebel strongholds with four days of relentless combat showing on their faces. They lost their sense of time and place. They did not know 22 of their colleagues had died or about 170 were wounded in other parts of the city. They did not know what day it was.

They were not certain what they were accomplishing.

"I'm not sure about stabilizing Iraq," said Spec. John Bandy, 23, of Little Rock, Ark., sucking on a cigarette as bullets ricocheted nearby. "I'm not sure it will be better when we're gone, but it's gotten to the point of retribution for all the things that have happened. The beheadings, the bombings and everything."
- - - - - -
"It's hard to maneuver against [the insurgents] because we have so many guys and vehicles, and there's just a few of them, who can drop their weapons and run," Emery said. "Every time we do a mass invasion, it seems like most of them are gone."

The soldiers shared laughs during the more surreal moments, such as when a psychological-operations truck rolled through the city blaring the theme song to the movie "Team America: World Police." In the film, Rambo-like puppets hunt terrorists and blow up the Eiffel Tower in the process. There is no need to thank us, the puppets tell outraged Parisians.

Later that night, 500-pound bombs fell on Fallujah.

The Clone Wars

Talks at the United Nations appear to have failed to avert a new UN confrontation over a US-led drive to ban all cloning of human embryos, including those for stem cell research, diplomats said yesterday.

As a result, a General Assembly panel is headed for a close vote next week on a plan for an anti-cloning treaty put forward by the United States and Costa Rica.
- - - - -
Though all UN members essentially agree on a treaty that would ban cloning human beings, there is strong support for the use of cloned human embryos to make stem cells for medical research.
- - - - -
The Bush Administration is now again pressing for the assembly to adopt a resolution instructing UN treaty writers to draft a total cloning ban. Since last year, however, several blocs have announced their opposition to a new vote if the committee remains divided.

I Hope Bush Can Swim Part X

Arctic indigenous peoples have urged the United States to join other nations in cutting greenhouse gas emissions to brake an accelerating thaw of the polar ice.
- - - - -
"Inuit hunters falling through the ice are linked to the cars we drive," Watt-Cloutier said. "Washington must act." The ICC represents 155,000 Inuit from Canada to Greenland.

Some hunters have drowned by falling through the thinning and thawing ice while tracking the seals, walrus and polar bears which some Inuit rely on for food.

"We thought (global warming) would happen hundreds of years from now, but now ... it's our children, it's us who have to deal with it," said Geir Tommy Pedersen, president of the Saami Council representing reindeer herders from Russia to Norway.

"We are already beyond the time for action," he said.

Friday, November 12, 2004

i-toons

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A Sphincter Says What?

"Instead of being lionized, Kinsey's proper place is with Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele..."
This from Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women of America's Culture & Family Institute, who sees no problem in equating the sexual revolution with the Holocaust. In this crazed scenario, who is Hugh Hefner supposed to be? Joseph Goebbels?

These are the same people who had no problem encouraging children to go see Mel Gibson's Passion, a brutal, clearly anti-Semetic snuff film. It seems they'd rather have their kids see a man beaten and whipped into bloody meat than have someone tell them what a penis is for.

And it's only gonna get worse now that the media has them convinced they won Dubya the election.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

An Endorsement for Our New AG

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

i-toons

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

Fuck the South:
The next dickwad who says, "It’s your money, not the government's money" is gonna get their ass kicked. Nine of the ten states that get the most federal fucking dollars and pay the least... can you guess? Go on, guess. That’s right, motherfucker, they're red states. And eight of the ten states that receive the least and pay the most? It’s too easy, asshole, they’re blue states. It’s not your money, assholes, it’s fucking our money. What was that Real American Value you were spouting a minute ago? Self reliance? Try this for self reliance: buy your own fucking stop signs, assholes.

