No Further Leaks Until Plame Indictment?

Democratic Underground Forums - I just spoke to Joseph Wilson about the special prosecutor

At this thread, William Pitt talks about Joseph Wilson's reaction to the special prosecutor. Lancdem points out that we might not hear anything more about this "until something is going to break, like an indictment." It's a very good point.

Ashcroft Recuses Himself From Leak Investigation


Special proscecutors. More investigators. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

Dean predicts backers may stay home if he doesn't win the nomination

SF Gate

Howard Dean said Sunday that the hundreds of thousands of people drawn to politics by his campaign may stay home if he doesn't win the Democratic presidential nomination, dooming the Democratic Party in the fall campaign against President Bush.

"If I don't win the nomination, where do you think those million and a half people, half a million on the Internet, where do you think they're going to go?" he said during a meeting with reporters. "I don't know where they're going to go. They're certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician."

..."I think eventually the nomination is going to be won by somebody with a positive agenda," Dean said. "What's happening is, in their desperation, those guys have thrown their positive agenda out the window. I can't imagine it's going to help them. It might hurt us but it can't help them."

He added: "If we had strong leadership in the Democratic Party, it would be calling the other candidates and saying somebody has to win here. If (former Democratic National Committee head) Ron Brown were chairman, this wouldn't be happening."
He's dead on here. Debra DeShong rejects this, saying Dem primary battles are all like this. Bull. The infamous Osama-Dean commercial comes to mind. There's been nothing in Democratic primary politics as publicly foul as that.

Yes, I'm a strong Clark supporter, and I'm pulling for him, and I hope Clark gets the nod. But if it's Dean, then I'll be working for Dean in the general, and these whiny little insider candidates had better get used to the idea. I'm beginning to wonder whether or not the DNP will just roll over and hand the election to Bush if Dean gets the nod from the voters.

On edit: JMM at Talking Points Memo has his take on this, and he has some good points to make. Dean's open talk is encouraging a split of the Democratic ticket, but it's a split that's coming from the other side of the party in my mind. Dean shouldn't feel entitled to the Democratic Party's full support right now, but the party leadership should do a better job of showing he'll get that support if he gets the nomination. Right now, I don't see that happening.

Wesley Clark on the Issues

General Wesley Clark for President - Official Campaign Web Site

The Clark website has redesigned its issues page, and it looks fantastic. You can choose your state from a map and see how Clark's plans will affect your region. You can download policy papers in PDF, or you can browse the various speeches and papers online. It's also tailored to specific American communities. Check it out.

Now It's a Scandal - New evidence that a House GOP leader offered a bribe

Timothy Noah, Slate

Let's just think about the number of criminal investigations surrounding the Republicans-In-Charge. The steadfast way in which they maintain the circled wagons seems incredible to me. It's as if with one single breach, their entire criminal enterprise will crash to the ground.

The House bribery scandal has DeLay written all over it, don't you think?

Hobbits have Bluegrass roots

Lexington Herald-Leader

"Imagine that," Barnett told Davenport. "You know, he used to have the most extraordinary interest in the people here in Kentucky. He could never get enough of my tales of Kentucky folk. He used to make me repeat family names like Barefoot and Boffin and Baggins, and good country names like that."

Out the window, Davenport said, he could see tobacco barns. And suddenly, the ways of the hobbits -- their country turns of phrase, their peculiar manners and their penchant for smoking -- came into focus. Davenport then conducted a little experiment and discovered something interesting: "Practically all the names of Tolkien's hobbits are listed in my Lexington phone book, and those that aren't can be found over in Shelbyville. Like as not, they cure pipe-weed for a living."
The Shire is a place in the imagination, of course, but it's nice to know some of the influences on its construction in Tolkien's mind.

Renaming Schools Named After Confederate Leaders

Yahoo! News - Educators Debate Efforts to Rename Schools

I grew up in Alabama and attended public schools, but the schools were all named after the community. First was Westside Elementary, on the west side of town. Then the elementary system was fully integrated in my fifth grade year (some African Americans lived on the west side and attended with us, but most were at US Jones Elementary across town). So for a year and a half, I attended US Jones. Then off to Demopolis Middle and High School (until the eleventh grade, when I headed off to Birmingham and the Alabama School of Fine Arts). So my community was less stubborn than others about the entire segregation question.

The high school in particular had integrated early on. I recall being told that several influential students remained in the public system when a white flight was threatened in Demopolis. They retained their friends and the public schools thrived.

We did have a white flight school, Demopolis Academy, and I attended the first grade there because I just missed the cutoff date being old enough for public schools. I can remember going to the 12th grade classroom before classes and reading to them from their textbooks. Perhaps I was a precocious little thing, but I wasn't reading at a 12th grade level by any means! Second grade took me straight to Westside, though I'm surprised that my "credits" transferred!

My personal feeling on all things Confederate is that these people should be honored by those who wish to honor them. I don't feel that need myself - they fought for their homes and their way of life, but both were maintained on the backs of slavery. Even those who had no slaves and fought for the South were fighting for an agrarian, slave-based economy. Still, they are the ancestors of many people in the South, and they deserve some respect for that, at least. But the schools would be better named after people who represent progress for the community, and not stagnation in the past.

There are plenty of African American leaders whose names could grace these buildings. Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth are just three names that come to mind. How about Helen Keller? Albert Einstein and Galileo are just as appropriate. Heck, I'd prefer to see Ronald Reagan's name replace every Confederate leader on a Southern school - at least they'd be updated.

But how to do it? Well, start talking about how it ought to be done. That's what's going on here, and the process will take care of itself.

Bad News and Good News in Plamegate

Leaks Probe Is Gathering Momentum (

The bad news is I was way off in my predicative calendar. I thought Rove would have been gone by now. Nope!

However, progress is being made.

The Justice Department has added a fourth prosecutor to the team investigating the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity, while the FBI has said a grand jury may be called to take testimony from administration officials, sources close to the case said.

Administration and CIA officials said they have seen signs in the past few weeks that the investigation continues intensively behind closed doors, even though little about the investigation has been publicly said or seen for months.
The CIA thinks classified information is still being released on Wilson and Plame. There's a place for powerful people who are this cynical and unrepentant, and people get frogmarched there every day...

Rush Spins His Medical Records Hearing

Rush says that his privacy has been invaded because the DA's office didn't follow the appropriate procedure in obtaining his medical records - they used a search warrant instead of a subpeona. Rush confidently posts the transcript of the hearing on his website, but the transcript reveals a lot of things.

If the state had used the subpeona route, they first would have had to inform Rush of this, and give him the opportunity of a hearing on the matter. However, as the State's Attorney James Martz points out, Rush may not be the only one under investigation. The pattern of issued prescriptions indicates not only doctor shopping, but negligence on the part of each doctor. Each doctor was supplying a bit too much for legal purposes apparently, and so the state went with the harder route of proving probable cause (rather than mere relevance) to obtain a search warrant. This would protect the records should a subpeona hearing for Rush tip off the offending doctors, and the records be altered or destroyed before the subpeona could be issued.

The search warrant process would have preserved Rush's privacy in the investigation concerning the doctors. Rush has filed an appeal and the records have been resealed (although Rush is hopping mad because the State "rifled" through them when they had the legal right to do so).

Extra bonus - Rush's take on Wilma Cline:

MR. BLACK: The question is, is there a compelling State interest to this particular investigation? And I want to go back even further in time. Wilma Cline is a person who is one of the major witnesses in this case who was a housekeeper at one time for Mr. Limbaugh in his Palm Beach house. He did a background check of her and didn't find out that her husband was a convicted drug trafficker because he was living under an assumed name and was a fugitive from a federal conviction. While cleaning his house, she found out, which was easy to discover, that he had undergone a number of these medical procedures; that they had been unsuccessful; that he had received more and more pain medication. She and her husband decided to take advantage of this by blackmailing and extorting money from Rush Limbaugh.
Oh, the poor little Rushie. The mean old housekeeper found out he was addicted to the Oxy and blackmailed him over it.

If Rush had come clean immediately - shown right off the bat how many surgeries he'd had and how he'd gotten addicted, that most people on both sides of the aisle would have rushed to his defense, right wing demagogue or not. The case could have been made, and none of this would have happened. Instead, he told his blackmailer to go score him some more of the Oxy. Don't drop the soap, Rush...

On edit: World o' Crap does a much better blog on this than I did. Check it out...

"Is NO ONE Safe When Liberals Attack?"

Bernie got his shorts in a wad when Frank Rich used the term "homophobia"

Hehehehehe...Gotta love the Howler.

Check out the Democratic Ads

Clark's New Hampshire ad

It's a little bit Hollywood, but all the facts are true.

Dean's Iowa ad

Dean's use of the "I approve of this message" requirement is really good here. This ad could appear negative, but they do a good job of keeping the tone positive - always a plus in political advertising.

And did you notice that bat breaking? Dean asked for $360,000 in four days - he got it in two. Wow.

Choice Google Searches From Last Week

Still working on the AWOL Bush post. In the meantime, here are some of the Google searches that have led to this site in the last week.

Whose's running iraq

Who's teaching English out there?

