Tuesday, December 7

Quote THIS

"I'm a staunch Bush supporter. (Feels weird, typing those words.)"

- Sportswriter John McGrath on his desire to vote for USC's Reggie Bush for the Heisman trophy

The Great Iraq Strategery

Tim Russert was on the Today show this morning waxing pontificately about various and sundry news stories as he does with Matt Lauer.

One of the things he said was that Bush wants Rumsfeld to stay on as defense secretary, because replacing him would be a signal that the war in Iraq wasn't going well.

Uh...Timmah...the war in Iraq ISN'T going well. Today, we had the 1,000th US soldier killed in action (a total of 1275 troops when you include accidents, suicides, etc.). And the ones who lived to tell about it are going through this sort of thing:
Homeless shelters getting Iraq vets

Washington, DC, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Veterans of the war in Iraq are starting to show up at homeless shelters, experts say.

"When we already have people from Iraq on the streets, my God," said Linda Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. "I have talked to enough (shelters) to know we are getting them. It is happening and this nation is not prepared for that."

Some homeless-veteran advocates fear that similar combat experiences in Vietnam and Iraq mean that these first few homeless veterans from Iraq are the crest of a wave not seen since the Vietnam era.
Yep. That's right. That was in the Washington Times. But the great American humanitarian effort for the war-torn Iraqis continues, right?
Iraqi Red Crescent ordered from Fallujah

The Iraqi Red Crescent (IRC) says it has left Fallujah on US military orders after the aid agency was told the former insurgent stronghold was not safe.

"Multinational forces asked the IRC to withdraw from Fallujah for security reasons and until further notice," the organisation's spokeswoman Ferdus Al Ibadi told AFP.

Ms Ibadi, speaking in Baghdad, had said earlier that the agency left of its own free will, but she said she was only informed after the IRC left the city that it had been told to do so by US marines.

The IRC distributed food, water and blankets to around 1,500 people in the city, whose population was around 300,000 before a massive assault by US-led forces began on November 8.
But most importantly, our own intelligence offers up a grim report card.
2 C.I.A. Reports Offer Warnings on Iraq's Path

A classified cable sent by the Central Intelligence Agency's station chief in Baghdad has warned that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating and may not rebound any time soon, according to government officials.

The cable, sent late last month as the officer ended a yearlong tour, presented a bleak assessment on matters of politics, economics and security, the officials said. They said its basic conclusions had been echoed in briefings presented by a senior C.I.A. official who recently visited Iraq.

The officials described the two assessments as having been "mixed," saying that they did describe Iraq as having made important progress, particularly in terms of its political process, and credited Iraqis with being resilient.

But over all, the officials described the station chief's cable in particular as an unvarnished assessment of the difficulties ahead in Iraq. They said it warned that the security situation was likely to get worse, including more violence and sectarian clashes, unless there were marked improvements soon on the part of the Iraqi government, in terms of its ability to assert authority and to build the economy.

Together, the appraisals, which follow several other such warnings from officials in Washington and in the field, were much more pessimistic than the public picture being offered by the Bush administration before the elections scheduled for Iraq next month, the officials said.
Yeah. Rumsfeld's got it alllll under control.

The Most Important Category in This Morning's Grammy Nominees

Best Comedy Album
(For comedy recordings, spoken or musical)

* Come Poop With Me
Triumph The Insult Comic Dog
[Warner Bros.]

* The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents...America: A Citizen's Guide To Democracy Inaction
Jon Stewart And The Cast Of The Daily Show
[Time Warner Audiobooks]

* The Funny Thing Is...
Ellen DeGeneres
[Simon & Schuster Audio]

* Live At Carnegie Hall
David Sedaris
[Time Warner Audiobooks]

* The O'Franken Factor Factor - The Very Best Of The O'Franken Factor
Al Franken
[Artemis Records]
We got yer whole list here.

Does Being Both a Schwarzenegger AND a Kennedy Take a Toll On You?

For Those Who Missed the Rerun of SNL...

The Ashlee Simpson Lip Sync Hoe Down

Please. No comments about how I'm persecuting people with acid reflux.

Monday, December 6

From the Pen of: Jeff Danziger

Dean on Dean

NOTE: On December 7th, we've moved our site to a new location. When you're done reading this, come to our new higher-capacity site and bookmark it - still accessible via Hoffmania.com!

Howard Dean isn't waiting until Wednesday. He wants Democrats to be Democrats - NOW. It's hard to argue with what he writes today.
LINK - Democrats need to learn by our previous mistakes - we have tried being "Republican-lite" and it does not work. It is a mistake to run away from the things we believe and I think we can win in the so-called Republican states by being real Democrats.

We have to realize that there are no red states and no blue states, just American states. I believe the country is still more in sync with Democratic values than Republican values. Our task is to remind ourselves and the American people of the hallmark issues that distinguish Democrats from Republicans.

For example, Democrats historically tackle economic issues with bold, common-sense policies. Our last Democratic president created 22 million new jobs in this country. In the last four years, George W. Bush oversaw the loss of over 1.5 million. Democrats balance budgets, Republicans do not. Democrats consistently try to pass legislation that would provide some kind of affordable health care, Republicans do not. Democrats believe we ought to raise the minimum wage to help the average worker keep up with the cost of living, Republicans do not. Democrats believe corporations have too much power over our daily lives; Republicans do not - and to prove it, they have given away billions of dollars of our tax money to the biggest corporations in the world over the last four years.

On each of these issues, the majority of the American people are with Democrats not Republicans. Democrats have the right beliefs to win; we just execute a poor public relations plan.

Democrats can win by simply being Democrats. Reinventing ourselves as Republicans is the death knell of our party. We need to get back to basics and start listening to people from outside Washington. Only then can we save the greatest nation on the face of the earth from the twin Republican perils of enormous deficits and constant misadventures abroad.
Nice slap at the DLC there. And you know how I feel about the DLC.

It's not so much that I'm rallying behind Dean again (I'm holding that hand close to my vest). But I'm definitely rallying behind what he's saying.

Mario Cuomo said it in 1992 when he nominated Clinton - give up the Democratic predicate, and we might as well tear the donkeys off our lapels and retreat to our ivory towers where when we see the blisters and callouses on our hands - we know it's time to put down the polo mallets.

It holds true today. Someone has to corner the market of being Democrats. It might as well be us - because we really suck at being Republicans.

A Little Less Jingo in the Country...

GreatUSAFlags.com, the fine folks who gave us the Iraq's Most Wanted Playing Cards and tons of pro-war USA-centric paraphernalia (although they did mix in some pro-Kerry stuff during the campaign to try to balance and bolster sales), seems to be breathing its last. You don't hold an 85% Off Inventory Clearance Sale in the throes of the holiday shopping season - but there they are. Selling everything at 85% off.

Guess war isn't profitable for everybody.

By the way, their signature item, the Iraq playing cards, are $1.49 a deck or $1.94 for 4. Yipes.

Our Democratic "Leadership"

Just hit me in the head with a freakin' brick.
Dems' new Senate leader criticizes Justice Thomas

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Sunday had harsh words for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

When asked to comment on Thomas as a possible replacement for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Reid told NBC's "Meet the Press": "I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court.

"I think that his opinions are poorly written. I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice."

But the Nevada Democrat said that he could support Thomas' fellow conservative, Justice Antonin Scalia, if he were nominated.

"I cannot dispute the fact, as I have said, that this is one smart guy," Reid said of Scalia. "And I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reasons for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute."

Citing a hunting trip Scalia took with Dick Cheney before hearing a case involving the commission the vice president set up to work on an energy bill, Reid said the justice has some ethics problems.

"So we have to get over this," he said.

We have to get over the ethics problems of a potential Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

A brick. My head. Now.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Seems we need these folks now more than ever...

Speaking of Changing Things...

A nice component to the story below. Don Waller's latest animation over at TBTM:

Same As It Ever Was

Comeback Kid v.2005

"YEEEAAAGGHHHH!" may live forever in the folklore of politics, but Howard Dean may brush it off and become the guy who helps us take back the party. It's no secret that he's one of the candidates to run the DNC. There are jitters and fears and bugaboos about him taking the party too far to the left, but let's be real - that was never his intention all along.

The one-time outsider is gunning to be a force on the inside. His Democracy for America blog is creating a stir with this news:
Major Speech Wednesday

Democracy for America Executive Director, Tom McMahon, sent this email to DFA supporters this morning.

Governor Dean will lay out a vision for the future of the Democratic Party this Wednesday at 12 p.m. Eastern in Washington, D.C.

