But the bombing campaign is now in its thirteenth year…

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What is that sound I hear, the shrill whining of right-wing nuts up a notch this week. Their president’s poll numbers are in the tank, likely to stay there and put a few Congressional seats in the Democratic column. The port debacle, the domestic spying scandal, the torture in our name. The foundations of the current economy are rickety, riding on enormous debt, both personal and federal. A minority of zealots in South Dakota have managed to pass a bill forcing women into maternity. Iraq, whatever it is, civil war or middle-east alleyway of perpetual violence is most assuredly the Bush cabal’s fault, a mess that they micro-managed from the safety of their Washington bunkers. Despite the doubletalk, Bush was hell bent on war and now even he has tried to distance himself from being the war president.

British Memo — Bush, Blair Agreed to Invade In Late Jan. 2003:

A memo of a two-hour meeting between [Bush and Blair] at the White House on January 31 2003 – nearly two months before the invasion – reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme. [Guardian, 2/3/06]

British Memo — Bush Had Made Up His In July 2002:

It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. [Downing Street Minutes, 7/23/02]

Bush Suggested War Against Iraq Nine Days After 9/11:

President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001. [The Observer, 4/4/04]

Richard Clarke Said Bush Pushed Him To Make Case for Iraq War:

Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism director: “Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq. And we all said … no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan. … The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, ‘I want you to find whether Iraq did this.’ Now he never said, ‘Make it up.’ But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this. [CBS 60 Minutes, 3/21/04]

Rumsfeld Suggested War Against Iraq on 9/11:

Rumsfeld’s instruction to General Myers on 9/11: Find the “[b]est info fast …judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time – not only UBL [Usama Bin Laden]” [Rumsfeld’s notes, 9/11/01]

Why isn’t there much difference between right-wing blogs and so much of the media? because they’re the same thing, There Is No Right-Wing Blogosphere Anymore

“The blogs,” as they are known in many media outlets and circles and DC, are now almost exclusively the realm of progressives. The entire term “the blogs” implies a new institution operating independently of established centers of news distribution and political power. That no longer exists on the right. The right-wing blogosphere, as it is now constituted, is simply an extension of a larger message machine that developed long before the blogosphere ever existed. The right-wing blogosphere no longer holds any promise to produce new leaders within the conservative movement, or to alter the balance of power within the conservative movement in any way, shape or form.

Sure there are some c-list right-wing blogs that might have something to say other then an echo, but for the most part as I click from right-wing site to right-wing site its copy and paste. I don’t have the high standards of blogging that people like Jesse Taylor had when he was at pandagon, but damn, are Michelle, Ed, Mac, Hugh, and Glenn afraid they’re get a tiny little headache if they try to think and write at the same time. There is one important factor that Chris at MyDD leaves out. The right-wing blogs make up for the lack of content by playing the linking game very well. I’m far from being a net guru, but the llink game gets stories noticed, it gets their posts bumped up on the search engines; they’re doing what they have always done, generate noise. Not much truth, but lots of noise. Do they give themselves too much credit for things like sinking Harriet Miers, sure they do ( if they had all the influence they think they have she never would have been nominated). Though there’s nothing like a little delusion for building confidence even if it is unfounded.The rightie blogs do have something in common besides an affinity for kool-aid, they’re from The Planet of Unreality

This is not good. The people running this country sound convinced that reality is whatever they say it is. And if they’ve actually strayed into the realm of genuine self-delusion — if they actually believe the fantasies they’re spinning about the bloody mess they’ve made in Iraq over the past three years — then things are even worse than I thought.

Here is reality: The Bush administration’s handpicked interim Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, told the BBC on Sunday, “We are losing each day an average of 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is. Iraq is in the middle of a crisis. Maybe we have not reached the point of no return yet, but we are moving towards this point. . . . We are in a terrible civil conflict now.”

Here is self-delusion: Dick Cheney went on “Face the Nation” a few hours later and said he disagreed with Allawi — who, by the way, is a tad closer to the action than the quail-hunting veep. There’s no civil war, Cheney insisted. Move along, nothing to see here, pay no attention to those suicide bombings and death-squad murders. As an aside, Cheney insisted that his earlier forays into the Twilight Zone — U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators, the insurgency is in its “last throes” — were “basically accurate and reflect reality.”

Maybe on his home planet.

Donald Rumsfeld, meanwhile, was busy on The Post’s op-ed page, abusing history. Leaving Iraq now, he wrote, “would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis.” The bizarre analogy was immediately disputed by foreign policy sages Henry Kissinger (who noted that there was “no significant resistance movement” in Germany after World War II) and Zbigniew Brzezinski (who just called the comparison “absolutely crazy”).

Let’s see, we live in a one party country, there are more conservative talking heads on TV then progressive ones, now WaPO hires a rabid wing-nut who’s first post I could have done. It reads like 50 pieces of ring-wing junk e-mail I’ve gotten over the years ( just try to get off some right-wing mailing list, you’ll just get even more fire breathing hate spewing conspiracy laden garbage. Letter to Wash. Post executive editor re: blogger Ben Domenech and here. Its all kind of funny in the since that WaPO doesn’t have a regular progressive blogger. They have a politcal blogger that has called out Bush’s BS. So they supposedly compensate by getting someone who probably thinks Mussolini was a moderate.

Someone Took In These Pants reminds us, March 22: World Water Day

[m]ore than 1 billion people world wide – 20% of the planet’s entire human population – lack access to clean, safe drinking water.

INTERVIEWER
Do you think that the government
is winning the battle against
terrorists?

HELPMANN
On yes. Our morale is much higher
than theirs, we’re fielding all
their strokes, running a lot of
them out, and pretty consistently
knocking them for six. I’d say
they’re nearly out of the game.

The Technician is tottering on one leg on the chair on the
desk as he strains to swat the Beetle. Swish, swash, oops,
WHAP! Gottcha!!

INTERVIEWER
But the bombing campaign is now in
its thirteenth year…

HELPMANN
Beginner’s luck.

INTERVIEWER
Thank you very much, Deputy
Minister.
from the screenplay BRAZIL by Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard & Charles McKeown

if he had ever, during his checkered,plaided, mottled, pied and dappled career

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John Sloan or John French Sloan (1871-1951) belonged to the Ashcan school of art. While all the members had a realistic approach to art, they all had a different style. Sloan’s depictions of the working class had a grit about them, especially his black and white etchings, but his paintings tended toward post impressionism. Sloan tended to give his figures from everyday life a poetic dreamy quality. In painting Sloan did to his characters to some degree what Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) did in his detective novels. They both created a more sophticated projection of reality then what acually existed. They also made people funnier and warmer then they may have been in real life. In Sloan’s world the shoppers on the street, the bar room patrons, and the gamblers were more colorful, less rude. There was even the possibility of noblity, all qualities they may or may not have had in real life. Sloan admitted that perhaps it was the nature of city life that his work and perspective was somewhat detached from his subjects. In that detachment, that small chasm, Sloan seemed to fill up the gaps with his artistic imagination and his humanity. Much in the way that Hammet made the iconic anti-hero Sam Spade ( who betrayed his friend by having an affair with his wife, keeps a bottle in his desk drawer, and plays along with some shady characters for not completely saintly reasons, likeable and romantic in his way). There is something to be said for Sloan on canvas and Hammet on the page for not making their subjects one dimensional plodding forces; for Sloan it may have been a matter of not creating a grime stereotype of the lower economic classes, “I never mingled with the people, and the sympathy and understanding I have for the common people, as they are meanly called, I feel as a spectator of life.” There’s very nice mini biography of Sloan here -pdf with a few samples of his work and there is a Powerpoint presentation on The Eight of the Ashcan School.