Yes, I link to you - could that get me on the no-skipping-discs mailing list please?

frist poll "minority block"

Frist is my Senator. Good old Doctor Frist. Will he be the next silver-spooned chucklehead headlining the Republican ticket? You heard it here first.

take abb pledge chimp

If the Chimp would take the pledge, all our troubles would be over...

diebold voting machines snopes

The Snopes are running the Diebolds? No wonder this country is going to hell...

define forethought or malice

The Republicans in Florida, Election 2000.

dressing up games for christians

Hmmm. I don't recall Jesus advocating dressing up games. Sounds Pauline to me.

The Shorter Michael Jackson News Website

Michael Jackson (the Official Press Room)

I will win in court. Don't listen to what you're hearing in the press. That's all I'm allowed to say.

America Too Busy Watching Pop Crap to Mind the Government

Cat In The Hat Takes Top Box Office Spot

"We pitched it almost as a kid's version of Ferris Bueller's Day Off," Mandel said. "The book is a very perfect beginning, middle and end. We used it as a skeleton: Mom has to go out, kids are left home, cat comes to visit, house gets messed up, they kick out the cat, they clean it up, and get everything done before mom comes home."
For all you "Seuss purists" out there, the cat returns with his incredible cleaning machine and cleans everything in the house in the nick of time. The Cat in the Hat is an expression of the unleashed imagination, and there's no harm ever in unleashing your imagination. That's the point which Mandel has missed in this recap of the story.
"Kids are pretty much afraid of the Grinch, but you want them to like the Cat," he said. "Because, if you think about it, this is just a home-invasion story about a giant crazy cat who barges into the house and wrecks the place."

Grazer already has his writers working on a sequel.

"The sad thing is we took some things from The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, and now we have to write that," screenwriter Berg said. "There's not much left in that one other than the title now."
Boy, aren't you ready to line up for that one? Bleah.

Spend-and-Spend Republicans Mire Government in Deficit Spending

Washington Post

As Congress rushes to conclude its 2003 session, Republican leaders are trying to garner votes for controversial legislation by loading the bills with billions of dollars in added costs that analysts said would expand the budget deficit for years to come. The year-end binge has alarmed analysts in Washington and on Wall Street, coming as it does after three years of presidential and congressional initiatives that have both substantially boosted government spending and shrunk its tax base.

"The U.S. budget is out of control," the Wall Street investment firm Goldman Sachs & Co. warned Friday in its weekly newsletter to clients.
Financial responsibility means living within means. Out-of-control budgets need spending cuts and revenue increases. The GOP in power demonstrates neither of these traits.

The spending frenzy in the energy and Medicare bills is an egregious attempt to buy the Presidency for a second term on the backs of our children. Both bills are meant to be crowning jewels in Bush's campaign, and so his supporters have opened up an all-you-can-eat pork buffet to get the bills passed. Democrats who have picked up their gold-encrusted plate should understand that they are handing this country to the Republicans.

Sunset: An Interlude from Romans

I just saw the most magnificent sunset of my life.

I had been shopping for opening night gifts at Target. Somewhere close to the card section, I happened to spy a Thomas Kinkade painting. They're nothing but commericialized sentiment, as individual as a Big Mac. This particular print was of a snow-bound cottage in the forest (surprise, surprise), and was accompanied by a quote from the Master himself. It went something like this:

BEAUTY is found in the sheer EXPERIENCE of LIVING, and is cause for REJOICING.
That's right. His phraseology is as cloying as his artwork. Bleah.

So I headed home with my purchases, happily mocking the self-styled Painter Of Light. It must be silly to contemplate a dinner theater actor slamming Kinkade. But when I'm running around acting silly while people are digesting their lasanga, I don't pretend to be the Thespian of Light. So safe in my fortress of dryness, I traveled west through one of the more beautiful areas of Nashville, Belle Meade. As I turned onto Highway 70, my wry humor saw the real thing and hushed.

It had been raining all day, but the storm was now to the west of us. Behind me, the sky was clear and deepening into dark blue, but the wind-swept clouds were flinging a warm amber onto every surface. The wet road had melted into an avenue of gold. The mist droplets on my windshield had snatched sparkles from the sky, while a vista of bright blue was gleaming through the riot.

Only the fast-food signs and traffic lights of Bellevue could resist transcendence. This impious stand was futile, though; the vain enclaves of capital were passed in a moment. I drove to my apartment, scratched my cat's head while the computer started, and wrote this down.

During my drive, I contemplated the actual nature of beauty. It seems to me that the familiar viewed under a single unifying element is the true essence of beauty. By looking at the sides of the road, you could see each individual tree try to assert its own color against the dazzling sunset. But looking west, there was only dark yellow and shadow. There the immanent could give a shape to transcendence, but only on transcendence's terms. That interplay of familiar and glory is what arrests the soul in observation, and is the artist's laboratory. The focus-grouped fantasies of Kinkade don't have a fraction of the emotion of a Rembrandt. His works are shaped by the assembly line they spring from; that is the unifying principle of them all, and this is why Kinkade's paintings stink.

The second factor in beauty is rarity, you see. Never again will I see that sunset. And yet that very singularity was at one with a sense of free abundance. Tomorrow I may see another sunset, gorgeous in its own way as this one, and the next day, another. Who could have thought that ten minutes on Highway 70 could be so enchanting? This must be the second tension of beauty that art seeks to capture, the intersection of rarity and abundance, of precious and free. We have been given so much for such a little while. Art tries to remind us of this, to capture our thoughts and focus them on the reality of what we're experiencing.

But people don't usually pay to be challenged. They want the familiar and comfortable. A filling meal, a few laughs, and it's home to a wall full of sentimental goo. That's why we artists must be passionate about excelling in our art. Only the most ignorant or inured could glance stupidly at the Sistine ceiling. And can anyone resist a glorious sunset?

P.S. If you did go to the Kinkade site, I'm awfully sorry about that. Here's an antidote.

Blogging Light Until 24 Nov - Working on Major AWOL Bush Post

I'm also in the middle of opening a dinner theater farce, putting Bobbie's Dairy Dip to rest for the season, and gearing up to be Santa in a kid's Christmas show. I'm also making some chili (mm, mm, good).

I'm looking at the AWOL Bush evidence all over again. I'm willing to accept that Bush accumlated enough retirement points to be discharged honorably, but the available records show that he blew off his last two years in the Guard as much as possible. In fact, I think 1st Lt. Bush had a major fire lit under his pants in April 73. And the documents we have confirm that Bush was nowhere to be found around a Guard base for six unexcused months in 1972.

I'm hoping this will be the definitive word on Bush's Guard service, but to do it right will take some time. See you as I can until then...

More on Predicting the Election

Smirking Chimp Thread

talhazelden concludes that the Democratic candidate must be leading by at least 2.7% in the polls to clinch the election. I'd like to see that number a little bit higher, just so problems like Florida 2000 can't throw the election to the loser again.

Frist's Office Denies Tampering With Online Poll

Yahoo! News - Senate Leader Learns Lesson in Online Activism

The story says they denies "high-tech ballot rigging". What else can you call flipping questions back and forth to suit your desired answers? Senator Frist, we have screenshots! You lie and you lie!

Ding Dong, Roy Moore is Out

Court Orders Alabama's Chief Justice Removed from Bench

War Liberal's got full coverage, plus a couple of predictions: talk radio's the best bet for Moore, or maybe a Fox News post. My personal bet is the Trinity Broadcasting Network. He wouldn't stand out as such a looney there.

Bill Frist's Office Changes Poll Question on Site After Closing Poll!

Trouble in Texas

Sean says it all right here, with screenshots. It's despicable.

As Bill Frist's judicial slumber party took off in Washington, his official website sponsored a poll about the situation. But in a stunning display of pettiness, they solicited votes for one question, and then displayed the results under a different question.

The first question was this: Should the Senate minority block the body's Constitutional duty to provide the President's judicial nominees with an up or down vote?

Those in favor of the judicial nominees being blocked would have voted No, although they would have been wrong to do so. I would say that the minority has a Constitutional duty to take their "advice and consent" on such matters seriously. On several of Bush's deficient nominees, the minority has done so.

This is their Constitutional privilege, and denying them the power of filibuster strikes at the heart of the Constitution. Bill Frist's shameful power play should sober all Tennesseans as to the character of our representative.

When the poll closed after 106,285 votes, the Yes category led over the No category 54% to 46%. It's sad that around 50,000 people would deny a seminal Constitutional right to the minority party in the Senate, but there it was. But Frist's office had a plan.

They changed the question when reporting the poll numbers!

Now the question reads: Should the Senate perform its Constitutional duty to provide the President's judicial nominees with an up or down vote?

The question is clearly different, and now misleads about the real nature of the poll.

The poll, of course, was not scientific; it was done to promote the slumber party around the Internet. Liberal and conservative surfers alike will inform their friends about such polls and try to overwhelm the other side. It's a cybernetic tug-of-war.

But for Frist's office to play these kind of memory-hole games with the facts is beneath contempt. What ickle toady-toads they are...

