Wednesday, February 25, 2004

TOP TEN QUESTIONS YOU WON'T GET AT ANY UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

10. "So, Congressman Kucinich, what goes best with a porterhouse steak, red wine or white?"

9. "Mr. President, which do you think will be easier to find: those socks that always seem to turn up missing after the laundry is done or those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction?"

8. "Rev. Sharpton--you are low on money. You have no shot on Super Tuesday. Your campaign has failed to capture the imagination of African-American voters. When are you running for President of Haiti?"

7. "Mr. President, if you were a tree - would you cut yourself down?"

6. "Mr. President, if you and Kenneth Lay were prison inmates together, which one of you do you think would be a 'top' or a 'bottom'? And should it be legal to marry him?"

5. "Senator Edwards, you have run a very positive campaign so far. If you could kill one Yankee with your bare hands--other than Senator Kerry--who would it be?"

4. "Mr. President, are you aware that every time the Vice President opens his mouth your lips seem to move?"

3. "Senator Kerry is there any truth to the rumor that in your basement you have a picture of you which is aging faster than you are and in your attic you have a voodoo doll of Howard Dean that's stuck full of hatpins?"

2. "Congressman Kucinich, who do you like to win America's Top Model?"

And the #1 least likely debate question in coming months:

"Mr. President, which will be easier for you to find, the 2.9 million jobs lost during your administration or those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction?"

Monday, February 23, 2004

INSERT CLEVER APHORISM HERE

IDIOT CELEBRITY QUOTE OF THE WEEK (non-Bush Administration division)

"Martin Luther King Jr. suffered from infidelity, so did John F. Kennedy. You're more likely to find great leadership coming from a man who likes to have sex with a lot of women than one who's monogamous."
--Ethan Hawke to reporters, perhaps trying to explain rumors of infidelity to estranged wife Uma Thurman.

IDIOT CELEBRITY QUOTE OF THE WEEK (Bush Administration division)
"The NEA (National Educational Association) is a terrorist organization."
--Bush's Secretary of Education Rod Paige, referring to the lobbying tactics of the nation's largest teacher's union.

Just like I thought--to this administration, everyone who doesn't agree with them is a terrorist.

(This blog will be updated later tonight).

Saturday, February 21, 2004

The TermiNader?

So Nader's going to run again. He's had a website up for some months now, inviting people to share their thoughts on a possible 2004 run. After what can only be imagined as a jillion and one exhortations to stay at home, put his feet up, and relax into his 70s, it is a shame that Nader's legacy is going to be sullied by yet another egomaniacal push. And now this third party spoiler is truly going independent.

Did the Greens come to their senses, worrying that their very valid platform would be further ignored, villified even, tainted as it is by the horror of 3 years of BushCo.--what many regard as Nader's fault (at least in part)?

Did he underestimate the awfulness and sheer unbridled corporate greed and moral recklessness of the Bushies? could he have? It just doesn't make sense. How could *we* see this coming down the pike and Nader not? And putting aside 2000's puzzling miscalculation, how could he continue down the ridiculous path of "there is no difference between Repugnicans and Democrats" of almost 4 years of sheer unbridled corporate greed and moral recklessness of the bushies?

Even allowing for the "media filter," where has Nader been for the last 3 years? He was embarrassingly absent just following the 2000 selection fiasco, and then irresponsibly silent as the environmental protections were rolled back, as the national treasury was looted, as our civil rights were eroded, as right-wing judges were placed on the bench in cowardly recess appointments, as the neocons made war based on their own specious intelligence, as the neocons sold this specious intelligence as a justification to occupy another country (and its assets), as the neocons limited their warmaking to this early looting, having no plan for occupation and even less plan for rebuilding, as the United States's reputation has suffered in the entire rest of the world, &c., &c., ad infinitum.

Why now, after the presidential campaign is a year old, does Nader believe that he should add his voice, and, more importantly, why should anybody listen now when he failed to speak at the most crucial moment(s)? We cannot guess at Nader's motivation, but we can guess at the motivation of likely Dem and Indy voters in 2004: nothing will stand in the way of ousting B*shCo. We've seen evidence of this over and over w/ primary voters reporting at exit polls that they're voting based on Kerry's "electability." If the voters think Kerry's electable, let's don't prove them wrong. If they think he's electable, he is. (Of course, some will change their minds when the Rove campaign machine goes into effect.)

Ultimately, no matter how much I long to bash Nader myself or how many epithets slipped from my lips when I read that he was considering a run, I don't think we have to worry too much about his being a "spoiler" this go-around. To sum up:

1. 2004 is not 2000. Bush has done so much damage that normal people are now freaked out and most of us will not be taking chances on "protest votes" or "sending a message," etc.

2. The Dems--**thanks to Dean**-- have adopted some (yes, we need to do more, fine) of the progressive platform, which will contribute to neutralizing some of Nader's impact.

3. For the same reasons that we shouldn't "blame" Nader because he is an easy focal point for Dem anger and frustration over the 2000 selection, we will barely see him in this election; because that focal point is now Bush vs. Kerry (?), mano a mano, Repug vs. Dem. The media has found its hook, and it doesn't include a third party crank. (I give you Exhibit A: Howard Dean's scalp.)

4. Plus, the shout-filled, gathering Dem response to the Repugnican assault is cohering, and it will drown out (via the media filter) any less compelling message. Issue #1 is survival. We iron out the "details" later.

Friday, February 20, 2004

NOBODY TOLD US THERE'D BE DAYS LIKE THESE

BUFFALO SHIT

There are so many topics on my mind tonight, so many truths to explore, it makes my head spin. So forgive me if I forsake style for substance, because I've got to hit all the high (low?) points:

As a native Coloradoan, even though I never attended the University of Colorado, I am embarassed and appalled by what's been going on on that campus although unfortunately, I cannot say I am shocked. Six women have now made allogations of sexual misconduct, including incidents of rape by CU football players, head coach Gary Barnett has been placed on "leave" (legal speak for, "he's got one foot in the grave and the paper trail is about to knock him in for good") and a lawsuit charging CU with being in violation of Title IX (for using inappropriate sexual behavior to lure recruits among other things) is underway.

