Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tell us the mission

Watch to the end. They ask you for ideas for a bumpersticker to describe Bush's Iraq War and its mission:

(via ::Matthew at Devon Wilson)

Fish from China recalled.

Apparently it was so dark or something that this:

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looked like this:

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Recall of fish from China recalled because two people poisoned:
The seafood importer began a voluntary recall after reports that two Chicago-area people became ill after eating soup that contained the fish, according to a statement.

The frozen shipments were packed in 22-pound boxes that were sold to wholesalers in California, Illinois and Hawaii beginning in September. Each of the 282 boxes was labeled "Monk fish, gutted and head off, Product of China," the company said.

But the Food and Drug Administration confirmed Thursday that its tests of the fish had found potentially lethal amounts of tetrodotoxin, a substance usually associated with the skin and certain organs of the puffer fish.

"Clearly, we are concerned. We are taking it very seriously," said FDA spokeswoman Kathy McDermott.

The fish recall was the latest in a list of problem products from China, a leading exporter of food and food ingredients.
Not to be paranoid or anything, but does anyone else see a kinda... trend?

Another sign of the end of days!

Loch Ness monster reappears:

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this jet black thing, about 45-feet long, moving fairly fast in the water," said Gordon Holmes, the 55-year-old a lab technician from Shipley, Yorkshire, who took the video this past Saturday.

He said it moved at about 6 mph and kept a fairly straight course.

"My initial thought is it could be a very big eel, they have serpent-like features and they may explain all the sightings in Loch Ness over the years."

Loch Ness is surrounded by myth and mystery, as it is the largest and deepest inland expanse of water in Britain. About 750 feet to the bottom, it's even deeper than the North Sea.

Nessie watcher and marine biologist Adrian Shine of the Loch Ness 2000 center in Drumnadrochit, on the shores of the lake, viewed the video and hopes to properly analyze it in the coming months.

"I see myself as a skeptical interpreter of what happens in the loch, but I do keep an open mind about these things and there is no doubt this is some of the best footage I have seen," Shine said.

YouTube has print across the film but has the scientist who filmed it:

The AP film is easier to see. ( Far right below old Nessie picture)

And he wasn't brown, liberal, wearing weird clothes, nor did he have an accent, right?


ATLANTA (AP) -- A globe-trotting Atlanta lawyer with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis was allowed back into the U.S. by a border inspector who disregarded a computer warning to stop him and don protective gear, officials said Thursday.

The inspector has been removed from border duty.

The unidentified inspector explained that he was no doctor but that the infected man seemed perfectly healthy and that he thought the warning was merely "discretionary," officials briefed on the case told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is still under investigation.

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(photo taken from AP article)

Weird side note:
His new father-in-law, Robert C. Cooksey, is a CDC microbiologist specializing in TB and other bacteria.

Speaker's father-in-law has worked at the CDC for 32 years and is in the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, where he works with TB and other organisms. He has co-authored papers on diabetes, TB and other infectious diseases.

"As part of my job, I am regularly tested for TB. I do not have TB, nor have I ever had TB," he said in a statement. "My son-in-law's TB did not originate from myself or the CDC's labs, which operate under the highest levels of biosecurity."

Like Gollum grabbing for the Ring even as he is consumed by lava

The Rovian White House attempts to smear Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) for her criticism of Bush's gutting of the National Guard in her state even as the Neocon agenda and the Bush administration goes up in flames.

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Think Progress:

Now the Bush administration is exacting revenge:

Bush administration officials, stung by complaints from Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that National Guard heavy equipment needed by tornado-stricken Greensburg, Kan., is in Iraq, are putting out word that she was two days late at the disaster scene because she was attending a jazz festival in New Orleans.

But according to a report in today’s Wichita Eagle, the Bush rumor is completely false:

Yes, Sebelius was in New Orleans with her family when the tornado hit that Friday evening. But she was notified that night about the tornado, and she and her staff in Kansas immediately began trying to assess the damage. When the scope of the disaster became clear, they began making arrangements for her return.

Sebelius didn’t attend any of the jazz festival and left her family in New Orleans, flying back Saturday afternoon using a plane arranged by Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

Karl, just remember where the ring and Gollum ended up. If there is any justice....

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cheney unleashed

Isn't that much different from Cheney holed up:

Cheney says fuck you to oversight:

Blackwater is primed to be used within the United States

It already had a test run in New Orleans and we know how well that turned out.

Update 5/30: Via Steve Bates at The Yellow Doggerel Democrat, Jo Fish of Democratic Veteran has more:
The "contractors" in Iraq were born out of the Rumsfeldian/Norquistian drive to privatize the military and just about every other aspect of the Federal government. After all, "security contractors" who were in country could not be counted as troops, fill jobs (up to and including, no shit, MEDEVAC) that were normally done by organic assets of a fighting force (supply, medicine, REMF functionality). Contracts (and contractors) meant rewarding political supporters, as well as keeping the heat off of the 1600 Crew for ramping up troop levels (well, until the surge).

The Contractors in Iraq started as an unstructured, unaccountable force that just sort of appeared in response to what Rumsfeld seemed to want as a step in his "force transformation" strategery. They filled a need that he created for a quasi-soldier, but with no accountability to anyone but their mercenary bosses sitting back in the US or whereever. Until Fallujah, the contractors were pretty low key as far as everyone was concerned. More attention was paid to the no-bid contracts that CheneyBurton/KBR received for providing, than what was going on the streets of Baghdad with the armed security "contractors". Then came Fallujah, and the response by Mr. "I listen to my Commanders in the Field", who pretty much told Bunnypants that going into Fallujah on a Revenge Mission was a bad idea, with a capital "B".

So now, four-plus years into Mess O'Potamia we find ourselves (and I think it's really us saddled with the consequences of the actions of the "contractors". We've moved beyond Kos' "Fuck the Mercenaries" moment to a point where some examination of these extra-national (for want of a better word) contractors operate, and whether or not we want them representing our country within Iraq (and anywhere else they operate on our behalf).

Cindy Sheehan

The best comment I've come across is from spyderkl at Big Brass Blog:
To know that your child died not only for no real cause, but that the country he died for doesn't really care...Yes, I think the only mystery is not that Cindy Sheehan is done with public anti-war activism, but that she hung in there for so long. I hope that she can regain her health and some semblance of a private life.
Thank you for all you have done, Cindy.

Update 6/1: Molly Ivors at Whiskey Fire :

My point is that when Sheehan came forward as a public face, in 2005, that kind of raw emotion, her loss, was the most potent weapon we had available to us as anti-war activists, and we embraced her accordingly. She was doing something to fill the void left by her son's death, and she was an essential, a potent symbol, of the cost of the war on real lives.

Our opposition, however, must be based on broader principles than the grief of one mother. I realized how far we had moved this spring, when Mary and Kevin Tillman testified before Congress about the cover-up and propaganda campaign surrounding the death of Patrick Tillman. It struck me then that Sheehan seemed to be demanding a personal justice she was never going to get from the sociopath inhabiting the White House, who has been content to watch others die for his ideology for going on 40 years. But the Tillmans went at it somewhat differently, collecting information and reports from all over in order to expose the "fraud... deliberate and calculated lies" which followed hard upon Patrick's death.