He will outline not just a direction for our party, but a concrete destination: a party built from the ground up.

That means a party powered by millions of small donors, not millionaires. It means a party that speaks plainly and commits to concrete outcomes that affect real people. And it means a party that competes in every single race, for every single vote, in all fifty states.

You can watch live video of the speech on Wednesday morning at the Democracy for America web site:


Be sure to join us for the live webcast on Wednesday at 12 p.m. Eastern. Thank you.
And in case you don't think there's a groundswell of support for him, check out what's happened in Oregon.
OR: DNC Shakeup - for Dean?

Howard Dean hasn't yet started his campaign for DNC Chair, but already his supporters appear to be gearing up to make it happen. This weekend, long-time DNC Committeewoman Mary Botkin was unseated by active party volunteer Jenny Greenleaf, who had been active in the Dean campaign.

Botkin, who served a decade as chair of the DNC's women's caucus, helps lead Oregon's AFSCME union - and had been widely considered to be a shoo-in. Instead, Greenleaf won by a wide margin.

It's unclear at this time how many other campaigns are underway by hardcore Dean supporters to take over voting seats at the DNC.
So a Dean democrat will run the party in Oregon. I can hear it out there. "Waaaah! The Republicans would love to have Dean run the DNC! They'll make fun of him! Waaah!" Shuh-Dup.

At this point frankly, I don't give a rat's ass what the Republicans think anymore, and it's high time the Democratic party felt the same way. Bring it on. Things have GOT to change.

Great. Just Stinkin' Great...

Our friend, ally and Asian PR poster boy. Obviously, he wasn't briefed by Karl Rove before he put himself through a battery of interviews. First he says the bin Laden trail has vaporized, now this.
Musharraf: Iraq war has made world 'less safe'

The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake that has made the world a more dangerous place, but a swift withdrawal would make matters worse, Pakistan's president said this weekend.

"I think it's less safe," Gen. Pervez Musharraf said on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

Asked whether he considered the invasion a mistake, the Pakistani leader said: "With hindsight, yes. We have landed ourselves in more trouble, yes."

Naomi Klein Strikes Back

Apparently, our ambassadors didn't want to believe Naomi Klein's assertions that the US is making no bones about attacking non-combatants and body-counters in Iraq. (Read that column here - about halfway down.) So Naomi serves up the proof.
You asked for my evidence, Mr Ambassador. Here it is
In Iraq, the US does eliminate those who dare to count the dead

David T Johnson,
Acting ambassador,
US Embassy, London

Dear Mr. Johnson,

On November 26, your press counsellor sent a letter to the Guardian taking strong exception to a sentence in my column of the same day. The sentence read: "In Iraq, US forces and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone - doctors, clerics, journalists - who dares to count the bodies." Of particular concern was the word "eliminating".

The letter suggested that my charge was "baseless" and asked the Guardian either to withdraw it, or provide "evidence of this extremely grave accusation". It is quite rare for US embassy officials to openly involve themselves in the free press of a foreign country, so I took the letter extremely seriously. But while I agree that the accusation is grave, I have no intention of withdrawing it. Here, instead, is the evidence you requested.

Buyer's Remorse So Soon?

Wow. Barely a month after the election, and already the business world (along with the geniuses at the DLC) is rethinking Kerry's primary-season stand on shipping jobs out of the country - and whether he should have made more of it during the campaign. Too late, jerks. You demanded he didn't. Live with it.
The Two Faces of China

...China is already the largest user of steel and cement and is poised to overtake the United States in consumption of everything from copper to soybeans. These goods are needed in a fast-growing economy with many highways, factories and office towers to build - and with 1.3 billion mouths to feed.

China has become the world's largest market for cellphones, and it is catching up with Germany and Japan as a market for cars, although it considerably trails the United States in its appetite for new vehicles.

Businesses reaping the biggest rewards include companies that supply China's need for infrastructure, like the General Electric Company, which sells large turbines and aircraft engines. G.E. currently ships roughly $3.5 billion worth of goods each year to China from other countries, mainly the United States, while exporting $2 billion of merchandise from China, mainly to the United States.

But companies like G.E. are the exception. American imports from China exceed exports by more than five to one, as retailers like Wal-Mart Stores buy immense and growing quantities of goods from China. With as many people as the entire industrialized world combined, China has tens of millions of unskilled workers willing to work for less than $100 a month.

During the Democratic primaries this year, Senator John Kerry repeatedly denounced "Benedict Arnold C.E.O.'s" who moved jobs overseas. Those statements drew strong objections from the business community, including Democratic business leaders, and Mr. Kerry's comments about trade were relatively tame during the general election campaign.

Yet many corporate executives wonder how much longer a big American trade deficit and the moving of jobs overseas can persist without becoming the subject of strong protests by Americans who say that foreign workers are taking away their jobs.
Let's make this clear - foreign workers aren't taking away your jobs. Overseas outsourcing was given the green light from our neocon government via huge tax cuts for our all-American corporations. Bush took your jobs.

Nope. No Terrorists in Saudi Arabia

They don't got 'em there, they don't grow 'em there. Uh-huh.
U.S. Consulate Attacked in Saudi Arabia

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Islamic militants threw explosives at the gate of the heavily guarded U.S. consulate in Jiddah in a bold assault, then forced their way into the building, prompting a gunbattle that left seven people dead and several injured before the three-hour crisis was brought under control.

Several Americans were slightly injured, according to a State Department official in Washington.

Three attackers were among those killed, while two others were injured and arrested, the Saudi Interior Ministry announced. Saudi security officials also said four of their forces were killed, apparently in storming the compound after the initial attack.

The ministry statement didn't mention hostages. But a Saudi official, speaking from Riyadh on condition of anonymity, said numerous civilians inside the compound were confronted by attackers and held at gunpoint.

Sunday, December 5

The Kind of Work Which Earns Bush's Thumbs-Up

Here it is: The pivotal political reason for the election results: Terrorism. Guess all the "experts" who claim that Clinton could have had bin Laden "on a silver platter" are finding out it ain't that easy after all. Except this failure gets a big OK from President Crackhead. Up is down, wrong is right, etc...
Report: Musharraf Says Bin Laden Trail Has Gone Cold

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The search for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has gone cold and there is no indication of his whereabouts, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told the Washington Post in an interview published on Sunday.

Musharraf said Pakistani forces were still aggressively pursuing bin Laden but that recent security operations and interrogation had determined only that he was still alive.

"He is alive, but more than that, where he is, no, it'll be just a guess and it won't have much basis," Musharraf was quoted as saying in the interview.

Pressed about whether bin Laden's trail had gone cold, Musharraf told the Post: "Yes, if you mean we don't know, from that point of view, we don't know where he is."

Musharraf met on Saturday with President Bush, who praised his ally's efforts in the war on terrorism and the search for bin Laden, whose al Qaeda militant network carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Saturday, December 4

Kerik. Charming.

New York Newsday has a few choice words about our new Homeland Security bulldog. But - like the election itself - the people who dealt directly with the issue don't matter. Only emotion matters.
Kerik nomination is a ticking time bomb

Campaign bodyguard to Rudy Giuliani.

Errand boy for the Saudi royal family.

Energetic exploiter of Sept. 11th tragedy.

Tough-talking publicity-hound vowing to bring law and order to Iraq - then hightailing it out of there after a disastrous 14 weeks, leaving the place far less safe than he found it.

Oh, the bullet points on Bernie Kerik's real-life resume just go on and on. But is this really the guy we want standing between us and the terrorists?

George W. Bush apparently thinks so.

For now, let's give the Bush folks the benefit of the doubt: Maybe they've been wowed by Kerik's shameless swing-state Kerry-bashing in Bush's behalf. ("I fear another attack, and I fear that attack with ... Senator Kerry being in office responding to it.")

Maybe they've been bullied by Giuliani's bulldog lobbying for a loyal business buddy and after-hours pal. ("OK, Karl," you can almost hear Rudy say, "I won't be attorney general, but you gotta take Bernie at homeland security!")

Or maybe it's just that the FBI background check isn't back from the field.

Whatever the reason, the White House personnel office really ought to ask some probing questions around New York. You can bet they'll get an earful of heads-up about this hard-charging, thick-necked, shaved-head lightweight.

Let this be a warning from someone who's followed the man's ladder-climbing career: He's a personal and professional time bomb the Bushies will learn to regret. Don't say I didn't warn you, guys!
Read the article for the proof.

Friday, December 3

Arnold!?! Geeeeze...

You wanna try to like this guy, but he keeps doing dumb stuff.