Most galling is Barnett's assertion in an interview that former CU placekicker Kate Hnida (the first woman to play for a Division I football team in 1999 and 2000) was "lousy" and "not respected by her teammates", leading to the suggestion that somehow she deserved to get raped by a fellow player. Barnett did not actually say this, but what does Hnida's abilities as a kicker have to do with her rape complaint in the first place? Typically, the victim is blamed, the perpetrator goes unpunished, the coach gets to keep his job.

There's no easy solution for all of this, but I've got a start--do away with the current system of big time college athletics. Pay the players. Don't offer them scholarhips. Sign them to a two-year contract with the university and give them the option to matriculate there if they so desire, but don't even try to make the "student-athlete" attend class, don't house them on campus and, this is my main point, don't recruit them using sex and binge drinking, let universities whore themselves--I'm sorry, sell themselves--the way professional sports organizations do, on the merits of what that program, that system, that coach can do for the player's NFL or NBA careers, for their future earnings. Take away the edge to be gained from dirty deals and sleaze tactics. Let the only real student-athletes continue to be the tennis players, fencers, wrestlers and gymnasts. Divorce the big money sports from the business of higher education and recognize the athletes for the mercenaries they are.

Of course, none of this will actually happen. Barnett will get fired eventually (why the delay, I'm not exactly sure). But if you don't think this happens at Texas, at Washington, at Michigan, etc., think again. Testosterone + privilege + money + competition = rapes & assaults + coverups. That's an equation no one should have to learn about in college.

(ADDENDUM: Dave R. of Denver had some interesting comments in response to this. Thanks Dave! I'll excerpt the meat of his argument - hopefully he won't mind.

"What we are really "discovering" through this ordeal are two central truths that most people already knew, if they were honest about it:

1) college athletes are recruited based on their athletic ability alone -- not their character, not their intellect, not their selflessness, not their academic aspirations, not their personal decency, not their determination to make a positive contribution to the world. When recruiting a student / ATHLETE, almost all universities completely overlook the character factor in favor of athletic ability; therefore, most people recognize that the college athletes we watch, cheer, and even idolize are quite often spoiled, selfish people with a large sense of entitlement. It's part of why I've stopped watching most Division I college athletics: no matter who wins the game, it's just a bunch of mostly bad people beating another bunch of mostly bad people -- who really cares much about that? Let's face it: many college athletes are just not very good -- and in some cases dangerous -- people.

2) the high school and college athletic "systems" allow and even encourage athletes to behave selfishly and irresponsibly. Athletes are constantly showered with praise and adoration, regardless of their character or humanity. As someone inside the CU athletic department told me this week, "Football players and basketball players are treated like royalty." And as royalty, they are continually pardonned for their selfishness, their viciousness, their meanness, their aggression, their rudeness, their thoughtlessness -- as long as they continue to participate in athletics. Maybe it's economics, maybe it's the lack of true heroism in our society, but good athletes are rewarded and admired in spite of -- or maybe even because of -- their arrogant, aggressive, and destructive behavior. The system recruits and then builds people with some very dangerous values." --Dave R.

Whatever happened to the days when team sports was thought to build character? Maybe the problem is money...maybe it's something else. And isn't it interesting that you don't see problems of this scale in women's athletics?

ROE VS. ?

A Federal appeals court in New Orleans has agreed to hear the former "Jane Roe" argue against the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1972. The Wade side of the "Roe v. Wade" case was the district attorney from Dallas. In an interesting reversal, the "Wade" side or the Dallas D.A., would now be arguing the side that favors safe, legalized abortion--only they do not have plans to send anyone from that office to the hearing. Their legal position is something along the lines of, "then abortion was illegal in Texas, but now it is not. Therefore we have nothing to argue in the hearing, other than to engage in a political debate." Personally, I think you need both sides in a debate. At least, that's what I learned in junior high! Someone has to make the case for choice in this hearing, even if it is a hearing that may have no real legal merit. In the current climate, where the Bush administration and the Christian Taliban are working every day to take away a woman's right to choose, we can't afford to have any argument on the subject that goes unchallenged. Every little thing could be another stone hurled at the glass house of freedom. And eventually, the house will crack and come crashing down, if people let it.

By the way, Roe, who's real name I forget but I'm sure someone will enlighten me, argues that "30 years of evidence of the psychological harm abortions do to women" should lead the Court to reconsider their ruling. It's hard to argue that abortions don't cause psychological harm to women...but much harder to argue that going through with an unwanted pregnancy or getting a back-alley, coat hanger abortion or being stigmatized as an unwed mother unable to take care of her child isn't much more psychologically damaging and even worse, psychologically damaging to the child as well. Always better to have two psychologically damaged souls for the price of one. I guess that's what you call wholesale damage.

RICHARD GROPER NEEDS YOUR VOTE

On the lighter side (you didn't think there would be one, did you?), in California a Democrat named Richard Groper is running for the State Assembly. Dick Groper. Seriously. First Schwarzeneggar and now this. Imagine if Groper gets elected--that will be at least two gropers in the State House. Or maybe they'll just rename the Capitol, Hooters.

Or maybe Wieners.

W.M.D. M.I.A.

It wouldn't be this blog if I didn't keep you updated on the $1 million sweepstake search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and I'm thrilled to report that--we still haven't found them. Better luck next time.


I'd like to thank Yahoo! News, Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly and the Associated Press for contributing information to this essay. And thanks to John Lennon for suggesting the title. Please Yoko, don't sue...