And so I wish Cindy Sheehan peace, not Kristinn Taylor's "suck it up" peace, but the peace of knowing that she did an incredible amount to change the conversation in this country and made it possible for us to move to another level of critique. Thank you.
Exactly. Cindy Sheehan threw a wrench into the war propaganda machine, personalized the dead soldiers, ripped off the shuttered faces to show the pain. The Tillmans couldn't have been heard if Sheehan hadn't been there first.

Do not contaminate the word liberal by trying to say Bush is one

Bush is no liberal, even though the next decade will be filled with neocons saying Bush was too much of one to fulfill the neoconservative agenda. Chester of Vanity Press takes apart one of the first of many such articles, this one by Richard Cohen:

Uh-oh, he's back and he's dumber than ever.

Years ago, someone coined the term "neoliberal." I was never sure what it meant.
I know. It's really hard to find out what words mean, isn't it? In brief, "neoliberalism," a word not often used in the USA, refers to the belief that the so-called "free market" should provide the basis for absolutely everything -- that the structure of the market should dominate all other interests including the democratic rights of the people. It's only been the dominant political ideology worldwide for the past quarter century, so there's really no reason for a Washington political columnist to know anything about it, is there?

Anyhow, the most important thing to realize about "neoliberalism" is that it is the direct opposite of liberalism. Liberalism, after all, is the belief that society's structures are there to serve people; conservatism, on the other hand, is the belief that people are there to serve society's structures. So really, "neoliberalism" is just a specialized form of conservatism, which is hardly surprising given its pedigree: Thatcher ran the world's first neoliberal government, one that for some reason has been the model for all others since.

So, Richard, are we clear on this now?
I'd like to revive (and mangle) the term and apply it -- brace yourself -- to George W. Bush. He's more liberal than you might think.
Oh dear. No, Richard, no. The word "neoliberal" and the word "liberal" are different. They are in fact polar opposites of each other -- no, Richard, stop!
After all, the conventional wisdom is that Bush is the most conservative of all presidents....But consider this: An overriding principle of conservatism is to limit the role and influence of the federal government.
No it isn't. Conservatism only began to advocate for limited government in response first to the Progressives and then to the New Deal, when it became clear that the institution of government was becoming more democratic and had been harnessed to serve the people's interests. Because conservatism believes that people should serve institutions and not the other way around, conservatives began to advocate for limited government so that other institutions, such as corporations, could rule in its stead. When conservatives are actually in charge of government and can wrest it away from democratic functions, they never have any problem with expanding its power.
Chester continues to shred Cohen's thesis and leave little confetti bits all over Cohen's head. Yet this quote of Chester's:
Liberalism, after all, is the belief that society's structures are there to serve people; conservatism, on the other hand, is the belief that people are there to serve society's structures.
Makes me want to ask where Bush actually fits in all this when his belief is that people and society are there to serve him and stand around being impressed by the actions of Commander Guy and the Deciderer?

Steeped in idiocy

The top ten.

Religious wars as the new Survivor series

Read Taking Stock over at Drunk Duck:
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Giuliani's decision to do 9/11/24/7/365 may work until

We hear from those who had to deal up close and personal with 9/11:
[The firefighters have] shown up in the past at Giuliani's presidential events. Today, they’re gathering in Bay Ridge, and they have plans to follow him nationwide starting sometime around January, according to Jim Riches, a deputy chief with the fire department whose son was killed in the World Trade Center attacks.

“We have all the UFA, the UFOA, and the fire members are all behind us -- the International Association of Fire Fighters,” said Riches. “And we’re going to be out there today to let everybody know that he’s not the hero that he says he is.”

The group’s complaints center on the faulty radios used by the fire department that day and what they say was a lack of coordination at Ground Zero.

And Riches disputes the notion that Giuliani provided any form of leadership on September 11 or in the days following.

“If somebody can tell me what he did on 9/11 that was so good, I’d love to hear it. All he did was give information on the TV”

“He did nothing,” Riches continued. “He stood there with a TV reporter and told everyone what was going on. And he got it from everybody else down at the site.”

Ve haf vays of makink you talk

But it's not torture! It's enhanced interrogation techniques, so quit being so worried. Relax... lean back, I'm going to give you a waterboarding....

Think Progress quotes Andrew Sullivan:

Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I’m not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn’t-somehow-torture - “enhanced interrogation techniques” - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.

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And a video of waterboarding.

As we head on to the next Memorial Day a year from now

How many more names will be on this list because of you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney?

Don't worry. They will be waiting for you when you die to hear your explanation of your glorious and eternal war and why they needed to keep dying because others had died.

Via jurassicpork at Welcome To Pottersville:
On Memorial Day, May 28, 2007, George W. Bush said that soldiers dying in foreign wars was “a rich tradition” (like throwing out the first pitch, say, on Opening Day or the groom removing his bride's garter) and that going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan was part of our nation’s destiny. At the Tomb of the Unknowns, Bush also seemed to take to heart 174 Marines who supposedly asked to have their enlistments extended and that it seemed to validate for him the stop-lossing of already weary troops who are getting killed in record numbers because they are exhausted and burnt-out.
And also from jurassicpork, Paul Krugman:
“In this place where valor sleeps, we are reminded why America has always gone to war reluctantly, because we know the costs of war.” That’s what President Bush said last year, in a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Those were fine words, spoken by a man with less right to say them than any president in our nation’s history. For Mr. Bush took us to war not with reluctance, but with unseemly eagerness.
Eagerness into the worst, most incompetently lead war in American history.

Attaturk of Rising Hegemon predicts the future:
I'm going to guess that a whole new series of the usual suspects will be trotted out to demand SIX MORE MONTHS!

Allow me to just "cut & paste" Joe Lieberman's Fall 2007 WaPo & WSJ editorials now:

"I've seen remarkable progress in Anbar Province"

"For the first time, we are making real progress against Al Qaeda"

"Our fighting forces are upbeat and optimistic that the job is being done"

"Now is not the time to begin pulling out troops"

"We must give our military leaders in Iraq, even more troops to complete the job"

'Create a wasteland and call it peace'

Describes the Neocon agenda. The quote comes from Tacitus describing the Roman senators getting fat and greedy as they send the soldiers out to ravage nations. Matthew Carr at the First Post makes you recoil in horror seeing the truly ugly warmongering souls of Richard Perle, and John Bolton:
The war trolls would have us believe that they are the grown-ups, defending us from the coming barbarism. But watch out next time you see them on Newsnight. Behind the oily gravitas of the prince of darkness lies a different kind of barbarism. And look closely at the gleaming eyes of the ex-UN ambassador with his walrus moustache. You might just detect a big kid, living out a fantasy of violence and control, while he operates the PlayStation game that just happens to be the world the rest of us live in.
And speaking of looking into the eyes and into the minds of the Bush Administration, you have to read Morse's latest masterpiece at The Republic of Sestakastan.

Look carefully at the last frame of Bolton's glasses....

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Bush administration declares we will eat what they tell us to

And like it. (Steve Bates of The Yellow Doggerel Democrat provided the link.)
Item in Farm Bill Takes Away State & Local Rights to Regulate GMOs & Food Safety
Center for Food Safety Recognizes that Proposal Ties States' Hands, Weakening Food Safety Protections at a Time When they Need to be Strengthened

Washington May 24, 2007 - Earlier today, the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry approved new language slipped into the 2007 Farm Bill that pre-empts any state prohibitions against any foods or agricultural goods that have been deregulated by the USDA. The passage appears to be aimed at several recently enacted state laws that restrict the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops, but could also prohibit states from taking action when food contamination cases occur.