Let’s talk about those values for a fucking minute. You and your Southern values can bite my ass because the blue states got the values over you fucking Real Americans every day of the goddamn week. Which state do you think has the lowest divorce rate you marriage-hyping dickwads? Well? Can you guess? It’s fucking Massachusetts, the fucking center of the gay marriage universe. Yes, that’s right, the state you love to tie around the neck of anyone to the left of Strom Thurmond has the lowest divorce rate in the fucking nation. Think that’s just some aberration? How about this: 9 of the 10 lowest divorce rates are fucking blue states, asshole, and most are in the Northeast, where our values suck so bad. And where are the highest divorce rates? Care to fucking guess? 10 of the top 10 are fucking red-ass we're-so-fucking-moral states. And while Nevada is the worst, the Bible Belt is doing its fucking part.

But two guys making out is going to fucking ruin marriage for you? Yeah? Seems like you're ruining it pretty well on your own, you little bastards. Oh, but that's ok because you go to church, right? I mean you do, right? Cause we fucking get to hear about it every goddamn year at election time. Yes, we're fascinated by how you get up every Sunday morning and sing, and then you're fucking towers of moral superiority. Yeah, that's a workable formula. Maybe us fucking Northerners don't talk about religion as much as you because we're not so busy sinning, hmmm? Ever think of that, you self-righteous assholes? No, you're too busy erecting giant stone tablets of the Ten Commandments in buildings paid for by the fucking Northeast Liberal Elite. And who has the highest murder rates in the nation? It ain't us up here in the North, assholes.

Well this gravy train is fucking over. Take your liberal-bashing, federal-tax-leaching, confederate-flag-waving, holier-than-thou, hypocritical bullshit and shove it up your ass.

And no, you can't have your fucking convention in New York next time. Fuck off.

Founding Father Quote Of The Day - Piss Off Bush's Base Edition

"Question with boldness even the existence of a god."
- Thomas Jefferson

Big Brother Is Watching

WASHINGTON — Some safety and privacy experts are reacting with apprehension, others with all out condemnation over a recent ruling by the National Transportation Safety Board (search) to require electronic data recorders or "black boxes" in all new cars manufactured in the United States.

"Fighting" The War on Terror

Somehow I missed in yesterday's WPost:
One of the most senior intelligence officers in the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit said yesterday that fewer experienced officers are assigned to defeating the al Qaeda leader and his followers now than there were on Sept. 11, 2001.

Michael Scheuer, the author of a best-selling book critical of the agency's fight against terrorism, said that even though the number of officers assigned to the task has increased substantially, "the level of experienced officers is a little less since September 11."

More than 50 percent of those working on terrorism and against bin Laden are assigned to the job temporarily, for 30 to 90 days at a time, he said. "Sometimes more is just more," said Scheuer, whose superiors have forbidden him to speak to the media.

Some of the most experienced officers have been assigned to Iraq, or sent to the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security's new terrorist threat information center, the 22-year career officer said. As a result, he said, the CIA "has diluted the pool that supports our people overseas," and because of that, "in the long term, we're less safe than we should be."
This story is obviously about more than the number of Al Qaeda analysts. There is deep anger and resentment inside the intelligence community for the way the Bush Administration scapegoated them for both 9/11 and the pre-Iraq invasion intelligence. There is ample evidence that intelligence analysts did their job and warned their bosses, but Bush and his cronies chose to ignore those warnings - especially in Iraq where it is clear that we were going in there no matter what.

Inside Fallujah

From the BBC:
I was with some of the Falluja fighters earlier. They looked tired - but their spirits were high and they were singing. Local fighters have reportedly been joined by Iraqis from other cities. Recently, many Iraqis from other parts of the country have been joining the local men against the Americans.

No one has had much sleep in the past two days of heavy fighting and of course, it is still Ramadan, so no one eats during the day. I cannot say how many people have been killed but after two days of bombing, this city looks like Kabul. Large portions of it have been destroyed but it is so dangerous to leave the house that I have not been able to find out more about casualties.
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A medical dispensary in the city centre was bombed earlier. I don't know what has happened to the doctors and patients who were there. It was last place you could get medical attention because the big hospital on the outskirts of Falluja was captured by the Americans on Monday.