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Good Work If You Can Get It

I'm shocked. Shocked, I say! Who'd a thunk that one of B*sh's cronies would be a lying, cheating, slimy swindler?? There's just no precedent -- er, well, besides Cheney with Halliburton, Richard Perle consulting while on the Defense Policy Board, Ken Lay bilking his company of hundreds of millions...

So Chalabi's friends and family made $400 million? Hmm...

Um, since aWol's not a *statistician* and can't understand his own budget failures, maybe Chalabi will loan him back some of our money, boost us up a little bit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Facts, Schmacts

Statisticalizing Budgets is Hard

HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHHA!

Guess what, friends? This just in from the "Ya Think??" universe:

The Buffoon-in-Chief is not a statistician.

In noting aWol's clear-eyed passing of the buck on yet another issue about which he has no idea, McClellan said, "We are interested in reality." Hooooohaawwww haaaawwww.

Here's a little reality for Scottie: dumbyass also is not a soldier (aWol), a Commander-in-Chief (Iraq), a historian (Iraq, and everything else), a philosopher (Real Men Love Jesus), an environmentalist (Clear Skies), a forestry specialist (Healthy Forests), a physicist (Mars Mission), a good CEO (Harken), a teacher (No Child Left Behind), a compassionate conservative ($15 billion to AIDS in Africa still undelivered; all Christian Coalition initiatives), an economist (tax cuts to the rich), an ethicist (2000 selection, Valerie Plame, Energy Task Force, Enron, 9/11, Iraq, tax cuts to the rich, etc., etc.), and so on.

And it just begs the question: He's not the president either (but he plays one on TV).

But to be fair and balanced, I will note what he is good at: drinking, riding on his diddy's coattails, smirking, taking vacations, working out, getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, garbling the English language (and Spanglish, too, probably), and not reading.

Love In The Time of Howard Dean, a Reflection

LOVE IN THE TIME OF HOWARD DEAN

I'm going to write a short story with that title one day, but I haven't worked it all out yet. All I know is that as much as I've supported Dean, given him money, lashed at the media for building him up too much and tearing him down too gleefully, it's safe to say that the Dean campaign is done. We can safely speak of it in the past tense. The Democratic machine can breathe easy--they have their guy. The Republicans can focus their awesome war chest on two very flawed, but also ultimately more predictable candidates in John Kerry and John Edwards. Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton will be around to provide local color and livelier debates.

But in a way Dean won anyway. He got Kerry and Edwards and even Clark (where have you gone, Wesley Clark? The Clinton machine turns it's lonely eyes to you. Woo hoo hoo) to co-opt his talking points and get tough with Bush. Every time Kerry exhorts people to log on to "johnkerry.com", I'm reminded of the $40 million Dean raised over the Internet, from regular folks like us who were turned on by his anti-war message, his pledge to try and supply universal health care and his legitimate outsider, let's shake up the machine credentials.

As a fan of political theater, I hope Dean sticks around until the convention. His lack of polish is always interesting and somebody has to keep Kerry on his toes, since Edwards is too nice and someone has to prepare the guy for the hatchet job Karl Rove has in store. Dean probably won't last until California. He's out of money, he's going through campaign strategists faster than Adam Sandler goes through toilet humor, his crowds have dwindled and the media, having had it's way with him, has written him off. But it's been a fun year, hasn't it? Thanks for the enthusiasm and the vision Howard Dean. Keep up the fight.

(ADDENDUM: Since I wrote this originally, Dean has officially ended his campaign for the presidency but has pledged to continue to raise money for the Democrats and fight to keep his issues a part of the Democratic platform. He will not, at this time, endorse any candidate. Here's a hint: if he did, it wouldn't be Kerry.)

THE SEARCH GOES ON

Day __ of the $1 million WMD sweepstakes has come and gone and there's still no weapons of mass destruction. Last week's death toll of U.S. servicepeople, Iraqi officials and civillians: 110 and counting. Casualties: many more. Cost of the war: more than we can pay for. End in sight? Can you say, Vietnam?

Sunday, February 15, 2004

HWJRTPOC? (please see below)

HOW WOULD JESUS REVIEW "THE PASSION OF CHRIST"?

Jesus Christ here with a review of Mel Gibson's new movie about my final hours, The Passion of Christ.

Let me first off say that Mel has always been a good actor, a committed Catholic and a first-rate director. I very much enjoyed Braveheart, particularly the scene near the end when William Wallace had been captured by the English and the camera looked down on Mel as he was carried off on a board towards his fate, his arms outstretched, his feet bound. It reminded me of my crucifixion and I know that's just what Mel intended--I appreciated the props! It's important to find the qualities people have attributed to me to the people who are doing God's work in the present day world.

Anyway, back to the movie: people down on Earth are getting after Mel about all the graphic violence in the movie and I must say, I didn't have a problem with it. I really was whipped and scourged by the Romans, that's how they treated their prisoners. The crown of thorns upon my head brought back especially painful memories and there is really no humane way to pound a six-inch iron nail through somebody's palm and no realistic way to show somebody being dragged over cobblestone streets with a 70-pound cross on their back that doesn't involve blood and gore. It was 1,971 years ago after all, brutal times, brutal times, and I think to portray what happened to me accurately, you cannot shrink from all the horrible details.

The second thing that has garnered a lot of criticism for this movie is the sense that it seems to place the majority of the blame for what happened to me on the Jews. Now here's where I have a quibble with what Mel has done. He seems to take great pains to show Pontius Pilate as a conflicted Roman prefect who gets goaded into crucifying me by an angry and politically motivated Caiaphus [a Jewish religious authority]. That's just not the Pilate I knew. The Pilate I knew had dreams of someday rising to be the Emperor of all of Rome, but knew that he lacked the bloodlines and he was continually frustrated by that. Pilate was ambitious, ruthless and extremely intolerant of what he called "barbarian faiths", including Judaism, Zoroastrianism and many of the so-called pagan practices still common at that time. And he cheated at cards!