On the upside, he's a social liberal.

On the downside, he's a staunch Republican.

On the upside, he's deeply committed to the environment.

On the downside, he snuggles up to Bush.

On the upside, he endorsed a $3 billion bond measure for stem-cell research in California.

On the downside...
Schwarzenegger shares fund-raiser with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger likes to talk about his bipartisan attitude and his longtime personal friendship with Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

But when Schwarzenegger decided to raise campaign cash last week during a trip to Texas, he turned to a group called the McIntosh Company. That's the same professional fund-raising firm used by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the advocacy group funded largely by conservative supporters of President Bush that ran controversial television ads during the campaign questioning Kerry's service in Vietnam.

A McIntosh spokeswoman referred all questions about the event to Schwarzenegger aides. Schwarzenegger fund-raising liaison Marty Wilson said he hadn't known about the Swift Boat connection.

"They're a Republican fund-raising company based in Dallas," Wilson said of McIntosh. "They were referred to us by one of our supporters in the area."

Meanwhile, In Ohio...

The controversy is still steaming ahead. Keith Olbermann - the only mainstreamer who is bothering to look into this story - updates us.
LINK - Blackwell gets to wait until Monday to certify the state's vote, even though all 88 counties in the Buckeye State have finished their own confirmations. Data is still sketchy, but it turns out election officials accepted about 77% of the provisional ballots - about 121,000 of them. No statewide count of the provisionals yet, though results reported by one county - Franklin (that's Columbus), indicated that Senator Kerry had gotten nearly 7,700 of the more-than 12,000 provisional votes counted.

But of all the developments out of Ohio, the most provocative, clearly, is still stalled under the weight of its own paperwork. The Alliance for Democracy is not quite ready with its challenge to the vote yet. Lawyer Cliff Arnebeck, with who else but Reverend Jackson by his side today on the steps of the Ohio Supreme Court, said that the group hopes to file its election challenge tomorrow - if not, Monday - but it's not guaranteeing anything.

If and when it gets around to it, the Alliance will be asking one high court justice to set the election results aside, pending a full investigation and hearing. Arnebeck said today he believes that if all ballots were counted in what he calls a "traditional context," the outcome would not just swing from President Bush's 130,000 vote election night lead - it would swing all the way in the opposite direction, and give Kerry a 130,000 vote lead.

Arnebeck sounded a little like a protestor in Kiev: "Our presidential election affects not just this country but all the citizens of the world. And therefore it's absolutely essential that the person who assumes the mantle of that office has the full confidence of our public and the world community that it was an honest election."

Text boldened by me. The "Amen" is his.

Country Music Corner!

Okay! Okay! The Lynn Anderson story is gone! Never happened!

Giuliani: He's Not as Stupid as He Looks!

This is - ahem - high praise for the shaved-head porno-moustache look Kerik sports...
LINK - Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says his close aide, Bernard Kerik, would surprise a lot of people as head of the nation's homeland security - not with his gruff, beat-cop demeanor, but with his quiet expertise at reining in a sprawling bureaucracy.

Giuliani, who surprised many by choosing Kerik to become the city's 40th police commissioner, said he always saw much more than a beefy cop with a knack for catching drug dealers.

"When you see him, he's a big strong guy and a black belt," said Giuliani. "What you get to know when you work with him is how smart he is ... how effective and sophisticated a manager he is."

The Spokesman's Name - Bob O'Booey - Should Have Been the Tipoff

Man - even the Beeb gets and broadcasts fake information.
Dow Settlement On Bhopal A Hoax
Bogus BBC report quickly exposed but not before hurting stock price

Dow Chemical's stock price took a tumble after BBC World issued a bogus report that the firm accepted full responsibility for the Bhopal, India, chemical disaster and would pay $12 billion in compensation.

Dow's share fell 3.4% to $49.58 in trading on the Frankfurt Exchange on Dec. 3 after the 24-hour television world news service interviewed a purported Dow spokesman in Paris who made the fake claim. A Dow spokeswoman promptly denied the report. And when the market opened in New York City, shares soon began to trade above the opening price of $49.70.

SOMEONE'S Publishing the Truth

You just can't depend on the frightened mainstream press anymore. Raw Story, in its still-infancy, has been outstanding in digging up the dark side of the wingnut culture. Today, Hustler magazine hits the stands with RS' findings about the hidden life of Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), and RS has excerpts.
Detailed Hustler expose chronicles Dreier's hidden gay life

By John Byrne | RAW STORY Editor

Hustler Magazine lays bare the history of closeted gay Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) on newsstands Friday, RAW STORY can reveal.

The issue, dated for February, includes an article chronicling the rise and seeming fall of the House Republicans' shining star David Timothy Dreier, a 52-year-old Californian legislator whose gay life was laid bare earlier this summer by RAW STORY and blogACTIVE.com, then picked up by LA Weekly.
While they're at it, they have some fun from the GOP convention in NYC.
Hustler details ribald underbelly of GOP convention

By John Byrne | RAW STORY Editor

New York Times and Salon.com journalist Petra Bartosiewicz blows the whistle on the sleazy underbelly that belied the public facade of the Republican Party's family-values oriented convention in today's Hustler, RAW STORY has found.

Hustler gave this site permission to reprint detailed excerpts. The full article is only available in their print edition.

The piece, titled "THE GOP DOES GOTHAM," tracks a seamy Texas energy lobbyist from one Republican gala to another, noting his drunken passes all the while.
Sure, it's fun schadenfraude. It also shows the utter hypocrisy of these moral finger-waggers.

John Byrne's doing his job.

By the way, he's also got the story of House Dems firing off a 15-page list of demands to Ohio's SecState Kenneth Blackwell yesterday demanding answers on the ongoing voter "discrepancies" (fraud). READ

Thursday, December 2

It Had To Be Said

This piece is about the pork-stuffed appropriations bill which the GOP's trying to ram through.
Even worse, the money for this bill does not exist. Every penny of these appropriations adds to the deficit. Why? Because two weeks ago, the Republicans passed and the President signed a bill authorizing nearly an additional $2 trillion dollars of borrowing, which our children and grandchildren will have to pay back - with interest. Two weeks before that, the President signed a bill giving $139 billion to big corporations like oil and tobacco companies and even Chinese manufacturers of ceiling fans.

Americans deserve a better government than this. I very much hope that Democrats will provide at least a strong opposition force to this kind of spending and to these kinds of gross invasions of personal privacy, which the President's party apparently thinks are justified.

I hope the Democrats and moderate Republicans in Congress will stand up for better priorities than this administration has, no matter how nice the President's words. Nice words will not save our farmers, our environment and our schools. Nice words will not protect the privacy of our tax records. Leaders who understand the value of a dollar will protect us and our children, and leaders who respect Americans as individuals will give America back the kind of country we deserve.

I do not believe it is our job to support a philosophy, which can be summed up as "Borrow and Spend, Borrow and Spend". Loyal and patriotic Americans have an obligation to their country to stand up for fiscal policies which make America stronger, not weaker.
Thank you, Gov. Howard Dean.

The Huns Continue Their Stampede

They think they conquered America. They think they conquered Iraq. Now the Republicans think they can have the U.N. as their bitch. Hey. Senator Coleman. You're not the United Nations' boss. It's not up to you whether or not a U.N. Secretary General should step down, little man.

Jesus H. Christ, these people are belligerent little bastards. They're trying to replace Kofi Annan with what - someone who's more in line with Bush's vision for his own U.N.? Please. The world is going to tell our jerks to shut up in one way or another someday - and it looks like that day might be coming soon. It's hard for anyone to accept being called a fraud by another fraud.
Bush declines to back beleaguered Annan

George Bush pointedly declined to support the United Nations secretary general yesterday after the head of a Senate committee investigating multibillion-dollar abuse of a UN programme in Iraq called for Kofi Annan's resignation.

President Bush called for a "full and open" accounting of the oil-for-food programme, under investigation by five congressional committees and a separate UN inquiry. According to Norm Coleman, the US senator who demanded Mr Annan's resignation on Wednesday, Saddam Hussein illegally diverted $21bn.

Mr Coleman, the Republican head of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said Mr Annan should resign because "the most extensive fraud in the history of the UN occurred on his watch".

Britain, France, China and Russia, expressed support for Mr Annan yesterday, but the US pays a quarter of the UN's budget and could make life difficult for the Ghanaian secretary general - as it did for his predecessor Boutros Boutros-Ghali, whom it refused to back for a second term. "They are pounding the UN. They are pounding Kofi. It's worse than under Boutros, and that's saying something," said a senior UN official yesterday.

