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Monday, January 31, 2005

A Blast From The Past Via Daily Kos

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

Everyone wants a brighter future for the brave citizens of Iraq. However, the elections yesterday were all sound and fury, ultimately signifying nothing. My prediction is that the inevitable, foregone conclusion is an Ayad Allawi government, viewed with contempt by the vast majority of Iraqis.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Shameless Antagonist's Separated At Birth Gallery

Prince Harry's Eye for the Fascist Guy

Vice President Dick Cheney headed the U.S. delegation in Poland for the Auschwitz memorial service. If he were to be judged only by the words he spoke, no one in their right mind would take exception:

"The story of the camps shows that evil is real and must be called by its name and must be confronted.

"We are reminded that anti-Semitism may begin with words but rarely stops with words and the message of intolerance and hatred must be opposed before it turns into acts of horror."

Amen. Who doesn't see the wisdom in these words? However, if we consider the context of the quote, it's pretty hard to stomach. Consider the photo below and ask yourself: "What does Cheney's attire have to say about his attitude toward the Holocaust?

Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood. It is embroidered with his name. It reminded one of the way in which children's clothes are inscribed with their names before they are sent away to camp. And indeed, the vice president looked like an awkward boy amid the well-dressed adults.

Like other attendees, the vice president was wearing a hat. But it was not a fedora or a Stetson or a fur hat or any kind of hat that one might wear to a memorial service as the representative of one's country. Instead, it was a knit ski cap, embroidered with the words "Staff 2001." It was the kind of hat a conventioneer might find in a goodie bag.

Staff 2001? Are you telling me the Vice President of the United States couldn't find more appropriate attire? At the very least, it's incredibly ironic. Don't try to tell me that it's justified by the fridgid weather...Wasn't he dressed properly at the President's Innaguration?

But that's not all folks...Cheney actually brought along a raving anti-semite in his delegation.

A delegation sent by President Bush to Ukraine's presidential inauguration last weekend included a Ukrainian-American activist who has accused Jews of manipulating the Holocaust for their gain and blamed them for Soviet-era atrocities in Ukraine.

"Big money drives the Holocaust industry," Myron B. Kuropas wrote in August 2000.

This was no accident. Cheney, like Bush, is full of high platitudes that cloak his contempt. Cheney is party to the dehumanization of the Iraqi people at this time (it makes it easier to kill them and steal their oil), and it takes unmitigated gall for him to go to a Nazi concentration camp while torture takes place at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other "detention facilities" around the world. In his own, less eloquent words, Cheney can "Go Fu** Himself".

Cheney's words remind me of what Banquo told MacBeth after the witches prophesized that he would become king:

"And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray us
In deepest consequence"

This isn't an awkard young man at a private costume party. This is another example of the right wing in the U.S. cowtowing to the racists in their rank, like the time when Reagan left a wreath on a Nazi tomb in Bitburg:


Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Nation of One

The current recruiting slogan for the Army is "An Army of One". What the ad campaign intended was to convey the impression that the military is united in purpose. A better description of what "An Army of One" really means is that if you happen to be a soldier and you become injured, you're on your own, sucker. You're an army of one fighting for your health care! According to the Disabled Americans Veterans annual report, the government isn't meeting its obligations to veterans:

The President's budget had requested only $1.4 billion above the FY 2003 appropriations for veterans' medical care. The President's budget requested legislation to require certain veterans to pay a $250 annual enrollment fee for medical care and, in addition, to require them to pay higher pharmacy and outpatient treatment co-payments. The goals of this legislation were to shift more of the costs of veterans' medical care from the government to veterans themselves and to make veterans' medical care more expensive and thereby save additional money by driving an estimated 1.2 million veterans away from the VA medical care system.

Read The DAV Annual Report:

Well, even if these disabled veterans can't get help via the VA, they can at least depend on Social Security, can't they?

The White House has written a memo arguing that changing the Social Security system will require reducing benefits as well as setting up private investment accounts, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The memo, addressed to the administration's conservative allies, is an attempt by the White House to convince members of the Republican Party who advocate creation of the private accounts -- such as former Reps. Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich -- that cuts in benefits paid to future retirees are also necessary, the newspaper said.