Pilate had a hearing when I was arrested by the Pharisees. I knew that God wanted me to sacrifice myself as a martyr for the sins of all mankind...I had made peace with it (my nerves at least partially calmed, I might add, by some of the "herbs" available in the garden of Gethsemane). When Pilate asked me to explain my crimes and answer for my sins, I knew he wouldn't understand my mission and that I had committed no real crimes. My popularity among the Judeans had become a threat to his authority, to his dreams of leaving Judea and returning to a position of more power in the capital and there was no way that I was going to get a fair trial or be released, so why waste precious time on pointless arguments? Anyway, in the silence, the chief priests, who were jealous of me, did have Barabbas released instead of me, but even if someone had stood up for my release, Pilate would never have done it, so to suggest that other Jews could have saved me and that an entire religious sect is somehow responsible for my death, well, that's simply not true and it has troubled me for almost 2,000 years. I feel like Mel could have presented these scenes with a little more subtlety and complexity, but then perhaps that was more than I should have expected from the director of Braveheart.

Overall though, The Passion of Myself is a very powerful movie, especially if you don't want to think too deeply about the history of that time and you just want to experience anew, in a most vivid fashion a potrayal of mankind as our most vicious, venal and conflicted selves. But I feel I must close my review by warning all who may go to see it or who have read about it not to judge their fellow man. That role is God and God's alone, because She (I don't know WHO started all that Holy Father stuff!) created all the heaven and all the earth and all human beings are equal in Her eyes. Even George W. Bush! Now that's a diety!

Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, agnostics, atheists, all the same, all red-blooded primates, all equally culpabale for what happened to me and all equally innocent. Remember that when you watch The Passion and my sincerest thanks for keeping my memory and words alive for all these years, even if sometimes you don't get all the particulars right. To all of you, Peace be with you.

Jesus also recommends: Heavenly Creatures, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Matrix trilogy (although not the last one so much) and Jackass: The Movie.

THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN, OR AT LEAST THE MEDIA HAVE TOLD THEM THEY HAVE

And I think they've said: Um, we'll make do with the safe guy; the one w/ the medals.

Fine.

Just damn fine w/ me. I'm not one to look a gift war hero in the mouth. I'm not thrilled, but there is no alternative, and I'll thank the disgruntled Nader, Clark, and Dean supporters to keep their eyes on the prize. We've had almost 4 ruinous years under B*shCo., and the world cannot take another minute. I'd much rather not be thrilled to vote for a liberal(-ish) Dem than face another faith-based corporatist buffoon.

This afternoon CNN called Wisconsin for Kerry. For those of you paying attention, that's three (campaign) days before the actual primary. You might think it odd that CNN has intuited the intention of the voters, rendering them redundant. I would suggest that this has been their job this campaign season. CNN wonders, Why have voters vote? Democracy just takes too plain long, they complain. Frankly, I'm afraid of what B*shCo.'s going to pull out of their hats in the coming months. Can we skip the election altogether and just have CNN declare Kerry the winner now?

I blame the media. There, I said it. The media, with significant help from "Americans for Jobs" or whatever that 527 was called, chopped Howard Dean's campaign off at the knees. After changing the story from "Dean Bolts to the Head of the Pack Because of Strong Anti-War Message" to "Gosh, Dean's Kind of Angry" to "Whoa, Dean's Freaking Me Out He's Such a Screaming Maniac" and "Is Dean Presidential Anyway?", the media effectively crippled the Dean campaign by forcing early primary/caucus voters to feel responsible for choosing the next president of the United States. Hang on. This is just a primary. We're supposed to choose the person who animates our concerns and best represents the values of our party. Why this need to telegraph a winner--nay, a nominee --to the rest of the country? Why so many people nervously mothering democracy along in these early stages, you ask? The Media, I answer. We're on a schedule, folks. Let's get 'em in to get the vote out. This is a horse race with many, many callers. And silly rabbits, we all chased the carrot.

What should have been a referendum on change, and a move toward a new democratic party, a revived democratic message, was turned into a rush job ABB campaign. As I stated earlier, ABB works for me. B*sh is bad enough to warrant that attitude above all, but I'm wishing for the moon here, go with me. We *should* hash out all the reasons why Dean/Edwards/Kerry is the better candidate. That is the purpose of the primary season, and we're not in a hurry, and no one's "behind," except as urged by the press's incessant horse racing. We should of necessity think of this as a long process of careful consideration and not the hasty rush toward mediocrity the Powers That Be would wish it to be. Democracy is more than safe choices for safe candidates, but then maybe it is only more than that if 1) we do not have someone as terrible as B*sh occupying the White House, and 2) we have the courage to vote our convictions.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Puttin' the W. in aWol, Part Deux

While I am thoroughly enjoying the schadenfreude, reveling in it even, it's now making me nervous. And while asking aWol to explain his coke habit--I mean, gaps in his record--is not "playing dirty" in the tradition of RoveCo., it is practically mud-drenched by Dem standards. (Clearly, we need to lower our standards for the '04 fight.)

Might I offer the Dems some advice: In order to make these and other criticisms of BushCo. truly stick, we need very soon to move from a strategy that focusses on a topic in and of itself (say, B*sh having gone aWol) to one that frames these problems around a pattern of duplicity, abuse of power, nepotism, and just plain lazy entitlement. Of course, going aWol is a real issue, but we have to make sure that we place this gross abdication of duty in the context of W. being out of touch with average Americans, of being/catering to corporate elitists, and of that lazy entitlement thing again. Try explaining to a poor 19-yr-old West Virginian who's been in Iraq being shot at for a year in stifling heat and away from his/her baby that his/her president spent his time serving his country by doing blow then blowing off working on a Senate campaign then blowing it off altogether. Plus, hey, the US gubmint spent $1 million training this guy and a couple of years in he decides he doesn't want to play anymore? We'll see how he answers. But I hope we ask the right questions: why does this person think that with a phone call from his diddy he can be given a prime place and then with another phone call shirk his duty?