He's Sorry?

Ken Starr. Look at you. A few years ago, maybe out of boredom with a failing real estate investigation, you let a sexual tryst become an obsession. You opened up and pounded away at a private matter, and dragged it into the media - day after day after day after day. You reveled in the sordid and sleazy details and relished every moment you expressed your outrage publicly. You pushed and pushed and pushed until you gave a Republican House an excuse to launch an impeachment against our last peacetime president who led the nation into prosperity. You watched the bringing down of a good president who dabbled in a private infidelity, and you marched it right into the living rooms of every American. With every little detail you got, you made oral and cigar sex a national obsession. You spent millions of dollars on that investigation. Our government spent millions on an impeachment which failed to materialize. The finger-wagging and fake outrage began an anti-Democratic bias and sentiment by the slumbering hate-filled self-righteous ultra-religious right which is still spiraling out of control in today's completely lopsided political climate.

Now you're regretting it.

Okay, Ken. We'll accept that. But first, show us how sorry you are. Give back the money you made since you started the sex investigation. Make an apology directly to Bill Clinton and his family. Make a formal apology to all the lives your investigation ruined. Denounce the backstabbing by Linda Tripp. Send a message of disgust to Lucianne Goldberg for forcing the issue. Prove you're a non-partisan by endorsing a few candidates on BOTH sides of the aisle in 2006.

Got an anchor tied to your ass, Ken? Go. Start now.
Investigation Of Lewinsky Bad Idea, Starr Says
Former Counsel Says He Should Have Focused On Whitewater Land Deal

LOS ANGELES -- Kenneth Starr says he never should have led the investigation that resulted in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton.

The former independent counsel, now dean of the Pepperdine University law school, says "the most fundamental thing that could have been done differently" was for somebody else to have investigated Clinton's statements under oath denying he had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Starr said his role in a yearslong investigation of Clinton should have focused instead on Clinton's role in the failed Arkansas land deal known as Whitewater.

"There was a sense on the part of the country that my (Lewinsky) effort was an effort somehow to expand the (Whitewater) investigation, when it was separate," he told the Santa Barbara News-Press following a speech on Wednesday.

From the Pen of: Tom Toles

Kerik's already started...

Kerik is New Homeland Security Guy

Ex-NYC police commissioner Bernard Kerik's fiery performance at the GOP convention is about to be rewarded from what we hear. He'll replace Tom Ridge as Homeland Security Director.

UPDATE: NBC is now confirming it.

The Difference a Day Makes

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was looking forward to a good trip to Iraq.

LINK - On Thursday, the Senators will be in Iraq, where a series of meetings are scheduled with General George Casey, General David Petraeus and Ambassador John D. Negroponte, and Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. A meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is scheduled for later in the week in Cairo.

"I am also looking forward to meeting with troops from California," Senator Feinstein said. "I hope to share with these men and women how much we value their heroism and commitment to our nation."
LINK - Mortar fire struck a central Baghdad street and the city's heavily fortified "Green Zone" Thursday, and the U.S. Embassy barred civilian personnel from using the main road to the airport, developments that underscored how insurgents still terrorize Iraq's capital despite an increasing American military presence.

"I saw fear. I saw people huddled on the streets," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Flashback - November, 2000

Before I get to part of an essay I wrote back in 2000 (in a very short continuing series of stuff I unearthed from my hard drive), I need to point out two occurrences which have happened in the last month.

Occurrence 1: I've mentioned in the past that I started this blog as an easy way for the pals on my email list to get all these stories and brain farts I come up with. That group of pals (of all political persuasions) still exchanges political messages today (and I still appreciate you guys and your contributions here).

One member of this list decided to shoot out a post-election screed, deriding Democrats for some of their tactics against the Republicans, for our criticism of the GOP, and mostly for our criticism of Bush - and therefore he didn't want to be on the list anymore.

That's it. He didn't like what he read, so he wanted out. (With all due credit to my pals, they HAVEN'T let up on him, even though we no longer hear from him.)

Occurrence 2: Bullit, my wife, was raised in a VERY Christian household, and therefore has a deep knowledge of what the rest of us would call the Red State of Mind. As a writer, she knows how to create a friendly nuanced message when she deals with her family and friends back home, and she does a splendid job in deflecting all the political hooha she gets from them - I dare say, a tenfold better job at diplomacy than I could ever muster.

Just this past week, one of her friends-in-law (a friend of her sis) sent out a mass message about how her 54-year-old uncle - a Vietnam veteran - is willing to join the fight in Iraq because "terrorist [sic] want more then [sic] anything to destroy you and me." This woman, by the way, is in her 30s, so she was too young to see the returning troops from Vietnam firsthand.

Bullit replied with a message of peace, invoking the phrase "Thou shalt not kill" regarding the way we invaded Iraq and its citizens instead of going after - y'know - the terrorists. She praised this woman's uncle profusely, but told her that everyone who returned from Vietnam didn't turn out so gung-ho. She cited her own cousin who needed almost three years to recover from the horror he experienced.

The friend-in-law shot back a highly passive-aggressive reply admonishing Bullit, telling her that the commandment meant only murder, and that we're justified in attacking and killing the enemy - and that we must support the president's decisions.

Oh, and she also mentioned that she was removing Bullit from her email list.

So there we go. In two months, one neocon and one fundamentalist in our inner circle have decided to shut out their friends because we had the temerity to challenge the president.

Which brings us to December, 2000 - and how this closed mindset has remained utterly unchanged since that election.

We moved my mother out of Florida this past May and brought her here - a little over a mile from our home. It was the greatest gift we ever gave her - and ourselves - for many reasons. One of which was Florida's assembly-line healthcare for seniors. Another was the hurricanes. And as you'll see here, Florida's rife with political discrimination.

The neighbors in this essay lived behind my mom. He was 55-ish, his wife in her 40s. Every day, Mom would walk over to the fence and give snacks to their German Shepherd and chat with the couple. They looked out for each other and led an extremely friendly coexistence. Then one day, everything changed.

(You'll see that in spite of this incident, I still gave Bush's supporters some credit. Hey, I was young and naive.)
(November 30, 2000) - The continuing polarizing as a result of this election has opened up a Pandora's Box for those single-cell humanoids who wholeheartedly miss practicing discrimination. Yes, intolerance is making a rousing comeback. Like the pinhead who lives next to my Mom.

Mom is one of the kindest people walking this planet. She's 80 and she lives in what America now thinks of as Pinhead Central: Palm Beach County, Florida. Nonetheless, the folks in her neighborhood always look out for each other. Y'know...feeding each others' pets when they're away, watering the plants...and therefore everyone holds a set of keys to each others' homes. That is until Mrs. Pinhead knocked on Mom's door last Monday to give Mom her house keys back.

"My husband doesn't want the keys to the home of someone who voted Democrat," she said to my Mom.

Mom's first reaction was what any of us would ask. "This is a joke, right?"

"No. He doesn't want to watch your house anymore."

"(after two minutes of a dropped jaw:) Is there anything I can say to him?"

"No. He's impossible to talk to when he's like this. We're sorry."

And she turned home undoubtedly to cater to Mr. Pinhead's other ugly biddings like washing his sheets and hood...leaving Mom with one less friend this late in her life.

Now mind you, Mom never talks politics with anyone. She never puts any kind of political placard on her front lawn, and believes her politics (like religion and life) are nobody's damned business but her own. Still, the Pinhead household HEARD she voted Democratic and gave her the figurative bird. No questions asked.

Is this typical? Hell no. But when something like this happens, should it surprise you that this act of random stupidity came from the mind of a supporter of America's "Compassionate Conservative"? Hell no again.

Again, Pinhead here is in no way typical of the Bush camp. He's just showing his true colors as a card-carrying...well, Pinhead. And no matter which side you're on, you cannot comprehend this sort of thing coming from an 80-year-old lib'rul tree-hugger like my Mom.

This prolonged election has apparently brought out a few people's long-suppressed desire to hate (or at least strong dislike) and discriminate. That we can now identify these jackasses has made all the waiting worthwhile.

In no way do I have the desire to speak for this manure pile in Sans-A-Belt slacks, but I'm still compelled to say, "I'm so sorry, Mom."
What bugs me after four years is that this behavior doesn't stun me anymore. It's been repeated so many times that it has become a permanent stain in the fabric of our lives.

Bush. America's uniter.