"Given the recent spate of food scares, it's shocking to see this attempt to derail safeguards for our food and farms," said Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director of the Center for Food Safety. "We need a Farm Bill that will promote stronger food safety standards, not one that attacks these vital state-level protections."

The passage approved by the House Subcommittee today states that "no State or locality shall make any law prohibiting the use in commerce of an article that the Secretary of Agriculture has inspected and passed; or determined to be of non-regulated status."

Cheney hates the Geneva Convention

Isn't it obvious this man has never... NEVER served on a field of battle, never felt the need of such protections in the face of the enemy? This man is into torture, into disappearing people, into all the trappings of a tinpot dictator.

Will he get to keep his secretly located bunker when he is tossed out of his vice-president's office? Will he go quietly?

Will there be an oh-so-conveniently timed terrorist attack that will let Bush and Cheney stay in office?

We can only wait and see....

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Power... I must have more... power!

Happy Birthday Rachel Carson

Even though some people blame you for no longer being able to dance in the spray of DDT and would like to dig you up to kill you:
Now Melanie Morgan of Disney Radio station KSFO 560 AM wants to dig up the grave of a dead person and kill them again!

In a conversation with John Berlau (author of Eco-Freaks from the ExxonMobile funded front group, CEI) broadcast on the 6:00 hour on December 01, 2006

They were discussing how good DDT is and the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

Lee Rogers: Well I think the moral of this story is beware of do gooders they'll kill ya.

Melanie Morgan: "or dig up Rachel Green and kill her all over again. I mean that would an appropriate,

Rogers: Rachel Carson.

Morgan: I'm sorry, Rachel Carson of Silent Green.

- Lee Rogers and Melanie Morgan on ABC Disney Radio station KSFO 12/01/2006 06:15 AM (The Lee Rogers and Melanie Morgan program, KSFO 560 AM) (audio link)
And Morse of The Republic of Sestakastan catches a senator:

Tom Coburn has blocked an honor for Rachel Carson.

A plan to honor environmental pioneer and "Silent Spring" author Rachel Carson on her centennial on Sunday was blocked by a U.S. senator who believes Carson created a climate of "hysteria and misinformation."

Sen. Tom Coburn (news, bio, voting record) derailed approval of a Senate resolution honoring the life of Carson, whose 1962 book "Silent Spring" warned of the dangers posed to wildlife and humans by the pesticide DDT and who is credited with inspiring the modern environmental movement.

"Rachel Carson's work both directly and indirectly created a climate of hysteria and misinformation about the impact of DDT on the human populations," said John Hart, a spokesman for Coburn, in explaining why the Oklahoma Republican withheld his support for the plan to honor her.
Why on earth is she so disliked by the rightwing?
Rachel Carson made environmentalism respectable. Before Silent Spring, nearly all Americans believed that science was a force for good. Carson's work exposed the dark side of science. It showed that DDT and other chemicals we were using to enhance agricultural productivity were poisoning our lakes, rivers, oceans, and ourselves. Thanks to her, progress can no longer be measured solely in tons of wheat produced and millions of insects killed. Thanks to her, the destruction of nature can no longer be called progress.
She stepped in the way of big corporations and showed people the consequences of pesticides. She taught a whole generation to question.
As early as 1945, Carson and her close colleague Clarence Cottam had become alarmed by government abuse of new chemical pesticides such as DDT, in particular the "predator" and "pest" control programs, which were broadcasting poisons with little regard for the welfare of other creatures.
Meanwhile, the insecticide barrage had been augmented by dieldrin, parathion, heptachlor, malathion and other fearful compounds many times stronger than DDT, all of which the government planned to distribute through the Department of Agriculture for public use and commercial manufacture. "The more I learned about the use of pesticides, the more appalled I became," Carson recalled. "I realized that here was the material for a book. What I discovered was that everything which meant most to me as a naturalist was being threatened, and that nothing I could do would be more important."
Silent Spring, serialized in the New Yorker in June 1962, gored corporate oxen all over the country. Even before publication, Carson was violently assailed by threats of lawsuits and derision, including suggestions that this meticulous scientist was a "hysterical woman" unqualified to write such a book. A huge counterattack was organized and led by Monsanto, Velsicol, American Cyanamid — indeed, the whole chemical industry — duly supported by the Agriculture Department as well as the more cautious in the media.
By year's end, Audubon and National Parks Magazine had published additional excerpts from the book, and all but the most self-serving of Carson's attackers were backing rapidly toward safer ground. In their ugly campaign to reduce a brave scientist's protest to a matter of public relations, the chemical interests had only increased public awareness. Silent Spring became a runaway best seller, with international reverberations. Nearly 40 years later, it is still regarded as the cornerstone of the new environmentalism. v Carson was not a born crusader but an intelligent and dedicated woman who rose heroically to the occasion. She was rightly confident about her facts as well as her ability to present them. Secure in the approval of her peers, she remained remarkably serene in the face of her accusers. Perhaps the imminence of her own mortality had helped her find this precious balance and perspective. In most photographs, the pensive face appears a little sad, but this was true long before she knew that she had cancer. She was 56 when she died in April 1964.
Some of us wish you a Happy Birthday, Ms. Carson.

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Thank you.

Withdrawing consent

Brings down governments, makes dictators flee, makes the common man powerful. This non-violent action is more powerful than tanks and bullets:

In the mid-1980's a popular movement sprang up to oust the corrupt Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. As the resistance gained momentum, two key military officers defected from the government and sequestered themselves inside a Manila military base. What followed was an amazing example of nonviolent struggle as hundreds of thousands of ordinary Filipinos took to the streets to protect the rebel officers from troops still loyal to Marcos.

"What the story of the Philippine revolution demonstrates is the power people can have when they withdraw consent."

And the mothers in Argentina who demanded to know what happened to their 'disappeared' children:

The women, whose number soon grew to several score, already sensed that they were testing a surface, without knowing what was beneath. Many others elsewhere in the world who had lived under dictators could have told them what was below: the mendacity of authoritarian control. In the clear air, life in Argentina proceeded as it always had. Given the façade of normalcy, the regime seemed unassailable. No one appeared eager to penetrate it, except now for these desperate women.

Not until two months later, after weekly demonstrations, were three mothers allowed to see the minister of the interior, a general who said he had a file with the names of people who had disappeared, that it contained names from even his friends' families. But he did not know who had taken them; he said "that there were para-military groups out there who couldn't be controlled," Rosario recalled. "He passed the responsibility to other people. Then he said that perhaps our sons had run away with a woman, that perhaps our daughters were working as prostitutes somewhere."

At that moment, it seems, the women's fear gave way to anger. "We told him that they were cowards, because even a cruel dictator like Franco had signed the death sentences with his own hand...We told him everything we felt and we told him that we would come back every week until they gave us an answer and that we would walk in the square every Thursday until we dropped." When the general told them public meetings were prohibited by the state of siege then in effect, they told him they would stay until he gave them an answer. Although they did not know it, these grieving women had declared war.

Non-violence, when used correctly, is more powerful and more persuasive than any weapon. People forget they have this power until they are shoved to the very edge of the abyss, when they realize the government they support is totally against them, when they realize they have nothing to lose. The citizens give the government power, they can take it away.

