The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Next in the cavalcade of horror: gas shortages

This was a shocker-- extremely disturbing news that took me completely by surprise.

Gas shortage in North Carolina.

Gas shortage in South Carolina.

Gas shortage in West Virginia.

Counties in each state have expressed concern over being able to fuel police cars, ambulances and even garbage trucks.

I could go for some good news right about now. Anyone?


Gas shortage in Georgia.

Gas shortage in Iowa.

Gas shortage threatens to close US airports.

Short-changing Louisiana and the incompetence of W's FEMA

More evidence that the GOP's true concerns are power and wealth-- consequences be damned.

New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA. (. . .)

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.

Newhouse News Service, in an article posted late Tuesday night at The Times-Picayune Web site, reported: "No one can say they didn't see it coming. ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.

On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."

Kevin Drum points out that W cared so much about Federal Emergency Management Agency that he put two political pals in charge: his 2000 campaign manager and a a lawyer with no previous experience. Now you know why they call it the spoils system-- everything the administration has done, they've spoiled.

Funny, I didn't see Katrina on a milk carton....

...but you can't miss the doomsaying nimrods of the fundamentalist right, eager as ever to claim that a natural disaster was actually a win for their team.

First there was the group Christian Life and Liberty, who carefully explained their stance that the eye of the hurricane was vaguely similar in shape to a six-week old human fetus. Leading to the inexorable conclusion that New Orleans has been submerged and hundreds of thousands evacuated for its five clinics that perform abortions. Their final conclusion? "God's message: REPENT AMERICA !" Matt Sandwich's message: TAKE REMEDIAL ENGLISH!

And in what couldn't possibly be a coincidence, along comes the group actually called "Repent America," who in spite of their loony name have some powerful right-wing boosters. Their claim? Gay men and topless girls did it.

"Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city." [director Michael] Marcavage said. "From ‘Girls Gone Wild’ to ‘Southern Decadence’, New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. May it never be the same."

"Let us pray for those ravaged by this disaster. However, we must not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long," Marcavage said.

Maybe I'd be convinced by their idiotic claims if a snowstorm had struck New Orleans. Or if a hurricane hit Chicago. Maybe a plague of cobras in San Francisco. But a hurricane on the Gulf coast is a pretty tough sell in the divine retribution department.

Last but not least, the Anti-Defamation League rounds up some memorable quotes from white supremacists. They're solidly behind the wrath of God hypothesis, but they blame a different group of people. You'll never guess who.

WWII vet calls Bush on war comparisons

Ahhhhh, good to see 'em still kicking ass sixty years later-- it's just a shame that the fascists are right here this time. Crooks and Liars has the clip, from Neil Cavuto's Fox News show:

Video- (3.2 megs) Video-QT

The veteran, one Tom Mahoney, socks it to GOP pundits everywhere, one talking point at a time:

* "There's no comparison to any part of World War II"

* ". . .if you didn't participate, you shouldn't talk about it. If you didn't get out there with the men, don't take it second hand we're winning."

* Does Mahoney believe that we're doing a just and noble thing in Iraq? "No, I really don't."

Wow. Talk about must-watch TV. Could Cavuto come across as any more patronizing? What a schmuck.

Word spreads of disastrous federal policy in New Orleans

Two days ago, I wrote about an article from 2001 in which scientists anticipated an occurrence like Katrina in New Orleans. I also pointed out that this administration has been cutting funding to the area for years. My ol' pal Stephanie Miller even read bits of it on her show, which was a nice feeling (even if she didn't GIVE ME CREDIT!).

Nevertheless, like many others I assumed that the near-miss of New Orleans would mitigate the damage. That was tragically optimistic. One thing I'm glad to see, though, is the mainstream media reporting that experts had seen just such a disaster coming for years. They're also observing the loss of federal funds to New Orleans and the shortage of National Guard members able to contribute to relief duty-- they're requesting manpower and equipment from other states.

One right-wing blog had a post yesterday "disproving" the notion that we could use more of the National Guard right here in the US. Yes, the liberal blogs have pointed this out, and each article I've seen has quoted military officials in the affected states. Who claimed that everything's just fine with the National Guard in those states? Official Pentagon spokesmonkey Lawrence DeRita. I'm sure he's much better informed on the Alabama National Guard than their actual CO. You might remember DeRita saying "People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said," after the allegations of detainee abuse at Guantanamo Bay. Because torture doesn't kill people-- transparent government kills people.

A new excuse for Iraq

This is getting a lot of attention from the liberal blogs, or I wouldn't be posting it.

President Bush answered growing antiwar protests yesterday with a fresh reason for US troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields, which he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists. (. . .)

''If Zarqawi and [Osama] bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks," Bush said. ''They'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions. They could recruit more terrorists by claiming a historic victory over the United States and our coalition."

Why wouldn't I be posting it? Because the left already knows that this war was a fraud from the start, and those who still support it are beyond reason. But there it is.

It isn't looting, it's "found food."

Or "let the racism begin!" DailyKos has two photos of people wading through deep, deep water with some groceries. One photo is of a black man who just "looted" a grocery store. One is of a white couple who "found" items in a grocery store. The media coverage of this ain't gonna be pretty. There are two other pictures that show people leaving stores with bags of goodies. The young black woman is a "looter." The white man is "looking through his shopping bag."

Coverage of Katrina is going to be troubling in more ways than one. We're already seeing an inherently unsympathetic view of southern blacks, who are no less citizens than any of us.

I also just heard that there are sharks swimming in downtown New Orleans, possibly from a demolished Canal Street aquarium. Martial law was enacted yesterday, and all citizens have been ordered to leave the city. That order isn't likely to be rescinded for several weeks.

W on Katrina

Rising to the occasion yesterday, Fearless Leader decided it was high time to deal with this natural disaster by "exuding confidence" in the face of adversity. Since there wasn't a copy of The Pet Goat around, he opted for the next best thing:

Yes, that photo was taken yesterday. The link up top will take you to a gallery of amateur photos of the hurricane's aftermath.

She's my daughter... she's my sister... she's my daughter...

The increasingly schizophrenic efforts to sell the Iraq war as public support drops took a turn for the desperate this week. It was sort of a greatest-misses melange of every prop and technique that Fearless Leader has used for the past three years.

Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, the president drew comparisons between that 20th-century conflict and current wars on terror and in Iraq.

"As we mark this anniversary, we are again a nation at war. Once again war came to our shores with a surprise attack that killed thousands in cold blood," he said at a naval base here, referring to Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

He said that as in the time of World War II, the United States now faces "a ruthless enemy" and "once again we will not rest until victory is America's and our freedom is secure." (. . .)

"The freedom that was born of your sacrifice has lifted millions of God's children across the Earth," he said while standing in the shadow of the red, white and blue-adorned USS Ronald Reagan, the newest aircraft carrier in the fleet.

The speech at the Naval Air Station North Island here was the president's third address about Iraq or the war on terrorism in less than two weeks, part of an intensified effort to allay the fears of a public that has become increasingly skeptical about his Iraq policies.

Aircraft carrier, world war, flag, etc. Pitiful. There was even a blame Clinton (plus Carter and Reagan) moment:

They looked at our response after the hostage crisis in Iran, the bombings of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa, and the attack on the USS Cole. They concluded that free societies lacked the courage and character to defend themselves against a determined enemy.

US Poverty rate rises for fourth straight year

But-- those tax cuts were all about helping out ordinary Americans, right? It's obvious that we need to do more. Repeal the Paris Hilton tax, immediately!

An extra 1.1 million Americans dropped below the poverty line last year, according to the US Census Bureau.

There were 37 million people living in poverty in 2004, up 12.7% from the previous year.

The report said non-Hispanic whites were the only ethnic group to experience an increase in poverty as well as a drop in income.

The real culprit, as you might notice in that last sentence, is that newly available jobs pay less with fewer benefits. Good jobs are becoming increasingly scarce.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Donate to Disaster Relief

We're just beginning to see the incredible damage wrought by hurricane Katrina, and it's going to be much, much worse. Thousands upon thousands of people have lost everything they had, not to mention the loss of life in Louisiana and Mississippi. Estimates are that one million people are without power, and there will be hundreds of thousands temporarily or permanently homeless.

I'd encourage everyone to head to the site above and give what you can to the effort. I've made my donation (and if a grad student in the humanities can help out, most anyone can). I'd also suggest donating online-- the phones are pretty busy.