Wednesday, December 1

Sirius Tuner Offer Update

Well, Sirius is completely tapped out of all the free Sirius radios (got ours today - it rocks). We can still save you 100 bucks on the compact-sized Clarion for just $49.99 which sells elsewhere for $99.99 - plus a free car or home kit worth $49.99. You can subscribe monthly or annually with this offer. (Shipping is $9.99)

I don't own this model, but I've fiddled with it at Circuit City and it's a sweet little unit. Lord knows I've heard that a lot over the years. Thank you. Tip your waiters and waitresses.

So if you've wanted to make the leap away from the 53 Clear Channel stations in your area into satellite radio, here's a cheap way to do it without long-term commitments.
Go to Sirius.com.
Click Get Sirius then click Buy at Sirius Direct.
Enter promo code 161.
The Clarion SIRPNP will come up for $49.99. Add to cart.
Enter our email address for the referral ID: hoffmanblog at earthlink dot net (enter it using the normal email address format).
Choose between the free car kit OR home kit.
Complete the rest of the ordering process.
As always, my share of the profits are non-existent. Just a cheapskate tech freak sharin' a deal with ya...

Sidney Blumenthal on the Pentagon Papers 2004

Sid gives a great synopsys of the Pentagon report released last week. He ends his summary with this ominous news...
LINK - Almost three months ago, the board delivered its report to the White House. But, a source told me, it has received no word back. The report has been ignored by those to whom its recommendations are directed.

For the Bush administration, expert analysis is extraneous, as it is making clear to national security professionals in its partisan scapegoating of the CIA. Experts can only be expert in telling the White House what it wants to hear. Expertise is valued not for the evidence it offers for correction, but for propaganda and validation. But no one, not in the White House, Congress or the dwindling coalition of the willing, can claim the catastrophe has not been foretold by the best and most objective minds commissioned by the Pentagon - perhaps for the last time.
Y'know, at this point, Bush can have oral sex performed on him by an intern live on Fox News Channel AND MSNBC - and the only outrage will be that CNN didn't carry it because they're Godless heathens who are biased against Bush.

TiVo Alert

Patton's one of the good guys who did a ton of work for our side during the campaign. He keeps a journal at his website, which contains this post-election day message.
Enjoy the next four years, red states.

You voted, again, for your exploiters. You chose people who don't care about you to take care of you. Maybe you'll get out of it unscathed. I doubt it. If you believe in the power of prayer, pray that your elected leaders keep your kids out of any more wars. Pray they'll fix the economy. Pray your kids will stay off drugs when their job opportunities dry up. Pray, pray, pray. Don't actually do anything realistic or proactive about it. Pray. Pray 'til you poop your pants. Pray for a magical super-being up in the sky to come down and fix your problems, like the people in the Superman and Green Lantern comics. "Nothing you can do but pray" will be carved onto the tombstone of the 21st century. I always thought it'd be a line of dialogue from THE BIG LEBOWSKI, but there you go.

You don't need to worry about gays getting married or anyone forcing you to get an abortion - but you never needed to worry about that in the first place. You don't need to worry about any terrorist attacks in the Midwest - unless it's by another all-American, white bread Timothy McVeigh. The brown terrorists only want to blow up New York and California.
He's gotten over the pain, and he's one of the funniest sumbitches who ever graced the front of a comedy club faux brick wall.

Man O'God Time Again

Yeah, my holy roller relatives are passing around this link.

My question to them is, "Where were you between January 1993 and January 2001?"

Bush Wanted a Dictatorship, Bush is Making a Dictatorship

When Bush guts and sterilizes the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights so the commission doesn't give out any more of that "bad news" about minorities, we'll be losing another voice. Make no mistake. It's the plan. This year, he's replacing the chair and vice-chair with more bobbleheads - removing any dissenting voice from our country's number one federal body overseeing civil rights.

Every day, in every way - we're losing our American-ness. These are dark, dark times.
Leaders of Civil-Rights Watchdog Blast Bush

Leaders of a divided federal civil-rights watchdog agency accused President Bush of deepening racial divisions, in a parting shot after years of sparring with his administration.

Mary Frances Berry, chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Vice Chairperson Cruz Reynoso delivered a 166-page report to the White House harshly criticizing the administration for setting back race relations and failing to promote civil rights in any meaningful way.

But the report is not an official document, because four of the eight commissioners, all of them Republican appointees, voted against adopting it and rejected the charges as politically biased.

Both Berry and Reynoso are due to retire from the commission next month at the end of their six-year terms, giving Bush the chance to appoint their successors and shape a body more supportive of his policies.

"Sadly, the spiraling demise of hope for social justice and healing has deepened over the past four years, largely due to a departure from and marginalization of long-established civil rights priorities, practices and laws," Berry and Reynoso wrote in a letter to Bush.

Peter Kirsanow, one of the four commissioners who voted against the report, said it was politically slanted, and based on shoddy research and faulty analysis.

"It started from the premise that the Bush administration was not sufficiently enforcing civil-rights law. When we examined it closely, we found it was deeply flawed in respect to its information, analysis and conclusions," he said.

The White House said it would not comment on the content of the report because it was not an official commission document.

From the Pen of: John Sherffius

How Widespread Were Voter Problems Nationwide?

Pretty much. More than 30,000 complaints filed - so far.

From the Pen of: Jeff Danziger

From the Pen of: Scott Stantis

We've dealt with this guy before. But as time goes by on the increasingly sloppy Prickly City, he just gets more and more strident. How many times has the left been told to "get over it"? This is exactly why we don't - Stantis leads the culture of poor winners which would love for us to roll over and shut up. Not happenin'.

Wowing Them Up North

Yeah, Bush weaved his magic in Canada yesterday. Not only did he stand in front of Parliament and extended a hand - to point out he's right and does what he wants - but from Ottawa, moved on to Halifax where his knack for crappy timing is striking a chord. I suppose a timely "thanks" is seen as weak as an apology in the Bush World.
Halifax family scoff at belated Bush thank-you
Call praise for 9/11 help `silly'

HALIFAX - When 7,000 international travellers were stranded in Halifax three years ago, Archie Kaiser and his wife, Anne Derrick, did the Maritime thing; they opened their home and took in four shell-shocked Americans from New Jersey.

When a more famous American arrives here tomorrow to thank them for that long-ago generosity, Kaiser and Derrick will offer a very different kind of welcome: placards and anti-war chants.

"I do not want Mr. Bush's belated appreciation for our role in the aftermath of 9/11," Anne Derrick told reporters yesterday.

"I do not like Halifax and Haligonians being used as a photo-opportunity for a world leader who has blood on his hands and desperately needs any good international press he can get."

U.S. President George W. Bush arrives in Halifax at 10 a.m. for a speech in which he is expected to thank Haligonians for taking in more than 7,000 air travellers when 42 planes were diverted to this city on Sept. 11, 2001. Thousands more were stranded in Newfoundland.

Tuesday, November 30

#@%& Blogger

The publisher for this and other blogs (Atrios among them) has broken down for the quizillionth time this month. I had many more stories to share with y'all - did you believe I wanted the Jeopardy story to remain in the top slot all day? - but the system isn't allowing it. Hopefully, we'll move this popstand to a reliable server. We're open to suggestions.

Thanks for your patience.

From the Pen of: Tom Toles

America Must Now Reluctantly Move On

LINK - Nancy Zerg smiles during an interview in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2004. Zerg, a realtor from Ventura, Calif., finally defeated Ken Jennings, a software engineer from Salt Lake City, Utah, the record holder for most money ever won on a television game show with 74 consecutive wins on 'Jeopardy!.' Jennings won $2,520,700. His final show airs Tuesday night.

Rummy Is Served

Wow. The scales of justice are finally beginning to tip...
Rumsfeld Sued for Alleged War Crimes

Alleging responsibility for war crimes and torture at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, a human rights group has filed a criminal complaint in Germany against US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top US officials.

The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Berlin's Republican Lawyers' Association said they and five Iraqi citizens mistreated by US soldiers were seeking a probe by German federal prosecutors of leading US policymakers.

They said they had chosen Germany because of its Code of Crimes Against International Law, introduced in 2002, which grants German courts universal jurisdiction in cases involving war crimes or crimes against humanity.

It also makes military or civilian commanders who fail to prevent their subordinates from committing such acts liable.

Recommended Bookmark

If you've never read Katrina vanden Heuvel's Republican Dictionary yet, do so.

Flashback: November, 2000

I used to write for someone else, and found those writings deep in my hard drive. Here are a few excerpts from a slightly more innocent time...
Man, I Just Voted Four Years Ago

(11/3/2000 - Four days before the election) ...Turns out those damned Democrats and liberals played dirty pool and found out that George W. Bush was once arrested for...DRIVING DRUNK. And this after the damned Democrats and liberals got Bush arrested twice before for stealing from a hotel room and fighting at a football game.