(Look at the movie: V for Vendetta for a recent reminder.)

(links from NTodd)

Peanut butter and bananas prove God's existence

(from trifecta at PairoDimes)

My response is this:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Finally!! We get a picture of the bus

That Bush and Cheney are determined to drive off the cliff. Apparently allows for flipflopping and changing the course wildly mid-flip!

Can we see if a steering wheel is installed? Or does it only make hard right turns?

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(pic found at Happy Furry Puppy Story Time with Norbuziness)

Canadian terrorists read books?

Bryan of Why Now? catches the important work our Border Patrol is up to:
DERBY LINE, Vermont (AP) — Step through the front door of the Haskell Library and you’re in the United States.

Walk across the carpeted floor to the circulation desk and you’re in Canada. But if you sit down on the couch, you’re back in the U.S.

The 106-year-old Romanesque building, which straddles the international border, has enjoyed a kind of informal immunity from border restrictions through the years.

But a U.S. Border Patrol crackdown focusing on three unguarded streets linking Derby Line with Stanstead, Quebec, across the border, could soon change that.

What illegal activity? Like trying to walk over the border line drawn on the library floor without showing your passport each time?

I was always suspicious of those overly-friendly Canadians! They can't have been up to anything good!

Sign the petition

Help the family of LaVena Johnson uncover the truth about their daughter's murder. I don't think an upbeat girl tries to burn her body AFTER she inexplicably commits suicide. Apparently the military believes this to be the case.

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Information here.

Petition here.

Blackwater is making Iraq soooo much safer

For our troops. Josh Marshall quotes the Washington Post:

Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area.

Blackwater confirmed that its employees were involved in two shootings but could neither confirm nor deny that there had been any casualties, according to a company official who declined to be identified because of the firm's policy of not addressing incidents publicly.

I'm sure our soldiers really appreciate Blackwater employees running about doing stuff with no oversight and no accountability.

Kinda like George Bush really...

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'It's not mah fault!'

What we wanted Carter to really say

And mean it, Bill Maher says for him:
And that's why it's so depressing that when the right-wing noise machine pretended to get upset at what Jimmy Carter said, he did what Democrats always do and backed down. He said his remarks were careless and misrepresented and the sun was in his eyes and his hearing aid went out and he was molested by a clergyman. They confronted him, and he took it all back. Which is what Democrats do. Why couldn't he have just said, "No, I meant what I said. And speaking as the first citizen of Habitat for Humanity, let me take out my toolbox and build you a house where we can meet and you can blow me."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Organic no longer means organic, Toto

Thanks to the Compassionator and his concerned cabal of conservatives. We are now eating what the Wicked Witch of the West cooks up.

Kirk James Murphy, M.D. of Firedoglake:

Last week the USDA unveiled their new “standards” for 39 food materials. Amazingly enough, all 39 proposed “standards” simply declare chemicals or chemically grown foodsstuffs can now be hidden in foods labelled “organic”. The comment period ended Tuesday, May 22.

Big Industrial Food (and their colleagues temporarily on detail as Bushie political appointees at USDA) have been chewing this over for years. The Bushies at USDA generously gave the public seven days of comment (instead of the usual 30 or 45) on the latest loopholes Big Ag and Big Bug Spray found for our tables.

Big Ag and Big Bug Spray have entered their “Harry Potter” phase. They want the USDA to magically declare:

  • Chemically grown rice magically produces organic rice starch
  • Chemically grown hops magically make organic beer.
  • Chemical cheese from chemically raised milk magically contains organic whey protein
  • Chemical fish raised in pens and fed nothing but artificial food pellets and antibiotics will – when passed through industrial grinders – magically produce organic fish oil.

Big Ag and Big Bug Spray believe in magic. Who knew?

Andrew Card gets loudly and soundly booed

For more than a solid minute when he gets his honorary degree at University of Massachusetts:

Damned edjukated folks at them univer cities! They's supposed ta just accept stuff rather than read things and think! Looke what happens!

Update: More YouTubed goodness:

Monica's blue blue dress...

Goodling's that is. Greg Palast at the Brad Blog points out the committee missed the most amazing confession and link to a crime during Monica Goodling's testimony:
This Monica revealed something hotter --- much hotter --- than a stained blue dress. In her opening testimony yesterday before the House Judiciary Committee, Monica Goodling, the blonde-ling underling to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Department of Justice Liaison to the White House, dropped The Big One....And the Committee members didn't even know it.

Goodling testified that Gonzales' Chief of Staff, Kyle Sampson, perjured himself, lying to the committee in earlier testimony. The lie: Sampson denied Monica had told him about Tim Griffin's "involvement in 'caging' voters" in 2004.


Here's how caging worked, and along with Griffin's thoughtful emails themselves you'll understand it all in no time.

The Bush-Cheney operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked "Do not forward" to voters' homes. Letters returned ("caged") were used as evidence to block these voters' right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses. Who were the evil fakers? Homeless men, students on vacation and --- you got to love this --- American soldiers. Oh yeah: most of them are Black voters.

Why weren't these African-American voters home when the Republican letters arrived? The homeless men were on park benches, the students were on vacation --- and the soldiers were overseas. Go to Baghdad, lose your vote. Mission Accomplished.

How do I know? I have the caging lists...

I have them because they are attached to the emails Rove insists can't be found. I have the emails. 500 of them --- sent to our team at BBC after the Rove-bots accidentally sent them to a web domain owned by our friend John Wooden.

Here's what you need to know --- and the Committee would have discovered, if only they'd asked:

  1. 'Caging' voters is a crime, a go-to-jail felony.
  2. Griffin wasn't "involved" in the caging, Ms. Goodling. Griffin, Rove's right-hand man (right-hand claw), was directing the illegal purge and challenge campaign. How do I know? It's in the email I got. Thanks. And it's posted below.
  3. On December 7, 2006, the ragin', cagin' Griffin was named, on Rove's personal demand, US Attorney for Arkansas. Perpetrator became prosecutor.

The committee was perplexed about Monica's panicked admission and accusations about the caging list because the US press never covered it. That's because, as Griffin wrote to Goodling in yet another email (dated February 6 of this year, and also posted below), their caging operation only made the news on BBC London: busted open, Griffin bitched, by that "British reporter," Greg Palast.

Ask the questions, Congress! Palast has written it all down for you if you are brave enough to use them. Go and look at his evidence.

Monica's clothes were actually more black than blue, but anyway....

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Friday Hope

All week long. Phila of Bouphonia asks for any articles you may find to add to his growing list of wonderfulness.

(Can't find his email... will post when I do.)

Reduction of troops imminent!

Said in 2007... 2006 ... 2005 ... 2004 ... 2003.

Isn't there a story about a young boy who cried wolf too many times and finally the townspeople stopped listening to him?

Where are those townspeople?

Why are we still listening to this administration?

The reason you may hear noises

When you use your mouse.

Pax Americana

In honor of Gretchen Pritsky, NTodd's mom. The blog will reflect her "concern for the well-being of others, belief in inherent goodness of humanity, desire to find peace within and without."

What a tribute.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Falwell arriving at the pearly gates

Uh oh, Tinky Winky....

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(pic stolen from here.)