Just for kicks, I thought I'd take a look at how many of the right-wing blog biggies are following suit and encouraging people to donate to the Red Cross (or anyone). I found one-- Michelle Malkin-- and that's it. Granted, I only checked about nine, but that isn't much of a record. On the other hand, they tend to favor Social Darwinism (for evidence, see this exquisite link). Once again, you've got to hand it to all those bleeding-heart sodomites for bailing out the red states....

UPDATE: The Red Cross' follow-up message to my donation contained the following not-so-fun facts. Read 'em and see if you can't rustle up at least a measly 20 bucks to feed a few people for a day:

Thousands of desperate families are taking refuge from Hurricane Katrina in more than 230 Red Cross shelters in the affected areas.

  • American Red Cross is launching the largest mobilization of resources for a single natural disaster in our history.

  • We’re preparing 500,000 hot meals a day to serve to survivors who have no where else to turn.

  • Several hundred emergency vehicles and thousands of ARC staff and volunteers have been deployed from around the country for immediate emergency assistance.
  • KY governor pardons nine cronies

    Good-natured Kentucky governor Ernie Fletcher has decided to save the state a whole lot of time and money by ensuring that nine associates charged with ethics violations don't face trial. What a guy!

    Calling the investigation into personnel practices in his administration a wasteful game of political gotcha, Gov. Ernie Fletcher tonight pardoned nine current and former officials who have been indicted along with anyone who “might … be charged.”

    Although he has the authority to do so, Fletcher said he will not pardon himself. Consequently, Attorney General Greg Stumbo’s office could prosecute Fletcher if the special grand jury investigating his administration’s actions were to indict him.

    Scheduled to appear tomorrow before the grand jury, Fletcher said he would not answer questions. (. . .)

    The nine indicted were charged with misdemeanors that Fletcher portrayed as insignificant. Only one official, former transportation administrative service commissioner Dan Druen, has been indicted on more serious felony charges – two counts of witness tampering and 20 counts of evidence tampering.

    “Greg Stumbo is wasting your tax dollars,” Fletcher said.

    ”I cannot allow state government to be consumed by this game of political gotcha,” he added.

    Stumbo said in a written statement that Fletcher has “slammed the door on the public's right to know what wrongs his administration has committed.”

    Now, now, I prefer to think that he spared the public the anguish of learning about the criminal acts of their government, which would cause psychological unease. Oh, and did I mention that he's a Republican?

    Monday, August 29, 2005

    Let's not get all 'scientific' here or anything...

    I've been posting recently on Intelligent Design, and why-- as a 'closet scientist' who's followed the debate over the 20th century-- it's a load of crap. And why, so many decades after the 'Scopes Monkey Trial' this issue still garners even a modicum of attention in the United States today. And why the issue still manages to find supporters among journalists, in spite of the fact that they've supposedly researched the issue before weighing in.

    After reading this risible column in the WaPo today, I'm coming to the conclusion that it's an unfortunate byproduct of today's he-said/she-said style of writing (granted, this is a column and not a piece of journalism, but it is in one of the best-known US papers).

    First, let's get rid of the idea that ID (intelligent design) is a form of sly creationism. It isn't. ID is unfairly confused with the movement to teach creationism in public schools. The most serious ID proponents are complexity theorists, legitimate scientists among them, who believe that strict Darwinism and especially neo-Darwinism (the notion that all of our qualities are the product of random mutation) is inadequate to explain the high level of organization at work in the world. Creationists are attracted to ID, and one of its founding fathers, University of California law professor Phillip Johnson, is a devout Presbyterian. But you don't have to be a creationist to think there might be something to it, or to agree with Johnson when he says, "The human body is packed with marvels, eyes and lungs and cells, and evolutionary gradualism can't account for that."

    That's the extent of the "scientific" argumentation in the column. But to paraphrase that "Let's get rid of the idea that ID is a form of sly creationism," I'd argue that it's actually a "sly form of creationism," and that the editors were asleep on the job for allowing even that to slip through, but I won't belabor the point.

    The only evidence offered-- which just so happens to be the only evidence that ID fans can offer-- boils down to the following: "It's beyond our ability to fully comprehend at this point. Ergo, it's supernatural." This is nothing more than a modernization of an argument as old as religion itself. Don't know what caused a drought? The sun god flew too close to the earth. Any other explanations are a threat to religion. This point I don't mind belaboring. Say you were to go back in time and demonstrate the astounding destructive power of TNT. Those unfamiliar with the concept would take it to be magic. But you'd know better. The fundamentalists in America are fighting tooth and nail to return us to a day when the only explanation for any previously-unexplained phenomena was "Skyman did it! All hail Skyman!"

    Believers in the supernatural love to compare themselves to Copernicus, who was sentenced to death by the church for suggesting that the sun was the center of the solar system. We now regard him as a bold pioneer unjustly villified by the dogmatic and superstitious. He simply observed, and reported his observations. The thing is, Copernicus was not only revolutionary, but correct. There is ample evidence, both in the fossil record and thanks to the observations by scientists over the last few decades, that Darwin is correct. Nevertheless, today we find ourselves fighting a battle between an observable, verifiable phenomenon and those who insist that-- because they perceive a threat to their own belief system-- the heretic must be destroyed.

    Recent related posts are here, here, here, and (the most in-depth) here.

    Iraq: More costly than 'War to end all wars.'

    That is, of course, the unfortunate subtitle to World War I, which turned out to be "the war that guaranteed another World War." Putting that aside, it was reported today in the Christian Science Monitor that our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have amounted to the fourth costliest war effort in US history (yes, that's in inflation-adjusted dollars).

    World War II was the most expensive by far-- and justifiably so. Looking at the next most expensive, Vietnam and Korea, it's readily apparent that war is becoming more expensive and inefficient (pardon my pragmatism) in spite of technological advances. We've deployed a relatively small number of troops in the two Middle Eastern countries, and gained control of central government, as it was, in a remarkably short time. But we've also spent a very short time there, yet find ourselves faced with the restoration of two despotic theocracies. Control slips away daily, even as the administration insists that we're doing remarkably well, that Americans are solidly behind the war, and that-- as always-- we're making some sort of phantasmagoric, indefinable "progress."

    Stay the course, citizens!

    Pity New Orleans, another victim of the GOP

    In 2001, I read an article in Scientific American titled "Drowning New Orleans." It stuck with me over the last few years-- truly horrific stuff.

    If a big, slow-moving hurricane crossed the Gulf of Mexico on the right track, it would drive a sea surge that would drown New Orleans under 20 feet of water. "As the water recedes," says Walter Maestri, a local emergency management director, "we expect to find a lot of dead bodies."

    New Orleans is a disaster waiting to happen. The city lies below sea level, in a bowl bordered by levees that fend off Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Mississippi River to the south and west. And because of a damning confluence of factors, the city is sinking further, putting it at increasing flood risk after even minor storms. The low-lying Mississippi Delta, which buffers the city from the gulf, is also rapidly disappearing. A year from now another 25 to 30 square miles of delta marsh-an area the size of Manhattan-will have vanished. An acre disappears every 24 minutes. Each loss gives a storm surge a clearer path to wash over the delta and pour into the bowl, trapping one million people inside and another million in surrounding communities. Extensive evacuation would be impossible because the surging water would cut off the few escape routes. Scientists at Louisiana State University (L.S.U.), who have modeled hundreds of possible storm tracks on advanced computers, predict that more than 100,000 people could die.
    (Emphasis mine.)

    Today, as Katrina ravages the state, I read this:

    In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding.

    It would be the largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, Corps officials said.

    I've been here over 30 years and I've never seen this level of reduction, said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district. I think part of the problem is it's not so much the reduction, it's the drastic reduction in one fiscal year. It's the immediacy of the reduction that I think is the hardest thing to adapt to.

    In spite of huge federal budget cuts, and in spite of scientific evidence, nothing was done to protect the city. So it seems as though New Orleans is, strange and tragic as it is to say, "lucky" that Katrina didn't tear right through the heart of the city. And that the mayor took the initiative to order mandatory evacuation. The consequences for New Orleans alone will be terrible, but thankfully won't be a catastrophe unprecedented in American history.

    Call out the Louisiana National Guard! Oops....

    It might have been highly unusual (HIGHLY unusual) for Fearless Leader to send thousands of National Guard troops to Iraq-- not to mention denying them medical benefits upon their return-- but it never seemed to register much with the public or the press. Until now:

    JACKSON BARRACKS -- When members of the Louisiana National Guard left for Iraq in October, they took a lot equipment with them. Dozens of high water vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators are now abroad, and in the event of a major natural disaster that, could be a problem.