Hey. Wait a minute. I thought we Democrats and liberals were the victims, according to the Rush Limbaugh rhetoric we've been subjected to for the last decade. Seems that Dubya is now a victim of dirty politics. He couldn't possibly be responsible for those "indiscretions" could he? Especially since those indiscretions were kept neatly tucked away until days before the election. Oops.

Bush is saying that the timing is suspicious - that it's all political maneuvering. Imagine that.

Look in the mirror, George. You'll see the same thing Gore, Nader, Buchanan and every other person who runs for office sees: A POLITICIAN.

Surprise! You're in politics, W. The very word 'politics' practically means 'playing dirty.' Why is this such a shocker to the recipients of political games?

It was politics that made Clinton's pants-dropping a national emergency. The main difference between Dubya and Clinton was, when Clinton performed HIS indiscretion, there was nobody in his way that he could swerve into and kill with his pickup truck.

I come from a long line of Democrats. Our family always felt that the Democrats generally gave the regular guy a fair shake. And we always embraced the idea of helping others less fortunate than ourselves before that notion was called "big government" and "taxing and spending." Yeah, we have bigger problems today that we need to take care of, but I'm still for taking care of our own and I'm willing to kick in a few more dollars to help out.

So you'll understand why Bush lost me 'way back when he declared himself a "compassionate conservative." If you have to differentiate yourself from other conservatives by declaring your compassion, then you're admitting there's a teensy little policy problem with your faction. Thanks for letting me know I was on the correct side of the issues all along.
I'll toss up more gems from my past as I find 'em. It demonstrates how I've evolved into the angry old jerk screaming to himself in the park I am today.

Trippi: Saving the Democrats from Themselves

I've avoided all the things I've read on what the Democrats did wrong, how we coulda done this and coulda done that, and all the whiny post-mortem stuff which makes me cringe.

But Joe Trippi has written a column in the Wall Street Journal (and republished at his own site) which resonates with me. Democrats - to thine own self, be true. Excerpts:

...the problem for Democrats is not Mr. Rove; it is that they're doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. That's the definition of insanity.

Since the Democratic Leadership Council, with its mantra of "moderate, moderate, moderate," took hold in Washington, the Democratic Party has been in decline at just about every level of government. Forget the Kerry loss.

Today the number of Democrats in the House is the lowest it's been since 1928. Democrats are on the brink of becoming a permanent minority party. Can the oldest democratic institution on earth wake from its stupor? Here are some steps to pull out of the nose-dive:

* Democrats can't keep ignoring their base. Running to the middle and then asking our base at the end of the campaign to make sure to vote is not a plan. It sure hasn't worked. And to those who say talking to your base doesn't work-Read the Rove 2004 playbook!

* Democrats must reconnect with the energy of our grass roots...We must build a base of at least seven million small donors by 2006. With the Internet it's possible. But it can't just be about the money, it also has to be about ideas.

* Instead of a DLC in Washington, Democrats should be holding Democratic Grassroots Councils in every county. Democratic National Committee members in each state, along with the state party, should host and moderate these meetings to help develop ideas that come from the people, instead of the experts in Washington.

* A party that ignores the needs of state and local parties is doomed. We must begin to invest aggressively in states we continually write off in national elections.

* In a world in which companies like Wal-Mart pay substandard wages with no real benefits, our party has got to find innovative ways to support organized labor's growth.

* The Democratic Party has to be the vehicle that empowers the American people to change our failed political system. We all know the damn thing is broken. Democrats should lead the way by placing stricter money restrictions on candidates than the toothless Federal Election Commission does.

* Finally, What is the purpose the Democratic Party strives for today? What are our goals for the nation? You couldn't tell from the 2004 election. The fact is, very few good ideas come from the middle. Ideas in the middle tend to be mediocre...the time has come to develop bold ideas and to challenge people to sacrifice for the common good. Experts will tell you that you can't ask the American people to sacrifice individually for the common good. Those experts are wrong - it's just been so long since anyone has asked them.

Monday, November 29

Bird Flu May Reach Pandemic

Thank God our country has plenty of flu shots to go around. Oh. Wait a minute...
WHO says bird flu pandemic could kill millions

The regional director of the World Health Organization's Western Pacific Regional Office says the bird flu virus is proving far more lethal than the SARS virus that struck Asia and other parts of the world last year.

Last week, the WHO estimated that the bird flu virus, called H5N1, could infect up to 30 per cent of the world's population. The organization also predicted it could kill up to seven million people.

But WHO regional director Shigeru Omi now says that estimate is conservative and it is more likely up to 50 million people could die if the bird flu becomes a pandemic.

Thirteen Asian countries have promised to co-operate by sharing information and research work in an attempt to ward off the growing threat of an avian flu pandemic.

HELD OVER - Pentagon to Bush: Stop the Cowboy Act NOW

It appears that our military is telling President Crackhead to stop the shoot-'em-up cowboy mentality and to refrain from saying the terrorists hate our freedom.

According to the Pentagon, Bush has simply been putting our country in danger with his rhetoric and his sabre-rattling.

We turn to page 39 of the Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication, released ever-so-quietly by the Pentagon on the night before Thanksgiving. I boldened the highlights if you're pressed for time. Believe me, you'll still absorb more from it than Bush will.
2.3 What is the Problem? Who Are We Dealing With?

The information campaign - or as some still would have it, "the war of ideas," or the struggle for "hearts and minds" - is important to every war effort. In this war it is an essential objective, because the larger goals of U.S. strategy depend on separating the vast majority of non-violent Muslims from the radical-militant Islamist-Jihadists. But American efforts have not only failed in this respect: they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended.

American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.
* Muslims do not "hate our freedom," but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.

* Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that "freedom is the future of the Middle East" is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World - but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved.

* Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-determination.

* Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack - to broad public support.

* What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of "terrorist" groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam.

* Finally, Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic - namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is - for Americans - really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game. This perception is of course necessarily heightened by election-year atmospherics, but nonetheless sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims they are really just talking to themselves.
Thus the critical problem in American public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim World is not one of "dissemination of information," or even one of crafting and delivering the "right" message. Rather, it is a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none - the United States today is without a working channel of communication to the world of Muslims and of Islam. Inevitably therefore, whatever Americans do and say only serves the party that has both the message and the "loud and clear" channel: the enemy.
If the fact that this came from the military - and not some senior fellow at the Such-And-Such Institute - doesn't send a chill down your spine, you shouldn't be allowed to ever vote again. You can read the entire report here in a .pdf file. Be warned - it takes a while to download, so be patient.

The Keith Olbermann Update

Today, along with a great essay about Dick Ebersol, Keith updates us on the Ohio voting situation. Is Kerry still alive?
LINK - You don't have to have seen the entirety of the original movie "Frankenstein" to remember the over-the-top scene in which Colin Clive as the doctor recognizes the first twitching of his creation, and begins to rapturously repeat that line: It's Alive!

It is ungenerous, but not together inaccurate, to point out that Frankenstein's Monster's head was shaped not unlike that of John Kerry's. So, after the weekend's developments in Ohio one can almost see Colin Clive hovering over the recumbent Democrat nominee and repeating his two-word claim to fame.

"John Kerry supports a full investigation" of the voting irregularities in Ohio, the Rev. Jesse Jackson told reporters Saturday before he began two days of rallies in the state to push for an investigation - and a recount. "I talked with John Kerry last night (Friday), and he supports the investigation," The Chicago Sun-Times further quoted Jackson. "His lawyers are observing it closely."

Well, evidently Rev. Jackson can observe the body twitching even if the rest of us are still where we were when Senator Kerry made his direct-to-video, M.C. Escher drawing of a statement: "regardless of the outcome of this election." We're scratching our heads with one hand, and wanting to use the other to poke the tall, supine creature with a stick to see if it really is alive.

Several reporters on Saturday's conference call asked about the event that ensured the mainstream media silence that has been roundly mistaken as a "lock-down": Senator Kerry's concession speech on November 3rd.

"Kerry was inclined to believe what he was told," begins Jackson's quote in The Cincinnati Enquirer, "and he was told the election was over. But now we're unearthing information that did not surface at first. I suppose the more information Kerry gets, the more you will hear from him."

Send us a postcard, Senator.

And lastly, though he legally has until December 6 to certify the Ohio vote, Cincinnati television station WCPO reported Sunday that Blackwell is in fact expected to do so on Wednesday of this week.