Update 5/29: We need a poem to honor this event:
Steve Bates said...

Jerry Scary

Children, see the Teletubby:
Rather stubby,
Kinda chubby.
Never snobby, never clubby.

Has a TV in its tummy:
Never crummy,
Never scummy;
Doesn't look a lot like Mummy.

Has a 'tenny on the toppy:
Though he's sloppy,
Dances choppy,
One would not mistake for Poppy.

Children, now let's look at Jerry:
Jerry's wary,
Jerry's scary;
Calls our Tinky Winky "fairy."

Doesn't like our Tinky's baggy,
Calls him "faggy,"
Calls him "draggy,"
Calls him everything but "Maggie."

Jerry's preachy on the tubey:
Hates kids who be
Just like you be;
'Specially kids who might a Jew be.

Children, do not be like Jerry:
Leery, wary,
Chary, scary.
Lovey-dovey has he nary.

Better take your cue from Tinky:
Smiley, Winky,
Kindly thinky;
Next to Tinky, Jerry's stinky!

Hate's infectious, like a scabie:
You had maybe
Better gay be
Than to hate a 'tubby baby!

- SBtheYDD
(From Steve Bates at The Yellow Doggerel Democrat)

Every once in a while we see a politician

Who might actually transform the system. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA):
“This capitulation proves once and for all that we cannot negotiate with this President. He won’t listen to his military generals on the ground, he won’t listen to outside experts like the Iraq Study Group, he won’t listen to the Congress, and worst of all he won’t listen to the American public.

“Faced with this blind arrogance we have no other choice but to take bold steps to confront this President and to hold him accountable for his continued failures in Iraq. If we refuse, if we continue to take piecemeal steps such as today’s vote, then we must accept our complicity in his continued occupation of Iraq.

“The American public voted Democrats into power for one simple reason - they trusted us to act boldly to hold this President accountable and to bring our troops home. So far we are failing the very trust that they have placed in us. But more importantly, every day that we allow this occupation to continue we are failing our brave young men and women who are serving honorably and professionally in Iraq. And we are failing their families here at home, who, while struggling to keep their lives and families together, are forced to worry whether their loved ones will come home alive, and if so in what condition.

“Today is not an opportunity to claim victory, or to give bellicose speeches for partisan gain. Today is an opportunity to grieve for the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for this President’s failed Iraq policy, to stand by our nation’s sons and daughters who suffer through the irreparable physical and mental wounds of war, and to grieve for the lives that we will continue to lose so long as this President refuses to bring our troops home, and continues to send our young men and women to die for his failure.”
We can hope.

Finally someone actually spoke the truth

About the stupid 'fight them over there or they'll follow us over here' bullshit. Via Steve Benen at Crooks and Liars, Fred Kaplan at the Slate on Georgie's birdpooping press conference:

If you sat through the rest of the conference, which dealt mainly with the war in Iraq, you saw the bedraggled president he has become—defensive, doctrinaire, scattershot, and either deceptive or delusional.

Iraq has dominated his agenda for four years now, yet he still sees the conflict through a prism rife with cliché.

The topper, which he has recited several times before, is that if we fail in Iraq, the terrorists will follow us home. He uttered a few variations of the line this morning: "If we were to fail, they'd come and get us. … If we let up, we'll be attacked. … It's better to fight them there than here."

Clearly, this is nonsense, on three levels.

First, the vast majority of the insurgents have nothing to do with al-Qaida or its ideology. They're combatants in a sectarian conflict for power in Iraq, and they have neither the means nor the desire to threaten North America.

Second, to the extent that the true global terrorists could attack us at home, they could do so whether or not U.S. troops stay or win in Iraq. The one issue has nothing to do with the other.

Third, what kind of thing is this to say in front of the allies? If our main goal in bombing, strafing, and stomping through Iraq is to make sure we don't have to do so on our own territory, will any needy nation ever again seek our aid and cover? Or will they seek out a less blatantly selfish protector?

Texas Senate passes Bible teaching in public schools

And it's now going to the governor to be signed. Steve Bates at the Yellow Doggerel Democrat has the Democratic reply.

Now THIS will fix premarital sex, teenage misbehavior, crime, illegal aliens, the health care crisis, the war in Iraq....

Update 5/26: Steve corrects me: the reply [he] published is that of an individual State Democratic Executive Committee member. She does not represent the Texas Democratic Party on this issue.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, North Korea

Gets tired of being ignored:

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea fired several short-range guided missiles Friday into the sea that separates it from Japan in an apparent test launch, South Korean officials and media reports said.

Analysts and media reports said the North's test was in response to South Korea's launch of its first destroyer equipped with high-tech Aegis radar technology on Friday. South Korea is now one of only five countries armed with the technology, which will make it easier to track and shoot down North Korean aircraft and missiles.

The top ten idiots

How could I forget?

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They're just making little soldiers for the next war

Why should we care?

Did you know that women in the US armed forces are currently denied access to legal reproductive options?

About 350,000 women currently serve in the military, making up about 15 percent of all active-duty personnel. But federal law does little to protect their reproductive rights. Not only are servicewomen banned from accessing abortion care at all military medical facilities, many can't even obtain emergency contraception at their base pharmacy and thus have no effective access to Plan B contraceptives.

Timely access to emergency contraception is important for military women, especially since nearly 3,000 incidents of sexual assault were reported in the military last year-- an approximate 24 percent increase from 2005. Congress has an opportunity to improve health care for women in the military with a bill sponsored by lawmakers in both parties supporting the addition of Plan B to the list of medications that must be stocked at every military health-care facility.

3000 sexual assaults? A 24% increase? They're supposed to lie back and think of America? WTF????

Supporting our troops one contractor at a time

Read what the Blackwater apologist said about how wonderfully the military was being supplied:
5. The U.S. military is designed to be the most capable organization in the world, it is not designed or expected to be particularly cost effective. Outsourcing needs to the private sector brings huge economies of scale and efficiencies that save billions of dollars while reducing burdens and enhancing services to the soldiers in the field.

Here's some articles:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The system for delivering badly needed gear to Marines in Iraq has failed to meet many urgent requests for equipment from troops in the field, according to an internal document obtained by The Associated Press.

Of more than 100 requests from deployed Marine units between February 2006 and February 2007, less than 10 percent have been fulfilled, the document says. It blamed the bureaucracy and a "risk-averse" approach by acquisition officials.

Among the items held up were a mine-resistant vehicle and a hand-held laser system.

"Process worship cripples operating forces," according to the document. "Civilian middle management lacks technical and operational currency."

The 32-page document -- labeled "For Official Use Only" -- was prepared by the staff of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force after they returned from Iraq in February.

The document was to be presented in March to senior officials in the Pentagon's defense research and engineering office. The presentation was canceled by Marine Corps leaders because its contents were deemed too contentious, according to a defense official familiar with the document. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

The document's claims run counter to the public description of a process intended to cut through the layers of red tape that frequently slow the military's procurement process.

The Marine Corps had no immediate comment on the document.

And this from Bryan at Why Now?:

Juan Cole says that the insurgents are Starving the Americans Out, but I would think “You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.” [Robert Heinlein - Logic of Empire].

They have pulled all of these people into Baghdad without insuring that the privatized logistics system can support them.