    "The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission," said Lt. Colonel Pete Schneider with the LA National Guard. (. . .)

    Members of the Houma-based 256th Infantry will be returning in October, but it could be much longer before the rest of thir equipment comes home.

    Gee, now we lack necessary equipment in Iraq and at home. Chalk another one up to the administration...

    I, Blogger

    Wesley Clark will be "guest-blogging" at Josh Marshall's TPM Cafe this week. Should be interesting, so stop by if you can.

    Considering that the Clintons were backers of his during the 2004 election, do you suppose there'd be any possibility of a Clark-Clinton ticket in '08? And who'd get the top spot? I have to admit, I just don't think America is willing to elect a female president at this point in time-- no matter who it is. BUT, if she goes for the veep spot, you'd have a massively qualified ticket in a host of areas, a defusing of the 'Dems are wimpy on foreign affairs' line, and maybe a chance for her to run later on.

    Canning the critics, part 23

    It might not have actually been the twenty-third time the administration uses this technique, but it's still a hell of a lot. Heck, maybe it was the hundred twenty-third time. But the lesson remains the same: be 100% obedient, or you'll pay.

    A top Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq was demoted Saturday for what the Army called poor job performance.

    The official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, has worked in military procurement for 20 years and for the past several years had been the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that has managed much of the reconstruction work in Iraq.

    The demotion removes her from the elite Senior Executive Service and reassigns her to a lesser job in the corps' civil works division.

    Ms. Greenhouse's lawyer, Michael Kohn, called the action an "obvious reprisal" for the strong objections she raised in 2003 to a series of corps decisions involving the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, which has garnered more than $10 billion for work in Iraq.

    Beware, whistleblowers.

    Mitch McConnell right at home on Fox News

    Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Fox News Sunday: "while Islam is mentioned, it is not the controlling law of the country."

    Iraqi draft constitution: "No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam."

    Will Republicans ever get tired of being lied to by their government representatives? (The link has video and other resources.)

    Pro-Bush infighting in Crawford

    Just an update to a story I posted yesterday. To be fair, only many of Bush's staunch supporters are prone to violent outbursts. I wouldn't want to give the false impression that all of them are that way....

    Ken Robinson, of Richardson, Texas, who described himself as a Vietnam veteran, was carrying a sign at a “You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy!” rally. The sign read, “How to wreck your family in 30 days by ‘b**** in the ditch' Cindy Sheehan.”

    Kristinn Taylor, an event organizer with, heard about the sign and rushed up to Robinson.

    “This is our rally and you can't do that here,” he said, only for Robinson to insist he was within his rights.

    Camera crews rushed in and Taylor turned to face them.

    “To all the media here, this sign is not representative of the crowd here today,” Taylor announced. Some of the crowd around Robinson came forward to shake his hand, while others chanted, “Idiot, go home.”

    The two men then squared off and raised their voices.

    “Just get outta here!” Robinson yelled, and aimed a kick at Taylor's midsection. Taylor called for security, and a young Woodway policeman quickly showed up.

    “I have the right to freedom of speech,” Robinson said.

    Robinson continued to protest loudly as police handcuffed him and led him away.

    Fox: Your Free Market All-Stars

    I remember the first time I heard someone mention the bizarre irony of Fox TV's reputation as the envelope-pushers of the airwaves. They market the most titillating and tasteless shows around. Yet at the same time, their ersatz journalists make a fortune decrying the moral decline of the nation. Evil, but brilliant.

    The glamorous image of a Hollywood scriptwriter's lifestyle as an endless round of leisurely lunches and celebrity parties has been exposed as a lie by a class action lawsuit filed against one of America's biggest television networks.

    Fox TV is accused of overseeing and airing shows that were produced by writers who endured intolerable working conditions, being forced to skip meals, submit fake time cards and work more than 80 hours a week in cramped and overheated offices.

    Reminds of the punchline to that old theater joke: "What, and leave show business?"

    Give to the David Beckham Fund

    Here's something you rarely see on this site: sporting news! But this does involve David Beckham, the justly-revered sports... guy. And by extension, his lovely and uh, talented wife Victoria-- better known as "Posh Spice," who recently said she didn't think she'd read a book in her life. Bitter? Maybe just a little. From "This Is True."

    To help raise money to pay the medical bills for Hungarian Olympic legend Ferenc Puskas, now 78 and suffering from an Alzheimer's- like disease, Real Madrid played the PuskasAll-Stars in a benefit soccer match in Budapest. The match grossed 421 million forints (US$2.21 million). But that was before Real Madrid collected their 320 million forint appearance fee, plus 25.5 million forints for hotels and other expenses. The expense of putting on the game pushed the total expenses to 424 million forints, leaving the fund-raiser with a 3 million forint (US $17,000) deficit. (Reuters)

    Sunday, August 28, 2005

    The Cunninghams: Like father, like son?

    Those Republicans sure like to give drug-addled hippies what for, don't they? Prisons are filled of first-time drug offenders serving maximum sentences for possession. An ounce here, and ounce there. 400 pounds there. WHA?!?!?

    Randall Todd Cunningham: The son of Duke "Death Penalty for Drug Kingpins" Cunningham (R-Calif.) was convicted for possession of 400 pounds of marijuana. In court, the congressman cried and pleaded for mercy, explaining that his son "has a good heart. He works hard. He's expressed to me he wants to go back to school." While out on bail, the hardworking son tested positive for cocaine use three times; when an officer tried to apprehend him following the third positive test, Randy hurled himself out a window and broke his leg. Still, the congressman -- who has denounced Clinton's "soft-on-crime liberal judges" and railed against "reduced mandatory-minimum sentences for drug trafficking" -- won for his son the mercy denied so many others. Randy got 30 months -- half the federal "mandatory" minimum sentence.

    Wow. Compassionate conservatism in action. As Stephanie Miller would say, "Donde los yikes!"

    The selling of an ideology

    DC Media Girl has a great post on just how long the neo-cons have been pitching the war in Iraq. And the dishonest means they've used since the beginning.

    "While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where . . . babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die." [1990]

    It turned out that this "witness", whose full name was being kept confidential to prevent the Iraqis from "taking revenge" on her family in occupied Kuwait, was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. The "group" she was supposed to be representing, the Citizens for a Free Kuwait, was actually a front group created by the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton at the behest of the Emir of Kuwait. Not only had the girl lied before a congressional committee, she had been coached on what to say by Hill & Knowlton’s then-vice president Lauri Fitz-Pegado.

    Three months elapsed between "Nayirah’s" testimony and the start of the [Gulf] war.

    Jesus Christ, Scientist

    The California state university system is turning down high school students who haven't met their prerequisistes in math, science, history, etc. Sounds normal, right? Not if you're a persecuted white evangelical Protestant. They can't seem to understand why a science course that teaches the earth is 6,000 years old and cavement enjoyed Brontosaurus burgers doesn't qualify as science. Even if you get an A.

    Other courses rejected by UC officials include "Christianity's Influence in American History," "Christianity and Morality in American Literature" and "Special Providence: American Government."

    The 10-campus UC system requires applicants to complete a variety of courses, including science, mathematics, history, literature and the arts. But in letters to Calvary Chapel, university officials said some of the school's Christian-oriented courses were too narrow to be acceptable.

    According to the lawsuit, UC's board of admissions also advised the school that it would not approve biology and science courses that relied primarily on textbooks published by Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Books, two Christian publishers.

    Instead, the board instructed the schools to "submit for UC approval a secular science curriculum with a text and course outline that addresses course content/knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community."

    "It appears that the UC system is attempting to secularize Christian schools and prevent them from teaching from a world Christian view," said Patrick H. Tyler, a lawyer with Advocates for Faith and Freedom, which is assisting the plaintiffs.

    There you go-- the classic 'liberal attack on religious freedom.'

    Republican Recruitment Roundup

    The Boston Herald is this city's right-leaning daily. So you've gotta wonder when you see a headlin like this: "Romney backs war, but his kids are safe at home." (emphasis theirs)

    Gov. Mitt Romney, who has comforted the grieving loved ones of soldiers killed in Iraq and promoted National Guard recruitment, yesterday said he has not urged his own sons to enlist - and isn't sure whether they would. [Romney has five sons between 24 and 35.]
    The Herald posed the question as Romney - a potential 2008 White House contender and backer of President Bush's Iraq policy -was honored by the Massachusetts National Guard after he signed a bill extending pay for state workers on active duty.
    "No, I have not urged my own children to enlist.I don't know the status of my childrens' potentially enlisting in the Guard and Reserve," Romney said, his voice tinged with anger.