Sunday, November 28

Just Don't Call Us "Victims"

Mel Gilles makes a great parallel at Matthew Gross' blog. But this essay can easily be twisted around as a big "Oh Boo Hoo Hoo" for us. Still, it's worth a read.
Hear the cacophony of voices, crying out, "Why did they beat me?"

And then ask anyone who has ever worked in a domestic violence shelter if they have heard this before.

They will tell you, every single day.

The answer is quite simple. They beat us because they are abusers. We can call it hate. We can call it fear. We can say it is unfair. But we are looped into the cycle of violence, and we need to start calling the dominating side what they are: abusive. And we need to recognize that we are the victims of verbal, mental, and even, in the case of Iraq, physical violence.

As victims we can't stop asking ourselves what we did wrong. We can't seem to grasp that they will keep hitting us and beating us as long as we keep sticking around and asking ourselves what we are doing to deserve the beating.

God Grant Me the Serenity to Not Kick These People's Teeth In

Here we are, folks - the people who swept the little crackhead back into the White House are beginning to make their demands. And the demands are frightening. And will Bush reciprocate? My answer below.
Evangelicals to Bush: Payback Time

Among some conservative Christians, there is a belief that President Bush received a "moral mandate" to win the recent presidential election — and they are calling on him act on their agenda now.

"I believe Our Lord elected our president and I believe he put him in office and it is my prayer that he will sustain him in office," said one woman at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Another was asked if she believed that God intervened in the election. "Absolutely," she said.

"Values" voters delivered for the president, and the president must now deliver for them - especially in the courts, said Gary Cass, head of a grassroots political organization affiliated with Coral Ridge, called the Center for Reclaiming America.

"It's about the next 40 years and how the courts are going to affect the world in which my children and grandchildren are going to be raised in," he said.

Cass wants a U.S. Supreme Court that will outlaw abortion and gay marriage. "Do you want to take your children to a National League baseball game for instance and have homosexuals showing affection to one another? I don't want my kids to see that," he said.

Dr. James Kennedy delivers sermons at Coral Ridge which are broadcast to three million homes. He said he knows of no timetable for God's wrath, but wants results fast.

He dismissed the concerns of people who worried about the impact of Christian conservatives on the U.S. government.

"Repent," he said with a laugh. "Repent. That's what I'd say."

People who are concerned about the influence of Christianity "have never really surrendered their life to God and submitted themselves to his commandments -- and if they did that they wouldn't have so much concern about some court saying again that it's wrong," he said.

Asked about the millions of Americans who are not Christian, or have a different interpretation of Christianity, Kennedy said with another laugh: "I couldn't care less. It's true."
We're saying - with a laugh, of course - God is appalled at your absolutism, Dr. Kennedy, and will probably deal with you when your time comes. Ha ha ha!

This we know about Bush - he's not the kind of guy who'll keep whatever promises he made to your flock. He won the election. That's all he wanted - and he's got nothing to lose by ignoring you from this point forward. Deal with it.

From the Pen of: John Sherffius

Yes, of course it gives me an idea...

Why We Kept Hammering on the Judicial Nominee Issue During the Campaigns

This is abuse of power, plain and simple. There are more important problems we should be going "nuclear" over, but these crackheads have their priorities programmed so wrong, they can't even see straight. The GOP is ready to squash any opposition, no matter how dangerous it is.

There are two things we can hope for: That there's still a shred of compassion among the public for what the Democrats stand for - and that those on our side of the aisle grow a spine and throw the GOP smacktalk back in their fat faces.
Senate GOP set to go 'nuclear' over judges

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans, boldly confident after their Nov. 2 electoral success, are preparing to end months of frustrating delays over President Bush's judicial picks by hitting Democrats with Republican's ultimate legislative weapon.

But the Republican threat to neuter long-cherished filibuster rules by steamrolling Democrats is risky - so potentially destructive that Capitol Hill calls it the "nuclear option." Democratic retaliation would be swift and long-lasting, raising the prospect of escalating clashes in a body that prides itself on gentility and cool judgment.

Even so, Republican leaders are signaling their intent to go nuclear in word and deed.

"We're going to use every tool we possibly can," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who also unveiled a kinder, gentler phrase for the potential rules change: the "constitutional option."

The nuclear option would be a last resort if other measures fail, said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who will likely play a central role in the debate as a member of the Judiciary Committee and chairman of the Constitution subcommittee.

Cornyn argues that judicial filibusters unconstitutionally require a 60-vote supermajority to approve nominees, not the simple majority mandated in the Constitution.

"Democrats must stop not only for the good of the Senate but out of respect to the president, who received almost 60 million votes on November 2, and out of respect for the Constitution itself," Cornyn said. "No group of senators has the right, no minority has the right to tyrannize the majority of the Senate."

The nuclear option would begin with Frist taking the Senate floor to seek a ruling from the presiding officer, likely to be Vice President Dick Cheney in his role as Senate president, to determine whether judicial filibusters violate the Constitution.

Cheney's affirmative response would initiate a vote on changing the filibuster rule which also would be subject to a filibuster unless Cheney over- rules the Senate parliamentarian on whether normal debate rules apply. Then, only 51 votes would be needed for approval.

Another option includes changing Senate guidelines to disallow judicial filibusters, which also would require the Senate president to declare that normal filibuster rules do not apply, so 51 votes could prevail. Changing Senate rules should occur early in the session to gain legitimacy, some Republicans say, making this option potentially less appealing.

Either way, it would be pure power politics, leaving Democrats unable to respond. Other Senate rules, however, would give the minority party plenty of opportunity to express its anger in the months, and years, to follow.

Hard to Put Heat on the Guys Doing Your Dirty Work

You want Bush to put pressure on two guys who want the military to have more intelligence power? Who do you think is pulling their strings?
9/11 Chairman: Bush Should Apply Pressure

The fate of an overhaul of U.S. intelligence agencies rests with President Bush, who must exert more pressure on holdout Republicans if he wants compromise legislation to pass this year, a lead Senate negotiator said Sunday.

"If the president of the United States wants this bill, as commander in chief in the middle of a war, I cannot believe Republicans in the House are going to stop him from getting it," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., on ABC's "This Week."

But two powerful opponents of the deal, GOP Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, are showing no signs of wavering on a measure intended to put in place recommendations from the Sept. 11 commission.

Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has expressed concerns that the intelligence realignment could interfere with the military chain of command.

Saturday, November 27

New Product Showcase

Click the shirt or the button. New Hoffmania schwag for the holidays.

Friday, November 26

More Horsecrap in the Spending Bill

Wild horses are now fair game if the bill passes. The GOP is truly on a mission to become the most hated group in the world.
New Provision Would Allow Slaughtering of Wild Horses

In a reversal of three decades of government policy that protected all wild horses, a provision approved by Congress last weekend would allow some of them to be sold to slaughterhouses.

The provision, attached to an omnibus spending bill by Senator Conrad Burns, Republican of Montana and chairman of the appropriations subcommittee with responsibility for the Interior Department, requires the sale of wild horses that have been rounded up and are more than 10 years old or have been unsuccessfully offered for adoption three times. The bill is awaiting final action.

The new language appears to override an existing requirement that those buying horses for adoption care for them for a year before assuming ownership, a hedge against horses being sold for slaughter. Now, the prospective law says, unwanted or old horses "shall be made available for sale without limitation."

There are about 37,000 horses and burros running free in 10 Western states, but most are in Nevada, said Maxine Shane, a spokeswoman for the Reno office of the Bureau of Land Management. An additional 14,000 are in captivity in Oklahoma and Kansas, with a few thousand more in regional facilities. Ms. Shane estimated that at least 8,000 of the horses in captivity would be eligible for immediate sale to the highest bidder.

Voting Discrep Story from the Eye of the Hurricane

The Columbus Dispatch chimes in.
More voting questions raised

Several new voting concerns surfaced yesterday as lawyers combed totals from the Nov. 2 presidential election.

An Akron man filed a complaint with the Summit County Board of Elections saying he "witnessed election judges telling potential voters that they could cast a provisional ballot at any table or precinct and if they did so, it would be counted."

Neil F. Schoenwetter Jr. was a volunteer election challenger for the Democratic Party on Nov. 2 at Copley High School, where six precincts voted.

Congress' investigative agency, responding to complaints from Ohio and elsewhere, has begun to look into the vote count, including the handling of provisional ballots and malfunctions of voting machines.