Republicans Continue Obstinate Holdup of Senate Business

Yahoo! News - Senate Begins Around-The-Clock Debate on Judges

After this marathon fails to work, Bill Frist and other Republican congressional leaders will hold their breath until they turn blue.

Republicans also had cots placed in a room named for the legendary Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who in 1957 held the floor himself for a still-record nonstop 24 hours and 18 minutes in opposing a civil rights bill.
Honoring such an act should be a mark of shame for these people, but they just don't get it.

Still, I hope the Democrats are taking notes. If the Repubs can be this stick-in-the-mud about the Three Stooges, then they have no room to criticize anyone who won't get over the theft of Election 2000.

McDonald's McAngst over McJob in the Dictionary

BBC NEWS | Americas | McDonald's anger over McJob entry

McAngst: a misplaced and shallow focus of concern over a regretable situation.

McDonald's is upset that their "low prestige, low dignity, low-benefit, no future jobs" have inspired a neologism spoken enough to be printed in a collegiate dictionary, but they're not so upset that they're going to McDo anything about the actual jobs. That might affect the McBottom Line. No, they're just hoping to make the citation McAmScray.

Don't we deserve a McFreaking Break, already?

McPS: McDonald's letter deploring the dictionary citation cites some statistics that they believe to support their McCase.

Over a thousand people have moved up from the McJobs to management, which goes to show that the McJobs aren't dead-end. But then the letter states that the establishment has 12 million current employees, which when combined with past employees, must dwarf that "over a thousand" figure by five or six orders of magnitude.

Evidently, when looking at a empty glass with a water stain, McDonald's believes the glass to be McFull.

New Feature: Get Notified When I Actually Update the Site!

Yahoo! Group: boloboffingroup

By joining this group at Yahoo!Groups, you can receive an email whenever I update this site. I believe there's even an option to get a daily digest, so that if I update a lot in a day, you'd only get one email for the day.

Of course, it would be easier to xml me, but if you don't have a news aggregator, then the Yahoo! group is the best way to get me.

The Struggle to Expose Bush's Failures of Intelligence Continues: Memogate Be Damned

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) has been examining the use of intelligence by senior administration officials in the Bush White House. It was digging into the stovepiping of intelligence by "the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Secretary Bolton's office at the State Department". This was being pulled along by the Democratic members of the committee, but it had the cooperation of the majority chairman, Pat Roberts (R-KS).

No longer. Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader, has pulled the plug on the committee. The reason? A memo to the SSCI minority leader, John Rockefeller IV (D-WV) was stolen from his office. This memo outlined an plan for getting any evidence of "improper or questionable conduct by administration officials" into the public eye. It states its concern for operating within established guidelines for committee members, but the subject matter is clearly a weak spot for the Bush Administration. Since Frist knows just who to thank for his current leadership role in the Senate, the political battle lines have been drawn on the issue of Bolton's stovepipe.

The plan in the memo was to use Roberts' cooperation as far as it would go, then attach dissenting opinions that could be supported by the evidence to the final reports. This might have been enough to reopen the call for an independent investigation. Now Roberts will be completely uncooperative whenever the committee is allowed to reconvene.

It is therefore crucial that the Democratic members of the SSCI stick to their guns and work to dissent as strongly as possible from the final report. It appears that Rockefeller is doing just that:

After discussions with Roberts, the majority leader said that "the committee's review is nearly complete" and "we have jointly determined the committee can and will complete its review this year."

"They can't do that," Rockefeller said, noting that hundreds of pages of requested documents have recently been promised by the State Department and Pentagon and more interviews have been scheduled.

In addition, he noted that the final report from David Kay, who heads the CIA's search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has not been completed. "What can we say about prewar intelligence without Kay's report?" Rockefeller asked.
Clearly Frist has put the kibosh on any further examination of the White House's handling of intelligence, and Roberts has agreed to this. His previous cooperation must, therefore, be the first item of dissent for the minority members.

Before he was strongarmed by the administration and its allies, Roberts agreed that the stovepiping was a proper subject for the committee's inquiry, and signed off on further requests for documents from the State Department and the Pentagon. Here's Roberts' stated perception of his role from his own Congressional website:
"As Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, my job is to ensure that our Intelligence Community has the ability to protect the nation from threats at home and abroad. It is my goal to see that our intelligence agencies have cutting edge collection capabilities and perform accurate analysis of intelligence information so that we can win the war on terrorism."

Pat Roberts
Senator Roberts, this administration bypassed the efforts of the Intelligence Community to accurate analyze the intelligence information, interfering with their ability to protect the nation from threats at home and abroad. Their efforts to collect and accurately analyze intelligence information was tossed aside by an administration bent on war. Have you now joined them in this dereliction of duty?

What about the requested documents and interviews that will now not be considered or even reviewed or conducted by the SSCI? This should be the second item of dissent. There is more work to be done, and this committee is not being allowed to do it. When the stovepipe was put into place, the people behind it became a part of the Intelligence Community, and thus fell under the jurisdiction of the SSCI's inquiries:
Created pursuant to S.Res. 400, 94th Congress: to oversee and make continuing studies of the intelligence activities and programs of the United States Government, and to submit to the Senate appropriate proposals for legislation and report to the Senate concerning such intelligence activities and programs. In carrying out this purpose, the Select Committee on Intelligence shall make every effort to assure that the appropriate departments and agencies of the United States provide informed and timely intelligence necessary for the executive and legislative branches to make sound decisions affecting the security and vital interests of the Nation. It is further the purpose of this resolution to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Jurisdiction of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
When this administration bypassed the appropriate departments for analysis of intelligence, it fell into the jurisdiction of the SSCI.

Finally, the independent investigation must be called for immediately following the release of the report that Frist will manhandle out of the committee by year's end. It should be a bipartisan goal to see that our government doesn't act recklessly with biased and false information when the lives of our young men and women are on the line. Frist's stifling of appropriate inquiry by the SSCI shows just how political this fight for the truth has become, and the only recourse, barring the SCCI continuing its investigations unimpeded, is to have an independent investigation free from political influences.

As Mark 4:22 says: "Whatever is hidden away will be brought out into the open." Today, it's the stolen memo. Tomorrow, it will be the failings of the Bush administration. That is, if the nation's wounds ever stand a chance at being healed.

Smirking Chimp Regular: Prediction of Election Via Statistics

The Smirking Chimp

The poster's name is talhazelden, and there's some mighty impressive work at the thread. This is the chart that's stunning:

Electoral Votes Trending To Republicans

tal says that it's not all bad news, though. Many states are in play, and the real question for the Democratic party is this: what candidate can swing 41 electoral votes away from Bush? If we can keep the blue states and swing the weakest four red states away (Michigan, Arkansas, New Jersey, and Missouri), the election belongs to the Democratic Party.

It's also heartening to see Tennessee (the home state of your humble hobbit correspondant) is the sixth weakest red state. Can the trend be reversed? We'll see...

Pew Research Center: The 2004 Election Is Going To Be Ugly

Political Aims > Overview: The 2004 Political Landscape


Over the past four years, the American electorate has been dealt a series of body blows, each capable of altering the political landscape. The voting system broke down in a presidential election. A booming economy faltered, punctuated by revelations of one of the worst business scandals in U.S. history. And the country endured a devastating attack on its own soil, followed by two major wars.

National unity was the initial response to the calamitous events of Sept. 11, 2001, but that spirit has dissolved amid rising political polarization and anger. In fact, a year before the presidential election, American voters are once again seeing things largely through a partisan prism. The GOP has made significant gains in party affiliation over the past four years, but this remains a country that is almost evenly divided politically – yet further apart than ever in its political values.
I'm still looking at this report, but there's a heaping helping of good information in it. This information will make or break an election. You'd do well to download the PDF.

America's Deficits: Cleaning Up Bush's Mess

Bartcop >

No Public Funding for Dean

Well, that was a good idea while it lasted. If Dean can't see his way to fulfilling this pledge of his, it really means that campaign finance reform is dead in the water. Money makes the world go round...

Dr. Dean, who has raised $25 million to become the best-financed Democrat in the race, will rely on private contributors to fuel his campaign in the primaries, turning away almost $19 million in taxpayer financing and avoiding the spending limit of about $45 million that comes with it.

The move is an effort to outspend Democratic rivals and to compete next year with President Bush, who declined matching money and aims to raise at least $170 million despite facing no Republican challenger. It increases the likelihood that other Democrats now considering a departure from the system, such as Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and General Wesley K. Clark, may take the same approach.
The added emphasis is the heart of the matter. Bush will unleash his primary money on the Democratic candidate as soon as it's clear who it is, as soon as the rivals stop spending money to attack the Dem candidate. Bush will then pick up a cool 75 million from the taxpayers after the Republican convention to run in the "real" election.

That's the real reason the Republicans agreed to push their convention to the first week in September. That gives Bush 75 million to spend in two months. God, politics is crass...

Meme of the Week: Jessica Lynch

West Virginia soldier missing in Iraq

PALESTINE, West Virginia (AP) --A West Virginia woman who joined the Army because there were few jobs in her hometown is among a dozen soldiers reported missing after a supply convoy was ambushed in southern Iraq, her father said Monday.

Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, of Palestine, worked as a supply clerk with the Army's 507th Maintenance Co., said her father, Greg Lynch. "The only thing they can tell us is she's missing," Lynch said.

..."We have so many Jesses over there right now," [Jessica's cousin] said. "You turn on the TV and it just breaks your heart. There are a lot of families in West Virginia that have a Jesse, too, and they're going to be feeling for the Lynch family."
POW Jessica Lynch Rescued by U.S. Forces in Iraq
WASHINGTON --” American troops on Tuesday rescued Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who had been held as a prisoner of war in Iraq since she and other members of her unit were ambushed March 23, the Defense Department announced.
Rescued POW put up fierce fight (archived from MS-NBC)
Details emerge of W.Va. soldier's capture and rescue
By Susan Schmidt and Vernon Loeb for the Washington Post

Jessica Lynch, rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital, fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, U.S. officials said yesterday.

LYNCH, A 19-YEAR-OLD supply clerk, continued firing at the Iraqis even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds and watched several other soldiers in her unit die around her in fighting March 23, one official said.
Saving Private Jessica (TIME - must pay to see article)

The truth about Jessica
Jessica Lynch became an icon of the war. An all-American heroine, the story of her capture by the Iraqis and her rescue by US special forces became one of the great patriotic moments of the conflict. It couldn't have happened at a more crucial moment, when the talk was of coalition forces bogged down, of a victory too slow in coming.

Her rescue will go down as one of the most stunning pieces of news management yet conceived. It provides a remarkable insight into the real influence of Hollywood producers on the Pentagon's media managers, and has produced a template from which America hopes to present its future wars.

...Wren yesterday described the Lynch incident as "hugely overblown" and symptomatic of a bigger problem. "The Americans never got out there and explained what was going on in the war," he said. "All they needed to be was open and honest. They were too vague, too scared of engaging with the media." He said US journalists "did not put them under pressure".

Wren, who had been seconded to the Ministry of Defence, said he tried on several occasions to persuade Wilkinson and Brooks to change tack. In London, Campbell did the same with the White House, to no avail. "The American media didn't put them under pressure so they were allowed to get away with it," Wren said. "They didn't feel they needed to change."
Saving Private Lynch story flawed
The American strategy was to ensure the right television footage by using embedded reporters and images from their own cameras, editing the film themselves.

The Pentagon had been influenced by Hollywood producers of reality TV and action movies, notably the man behind Black Hawk Down, Jerry Bruckheimer.

Bruckheimer advised the Pentagon on the primetime television series "Profiles from the Front Line", that followed US forces in Afghanistan in 2001. That approached was taken on and developed on the field of battle in Iraq.

As for Private Lynch, her status as cult hero is stronger than ever. Internet auction sites list Jessica Lynch items, from an oil painting with an opening bid of $200 to a $5 "America Loves Jessica Lynch" fridge magnet.
Saving Private Jessica (Kristof, CNN, June 20, 2003)
The hospital staff also said that on the night of March 27, military officials prepared to kill Ms. Lynch by putting her in an ambulance and blowing it up with its occupants, blaming the atrocity on the Americans. The ambulance drivers balked at that idea. Eventually, the plan was changed so that a military officer would shoot Ms. Lynch and burn the ambulance. So Sabah Khazal, an ambulance driver, loaded her in the vehicle and drove off with a military officer assigned to execute her.

"I asked him not to shoot Jessica," Mr. Khazal said, "and he was afraid of God and didn't kill her." Instead, the executioner ran away and deserted the army, and Mr. Khazal said that he then thought about delivering Ms. Lynch to an American checkpoint. But there were firefights on the streets, so he returned to the hospital. (Ms. Lynch apparently never knew how close she had come to execution.)

By the morning of March 31, all of the Iraqi military at the hospital had fled. The hospital staff members said that they then told Ms. Lynch they would take her to the Americans the next day. That same night, the American special forces arrived.
MemeFirst: Saving Private Jessica
The tale of woe I read is not that the Pentagon tries to manipulate popular opinion through propaganda and selective truths. The problem is that American television media has lost the plot. Afraid of anything that costs ratings (and therefore advertising dollars) it no longer serves as an objective, skeptical source of information, but as infotainment. The impact this has on a democracy is increasingly obvious, as ignorance and my-country-right-or-wrong attitudes spread, allowing the Bush administration to tread without fearing a hard question or rebuke.
BBC correspondent defends Lynch documentary
HARRIS: What I'm very interested in is a couple of things that were in your report. You got a quote here from some of the doctors that were there at the hospital. I'm going to read the transcript of it. "It says like a film in Hollywood, they cried go, go, go. They shot with guns, and blanks with bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions, and break the door. We were very scared." Are you saying that you believe [the] Iraqi doctor's assessment that the U.S. troops there were using blanks?

KAMPFNER: Well, that is his contention. What we did, what I did when I went to the Pentagon and spoke to its No. 2 there, Brian Whitman, we said, OK, we have one story, two different versions. Let's cross-check the information that the Iraqi doctors have given against the official U.S. version.

For example, what kind of injuries did Lynch sustain in the hospital? Was it true that she received bullet and stab wounds as a result of the Iraqis? He said, well, the truth will come out at some point in the future. In other words, he didn't engage in that.

Second question was, did the Americans come under fire from the Iraqis during the rescue mission? Again, that's the kind of holding answer we got from him.

The main point we said to them was, OK, there are two versions. There are several different allegations, several different interpretations of this story.

Instead of all of us relying on your five-minute, very professional, very carefully edited film, which was immediately transmitted from Central Command to the world's broadcasters, why don't you give everybody what's known in the profession as "the rushes"? Give everybody all the unedited film, the real-time film, as shot by the U.S. military cameraman who was with the rescue mission, and that will put everybody out of all questions of doubt. They declined to do that.
A Broken Body, a Broken Story, Pieced Together
In the hours after the ambush, Arabic-speaking interpreters at the National Security Agency, reviewing intercepted Iraqi communications from either hand-held radios or cellular phones, heard references to "an American female soldier with blond hair who was very brave and fought against them," according to a senior military officer who read the top-secret intelligence report when it came in. An intelligence source cited reports from Iraqis at the scene, saying she had fired all her ammunition.

Over the next hours and days, commanders at Central Command, which was running the war from Doha, Qatar, and CIA officers with them at headquarters were bombarded with military "sit reps" and agency Field Information Reports about the ambush, according to intelligence and military sources. The Iraqi reports included information about a female soldier. One said she died in battle. Some said she was wounded by shrapnel. Some said she had been shot in the arm and leg, and stabbed.

These reports were distributed only to generals, intelligence officers and policymakers in Washington who are cleared to read the most sensitive information the U.S. government possesses.

These intelligence reports, and the one bit of eavesdropping, created the story of the war. - a web community of Jessica's wellwishers

Jessica Lynch Criticizes U.S. Accounts of Her Ordeal
In her first public statements since her rescue in Iraq, Jessica Lynch criticized the military for exaggerating accounts of her rescue and re-casting her ordeal as a patriotic fable.

Asked by the ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer if the military's portrayal of the rescue bothered her, Ms. Lynch said: "Yeah, it does. It does that they used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. Yeah, it's wrong," according to a partial transcript of the interview to be broadcast on Tuesday.

...Asked how she felt about the reports of her heroism, Ms. Lynch told Ms. Sawyer, "It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about. Only I would have been able to know that, because the other four people on my vehicle aren't here to tell the story. So I would have been the only one able to say, yeah, I went down shooting. But I didn't."

And asked about reports that the military exaggerated the danger of the rescue mission, Ms. Lynch said, "Yeah, I don't think it happened quite like that," although she added that in that context anybody would have approached the hospital well-armed. She continued: "I don't know why they filmed it, or why they say the things they, you know, all I know was that I was in that hospital hurting. I needed help."

New Website:

Very nice looking site, with the stated goal of registering a million new Democratic voters for the 2004 election. That's worth members get their own journal, and it looks like they can organize into groups.

Media Whores Online Gone Until 2004!

Out To Pasture

Ahem. This sucks. Yes, I know that 2004 is only two months away, but I doubt that we'll see a new post there January 2nd. All that whoring and no one focusing on it...

Congrats to Keith Knight for 10 Years of K Chronicles!

Keith Knight Rules!

Excellent Discussion on the Separation of Church and State

It's a Free Country, Not a Christian Nation

Romans 3:21-26

I've done a lot of blogging on what I see the text saying, and not a lot of reacting to the text. Here's the blog where that changes.

So far Paul has tapped into a phenomenon as common as death or taxes: the human confrontation with our own lousiness. We must all deal with the regrets and failures of the life we've led so far. And what are the big failures always about?

  • Our knowledge of condemning others for things we do ourselves.
  • Setting up a standard that we constantly fail to achieve.
  • Continuing to do things that we recognize as harmful to ourselves and others.
All of these are the essence of the sinful state of being. It doesn't matter what your background is - we've all fallen short of the glory of the Creator God.

And the knowledge of our impending deaths is the inertia that keeps us bound into this harmful pattern. We lash out at times in judgment of others, we punish ourselves by trying for an impossible goal, or we lapse into indifference because there is no escape from death. Innocence is no shelter, and neither is experience. The knowledge of death disables us in the struggle against our weaknesses.

However, the sinful life doesn't lead any more inexorably to death than the righteous one. There is no causal link between sin and death. Mentally we may see one, and in times of extreme pain caused by another, we may demand one - we may even wish death on ourselves to end the pain of our percieved sinfulness. But the sinners die and live just as the saints do: time and chance holds sway over us all.

Shall we continue in our lousiness because it doesn't really matter in the end? Well, suit yourself. If being in the grip of lousiness is what makes you happy, how can we argue against it? But there's got to be a better way to face up to death. What good is beating up yourself and others all your short life? Wouldn't it be better to be free of that constant voice of criticism and judgment?

Paul gives us his solution: the faithfulness of Jesus provides a path for freedom from the debased mind. Now you can see what 1:16's through faith for faith means: God's revealed righteousness is provided through Jesus' faithfulness and is for those who are faithful (3:22). This is the engine of Paul's gospel: Jesus was faithful unto death for us, providing a place of safety marked by the blood of his sacrificed life. By taking up that faithfulness, we enter that place of safety from God's wrath. Trusting in this safety, death's inertial power is lifted and the Christian uses that burst of energy to transform this life into a life of peace and righteousness and joy.

Well, that's the idea, anyway. It's imperfectly applied at times. You could lighten up on yourself and make realistic goals while letting people be who they are. But that doesn't get Paul to Spain, does it?

We Have To Stay In Iraq

Washington Post: Staying the Course, Without Choice

I supported the war against Iraq, reluctantly. I considered Saddam Hussein a clear and future danger to American interests, based on books like Pollack's The Threatening Storm. Hussein was a dictator midwifed by abhorrent American foreign policy, but that didn't set aside the need to deal with him decisively. I had wished that an international, peaceful solution could have been found, but Bush was set on war and he followed that path doggedly.

Of course he was lying to us about the reasons - to not even acknowledge the American interests in the continuing flow of oil, the current lifeblood of the global economy, was the height of sophistry. We've now seen the full extent of the false information flowing out of Bush's White House, and it's shocking, and it damns them in history forever.

But the anarchy and destruction we would unleash on the world if we pull out of Iraq now will eclipse that judgment. Hussein could still be alive, and would certainly be a player in Iraqi politics if we left. There's already a rival Shi'ite government forming in Iraq that would ally itself instantly with Iran should we leave. We would deserve the bleak future that is ours if we desert Iraq now.

I don't agree with the assessment of this article, though. It presents these options: stay the course, more American troops, more international support, cut and run. The last is not an option for rational people. Staying the course, the current favorite of the Bush administration, is clearly not working. The military and Americans rightly oppose more American troops, and the international community has spoken clearly on the third and best option.

But have they said no to us, or to Bush and Co.? Is it the action America has taken, or the accompanying actions of the Bush business partners and former employers that stick in the global craw? I firmly believe the international community has rejected the Bush Administration and friends, and not America itself. We should find a way to convince the international community that we are serious about doing the right thing in Iraq. The best thing we could do is elect a compentent leader who wants an international solution that benefits the free world equally. Somebody besides George Bush.

PS: There is a true solution to the problem with Iraq. If we found an alternate source of energy that provides the same flexibility and benefits as oil (cleaner and easily renewable should also be benchmarks), the growing problem of oil supply would disappear. Until then, we must keep the remaining flow of accessible oil open for the free world (assuming there is such a thing), until this energy source can be developed. This is the Eisenhower project of the 21st century for America, and it's the only human solution available. In a perfect world, the new technology would be owned by the American government and shared freely with the nation's governments - an open source energy resource.

It would be the Christian thing to do.

Blogging Romans: 2:17 - 3:20

I apologize for the delay in continuing this blog. Life can be wild.

Okay, so last time Paul took a cheap shot at homosexuals and argued with Jews inappropriately. He wouldn't be Paul if he hadn't. The cheap shot is the twisted midrash on a particular sex act - who wouldn't feel that twinge of regret at having their sexual acts revealed? Paul continues to take the Jews down a notch in this next section of Romans, but his only redemption here is that he's placing all humanity on the same level - all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Paul's diatribe on Jewish hypocrisy in judgment could easily be applied to the second audience I mentioned at the beginning of this blogging: the Gentile judges who would try Paul, or expel Jews themselves. The names of the divinities must have been cursed by Gentiles a few times because of their actions.

But Paul quickly moves on to clearly Jewish matters: the value of circumcision. The Jew is the favored one of God, and Paul never abandons this notion. But playing off Deutronomy 10:16, he transfers the notion of God's favor to an internal state - setting up the role of faith in salvation.

Coming from the Churches of Christ as I do, I find it very instructive to insert the word "baptism" in place of "circumcision". Both are physical acts, both are seen as the moment when God's favor is bestowed. But Paul will soon be pointing out that Abraham received praise from God before his circumcision. Indeed, there's a definite theme of God weaning his people away from the idea of a holy place - such sacralization comes from the idolatrous impulse, the original confusion. God gave the Israelites plans for a tabernacle, a tent that travelled with them, shattering the concept of a holy place and instilling the idea of the holy heart, the sacredness of a community wherever they may travel.

Yet people must have their mysteries. The Catholics transform the bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ, scholars ponder the conundrum of the Trinity, and the church of Christ sees the forgiveness of sins bound irretrivably in the waters of baptism. The Red Queen could believe six impossible things before breakfast, so devout was her faith. To be sure, I always understood that baptism saved because "God said it did." There's nothing present in the water or the baptizer that had anything to do with it. It was a faithful heart responding to how it perceived the commandments of God.

So much for the tangent. At the beginning of Chapter 3, Paul claims that there are some advantages to being a Jew, but in the matter of justification, no human being has an advantage. Both Jew and Greeks are under the power of sin. God gave them up to the power of sin - the debased mind, the confused thoughts. This is the mind of the flesh, the worship of the created, not the Creator.

Some look to their special relationship with God, thinking it gives them an advantage with God's wrath. It does not. Some think that they might as well do evil so that good can come to God's glory, and this also is no advantage. Neither path is better off - all are condemned. "Let us do evil so that good may come!" That's a terrible doctrine and a terrible lifestyle. Good isn't at the mercy of evil for its existance. "If we weren't sinning, you couldn't come down here and show us how good you are!" That's nonsense. Good can demonstrate itself in far more ways than in wrath over evil acts. (The translation Are we any better off? is the preferred one: it refers to the we that is saying, Let us do evil so good may come. Paul inserts another parenthetical Their condemnation is deserved! before getting back on track with What then? It's a confusing little passage, but it's being dictated, so we should expect some rough segueways).

Paul finally gets to his laundry list of Old Testament passages: Humans hold no advantage over each other when they stand before the wrath of God. The whole world may be held accountable to God. All of us participate in the entropy of the world - we have all acted badly. Paul's statement of a universal felt need is quite adroit, if culturally bound. What shall be his solution?

The Miserable Failure Project

MWO > Old Fashion Patriot

George W. Bush is a miserable failure.

Resistance Attacks Red Cross - Bush Idiocy and Staying the Course

NY Times

On the one hand, something had to be done about Hussein. On the other hand, it could have been done differently.

This latest series of attacks makes it clear the kind of people who were supporting him. I don't think Al Qaeda would attack the Red Cross - there's nothing in it for them. This is the work of people trying to drive the international community out of Iraq, so that they can regain power. It's imperative to remain in Iraq, if only to keep the monster we created there at bay.

On the one hand, being in Iraq sucks. On the other, there's not much else we can do at this point. God, Bush is an idiot.

Grover Norquist's Ties to Islamic Fundamentalists

Eschaton > Olbermann on MS-NBC

Now, Alamoudi’s headquarters were in the same place, he was raided the same day, on March 20. An hour after I filed my lawsuit, the U.S. government finally got off its butt and they raided these offices. And, the stuff that they’re taking out of there now is absolutely horrendous. Al-Arian has now, finally been indicted, an along with Alamoudi, today.
But, who was it that fixed the cases? How could these guys operate for more than a decade immune from prosecution? And, the answer is coming out in a very strange place. What Alamoudi and al-Arian have in common is a guy named Grover Norquist. He’s the super lobbyist. Newt Gingrich’s guy, the one the NRA calls on, head of American taxpayers. He is the guy that was hired by Alamoudi to head up the Islamic institute and he’s the registered agent for Alamoudi, personally, and for the Islamic Institute.
Grover Norquist’s best friend is Karl Rove, the White House chief of staff, and apparently Norquist was able to fix things. He got extreme right wing Muslim people to be the gatekeepers in the White House. That’s why moderate Americans couldn’t speak out after 9/11. Moderate Muslims couldn’t get into the White House because Norquist’s friends were blocking their access.
Let's see. Grover wants to get the American government down to the size where he can get it into the bathtub and strangle it. Now he has ties to Islamic extremists that are funneling information to Al Qaeda - he's actually been protecting and lobbying for them. The 9/11 attacks have certainly brought his policy initiatives to the crisis level he's been wanting, years ahead of schedule. Hmmmmm....

What does Grover Norquist have against America? If he doesn't like this country, why doesn't he just leave?

Faulty WMD Report the Fault of the Democrats?

I just got my Washington Post email with headlines of the day. Here's the top story:

Intelligence Report for Iraq War 'Hastily Done'

Democratic senators who were being asked to give President Bush authorization to go to war last October pressed for report that hurriedly pulled together judgments from across the U.S. intelligence community about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
So it's all the Democrats' fault? If they hadn't wanted reasons why we had to invade Iraq that minute, President Bush wouldn't have had to lie?

Are there any adults running this country?

Clark's Economic Plan Released

Clark 04

Now the General has a plan for creating jobs, a statement on economic policies, and the service plan for civilians. Things are rolling over at the campaign headquarters.

Okay, One Clark Blog: General Releases His Service Records

Clark '04

Will Bush do the same? hehehehe

I've Been a Bad Boy

No blogging since Monday. Won't be able to again until next Monday. That's what happens when your head cook quits. Don't let this happen to you.

See ya Monday.

If Bill Clinton Had Been Busted For Abusing Pain Pills...


It's interesting to see the way the liberal media are playing this. I'm looking at a copy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Saturday, October 11th, edition - the day after the big announcement. Well, the story is on Page 2, and right next to his photograph, in large boldface print, is the following quote: 'I take full responsibility for this problem.'

That's interesting, folks, because if you look at his actual statement - not what the liberal media say he said, but what he really said - you get a different take on it. First, he says he's got back problems. So he's blaming it on that. Then he says he had surgery, but the surgery wasn't successful. So he's blaming it on the doctors. Then he says the pain medication was addictive. So he's blaming it on the pharmaceutical companies. Folks, he blames it on everybody but himself! But as long as he puts in that obligatory line about taking responsibility, that's what the liberal media are going to grab: Clinton takes full responsibility!
"Rush" keeps going and going in this article...

Army probes soldier suicides

Most of the suicides have occurred since May 1, after major combat operations were declared ended. Experts say harsh and dangerous living conditions combined with a long deployment can worsen existing depression. And the accessibility of weapons in a war zone can quickly turn a passing thought into action. "It just takes a second to pull it out and put it to your head and pull the trigger," Ritchie said.
The last episode of Band of Brothers deals with this phenomenon. Easy Company, along with other soldiers, was stuck in Austria after V-E Day with no chance of going home. The demoralization was palpable. And then there's the Astroturf letters...

Are the deaths of cooperating Iraqis being targeted by the resistance being calculated by anyone?
To those fighting the U.S. presence in Iraq -- loyalists of former president Saddam Hussein, religious extremists, foreign terrorists -- Iraqis cooperating with the U.S.-led occupation have become the new target of choice. From police officers to Governing Council members, they are regarded by opponents of the occupation as collaborators -- and as much easier prey than U.S. soldiers and civilian reconstruction workers, whose compounds are now encircled with tall concrete barricades, dirt-filled barriers and miles of razor wire.

"They are targeting the new leadership of Iraq because they can't get to the Americans, because the Americans are very well protected," Rubaie said an hour after the explosion, as he sat in a windowless room, his arm in a sling.
They're the latest victims in Bush's "Bring it on" bravado. But then who cares about a few dead Iraqis? Right? Yeesh.

By the way...'s my birthday. Been out of my tweens now for three years or so.

And now I'm off to work.

New Front in Iraqi War: Rival Shiite Government Forming

Washington Post

Sadr is the son of a highly respected Shiite cleric who was assassinated in Najaf in 1999. The extent of his own following, however, is not clear. Unlike several more senior clerics, he favors establishing a theocracy similar to that of Iran, a government fashioned by and answerable to unelected religious figures.

In addition to ministries of Interior, Justice and Foreign Affairs, for example, Sadr's cabinet will include a ministry for the "prevention of vice and promotion of virtue," Abdel Hadi Daraji, a Sadr aide, said in an interview Saturday.

Daraji said rules on vice and virtue, as interpreted from the Koran, would be enforced by the militia that Sadr organized in the weeks after Baghdad fell to coalition forces. Its members still patrol sections of Sadr City, home to 3 million mostly poor Shiites.

"You know very well that there is a connection between the military and the political," said Daraji, who called the United States "a terrorist organization" during Friday prayers outside Sadr's headquarters in Baghdad.

"The imam's army is the military side," Daraji said, "and the cabinet is the political side."
The Governing Counsel still holds some ground in Iraq, but this guy might undercut the whole process. This is what happens when you don't do post-war planning, or worse, when you do post-war planning and then shelf the plan.

Only Senior Administration Officials Can Prevent Political Wildfires

Probe Focuses on Month Before Leak to Reporters (

The FBI isn't just looking for the leakers - it's doing a case analysis of how this adminstration handles classified information. The Bush Administration should take a page from fighting forest fires and burn the leakers now, before the conflagration consumes them all.

Political Aims Debunks Some Clark Myths

Political Aims

Very nice blog, and I just added it to the roll. I really like what this lady has to say!

Cheney Blasts Critics, Continues To Overstate Iraq War Case

Washington Post

Yes, Mr. Cheney, Saddam was a terrible man. Why did you support his reign over Iraq for years before the Gulf War? Why did you help supply him with chemical weapons when you knew he was using them on his own people?

Why do you continue to overstate the evidence of Saddam's programs to acquire WMDs? You quote possibles and maybes, and then call them all "material breaches," when they are only "possible" material breaches. You whip a fine froth of indignent rhetoric, but it's clear that this Administration's problems of lying and aggressiveness stem from your office.

John Dean Examines a Few More Laws that Plamegate Shattered

Why the Federal Conspiracy and Fraud Statutes May Apply Here

This elegantly simple law has snared countless people working for, or with, the federal government. Suppose a conspiracy is in progress. Even those who come in later, and who share in the purpose of the conspiracy, can become responsible for all that has gone on before they joined. They need not realize they are breaking the law; they need only have joined the conspiracy.

Most likely, in this instance the conspiracy would be a conspiracy to defraud - for the broad federal fraud statute, too, may apply here. If two federal government employees agree to undertake actions that are not within the scope of their employment, they can be found guilty of defrauding the U.S. by depriving it of the "faithful and honest services of its employee." It is difficult to imagine that President Bush is going to say he hired anyone to call reporters to wreak more havoc on Valerie Plame. Thus, anyone who did so - or helped another to do so - was acting outside the scope of his or her employment, and may be open to a fraud prosecution.

What counts as "fraud" under the statute? Simply put, "any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing, or defeating the lawful function of any department of government." (Emphasis added.) If telephoning reporters to further destroy a CIA asset whose identity has been revealed, and whose safety is now in jeopardy, does not fit this description, I would be quite surprised.

If Newsweek is correct that Karl Rove declared Valerie Plame Wilson "fair game," then he should make sure he's got a good criminal lawyer, for he made need one. I've only suggested the most obvious criminal statute that might come into play for those who exploit the leak of a CIA asset's identity. There are others.

Transcript of Democrat Debate Posted


I feel really good about the debate. I'm even happy with Lieberman right now. It's very clear that Woodruff wanted them to rag on each other, but by and large they resisted the urge. There were some knocks handed out, but candidates were always able to respond, and the voters will decide whether to trust the answers or not.

From simply reading the transcript (my limited basic cable doesn't include luxuries like CNN), I'd say the candidates who came off the strongest were Gephardt, Kerry, and Dean. Clark was mostly involved in defense issues, both personal and national. He held his ground, I feel, and look forward to the next debate.

Clark Flanking Iowa, New Hampshire

Washington Post

Clark, the newest presidential candidate, is calculating that it is too late to focus the bulk of his resources in Iowa and in New Hampshire, the two key early testing grounds where his rivals have been camped out for nearly a year, according to a top strategist. Historically, the Democratic nominee usually wins by chalking up a big victory or strong showings in one or both of those states, feeding off the momentum and rolling through the stack of primaries from there.

Instead, Clark has adopted a more national campaign for the nomination, focusing on other states, including Oklahoma and New Mexico, that will vote in February. Clark's advisers think it would be hard, if not impossible, to win in Iowa or New Hampshire, but they predict he will fare better in the South and other states, such as Florida, that remain wide open.
I'm torn about this. On the one hand, Clark can expect some immediate backlash in Iowa and New Hampshire by salting the well this way. On the other hand, it just might work.

But on the subject of his recent paid speeches, Clark should give the money back. That's a no-brainer and an easy fix.

God Bless and Keep Herr Schwartzenegger...Far Away From Us

NY Times

Paging Thomas Wolfe...

FBI Bugs Philadelphia Mayor's Office

NY Times

I recall Mayor Street telling Bush that all of Philadelphia was a First Amendment zone, but I can't find a reference to it now. That wouldn't have anything to do with this, would it?

Also, Street is suspected of handing out no-bid contracts while a Democrat.

Romans 1:18 - 2:16 Commentary

Those who suppress the truth: I've come to two major disagreements I have with Paul in this passage. Neither of them blunt the thrust of Paul's message, which is that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Yet still he makes a couple of mistakes, which as an agnostic, I'm willing to see as mistakes, made by someone bound to his culture.

The first is that God's eternal power and divine nature is understood through the things He has made. The scientific process has not ruled the first out completely, but the second is untenable. God's nature is a wildly confusing thing if we are to see it from the universe. The place of chance in the development of life, the varying social and sexual behaviors of animals, even the wars of the plants - all of these do not speak of the God Paul preaches. We are children of order and of disorder - both are necessary for the universe we see before our eyes. A powerful creator cannot be ruled out, but we dare not posit the nature of this creator or just what this creator might desire from looking at the panoply of the creation. Did He who made the Lamb make Thee?

However, let us grant Paul the premise of a powerful creator. The first thing Paul condemns, idolatry, stands as well condemned, then. Looking at the world and seeing the creator reflected fully in a created thing is a conclusion worth rejecting. Paul see this as the primal confusion - exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images of created things. The rise of false religions based on this hopelessly indefensible position remains the chief cause of strife and contention in the world today. Idolators remains today, and many idols exist which are not recognized as such by their worshippers. The veneration of an icon, the pilgrimage to a holy site, even the devotion to a particular dogma above all others, all are created things that attract the human mind. If a true religion exists, it would not squabble over a plot of land, a monument to his words, or a doctrine conceived and built by humans. God is not the property of anyone, and idolatry puts God within our grasp.

Thus offended, the creator draws back from humanity and allows them free reign with their confusion, giving them up in the lust of their hearts to impurity. Paul's first illustration of this impurity marks my second disagreement with him. This is a mere illustration of his point, though, and the general point remains, which Paul catalogs in 1:28-32.

There's been a lot of ink spilled on what 1:26-27 is referring to, but after thinking through many of the options (homosexuality in general, pederasty, sex contrary to your nature (whether gay or straight)), but his circumspect language can be understood in a simple way. Paul views women exchanging a natural act for an unnatural one, while men are exchanging natural intercourse with women for unnatural intercourse with each other. The women, then, are not lesbians, but are allowing men to have anal intercourse, offering them the forbidden fruit which turns them into homosexuals. The parallels between the story of humanity's fall in Eden and this passage are too close to be ignored - especially since we are dealing with the same subject matter, the introduction of sin into the world.

Yes, Paul clearly condemns a homosexual act (letting lesbians fully and completely off the hook in the Bible), but his condemnation is based in an ignorant belief informed by culture. It's so easy to see God's divine nature in creation when your culture is pointing out the way. I'll even admit that Paul's revulsion here may be fed by a latent or closeted homosexuality, complete with a misogynistic flair. But the same Paul that prudely rejects any sexual act also wrote neither male or female. And rejection of this single part of his catalog doesn't undermine the main point to which he's driving: the greatest condemnation is for those who judge others for what they themselves are doing.

Paul wisely swings his net to include any such busybody, but he quickly moves to focus on those who might have felt some smug satisfaction at being cultural members of a group that rejected idolatry. The fruits of the primal confusion bloom within all our lives. The giving of the law (rooted so deeply on a single all-powerful God) doesn't excuse anyone. Hearing cannot save, but the doing of the law is all. Paul works out an eschatology of judgment to humble anyone before the Creator God. He even shows a way that righteous Gentiles might stand before God justified in the place of Jews who were given the law and stand condemned by it. This is not the lawkeeping Gentiles who adhered to the Jewish community, though - these Gentiles do instinctively what the law requires.

Paul's referring to people whom the Catholic Church envisions in Limbo, people like Virgil and Socrates. Paul's own background introduced him to these thinkers simultaneously with Moses and Isaiah. This philosophers, doing what the Law requires instinctively, could be excused on this day of judgment. This comeuppance of the Jewish nation would certainly have played well with government officials who could remember expelling contentious Jews over the subject of Christ in the past few years. Paul's admission of the great thinkers of the Roman culture to heaven could only have helped his cause. He trips his Jewish detractors up so neatly that the observers naturally turn a friendlier eye on him. It seems rather unfair of Paul to play on the anti-Semitism of his possible captors, but there it is. And the rest of the letter establishes the primacy of the Jewish revelation - Paul's careful never to malign the source or character of that. But it's murky ground that Paul enters here.

None of which will destroy the basic argument Paul is making - it's his cultural assumptions and legal necessities which are misusing the argument so well. But a clear understanding of the argument, I believe, exposes the misuse of it. Paul's happy to be caught in his own net, because his vindication isn't based on his own power but the power of God. When the created worships the created, the creator will judge them, and no other should presume to speak for the creator while enjoying the fruit of conflicting thought. This sin is a meta-sin - it doesn't just worship a created object as God, it sets up the judge's own self as God. This suppression of truth is a magnitude greater than those the judge judges. What hope can any person have then?

Davis Out, Arnold In

I had best never hear a Republican speak about Bill Clinton's affairs again. The word "consentual" can be applied to every mistake Clinton made with other women, whereas Schwartzenegger's actions can only be regarded as assault. Who's going to be the next high-profile Republican candidate? R. Kelly?

New Look for the Blog

Felt like a little swap up, and if you have the Gill Sans font, then you really see a difference. Still not happy with the header though. What do you think?

One quick note: I've been hemming and hawing over this next Romans blog, so I'll finish it up and post it tomorrow. Sorry for the delay.

Clark's Campaign Manager Quits


From the start, there has been tension between the campaign's political professionals and the draft-Clark supporters, many of whom consider Fowler their ally.

Fowler has complained that while the Internet-based draft-Clark supporters have been integrated into the campaign, their views are not taken seriously by senior advisers, many of them with deep Washington ties. He has warned Clark's team that the campaign is being driven from Washington, a charge leveled against Gore's campaign in 2000 even though it was headquartered in Tennessee.

The campaign is planning to open a Washington office to develop policy and oversee relations with Congress, a move that raised concerns among some draft-Clark backers who want the campaign based in Arkansas.

Fowler, involved in his fifth presidential campaign, is one of several veterans of the Clinton-Gore political campaigns involved in Clark's bid. They include communications adviser Mark Fabiani, policy adviser Ron Klain, campaign chairman Eli Segal and adviser Mickey Kantor.
This is unsettling news. You have to dance with them what brung ya, General.

PART TWO: Via Smirking Chimp, a Reuters article gives a bit more information. Apparently, Fowler was asked to assume a less responsible role, and he left. The clashes over Internet participation did happen, though, and if that's what led to Fowler's demotion, then the campaign should brace for another storm.

You wouldn't catch Dean's campaign doing this...

Cheney "The Man Behind The Curtain"

US News and World Report

On July 25, 2000, George W. Bush sat in an upstairs room of the governor's mansion in Austin watching Dick Cheney navigate his first television interview as the Republican vice presidential nominee. "Just mark my words," an admiring Bush gushed to an aide. "There will be a crisis in my administration, and Dick Cheney is exactly the man you want at your side in a crisis."

...The problem, according to some Republican insiders, is that Cheney reinforces the president's conservative instincts, pulling him to the right at a time when voters seem more interested in a centrist approach. A senior adviser to a former Republican president adds: "Cheney is not always right, but he's always certain. He and his allies thought they were invincible, that this would be the American century, that we could reshape the world any way we wanted to. Welcome to the real world."

Former Vice President Walter Mondale, who helped strengthen the modern vice presidency under Jimmy Carter, told U.S. News: "Cheney is very able, and he's spent a lot of years in government. . . . Bush has had none of that, and he doesn't seem to be energetically serious about mastering the central subjects. . . . If Bush is not filling those knowledge voids, somebody has to fill the vacuum"--and that appears to be Cheney.
Loads more at the link.

Graham's Out

Kos > CNN

And then there were nine...

Pat Robertson's Got Rush's Back

Eschaton > Washington Post

"He started off playing a chauffeur in 'Driving Miss Daisy,' and then they elevated him to head of the CIA, and then they elevated him to president and in his last role they made him God. I just wonder, isn't Rush Limbaugh right to question the fact, is he that good an actor or not?"

-- Pat Robertson on his "700 Club" television show, using the example of black actor Morgan Freeman to defend Limbaugh's jab at Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
File this under "Proof Above and Beyond the Call of Duty that Robertson's Asinine".

Morgan Freeman's IDMB Page, as if you needed it

Many Thanks to fantasic planet!

Recips are so very kind...

As fp said, I'm happy to link to you too - just send a note to the cleverly hidden email address in the sidebar.

Hello, Skippy Readers!

The Bush Kangaroo honors me with a second introduction. Welcome to you all - I'll set the kettle on...

Ashcroft Investigating CIA Confirmer, Not Administration Leaker!


The investigators want information about any contacts between administration officials and Novak, and also with two other reporters: Timothy M. Phelps and Knut Royce of Newsday. Hmm ... Neither has been named as someone who received the original leak about Plame. Instead, Phelps and Royce had simply called around after Novak exposed Plame on July 14. They learned that she was, in fact, working undercover. By probing for contacts with Phelps and Royce, the Justice Department wants to find out who in the CIA confirmed this inconvenient fact that is causing the White House so much trouble. The real bad guy - 'the one who blew Plame's cover' - is apparently of less interest. Otherwise, Justice wouldn't have waited months to investigate.
These bums must go!