Read it:

Under President Bush, we're becoming a "Nation of One", in other words, a completely self-centered Social Darwinist society. Bush refers to this as his "Ownership Society". The conservative CATO Institute defines the Ownership Society in the following way:

An ownership society values responsibility, liberty, and property. Individuals are empowered by freeing them from dependence on government handouts and making them owners instead, in control of their own lives and destinies. In the ownership society, patients control their own health care, parents control their own children's education, and workers control their retirement savings

In the conservative mindset, we're all on our own, and we prosper by the sweat of our brows and the strength of our moral fiber. If you're successful, you've earned it, if you're morally weak or lazy, you live in a van down by the river.

Those morally weak, lazy disabled veterans. They must have done something to offend God, like watch Spongebob.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Big Bird, a member of the Hollywood Liberal Elite, Receiving His 1998 Emmy Award

Big Bird is Watching You!

The conspiracies of the left seem to surround historically important events such as the assinations of JFK, MLK, and Bobby Kennedy. For some strange reason, the conspiracies of the right seem to center around fictional characters, from Murphy Brown to Tinky Winky to Spongebob Squarepants.

Spongebob squarepants, according to Dobson, is part of a vast left wing conspiracy to spread tolerance.

The truth is, he's right.

That's exactly what we're up to. We believe, because we watched Sesame Street, listened to "Free to Be, You and Me", and learned about the constitution via Schoolhouse Rock, that Americans are free to pursue happiness as they see fit, and that we should be tolerant of others and try to get along. These are our values, this is our furry, fluffy, Big Bird-indoctrinated culture.

Most of the frontline soldiers fighting on my side in the conservative-initiated culture wars are muppets. Now, organized religion has joined us. Connect the dots, people, the conspiracy is now.

Joining the animated fray, the United Church of Christ today (Jan. 24) said that Jesus' message of extravagant welcome extends to all, including SpongeBob Squarepants - the cartoon character that has come under fire for allegedly holding hands with a starfish.

"Absolutely, the UCC extends an unequivocal welcome to SpongeBob," the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, said, only partly in jest. "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we."

For that matter, Thomas explained, the 1.3-million-member church, if given the opportunity, would warmly receive Barney, Big Bird, Tinky-Winky, Clifford the Big Red Dog or, for that matter, any who have experienced the Christian message as a harsh word of judgment rather than Jesus' offering of grace.

Read The UCC Press Release:

Monday, January 24, 2005

Are We Totally Screwed?

Is anyone out there who can explain to me how being in hock up to our eyeballs to the Japanese and Chinese can be good news for the economy? If you can, why don't you explain it to the central banks?

Central banks are shifting reserves away from the US and towards the eurozone in a move that looks set to deepen the Bush administration's difficulties in financing its ballooning current account deficit.

In actions likely to undermine the dollar's value on currency markets, 70 per cent of central bank reserve managers said they had increased their exposure to the euro over the past two years. The majority thought eurozone money and debt markets were as attractive a destination for investment as the US.

Read The Financial Times Article Here:

Fiscal discipline: Never a Republican strong suit.


Friday, January 21, 2005

Christians Against Tolerance

Is this the real reason Dobson is gunning for Spongebob?

My wonderful aunt forwarded the following CNN article to me. Without a doubt, Spongebob will be the most popular search in the Google Zeitegeist today thanks to James Dobson. There's no such thing as bad publicity.

The wacky square yellow SpongeBob is one of the stars of a music video due to be sent to 61,000 U.S. schools in March. The makers -- the nonprofit We Are Family Foundation -- say the video is designed to encourage tolerance and diversity.

Christian groups however have taken exception to the tolerance pledge on the foundation's Web site, which asks people to respect the sexual identity of others along with their abilities, beliefs, culture and race.

"Their inclusion of the reference to 'sexual identity" within their 'tolerance pledge' is not only unnecessary, but it crosses a moral line," James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, said in a statement released Thursday.

It's a free country, Dr. Dobson. People should be able to live how they want to live. You don't have to like gay people. You don't have to accept them, but if you can't even tolerate them, you're not much of an American.

Read About Spongebob:


"We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."

--President George W. Bush

Source: Interview of the President by TVP, Poland, White House (5/29/2003).
Oil for Food, Ships for Condi

The right wing is positively apoplectic as of late about the Oil for Food Scandal.