The Peking Duck blog has Paul Krugman’s latest column, Bogus W. Attacks

They can’t even criticize Mr. Bush for the systematic dishonesty of his budgets. For one thing, that dishonesty has been apparent for five years. More than that, some prominent conservative commentators actually celebrated the administration’s dishonesty. In 2001 Time.com blogger Andrew Sullivan, writing in The New Republic, conceded that Mr. Bush wasn’t truthful about his economic policies. But Mr. Sullivan approved of the deception: “Bush has to obfuscate his real goals of reducing spending with the smokescreen of ‘compassionate conservatism.’ ” As Berkeley’s Brad DeLong puts it on his blog, conservatives knew that Mr. Bush was lying about the budget, but they thought they were in on the con.

So what’s left? Well, it’s safe for conservatives to criticize Mr. Bush for presiding over runaway growth in domestic spending, because that implies that he betrayed his conservative supporters. There’s only one problem with this criticism: it’s not true.

It’s true that federal spending as a percentage of G.D.P. rose between 2001 and 2005. But the great bulk of this increase was accounted for by increased spending on defense and homeland security, including the costs of the Iraq war, and by rising health care costs.

This approach to all matters budgetary under one party rule has all the makings of a self-fulfilling prophecy. They spend more then the revenue being generated allows for. Oops, sudden realization…spending is out of control. You know its all this social spending that’s out of control. Only its not, its a combination of  Medicare as corporate welfare, out of control pork like “bridges to nowhere” and a war that is three years old and the ruling party still has not come up with a plan to pay for. Three years of incompetence doesn’t add up to oh well people make mistakes, it adds up to a malicious approach to governance.

A Possible Clue On NSA Spying

Did President Bush mention the government’s secret warrantless surveillance program to the president of Pakistan more than four years ago? A brief passage of a 2002 book seems to raise that possibility.

Freedom, Yes, Iraqis Say, But at Great, Grave Cost

By almost any standard, Bashar Muhammed, the owner of a thriving Internet cafe, is a Baghdad success story. Three years after the United States invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein, the Internet business here is booming, and Muhammed has what most Iraqis could only dream of under Hussein — freedom, a cutting-edge job, lots of customers.

But when conversation turns to his life and prospects, he sighs and voices frustration that Americans just don’t get it.

“It is true that we got freedom after the war, but uncontrolled freedom — chaos and violence,” he said in a cool, deliberate tone. Five of his relatives have been killed in car bombings and assassinations, Muhammed said, noting that most recently an uncle was killed for being a Sunni Arab.

“The new generation is growing on violence and sectarian ethics, and this will affect Iraq for many years to come,” he said. “We are living a more devastating war every day.”

The failure of planning past shock and awe has canceled out any positives in the cost benefit column long ago and it just seems to get worse. If any good can be salvaged out of this effort this is certainly not the crew to do it

“It is not,” said Jeff. “There are no relations between a trust and a
policeman. My remark was an epitogram–an axis–a kind of mulct’em in
parvo. What it means is that a trust is like an egg, and it is not
like an egg. If you want to break an egg you have to do it from the
outside. The only way to break up a trust is from the inside. Keep
sitting on it until it hatches. Look at the brood of young colleges
and libraries that’s chirping and peeping all over the country. Yes,
sir, every trust bears in its own bosom the seeds of its destruction
like a rooster that crows near a Georgia colored Methodist camp
meeting, or a Republican announcing himself a candidate for governor
of Texas.”

I asked Jeff, jestingly, if he had ever, during his checkered,
plaided, mottled, pied and dappled career, conducted an enterprise of
the class to which the word “trust” had been applied. Somewhat to my
surprise he acknowledged the corner.

“Once,” said he. “And the state seal of New Jersey never bit into
a charter that opened up a solider and safer piece of legitimate
octopusing. We had everything in our favor–wind, water, police,
nerve, and a clean monopoly of an article indispensable to the public.
There wasn’t a trust buster on the globe that could have found a weak
spot in our scheme. It made Rockefeller’s little kerosene speculation
look like a bucket shop. But we lost out.”

from The Gentle Grafter O. Henry

No, not really. Mostly I hang out at home watching TV, faking my time reports, and padding my expenses.

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Foreign aid is one of the dirty words the right invented during the last thirty years. Though it has always been the actual practice of presidents, left and right to continue some policy of foreign aid. Few movement conservatives in government would advise that we stop giving foreign aid to Egypt for instance, while they’re not much of a democratic government, they’d certainly be worse under fundamentalist Muslims. Foreign aid for healthcare and education is a humanitarian effort, the kind of fuzzy warm thing that progressive minded Americans embrace and which makes much of the right gag, but not neccessarily everyone that votes Republican. With so many people supporting the idea of helping other nations, some reasons alturistic and some not, the problem for the conservative political machine can be solved by the corny, but somewhat effective magic trick called compassionate conservatism. Which brings us to Bush’s version of the Clear Skies Initiative for the world’s poorest residents. Just as Clear Skies was a gift to polluters, Bush’s Millenium Challenge Corporation while disguised as aid to the most deserving is anything but, MCA is another bureaucratic boondoogle, according to the Whitehouse web site,

In his March 14 speech President Bush directed that countries be identified based on “a set of clear and concrete and objective criteria” that would be applied “rigorously and fairly.” The President stated that the Millennium Challenge Account will “reward nations that root out corruption, respect human rights, and adhere to the rule of law… invest in better health care, better schools and broader immunization… [and] have more open markets and sustainable budget policies, nations where people can start and operate a small business without running the gauntlets of bureaucracy and bribery.”

If I didn’t know the source or if I was a Main Street Mom and Pop conservative this all sounds pretty good. Clear Skies sounded good too. Only MCA is just another conservative menage a trois where language, meaning, intent, and practice is perverted beyond recognition. It is supposed to promote free trade, yet we all know by now that the conservative idea of free trade is to open up a countries’ market for corporate interests to exploit cheap labor, extract resources without fair compensation, and foul the environment. All things that Mom and Pop would not approve of if they knew the sordid details. Bush’s Fake Aid

Instead of hiring aid experts, the administration at first staffed the MCC with conservative ideologues. Rather than partnering with other countries, the White House operated on its own, disconnected from the rest of the world. And when experts criticized the new agency, the administration responded with a bunker mentality, refusing to talk to detractors and learn from its mistakes.

Today, four years after the president announced his initiative, the MCC has signed compacts with six countries — offering only $1.2 billion in assistance. In February, Bush released a budget for 2007 that falls another $2 billion short of his pledge, bringing the total aid to less than half of what he promised. And the new budget once again pushes back the goal, stating that the administration “expects” to provide $5 billion annually in 2008.

“Not only has President Bush broken his word on funding, he has not put in the effort required to turn this excellent idea into a lifesaving reality,” says Jamie Drummond, executive director of DATA, the international aid organization co-founded by Bono.

Exposed: The Religious Right’s Gambling Problem

Wim Wenders, who made an old favorite of mine called Paris, Texas with character actor hall of famer Harry Dean Stanton, has a new film out called Don’t Come Knocking, this is part of Wender’s synopsis,

Howard Spence has seen better days. When he was younger he was a movie star, mostly in Westerns. At the age of sixty, Howard uses drugs, alcohol and young girls to avoid the painful truth that there are only supporting roles left for him to play. After yet another night of debauchery in his trailer, Howard awakens in disgust to find that he is still alive, but that nobody in the world would have missed him if he had died.

That morning Howard is absent from the film set. Instead, we see him galloping away on his movie horse in his costume full cowboy regalia.
But there is no camera filming him this time. Howard is fleeing, from the film and his life.

OK, road picture, Sam Shephard, Jessica Lange, Sam Shepard, Tim Roth and Sarah Polley. Did I say road picture, old cars, trailers, horses, an aging bad boy finally grows up, salons, blue western skies. Apple trailer here. there’s even an iPod version.

Senator Harkin redemns himself, via Daily Kos

DURBIN: I’ll tell you point blank that to argue that there was some sort of a briefing of members of Congress is to ignore the obvious. Ninety-six senators have not heard any details of what is happening with this warrantless wiretap.

In addition, there are only eight members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who are now being given some sort of a briefing.

Let me tell you what I believe led to Senator Feingold’s censure resolution, the utter frustration that this Republican Senate refuses to ask the hard questions in oversight of this administration about this war, about the use of warrantless wiretaps, about statements made by the president to the American people that there’ll be no wiretapping without court orders.

We know now that in many of these instances, the American people deserve answers. And this Republican Senate has refused to do it. I think that’s why Senator Feingold introduced this resolution….

“Were you good at it?”

I glanced at Mike. No help there. He could have been working out his tax returns or figuring the age of the universe or reminiscing fondly about his last meal at Le Bernardin.

“I was good at it.”

“Why’d you stop doing it?” I saw Mike’s shoulders stiffen. The man stopped playing with his pen. I took a deep breath.

“Personal reasons,” I said. He was quiet for a while.

“It was your choice? They didn’t ask you to leave?”

“It was my choice.”

The man leaned back in his chair. “And the private investigating, are you good at that, too?” I paused. This was getting old.

“No, not really. Mostly I hang out at home watching TV, faking my time reports, and padding my expenses.” The man sat up. He held his pen in his fist, looking at me, the first stirrings of anger on his brow. Mike turned around, his face in neutral. I went on, speaking evenly, matter-of-factly.

“What do you expect me to say? Of course I’m going to say I’m good. And that could be true or it could be a load of crap. And there’s not much we can talk about here that will tell you one way or the other. I can understand your position. You’ve got a problem, and it must be a bad one if you need to hire someone like me. I imagine the last thing you want is to make it worse by involving some clown who’s incompetent, indiscreet, greedy, or worse. I’m not that clown, but you’ve got to take Mike’s word on that. Or not.”

from the novel BLACK MAPS written by Peter Spiegelman

when, lo! the flame of the match went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand

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‘American Theocracy’ , Clear and Present Dangers

Four decades ago, Kevin Phillips, a young political strategist for the Republican Party, began work on what became a remarkable book. In writing “The Emerging Republican Majority” (published in 1969), he asked a very big question about American politics: How would the demographic and economic changes of postwar America shape the long-term future of the two major parties? His answer, startling at the time but now largely unquestioned, is that the movement of people and resources from the old Northern industrial states into the South and the West (an area he enduringly labeled the “Sun Belt”) would produce a new and more conservative Republican majority that would dominate American politics for decades. Phillips viewed the changes he predicted with optimism. A stronger Republican Party, he believed, would restore stability and order to a society experiencing disorienting and at times violent change. Shortly before publishing his book, he joined the Nixon administration to help advance the changes he had foreseen.

Phillips has remained a prolific and important political commentator in the decades since, but he long ago abandoned his enthusiasm for the Republican coalition he helped to build. His latest book (his 13th) looks broadly and historically at the political world the conservative coalition has painstakingly constructed over the last several decades. No longer does he see Republican government as a source of stability and order. Instead, he presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness. (His final chapter is entitled “The Erring Republican Majority.”) In an era of best-selling jeremiads on both sides of the political divide, “American Theocracy” may be the most alarming analysis of where we are and where we may be going to have appeared in many years. It is not without polemic, but unlike many of the more glib and strident political commentaries of recent years, it is extensively researched and for the most part frighteningly persuasive.

Obsidian Wings has some more on those documents that are supposed to be the ultimate in smoking guns, Breathtaking New Revelations!!!

So, to recap: what this document, which sent shudders of alarm through the right-wing blogosphere, actually tells us is that Iraqi intelligence surfed the web and printed out a web page about itself.

I think that when you write a blog, or anything else that you expect other people to read, you have an obligation to try to get the facts right. No one can avoid ever making a mistake, of course, but you have an obligation to try. This was a fairly easy story to check: the document is available online, and questions like “what is the FAS?” and “why isn’t this in Arabic?” are pretty obvious ones. And just noticing the url at the bottom and typing it in would have cleared up a lot.

There is a bit more at the link. As documents appear it might be in the interests of conservative bloggers to be a little more rational and skeptical before the shrill shouts of vindication begin; considering that over the last five years they have displayed so much contempt for the truth it is doubtful they’ll change their ways anytime soon.

Deep in China, a Poor and Pious Muslim Enclave

The most recent census found 513,000 Dongxiang people in China, and an overwhelming majority live in and around Dongxiang County. Of the 25 townships in the county, 19 do not have a single Chinese person. Most people do not speak Chinese, and some, like Mr. Tie, have only a vague notion of China, despite living in the middle of it.

The geographic isolation has helped preserve an Islamic culture, as well as an ancient language, but it has also separated the Dongxiang people from the prosperity lifting other parts of China. The Dongxiang, one of China’s 56 officially recognized ethnic minorities, are now among China’s poorest and most illiterate people.

This kind of cultural and economic isolation in the 21st century amazes me. There are a few small pictures, the architecture of one of the mosques is quite striking with a minimalist asian facade. No written langauge, a completely oral tradition. Reminds me of early native american traditions.
Veterans’ Voices On Iraq

Iraq was bad, nearly all of them agreed. “Not knowing day to day what was going to happen.” “Hard to figure out who the enemy was.” “Never being able to relax.” “The rules are that there are no rules.”

But it was not bad in the ways they see covered in the media — the majority also agreed on this. What they experienced was more complex than the war they saw on television and in print. It was dangerous and confused, yes, but most of the vets also recalled enemies routed, buildings built and children befriended, against long odds in a poor and demoralized country. “We feel like we’re doing something, and then we look at the news and you feel like you’re getting bashed.” “It seems to me the media had a predetermined script.” The vibe of the coverage is just “so, so, so negative.”

No two sets of memories were identical. This almost goes without saying, but not quite, because it underscores a point made by many of the veterans. Some of the deepest impressions left over from Iraq were not the externals — the sights, sounds, smells, scenes — but the internal marks. In Iraq, they saw, did and endured things they hadn’t seen, done or imagined before, and this affected each one uniquely.

“Each individual over there has his own little war he is fighting,” Army medic Joe Drennan explained. “No two people are going to have the same experiences.” These personal wars add up to the war they share.

I may write some more on this later. It doesn’t surprise me that experiences differ from soldier to soldier, that’s where everyone is entitled to their own truth to some extent. The issue for the center-left has never been whether the troops for the most part had the best of intentions and took their missions seriously, it was that they should not be put in harms way based on lies and a trumped up threat. For many of the boots on the ground its difficult for them to see the bigger picture. Taking a house, finding a particular group of bad guys, clearing a road of IEDs is commendable and contributes to the over all military mission, but after three years are we closer to a victory that hasn’t really been defined. Will Fourth Year Bring Civil War or Peace in Iraq?

After three years at war, Iraq is at what many people believe to be a crossroads: There have been both tentative steps toward a stable democratic government and menacing moves toward civil war.

Since the invasion of Iraq, Americans have helped fix up 825 schools, 13 hospitals and 302 police stations — but were also have been disgraced by the images of mistreatment at Abu Ghraib prison.

Iraqis have participated in two triumphant elections — only to have the first full-term parliament meet for the first time this week for just 37 minutes.

Much like Iraqis, Americans are divided about the war, and more are losing faith. Only 42 percent now think the war was worth fighting — down nearly 30 percent in three years.

After the bombing of a holy Shiite shrine last month, which set off a wave of religious violence, 80 percent of Americans now predict civil war.

Today, Iraq’s former prime minister, Iyad Allawi, issued an ominous warning. He said the country is already in a civil war and “moving toward the point of no return.”

Its not that there have been no positives on the part of the troops, its a matter of evaluating those positives within the context of the entire narrative. We could have a troop presence in Iraq for years, rebuild even more infrastructure, accomplish a thousand more individuals missions and still have chronic instability.

She drew one out – “scratch!” how it sputtered as it burnt! It gave a warm, bright light, like a little candle, as she held her hand over it. It was really a wonderful light. It seemed to the little girl that she was sitting by a large iron stove, with polished brass feet and a brass ornament. How the fire burned! and seemed so beautifully warm that the child stretched out her feet as if to warm them, when, lo! the flame of the match went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.
She rubbed another match on the wall. It burst into a flame, and where its light fell upon the wall it became as transparent as a veil, and she could see into the room. The table was covered with a snowy white table-cloth, on which stood a splendid dinner service, and a steaming roast goose, stuffed with apples and dried plums. And what was still more wonderful, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled across the floor, with a knife and fork in its breast, to the little girl. Then the match went out, and there remained nothing but the thick, damp, cold wall before her.
She lighted another match, and then she found herself sitting under a beautiful Christmas-tree. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door at the rich merchant’s.

from The Little Match-Seller by Hans Christian Andersen

The show was a flop. What difference does it make? It makes a great deal of difference.That’s fraud.

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Iraq Veteran Sees Nothing Positive About U.S. Troops Fighting There

Brian Clement of Gardiner, an Army veteran, said during a talk at the University of Southern Maine on Thursday that he started his yearlong duty in Iraq believing America hadn’t gone to war for the right reasons, but “thought I could do some good.”

However, Clement, who was with the 1st Cavalry Division, said that in his job driving a truck around Iraq, including such hot spots as Fallujah and Sadr City, “I didn’t see anything positive about our being in Iraq.”

Clement, who returned home last March and received an honorable discharge from the service in June, has since joined Iraq Veterans Against the War.

“I support the troops wholeheartedly,” he said, “but I don’t support the misuse of our armed forces as they are being used now.”

Clement was part of a five-member group invited to USM’s Portland campus to discuss the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Four members of the panel spoke out strongly against the war in Iraq.

NPR Survey: Republicans Lose Ground on Foreign Policy, National Security; Opportunity for Democrats
The first thought that came to mind when reading this poll is how conservatives were ever perceived as stronger on defense in the first place. Democrats won the two big wars that really counted. General Douglas MacArthur blew it in North Korea. President Johnson lied about the Gulf of Tonkin, but he didn’t lose the war, we had to wait for Nixon and Kissenger to not so much lose as give America’s military and their families the shaft. Bush and crew’s incompetence is not something that they invented , ineptitude has always been part of the core of the conservative movement. If Reagan had not supported Saddam Hussein during the eighties either Iran would have won and moved toward a more moderate Islamic state by now or we would have had an impotent Saddam whose delusional dreams of power would have been snuffed out.We can look at the self appointed grand pooh-pahs of national security in two ways. One, they had good intentions, but never thought about how one falling dominoe would effect the next. Two, the conservative world view has a fairly deep contempt for science and the scientific method. They gladly embrace the destructive potential of science and the next generation of weapons, but reject the rationalism that makes those weapons possible along with the next generation of medicine or energy production. If, as the conservative movement has done, you only grab bits and pieces of rationalism when it suits your needs you’ve already neck deep in ineptitude. Ineptitude is corruption’s Siamese twin. They’re joined at the hip. Cheney-Halliburton, Delay-K-Street-power mongering, Abramoff-lobbyists, Harris-Abramoff, Rep. “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif.- MZM contracts for “intelligence services”, attacking a somwhat secularized Muslim nation instead of Muslim terrorists, doing nothing about nuclear proliferation or port security. The only absolutely true believers in Republican leadership on national security issues are AM radio shock jocks and the listeners who swallow their bilge without question.

* Democrats win every security debate in this poll and when voters are asked who they trust more on issues including the Iraq war, foreign ownership of US ports, and homeland security issues, Democrats come out on top. The only exception is the nuclear threat in Iran, where Republicans have a narrow 5 point advantage.

* These results are a reflection of Bush’s collapse and the growing determination of Americans to vote for change. There has been a tectonic shift in the electorate with two thirds of the country now wanting to move in a new direction. Bush’s approval stands at 39 percent. 58 percent disapprove of his performance, and 45 percent of America disapproves strongly

Just a month ago Bush supporters in blogistan were calling for a nuclear first strike, not sure which way they’re leaning this week. Iran has become a big problem rather then a small problem because Bush blew it in Iraq. Not Michael Moore or Senator Reid, The Dubya Wrecking Crew had their collective heads shoved deep, deep, deep up some dark recesses where they couldn’t even plan on adequate body armor, much less how this would effect the political equilibrium of Iran’s moderation toward the west. We are currently reaping the wizbang results of the conservative mind as it plays a game of chess wth millions of lives.

Over the last few years the usual suspects have produced so-called smoking gun evidence that Omar Somebody had bagels and locks with somebody from al-Queda’s uncle in 1998 and the expense report was found in Saddam’s left desk drawer. Here we go again, Operation Iraqi Freedom Documents . From what I have read so far, the righties will have some stuff to shape and mold until it suits their purpose, yet there’s more then enough evidence in these documents so far to maintain the case that Saddam was hardly al-Queda’s best buddy or a top level exporter of terrorism to the U.S. If exporting terrorism was a sack race, Saddam was stumbling along in the rear compared to several others. Saddam Was Trying to Capture Zarqawi

The Bush administration repeatedly made the presence in Iraq of Abu Musab Zarqawi a pretext for invading the country and overthrowing Saddam Hussein. They implied that he was a client of Saddam and that Saddam had arranged for hospital care for him.

Newly released documents from the captured Iraqi archives show that Saddam had put out an APB for Zarqawi and was trying to have him arrested as a danger to the Baath regime!

Neither side of the blog isle should get too excited one way or the other. CMPC-2003-006430 is a little interesting as far as having a peek inside Iraq’s intelligence agency, Mukhabarat. Just a couple paragraphs I found interesting,

Propaganda Office
The Propaganda Office conducts psychological warfare, including the dissemination of false stories to improve the reputation of the regime and to paint the enemies of the regime (such as the Kurds, Iran or King Hussein of Jordan) in an unfavorable light.

Directorate 5. Counter-Intelligence
Counter-Intelligence Directorate responsibilities involve detecting and countering foreign agents, with a particular focus Syrian intelligence. D5 works in co-ordination with D3, D4, D14, Dl 8. The Director of D5 is Brig Sadoon Ali Al Tikriti, from Auja, and the Assistant Director of D5: Lt. Col. Ahmed Lahij Al Dulaimi, from Falahat village.

Polar Inertia “nomadic and popular culture” anywhere and everywhere.

BLOOM
This is hardly a time for levity.
I’ve discovered a serious error
here in the accounts of your last
play.

BIALYSTOCK MOVES AROUND THE DESK TO EXAMINE THE LEDGER.

BIALYSTOCK
Where? What?

BLOOM
According to the backer’s list you
raised $60,000. But the show you
produced only cost fifty-eight
thousand. There’s two thousand
dollars unaccounted for.

BIALYSTOCK
I went to a Turkish bath, who cares?
The show was a flop. What
difference does it make?

BLOOM
It makes a great deal of difference.
That’s fraud. If they found out,
you could go to prison.

BIALYSTOCK
Why should they find out? It’s
only two thousand dollars, Bloom,
do me a favor, move a few decimal
points around. You can do it.
You’re an accountant. The word
‘count’ is part of your title.

BLOOM
(aghast)
But that’s cheating!

BIALYSTOCK
It’s not cheating … It’s charity.
Bloom, look at me … look at me!
I’m drowning. Other men sail
through life. Bialystock has
struck a reef. Bloom, I’m going
under. I am being sunk by a
society that demands success, when
all I can offer is failure. Bloom,
I’m reaching out to you. Don’t
send me to jail. Help! Help!

from THE PRODUCERS by Mel Brooks

surrounded by darkness and silence: and in that moment of supreme tenderness he would be transfigured.

irish_cottage_1.jpg

It does seem that Senator Feingold’s has committed the great, but you should have told me first mistake. Democratic response was tipid to the idea of censure mostly on the grounds that it was OK to stay out till midnight, but you should have called and told the other Senate Democrats first. Democrats are almost as bad as conservatives when it comes to surprises. Its things like this that remind the pinky up tea drinkers in the party that their is a Democratic Wing of the Democratic party. If Democrats want people to pay attention to what they think and stand for, letting one their own light a few fireworks and standing ground is one way to do it. Again, while I’m against poll pandering, the senator from Wisconsin has the support of the major portion of the American people; poll on censuring Bush from American Research Group

Do you favor or oppose the United States Senate passing a resolution censuring President George W. Bush for authorizing wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining court orders?
3/15/06 Favor Oppose Undecided
All Adults 46% 44% 10%
Voters 48% 43% 9%
Republicans (33%) 29% 57% 14%
Democrats (37%) 70% 26% 4%
Independents (30%) 42% 47% 11%
Based on 1,100 completed telephone interviews among a random sample of adults nationwide March 13-15, 2006. The theoretical margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, 95% of the time.

While I’m dissappointed in Senator Dayton’s statement, as I wrote yesterday Feingold does have the support of some heavy hitters, Harkin, Kerry, and Boxer. The problem here is probably more ego related then politics. Its impossible to find a Democratic senator and a few conservatives to boot that wouldn’t like some straight answers from the Bush House on the wire tapping.Not to mention how they used or molded intelligence on Iraq, bumbled the Katrina response, and if the Bushies are so great on fighting terror, why is world wide terror increasing and how did they squander victory in Iraq. Senate Republicans are mad for one reason and only one reason, Feingold’s dig at the president is also a dig at lack of real oversight by conservatives. Conservatives who have spent more time lying on their backs getting belly rubs from Karl Rove and K-Street then they have holding the administration accountable. Hence the idea that bloodless old men have little problem sending the young off to fight wars they themselves would never fight and spending taxpayer dollars to do so . If only this were true, Who Knew? GOP says Feingold’s Setting Dem Agenda

The Republican National Committee has made a remarkable discovery. U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who has long been thought to be an outsider in the Senate Democratic Caucus, is not a maverick at all.

It turns out that Feingold is a “Democratic leader” who, according to RNC researchers, is pretty much setting the party’s agenda.

In one of a series of talking-points memos distributed from the Republican headquarters in Washington since Feingold proposed on Monday that the president should be censured, the senator’s photo appears next to a bold headline that declares: “THE DEBATE IS OVER: DEMS FIND THEIR AGENDA.” A subhead reads: “Dem Leaders ‘Ecstatically’ Embrace Sen. Feingold’s Plan To Weaken The Tools To Fight The War On Terror.”

Apart from the fact that the underlying premise of the memo is inaccurate – there’s no Democratic plan to weaken the tools to fight the war on terror, which has already been effectively undermined by the misguided invasion and occupation of Iraq and determination of the White House to treat “homeland security” as a slogan rather than an imperative – the RNC’s announcement makes what, even in these hyperbolic times, is a remarkable claim.

As a conservative blogger here and there will remind us all, the Democrats did vote for the AUMF and have given Bush every penny he ever asked for to continue to act like a cartoon characteriture of Captain Terror, cape caught in a tangle of his own ineptitude. If Bush isn’t winning, he has no one but himself to blame. Senator Feingold is just this week’s scapegoat.

Let me get all wonkish and suggest a post Iraq invasion autopsy, Saddam’s Delusions: The View from the Inside

By 2003, the Iraqi military was reeling from 13 years of almost continuous engagement with U.S. and British air forces, the accumulating effects of sanctions, and the insidious impact of the regime’s dysfunctional policies. These pressures had all helped drive the Iraqi military into a state of chronic decline. The Iraqi military’s main mission was to ensure the internal security of the Baathist dictatorship. Concerned about everything except fighting wars, the Iraqi military, which had once aspired to a Western-like profession of arms, became focused on militarily irrelevant — but nonetheless life-and-death — issues.

The best example of this focus is the prewar condition of the Iraqi air force, which did not launch a single sortie against the coalition during the invasion. According to the commander of Iraq’s air force and air defense force, Hamid Raja Shalah, Saddam simply decided two months before the war that the air force would not participate. Apparently, Saddam reasoned that the quality and quantity of the Iraqi air force’s equipment would make it worse than useless against coalition air forces. Consequently, he decided to save the air force for future needs and ordered his commanders to hide their aircraft. This decision was yet another indication that Saddam did not believe coalition ground forces would ever reach into the heart of Iraq. He was sure his regime would survive whatever conflict ensued.

Says much about Iraq being a genuine threat to the U.S. or it’s neighbors.

This is not the title to today’s excerpt, A Loon Has Regrets, Peggy Noonan Realizes She Has Conned Herself

She looks at Bush fiscal policy and joins the Ancient, Occult, and Hermetic Order of the shrill, saying that if she’d known who George W. Bush really was she wouldn’t have voted for him:

When a loon has second thoughts does it really matter since they were incapable of having cogent thoughts in the first place. This may be the sound a tree makes when it falls and nobody cares.

Let’s create a list of every idiotic thing George Bush has done in the past five years

The Moonie Times called this blog must reading which gives us our quote and textual cartoon of the day,

We also need to stay in country, and continue to view this as a generational committment.

Complete twit or complete wanger, a member of the reality based community reports and you decide. Either start saving for the grand kid’s body armor now or have them join the Yellow Elephants when they grow up.

Tomgram: Orville Schell on Journalism under Siege in Baghdad

There is undeniably a Blade Runner-like feel to this city. The violence is so pervasive and unfathomable that you wonder what people think they are dying for. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the everyday violence is horrendous, it does not take too many days before the deadly noises and the devastation everywhere seem to become just part of the ordinary landscape. Soon, quite to your surprise, you find yourself paying hardly more attention to the sounds of gunshots than a New Yorker does to the car alarms that go off every night… until, that is, someone you know, a neighbor, or just someone you have heard about, gets blown up, shot on patrol, or kidnapped by insurgents.

update: Time for Facts, Not Resolutions

The Senate should also force the disclosure of any other spying Mr. Bush is conducting outside the law. (Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has strongly hinted that is happening.)

The Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees should do this, but we can’t expect a real effort from Senator Pat Roberts, the Intelligence Committee chairman, or Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. They’re too busy trying to give legal cover to the president’s trampling on the law and the Constitution.

When the Republicans try to block an investigation, as they surely will, Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader, should not be afraid to highlight that fact by shutting down the Senate’s public business, as he did last year. This time, though, Mr. Reid needs to follow up. The first time Mr. Reid forced the Senate into a closed session, Mr. Roberts said he would keep his promise about an investigation into the hyping of intelligence on Iraq. But Mr. Roberts continues to sit on that report.

The nation needs to know a great deal more about the domestic spying. How many people’s calls and e-mail were tapped? How were they chosen? Was Mr. Bush planning to do this until the war on terror ended that is, forever? The public should be asking why members of Congress are afraid to make those important and legitimate queries.

So NYT doesn’t like the way Feingold went about the request for an inquiry and censure, but they support the substance of what he has said. If The Senator had violated some serious Senate protocol I could understand the objections, but he hasn’t, he used his salad fork instead of his dinner fork, big deal. let’s get on with a serious inquiry, that is unless the president has something to hide?

I think because of homework assignments rather then any great insight into what’s popular in literature on my part that the Hemingway excerpt have been the most popular, but I’m especially glad that the post or excerpt from James Joyce has been the second most popular. A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man has been one of my favorite books for years. When I first read it in my teens it captured all of that feverish feelings I had about the big world out there waiting to be explored. St. Patrick’s Day provides a good excuse for another little piece. If you should decide to buy a copy please chceck to see that it is complete and unabridged. Also beware that if you have tender language or religious sensiblilites you may find the book offensive.

For some time he had felt the slight change in his house; and those changes in what he had deemed unchangeable were so many slight shocks to his boyish conception of the world. The ambition which he felt astir at times in the darkness of his soul sought no outlet. A dusk like that of the outer world obscured his mind as he heard the mare’s hoofs clattering along the tramtrack on the Rock Road and the great can swaying and rattling behind him.

He returned to Mercedes and, as he brooded upon her image, a strange unrest crept into his blood. Sometimes a fever gathered within him and led him to rove alone in the evening along the quiet avenue. The peace of the gardens and the kindly lights in the windows poured a tender influence into his restless heart. The noise of children at play annoyed him and their silly voices made him feel, even more keenly than he had felt at Clongowes, that he was different from others. He did not want to play. He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld. He did not know where to seek it or how, but a premonition which led him on told him that this image would, without any overt act of his, encounter him. They would meet quietly as if they had known each other and had made their tryst, perhaps at one of the gates or in some more secret place. They would be alone, surrounded by darkness and silence: and in that moment of supreme tenderness he would be transfigured.

He would fade into something impalpable under her eyes and then in a moment he would be transfigured. Weakness and timidity and inexperience would fall from him in that magic moment.

from A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man by James Joyce

It failed to mention potting the two off the break, or jumping the four and six to pot the three after a double kiss on the one

13ball.jpg

Polls have their place I suppose. Political polls are kind of a relic of populism. What are the citizen on the street perceptions about this or that issue at the moment. Gives people a chance to vent if nothing else. If the Bush Cult, which supports 90 plus percent of anything and everything that Bush does doesn’t like a particular poll’s results they’ll attempt to cast doubts on the poll’s methodology. On the moderate side we’ve seen an awful lot of push polling for Bush. I tend to be of the school of thought that polls can be useful as a political tool, a rough compass of where things are. With the caveat that regardless of wether they support your world view, in a framework of real ethics some issues are not recipes in which the ingredients can be mixed or deleted at the whim of popularity. Senator Feingold is right about Bush’s fragrant disregard of FISA law regardless if in some hypothetical poll 99% of the public supports Bush’s imperial disregard for the law. One of the most dangerous preceptions of democracy in the U.S. is that it is the rule of the majority. We’re a nation of laws, not a nation of mob rule. It just so happens that at least a plurality of American’s are not crazy about the idea that Bush is playing fast and lose with the law and our constitutional rights. Wash. Post falsely reported that Americans approve of Bush’s “wiretapping tactics”

In a front-page March 15 article on Sen. Russ Feingold’s (D-WI) call to censure President Bush for “authoriz[ing] an illegal program to spy on American citizens on American soil,” Washington Post staff writer Shailagh Murray reported that Feingold’s fellow Democrats are “wary of polls showing that a majority of Americans side with the president on wiretapping tactics.” In fact, polls consistently show that a majority of Americans disapprove of the wiretapping tactics the administration has used — specifically, conducting surveillance without seeking or obtaining a warrant.

As a group, and let’s put aside the word conservative as a political label for a moment, U.S. Senator’s are conservative, they are cautious, it took a couple days of staff meetings and phone calls, but Senator Feingold now has a co-sponsor of his censure resolution, Harkin Signs on to Censure Measure . This article is nothing for progessive minded Americans to tip-toe around, Even Democrats leery of Feingold resolution

The Bush administration has argued that the president’s inherent constitutional war-making powers, and a 2001 congressional resolution authorizing all necessary force against those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, supersede that.

Those arguments have been met with skepticism among Democrats and some Republicans in the Senate.

[ ]…Among the more supportive Democrats, California Sen. Barbara Boxer said that she could vote for the resolution.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry said of the resolution: “I’m interested in it . . . The president ought to be held accountable, and I think he broke the law.”

It may amount to the same thing, but Republicans like Hagel, Snowe, Roberts and Brownback lost their spine when it came down to actual accountability. Democrats became skittish because of the same pollsters that can’t seem to pull their head out of their posteriors told Dems making an issue of Bush’s law breaking wasn’t a clear political winner, when the reverse is true. Democrats need to learn the basic rules of advertising, if you don’t repeatedly pound your message home it gets lost in the next wave of static. The Whitehouse knows this, Scott the Whitehouse spin monkey,

The American people have made it very clear they support the president’s efforts to defeat the terrorists and prevent attacks from happening. The president has made it very clear he’s not going to wait to be hit again.

Where is this statement does Scott even address the issue. He doesn’t, Frist will not, not a single irght-wing blogger that I’m aware of will discuss the issue of illegally spying on American without warrants because if Scott, his boss. and the extremists that pass for conservatives these days honestly discussed the issue the polls would show an 80% dissapproval rating of Bush’s program, not the part where we spy on terrorists, but to spy on Americans without a warrant. Warrants which are easier to get then a building permit or a hunting license. Democrats and conservatives alike better get used to that constant buzzing sound in the background of patriotic Americans that will not let this issue die tomorrow or in our lifetimes. Democrats are in the process of pumping up the base for 2006. What happens if just 3% of the base says the hell with you for not standing up for the rule of law, damn the pollsters and political expediency. Glenn Greenwald doesn’t try to put a positive spin on this uphill battle, but lays out the reality of political convictions,

If the public became convinced as part of the debate that is finally happening that the President broke the law and that such law-breaking is intolerable, does Kevin actually think that it’s impossible to find 6 Republican Senators to vote for the Resolution? Congressional Republicans defied Bush on the port deal for only one reason: because public opinion demanded it.

If public opinion begins to move even more than it already has to the view that Bush broke the law, it is far from certain that the Censure Resolution will fail. As I’ve noted many times, polls showed for two consecutive years that the public thought Watergate was a meaningless scandal and Nixon’s popularity remained sky high throughout those years. The arc of that scandal ended up changing only because tenacious politicians and journalists continued to pursue the story and the public finally became educated and angry about it. If Democrats had followed Kevin’s advice in 1972, Richard Nixon would have retired as a popular two-term President.

and digby gets our Quote of the day,

They must take action (and I don’t mean boring press conferences and 10 point plans) or it won’t matter a damn if the Republicans are on the ropes — demoralized Democrats are not going to bother with them. Come on. Speak for us. If not now, when?

I think this applys to Democratic rank and file too. If you’re reading the news and the center-left blogs and get discouraged at everytime that there is not an instant win on every new administration outrage you need to reassess how you look at the political battles are fought. Don’t be a cheerleader that thinks the season begins or ends with one touchdown or one game. Be a warrior, realize that the war for what is good and right never ends. The war to end slavery didn’t begin and end with the civil war, it really lasted from the 1700’s to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. the NSA scandal is about a specific act of lawlessness, but its more then that, its about setting yet another precedent for making our government less acountable to us, the American people and the Constitution. I don’t get near the traffic that Glenn or Digby get, but if you and a few friends and family and their firends sign this petition or just write an e-mail or send a fax to let Congress know that you will not let this issue die it can make a difference, Hold Bush Accountable: Demand a Special Prosecutor to Investigate the White House

US postwar Iraq strategy a mess, Blair was told

The memos were obtained by Michael Gordon, author, along with General Bernard Trainor, of Cobra II: the Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, published to coincide with the third anniversary of the invasion.

The British memos identified a series of US failures that contained the seeds of the present insurgency and anarchy.

The mistakes include:

A lack of interest by the US commander, General Tommy Franks, in the post-invasion phase.

The presence in the capital of the US Third Infantry Division, which took a heavyhanded approach to security.

Squandering the initial sympathy of Iraqis.

Bechtel, the main US civilian contractor, moving too slowly to reconnect basic services, such as electricity and water.

Failure to deal with health hazards, such as 40% of Baghdad’s sewage pouring into the Tigris and rubbish piling up in the streets.

Did Genius George sign a bill into law that had not actually been passed by Congress, Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

As if that wasn’t enough, today we read that Bush now feels it is within his power to sign a Budget Reconciliation Act into law regardless of whether or not both houses of Congress have passed it.

and here, Congressman writes White House: Did President knowingly sign law that didn’t pass?

“No pressure.”
“10 G’s for one shot, I’ll take all the pressure you got.”

He had a habit of doing that. Ignoring his accomplishments. “10 G’s for one shot” didn’t paint a true picture. It failed to mention potting the two off the break, or jumping the four and six to pot the three after a double kiss on the one. It also left out the other six pots with perfect positional play. 10 G’s for nine shots? A thousand dollars each with two for the jump. He didn’t look at it that way. He saw one shot standing between him and 10 grand. Him and a new start.

from the short story True American Artform by Simon Kay

the tragedy seemed from that time to the present to have finally taken its place in the dark catalogue of inexplicable and unexpiated crimes

americanburglars.jpg

I meant to post this yesterday, but the vicious editor that lives inside by brain was nagging me about the length of the posts so we’ll do it today. I was a little ambivalent about White House adviser Claude A. Allen’s shoplifting scheme, maybe do to conservative corruption overload. Rather then devoting this blog and way too much of my time solely to the corruption scandals plaqueing the Republican party and this administration I rely on progressive muckrakers like TPM. Then after reading this post at Bad Attitudes I realized how important the story was, Claude Allen’s Free Pass

Let’s put this in perspective. This is not the guy who took out the garbage in the White House. He was the rough equivalent, let’s say, of Robert Reich in Clinton’s administration. In the Carter White House Allen’s job was held by Stu Eisenstat.

In the Bush White House Allen filled the same White House post on the domestic policy side that Condoleezza Rice filled on the foreign policy side. And before that, he was the operating head of the Department of Health and Human Services under Tommy Thompson.

Ex-Enron worker says Lay lies cost him his savings

A former Enron Corp. pipeline worker testified on Tuesday he lost his retirement savings when he held on to his Enron stock because then-chief executive Ken Lay said the company was strong just weeks before it went bankrupt.

Johnnie Nelson, 46, said after 16 years with the company he was a loyal Lay supporter, but that Lay lied at a critical time in October 2001 when many workers wondered whether to sell their fast-falling Enron stock.

“He violated my trust,” the plain-spoken Nelson said in the fraud and conspiracy trial of Lay and fellow former Enron boss Jeffrey Skilling. “All we wanted was the truth, good or bad, so we could make our decisions.”

When Lay lawyer Mac Secrest told him Lay himself had lost hundreds of millions of dollars on the stock, the bearded Nelson replied sarcastically, “I’m heartbroken.”

Quote of the day in bold.

You look at a painting or photo and you see a cow, a grassy meadow, a fence. You’ve looked at it several times, so has your friends and neighbors. Along comes some right-wing bloggers who swear they and they alone can see the truth of things, you my friend have had your perception of reality twisted. That is not a cow, its an alien spacecraft, that is not a meadow, its the ashes from the craft’s energy field, and the fence is a relic of the space god the flying purple cookie monster. Iraq is the right-wing bloggers alien space craft, their country, their Eden, their penthouse at the Plaza. If only liberals, independents and moderate conservatives would drink the kool-aid we too could see their ultimate reality, death is life in kool-aid world, bloodied stumps are healthy legs, children love having their bedrooms invaded by armed soldiers, torture and sexual humiliation are Iraq’s Disney-like adventures. I need not supply links, use your favorite search engine – iraq is going great, bush declares victory, insurgency in last throes, iraq elections+turning the corner. Do conservatives hate the sixties because they never recovered from that electric kool-aid acid trip…Scores of bodies found in Baghdad, Army faces accusation of cover-up over Iraq deaths-ROYAL Military Police investigators are facing severe criticism for the way they handled a fatal shooting in Iraq in which a British tank commander and an Iraqi were killed, Bush’s Fantasy of “Progress” in Iraq

Al-Zaman says that the Shiite religious coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, has rejected a system of cabinet rule, wherein the prime minister would have to take issues to his cabinet for a vote. From a Shiite point of view, the US and other Iraqi factions are trying to find ways of robbing it of its electoral victory on Dec. 15.

>Iraq’s electricity production has fallen to a 3-year low, in large part because of a successful guerrilla tactic of sabotage. They are besieging Baghdad with regard to fuel and electricity, demoralizing the most politically central portion of the population– the 6 million inhabitants of the capital, a fourth of the country. The Bush administration may need Iran’s help to bail them out this summer .

U.S. military airstrikes significantly increased in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq – American forces have dramatically increased airstrikes in Iraq during the past five months, a change of tactics that may foreshadow how the United States plans to battle a still-strong insurgency while reducing the number of U.S. ground troops serving here.

A review of military data shows that daily bombing runs and jet-missile launches have increased by more than 50 percent in the past five months, compared with the same period last year. Knight Ridder’s statistical findings were reviewed and confirmed by American Air Force officials in the region.

The numbers also show that U.S. forces dropped bombs on more cities during the last five months than they did during the same period a year ago

I prefer iced tea to kool-aid, maybe that’s way I just can’t twist and turn reality into something that it is not.

God knows what she is going through, but Jill Carroll still alive in Iraq

A future vice-president perhaps, 3-Year-Old Boy Shoots Mom in the Knee

Feingold Assails Dems on Bush Censure

“I’m amazed at Democrats … cowering with this president’s numbers so low,” Feingold said.

The latest AP-Ipsos poll on Bush, conducted last week, found just 37 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed approving his overall performance, the lowest of his presidency.

Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., tried to hold a vote Monday on Feingold’s resolution but was blocked by Democrats. He said Tuesday that Feingold should withdraw the resolution because it has no support.

“If the Democrats continue to say no to voting on their own censure resolution, then they ought to drop it and focus on our foreign policy in a positive way,” Frist said in a statement.

Feingold’s resolution condemns Bush’s “unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining the court orders required” by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

I’m not going to bash Democrats, they’re are plenty of web sites on the right and left that do so daily, but I second Senator Feingold’s thoughts. Democrats have absolutely nothing to lose by trying to hold the president accountable. Conservatives in Washington and on the net will be twisting themselves into knots in the next few years disassociating themselves from the worst presidency in a hundred years.

Democrats Beat Quick Retreat on Call to Censure President

“The president may be wrong,” Mr. Specter said, “but he has acted in good faith.”

I guess there is not a limit on the number of times Bush apologists can reach into the well of tired cliches. Yes Bush burned your house down, but he was just trying to kill a cockroach in the kitchen so that makes it OK. Even with death hanging like a cloud over Specter, the very real chance that these are his last moments on earth, his political pandering takes precedent over patriotic courage. Another modern tragedy that doesn’t have to be could be turned on a few words of genuine conviction from a conservative like Specter or Hagel.

There are many who will still bear in mind the singular circumstances which, under the heading of the Rugby Mystery, filled many columns of the daily Press in the spring of the year 1892. Coming as it did at a period of exceptional dullness, it attracted perhaps rather more attention than it deserved, but it offered to the public that mixture of the whimsical and the tragic which is most stimulating to the popular imagination. Interest drooped, however, when, after weeks of fruitless investigation, it was found that no final explanation of the facts was forthcoming, and the tragedy seemed from that time to the present to have finally taken its place in the dark catalogue of inexplicable and unexpiated crimes. A recent communication (the authenticity of which appears to be above question) has, however, thrown some new and clear light upon the matter. Before laying it before the public it would be as well, perhaps, that I should refresh their memories as to the singular facts upon which this commentary is founded. These facts were briefly as follows:
At five o’clock on the evening of the 18th of March in the year already mentioned a train left Euston Station for Manchester.

from the story The Man with the Watches by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

away from here, always away from here. Only by doing so can I reach my destination.

mysteed.jpg

SAS man quits in protest at ‘illegal’ Iraq war

An SAS soldier has resigned from the army, describing the military intervention in Iraq as a “war of aggression” and “morally wrong”. The soldier said he witnessed “dozens of illegal acts” by US forces there.

Ben Griffin, 28, who left after three months in Baghdad, is believed to be the first SAS soldier to refuse to go into combat and to leave the army on moral grounds. His decision comes at a time of growing disenchantment among British soldiers about their presence in Iraq.

[ ]… The SAS has been operating under cover in Iraq since the invasion, working with US special forces seeking out insurgents and foreign Arab fighters linked to or proclaiming sympathy with al-Qaida.

British officers have told the Guardian that they have been dismayed by US military tactics in Iraq. They also say that attempts to train the Iraqi army and police are fraught with problems.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among peoples through the documentation, preservation, and dissemination of sound.

Lucinda Williams’ iconic Happy Woman Blues is their number 2 best seller. This was an interesting find, There is No Eye: Music for Photographs,

In Music For Photographs, photographer, film maker, folklorist and musician John Cohen (of the New Lost City Ramblers) presents some of the finest American roots recordings ever made. On their own, these songs are authentic and captivating. Yet, they are only one half of a conceptual whole– Cohen has also released a book of photographs, There is No Eye, showcasing the musicians featured here as well as many others. Experienced together, the music and the photographs create new dimensions of possibility in our collective drive to understand and appreciate people’s music

I try not to do too much novel gazing, but I know I have a tendency to make connections between different cultural trends and art mediums. What kind of paintings or what painters were associated with avant garde jazz for example, Picasso’s later work  ( though there was an element of mockery of pop culture ). How was architecture influenced by pop culture in the 60’s, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is one example.

Move to censure Bush will have political fallout, well of course it will and already has. In the Senate Bill Frist has taken the absurd and cowardly route of trying to hide Bush’s misconduct behind the war that Bush lied America and Britain into. While the symbloism of a Bush censure would be good for the future of co-equal branches of government, the fact that it has been proposed by a well respected Senator like Feingold and enjoys popular support in the net roots is already a partal victory. Rightie bloggers can bitch and whine all they want the horse is out of the barn. If it gets support from Reid they’ll be a war of words. Frist has been singularly impotent in such wars, usually threatening to take his ball and bat and go home if everybody doesn”t play by his rules. I wonder what the people of Tennessee think about having a Senator who is prone to petty childishness when it comes to important matters of state. Unfortunately it seems like the general population has too many citizens that are reminiscent of the folks that Jay Leno interviews on the street and can’t tell you who the vice-president is. When I watch those segments its both funny and tragic at the same time. If people don’t know the players, they probably aren’t that aware of the issues at stake either. I do however believe that the majority of people, given the facts would do the right thing. If the majority of the people of Tennessee know what a wanker their senator was he wouldn’t serve another term.

This quote from a Bush apologist’s blog that tends to lean towards Franco rather then Jefferson,

The Democrats are the new Whigs, a party sliding into historical oblivion from its inability to form coherent party positions on the most pressing issues of the day

Whether Democrats have a “coherent” message is both a dishonest and disengenious clown juggle by the right. What worries them is that even though they control all branches of governement and get the benefit of the mdeia spotlight, they’re still losing the great debate about the future of America and democracy. The people can see what Republicans stand for, incompetence, corruption, a culture of deception and hypocrisy, national peeping toms with a very slim grasp of reality.

Censuring the President by Senator Russ Feingold

The facts and the case for censure are clear. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, makes it a crime to wiretap American citizens without a court warrant – which is what the President has admitted doing. Before the program was revealed, he also misled Congress and the American people about the wiretapping that was being done. For example, at a 2004 speech in Buffalo, he said, “Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires, a wiretap requires a court order.” And at a 2004 speech in my home state of Wisconsin, he said that “the government can’t move on wiretaps or roving wiretaps without getting a court order.”

What will we tell the children, when you grow up you can be president and treat the constitution like a worthless piece of paper.

Matthew Yglesias is more succinct them me, calling out Bush’s pleas against isolationism,

David Sanger takes an extended look at the president’s new campaign against “isolationism,” by which he seems to mean opposition to the Bush administration’s policies. It’s worth saying as clearly as possible that this is entirely bogus.

I called for my horse to be brought from the stable. The servant did not

understand me. I myself went into the stable, saddled my horse and mounted.

In the distance I heard a trumpet blast. I asked him what it meant but he

did not know and had not heard it. By the gate he stopped me and asked

“where are you riding to sir?” I answered “away from here, away from here,

always away from here. Only by doing so can I reach my destination.” “Then

you know your destination” he asked. “Yes” I said “I have already said so,

‘Away-From-Here’ that is my destination.” “You have no provisions with you”

he said. “I don’t need any” I said. “The journey is so long that I will die

of hunger if I do not get something along the way. It is, fortunately, a

truely immense journey.”

My Destination by Franz Kafka, (transl. Alex Flores)