A lot of the mosques have also been bombed. For the first time in Falluja, a city of 150 mosques, I did not hear a single call to prayer this morning. I broke my Ramadan fast yesterday with the last of our food - two potatoes and two tomatoes. The tomatoes were rotten because we have no electricity to run the fridge. My neighbours - a woman and her children - came to see me yesterday. They asked me to tell the world what is happening here.

I look at the devastation around me and ask - why?

Super Spin Me

From Patrick Goldsmith at the L.A. Times:
No film this year gave me more horrified howls of enjoyment than "Super Size Me," the documentary where director Morgan Spurlock offers a visceral firsthand portrait of the hazards of fast food by embarking on a 30-day McDonald's-only diet. Spurlock's cholesterol levels skyrocket, his liver functions deteriorate, he gains nearly 30 pounds — all in a matter of weeks. It gets so ugly that his doctor tries to put a stop to the film, saying his health is at risk.

It got me to thinking. What if I were to test my health in a different way — spending presidential election week watching Fox News exclusively? Call it the Liberal Cold Turkey Diet: no CNN, no Dan Rather, no PBS, no Paul Krugman columns. My only oxygen would be the pure, unfiltered, high-octane air of Fox News. What better week to test the network's claims that, while its commentators might lean to the right, its news programming is straight down the middle.
Click here to read the grisly results.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does Part II

From the always cuddly Rude Pundit:
Meanwhile, commentators all over the political spectrum are saying that one of the reasons that Democrats lost the election is that they are "elitists" and "out of touch" with the "moral values" of Americans. But you know what? The problem is not that Democrats are out of touch with Americans. It's that these so-called "Americans" are out of touch with America as a concept. While all of these pundits are decrying the division of America as somehow the province of "liberals" and their misunderstanding of the middle and south of the country, how about just the occasional fucking word about how Bush's constant berating of "intellectuals" and "Massachusetts" is more divisive, as if somehow Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, and New York are filled with eggheads who only theorize and refuse to get their hands dirty in the real work that all those amazing "real" Americans engage in every day. Bush's anti-intellectualism is a calculated effort to pander to the worst elements of human beings - voting with your gut, not your mind.

See, here's the deal: your ignorance affects the rest of us. That's what we're pissed about. When your kids who don't believe in evolution, hate gays, and are filled with sexual repression and self-loathing cross the borders into blue America, we have to deal with that ignorance. And it is ignorance. Can we just call stupidity what it is? It ain't about religion. It's about stupid fuckers who can't catch a break in this fucked up country when it comes to jobs, health care, wages, and real security who rely on the one thing they have, faith, and then are manipulated by power-mad ministers and politicians into translating that faith into policy. The Rude Pundit's been there. He's seen it all firsthand. And you know what? They've been beaten into stupidity by their stupid fucking communities and all they want is their stupidity to spread, as if stupidity were the greatest value of all.

And when we, the so-called "enlightened," actually say we don't want their stupidity infecting our country, we're called intolerant. That's like when the asshole in the bar, who keeps shoving you and feeling up your girlfriend, says, "You wanna step outside?" and then after he's gotten his friends to beat you with pool cues, you pick your battered ass off the ground and spit blood in his face, then the asshole says, "That's not fair" before he starts to kick you in the nuts repeatedly. "Freedom of religion" really means "freedom from religion," whether that's your religion or all religion.

Thomas Friedman, who has sucked a fair amount of administration cock himself, got it right when he said, "I felt as if I registered to vote, but when I showed up the Constitutional Convention broke out." The religious values the ignorant wish to impose on us are anti-American. If you wanna make it American, then, fine, let's do this thing. Change the actual concept of the country. Go for your constitutional amendments. At least then we'll know just how devolved we've all become.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Something Doesn't Add Up

A statistical analysis of exit polling conducted for RAW STORY by a former MIT mathematics professor has found the odds of Bush making an average gain of 4.15 percent among all 16 states included in the media’s 4 p.m. exit polling is 1 in 50,000, or .002 percent.