To recap:

In an examination of the United Nations oil-for-food program for Iraq, the top American arms inspector has described how Saddam Hussein created a web of front companies and used shadowy deals with foreign governments, corporations and officials to amass $11 billion in illicit revenue in the decade before the U.S.-$ led invasion last year.

Right wingers have been quick to condemn the French, Russian, and Indonesians for dealing with the Hussein regime. A talented right wing blogger has followed the story of one of the individuals involved in the scandal, Samir A. Vincent. Silflay Hraka documents the attempts of Mr. Vincent, operating as an Iraqi government agent, to try to negotiate peace with the Bush Administration.

Recent reports have also documented Vincent's attempt to influence former Vice Presidential Candidate Jack Kemp, minister Billy Graham, and President Jimmy Carter.

Vincent received received allocations of nine billion barrels of oil between 1996 and 2003. Of course, Vincent wasn't alone. CNN reports:

Exxon Mobil, which merged in 1999, and Chevron Texaco, which merged in 2001, say they are cooperating with investigators. Exxon purchased no Iraqi oil, but Mobil said it bought 9.2 million barrels from 1997 to 1998.

"All Mobil contracts were reviewed and approved by the U.N. under detailed procedures established for the U.N. Oil-For-Food program. Mobil purchases of oil under the U.N. oil for food program were in full compliance with applicable U.S. laws," said Premlat Nair, an Exxon Mobil spokeswoman.

Chevron purchased 9.5 million barrels, according to Iraqi oil records summarized in the a CIA-sponsored report on the Iraqi regime by weapons inspector Charles Duelfer.

In the publicly released version of the Duelfer report, names of U.S. companies are blacked out, but CNN has obtained a clean copy.

In accordance with the doctrine "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow republican", the Duelfer report protected the large oil corporations. In turn, the right wing blogosphere attempts to smear Jimmy Carter's reputation, while ignoring the alleged links to those with their own polical leanings. Should I be suprised by this?

I wonder if the oil from Iraq obtained by Chevron was carried in this ship:


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Confirmed, But Exposed

Condoleeza Rice thought she was through the woods after taking a sound drubbing from Barbara Boxer at her senate confirmation hearing. No such luck. Her lies will now be the subject of a NINE HOUR DEBATE in congress. This is going to be fun.

The Democratic Senate leadership expects to reach an agreement with Senate Republicans for a nine-hour debate on the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice next Tuesday, a senior Democratic Senate source told RAW STORY Wednesday evening.

The agreement, which must be reached by unanimous consent, but which is very much expected, will allow Democratic senators not on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to voice their thoughts about Rice on the Senate floor.

Read it at The Blue Lemur:

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Aiding and Abetting the Deluded

Today, one of the most popular articles in the blogosphere is a letter by LTC Tim Ryan, a soldier on the ground in Iraq. In his letter, Ryan argues the case that the media isn't mentioning all the good news from Iraq, and instead follows the "if it bleeds, it leads" doctrine of journalistic sensationalism. Ryan also argues that when the media reports bad news, they're effectively aiding and abetting the enemy. I would argue that Ryan is unwittingly aiding and abetting the deluded.

Ryan writes:

Ironically, the press freedom that we have brought to this part of the world is providing support for the enemy we fight. I obviously think it's a disgrace when many on whom the world relies for news paint such an incomplete picture of what actually has happened. Much too much is ignored or omitted. I am confident that history will prove our cause right in this war, but by the time that happens, the world might be so steeped in the gloom of ignorance we won't recognize victory when we achieve it.

Read It:

What Ryan fails to realize is that war is not a zero-sum game. Civilian improvements are not a counterweight to military and civilian casualties; they are the baseline by which the progress, or lack thereof is judged. The lacking perspective is his own.
The media should report on the bad news moreso than the press ops orchestrated by the military because they represent the diversion from what should be normalcy. I can understand why a professional soldier might blur this distinction, but the secondary message, that dissent is the moral equivalent of aiding and abetting the enemy is dangerous to democracy. The sad fact is that anyone who expects the military to tell them the truth, without independent confirmation, is a tool. I'm not saying that they always lie, but a lie, to the military, is acceptable if it accomplishes strategic objectives. An independent press is as crucial to a democracy as an army.

If I were to speak to LTC Ryan, I would respectfully ask him to consider what would happen if the tables were reversed, and the political reality of Iraq were to take place in the United States. Juan Cole lays out the scenario brilliantly in his essay entitled,

"If America Were Iraq, What Would It Look Like"?