    Exhibit B: a recent speech by a college Republican at Purdue. Excerpt:

    One thing you're missing the point on... there are some people..and you need to be more sensitive to it... there are some people here tonight that would like to serve our country, and would like to do it. But, for one reason or another they're unable to. You need to realize there are people out there who would do that, people right in this room. But they can't do it... you're not being sensitive to those people who do not have the opportunity to do that for one reason or another.

    Fits rather nicely with my theory that young Republicans consider themselves to be this country's nobility-- a ruling caste too important to actually fight the battles they propose.

    And from yesterday's WaPo:

    With almost 1,900 U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war, Bush's job approval rating has plummeted to new lows. He is under increasing pressure from critics to finish training a new Iraqi security force and bring the soldiers home.

    But in his weekly radio address Bush acknowledged there was more work ahead for American soldiers in Iraq.

    "Our efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve," said Bush, who has spent most of August on vacation at his 1,600- acre (648-hectare) ranch.

    Another funny-if-it-weren't-true moment with Fearless Leader.

    Pro-Bushies assault pro-Bushies in Texas.

    We couldn't ask for a more representative group of people who still give total support to this administration. Ignorant, violent, and completely irrational.

    In one heated moment, members of the pro-Bush crowd turned on what they mistakenly thought were a group of anti-war protesters, cursing them, threatening them and tearing down their signs. A police officer rushed the group to safety.

    According to several of the liberal blogs, the two group that clashed were Move America Forward people and the Protest Warriors, a group of gung-ho young Republicans. Democratic Underground has a photo of another protestor's sign: How to destroy your family in 30 days, by: the Bitch in the Ditch. (That would be Cindy Sheehan, of course.) What a classy group.

    (Sorry about the light posting this weekend-- I've been struggling with the flu.)

    Friday, August 26, 2005

    I on Media-- a serious-sounding Sandwich extra!

    It's new. It's newsworthy. It's.... I on Media! How dense have I been to neglect to post promising media appearances by smart cookies? It's my nature. But I'm turning over a new leaf. And YOU were there!

    Americans United Executive Director Reverend Barry Lynn on C-Span's "Washington Journal. Monday, Aug. 29, 8:30 am. Topic is SCOTUS nominee John Roberts and separation of church and state. Lynn is a fantastic speaker.

    General Wesley Clark on NBC's Press the Meat (Ha!). Sunday, 8:00 am. Topic is Iraq and the war on terror. I posted on Clark's rather impressive Iraq policy recently, and it should be a great chance to hear a Dem talk hard policy on Iraq. Clark is (at this early date) the blogosphere's great olive drab hope for 2008. Sorry, righties, most son't seem too keen on Hillary.

    Talkin' 'bout Robertson

    The mysterious Cipher sent me a great link to a Democracy Now! transcript and video featuring an excellent discussion of Robertson's comments and the ramifications. Sorry I've been slow in posting it, but it's well worth a look. From the show:

    The empire that Robertson and the other radical Christian right evangelicals have amassed, the media empire, is now huge. What began as a relatively small operation, basically a radio operation, now sees just Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network alone employing over a thousand people, to have facilities in three U.S. cities, as well as the Ukraine, Philippines, India and Israel, and this is part of a large empire where radical Christians now control six national television networks, each reaching tens of millions of homes and virtually all of the nation's 2,000 religious radio stations. Christian radio now outnumbers every other format, except country music and news talk. And the latest venture is putting up direct broadcast satellite networks, such as Sky Angels, that carries -- Sky Angel carries 36 channels of Christian radio and TV and nothing else.

    So when Pat Robertson makes this kind of a statement, it’s being pumped into the homes on an alternative information network to tens of millions of Americans who rely on these radical religious right figures for their news, for their entertainment, for their commentary, and for what is purportedly their version of the Bible, which for those of us who come out of the Church and come out of seminary, in my case, is deeply distorted and perverted.

    Evangelical wants to personally apologize to Chavez

    We should be seeing a lot more of a response from Christian groups on this issue. Robertson's followers are kooks, seeing as how they look for religious guidance from the likes of Robertson and Falwell, who have repeatedly called for violence in the name of God. And in face of the war they're seeking in the name of turning the US into a theocracy, These high-profile "Christians" are the face of American religion that the rest of the world sees, and one of the reasons we've become so hated and feared around the world.

    That has to stop, and it will only stop when courageous, non-crazy people of faith take a stand against this madness.

    The Rev Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, wants to distance American Christians from the remarks of a tele-evangelist. . . .

    Mr Haggard says he wants to meet Mr Chavez face to face and apologise for Mr Robertson's remarks.

    He also wants to secure assurances about the safety of American evangelical missionaries working in Venezuela.

    A big round of applause for Ted Haggard, please.

    Randy "Snap On Hair" Cunningham charged

    And charged in a big way. Looks like he's going from White House to big house.

    Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham "demanded and received" a bribe from a Pentagon contractor who paid far above market value for the congressman's Del Mar-area home in 2003, according to court documents filed yesterday by federal prosecutors.

    Without citing details, prosecutors said in the documents that Cunningham sold the house in return for his influence in Congress, where he serves on the House subcommittee that oversees Pentagon spending.

    Just take a look at the photos of the briber and bribee. Talk about a case for visual profiling. That Wade character oozes 'crook' like he oozes Vitalis.

    The Friday Funny-- with an edge...

    Crooks and Liars has a couple of fine, fine video clips from the Daily Show. First up, an interview with Chris Hitchens, who's very pompous. And still defends what we're doing in Iraq. Stewart demonstrates his ability to run rings around this administration's boosters. Every time he has a confrontation with a rightie shill, they wind up whining about being victimized. It's eerie.

    Video-WMP (Sorry, no QT on their site.)

    Now the icing on the progressive cake. White House talking points deconstructed, culminating with the great line "If I had a nickel for every time Bush has mentioned 9/11, I could raise enough reward money to go after Bin Laden." But there's more! A slammin' beat and some ill skratchin' give the Prez Diddy a chance to do the Hollywood slo-mo hero walk. And repeat himself a lot.



    Maybe we should start getting comedians to run for high office. Stewart and Franken are experts at calling these guys on their crap.

    Jets, caterers and other leftie sins

    The right wing blogosphere is getting increasingly silly in their attacks on liberals. Drudge writes today that Cindy Sheehan is living the high life in Texas thanks to some implied high rollers catering her little sham. Except that she had a list of surprises that awaited her return to Crawford after visiting her sick mother. What exactly did she have to say?

    When I arrived at Camp Casey II this afternoon I was amazed at what has changed since I was gone. Now, we have a huge tent to get out of the sun; caterers; an orientation tent; a medic tent (with medics); a chapel, etc.

    Sounds like some liberal high rollers are bankrolling that swank affair! You just know the "etc." includes a sushi chef and a platoon of valets.

    Another widespread attack is on Air America host Randi Rhodes, who wanted to visit Crawford to do a broadcast. That's bad enough, but get this-- she "demanded" a corporate jet! Jesus, Randi, you're a regular J-lo! I suppose you'll want five pounds of just the green M&M's, too! Of course, the "leaked memo" isn't quite the diva-ish rant you'd anticipate:

    Also, transporation is an issue, because it will take me a whole day to travel. I don't want to miss a day on the air, and lose momentum. Flight to Dallas, on to Waco and then to Craford [sic] by car. So I was hoping that someone in the company would let me use their jet? I could take Steve with me and leave after Thursday's show.

    So, she's concerned that she'll have to miss her broadcast if she goes coach from New York to Texas and back again. How long would that take? Fifteen, eighteen hours round trip? Not easy to do in one day and still put on two four-hour shows.

    On the other hand, the reactionary "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" tour actually is being bankrolled by Republican operatives-- the people at Move America Forward. This is the group whose first attempts to alter the media was to threaten theaters that ran Fahrenheit 9/11.

    The thing is, the above quotes don't actually appear on the conservative sites. My guess is that the authors are counting on their hate-filled readers to just read the implication-- and not follow the links to what was actually said-- and start spreading the misinformation.

    Playing the shit... errrr, Shiite card.