Time Travel, FLT Research, and Wesley Clark

Chronicles of an Anti-Apathetic

So many scientific advances have been made in the face of previous scientific conclusions. Clark has that informed optimism that motivates these kinds of advances, and that's all his comment is meant to convey. Reaching for an unattainable goal has always put humanity a lot further down the road than it would have been.

I need to do a meme chart comparing the Gore attacks to the current ones circulating about Clark. It seems to me that if an attack resembles one of the successful lies about Gore, it gets some kind of play in the national media - and this "time travel" meme is travelling down the "invented the Internet" path.

NPR-PBS Is The Best American New Source, Fox Worst

Busy Busy Busy > Misperceptions, the Media, and the Iraqi War (PDP)

But you already knew that...

Fool on Parade: Grover Norquist's Fresh Air Interview

Fresh Air, Thursday, October 2

I just finished listening to Grover Norquist's recent interview on NPR's Fresh Air, conducted by Terry Gross.

Norquist's frequent MO is to take certain aspects of a situation and blow them out of proportion. This isn't an example of shoddy thinking, however. It's evidence for his genius at constructing memes. By accepting his definitions and dealing only with his brilliantly conceived takes on the subjects at hand, his opponents can soon find themselves overwhelmed.

The first battleground of the interview was over the definition of We. He will not allow anyone to identify the people of the United States with the government of the United States. For Norquist, anyone who says that cutting taxes costs "us" is standing in the shoes of the state, and not of the citizenry. Tax cuts will always benefit us the citizens, but it may result in the government having few resources. The government must always be They in Norquist's world.

But it is our government. The American government is our property. We the people ordained it and established it to bring us certain benefits. Cutting taxes strikes at the ability of government to provide those benefits. If we cut off too many resources to our government, we as a people endanger the derived benefits. So it can be reasonably said that cutting taxes costs us as a people.

But Mr. Norquist's antipathy to government is rooted in this proposition: many government services can and should be provided to the people by private organizations who competively bid for contracts. This would provide the same or better services at lower rates, which would enhance the quality of life for the people, reduce government spending and taxation, and invigorate the economy. Some governmental functions should be left to the government alone, like national defense, prosecution of criminals, some police powers like arresting, and a court system that protects property rights (if courts only protect property rights, only those with property will have rights). But everything else is up for grabs - the government monopolies, like all monopolies, do a poor job in providing services at a reasonable cost.

Public education money should flow with the child (vouchers) because on average, private education provides a better education for less money spent per child. Social Security and Medicare money should be fragmented into personal retirement and medical accounts that can be invested in a risk-manageable way. Prisons can be and are being run by competent private organizations. Roads projects shouldn't be bound by the "racist" Davis-Bacon act so as to open up bids to smaller companies.

This all sounds pretty good until you see the common thread in all these programs: a union pay scale. For Mr. Norquist and his followers, the adversaries are governmental unions that drive up the price of services. Vouchers attack the teacher's union and public school bureaucracy. Unionized workers staff the offices of Social Security and Medicare. The Davis-Bacon act mandates "prevailing wages" as a factor in bidding for road construction, protecting union wages and cutting any subcontractor that doesn't pay union scale from ability to bid, regardless of race.

Increase privatization and eliminate the ability of workers to unionize - this is the America Norquist is working to bring about. When Gross forced him to acknowledge that his tax cuts will necessitate lower wages, he tied this to longer work periods - you can make the same amount of money if you're willing to work longer for it. He painted a brief picture of wealthier and more successful non-union employees before moving on to education. He neglected to mention that the rise of unionized labor is what made working conditions for all workers improve in America. But then again, he would.

Gross and Norquist exchanged a few shots when Norquist called Social Security a Ponzi scheme - a "pay as you go" scheme with no saving for you. Gross rejected that, because in Ponzi schemes, the bottom tier never sees a return, which is not the case in Social Security. She then pointed out that the personal retirement accounts Norquist advocates holds much more potential for loss of investment than the system it would replace. Norquist would have none of it - risk can be managed in his plan, and Social Security takes from current investors and pays the former investors, and so is a Ponzi scheme.

By Norquist's strict logic, a bank teller who uses the cash I just deposited in my account to pay the person behind me in line a withdrawal from theirs is involving the bank in a Ponzi scheme. What investment in existence could survivefulfill the request of its investors to withdraw their funds simultaneously? Is it all a Ponzi scheme? No.

The Social Security program, like any arrangement involving money, is in danger of Ponzification, but it can be managed effectively, and should continue to be. It was built on a principle: we the working Americans support our own. The solvency of Social Security is not based on the empty promises of a 'get rich quick' quack, it's based on the surer guarantees of the American worker's power to create wealth. It's meant to provide a basic level of protection against the chances of life, not a ticket to Easy Street. No one was ever intended to get wealthy from Social Security funds, and no one ever should. This especially applies to those investment firms looking for a little governmental cash cow.

The real highlight of the interview, however, was when Norquist's rhetoric portrayed those who would defend the estate tax as exercising the morality of the Holocaust.

Governments should treat all people fairly, said Norquist, and the estate tax singles out a small minority (those few citizens who amass enough wealth to qualify for it). If we justify the estate tax by saying, "Only a small percent of Americans are affected - it doesn't affect the majority of American citizens; it doesn't affect you," then Norquist informs us that we are using the morality of the Holocaust, of apartheid, and of East Germany's Soviet rule.

Dividing people so that you can mug them one at a time is a bad thing to do, whether you're doing it on racial grounds, religious grounds or 'whether you work on Saturdays or not' grounds, or economic grounds.
There have been four US estate taxes and only this one has lasted so long. It was enacted in the thirties, when the gap between the wealthy and the poor had never been greater in this country. When this country entered WW2, the estate tax had helped to build and equip the military that eventually shut the Holocaust down. Now those who support the estate tax are supposed to be the moral equivalent of the people who perpetrated the Holocaust?

Charging the wealthy in a progressive tax system is simply not the moral equivalent of state-sponsored genocide. I can feel no great remorse in turning away from the awful plight of the wealthy here. The wealthy can pay someone to feel sorry for them, and Grover Norquist seems to be doing an admirable job, wouldn't you say?

The Style Contest: Nashville Paper Has It Down to Clark and Edwards

Nashville Scene (link good until Oct. 8)

So now there are 10. To our knowledge, none is gay, but the Democratic Party presidential lineup has just about every other facet of identity politics covered.

You've got the black preacher, Midwestern union man, old South pol, new South trial lawyer, Vermont liberal, Jew, former mayor in over his head, woman, affected Massachusetts millionaire and, in the last few weeks, an army general who parachuted into the race at the behest of the party's increasingly freaked-out conservative wing, which was getting its collective shorts in a wad at the prospect of all of the above.

Meet Wesley Clark, who adds a certain "wholeness" to the spectacle. If some view his campaign as yet more chaos, the truth is that Clark satiates the need for Democratic conservatives to stake their claim too. And it's not just the party's conservative wing. It's the realists, too, who have been growing ever more uneasy with the prospect of frontrunner Howard Dean going up against George Bush and getting his head punched in like a pumpkin.

Much of politics is about theory, democracy and doing good for people, but it often comes down to whether you feel comfortable taking your candidate to a Rotary Club meeting in your tiny hometown in Alabama and not having your friends laugh at you. Be honest, people: Does anyone think Howard Dean has a prayer with voters in Demopolis, Ala.? Would John Kerry not get completely laughed out of the city limits of Hattiesburg, Miss., with his painfully ponderous language? Would the wooden Dick Gephardt have his audiences screaming for more in South Carolina? And as he wound up his speech in the second hour, would those still awake clap for Lieberman, whose campaign speeches are nothing short of painful to watch? Need we even mention Dennis Kucinich? No Democrat can win without at least some support from America's conservative outposts. And few of the current crop of candidates have much of what it takes to appeal to them.
A critical part of America loves George Bush because he puts his cowboy boots on one at a time. He's got what Reagan had: a muscular sense of both himself and America. It helps, of course, to be a Republican in trying to exemplify toughness, but it's absolutely imperative that a Democrat have it because everyone assumes that he won't. Bill Clinton, the man who could be many things to many people, at least exuded--and delivered on--a sense of virility. Nobody doubted that he was really a man.

And so, in the style contest that is much of politics, we now have a military man, who was a Rhodes scholar and who supports both affirmative action and a woman's right to choose. Then there's that thing about being a hero, fighting wars for our country. Democrats being people who love to eat their own, it remains to be seen whether Clark can make up for his late entrance into the race. But mark our words, ladies and gentlemen: Only two Democrats have a shot.

John Edwards of North Carolina has a certain advantage simply because of the electoral math of being from the South. He's also a solid speaker, if a bit slick.

Then there's Clark. Sorry, Deanites, but we think all else is hopeless.
Having grown up in Demopolis, Alabama, I'd have to say that Dean might have a little hope there. The entire state may fall into the Red slot, but there's a Blue swatch right through the middle of Alabama, and Demopolis is right in the middle of it.

Of course, Clark would do better by far, but I'm sure there are a couple of Deaniacs running loose in the Vine and Olive colony...