What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?

What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?

What if all the reporters for all the major television and print media were trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New York, unable to move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent on stringers to know what was happening in Oklahoma City and St. Louis? What if the only time they ventured into the Midwest was if they could be embedded in Army or National Guard units?

There are estimated to be some 25,000 guerrillas in Iraq engaged in concerted acts of violence. What if there were private armies totalling 275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles (legal again!), rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hiding out in dangerous urban areas of cities all over the country? What if they completely controlled Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, such that local police and Federal troops could not go into those cities?

What if, during the past year, the Secretary of State (Aqilah Hashemi), the President (Izzedine Salim), and the Attorney General (Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim) had all been assassinated?

What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave, with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every major city every year?

What if the Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed Billings, Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anacostia in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to target "safe houses" of "criminal gangs", but inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies?

Homeland Security Department Update

The good news first: We've found the WEAPONS of MASS DESTRUCTION

The bad news: They're in Virginia, they're unprotected, and they're underfunded.

In a related development, the National Guard has begun withdrawing troops from security duty at the site, ending a mission prompted by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Guard also is withdrawing from Indiana's Newport Chemical Depot and six other chemical weapons storage sites.

The Pentagon has proposed cutting funding for the 15,500-acre depot in Kentucky to about $15million next year, from $105million.

Critics said the military is breaking its promises and exposing communities to many more years of potential danger.

Weapons stored at the depot include the nerve gas sarin and the toxic liquid VX.

Read It:


Monday, January 17, 2005

Liberal Values

Happy MLK Day. Here's to the hope that the future direction of our nation will be decided by "Values Voters", more specifically, MLK Values Voters:

A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Read The Full Nobel Peace Prize Address Here:


Who's Next?

According to Seymour Hersch in the New Yorker, Iran.

"This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone, " the former high-level intelligence official told me. "Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign. We've declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah-we've got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism."

Read It:


Saturday, January 15, 2005

How the World Sees The United States of America:

Here's How We See Ourselves:

image via

The question facing the Bush administration is "how do we evade taking responsibility for torture at Abu Ghraib"? The answer: Find a scapegoat. What Spc. Graner did was despicable, but the administration would like you to believe it was an isolated incident. In addition, they would like you to believe that what happened at Abu Ghraib was tantamount to frat boy hazings.

The response of the administration is a reflection of their overall policy: They support the war, but they don't support the troops. Spec. Graner is being scapegoated to hide the systematic nature of the abuse, which was justified by the poison pen of Alberto Gonzalez.

Army Spc. Charles Graner Jr., the suspected ringleader of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse, took the stand for the first time Saturday and said he was ordered by interrogators to abuse detainees.

Read It:

Friday, January 14, 2005

Two Minutes Hate from the broadway production of 1984


Why is this front-page news that trumps all other news, such as the trial of Charles Graner for the Abu Gharaib abuses? Why is this more of a scandal than the son of Margaret Thatcher admitting to having sponsored a coup in Equatorial Guinea? Prince Harry will never be more than a figurehead, but Mark Thatcher has actual influence.

Here's what the South African Independent has to say about his case...

On Thursday he pleaded guilty to helping to fund a mercenary plot in West Africa - a charge on which he had been arrested in August during an investigation into a foiled coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

He admitted paying $275 000 (about R1,6-million) to hire a helicopter although he suspected his long-standing friend, Simon Mann, a former British special services soldier, wanted it for mercenary activity.

A plea bargain spares Thatcher jail while the Eton-educated Mann is serving a jail sentence in Zimbabwe for his role in the Equatorial Guinea coup plot.

Mark Thatcher

Can you guess where Mark is seeking refuge after being exposed as a coup plotter?

Sex Bombs Away!

"Making Love" and "Making War" are no longer mutually exclusive terms

THE Pentagon considered developing a host of non-lethal chemical weapons that would disrupt discipline and morale among enemy troops, newly declassified documents reveal.

Most bizarre among the plans was one for the development of an "aphrodisiac" chemical weapon that would make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other. Provoking widespread homosexual behaviour among troops would cause a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale, the proposal says.