    On the same day that Wesley Clark had a brilliant piece on Iraq printed in the WaPo, cut-rate spy novelist and right-wing shill David Ignatius was given some space to carry more propaganda water for the administration. This is just embarrassing:

    Hakim is a remarkably articulate man, with the spark of curiosity in his eyes and a presence that we in the United States would call "star quality." Whoever had the good sense to invite him here -- where he met with officials at the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council -- should get a pay raise.

    Hakim had a clear message during his visit, and it's one worth mulling carefully as Americans ponder the new Iraqi constitution and the bitter Shiite-Sunni tensions that have surrounded its drafting. If I could sum up his theme in one sentence, it is that the United States should continue to bet on democracy in Iraq -- which of necessity means relying on Iraq's Shiite majority and the mullahs who speak for it. In essence, he was calling for a strategic alliance between Najaf and Washington.

    I told Hakim through an interpreter that many Americans were close to despair about Iraq. We see continuing violence and few signs that Iraq's security forces will be strong enough to maintain order once American troops leave. Here's how Hakim responded: "The truth is, this is a grand plan, and any time you are engaged in a grand plan, you will face difficulties. But we will overcome them. We are now in the final quarter of these difficulties." I'm not sure I agree with him that the troubles are nearly over, but I must say that I was moved by his answer.

    Hakim told me he had visited the Lincoln Memorial, and I asked what he had thought as he looked up at the face of the man who kept America together during its own brutally violent civil war. He said the American experience was a lesson for Iraqis "in pooling people of various ethnic backgrounds into one law and order." He added that he hoped future generations of Iraqis would look at their current leaders with the same gratitude that Americans feel when they regard Lincoln.

    That first sentence sums it up-- it's the classic friendly racism line about minorities. "What an articulate negro/Mexican/whatever"-- but you've got to love the flag-waving shamelessness of the Lincoln reference. It's like 'flag porn.' And does he have any suggestions aside from the White House-approved "stay the course?" Nope.

    Saluting the blue, blue and blue

    Kos himself set two maps side by side. The first shows the dispersion of our casualties across a US map. The second shows that darling of the right-wing, a stark red vs. blue map of the election. The thing is, the casualties and the blue spots are pretty much the same thing.

    In the interest of intellectual honesty, this is perfectly normal based on population alone-- you wouldn't see vast swathes of the nothingness out west taking heavy losses for the simple reason that there's no one there. Except for a few gullible yokels and militiamen who bought the GOP line last year. Still, it's a graphic comparison with an impact.

    Wesley Clark is talking sense

    The thing is, I haven't been an advocate of 'take the troops out now.' Simply abandoning Iraq would almost certainly lead to a full-scale civil war (instead of the partial civil war we have now), a theocratic regime, and a partnership with Iran. Which would all be very bad things for the US in the long run. Unfortunately, this administration is more interested in playing "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" with critics than crafting good policy, and we simply aren't going to succeed. So, I was coming to the regrettable conclusion that pulling out was the best possible scenario under this administration. Then Wesley Clark spoke up, and I felt a bit better for being in the "do it right" minority. Recommended reading.

    In the old, familiar fashion, mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq have mobilized increasing public doubts about the war. More than half the American people now believe that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. They're right. But it would also be a mistake to pull out now, or to start pulling out or to set a date certain for pulling out. Instead we need a strategy to create a stable, democratizing and peaceful state in Iraq -- a strategy the administration has failed to develop and articulate.

    From the outset of the U.S. post-invasion efforts, we needed a three-pronged strategy: diplomatic, political and military. Iraq sits geographically on the fault line between Shiite and Sunni Islam; for the mission to succeed we will have to be the catalyst for regional cooperation, not regional conflict.

    Unfortunately, the administration didn't see the need for a diplomatic track, and its scattershot diplomacy in the region -- threats, grandiose pronouncements and truncated communications -- has been ill-advised and counterproductive. The U.S. diplomatic failure has magnified the difficulties facing the political and military elements of strategy by contributing to the increasing infiltration of jihadists and the surprising resiliency of the insurgency.

    On the political track, aiming for a legitimate, democratic Iraqi government was essential, but the United States was far too slow in mobilizing Iraqi political action. A wasted first year encouraged a rise in sectarian militias and the emergence of strong fractionating forces. Months went by without a U.S. ambassador in Iraq, and today political development among the Iraqis is hampered by the lack not only of security but also of a stable infrastructure program that can reliably deliver gas, electricity and jobs.

    There's a whole lot more-- that's just the opening. I should also mention that much of the liberal blogosphere has been very pro-Clark of late (wow, what a bunch ofradicals, huh?). I agree. I was hoping he'd get the veep slot in 2004, seeing as how he's a little green politically. But the more I hear from him in terms of policy, the more I think he's fit for the top slot.

    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    "Reform," Big Brother Bolton Style

    No one expected "Bolton at the U.N." to be a sunny bildungsroman. What I failed to anticipate was that W's insistence on the importance of "reform" actually meant that Bolton's role was to throw a giant goddamn wrench in the works to make reform impossible. There's nothing the GOP wants more than a toothless and wimpy United Nations.

    Huffington Post even has the documents, complete with his edits.

    Just weeks before heads of UN Member States gather in New York to discuss how to revitalize and modernize the United Nations, the U.S. delegation, led by John Bolton, has launched a last-minute effort to change a near finalized document for UN reform. Ambassador Bolton has recommended scrapping more than 400 passages from the 38-page draft prepared for the September summit, a copy of the document obtained by The Huffington Post shows.

    The United States is strongly opposing already agreed upon provisions in the document to address global poverty, climate change and provisions that would urge nuclear powers to reduce their current weapons cache.

    The current document was the product of nearly a year of intensive negotiations. Its formulation is now in danger of being derailed at a serious cost to the United States and its longstanding support for the United Nations.

    I sure hope we hear from my fellow Missourian John Danforth on this issue. I don't doubt that he'd like rip that dipshit's moustache right off his face.

    Thai PM: "No Whammies! No Whammies!"

    I'd love to see the looks on stunned American reporters' faces after asking about the hard science of "Intelligent Design." Or pretty much anything else they ask these days....

    Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has long complained of press criticism. But he sought to turn the tables Thursday with a new tactic - sounding a buzzer every time reporters ask questions he deems "not constructive."

    To the surprise of journalists and colleagues alike, Thaksin raised a handheld buzzer - which displayed an "X" sign - from behind the podium to indicate his disapproval of some questions asked at the first in a new series of weekly news conferences.

    We really do need to pick something up from other nations' politics. Like the UK, or possibly India. Wouldn't it be great to see our boys in Washington actually cry foul the next time Bush addresses them to talk about how his taxcuts helped the working class? Or how well things are going in Iraq?

    More cutting remarks from other blogs

    I swear, that Digby fella cracks me up sometimes. But it's as much funny boo-hoo as it is funny ha-ha.

    Is Bush on drugs? He is more "animated" than I think I've ever seen him. He's all hunched over, swinging his arms wildly, screaming into the microphone. It's quite a performance.

    My favorite line so far is the patented "they can run but they can't hide." C'mon. You just have to sit back and admire the sheer audacity of continuing to say that after four long years.

    He must be thrilled to be back in the saddle, running for president, which is the only thing he knows how to do. And he must be happy to be back lying his ass off in front of his hand-picked enthusiastic crowds. I'm especially enjoying his little historical analogy comparing the Iraqi constitutional drafting process to our own, neglecting the relevantlittle fact that our constitution left a tiny little problem hanging out that resulted in the bloodiest war in American history --- or the other niggling little fact that the Iraqis are blowing each other up over similar disagreements already. But hey, what's a little civil war now and then?

    Another Bush prop collapses

    Just yesterday I wrote a post about a former Bush ally who now sees the war as a disaster. Today there's another one.

    Safia Taleb al-Suhail was the Iraqi woman Bush showed off at his February State of the Union address. She was able to make it all look so worthwhile as she embraced the mother of a fallen American soldier amid thunderous applause. A Republican strategist's wet dream.

    Weeellllll, she's feeling a little less optimistic these days:

    "Human rights should not be linked to Islamic Sharia law at all. It should be listed separately in the constitution," said Safia Souhail, Iraq's ambassador to Egypt.

    The prominent women's rights campaigner denounced wording that grants each religious sect the right to run its own family courts -- apparently doing away with previous civil codes -- as an open door to further Islamicise the legal system.