Consider they increased the number of combat troops, and then “realized” they had to increase the number of support people. The GAO knew the extra support people were necessary, but the Pentagon claimed they weren’t. Given the way the Pentagon has nickel and dimed the troops, it not surprising that no one made sure there were increased shipments of food and materiel.

Where on earth did this woman come from?

Thinking that a drug that shuts off menstruation is a denial of babies and womanhood? Prepare for the weirdness:

Update: Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon has more.

Update: Chester of Vanity Press explains why this woman is so weirdly creepy: her bio.

6 Navy Commanders sacked in 6 weeks


Are they refusing to attack Iran? What is going on? Who is replacing these commanders?
For the sixth time in as many weeks, the lead officer of a Navy ship has been suddenly relieved of command, DANGER ROOM pal Andy Scutro reports for Navy Times.
Here is a list of all of them, one was Coast Guard.

Why does this make me freak out just a bit?

Don't you dare call it a change of course!

Or flipflopping, going back on his word, changing his mind, or actually asking for directions!

He's just widening the field of options, opening up the discussion, uh... developing a new plan (#327)....

The Bush administration is retooling its Iraq war strategy. U.S. diplomats will soon sit across the table from their Iranian counterparts, as they did recently with the Syrians, to discuss ways Iraq’s neighbors can play a more positive role. Washington reportedly has also invited the United Nations (Guardian) to have a more direct presence in Iraq, including a larger role for its humanitarian missions and even the potential creation of a UN command. Finally, once the surge of troops into Baghdad tapers down, the U.S. military will increasingly look to shift its role in Iraq away from combat operations and into training and advisory missions (WashPost).

If any of these steps sound familiar, it’s because many of them were recommendations from the Iraq Study Group report, the blue-ribbon panel commissioned by Congress to find an alternative strategy on Iraq. Coolly received by the White House after its publication last December, the report has been dusted off and given a second look by Bush administration officials.

Soon it will have been Georgie's idea all along cuz he meant to do that. He's the Deciderer, remember. The Commander Guy does not change his squinty steely vision of the world. The world changes for him.

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Supporting the troops

By sending them back again and again:

Soldiers getting ready to go on leave would talk about things they planned to do at home with tones of relief and elation. Soldiers returning to their units would move about anxiously and hope for delays in their returns back to the line. When details of their returns were received, and when all hope of delay had been exhausted, their muscles visibly tightened and their movements became jolted, almost angry, and they began to speak of their hopelessness, the friends they had seen killed. They began to question and criticize the war, late into the night on their cots in the darkness. In the morning, they would be gone, their empty cots a reminder of them, and of where they would be by now. Often when we spoke to them, we wondered secretly if they would become one more of those we had talked with who might later appear on a memorial flier before us, an inverted rifle and bayonet, a Kevlar, a pair of boots, and dog tags, a typed message naming who they left behind back home.

One soldier who had been back too many times:

"No, sir, I don't really sleep. Well, maybe an hour or two, then I get up. I don't want to dream," the soldier said to us. His name was Staff Sgt. Johnson. He was a good soldier, and you could tell when you spoke to him. He was a man of honor. He was ashamed to be speaking with us, but his leaders had insisted. He had served three combat tours as a squad leader in a line unit. His body and his hands shook during pauses in his speaking and he stared at us, and sometimes past us, with a wide-eyed look of hyper alertness. He had just returned from leave and two guys in his squad were killed days before his return.

"You know, I think I thought, would think, that each time you lose someone in combat it would be easier, but it's not. It's not." He shook his head and looked away from Maj. Johns and down at the floor. "It's not," he repeated as he stared at the floor. He looked back up at me nervously, still shaking his head. When he finally stopped shaking his head, his body erupted into a tiny tremor as he tried to keep still. He pressed and rubbed his palms against his knees as he sat, presumably to try and stop his hands from shaking. "Every time someone dies, I relive all of the other deaths. Over and over." He shook his head and looked back down at the floor and the tremor began again.

"That's a very normal response," Maj. Johns said. I nodded and Staff Sgt. Johnson nodded back at us sadly, and then looked away.

"You know, I think going home on leave really told me how bad I was."

"What happened on your leave?" Maj. Johns asked.

"Well, not too much really. Well, the first few days were good."

"What did you do the first few days?"

"I checked into a nice hotel and got a bottle of scotch and I didn't come out for about four or five days. It was great. I didn't get drunk. I just sipped, you know?"

"What were you doing in there all that time?" Maj. Johns asked.

"Just staring at the wall really," he answered, and then drifted his gaze past us as if remembering. "I didn't turn on the TV or anything. I just stared at the wall. Well, for the first three days anyway. I know it sounds weird but it was really great."

"Then what happened?"

"Well, then my girlfriend came. And don't get me wrong. I love her and she's a great girl and all but it just wasn't the same after she came. She's great though. She's so understanding."

"How did things go with your girlfriend? Did you get along okay?"

"Oh yah, we didn't fight at all. No, we got along. But..." he looked from Maj. Johns toward me and hesitated.

"But what, man?" I asked.

"Well, I couldn't do it, you know? I mean sex. We didn't have sex at all. Her skin just felt really weird. You know what I mean?" He sort of squinted and cocked his head to the side slightly when he asked if we knew what he meant.

"No, not exactly. What did her skin feel like to you? Describe it to us," Maj. Johns replied.

"Like rubber, like an animal," he crinkled his cheeks as he remembered, as if it were repulsive to him. "Like she wasn't real."

We talked with Staff Sgt. Johnson for a while longer. He was one of the worst we had ever seen. When we mentioned the thought of him taking his squad out again he simply said, "I can't. I won't. I won't load another body onto that chopper. I can't. I won't."

The politics of food

Are the same the world over. Take what you can get, use who you can exploit, ignore safety and health hazards, get the money:

Today, China does not only produce clothes, electronics and toys, but exports a variety of food items. I challenge a garlic consumer, just to take this one example, to go to the market in Dubai, Muscat, Beirut, London or Los Angeles to test this theory. We all buy the same garlic made in China, packaged in 3, 5 or 6 counts in purple mesh bags, that bear the "Super" tag, followed by the number 3 or 5 or 6.

These innocuous labels carry the "Product of Global Farms" label in Arabic or English (or any in other language), along with a price bar code, although they are all from the same origin.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this "garlic" phenomenon since it is a function of supply and demand. Yet, something is amiss when exporters flood markets on the backs of cheap labourers [workers who suffer "gulaosi," in Chinese "to be literally worked to death,"] and importers, who fling safety records out the window for immediate financial gains.

Working conditions in many countries - and not just in Asia - are poor and labour laws are either non-existent, or inadequately drafted.

In truth, manual and increasingly technical labourers everywhere, are expendable although periodic calls to address dire conditions are made after every confrontation. Often modest modifications are introduced after illegal industrial actions result in work stoppages.

Still, for all the promises made by managers to eliminate sweatshop work conditions, few trade unions are created to protect workers from outright exploitation.

Know where your products come from. Buy locally and seasonally if you can. Be aware.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cheney's mindcontrol over Georgie is fading

And the Deciderer Commander Guy is coming to and wondering why everyone on earth thinks he's a fucking bastard:

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There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy.

On one flank are the diplomats, and on the other is Vice President Cheney's team and acolytes -- who populate quite a wide swath throughout the American national security bureaucracy.