No, It's not from The Onion


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Taking on Diplomad

Michael Roston at Looking For Someone To Lie To Me absolutely eviscerates the disinformation machine that is Diplomad in a brilliant post (go to the post to see the hyperlinks):

Diplomad may be lying, but the pictures don't, and the UN wouldn't dare issue press releases telling us what they were doing if it was all untrue - not in this environment. Here's UNICEF in India, in Indonesia, and the boss-lady herself detailing what they're doing in Sri Lanka. Here's the World Food Program in Sri Lanka, and from all appearances they can't operate in Indonesia for the reasons I articulated above. And here's the WHO's account of their work to date in the region at disease containment. You see, the problem with Diplomad is that they look at the work of diplomats from the UN, and they know too well from personal experience that the work of diplomats isn't much, and ignore the work of the UN's ground-pounders who are legion and doing all they can.

A Question of Proportion: Armstrong Williams vs. Dan Rather

On the one hand, a respected journalist screws up by using an unauthenticated source that might be a forgery in the process of challenging Bush's dubious record in the national guard.

On the other, the government pays a journalist a quarter-million dollar bribe, paid for with our tax dollars to hawk the No Child Left Behind Act.

Which gets more news coverage? Rather, of course.

A googlenews search reveals five times as many hits for "Dan Rather" as a comparable search for "Armstrong Williams". In addition, Google News features articles about "Rathergate", meanwhile, Williams doesn't even rate front page coverage.

Would someone please explain to me why scandal prior to the election is getting more media scrutiny than an unfolding scandal involving misuse of public funds?

Only Hopes and Dreams

The search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has ended, officials tell two newspapers.

Weapon hunter Charles Duelfer and his team have wrapped up their work and come home, U.S. officials tell the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Violence in Iraq and an absence of new information prompted the team to return home before Christmas, the Post reports.

Duelfer is expected to make only small additions to his October report that found Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs had deteriorated into only hopes and dreams by the time of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Let's take a trip in my time machine back to April, 2003:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed,

"I am absolutely convinced and confident about the case on weapons of mass destruction.

"To you, and others, who believe somehow that this was all a myth invented by us, I would refer them first of all to the 12 years of the United Nations reports detailing exactly what weapons of mass destruction were held by the then Iraqi regime."

He added: "We are now in a deliberative way and in a considered way investigating the various sites - and we will bring forward the analysis, the results of that investigation, in due course.

"I think that when we do so you and others will be eating some of your words."

To the contrary, Tony, it's time for you and the warbloggers to eat a big steaming plate of crow.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Children Praying To A Republican God

The Presidential Prayer Team is a nominally bipartisan organization that believes in the necessity of praying for our national leaders. Philisophically, this is a notion most Americans can support. However, a careful look at the prayerful support children are led to provide reveals a decidedly conservative slant on the role of the almighty in human affairs:

The Presidential Prayer Team kids are encouraged to pray for the following government officials this week: Bill Frist, Dennis Hastert, and Tom DeLay. While I believe that these men could benefit from divine intervention in their decisionmaking processes, it's interesting to note that children are rarely urged to pray for Democrats. Is there a subtle agenda here to equivocate God with Republican leadership? You be the judge.

In international affairs, the Prayer Team is encouraged to adopt a myopic mindset in which the only organization given credit for helping with the Tsunami relief effort is the U.S. military:

Did you know that over 14,000 American military troops have been dispatched to help in the Bay of Bengal? They are bringing medical help as well as providing much needed supplies like water, food and shelter. So pray for them to be strengthened and encouraged and kept safe as they help. Pray that God's love and provision will be seen through their actions. And be sure to pray for the troops who continue to serve in Iraq. They still need our prayers as much as ever!

The Presidential Prayer Team For Kids

There isn't any mention of the U.N., World Vision, or any other humanitarian organization helping with the relief effort, nor is there any link to sites that provide aid to those helping relieve suffering. What would Jesus do?


Saturday, January 08, 2005

How Do You Sleep At Night?

"Diplomad" is a blog published by a disgruntled "foreign service officer" that supposedly documents the ineffectiveness and corruption of the United Nations.
Diplomad's hate-filled invective smears the United Nations, and spreads the false notion that United Nations aid isn't reaching the Tsunami victims.

Anyone who takes even a moment to contact the Red Cross, Unicef, World Vision, or any other global charity knows otherwise. Here's a link to the World Food Program website. You can find a link to a video showing WFP relief being unloaded from a cargo plane within hours of the Tsunami.