    Although in practice, many Iraqis end up having recourse to religious authorities or informal tribal law, the idea of a united civil code is central to the modern state, Souhail said.

    "This will lead to creating religious courts. But we should be giving priority to the law," she said.

    "When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened -- we have lost all the gains we made over the last 30 years. It's a big disappointment."

    McCain sabotages himself. Again!

    Wow. McCain just keeps throwing cold water on his own presidential aspirations. After building a reputation for being all about straight talk and integrity-- and being torpedoed in 2000 by Rove's dirty tricks-- the right-wing's least favorite Republican has decided to march to Bush's beat.

    The problem McCain could face with conservatives became evident earlier this month when the Arizona Republican Assembly, a conservative Mesa-based group, voted to censure him for what it called "dereliction of his duties and responsibilities as a representative of the citizens of Arizona." . . .

    As the Gallup Poll noted, McCain has a generally consistent conservative voting record but forged a national reputation after a series of notable breaks with fellow Republicans.
    On Tuesday, though, he sided with the president on two issues that have made headlines recently: teaching intelligent design in schools and Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother who has come to personify the anti-war movement.

    Sheesh. The right views McCain as a traitor, the left sees him as a craven sellout. Who does he think is going to vote for him?

    Governator, Interrupted

    I somehow overlooked this gem earlier in the week, but it does my heart proud.

    (Oakland, CA) There was "No Sympathy" for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Sunday night as he sought to turn a Rolling Stones concert in Boston into a fundraiser only to be picketed by registered nurses from California, Illinois and Massachusetts outside the stadium and loudly booed by thousands of rock fans when introduced inside. . . .

    First, the ticket sales for the $100,000 seats were a bust. According to observers, only three people could be spotted in the luxury box, including the governor and his wife, Maria Shriver. . . .

    When Stones lead singer Mick Jagger welcomed the governor, he was lustily booed, and even Jagger mocked Schwarzenegger noting "As a matter of fact, he was seen out in front of Fenway Park tonight raising funds by scalping tickets and tee-shirts."

    I suspect that those groups who wanted to amend the Constitution so he could make it to the White House are having some second thoughts.

    Dick 'n Dubya's totally awesome nuclear adventure

    The news that Cheney was having the Pentagon draft a strike plan against Iran came out a while ago. I can't remember if I wrote about it or not, but it isn't really big news in and of itself. It makes sense, if you think a country really is a threat. But it's pretty obvious that the White House is licking its chops at the idea of attacking Iran.

    However, Pat Buchanan's magazine includes a piece suggesting that the plan includes the use of "tactical nuclear weapons." Call 'em tactical, call 'em 'le petite nukes,' if you like. But our reputation abroad would be irrevocably destroyed if this administration was stupid enough to use nuclear weapons. The excuse that "they're just tactical nuclear weapons" would only make it worse.

    Pro-Bush pride!

    Funny. The National Review makes like Baghdad Bob in talking about the anti-anti-Bush "Camp Qualls" that's been set up to give those bereaved mothers who don't want more kids to die in Iraq just what they deserve! "Guarding" the camp?

    Granted, the site is much smaller than the anti-Bush crowd, but it’s growing each day. . . .

    But the person who really caught my attention was a woman named Bethany Berry. Bethany is an 18-year-old who for a time this morning was guarding the pro-Bush campsite on her own while the other supporters were at work or attending to family affairs.

    You'll notice in the accompanying photos that, in fact, there isn't a single person to be seen at the site. Not one at the site that's 'growing each day.' Right, day one is Bethany, day two is Bethany and her friend Tiff. It's growing exponentially!

    Bush's new Iraq rhetoric isn't flying

    Salon has a nice sampling of what newspaper editors are saying about Bush's latest justification for the war: that we need to stay the course for the sake of those soldiers who've already died in the cause. Which is such an Orwellian argument it's just plain hard to believe. To honor those who've died, we need to have more killed? At long last, more and more people are starting to look sheepish (instead of like sheep) when Fearless Leader issues his latest proclamation.

    Denver Post: "The president believes an effective constitution will fortify Iraq's founding democracy and allow the withdrawal of American troops to begin next year. It appears, however, that the constitution will include elements that 130,000 Americans might not think they're fighting for -- a limitation of women's rights, for example, and a strong role for strict Islamic law."

    Salt Lake Tribune: "Imposing democracy at gunpoint in Iraq is looking more and more like a fool's errand. Nevertheless, President Bush continues to try, mostly because, at this point, that's about all the United States can do."

    Not papers you'd normally associate with the "radical extremism" right-wing pundits associate with the likes of....uh, Cindy Sheehan.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2005

    Iraq was great, 'til YOU shot your mouth off....

    I recently predicted that the right wing's response to the disaster in Iraq would be to blame it on those who didn't support the war. Henry Kissinger, Bill O'Reilly, and others have already started floating the idea. It was a brilliant success until the public undermined the administration and lost it for us. You know, because they aren't badass dudes who follow the orders of their Commander in Chief, but little weenies who aren't capable of doing anything more than wetting themselves if they don't have the full support of public opinion.

    "The American Legion will stand against anyone and any group that would demoralize our troops, or worse, endanger their lives by encouraging terrorists to continue their cowardly attacks against freedom-loving peoples," Thomas Cadmus, national commander, told delegates at the group's national convention in Honolulu."

    As though our troops have access to the same information that we do. The cowardice of this administration, and of the current incarnation of the GOP, will be legend in years to come. To claim that the loss of a war which they promoted, planned and executed is the fault of those who questioned the policy three years after the fact is the equivalent of a lousy shortstop claiming that his shoelaces were too tight.

    The last thing I want to see is the descension of Iraq into a civil war. As I've pointed out time and time again, Saddam Hussein was a brutal despot, but he was the lone secularist in a sea of fundamentalist despots. And all we've done is enable radical Islamists to control the entire Middle East. By installing a theocracy in a nation we were ostensibly democratizing, we've doomed ourselves to a heightened terrorist threat for years to come. Why is it so hard for the right to acknowledge this and adopt a new policy? After all, they're the ones responsible.

    What's the matter with Darfur?

    As Bush tries pitifully to drum up support for the Iraq debacle, the genocide continues in the Sudan. The right is sticking to the official story, that Iraq is all about freedom and always was. This is the same right that claimed Clinton's intervention in Kosovo was "wagging the dog." You remember the Serbo-Croatian conflict, right? No American war casualties (that's zero, folks) and genocide ringleader Slobodan Milosevich currently on trial for his crimes.

    Well, some 180,000 people have been killed in Darfur, which is many times over the body count that tyrants Milosevich and Hussein racked up. Somalia is frequently cited as the biggest foreign policy failure of the Clinton administration, and I'm inclined to agree. But Europe also hit the panic button and refused to intervene in a genocide that claimed more than 800,000 lives.

    Some horrifying numbers from the latest genocide: NBC spent 5 minutes on Darfur coverage last year; CBS devoted 3 minutes. This June, the major network and 24/7 cable news stations aired 126 segments on Sudan, compared to 8,303 segments on the runaway bride, Michael Jackson and Tom Cruise.

    But that's life under "Commander Cuckoo Bananas."

    UPDATE: Check out this ad on Darfur by Three networks have refused to run the ad, which is compelling stuff. And heaps well-deserved scorn on mainstream news.

    Ahh, Mr. Chait. You have a nasty habit of surviving.

    I'm sure fed up with the apologists for the Democratic Leadership Council. Their brilliant strategy to gain power seems to me to consist of two actions: move to the right and attack fellow Democrats.

    So when I see something like this piece by Jonathan "Fighting Faith" Chait, it really gets me dander up. It certainly imitates the right, in that it doesn't link to the story it ridicules and fails to name the actual author. It also reads like a rightie post for its sneering dismissal that provides no actual information.

    Daily Kos is an excellent site, but most everyone who dislikes it acts as though it's the work of one man. It's nothing of the sort. Markos Moulitsas started the site, and posts as 'Kos,' but lots and lots of other people post there as well. It's a consortium of individuals with opinions.

    For shame, Johnny Boy. To come out of book leave for the sole purpose of posting an unfunny attack on someone you don't even identify? Sad, sad, sad. TNR is sure going downhill since Peretz and the right-leaning Dems took over.

    Robertson: "By assassinate, all I meant was..."

    The douchebaggery never ends in right-wing America. Pat Robertson uses the usual defenses in spinning his comments the other day. Let's take a look...

    "I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP [Associated Press], but that happens all the time," Robertson said on "The 700 Club" program.