Friday, February 13, 2004

Happy Valentine's Day, Part 1

IF KEN CAN'T COMMIT, THEN DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR THE REST OF US...

I was devastated, devastated I tell you to read the press release that Ken and Barbie were separating after 41 years. Or is it 42 years? Through Malibu Barbie and Ken, Doctor Ken and Nurse Barbie (and, in later years, Dr. Barbie and, well, Ken) through all their various permutations, it was always Barbie and Ken, Ken and Barbie. And now...some Australian bloke? Barbie and Ken need to "find themselves"? Ken just needs to find a wedding chapel, that's all! What is the world coming to? This, along with George Bush Jr. being in the White House, is surely one of the signs of the apocalypse.

OH, JESUS

Since I certainly take suggestions on what to write about, I will devote some time to discussing an article someone gave me about the new Mel Gibson film, The Last Temptation of--er, I mean, The Passion of Christ. You can bet I have some thoughts on it, but my contacts are killing me and I really need to get to bed, so these are more like drive-by thoughts as opposed to well-thought out, structurally sound essays. (Do I hear laughter?) I promise by the weekend I'll lay out my thoughts and fears about this movie.

NO WMD'S, NO MILLION DOLLARS

Just to update, for the 299th consecutive day, no one has found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, although this intrepid essayist is looking into rumors that there may actually be weapons of mass destruction at a missle silo within 150 miles of the president's ranch in Texas. No money will be rewarded if this turns out to be true, although UN inspectors are invited to come in and investigate if the madman Bush may be plotting to use these weapons against the peace loving people of the Third World, or liberal activists in Berkeley.

DEPROGRAMMING NOTES

Be sure to use znet, truthout.org, the Guardian (London), the Washington Post, New York Times, Village Voice and the New Yorker, just to name a few to get the straight shit on what's really going on in the world of war, politics and corruption.

Until this weekend, adios!

Thursday, February 12, 2004

THE CALCULUS OF VIOLENCE

If brevity is the soul of wit, then let me be a dullard...

THE CALCULUS OF VIOLENCE

After viewing the brilliant Errol Morris documentary The Fog of War earlier this evening, I'm inspired to set down a few thoughts about the incalculable equations of war, imperialism and violence.

How many deaths in Iraq? If you read the news reports, the totals stand (I apologize for rounding off, the numbers aren't in front of me) at 570 U.S. soldiers dead, a couple of thousand more wounded, untold thousands of Iraqis killed, many thousands more maimed and wounded. But then factor in the "collateral casualties" or the victims of circumstances related to the war but not directly tied to it. All the soldiers who attempted or have committed suicide (a number reported by the New York Times to be now in the dozens). A horrifying escalation in rapes and attempted rapes by American GI's on both fellow soldiers and Iraqis.

But this war is filled with "fuzzy math". The $87 billion additional dollars we will spend on the Iraq occupation--June handover or not--has to come from somewhere. Will it come from the money cut from veteran's benefits that would help the soldiers who come home from the conflict, but will now help them a little bit less? Will it come from educational programs that now have a little bit less money to try and teach schoolchildren about history, geography, politics and civics, lessons that could help us understand the world better, question our leaders more and perhaps prevent future conflicts? Where will the money not come from? It will not come out of the bloated defense budget, which grows every year under Bush and the Republicans, nor will it affect the amount of money given to Halliburton, our colonial, capitalist proxy in Iraq and the previous employer, and prime beneficiary of Vice President Dick Cheney.

I actually don't think Iraq will become another Vietnam. This summer, Bush will trumpet the "orderly handover of authority in Iraq to civilian authorities." Casualities will decline. The horrors of war and it's aftermath will recede from the front pages. People will get caught up in the conventions and the campaigns. Bush and his machine will spend over $100 million to convince the American people he should be reelected and that this war has done great good in the world. Many will be tricked into believing this, setting the stage for more unilateral invasions, more terrorism against the U.S. and U.S. interests, more searches for weapons of mass destruction, more dead American soldiers, more Middle Eastern instability, an incalculable morass of more, more, more and less, less, less.

100 million

87 billion

570

Thousands

Just numbers? It's calculus that doesn't add up and math that just doesn't make sense.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"If you come home in a box
Green pants
Green drawers
Green socks
Typical American kid
I think not"
--from the rap song, "Typical American", by The Goats, c. 1993

IT TAKES A NATION OF 25 MILLION (AND DROPPING) TO HOLD US BACK

Week 2 and still no takers on the $1 million sweepstakes to locate the WMD's in Iraq. Hell, it could be a billion dollars and dinner with all of the models in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and I feel pretty confident that no one would ever have to pay up.

One rule though: Donald Rumsfeld doesn't get to play.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

George Bush: He Put the 'W' in AWOL.

From this morning's press briefing:

QUESTION: Scott, has the White House come up with any more documents or information to buttress the President's assertion that he fulfilled his obligations in the National Guard?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, we have provided some additional information from the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, Colorado. The records will be released shortly, and the records that we will be releasing include the annual retirement point summaries, which we previously made available during the 2000 campaign, and these payroll records documenting the dates on which he was paid for serving. The point summaries, as I have discussed with you all, document that he fulfilled his duties. These records clearly document the President fulfilling his duties, and we will be releasing those very shortly.

QUESTION: Are the payroll -- we haven't seen the payroll records before, but we've seen the point --

MR. McCLELLAN: Nor had we, yes.

QUESTION: We have not?

MR. McCLELLAN: No.