The World Food Program Distributing Aid in Sri Lanka

Read Diplomad if you have the stomach for it:

How low can you get?
What Does It Take To Kill Seven Soldiers in A Bradley Fighting Vehicle?

A massive explosion, that's what.

Seven U.S. soldiers were killed when a massive roadside bomb exploded under an armored vehicle in Baghdad and two Marines were killed in Anbar province on Thursday, the military said. It was the deadliest day for U.S. forces in Iraq since a suicide bomber struck a mess hall Dec. 21.

The roadside bomb exploded beneath a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, killing everyone inside the heavily armored troop carrier. The attack came in northwest Baghdad, a section of the capital that includes a Sunni Muslim neighborhood with a substantial presence of insurgents.

The hull of a Bradley is comprised of welded aluminum and spaced laminate armor, and to completely destroy one is no small feat. Where could they have obtained such weapons, you might ask?

From us.
Here's a flashback from October 25th:

Where did the al QaQaa Explosives Come From?

The current debate on the al QaQaa has centered around when the explosives were looted. As far as I'm concerned, that debate is over. Josh Marshall of talkingpointsmemo has covered that better than anyone. Please read him.

Even so, this story is just beginning to develop. The most astounding new report is an exclusive from Minneapolis news channel KSTP, who had an embedded reporter on the scene.

In one bunker, there were boxes marked with the name "Al Qaqaa", the munitions plant where tons of explosives allegedly went missing.

Once the doors to the bunkers were opened, they weren't secured. They were left open when the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew and the military went back to their base.

Read This Story, Please!

Unbelieveable! We knew there were massive stockpiles of weapons, yet we left them open for looters.

This is far more than further proof that the war is run by backseat drivers and nobody is at the wheel. Consider this photo from the KSTP article:

Don't you find it interesting that the Iraqis chose to label their explosives in English?

That got me thinking...Where did those weapons come from? I typed in the source code listed on the boxes (CNMR 8702)in several databases, and I found a match on a Defense Logistics Information Service web page. The Defense Logistics Information Service

The results seem to indicate that these explosives originated in the United States. One could assume that these munitions were originally sold to the Iraqis during the Iran/Iraq war. Now, in all likelihood, they're being used by insurgents to blow up troops in Iraq, and we could have prevented it if we had even marginally competent leadership. How could we let this happen?


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Did John Stewart Get Tucker Carlson Fired?

It sure seems like it.

CNN said goodbye to pundit Tucker Carlson on Wednesday, and with him likely the "Crossfire" program that has been the granddaddy of high-volume political debate shows on cable television.

The bow-tied wearing conservative pundit got into a public tussle last fall with comic Jon Stewart, who has been critical of cable political programs that devolve into shoutfests.

He said all of the cable networks, including CNN, have overdosed on programming devoted to arguing over issues. Klein said he wants more substantive programming that is still compelling.

"I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp," Klein told The Associated Press.
Read It:

This move should come as a warning to all conservatives. John Stewart and his smartass minions, (such as myself), will crush you all into a fine powder with our witty, trenchant social commentary.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Effective Government Then and Now

Cartoon from 1938 showing the conservative take on the TVA

As George Lakoff notes, two core values of progressives are broader prosperity and more effective government. Effective government doesn't necessarily mean a larger government, or a smaller goverment, but rather a government responsive to the will of the people with a system of checks and balances to insure efficiency, self-defense, and opportunity.

On the other end of the politcal spectrum, Conservatives believe in lower taxes and smaller government. A helpful analogy comes from neocon guru Grover Nordquist, who expressed his conviction that the government should be shrunk down to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub. The apex of this philosophy can be found at the Ayn Rand institute, which recently argued that the U.S. governement shouldn't contribute to Tsunami relief.

What conservatives overlook is that the government is comprised of citizens, and if and when the citizens are truly engaged, the government becomes responsive to their needs. The conservative rhetoric of "it's not the government's money it's your money" separates the government and the people, creating two distinct entities where before there was one; it's like the wisdom of King Solomon: slice the baby in half and give half to each. At its very core, the neocon philosophy betrays the basic principles of a citizen-democracy. We are the government.

In addition, conservatives tend to ignore successful government programs such as the interstate highway system, the Hoover Dam, Head Start, The National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, the Center for Disease Control, etc...