The Pentagon and the intelligence establishment are providing support to add muscle and nuance to the diplomatic effort led by Condi Rice, her deputy John Negroponte, Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, and Legal Adviser John Bellinger. The support that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and CIA Director Michael Hayden are providing Rice's efforts are a complete, 180 degree contrast to the dysfunction that characterized relations between these institutions before the recent reshuffle of top personnel.

However, the Department of Defense and national intelligence sector are also preparing for hot conflict. They believe that they need to in order to convince Iran's various power centers that the military option does exist.

But this is worrisome. The person in the Bush administration who most wants a hot conflict with Iran is Vice President Cheney. The person in Iran who most wants a conflict is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran's Revolutionary Guard Quds Force would be big winners in a conflict as well -- as the political support that both have inside Iran has been flagging.


The zinger of this information is the admission by this Cheney aide that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.

According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the "right decision" when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President's hands.

Iran is next on the to-do list for the neocons. They may never get another chance at Iran, so it doesn't matter that Afghanistan and Iraq are in ruins, full speed ahead!

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Bring me the ring....

Al-Qaeda is coming tegitcha!!

They are going to climb out from under yer bed and eat yer children! (Dammit, Dick, they ain't gitting as skeert as they used ta!)

Attaturk at Rising Hegemon has the pics.

Watch Georgie make a tangle of the reasons why we shouldn't be cynical:

Projects alot, doesn't he?


100 to one:

Pregnant women are stupid

Or at the least hysterical and irrational. They really can't think for themselves and need some guidance on what to do.

I've stolen Scott Lemieux's entire post over at Lawyers, Guns and Money because he has the most teeth-grindingly awful quotes in links that make you wonder what century we've wandered into. Have we warped back in time and not noticed?:
Jill Filipovic points us to this Times article about the new strategy to justify using state coercion to force women to carry pregnancies to term by claiming that women are too irrational to know what's good for them, and offers a modest proposal. I would also urge you to read Reva Siegel and Sarah Blustain (see also here.) Quite simply, these justifications are premised on 19th-century conceptions of women as not being rational agents. And such justifications evidently underpin a great deal of anti-choice discourse and policy (most obviously seen in the fact that the official Republican position is that abortion is murder but women who obtain them should be entirely exempt from legal sanctions.) At least Kennedy was decent enough to give away the show, admitting that these assertions are backed by "no reliable data," leaving us with meaningless claims that some women may regret their decision to obtain abortions in retrospect. (If some women regret getting married, can we ban that too? How about anecdotal evidence about women who become depressed after becoming mothers, does this justify state-mandated abortions?) These arguments aren't about women's health; they're about assumptions that women are incapable of making moral judgments, period. That this view is not only part of our national discoruse but has been endorsed by five Supreme Court justices at this late date is dismaying.

...Bean connects the dots. See also Shakes, Jill2 and what Digby said.
The "great moral issue" of when life begins is fascinating I'm sure. Much more fascinating than whether the state can compel people to bear children against their will. But I guess that's an argument for another day. Today, we are talking about the meaning of "life" and that has no bearing on the vessel that contributes its DNA and lifeblood, incubates it for nine months inside itself and potentially bears its siblings. Certainly that vessel's personhood and agency is irrelevant to the much greater issue of blastocyst rights. Why even bring it up?
Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast:
The idea of a male Supreme Court Justice, or for that matter, a woman who had an abortion and wishes she hadn't, thinking he or she has the right to dictate what any other woman does is repugnant. There is no credible scientific research indicating widespread mental illness resulting from abortion, and that this bogus notion has crept into government is a crime. And to hide behind a paternalistic "We're just trying to save your from your evil, unchaste self" notion of "We know what's best for you" is insulting.

In this life we're all going to do things we regret. As the years went by and I hadn't changed my mind about not having children, people would ask me, "Well, what are you going to do if you regret your decision later on?" And I would say, "Live with it." Because we make decisions every day. Some of them are intelligent decisions and some are stupid. But we all, male and female, have to live with the consequences of what we do. We do what seems right at the time, and if we have regrets later on, well, such is life. Abortion is no different.
I'd post more but I've got to go get some guidance from my husband. He's the one without the womb so obviously so much more capable of thinking and stuff.

Back then the offerings to the gods were symbolic icons

Not sacrificial soldiers slaughtered on the altars of Greed, Oil, and Eternal War:
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Archaeologists in central Greece have discovered thousands of miniature clay pots and statuettes in the ruins of an ancient sanctuary possibly dedicated to the Three Graces, officials said on Wednesday.

In volume, it is one of the richest finds in recent years.

Excavations near Orchomenos, 80 miles northwest of Athens, revealed sparse remains of retaining walls from a small rural shrine, a Culture Ministry statement said.

But a rock-carved shaft was found to contain thousands of pottery offerings, dating from the early 5th century B.C. until at least the 3rd century B.C, the statement said.

The finds included miniature pots, clay figurines of women and animals, as well as clay busts and lamps.
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What? Can't a country do war exercises?

So what if it's right on off the coast of Iran? The Persian Gulf is a small place! With all the warships and subs we have here, there might just be an acci... OMG!! Did you see that? One of our ships had a collision!! Bomb Iran! Bomb it now!! Bom... oh. Just us. Jeez, tell the admiral to stop making the ship do wheelies.

Carry on:
THE US today threatened new UN sanctions to punish Iran's nuclear drive as it ratcheted up tensions with the biggest display of naval power in the Gulf in years.

A bristling US armada led by two aircraft carriers steamed into waters near Iran for exercises, hours before UN watchdogs said Iran was expanding its uranium enrichment program in defiance of international sanctions.


The US Navy said the Gulf exercises were not directed at Iran but Mustafa Alani, senior analyst with the UAE-based Gulf Research Centre, said it was no coincidence the powerful flotilla arrived on the day of the IAEA report.

"The aim of this step, which coincides entirely with the end of the UN deadline (to suspend enrichment), is to send a clear message to Iran that a military option is available to Washington," Mr Alani said.

The carriers USS John Stennis and USS Nimitz sailed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf along with a helicopter carrier and amphibious assault ships carrying an estimated 2200 marines.
And here:

WASHINGTON - As the United States and Iran prepare to hold talks on stabilizing Iraq, tensions between Tehran and Washington are ratcheting up again.

The U.S. Navy on Wednesday began its largest war games off the Iranian coast since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, with two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers leading a flotilla of nine ships, dozens of combat aircraft and more than 2,100 Marines.

As the air and sea exercises commenced, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reported that Iran is expanding its nuclear program - which U.S. officials charge is aimed at developing nuclear weapons - in defiance of U.N. Security Council demands that it suspend uranium enrichment.

Iran also has stepped up arms shipments to insurgents battling American troops and the U.S.-backed governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. officials said. For the first time, Iran has begun supplying the Taliban in Afghanistan with explosively formed projectile bombs, which have been used to destroy U.S. armored vehicles in Iraq, the officials said.

These developments are part of a wider pattern of tit-for-tat actions and reactions that some members of Congress, U.S. officials and Arab governments worry could escalate into an armed confrontation.