QUESTION: But we have seen the point summaries before; is that what you're saying?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. Well, we had made them available during the 2000 campaign to those who asked.

QUESTION: So the payroll records include, like, where he was being paid and date and, like, the specifics --

MR. McCLELLAN: You will have them shortly and you'll be able to look at them; there are several pages of documents. I'm pulling them together. Yes, we will make them -- we will make them available.

QUESTION: But they weren't -- it wasn't released --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, we did not have this. We were not aware that this information existed during the campaign, on the payroll records.

QUESTION: Scott, those payroll records won't reflect whether he actually appeared for duty; is that right? I mean, they'll just show that he got paid, which there was an --

MR. McCLELLAN: You are paid for the days on which you serve in the National Guard --

QUESTION: But there was an --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- that's why I said these records clearly document that the President fulfilled his duties.

QUESTION: Well, there was an opinion piece in the Post this morning in which the author said he didn't show up at all and he continued to get paid for several months.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the records clearly document otherwise.

QUESTION: Can you tell us how you --

MR. McCLELLAN: And we also will include a statement from Mr. Lloyd, who's now retired from the Texas Air National Guard, who lays out some of the facts about the President's point summaries.

QUESTION: Can you tell us how you came upon these documents, if they haven't been seen since -- the President said since 1994 people have been looking for this.

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, actually, we -- that's why I said it was new information that came to our attention. The Personnel Center in Denver, Colorado, it is my understanding, on their own went back and looked for these records. Now, during the 2000 campaign we had reached out to the Texas Air National Guard and it was our impression from the Texas Air National Guard that -- you know, they stated they didn't have them and it was also our impression from them that those records did not exist.

QUESTION: -- on their own, or the Department of Defense requested them?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, no, the --

QUESTION: Because the Department of Defense that they requested the records --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not familiar with what the Department of Defense has requested, but it is my understanding from -- we've talked with the Personnel Center, and the President has authorized the release of these records. We now have them. They did send them to us. But it is our understanding in talking with the Personnel Center in Denver that this issue -- that this was -- you know, as I talked about some of the outrageous accusations that were being made again this year, that had previously been made, they apparently on their own went back and looked for these records, when the issue was being raised again.

QUESTION: The Department of Defense has said that they requested them.

MR. McCLELLAN: You'd have to talk to the Department of Defense about it.

QUESTION: Scott, how do you square the --

MR. McCLELLAN: But I think the Personnel Center may tell you that they went ahead and had gone back to look at these records.

QUESTION: How do you square the records from the Texas Air National Guard with the idea that he was supposed to be attached to a unit in Alabama at the time?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, he was still a member of the Texas Air National Guard. He was -- he received permission, or temporary permission to perform what is equivalent duty with the 187th Tactical Recon Group in Alabama, when he was there in the latter part of that year, the October-November time frame.

QUESTION: Right, so he was actually --

MR. McCLELLAN: So he was still serving as a member of the Texas Air National Guard.

QUESTION: So regardless of what state that he was performing his duty in, the records would still be issued by the Texas Air National Guard?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, these are records from the Personnel -- I mean, we're going to just make available exactly what they gave us from the Personnel Center in Denver, Colorado.

QUESTION: But are these an indication that he served in Texas at that time, or in Alabama?

MR. McCLELLAN: This documents that he was paid for the days on which he served. And you will have the dates --

QUESTION: But in which state --

MR. McCLELLAN: It will show the dates on which he was paid.

QUESTION: But in which state?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Which state was he serving at the time?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, we'll have the records here for you shortly, so you'll be able to look at those documents yourself.

QUESTION: Are you asserting that these documents put the issue to rest?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I previously said it was a shame that this was brought up in 1994, it was a shame that it was brought up in 2000, and it is a shame that it was brought up again. I think you'd have to go and ask those who made these outrageous accusations if they stand by them in the face of this documentation that demonstrates he served and fulfilled his duties. The President was proud of his service in the National Guard. He was honorably discharged because he fulfilled his duties.

QUESTION: Exactly how did the documents get to you that you said you were not aware existed? And how about the letter from Mr. Lloyd? Is that something that he voluntarily sent in, or did the White House ask for it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we had a discussion -- we had a discussion with him, and he's previously been on record stating that -- stating some of these very facts, that the President met his -- met the requirements needed to fulfill his duties. So he's previously been stating that. But we had discussions -- I'll check the exact specifics on that. I think we may have reached out to him so that he could again say what he had said previously.

QUESTION: Scott, if I could read you --

MR. McCLELLAN: But in terms of the personnel records, like I said, that was something that it came to our attention that the Personnel Center in Denver --

QUESTION: You did not request it, it came to you?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, when we reached -- I'm trying to -- let me double-check, but we found out that they had some additional records and contacted them and the President is the only one that can authorize a release of his records. And we received those records and the President has authorized the release of those records. As he said, he wants to make everything available.

QUESTION: When did you receive the records? When?

MR. McCLELLAN: Late yesterday.

QUESTION: Scott, if I read you correctly, this is not going to answer the question of where he was serving at that time.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, during -- he received -- it was, like I said, in the October-November time period he was in Alabama. He was performing equivalent duty in Alabama.

QUESTION: But you seemed to indicate, though, that these records
will not indicate where he was.

MR. McCLELLAN: But he was still a member of the Texas Air National Guard.

QUESTION: Right, but you seemed to indicated --

MR. McCLELLAN: They'll indicate the dates on which he was paid for his service.

QUESTION: But they won't indicate where --

MR. McCLELLAN: I wouldn't read anything into it until we release the records, which will be very shortly. Then you'll have them, then we can talk about them.

QUESTION: But they will not stipulate where he was serving?

MR. McCLELLAN: We can be clear on it when we release the records, John. That's what I'm trying to tell you. We're going to release the records. You'll see that he was paid for the dates on which he served --

QUESTION: Somehow I don't think those records are going to tell us where he was serving.

MR. McCLELLAN: They will show that he was paid for his service. And you get paid for the days on which you serve.

QUESTION: Right, but they won't say where he was.

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we're going to release the records shortly. Just hang on.

QUESTION: Who in the White House has been handling it? Is it the Counsel's Office, or who --

MR. McCLELLAN: Dan Bartlett has been involved in this.

QUESTION: He reviewed the documents last night?

MR. McCLELLAN: He previously, during the 2000 campaign, tried to gather as much information as was available.

QUESTION: And has he been the one who has been dealing with it now? In other words, if these came to the White House last night, Dan Bartlett was burning the midnight oil reading these last night?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know that he was burning the midnight oil. He received the information.

QUESTION: Scott, when does "soon" mean? Does it mean --

MR. McCLELLAN: Very soon.

QUESTION: Like in an hour? Or are we talking about --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if I can get off this podium, then I can get all that information together for you and we can release it.

QUESTION: Can you tell us once again --

MR. McCLELLAN: Several documents to release.

QUESTION: Can you tell us once again Lloyd's name and what his objective is?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll have that for you. You'll have his statement, it'll have his exact name, you'll have everything here shortly.

QUESTION: Any explanation as to why he served the minimum hours required?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, you have to look at the different time periods. And it showed that he fulfilled his duties, John.

QUESTION: But, still, it's the minimum requirement. You can go to college, you can get a C, or you can go to college and get a 4.0.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know which time period you're referring to. I mean, the President fulfilled his duties. He was proud of his service, John. He fulfilled his duties. And there are some that have made outrageous accusations. And I think you need to ask those individuals if they want to continue to stand by those outrageous accusations in the face of documentation that clearly demonstrates the President fulfilled his duties.

QUESTION: Was he just busy doing other things, or --

MR. McCLELLAN: John, the President fulfilled his duties. And if you want to question other people who fulfilled their duties, that's your prerogative. I won't --

QUESTION: Do you know of any other documents that exist that are pertinent to this subject?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Are there any other known documents --

MR. McCLELLAN: This is what we know that is available. And that's why we're making it available to you.

QUESTION: Is there anything else that you know that exists?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I said, this is what we know that is available that exists.

QUESTION: I know you know it's available, but is --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't. No, I don't.

QUESTION: In other words, you don't know if there's anything available from --

QUESTION: Anything else?

QUESTION: -- that would have come from Alabama, that would be in the Personnel Center?

MR. McCLELLAN: No.

QUESTION: You don't know of anything else that's pertinent to the subject --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I said yesterday that if there's additional information that we would keep you posted. And that's exactly what I'm doing here today.

QUESTION: Scott, if there is additional information, will the President release it? Does he want it all out?

MR. McCLELLAN: He said -- he answered that question on Saturday, when it aired on Sunday.
_______________________________

Wow. Scottie's stammering evasion speaks for itself, so I'll do like Woodward did back when he wasn't a GOP PR flak and Follow The Money. The more interesting question is why the media is so interested in this "old" story now. Dem momentum, w.'s abysmal performance on MTP yesterday, and the good old fashioned "if it bleeds, it leads" ethic. If I were in a more generous and forgiving mood, I might suggest that the 4th estate were interested in investigating as part of their mandate to serve the public interest, but please. I am still sober. The pack smells blood, bloodlust drives the story, and sensationalism sells the papers. And what's more sensational than a self-proclaimed "war president" who was a weaselly silver spooner with a cocaine habit who shirked his duty to his country? Ahhh, I'm in a better mood already. I can't wait 'til Scottie tries to answer that question tomorrow. Puts Clinton's "draft dodging" in a whole new light, dunnit? Turnabout is fair play. (Except, in this case, turnabout IS fair play.)

Sunday, February 08, 2004

THE CASE AGAINST BUSH, AND OTHER OBVIOUS THINGS

Bush W. Bush here...

This is my first posting on dissent channel, so I'll cut right to the point, because as they like to say in Wisconsin, "the cheese is binding."

There's an email going around that makes the case for why Resident Bush must be voted out office this year in much clearer terms than I'm probably about to. But just so we don't miss some of the highlights, let's look at Bush's stellar three years in office so that we may better understand why those who don't support his administration seem to hate it so much:

--This administration has taken one of the largest surpluses in our nation's history and turned it into the largest deficit. In just three years. And these are supposedly Republicans. You know, the people that liked to say they were for smaller government and spending tax dollars more wisely for the benefit of the American people? Who would have thought that we'd be pining for those supposedly "big spending Democrats" to restore sanity to our Federal budget.

--We have lost over 500 troops in battle in Iraq, a nation that has not yet secured it's true independence, where the search for weapons of mass destruction (the alleged reason for the war in the first place) are nowhere to be found. And there are more terrorists in Iraq now, then when we invaded.

--The USA PATRIOT act, which both parties should take a lot of responsibility for, is the greatest impingement of civil liberties this nation has enacted since World War II. (You may recall that racial discrimination in the pre Civil Rights-era South was a "state's rights" issue. The Federal Government may have been turning a blind eye to civil rights abuses while literally and figuratively whistling Dixie, but the Federal government of that era did not actively put in to place legislation that allowed it's citizens to be spied on, investigated without cause or potentially jailed without the right of an attorney under the pretext of "terrorism" or anything else.)

--The President has pledged to send people to Mars (even though millions of Americans have lost their jobs) and to protect the "sanctity" of marriage by promoting either a Federal law or a constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriages.

--This administration has overseen the largest increase in military spending in 20 years, while slashing veteran's benefits.