The analysis, conducted by former Associate Professor of Mathematics David Anick, also ruled out any significance of a variance between electronic voting and paper ballot states, which RAW STORY reported last week.

In fact, the non-electronic voting states of New York and New Hampshire had higher gains for President Bush than states in the exit polls using some electronic voting: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada and West Virginia.

In part, the discrepancy in the site’s earlier reporting came from the fact that New Hampshire and New York were not included in the reported 6 p.m. polling. Both states had the greatest “Bush gains,” by 8.7 and 8.6 percent respectively, and both use non-electronic balloting. The full breakdown of states by electronic and paper balloting can be found here.

Many of the states, however, including crucial swing states like Florida, Ohio and New Hampshire use optical scan technology which “counts” the paper ballots. Since these systems use Windows machines and a simple database (many of which are connected by modems to a central tabulator), these states are subject to hacking as well.

The site chose to use the 4 p.m. exit polling because it polled the largest number of states, which would provide a larger sample. The National Election Pool refuses to release any of their exit polling on any other states, or to break it down by county, without being paid.

On average, Bush made a gain of 4.15 percent when the reported vote was tallied in all sixteen states included in the reported 4 p.m. exit polling conducted by the National Election Pool.

The gain was calculated by taking the difference between Kerry and Bush in the exit poll and comparing it with the difference between Kerry and Bush in the reported vote.

Anick reasons that there are four possible causes of the “Bush gains.” (1) Significantly greater lying or refusal to speak to pollsters in Bush voters versus Kerry voters; (2) Consistent/systematic errors in weighting demographic groups; (3) A surge of Bush voters after 4 p.m., in all states; (4) Systematic tampering/hacking of reported vote totals, in Bush’s favor.

And Monkeys Could Fly Out Of My Butt

Rumsfeld Says Fallouja Victory Could Be `Tipping Point'

Nope. No Mistakes Here. Part IV

A federal judge ruled Monday that President Bush had both overstepped his constitutional bounds and improperly brushed aside the Geneva Conventions in establishing military commissions to try detainees at the United States naval base here as war criminals.
Full article at NYTimes (reg. req.)

Where's My Shiny, Happy War?

From the incomparable Today in Iraq.
Occasionally, I receive email from thoughtful conservatives. Almost always, they complain that I don’t report the “good news” from Iraq and that I don’t offer any solutions.

I started this blog as a direct result of the American media’s complete failure to adequately cover the war outside a 24-hour news cycle. I don’t intentionally exclude “good news” stories, but the fact of the matter is that there is no good news coming from Iraq. “Good news” would be a decline in insurgent attacks, improved security, secure roads, repaired and functioning electric systems, oil pipelines and water facilities. You don’t see “good news” here because none of that is happening.

I don’t offer solutions because I didn’t start this war. Like millions of other Americans, I actively opposed Bush’s War. Partisan conservatives demonized us as “unpatriotic” and “peaceniks” and "hippies" without ever listening to our message. It’s helpful to remember that every bad thing the anti-Bush War people predicted has happened, while everything the neo-conservatives promised has failed to materialize. I didn’t shit the bed so I have no obligation to clean it up or sleep in it.

Thanks to 19 months of blundering by Bremer and Allawi, there are no good solutions remaining. William R. Polk, writing in a guest editorial at Informed Comment, describes probably the last viable solution to establish a stable Iraqi government and avoid a catastrophic American defeat. Since his proposal runs contrary to the impossible objectives of the neo-cons (who are still in charge of this fiasco) our “decisive” president will most likely opt to stay the course to disaster.

Personally, I think Polk is an optimist. I think there has been so much hate generated by an unnecessary invasion and botched occupation that we are one stupid mistake from being driven out of Iraq by an enraged and unified population. We may have made that mistake this morning near Fallujah.