Meanwhile, attorneys for various citizen action groups that plan to contest the results said they are puzzled that vote totals in the presidential race in Warren County far exceed totals in most other statewide and countywide races.

For example, the total of 94,415 votes cast there for President Bush or Sen. John Kerry is 3,000 more than all those cast in the U.S. Senate race and a constitutional amendment about same-sex marriage.

Further, 20,000 to 24,000 fewer votes were cast in three Ohio Supreme Court races and 13,000 to 24,000 fewer were cast in various countywide races.

In Warren County, which reported a 33 percent increase in voter turnout from the 2000 elections, election officials had banned observers at the polls for "homeland security" concerns.
The GOP added their fair and patriotic 2c to the fray...
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert T. Bennett issued a statement questioning the vote challenges:

"These groups have already acknowledged the outcome of the election will not change, and their actions represent a foolish attempt to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Bush presidency," he said. "I call on the leadership of the Ohio Democratic Party to immediately concede that this worthless recount request is an insult to the integrity of Ohio's election system."

Thanks, YK

Eating Their Own Fan Base

By now, you've read all the stories of Vietnam vets and any active military human being called up for duty to try to win the Iraq nightmare the historically anti-military Bush and Cheney started. Stories are everywhere chronicling how much difficulty we seem to be having recruiting people voluntarily.

For God's sake, 59 million-plus people of all ages elected President Crackhead because they supported his "moral" crusade in Iraq and the subsequent breeding of new terrorists therein. Why don't we simply root out these supporters and knock on their doors to find able-bodied footsoldiers? It wouldn't be a draft per se. It'd be a dandy way to tell Bush's supporters "Thanks for telling us you like what we're doing!"

Give all these 59,040,057 voters physicals. If they pass muster, ship 'em off. Seriously. We'll win this thing in days. But only if they're willing to walk their damned talk.

But wait! It looks like someone has beat us to it. NASCAR has happily allowed itself to tap into their hardcore Bush-lovin' fans to become a great big recruiting center for the Iraq war. It's a start.

Read it and weep, folks. This is from NASCAR's own web site.
Army uses NASCAR to bolster recruiting

Joe Nemechek is "G.I. Joe" to many NASCAR fans, a nickname stemming from the GoArmy.com logo on the hood and bumper of his Chevy Monte Carlo.

Every lap he leads and every pole he wins puts the Army in millions of living rooms nationwide.

Sponsoring Nemechek is part of a military recruiting strategy, which includes advertising at football games and rodeos, aimed at maintaining the all-volunteer force during the war in Iraq and the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

"We have to get the best young men and women in the Army to continue," said Tom Tiernan, a 22-year Army veteran who is now a civilian employee leading the marketing program.

The Army has a traveling exhibition for NASCAR events, filling four semitrailers and covering 12,000 square feet, giving recruits a version of shock and awe.

Visitors can view the latest Army equipment, including uniforms and weapons, said Guy Morgan, Army account director. Other activities include laser target shooting and a challenge involving changing tires on a stock car.

Everyone who enters the exhibition area must sign a liability form, which also generates some leads for the Army, Morgan said.

At all events, the Army also hopes to meet parents who may be reluctant about their children enlisting.

"When senior officers are out there, they can talk to parents and tell them that the Army will do everything possible to protect their sons and daughters," Tiernan said.

Thursday, November 25

1000 Words Worth

Bush's body English speaking loudly on Clinton Library day. Thanks, Jer.

UPDATE 11:15am 11/25: Sidney Blumenthal provides the backstory of this picture in the Guardian:
LINK - John Kerry arrived to defiant cheering from the crowd. Then, when the presidents were announced, Bush tried to push his way past Clinton at the library door to be first in line, against the already accepted protocol for the event, as though the walk to the platform was a contest for alpha male.
Here are a few more classy moves from the crackhead-in-chief from Blumenthal's story.
Offstage, beforehand, Rove and Bush had had their library tours. According to two eyewitnesses, Rove had shown keen interest in everything he saw, and asked questions, including about costs, obviously thinking about a future George W Bush library and legacy. "You're not such a scary guy," joked his guide. "Yes, I am," Rove replied. Walking away, he muttered deliberately and loudly: "I change constitutions, I put churches in schools ..."

Bush appeared distracted, and glanced repeatedly at his watch. When he stopped to gaze at the river, where secret service agents were stationed in boats, the guide said: "Usually, you might see some bass fishermen out there." Bush replied: "A submarine could take this place out."

At the private luncheon afterwards, in a heated tent pitched behind the library, Shimon Peres delivered a heartfelt toast to Clinton's perseverance in pursuing the Middle East peace process. Upon entering the tent, Bush, according to an eyewitness, told an aide: "One gulp and we're out of here." He had informed the Clintons he would stay through the lunch, but by the time Peres arose with wine glass in hand the president was gone.

From the Pen of: Tom Toles

From the Pen of: Pat Oliphant

Conason's Courtesy Corner

From the Pen of: Paul Conrad

Joe's got some suggestions on how to deal with your wingnut relatives this Thanksgiving...
Let them eat poundcake

In the election's immediate aftermath -- and following a big meal and a few drinks -- your most dearly beloved conservatives may not be able to resist the urge to gloat. They may even begin to lecture you about the bright future that awaits us all as George W. Bush fulfills his "mandate."

Rather than start screaming about the bloody debacle in Iraq, the nasty campaign against gays, or the pillaging of the environment, just smile and nod until your favorite 'winger pauses for breath (or a bite of pie). Then say, "I hope you're right, of course, for everybody's sake. But have you heard about the President's economic plans?"

As soon as you have everybody's attention, politely explain what Bush and his administration plan to do to the gullible middle-class voters who re-elected him. Remind them how the President promised to make taxes "fairer" and "simpler," to make health care more widely available and to cut the deficit in half.

Nod your head and say yes, you agree, the forthcoming White House tax plan is pure simplicity. It will transfer the tax burden from the wealthy to the workers, from families with high earnings to those in the middle. That means creating new shelters for the richest taxpayers, who will be rewarded with various schemes for tax-free savings and medical accounts. Pretty fair, eh?

Assuming that your Republican relatives despise Hollywood liberals, misbehaving athletes, foul-mouthed hip-hop artists, and George Soros, it's worth pointing out that the Bush tax scheme will greatly benefit such pampered "elitists." And thanks to Bush's repeal of the estate tax, the children of those elitists may never have to pay any income taxes, let alone do any work, for the rest of their lives!

And while your listeners are still chewing over that piece of gristle, gently inform them about the President's other plan to compensate for the next round of regressive tax cuts. He wants to take away their employer-sponsored health insurance.

Although he neglected to discuss any such proposal during the presidential campaign, when he emphasized his commitment to expand health coverage, Bush reportedly plans to eliminate corporate deductions for health insurance coverage. That will leave wage and salary earners to fend for themselves against the big private insurers. Take a generous sip of chardonnay and say, "What a deal!"

So smile again, a bit sardonically, as you sum up what middle-class Americans, red and blue, can expect as the second Bush regime begins: Higher taxes, exploding deficits and the end of health coverage as we know it.

There's just so much to be thankful for, isn't there?

Wednesday, November 24

Still Doubt the Draft is Imminent?

They're calling up Vietnam veterans. VIETNAM VETS. Eventually, they'll run out of them. Who do you think is next?
Vietnam veteran, 53, called to active duty

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

Paul Dunlap, 53, of Pleasant Unity, will leave for Fort Bliss, Texas, on Monday after being called up as part of Operation Dragoon.

Dunlap, a first sergeant in the Army National Guard Company C 28th Signal Battalion out of Torrance, Westmoreland County, hasn't been in combat since he was a 19-year-old Marine and served 11 months in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971.

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

Dunlap, a machinist, found out about his call-up at work in November.

Dunlap will spend about two weeks at Fort Bliss before linking with the 1st-103rd Armor in Kuwait. He is a signal systems specialist and his unit will likely handle radio retransmissions and fix equipment.

He will leave behind his wife, Mary Dunlap, four children and three grandchildren.

OOOkay...We All Need a Few Days Off...

It actually looks more like Patty Hearst in her post-SLA days to me.

LINK - The happy folks at the GoldenPalace online casino certainly believe.

Today, they forked over more than 28-thousand dollars for half a grilled cheese sandwich that's more than ten years old.

The seller claims it bears the image of the Virgin Mary. That's even with a bite missing. So, she put it up for bid on e-Bay.

More than one and a-half (m) million hits later -- sold!

The online casino will be putting it on display. First stop -- Las Vegas. After that comes the world tour.

From the Pen of: David Horsey