--Despite the PATRIOT Act, the creation of the Homeland Security department and ongoing large scale military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Osama bin Laden remains at large, many of his al-Qaeda operatives who the government was well aware of were allowed to return to Saudi Arabia without questioning and the war in Iraq goes on, large scale fighting replaced by Mogadishu-style street, guerilla fighting. Saddam Hussein is captured, yet we are on the hook in Iraq for hundreds of billions of dollars over the next several years.

Of course, on the positive side for Bush, he is seen as more "moral" by a majority of voters than his predecessor, although that just goes to show that lying and selling out taxpayer money to your cronies is much more acceptable to a lot of people than cheating on your wife with an intern in the Oval Office. Bush had better keep his breasts covered in the coming nine months, or whatever popularity he has left will almost surely shrivel up overnight.

Smelling salts, please!

Eeeeeeeekk!!!!! Every day the "news" ups the insane quotient by a factor of 800. And though I should be in bed, I just happened to come across Colin Powell saying that all this "politicizing" of the pre-war intelligence on Iraq is "getting on his nerves"!

Oh, really, you #$!@&!*)! Well, you know what's gotten on *my* nerves for the last 3 years? An unelected, functionally retarded, cokehead frat boy appointee of the Christian Crusade. Yeah, that's been a real drag. And then there's the mortgaging of our futures to the obscenely wealthy. And let's not forget that our grandmas are going to have to learn to like the taste of cat food and our babies are going to have to get used to poisoned water, a (more pronounced) educational caste system, and a societal freefall reminiscent of Lord of the Flies. And health care? Hahahhhahahahaahhahhaha! Let me get my dictionary; it doesn't ring a bell. And one more minor little piddly inconsequence: You don't mind, do you, if we NOT GO TO ***WAR*** ON FALSE PRETENSES?!? What a c*cksucking donkeyf*cker. I am just speechless. If this does not end that asshole's career, I just cannot imagine what could.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Note to Kerry: Get Your Talking Points Here: POTUS Fears the American People

Not that Kerry turns me on in the least bit and was not my first choice (though now my 2nd and original default presumption), I'm reading the writing on the wall, seeing which way the wind blows, &c., &c., ... and if Kerry wants to continue to be successful, he should continue to co-opt Howard Dean's original message, which was: We see through you, w., and we're not impressed and we're not scared, and no amount of double talk is going to distract us from our purpose, which is to rout your radical right-wing hooliganism out! That's the wordier version, to be sure, but the tack Kerry needs to take nonetheless. Kerry has realized that he needs to have an offense. Good on 'im, I say, and godspeed.

As it is tragically clear that the media lemmings will follow *any* story off a cliff (see: the Scream and Janet's boob for the most glaring recent examples), I say we use this tool of our oppressor to our advantage. It's been clear for a long time that the Dems--and I mean ALL of them (for one damn time in their pathetic history)--need to get on point that W. IS AFRAID OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Where is he? Hiding behind the "free speech zone" (and I will not scream at the top of my lungs about the OBVIOUS Orwellian echoes of this particular wording). Why won't he step out in public, except to fundraise at invite-only photo-ops and $2,000-a-plate dinners? We have to say it over and over again--mainly because it's true, but also because eventually either w. will have to counter it by 1) stepping out in public, which can only be good for us, because he WILL reveal himself to be the idiot he is, or 2) suffering (what will become) the consequences of continued suspicious isolation. He can't remain isolated in the face of accusation, and if he steps out, he has to suffer the consequence of messy ol' democracy, e.g. protests, hecklers, or--perish the thought!--unscripted questions and follow-ups.

Frat boy's outta here in 2004.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Boob-Related Program Activities

Michael Powell is investigating Janet Jackson's latest dance routine. Who knew he had such a deep and abiding interest in the arts? Maybe he has choreography tips for her? (How many times do I have to tell you, Janet, it's thrust, thrust, flick; thrust, thrust, flick; THEN you do the military-Hindu neck thing. Jeez.) Can't his buddy J*hn Ashcr*ft just get Janet's email address for him, so the rest of us can be spared the fake outrage? Which reminds me, Janet's revealing rhumba prolly put Ashcr*ft in the hospital. Remember, he couldn't stand in front of the statue of Justice w/o draping her uncovered breast to the tune of something like 8 large. Your tax dollars at work.

In the up-is-down, look-over-there! universe of the B*sh Administration, it makes perfect sense that we would bring the power of the federal government to bear on the boob question. Now, I would think that the boob in question would be w., but that is where I would be sorely mistaken, not to mention tragically naive. It's boob hysteria! Run for your lives! Save your children! There is a breast run amok in the streets! Of course, no one whose job it isn't to hawk a newspaper or sell airtime could give a rat's ass for the horsepuckey that passed for "entertainment" before, during, and after the Superbowl.

If it's a slow week at the FCC, might I remind Michael that in-between the wars his diddy is ushering forth as General Houseboy for some of the most vile, nefarious, dastardly ilk ever to steal the office of the presidency, only, like, 8 or so companies OWN THE WHOLE OF MEDIA. Yes, 8. Eight! And might I remind Mikey that he was in favor of EVEN FEWER companies OWNING THE WHOLE OF MEDIA!?! It's not science fiction, friends! It's so scary, it could only be the truth.

Remember, if the boob gets out, the terrorists win. Did the boob see its shadow? How many more days of winter do we have?

[I'm not even going to start on the implied sexual violence and bullshit female eye-candy aspect of all of this, nor the exceedingly misogynistic, and, frankly, dull commercials during the broadcast. I will leave this for eoe and la, who could do much better with it.]

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Long Time Listener, First Time Caller

Hello, friends! We've finally arrived! Look for musings on politix and prose and platters and platitudes. (We've had it up to here with platitudes.) Maybe we'll throw in a little film criticism while we're at it. We can do whatever we want. You're not the boss of us.

Enjoy!

(Happy b-day, eoe! Happy blog launch day, res & la!)