Throughout this last election campaign, it was clear to any rational American citizen that the Iraq occupation is failing badly and George W. Bush simply plans to sustain current policy. Any conservative who voted for Bush isn’t looking for solutions and is content with reassuring slogans. So don’t come crying to me about “solutions.” You had your chance to help fix this mess and you blew it.

And if you really, really want happy crap disguised as “good news,” go visit Chief Wiggles fantasy blog.

I Hope Bush Can Swim Part IX

And the hits just keep on coming:
Global warming is heating the Arctic almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet in a thaw that threatens the livelihoods of millions of people and could wipe out polar bears by 2100, according to an eight-nation report released on Monday.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Sure, I'm Eating Cat Food. But At Least Those Gays Can't Marry

Health benefits fade quickly for retirees

Things finally are looking up at Lucent Technologies Inc., the telecommunications gearmaker, where profits more than tripled in the most recent quarter.

Yet Lucent's retirees are not sharing in their company's improved fortunes. Thousands will see their health-care costs rise in January when the company's most recent round of cuts to retirees' medical benefits takes effect.

Robert Jerich, who worked for Lucent 37 years, has seen monthly premiums for him and his wife soar to $577 from $32 since he retired 3 1/2 years ago.

"Lucent has forgotten about its retirees as have many companies," said the 61-year-old suburban Countryside resident. "People that made companies what they are today have just been dismissed."

Lucent is among a growing number of large employers that continue to curtail retiree health coverage even though the economy is improving and their bottom lines are getting fatter.

Unless the benefits are guaranteed in a labor agreement, companies generally are not obligated legally to maintain these entitlements. Faced with surging medical costs and burgeoning retiree populations, many employers are trimming their contributions to existing retirees' health coverage and eliminating coverage entirely for future retirees. Medical plans that promise a defined contribution are going away in much the same fashion as defined-benefit pensions, experts say.

But At Least the Iraqi People Are Free!

From tomorrow's WPost:
The United States remains woefully unprepared to protect the public against terrorists wielding biological agents despite dramatic increases in biodefense spending by the Bush administration and considerable progress on many fronts, according to government officials and specialists in bioterrorism and public health.

Although administration officials have spoken at times about bioterrorism's dangers, they are more alarmed than they have signaled publicly, U.S. officials said.
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Biological and nuclear attacks rank as officials' most feared types of terrorist attacks. Because of the technical difficulties in creating such weapons, they reckon the chances of a devastating attack are currently small. But the consequences of a big biological strike could be epically catastrophic, and rapid advances in science are placing the creation of these weapons within the reach of even graduate students, they said.
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Administration officials say most gaps in U.S. biological defenses result from the sheer vastness of the task ahead -- radically transforming entire sectors of society to mount defenses. They cite the need to induce an intensely skeptical drug industry to invest in biowarfare research, and the challenge of redirecting cash-starved hospitals and local health agencies into the unfamiliar field of mass casualty response.
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Because of "explosive growth" in biotechnology, the skills needed to make microbes resistant to antibiotics and vaccines are widely available, the CIA report said. Unlike nuclear weapons research, which is more detectable and can generally be conducted only by large government labs, bioweapons can be made by individuals in secret.
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"The single biggest problem is the non-performance of state and local public health agencies" in drawing up plans that U.S. officials have requested on how they would respond rapidly to a biological attack, he said. The plans would detail how officials expect to deliver medicine to people after the drugs are flown to airports. "From tarmac to bloodstream, their time frames are way too lackadaisical," he said.
The whole article is worth reading (although you'll probably need to up your anti-anxiety meds when you're done.) The horrifying part - putting aside any judgement on this government's actions after 9/11 - is how much money a figurative handful of our enemies have forced us to spend to try and protect ourselves.

We are literally being held hostage to our worst fears. This is not to say that an attack like this isn't possible - it certainly is - but to a large extent, by forcing us to spend so much time and money trying to protect ourselves against the unthinkable, they would seem to have us right where they want us.