    Let's see, we have the "Nolo Contextere" plea, a Waffle ('take him out' could mean treat him to dinner and a movie!) a swipe at the "Vast Liberal Media," a factual error (he never said 'special forces' during his murder bit) and a Switcheroo, since that isn't the sentence where he said 'assassination.' This one is:

    "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it."

    How's that for context, you dickhead?

    UPDATE: Media Matters points out that Robertson posted a press release on his official site that went up after the interview I cited earlier. What does he have to say now? "
    Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him."

    So... he's admitting to have lied earlier this morning? That's three commandments he's broken in three days, by my count, including "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's oil." Oh, and you can add another classic right-wing debate tactic to the list above. This is a classic "I misspoke" moment, guaranteed to follow the Nolo Contextere gambit..

    Iraqi Bush fan takes a powder

    Fans of gallows humor should love this one.

    President Bush, on March 12, 2004: I want to thank my friend, Dr. Raja Khuzai, who's with us today. This is the third time we have met. The first time we met, she walked into the Oval Office -- let's see, was it the first time? It was the first time. The door opened up. She said, "My liberator," and burst out in tears -- (laughter) -- and so did I. (Applause.) Dr. Khuzai also was there to have Thanksgiving dinner with our troops. And it turned out to be me, as well. Of course, I didn't tell her I was coming. (Laughter.) But I appreciate that, and now she's here again. I want to thank you, Doctor, for your hard work on the writing of the basic law for your people. You have stood fast, you have stood strong. Like me, you've got liberty etched in your heart, and you're not going to yield. And you are doing a great job and we're proud to have you back. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)

    Dr. Raja Khuzai, August 24, 2005: "This is the future of the new Iraqi government - it will be in the hands of the clerics," said Dr. Raja Kuzai, a secular Shiite member of the Assembly. "I wanted Iraqi women to be free, to be able to talk freely and to able to move around." "I am not going to stay here," said Dr. Kuzai, an obstetrician and women's leader who met President Bush in the White House in November 2003.

    Yep. I think "Global War on Reality" sums this White House up nicely.

    Profiles in Profiling

    As Atrios points out, the obvious question is "why?" Aside from the administration'snotorious insistence on absolute loyalty.

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 - The Bush administration is replacing the director of a small but critical branch of the Justice Department, months after he complained that senior political officials at the department were seeking to play down newly compiled data on the aggressive police treatment of black and Hispanic drivers.

    The demotion of the official, Lawrence A. Greenfeld, whom President Bush named in 2001 to lead the Bureau of Justice Statistics, caps more than three years of simmering tensions over charges of political interference at the agency. And it has stirred anger and tumult among many Justice Department statisticians, who say their independence in analyzing important law enforcement data has been compromised.

    The actual war the White House seems to be waging is a Global War on Reality.

    Pentagonal Politics

    Unlike any other time in American history, the Pentagon has decided to spruce up the tombstones of those killed in action with neat-o slogans.

    Families of fallen soldiers and Marines are being told they have the option to have the government-furnished headstones engraved with "Operation Enduring Freedom" or "Operation Iraqi Freedom" at no extra charge, whether they are buried in Arlington or elsewhere. A mock-up shown to many families includes the operation names.

    The vast majority of military gravestones from other eras are inscribed with just the basic, required information: name, rank, military branch, date of death and, if applicable, the war and foreign country in which the person served.

    But this administration is so full of really nice guys that they're even including the catchphrases without asking the family.

    Nadia and Robert McCaffrey, whose son Patrick was killed in Iraq in June 2004, said "Operation Iraqi Freedom" ended up on his government-supplied headstone in Oceanside, Calif., without family approval.

    "I was a little taken aback," Robert McCaffrey said, describing his reaction when he first saw the operation name on Patrick's tombstone. "They certainly didn't ask my wife; they didn't ask me." He said Patrick's widow told him she had not been asked either.

    "In one way, I feel it's taking advantage to a small degree," McCaffrey said. "Patrick did not want to be there, that is a definite fact."

    The owner of the company that has been making gravestones for Arlington and other national cemeteries for nearly two decades is uncomfortable, too.

    "It just seems a little brazen that that's put on stones," said Jeff Martell, owner of Granite Industries of Vermont. "It seems like it might be connected to politics."

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    Matt Sandwich is looking out for you

    Not that I'm trying to introduce my own cult of personality. But I've been a subscriber to the excellent "Internet Tourbus" for years now, and they have a history of coming up with advice and links that can alter the way you surf for the better.

    If the idea of shelling out cold, hard cash for an anti-virus program doesn't sit well with you, then how about some free anti-virus software? There are some nifty online scanners that let you check for viruses just by connecting to a website. And there are some good old-fashioned full-fledged anti-virus packages you can download for free. Read this article to find out where to get the goods, gratis.

    That article is linked to above. And congratulations on your decision to read The Daily Sandwich, which provides you not only with frequent reports on the state of the nation, but useful tips for you as a consumer.

    RIGHT..... RIGHT... RIGHT right RIGHT!.

    Many, many posts I've written about the brazen attempts of fundamentalist Christians to turn the United States into a theocracy. As we can observe from former GOP presidential hopeful Pat Robertson's rant yesterday, they fully support the religious idea of "assassinate thy neighbor."

    As the GOP continues to court fundamentlaists as the "great white hope" of their party, this story emerges:

    In the blue and gold elegance of the House speaker's private dining room, Jeremy Bouma bowed his head before eight young men and women who hope to one day lead the nation. He prayed that they might find wisdom in the Bible — and govern by its word.

    "Holy Father, we thank you for providing us with guidance," said Bouma, who works for an influential televangelist. "Thank you, Lord, for these students. Build them up as your warriors and your ambassadors on Capitol Hill."

    "Amen," the students murmured. Then they picked up their pens expectantly.

    Nearly every Monday for six months, as many as a dozen congressional aides — many of them aspiring politicians — have gathered over takeout dinners to mine the Bible for ancient wisdom on modern policy debates about tax rates, foreign aid, education, cloning and the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

    Through seminars taught by conservative college professors and devout members of Congress, the students learn that serving country means first and always serving Christ.

    They learn to view every vote as a religious duty, and to consider compromise a sin.

    That puts them at the vanguard of a bold effort by evangelical conservatives to mold a new generation of leaders who will answer not to voters, but to God.

    "We help them understand God's purpose for society," said Bouma, who coordinates the program, known as the Statesmanship Institute, for the Rev. D. James Kennedy.

    It might read like an Onion parody, but it's the admitted policy of the GOP. There's a very good reason that the liberal blogosphere refers to these lunatics as the "American Taliban." With their admitted policies of war, assassination and religious rule, they're two of a kind.

    Wall Street Journal backs creationism

    It's one thing to have a financial paper that uses editorial space to promote cutthroat social Darwinism where economics are concerned. Survival of the fittest, baby, and if you can't hack it on the free market, tough noogies!

    But now they're giving us a flippity-flop when Darwinian thought is applied to such fluid, contestable issues as natural science. Why, they're even arguing for (gasp!) relativism.

    It's a crying shame that there isn't a popular scientist out there to put evolution into language that even a WSJ op-ed writer could understand. The continued attempts to inject religious dogma into America's science classrooms should shame us as a nation in the 21st century, but prominent newspapers are suggesting that maybe there's something to the idea that the world is 6,000 years old-- and any observable phenomena to the contrary are demonic tricks.

    President Bush pushed this debate well into the public spotlight by remarking that intelligent design should be taught in addition to random evolution. Whatever the merits of this debate, it's interesting that the "religious right" is co-opting the arguments of the left. With "diversity" a worthy goal in education, why not present students with "both sides"? That way no one is left out and everyone is included.

    The question alone has to be infuriating for the left. It's nice to think that there was once a golden period in education when the pursuit of truth was paramount. But from the elementary curriculum to politics in college classrooms, education has always been determined by cultural and political movements. Many of the elite schools were themselves founded to sidestep one prevailing orthodoxy or another. So for years we've had a new god in education and he goes by the name of "diversity." Not to be confused by the worthy goal of striking barriers to education once placed in the path of minority groups, this form of diversity has been the principal vehicle for a liberal intellectual agenda that wasn't otherwise up to intellectual speed.

    Wow. The diabolical "liberal intellectual agenda" claims that we should study our world instead of saying "The man in the sky did it!" After all, that's how we split the atom, eradicated smallpox, and explored the surface of Mars. In the "pursuit of truth," has the Wall Street Journal ever recommended reading scripture to anticipate the markets? Doubtful.