Right now, The Tennessee Valley Authority provides power for an 80,000 square mile area in Tenessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Virginia. Of course, conservatives and big business opposed the project at the time, and continue to oppose a broad swath of government programs designed to broaden prosperity and extend opportunity today.

The strongest opposition to TVA came from power companies, who resented the cheaper energy available through TVA and saw it as a threat to private development. They charged that the federal government's involvement in the power business was unconstitutional. The fight against TVA was led by Wendell Willkie, president of the Commonwealth and Southern Company, a large power utility company.

Isn't the TVA an example of the sort of big government largesse that conservatives despise? Shouldn't our red state compatriots boycott the use of electric power in protest?


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

This is not America

Screw due process! Forget innocent until proven guilty! Down with international law and the Geneva Convention! Correct me if I'm wrong, but can't the administration's attitude toward "enemy combatants" be summed up in such a fashion?

As allegations grow that "one-in-six" prisoners at the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba may have been tortured, the Guardian newspaper reports Monday that the US is considering a plan to hold terrorism suspects "indefinitely" even if it doesn't have enough evidence to charge them. The US will also replace temporary facilities at the base with permanent prisons.

Read It:

"We should not underestimate the depth of this crisis... to distain law on such a fundamental human right as protection against torture is catastrophic. We can be sure that regimes like those in Syria, Uzbekistan, Tibet, and Cuba, will torture with even greater impunity than before, but that is not even the worst of it. If it succeeds, it undermines everything the human rights movement has stood for and threatens all it has achieved. We must not allow it."

Physicians for Human Rights Executive Director Leonard Rubenstein

Atrios in Rare Form

, one of my favorite bloggers, is in rare form as of late. The National Review, magazine of choice for neocons, is celebrating its 50th birthday, and Atrios gives them the credit they deserve:

Happy Birthday National Review!

My. Has it been 50 years already? Time sure does fly. K. Lo promises a lovely trip through the archives for a celebration. I thought I might help get things started. Just in case they miss a few things. My birthday gift to them. From 1957 unsigned National Review piece, "Why The South Must Prevail." (warning -- serious cooties at link).

The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.

National Review believes that the South's premises are correct. . . . It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.

That National Review! So ahead of it's time! Sticking up for minority rights, even in 1957. Well, white minority rights anyway, but let's not nitpick! It's a birthday celebration after all.

They were wrong then, and they're wrong now. As we head in to 2005, let's fight with the same conviction and determination of Martin Luther King and prevail over the conservatives once again based upon the courage of our convictions and our hope for a better world.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Global Warming and Tsunamis

Could rising ocean levels have played a part in the South Asian tsunami crisis?

For years, environmentalists have been claiming that one ramification of rising sea levels is that tsunami damage would likely be more severe. Of course, the population explosion and unregulated development of coastal areas are also significant factors. MSNBC, a right-of-center news outlet reports on the continuing debate among climatologists:

A creeping rise in sea levels tied to global warming, pollution and damage to coral reefs may make coastlines even more vulnerable to disasters like tsunamis or storms in the future, experts said on Monday.

Few coastal ecosystems are robust enough to withstand freak waves like the ones that slammed into Asian nations from Sri Lanka to Thailand on Sunday, killing more than 23,000 people, after a subsea earthquake off Indonesia.

Read It:

It's not surprising that the new political correctness of the Bush administration considers questioning the link between the two anethema. Conservative bloggers are positively apoplectic that anyone would dare to even consider the possibility.

Steven Milloy of the Cato Institute, writing for FOX news, leads the charge:

Environmental activists are shamelessly trying to exploit last week's earthquake-tsunami catastrophe in hopes of advancing their global warming and anti-development agendas

Read It:

Global warming is perhaps a contributing factor to the severity of the tsunami. What is the respose from the Cato Institute and other right wing think tanks? Rather than addressing the possiblity, they villify those who raise the question, continuing their tactic of tarring environmentalists as terrorists. If we juxtapose this ad hominem attack with the fact that the Cato Institute itself is a resevoir of junk science outside the mainstream of the climatological mainstream, we can only conclude that the anti-environmental movement is on the defensive after seeing the ramifications of years of denial. Their recent policy shift from "global warming is a myth" to "global warming is benign" is now as tattered as a Sri Lankan palm tree.
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