Another example of the back-and-forth: As U.S. forces in Iraq continue to hold five Iranians it seized from a diplomatic facility in Irbil in the Kurdish zone, Iran has detained three Iranian-Americans, among them Haleh Esfandiari, a leading Middle East expert at the at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Let me just repost what I put up February 12 of this year:

In the Strait of Hormuz:

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U.S. Navy nuclear submarines maintaining vigil off the coast of Iran indicate that the Pentagon’s military plans include not only control over navigation in the Persian Gulf but also strikes against Iranian targets, a former commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Eduard Baltin has told the Interfax news agency.

“The presence of U.S. nuclear submarines in the Persian Gulf region means that the Pentagon has not abandoned plans for surprise strikes against nuclear targets in Iran. With this aim a group of multi-purpose submarines ready to accomplish the task is located in the area,” Admiral Baltin said.

He made the comments after reports that a U.S. submarine collided with a Japanese tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

“American patience is not unlimited,” he said. “The submarine commanders go up to the periscope depth and forget about navigation rules and safety measures,” the admiral said.

Currently there is a group of up to four submarines in the Persian Gulf area, he said. So far they only control navigation in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, and in the Arabian Sea, he said. They might receive different orders in future: to block off the Gulf of Oman, that is the Iranian coast, and, if need be, launch missile strikes against ground targets in Iran, he said.
We've packed so many warships and subs into the area, 'accidents' are bound to happen:
The Straits of Hormuz carry a vast quntity of the worlds oil in a huge number of ships. Traffic is very heavy there. There is a “Traffic Separation Scheme” in place that separates opposing shipping traffic to reduce the possibility of collision in this vital, and narrow, passage.

The USS Newport News and the Mogamigawa were travelling in the same direction so the “Traffic Separation Scheme” did not offer any protection to them. Since the USS Newport News was fully submerged the Mogamigawa was not even aware of her presence and could not take action to avoid the collision.
As LondonYank observes:
Somehow I always thought it would be other guys who would sink a tanker in the Strait of Hormuz to block the Persian Gulf. I reckoned without the peculiar incompetence of this administration and the bad luck our military has had in the region.
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Update: And Francis Townsend (a White House 'Counter Terror' Official) sounds just a little bit too excited to tell us that Bush is keeping all options on the table (starts at 1:13):

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Keith Olbermann takes the Democrats to the woodshed

Which is better than the tarring and feathers we had planned.

Update: It's been YouTubed:

Keith Olbermann: (watch the video at this link or this one.)

A Special Comment about the Democrats’ deal with President Bush to continue financing this unspeakable war in Iraq—and to do so on his terms:

This is, in fact, a comment about… betrayal.

Few men or women elected in our history—whether executive or legislative, state or national—have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear:

Get us out of Iraq.

Yet after six months of preparation and execution—half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:

The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president—if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history—who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;

The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;

The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.

The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.

You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions—Stop The War—have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.
You may trot out every political cliché from the soft-soap, inside-the-beltway dictionary of boilerplate sound bites, about how this is the “beginning of the end” of Mr. Bush’s “carte blanche” in Iraq, about how this is a “first step.”
Well, Senator Reid, the only end at its beginning... is our collective hope that you and your colleagues would do what is right, what is essential, what you were each elected and re-elected to do.
Because this “first step”… is a step right off a cliff.

And this President!
How shameful it would be to watch an adult... hold his breath, and threaten to continue to do so, until he turned blue.
But how horrifying it is… to watch a President hold his breath and threaten to continue to do so, until innocent and patriotic Americans in harm’s way, are bled white.
You lead this country, sir?
You claim to defend it?
And yet when faced with the prospect of someone calling you on your stubbornness—your stubbornness which has cost 3,431 Americans their lives and thousands more their limbs—you, Mr. Bush, imply that if the Democrats don’t give you the money and give it to you entirely on your terms, the troops in Iraq will be stranded, or forced to serve longer, or have to throw bullets at the enemy with their bare hands.
How transcendentally, how historically, pathetic.
Any other president from any other moment in the panorama of our history would have, at the outset of this tawdry game of political chicken, declared that no matter what the other political side did, he would insure personally—first, last and always—that the troops would not suffer.
A President, Mr. Bush, uses the carte blanche he has already, not to manipulate an overlap of arriving and departing Brigades into a ‘second surge,’ but to say in unequivocal terms that if it takes every last dime of the monies already allocated, if it takes reneging on government contracts with Halliburton, he will make sure the troops are safe—even if the only safety to be found, is in getting them the hell out of there.
Well, any true President would have done that, Sir.
You instead, used our troops as political pawns, then blamed the Democrats when you did so.

Not that these Democrats, who had this country’s support and sympathy up until 48 hours ago, have not since earned all the blame they can carry home.

“We seem to be very near the bleak choice between war and shame,” Winston Churchill wrote to Lord Moyne in the days after the British signed the Munich accords with Germany in 1938. “My feeling is that we shall choose shame, and then have war thrown in, a little later…”

That’s what this is for the Democrats, isn’t it?

Their “Neville Chamberlain moment” before the Second World War.
All that’s missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee “peace in our time,” but which his opponent would ignore with deceit.
The Democrats have merely streamlined the process.
Their piece of paper already says Mr. Bush can ignore it, with impugnity.

And where are the Democratic presidential hopefuls this evening?
See they not, that to which the Senate and House leadership has blinded itself?

Judging these candidates based on how they voted on the original Iraq authorization, or waiting for apologies for those votes, is ancient history now.

The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided... tomorrow.
The talk of practical politics, the buying into of the President’s dishonest construction “fund-the-troops-or-they-will-be-in-jeopardy,” the promise of tougher action in September, is falling not on deaf ears, but rather falling on Americans who already told you what to do, and now perceive your ears as closed to practical politics.
Those who seek the Democratic nomination need to—for their own political futures and, with a thousand times more solemnity and importance, for the individual futures of our troops—denounce this betrayal, vote against it, and, if need be, unseat Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi if they continue down this path of guilty, fatal acquiescence to the tragically misguided will of a monomaniacal president.

For, ultimately, at this hour, the entire government has failed us.

Mr. Reid, Mr. Hoyer, and the other Democrats... have failed us.
They negotiated away that which they did not own, but had only been entrusted by us to protect: our collective will as the citizens of this country, that this brazen War of Lies be ended as rapidly and safely as possible.

Mr. Bush and his government... have failed us.
They have behaved venomously and without dignity—of course.
That is all at which Mr. Bush is gifted.
We are the ones providing any element of surprise or shock here.

With the exception of Senator Dodd and Senator Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidates have (so far at least) failed us.

They must now speak, and make plain how they view what has been given away to Mr. Bush, and what is yet to be given away tomorrow, and in the thousand tomorrows to come.

Because for the next fourteen months, the Democratic nominating process—indeed the whole of our political discourse until further notice—has, with the stroke of a cursed pen, become about one thing, and one thing alone.
The electorate figured this out, six months ago.
The President and the Republicans have not—doubtless will not.
The Democrats will figure it out, during the Memorial Day recess, when they go home and many of those who elected them will politely suggest they stay there—and permanently.
Because, on the subject of Iraq...
The people have been ahead of the media....
Ahead of the government...
Ahead of the politicians...
For the last year, or two years, or maybe three.

Our politics... is now about the answer to one briefly-worded question.
Mr. Bush has failed.
Mr. Warner has failed.
Mr. Reid has failed.
Who among us will stop this war—this War of Lies?
To he or she, fall the figurative keys to the nation.
To all the others—presidents and majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party—there is only blame… for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal.