Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Happy Tibetan New Year 2133

Tashi delegs -- auspicious excellent bliss -- to one and all on this first day of Losar, Tibetan New Year, the Year of the Fire Dog.

(Yo, that means you, too, Bubble Boy. You look like you could use some auspicious excellent bliss, what with your approval ratings down to 34% and that of Chappaquid-Dick down to 18%, oh, and the Iraq war approval rating thing down to 30%. Tashi delegs. Big-time.)

Photo: Andreas Neumann, carto:net.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Pass the Cherry Kijafa, I'll Drink to That

No, on second thought, keep the cherry stuff, but you can pass the Havarti.

From a recent pro-free speech rally in Washington, DC, outside the Danish Embassy, via Corsair.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

SERFIN' U-S-A!! . . . (an appreciation of Corporation Appreciation Week, for the CorruptCo Blogfest)

How do we love thee, Bushist fascist corporate corporations of America?

Let us count the ways:

We love thee for pimp-slapping us out of the very notion of pensions.
We love thee for pimp-slapping us out of the very notion of job security.
We love thee for pimp-slapping us out of the very notion of health benefits.
We love thee for pimp-slapping us out of the very notion of a single job being enough to support anyone, much less a family.

We love thee for destroying unions and making us love you for it lest we lose our jobs.

We love thee for disabusing us of the notion that "factory workers at successful companies can achieve a secure, relatively prosperous middle-class life for themselves."

We love thee for creatively creating useless products like Coke and Pepsi which have no nutritional value and yet make beeg money.

We love thee for creatively creating and selling useless products like Camels, Marlboros, etc. etc., totally unecessary & addictive items which actually ruin health and/or kill and yet make beeg money.

We love thee for creatively creating and hypnotically selling products like McDonald's and Burger King and Wendy's junk food made out of junk which contribute to obesity and illness and yet make beeg money (see Left of Center's Corruptco post here on high fructose corn syrup and bring your barf bag).

We love thee for successfully poisoning the natural environment and getting away with it, so far.

We love thee for buying and installing Preznit Toad-Exploder who has never actually held an actual job, like both his daughters and I think his mother, and who therefore is able to slap an innocent lady citizen on the back as congratulations to her for her good luck to be living in a country like America where she can hold three jobs--three!--at once.

We love thee for buying and installing Preznit Toad-Exploder who exploded toads in his youth.
We love thee for buying and installing Preznit Toad-Exploder who thinks that invading Iraq and thus making money for Halliburton, the Carlisle Group, and KBR and the rest of the military-industrial complex is way more important than the actual lives of actual troops or the actual lives of actual citizens.

We love thee for always putting profits before people and therefore providing us a sense of security in this impermanent world.

We love thee for your iron grip on corporate media, and your continuing hypnotic hold on the American populace.

We love thee for Enron's happiness at successfully stealing money from little old ladies in California.

We love thee for replacing the notion of American labor with the notion of American serfdom; for replacing noblesse oblige with pure greed and ego; for replacing three classes with the classic two: haves and have -nots--and for blaming the have-nots for not having.

We love thee for not giving a shit about anyone but yourselves.
We love thee for thinking that giving a shit about anyone but yourselves is somehow "quaint," not unlike the Geneva Conventions.

Not only do we love thee, but we worship thee and we bow down.


This post is part of the CorruptCo Blogfest, created by LosetheNoose.

Bolton Pot Blasts U.N. Kettle: Sex Still Troubles Our Swinger Ambassador?

This story troubles moi, aussi:

NEW YORK - The U.S. ambassador to the
United Nations said Saturday that the world body is hobbled "by bad management, by sex and corruption" and a lack of confidence in its ability to carry out missions. . .

"We find an organization that is deeply troubled by bad management, by sex and corruption and by a growing lack of confidence in its ability to carry out missions that are given to them," Bolton told an audience at a Columbia Law School symposium held by the Federalist Society, a conservative law organization.
Say, isn't that the society that John Roberts didn't remember he belonged to, and Samuel Alito didn't remember he belonged to? Funny. I can't remember.

Well, ok, I can't remember that, but I do remember this, via meat-eating leftist:

Larry Flynt of Hustler infamy has recently claimed that John Bolton frequented the famous swinger's club Plato's Retreat in the 1970s and coerced his ex-wife to perform in group sex while he watched.

Corroborated allegations that Mr. Bolton’s first wife, Christina Bolton, was forced to engage in group sex have not been refuted by the State Department despite inquires posed by Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt concerning the allegations. Mr. Flynt has obtained information from numerous sources that Mr. Bolton participated in paid visits to Plato’s Retreat, the popular swingers club that operated in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s. . .

If this is true, on the one hand, its another example of a neocon doing some nasty things behind closed doors. On the other hand, well, its just a hilarious story. The soon-to-be ambassador to the UN watched his wife having sex; it does not get any better than this.
I dunno about that. It could get better if it turns out that Bolton is the leaky source for the Traitorgate Plame name, could it not?

On the other hand, it gets way worse when one realizes that Ambassador John Bolton has, significantly, mistaken problems with "rapes" for being problems with "sex."

How sick is that?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Hero Ohio Senator's Bill Will Bar Republicans From Adopting Children: Egos Too Big to Parent Well

Finally, an Ohio lawmaker after my own heart, complete story here.

If a Youngstown lawmaker's proposal becomes Ohio law, Republicans would be barred from being adoptive parents.

State Sen. Robert Hagan sent out e-mails to fellow lawmakers late Wednesday night, stating that he intends to "introduce legislation in the near future that would ban households with one or more Republican voters from adopting children or acting as foster parents." The e-mail ended with a request for co-sponsorship. . .

Hagan said his legislation was written in response to a bill introduced in the Ohio House this month by Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, that is aimed at prohibiting gay adoption. . .

Hagan wrote . . .that `"credible research" shows that adopted children raised in Republican households are more at risk for developing "emotional problems, social stigmas, inflated egos, and alarming lack of tolerance for others they deem different than themselves and an air of overconfidence to mask their insecurities."

However, Hagan admitted that he has no scientific evidence to support the above claims.

Just as "Hood had no scientific evidence" to back his assertion that having gay parents was detrimental to children, Hagan said.

"It flies in the face of reason when we need to reform our education system, address health care and environmental issues that we put energy and wasted time (into) legislation (Hood's) like this," continued Hagan, who has been in the Ohio Senate nine years. Before the Senate, he served 19 years in the Ohio House.

Chappaquid-Dick: Secret Service Sez Shooter Cheney Plastered

From Doug Thompson at Capitol Hill Blue, complete story here:

Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Dick Cheney when he shot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing two weeks ago say Cheney was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting.

Agents observed several members of the hunting party, including the Vice President, consuming alcohol before and during the hunting expedition, the report notes, and Cheney exhibited "visible signs" of impairment, including slurred speech and erratic actions.

According to those who have talked with the agents and others present at the outing, Cheney was drunk when he gunned down his friend and the day-and-a-half delay in allowing Texas law enforcement officials on the ranch where the shooting occurred gave all members of the hunting party time to sober up.

We talked with a number of administration officials who are privy to inside information on the Vice President's shooting "accident" and all admit Secret Service agents and others say they saw Cheney consume far more than the "one beer' he claimed he drank at lunch earlier that day.

"This was a South Texas hunt," says one White House aide. "Of course there was drinking. There's always drinking. Lots of it."

One agent at the scene has been placed on administrative leave and another requested reassignment this week. A memo reportedly written by one agent has been destroyed, sources said Wednesday afternoon.
Cheney has a long history of alcohol abuse, including two convictions of driving under the influence when he was younger. . . .someone like Cheney, who is taking blood thinners because of his history of heart attacks, could get legally drunk now after consuming just one drink.

If Cheney was legally drunk at the time of the shooting, he could be guilty of a felony under Texas law and the shooting, ruled an accident by a compliant Kenedy County Sheriff, would be a prosecutable offense.

Doug Thompson has good sources inside the White House--especially when it comes to confirming tantruming by Bubble Boy, Preznit Toad-Exploder and the various suspicious activities of "Dick" Cheney. Thanks, Doug.

Top image: Tram Drunk, Prague, 1992 by James Fassinger, more here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bubble Boy: Keeping A Tight Lid on Vegan Terror While Allowing State-Linked Foreign Firm to Run Six US Ports

Picture of blonde Vegan terrorist above was taken by undercover government agents on the vegan terror surveillance team, paid with your tax dollars. Meanwhile, even more horrific plots to turn America peaceful are being thwarted as Bushists crack down on peace activists in their search for Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden in Seattle--once again, at our expense:
Recently disclosed FBI files show that in Seattle in recent years, federal agents and local police looked for signs of civil disobedience among activists preparing to protest Navy ships arriving for Seafair:

# Local anti-war groups such as the Raging Grannies, Not in Our Name and Ground Zero were watched for intent to disrupt Navy ships through civil disobedience such as chaining themselves to ships. It never happened.

# A Navy criminal investigator traveled to Eugene, Ore., to find out if anarchists blamed for violence at Seattle's 1999 World Trade Organization conference might return to protest the fleet. They never did.

# A law enforcement agent conducted surveillance as two small, Peace-Fleet boats were launched in West Seattle. . .

"This is part of a troubling pattern by the government of spying on peaceful groups," said Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the ACLU of Washington.

Keeping watch on "groups like Raging Grannies doesn't make us safer," she said. "And it interferes with people's right to protest government policies. When government believes that advocacy of peace is a threat, we are going in the wrong direction. The government needs to focus on real threats to public safety rather than to presume that anyone who objects to government action is a safety threat. . ."

In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration responded to its failure to detect the attacks by broadening the rules for the FBI to open a national security investigation.

The old guidelines required that a crime had been committed or was being planned. The new guidelines create a category called "threat assessment," and no crime has to be committed or planned to perform a threat assessment.

Under a threat assessment, a federal criminal justice source said, agents can attend public meetings without identifying themselves and conduct such simple surveillance as watching a protest march. . .

It's unclear whether information about local political activists has been collected in the database intended for military installations to use to share intelligence. The Pentagon did not make itself available to answer the question. . .

[A} memo apparently from a police member of the FBI's Washington Joint Analytic Center says: "The Snohomish County Peace Action of Edmonds is a merge between the Lynnwood SNOW and Peace Action of Snohomish County. They support the anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-nuclear, anti-weapons movements."

For Democracy to be on the march, see, you have to make sure that them bloodthirsty cut-throat Vegan and Quaker terrorists are taken care of. Big-time.

In order that your buddies and Halliburton and Dubai Ports World can cash in on even more sweetheart deals. Got a problem with that, buddy?

Like, we shouldn't be doing business with countries who don't even have token women in the boardroom? Like, just because there aren't any gals in this picture above of dudes wielding power means that we shouldn't be making ourselves and them money hand over fist? Yuh, as if.

Not to mention the secret deal that assured Dubai Ports that it wouldn't have to make its records subject to subpoena in U.S. courts. (Well, we don't even put anyone under oath in the Senate anymore, do we?) And heck, Preznit Toad-Exploder didn't even know about it before he knew about it and supported it and then didn't know about it. Heckuva Job, Toady!

It's all about the Benjamins. And that's just it way it should be. Because poor people, as Fearless Leader Bubble Boy Bush said long ago, poor people are poor because they're lazy.

And if you don't let us run your ports, we'll jack up the price of oil times ten and watch all you Westerners (who failed to listen to prescient President Carter so long ago when he warned you to get off the oil teat) with your miserable Western culture twist slowly slowly in the wind. Just kidding.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Rose of Mohammed By Any Other Name Would Be -- A Danish

Tehran, Iran (AP) -- Iranians love Danish pastries, but when they look for the flaky dessert at the bakery they now have to ask for "Roses of the Prophet Mohammed."

Bakeries across the capital were covering up their ads for Danish pastries Thursday after the confectioners' union ordered the name change in retaliation for caricatures of the Muslim prophet published in a Danish newspaper.

"Given the insults by Danish newspapers against the prophet as of now the name of Danish pastries will give way to 'Rose of Mohammed' pastries," the union said in its order. . .

Iran's Danish renaming wasn't the first time a food name has become a symbol of protest.

A Republican congressman from North Carolina helped lead an effort to make sure Capitol Hill cafeterias changed their menus to advertise "freedom fries" instead of french fries after France opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

On a related note, a story here about a fatwa against those Danes who published cartoons depicting Mohammed. (Picture below from a medieval Muslim manuscript).

Cleric Offers $1 Million to Kill Muhammad Cartoonist

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) A Pakistani cleric announced Friday a $1 million bounty for killing a cartoonist who drew Prophet Muhammad, as thousands joined street protests and Denmark temporarily closed its embassy and advised its citizens to leave the country.

Police confined the former leader of an Islamic militant group to his home to prevent him from addressing supporters over the cartoons, amid fears he could incite violence, after riots this week killed five people. . .In the northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar, prayer leader Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi announced the bounty for killing a cartoonist to about 1,000 people outside the Mohabat Khan mosque.

Qureshi said the mosque and his religious school would give $25,000 and a car, while a local jewelers' association would give another $1 million. . . "This is a unanimous decision by all imams (prayer leaders) of Islam that whoever insults the prophet deserves to be killed and whoever will take this insulting man to his end, will get this prize," Qureshi said. . .

A Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, first printed the prophet pictures by 12 cartoonists in September. . . Denmark has already temporarily closed its embassies in Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Indonesia after anti-Danish protests and threats against staff. . .

Unrest over the cartoons has spiraled in Pakistan, even as it has ebbed in the rest of Asia and in the Middle East. Big riots in Lahore and Peshawar this week caused millions of dollars in damage, as hundreds of vehicles were burned and protesters targeted numerous U.S. and other foreign-brand businesses, including KFC, McDonald's, Citibank, Holiday Inn, and Norwegian cell phone company Telenor.

Intelligence officials have said scores of members of radical and militant Islamic groups, such as Jamaat al-Dawat, joined the unruly protests in Lahore on Tuesday and had incited violence in a bid to undermine President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's government. . .

Renaming pastries and junk food is a reasonable (if silly) and peaceful response to events not going in one's own way.

Killing others and/or advocating killing others who do not subscribe to one's religious beliefs is heinous, whether it be Ayatollah Khomeini or Ann Coulter who's egging the misguided zealots on.

Second image from the bottom is from demonstrations in Beiruit; third from last is from an on-line archive here. Final picture is of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, now demonstrating the truth of the impermanence of all things, thanks to the Taliban.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Canned Hunts: Killing for Fun

Ok, ok, so call me Buddhist, but "Go Fuck Yourself" Dick Cheney's armed and hammered quail kerfuffle that almost killed his hunting buddy brings Cheney's take on life way more clearly to mind. As a confirmed pro-torture-ist, Dick's stance on how actual life should be conducted is pretty sadistic. As a long-term devotee of canned hunting, his commitment to not taking life is pretty feeble, if not outright sadistic, too.

Cheney was doing a passel of canned hunting down Texas way over last weekend, when he shot a buddy after having a beer, and then, after he'd shot him, fixed himself a nice drink while buddy went to the hospital, Cheney had certainly killed before.

The tale of Cheney's "hunt" at Ligonier, Pa. a while back, here:

Statement by The HSUS in Response to V.P. Cheney's Shooting Spree at a PA Canned Hunting Facility

WASHINGTON--Monday's hunting trip to Pennsylvania by Vice President Dick Cheney in which he reportedly shot more than 70 stocked pheasants and an unknown number of mallard ducks at an exclusive private club places a spotlight on an increasingly popular and deplorable form of hunting, in which birds are pen-reared and released to be shot in large numbers by patrons. The ethics of these hunts are called into question by rank-and-file sportsmen, who hunt animals in their native habitat and do not shoot confined or pen-raised animals that cannot escape.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [reported]that 500 farm-raised pheasants were released yesterday morning at the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township for the benefit of Cheney’s 10-person hunting party. The group killed at least 417 of the birds, illustrating the unsporting nature of canned hunts. The party also shot an unknown number of captive mallards in the afternoon. . .

"This wasn’t a hunting ground. It was an open-air abattoir, and the vice president should be ashamed to have patronized this operation and then slaughtered so many animals," states Wayne Pacelle, a senior vice president of The Humane Society of the United States. "If the Vice President and his friends wanted to sharpen their shooting skills, they could have shot skeet or clay, not resorted to the slaughter of more than 400 creatures planted right in front of them as animated targets."

The Humane Society of the United States deplores the shooting of captive birds and animals where traditional “fair chase” hunting ethics are discarded and kills are guaranteed. . . For more information, visit The HSUS’ Web site – www.hsus.org.

Another article on sadistic, shooting-fish-in-a-barrel canned hunting:

In Their Own Words: How Canned Hunting Ranches Advertise the Means to a Kill

In their brochures and advertisements, operators of canned hunting facilities routinely flout the most basic principles of fair chase in hunting. Here's a sample of what they're saying, and how these operations brag about stacking the odds against captive animals:

"No kill no pay."
—Triple R Ranch

"...comfort of a large enclosed blind with sliding window overlooking heavily used corn feeders."
—Barnes-Keith Ranch

"...all weather blind overlooking feeding areas."
—Beaver Creek Ranch

"...hunts are from elevated box blinds overlooking food plots, senderos or feeders."
—Edmund Tom Ranch

"The animals are fed on a feed routing that runs daily."
—Gunn Ranch

"...we have the daytime cover and water...so they MUST come to us to hide and drink."
—Itchy Acres Ranch

"The preferred hunt will be from elevated blinds and enclosed tri-pods overlooking automatic feeders."
—Kinsel Cattle Company

"Our hunters have 90% to 100% success...we put 40 lbs of corn at each stand twice a week so the deer and hogs are used to coming to them. You may put out corn at the stand you are hunting...36 comfortable box stands."
—Lange Ranches in the Texas Hill Country

"Hunting is done from tower blinds overlooking feeders which have been operating continuously since August. Any predators seen may be taken as well."
—Mann Outfitting

"...hunting is usually done from double box blinds overlooking feeders...we're going to do everything legally possible to make your hunt a productive worthwhile experience!"
—Rojo Grande Ranch

"Each stand has mineral licks and timer controlled feeders."
—Solano Ranch

This isn't hunting, it's just killing.

If he likes killing, there's something wrong with him.

(Painting by Jose Picayo, "Dead Quail and Duck")

Friday, February 17, 2006

More Revolting Aspects of Cheney's Chappaquiddick

So I've been having some problems with the Cheney shoots his buddy thing.

One, that Cheney failed to travel to the hospital to look after the welfare of the buddy he had just shot in the face. I mean, really. If you shot one of your buddies in the face, wouldn't you go along to the hospital to find out how he was doing? To show concern? Is there a reason you would not, unless you were plastered?

And how about going back and having dinner while the friend you just shot is off to the ER (the nearest fundamentalist hospital, not the nearest trauma center, also)? How about Cheney not calling this guy's kids, but making himself a drink and eating dinner instead? How about the hostess, Armstrong, not immediately telling the guy's wife?

Two, the Chappaquiddicky whole waiting-until-the-next-day to talk to the sheriff thing, the pulling-rank so he could get away with it thing. Is there a reason you would not unless you were hammered at the time?

Three, the setting up of Katherine Armstrong, who sat in the car and was thus a clear non-eyewitness, in the guise of an actual eyewitness, having her call a local paper, and trying to spin press unhappiness at the delay as some kind of local vs. national media turf war. Try harder, Turdblossom.

Fourth, the line-of-fire thingie. Hunters walk in a forward direction, together, in line, and no one shoots behind the line of fire. A thing that Cheney inarguably did. Was he drunk? Angry? Stupid? Your call.

Fifth, Cheney's lack of apology for shooting his friend in the face. Pretty well jibes with being a pro-torture kinda guy. Or a I'll do what I damn well please kinda guy.

Sixth, Cheney's victim's apology today. Frickin' WHAT? Cheney fails to apologize, but his VICTIM does? It's just so Bushist fascist up-is-down-ist.

It's just so (no offense to the battered) so battered woman-y:

"My family and I are deeply sorry for all that vice president Cheney has had to go through this past week."

What HE'S gone through? What about the fact that you have a lead pellet in your 78-year-old heart? Are you kidding? Hel-lo?

Let's review the battered woman syndrome:

The woman refuses to admit--even to herself--that she has been beaten or that there is a "problem" in her marriage. She may call each incident an "accident". She offers excuses for her husband's violence and each time firmly believes it will never happen again.

So Whittington refuses to believe there was a problem. He calls the incident an accident. He offers excuses for Cheney's violent behavior, and apologizes to the person who shot him for having been the recipient of Cheney's shooting.

Come on, people.

More info on battered woman's syndrome here, RJ Eskow on Cheney's Chappaquiddick here and here. Not to mention "The Unbearable Lightness of Responsibility" at Adventus and "We Are All Harry Whittington," here. Visit Firedoglake, above, for your very own "DICK CHENEY--ARMED AND HAMMERED" t-shirt.

In a related story, here: Paul Craig Roberts on "Conservatives Endorse the Fuhrer Principle."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dalai Lama (no kidding?) Urges Non-Violence and Tolerance

Haaretz story here.

Dalai Lama visits Israel, asks Hamas to renounce violence
The Dalai Lama on Wednesday urged Hamas to renounce violence, but refused to take sides in the increasingly bloody dispute over cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. . .

The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet more than four decades ago during a failed revolt against Chinese rule and now lives across the border in India, brushed aside reports that China is upset with Israel for allowing him to visit . . .

Asked about Mideast strife, [the Dalai Lama] appealed to Hamas to renounce violence, in the wake of its victory in last month's Palestinian parliament election. Hamas is under growing pressure from the West to end attacks, recognize Israel and honor Israeli-Palestinian interim agreements.

The Dalai Lama noted that Hamas won a democratic election.

"I want to take this opportunity, and also my appeal to Hamas, now through violent way it won't solve, it won't achieve what it wants," he said in halting English. He called for "mutual respect" and urged the group to approach the situation "more realistically" . . .

The spiritual leader, who advocates religious tolerance, would not take sides in the dispute over Danish newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed which have sparked protests, some deadly, across the Muslim world. He said it would be unfair to hold all Muslims responsible for the violent acts of a few.

Asked to take a side, he said: "I think tricky question ... so difficult. If you give me permission, I remain silent. No comment."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Spreading Democracy: More From Abu Ghraib

Via the Sydney Morning Herald: "the photographs America doesn't want seen." Here, the story of Australian TV station SBS showing these latest graphic images (linked online here via Raw Story).

Update: More (warning: graphic) photos here in a later story from Salon.

Australian television has broadcast previously unpublished graphic images of the alleged physical abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

SBS television's Dateline program screened video and still images of the wounds allegedly inflicted on the Iraqis by their American captors.

They included photographs of blood-soaked Iraqi prisoners who had been tortured or shot dead, footage of a prisoner repeatedly slamming his head into a metal door, and a film of naked male prisoners being forced to masturbate in front of the camera.

The Bush administration is reportedly attempting to prevent release of the images in the US, arguing that their publication could provoke antagonism towards the US. . .

Some antagonism appears to be well-warranted. What's wrong with these people? Why do they persist in their vile spin that it's the publication of photos of torture that is objectionable, not the torture itself? What is wrong with them?

George Negus, host of Wednesday's Dateline program, told SBS viewers it was important to televise the images to make the public aware of what taken place at Abu Ghraib prison.

"Despite the currently overheated international climate, we're showing them because they show the extent of the horror that occurred at Abu Ghraib," Negus said. . .

ACLU lawyer Amrit Singh told Dateline the images were evidence of "systemic and widespread abuse" of prisoners by US soldiers.

As if we already hadn't seen enough. How many Bushist fascists does it take to screw up an entire country?

Not so many.

We've already heard about those who have driven our country into moral AND fiscal bankruptcy.

So, like. What's left?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bush Fires CIA Counter-Terror Expert Who Would Not Stoop to Torture

From The Sunday Times UK:


The CIA’s top counter-terrorism official was fired last week because he opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad, sending them to other countries for interrogation and using forms of torture such as "water boarding", intelligence sources have claimed.

Robert Grenier, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, was relieved of his post after a year in the job. . . Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the agency, said: "It is not that Grenier wasn't aggressive enough, it is that he wasn't 'with the programme'. He expressed misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition of terrorists.

Grenier also opposed "excessive" interrogation, such as strapping suspects to boards and [near-drowning] them in water, according to Cannistraro. . .

AB "Buzzy" Krongard, a former executive director of the CIA who resigned shortly after Goss's arrival, said . . . said it was up to President George Bush to stop the rot. "The agency has only one client: the president of the United States," he said. "The reorganisation is the way this president wanted it. If he is unwilling to reform it, the agency will go on as it is."

"History will judge how good an idea it was to destroy the teams and the programmes that were in place."
Link here to whole story.

I've made jokes about Bush's documented youthful penchant for animal sadism, when he amused himself by putting lit firecrackers into live frogs and blasting them to bits. I've called him "Preznit Toad-Exploder" and made reference to the pro-sadism policies of Cheney and Gonzalez. Krongard's quote here makes me think the number one pro-torture sadist IS actually Bush. Which is quite in line with the pathology of his youth, I fear.

On another related unhappy note, here is the story of a returned Iraq vet who had survivor guilt and PTSD (related to witnessing civilian deaths and CIA torture) who was unable to get the inpatient psychiatric care he needed as the beds in the PTSD ward were full. Supported by outpatient therapy, he later killed his father and then himself.

It's not just a Buddhist thing. Actions have consequences. People are injured not merely by being subjected to torture, but by subjecting others to torture, and by having to witness others being tortured.

How hard is that to figure out?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Seeing Into the Future (and a poem by James Wright)

So, below is the latest from NOAA, the outfit that Rick Santorum wants to privatize so his buddies can make money off it. Should I not post Sunday, usually a big bloggy day, this will be why. That "dangerous and life-threatening conditions" thing always attracts my attention; I recall that wording prior to Katrina and to last year's blizzard, which left us snowed-in and frozen for several days until we found a front-loader to dig us out. If it occurs, it will also be puppy's first blizzard--can we really keep her in all day? They say not to go outdoors when the white-out occurs lest one become disoriented (we're a bit disoriented anyhow in general, are we not?), but maybe we'll tie a rope to the front door or something. Trail of crumbs? And if the electricity stays on we'll be blogging and watching cricket of all things happening far far away somewhere where it's summer.





A Winter Daybreak Above Venice

The night's drifts
Pile up below me and behind my back,
Slide down the hill, rise again, and build
Eerie little dunes on the roof of the house.
In the valley below me,
Miles between me and the town of St.-Jeannet,
The road lamps glow.
They are so cold, they might as well be dark.
Trucks and cars
Cough and drone down there between the golden
Coffins of greenhouses, the startled squawk
Of a rooster claws heavily across
A grove, and drowns.
The gumming snarl of some grouchy dog sounds,
And a man bitterly shifts his broken gears.
True night still hangs on,
Mist cluttered with a racket of its own.

Now on the mountainside,
A little way downhill among turning rucks,
A square takes form in the side of a dim wall.
I hear a bucket rattle or something, tinny,
No other stirring behind the dim face
Of the goatherd's house. I imagine
His goats are still sleeping, dreaming
Of the fresh roses
Beyond the walls of the greenhouse below them.
And of lettuce leaves opening in Tunisia.

I turn, and somehow
Impossibly hovering in the air over everything,
The Mediterranean, nearer to the moon
Than this mountain is, Shines. A voice clearly
Tells me to snap out of it. Galway
Mutters out of the house and up the stone stairs
To start the motor. The moon and the stars
Suddenly flicker out, and the whole mountain
Appears, pale as a shell.

Look, the sea has not fallen and broken
Our heads. How can I feel so warm
Here in the dead center of January? I can
Scarcely believe it, and yet I have to, this is
The only life I have. I get up from the stone.
My body mumbles something unseemly
And follows me. Now we are all sitting here strangely
On top of sunlight.

James Wright

Free Speech Equals Sedition in Bubble Boy's Brave New World

This is a sweet little story, by Matthew Rothschild, in The Progressive.

Please read it, say "Bushist fascist, Bushist fascist" aloud thirteen times really fast, notice what emotion you are feeling, and then drop us a line.

Laura Berg is a clinical nurse specialist at the VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, where she has worked for 15 years. Shortly after Katrina, she wrote a letter to the editor of the weekly paper the Alibi criticizing the Bush Administration.

After the paper published the letter in its September 15-21 issue, VA administrators seized her computer, alleged that she had written the letter on that computer, and accused her of "sedition."

Here's what her letter said.

"I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government," it began. "The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes!" She mentioned that she was "a VA nurse" working with returning vets. "The public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder," she wrote, and she worried about the hundreds of thousands of additional cases that might result from Katrina and the Iraq War.

No Blood for Hubris has been writing about the problem of PTSD in returning Iraq vets, and how poorly the Bush administration has been handling this. Are we to expect a certain knocking at our door as well? How about you seditious people reading these words? Who's next?

"Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown, and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence," she wrote. "This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil. . . . We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit. Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times."

After her computer was seized, Berg wrote a memo to her bosses seeking information and an explanation.

Mel Hooker, chief of the human resources management service at the Albuquerque VA, wrote Berg back on November 9 and acknowledged that "your personal computer files did not contain the editorial letter written to the editor of the weekly Alibi."

But rather than apologize, he leveled the sedition charge: "The Agency is bound by law to investigate and pursue any act which potentially represents sedition," he said. "In your letter . . . you declared yourself "as a VA nurse" and publicly declared the Government which employs you to have 'tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence' and advocated, 'act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.'"

Berg, who is not talking to the press, is "scared for her job" and "pretty emotionally distressed," says Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico.

They sure shut her up right fast. That's what it's all about, isn't it?

"We were shocked to see the word 'sedition' used," Simonson tells The Progressive. "Sedition? That's like something out of the history books."

In a press release, Simonson also said: "Is this government so jealous of its power, so fearful of dissent, that it needs to threaten people who openly oppose its policies with charges of 'sedition"?"

The ACLU of New Mexico is working in Berg's behalf. It has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents relating to this incident. And it is asking "at the very least" that Berg "receive a pubic apology from Mr. Hooker to remedy the unconstitutional chilling effect on the speech of VA employees that has resulted from these intimidating tactics," according to a letter from the New Mexico ACLU to the VA's Office of Regional Counsel. . .

"While VA does not prohibit employees from exercising their freedom of speech, we do ask that such activity occurs outside government premises and not during their official tour of duty," says Bill Armstrong, a public affairs specialist for New Mexico's VA Health Care System. "When we have reason to believe that this policy is not being adhered to, we have the obligation to review an individual's computer activity."

The VA in Washington also refused to comment on the sedition charge. "We don't discuss internal personnel issues," says Phil Budahn, a VA spokesman in Washington, D.C.

Berg has an additional concern: that the VA may have got the FBI on her case.

A union employee "shared with me that Mel Hooker conveyed to him that my letter had been reported 'up through VA channels' to the FBI in Washington, and that this had been discussed and confirmed" with union officials at the national office, Berg wrote in her November 2 complaint. (The union she belongs to is the American Federation of Government Employees.)

Hooker denied that the VA had contacted the FBI. "The Agency has no knowledge of any report alleged to have been made to the FBI regarding you or your letter," he said in his November 9 memo.

Meanwhile, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, has taken up the Berg case.

"I am writing to express my deep concern regarding news reports that Ms. Laura Berg . . . was investigated for sedition after writing a letter that was critical of the current Administration," Senator Bingaman wrote to R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, on February 7. "In a democracy, expressing disagreement with the government's actions does not amount to sedition or insurrection--it is, and must remain, protected speech."

Watch out, people--FREEDOM'S ON THE MARCH. Out the door, over the cliff. Thanks to our Fearless Leader, Bubble Boy, Preznit Toad-Exploder. Link here. Hat tip to Maccabee at Kos.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Preznit Toad-Exploder Spreads His Culture of Sadism

It was supposed to be democracy that Bubble Boy was spreading across the world, but instead he's spreading sadism, encouraging vengeance and violence.

Bush takes a wimpy stance on actual freedom of speech, denouncing the publication of insensitive cartoons of Mohammed, while his Gitmo minions are always at the ready to urinate on the Koran, whilst pretending that they aren't.

Now, under the pretext of saving life, they've extended their policy of sadism and torture at Gitmo, deliberately inflicting pain and diarrhea on hunger strikers there, strapping them to chairs and leaving them there in their own feces, worse than lab rats and lab monkeys.

Only 8 percent of Gitmo inmates, recall, have ties to Al Qaeda. Only 45 percent had committed any act hostile to the US. The rest were caught up in the sweep of vengeance. Now, Bush can't let them go and he can't let them die: so he's making their lives a miserable hell in order to shore up his fragile ego.

Quoth the unlinkable-to NY Times:
In recent weeks, the officials said, guards have begun strapping recalcitrant detainees into "restraint chairs," sometimes for hours a day, to feed them through tubes and prevent them from deliberately vomiting afterward. Detainees who refuse to eat have also been placed in isolation for extended periods in what the officials said was an effort to keep them from being encouraged by other hunger strikers.

In addition to spreading sadism, the US has gotten pretty good at spreading suicidality, making detainees lives not worth living: leaving them to freeze half to death, isolating them, feeding them them in ways that intentionally cause pain (uh, this would constitute torture).

Mr. Wilner, who was among the first lawyers to accept clients at Guantanamo and represented them in a case in 2004 before the Supreme Court, said a Kuwaiti detainee, Fawzi al-Odah, told him last week that around Dec. 20, guards began taking away items like shoes, towels and blankets from the hunger strikers.
Mr. Odah also said that lozenges that had been distributed to soothe the hunger strikers' throats had disappeared and that the liquid formula they were given was mixed with other ingredients to cause diarrhea, Mr. Wilner said. . . .

Mr. Odah said he heard "screams of pain" from a hunger striker in the next cell as a thick tube was inserted into his nose. . .
Another lawyer, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, said one of his three Bahraini clients, Jum'ah al-Dossari, told him about 10 days ago that more than half of a group of 34 long-term hunger strikers had abandoned their protest after being strapped in restraint chairs and having their feeding tubes inserted and removed so violently that some bled or fainted.

Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen. Your tax dollars at work.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"Everyone is Afraid to Criticize Islam"

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch politician forced to go into hiding after the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, responds to the Danish cartoon scandal, arguing that if Europe doesn't stand up to extremists, a culture of self-censorship of criticism of Islam that pervades in Holland will spread in Europe. Auf Wiedersehen, free speech.

SPIEGEL: Hirsi Ali, you have called the Prophet Muhammad a tyrant and a pervert. Theo van Gogh, the director of your film "Submission," which is critical of Islam, was murdered by Islamists. You yourself are under police protection. Can you understand how the Danish cartoonists feel at this point?

Hirsi Ali: They probably feel numb. On the one hand, a voice in their heads is encouraging them not to sell out their freedom of speech. At the same time, they're experiencing the shocking sensation of what it's like to lose your own personal freedom. One mustn't forget that they're part of the postwar generation, and that all they've experienced is peace and prosperity. And now they suddenly have to fight for their own human rights once again.

SPIEGEL: Why have the protests escalated to such an extent?

Hirsi Ali: There is no freedom of speech in those Arab countries where the demonstrations and public outrage are being staged. The reason many people flee to Europe from these places is precisely because they have criticized religion, the political establishment and society. Totalitarian Islamic regimes are in a deep crisis. Globalization means that they're exposed to considerable change, and they also fear the reformist forces developing among émigrés in the West. They'll use threatening gestures against the West, and the success they achieve with their threats, to intimidate these people.

SPIEGEL: Was apologizing for the cartoons the wrong thing to do?

Hirsi Ali: Once again, the West pursued the principle of turning first one cheek, then the other. In fact, it's already a tradition. In 1980, privately owned British broadcaster ITV aired a documentary about the stoning of a Saudi Arabian princess who had allegedly committed adultery. The government in Riyadh intervened and the British government issued an apology. We saw the same kowtowing response in 1987 when (Dutch comedian) Rudi Carrell derided (Iranian revolutionary leader) Ayatollah Khomeini in a comedy skit (that was aired on German television). In 2000, a play about the youngest wife of the Prophet Mohammed, titled "Aisha," was cancelled before it ever opened in Rotterdam. Then there was the van Gogh murder and now the cartoons. We are constantly apologizing, and we don't notice how much abuse we're taking. Meanwhile, the other side doesn't give an inch.

SPIEGEL: What should the appropriate European response look like?

Hirsi Ali: There should be solidarity. The cartoons should be displayed everywhere. After all, the Arabs can't boycott goods from every country. They're far too dependent on imports. And Scandinavian companies should be compensated for their losses. Freedom of speech should at least be worth that much to us.

SPIEGEL: But Muslims, like any religious community, should also be able to protect themselves against slander and insult.

Hirsi Ali: That's exactly the reflex I was just talking about: offering the other cheek. Not a day passes, in Europe and elsewhere, when radical imams aren't preaching hatred in their mosques. They call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they're just exercising their freedom of speech. When will the Europeans realize that the Islamists don't allow their critics the same right? After the West prostrates itself, they'll be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless.

SPIEGEL: What will be the upshot of the storm of protests against the cartoons?

Hirsi Ali: We could see the same thing happening that has happened in the Netherlands, where writers, journalists and artists have felt intimidated ever since the van Gogh murder. Everyone is afraid to criticize Islam. Significantly, "Submission" still isn't being shown in theaters.

SPIEGEL: Many have criticized the film as being too radical and too offensive.

Hirsi Ali: The criticism of van Gogh was legitimate. But when someone has to die for his world view, what he may have done wrong is no longer the issue. That's when we have to stand up for our basic rights. Otherwise we are just reinforcing the killer and conceding that there was a good reason to kill this person.

SPIEGEL: You too have been accused for your dogged criticism of Islam.

Hirsi Ali: Oddly enough, my critics never specify how far I can go. How can you address problems if you're not even allowed to clearly define them? Like the fact that Muslim women at home are kept locked up, are raped and are married off against their will -- and that in a country in which our far too passive intellectuals are so proud of their freedom! . . .

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the most sharp- tongued critics of political Islam - - and a target of radical fanatics. Her provocative film "Submission" led to the assassination of director Theo van Gogh in November 2004. The attackers left a death threat against Hirsi Ali stuck to his corpse with a knife. After a brief period in hiding, the 36- year- old member of Dutch parliament from the neo- liberal VVD party has returned to parliament and is continuing her fight against Islamism. She recently published a book, "I Accuse," and is working on a sequel to "Submission." Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia where she experienced the oppression of Muslim women first hand. When her father attempted to force her into an arranged marriage, she fled to Holland in 1992. Later, she renounced the Muslim religion.

Full article here.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Dirty Words from Rove and Mehlman

"Racist" is a dirty word. Even racist right-wingers don't want to be caught being racist, and don't want to be labeled "racist."

How come "sexist" is NOT a dirty word?

How come balding unmarried guy Ken Mehlman gets to make a sexist attack on Senator Hillary Clinton -- all for being "too angry" -- ooh we know how it is when them broads get angry -- and nobody finds it sexist and offensive.

I mean, I do. Anyone else?

How about bald, fat, girlie-man Karl Rove's sexist frame of Valerie Plame? Seeking to dismiss the professional importance of Joseph Wilson's to Niger because -- the little woman sent him?

Sexist? Ya think?

How about bald, fat sexist Cheney's office trying to denigrate Plame's professional status by saying she's not actually a NOC but just some little paper-pushing CIA secretary? How sexist is that?

How about bald, double-chinned Rove's sexist framing of the Administration's deliberate leak of a covert CIA identity--that it was just little girlie gossip? So therefore it doesn't count? Responsible people, like Woodward, therefore, never took it seriously: girl talk.

Just some thoughts, and I'm sure the truthiness of it will all come out in the wash.

Don't worry your pretty little heads about it.

(all sexist comments made here for informational purposes only)

Friday, February 03, 2006


The Beach Boys' cheery Caribbean-vacation song "Kokomo" becomes "Iraqomo" - - thanks to the Freeway Blogger. Later postings refer to it as "Iraq--The Musical." Both are exquisite.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

We Can't Care for the Children We Already Have (Andrea Yates Edition)

The American Taliban forced-maternity crowd just doesn't seem to get the difference between picking up an extra carton of milk at the store and having an extra baby. Or two. Or five.

Extra cartons of milk clog up the refrigerator and maybe go off; actual unwanted babies actually suffer.

One of the sadder recent stories of motherhood gone awry is that of Andrea Yates, over-burdened by yearly pregnancies, and one-after-another births, until she became deeply depressed. She tried to kill herself several times, and endured several psychiatric hospitalizations. Eventually, she became floridly psychotic and subject to command hallucinations: she drowned own her children, one by one.

Today, Ms. Yates, now divorced by Rusty, her husband, was released from jail and moved to a mental institution.

It's easier to demonize Andrea rather than connect her actions to her domestic situation, with her abusive misogynist husband and her misogynist preacher egging her on to have more and more and more children, helping her to become more and more isolated, and filling her mind with deeper and deeper notions of her own worthlessness.

On a brighter note, an interesting take on the Andrea Yates story here, at the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus, "A Biblical Feminist Looks at the Andrea Yates Tragedy," an analysis with which we wholeheartedly agree.

Before marrying Russell Yates, Andrea Kennedy was a successful young woman working as a post-operative nurse. She enjoyed regular swimming and jogging and was apparently from a Catholic family. Their courtship included praying and reading the Bible together--so far so good.

But somewhere in that Bible study, or in the conservative Christian culture that surrounded them, they got the idea that when they married, they would not use birth control. They would lovingly accept as many children as God sent them. This ideal is still being taught by the Roman Catholic Church and by many small independent fundamentalist and Pentecostal churches. The use of contraceptives is considered a sin. There are no allowances for difficult circumstances such as postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, poverty, or rape. By giving family planning the powerful label of sin, these churches entrap women like Andrea Yates, who had five children and one miscarriage during her eight years of marriage.

We in EEWC need to reach as many women as possible with the good news that controlling their fertility is within God's will. Otherwise, more children will face abuse and even death at the hands of overwhelmed parents or caregivers. At a conference in 1986, EWC approved a resolution that stated, "Because we believe that every human being is made in God's image, we deplore violence against women and children and the misuse of power within the family." We need to find more ways to carry out our mission to curb domestic violence.

The world needs more voices like theirs, to empower women like Andrea Yates -- and to protect children.