    There's a simple way to defuse this absurdist "debate," in my opinion, which is to remind people that science is study of the observable, and religion is belief in the unobservable. That's my pitch. They're two entirely different things. Science is something you confirm or disprove based on verifiable observation. Religion is having faith despite the absence of observation. Karl Popper must be spinning in his grave.

    DC Media Girl directs us to another fine, fine article pointing out the utter absurdity of creationism. Or should I say Third Wave Creationism-- I made that up myself.

    Let's all terror now, everybody's learnin' how...

    I was just listenting to the Ed Shultz show, and he made an excellent point after playing a clip of Venezuela's response to Pat Roberstson's call for assassination.

    Many of us shake our heads in disbelief, but figure that's par for the course when the evangelical right is involved. But think about it in terms of what the reaction would be if we heard a Venezuelan TV host call for the assassination of the American president. As Shultz observes, one word would immediately come to mind: terrorism.

    UK: TV host urges US to kill Chavez.
    India: Christian body asks US to murder Venezuelan President
    Australia: Broadcaster urges Venezuelan assassination

    Can you imagine how totally retarded the rest of the world must think we are? We consume 59% of Venezuela's oil, and a famous right-winger is calling for an official state policy of killing the democratic rulers of sovereign nations. Sounds like terrorism to me. But I won't sit around waiting for the FCC to take action. Instead, I'll just watch the right-wing rationalizations roll in. Michelle Malkin is already at it. Other prominent right-wing sites are staying mum for the moment.

    One more thought: will Bush handle this Sheehan-style? If he doesn't come forward and flat out reject Robertson's rantings, it'll be another albatross for them, a la Sheehan, when it could be a quickly-defused situation. I'm guessing he'll stay hidden in his sofa-cushion fort in Crawford.

    I Spit on Your Grave

    Fact: things spread quickly on the Internet. Fact: the right-wing worships Reagan. So what happens when some kid in California gets a snapshot of himself literally dancing on Reagan's grave? People like myself have a chuckle over the youthful indiscretion-- disrespectful, but very ballsy, and no one got hurt-- and move on. Reactionaries and fundamentalists, on the other hand, go absolutely ballistic. Here are some of the better reactions to his prank. "Satanist," he's being called. Then there are the ol' reliables: fag, communist, French, future draft dodger, atheist, blahblahblah. Death threats, conspiratorial analysis, amateur banishments to hell, and suggestions for forming vigilante posses abound. Amusingly, they don't seem quite as bothered by the alleged photo of him pissing on Nixon's grave.

    My favorite is the commentor who referred to this as "Yet another hate crime against conservatives that will go ignored." Whew.

    Picture via the above link.

    GOP charity begins at home

    Shameless? You bet. Amoral? Yup. But you certainly can't accuse House Republicans of shunning charitable causes. Like raising money for underprivileged money launderers.

    But Republican stalwarts continue to demonstrate their support for DeLay and his associates, despite their legal troubles. Republicans have scheduled a golf tournament next Wednesday to benefit a legal defense fund set up for DeLay fundraisers Jim Ellis and John Colyandro, both of whom have been indicted on money-laundering charges.

    The golf event and luncheon are scheduled for Aug. 24 at the Springfield Golf and Country Club in Springfield, Va. Mark Valente III, a Washington-based lobbyist, helped organize the event and sent out the invitations. . . .

    The invitation for next week’s event was sent with a one-page description of the fund as well as a letter from Donald McGahn, general counsel to the National Republican Congressional Committee, stating that it was technically correct for the fund to accept donations from political action committees.

    Thirteen House members had contributed $41,000 to Ellis’s defense fund as of the latest filing period, including $10,000 by Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and $5,000 by Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), according to

    Just for fun, why not play 'connect the dicks' with the Republican Congressmen above? I'll even get you started: DeLay and Blunt are huge dicks, and they're joined at the waist.

    Science... or SATANISM!?!?

    The New York Times prints an incredibly lazy, embarrassingly ill-informed article on creationism. And how hordes of mad scientists-- well, okay, one outspoken guy-- are persecuting white Christian men in America. Just like they said at Justice Sunday! And Justice Sunday II!

    At a recent scientific conference at City College of New York, a student in the audience rose to ask the panelists an unexpected question: "Can you be a good scientist and believe in God?"

    Reaction from one of the panelists, all Nobel laureates, was quick and sharp. "No!" declared Herbert A. Hauptman, who shared the chemistry prize in 1985 for his work on the structure of crystals.

    Belief in the supernatural, especially belief in God, is not only incompatible with good science, Dr. Hauptman declared, "this kind of belief is damaging to the well-being of the human race."

    But disdain for religion is far from universal among scientists. And today, as religious groups challenge scientists in arenas as various as evolution in the classroom, AIDS prevention and stem cell research, scientists who embrace religion are beginning to speak out about their faith.

    Wow. It takes such courage to argue that the earth is 6,000 years old, fossils are one of Satan's dirty tricks, kissing before marriage gives you AIDS, and a microscopic wad of cells is an American citizen.

    Feds Flaunt Funding for Fundies

    Remember that faith initiative thing the administration was pushing way back when? Critics thought it amounted to taxpayer dollars spent on the promotion of Christianity. Well, the critics were completely wrong. It amounted to taxpayer dollars spent on the promotion of Evangelical Protestantism.

    The Bush administration yesterday suspended a federal grant to the Silver Ring Thing abstinence program, saying it appears to use tax money for religious activities.

    Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services ordered the group to submit a "corrective action plan" if it hopes to receive an expected $75,000 grant this year. . . .

    The action comes three months after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against HHS, accusing the administration of using tax dollars to promote Christianity. In documents filed in federal court in Boston, the ACLU alleged that the activities, brochures and Web site of Silver Ring Thing were "permeated with religion" and use "taxpayer dollars to promote religious content, instruction and indoctrination."

    Teenage graduates of the program sign a covenant "before God Almighty" to remain virgins and earn a silver ring inscribed with a Bible passage reminding them to "keep clear of sexual sin."

    White House cooks up intel. Again!

    This sounds vaguely familiar, but I can't quite place it. Hmmm....

    A major U.S. intelligence review has projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources with firsthand knowledge of the new analysis.

    The carefully hedged assessments, which represent consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies, contrast with forceful public statements by the White House. Administration officials have asserted, but have not offered proof, that Tehran is moving determinedly toward a nuclear arsenal. The new estimate could provide more time for diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. President Bush has said that he wants the crisis resolved diplomatically but that "all options are on the table."

    Iraq: bigger than you thought

    Gee, I guess those who argue that the war in Iraq was unnecessary are way off base. Apparently it's the equivalent of fighting two totalitarian empires with plans to conquer the globe, toppling a communist empire with plans to conquer the globe, and some war I've never even heard of that brought freedom and prosperity to South America and Africa.

    As he did in last year's election campaign and more recently as war opposition has risen, Bush reminded his listeners of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — reciting the date five times in a 30-minute speech.

    "We're not yet safe," Bush said. "Terrorists in foreign lands still hope to attack our country. They still hope to kill our citizens. The lesson of Sept. 11, 2001, is that we must confront threats before they fully materialize."

    Besides his references to Sept. 11 and the war on terror, Bush also spoke of earlier global fights.

    "In a single lifetime, many of you have seen liberty spread from Germany and Japan to Eastern Europe to Latin America to Southeast Asia and Africa and beyond," Bush told the largely gray-haired crowd.

    Ahhh, Fearless Leader. Still sort of popular with Mormon seniors. Next stop... Idaho!

    Smartasses beware....

    Quips can get you arrested these days. But only when prominent Rpeublicans are in the room.

    At a book signing by Pennsylvania senator Rick "Spreading" Santorum:

    She held up a copy of a book by the gay writer Dan Savage called “The Kid,” which is about how he and his partner adopted a son. And Rocek said, “It would be funny if we got Santorum to sign this book.” . . .

    A state trooper in full uniform, including hat and gun, was in the store, and, according to Shaffer and Galperin, he met with the person who didn’t care for the Dan Savage joke, along with a few others, including members of the store and Santorum’s people.

    Galperin says she heard the trooper ask, “Do you want me to get rid of them?”

    Long story short, they were escorted from the store and threatened with arrest. Until Ms. Halperin called her father, who is an attorney. They were released immediately afterward.