Saturday, April 16, 2005
And Now For Something - Completely Different
The voice of Happy Furry Puppy Time (aka Norbizness):
Round 1 ends (at 11:59 pm CST, Monday). Your votes will be counted, I swear! Just list the 16 winners in the comments, without excessive spaces in order to save room. There may be a graphic representation later on for the visually-minded. And please... (1) tell the people on your own weblog! and (2) no whining about your favorite not being on there, or at least do it creatively.
And PLEASE vote for Repo Man
Bush League Values: Hide the Truth
Bush administration eliminating 19-year-old international terrorism reportJust before last year's presidential election, the report "accidentally" showed terrorist attacks were decreasing rather than increasing. This year, things looked even worse - so they decide not to produce it at all. Can you say "political cover-up?"
By Jonathan S. Landay
Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered.
But other current and former officials charged that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's office ordered "Patterns of Global Terrorism" eliminated several weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions about the Bush's administration's frequent claims of progress in the war against terrorism.
"Instead of dealing with the facts and dealing with them in an intelligent fashion, they try to hide their facts from the American public," charged Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism expert who first disclosed the decision to eliminate the report in The Counterterrorism Blog, an online journal.
Last June, the administration was forced to issue a revised version of the report for 2003 that showed a higher number of significant terrorist attacks and more than twice the number of fatalities than had been presented in the original report two months earlier.
The snafu was embarrassing for the White House, which had used the original version to bolster President Bush's election-campaign claim that the war in Iraq had advanced the fight against terrorism.
(Source: Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau, April 15, 2005 [Emphasis added])
Remember the Ohio High School Principal Fired For Not Calling Police About Sexual Assault because she didn't want the news to get out? Now the Bush League is covering up terrorist attacks for the same reason. Is telling self-serving lies rather than admitting the truth one of those much-lauded Republican Values?
Friday, April 15, 2005
Justice Department "Values" Let Criminals Roam Free
10,000 Fugitives Are Captured In Huge DragnetNot normally possible to track down criminals in this post 9/11 world? That doesn't sound very Republican. Just how much effort was expended? Let's go to the other half of the story, what Paul Harvey would call Page 2:
By Dan Eggen and Jamie Stockwell
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, April 15, 2005; Page A01
The U.S. Marshals Service and local police agencies arrested more than 10,000 fugitives last week in an aggressive nationwide sweep that ranks as the largest single dragnet in U.S. history, the Justice Department announced yesterday.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said the large number of arrests was the result of a "concentrated, intensive effort" that is not possible under normal circumstances.
From April 4 to Sunday, 10,340 fugitives were arrested and nearly 14,000 warrants were cleared as part of the operation, officials said. More than 3,000 federal agents and local police officers worked on the raids each day, and more than 900 separate agencies were involved.
Federal officials said Operation Falcon cost the Marshals Service about $900,000.Why can't Alberto Gonzales routinely spend 1/40th of the Bush Inaugural Orgy's budget chasing criminals in a post 9/11 world? Call me unreasonable, but letting known criminals wander around free because you're busy interrogating librarians about brown people's preferred reading probably causes lots more damage to public morality than video games, or even Hollywood movies...
"We generally try to focus our resources on the baddest of the bad. We're going after murderers, rapists, that kind of thing," (Deputy U.S. Marshal Ricardo) Guzman said. "On the average day, we can't do every carjacker or person wanted on failure to pay child support."
But last week, he said, "we decided to get as many as we can. We put everybody on the street with a stack of warrants and said, 'Start knocking on doors.' "
Source: Washington Post 10,000 Fugitives are captured April 15, 2005.
Krugman: The Medical Money Pit
The Medical Money Pit
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: April 15, 2005
In 2002, the latest year for which comparable data are available, the United States spent $5,267 on health care for each man, woman and child in the population. Of this, $2,364, or 45 percent, was government spending, mainly on Medicare and Medicaid. Canada spent $2,931 per person, of which $2,048 came from the government. France spent $2,736 per person, of which $2,080 was government spending.
Amazing, isn't it? U.S. health care is so expensive that our government spends more on health care than the governments of other advanced countries, even though the private sector pays a far higher share of the bills than anywhere else.
As always, click on the article's title to read Mr. Krugman's full article.
I just can't help thinking revamping US health care would be a great populist issue for Democrats. Demonizing Big Insurance companies should be much easier than demonizing, say, labor unions - and think of the long term political impact of drastically cutting the Insurance Company money machine's campaign donations and PR spending...
Yeah, it's a 20 year project - so shouldn't we get started?
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Burglars Knife Tenant-Landlord Evicts Victim for Bleeding on the Rug
Attackers cut throat of Good SamaritanI wonder whether the landlord's actions were motivated by Alf being gay?
...When (Alf) awoke in the Intensive Care Unit, he had 44 stitches on the outside of his body and 37 titanium staples in his chest and head. He had cuts and deep bruises all over his body.
When he was released from the hospital, Alf learned he had been victimized once again. His landlord, Curtis West, had posted an eviction notice on the door and had informed his family that Alf's first and last month's rent and his deposit would not be returned. West said he is withholding the money because of damage done to the apartment as a result of the attack, citing the blood on the carpet, the broken window, and the curtains the police took as evidence. Adding insult to injury, the landlord took Alf's cat to the pound.
Source: Seattle Gay News April 8, 2005.(Emphasis added)
Republicans Pushing Tax Code Sodomy
Fifty years ago, corporations paid 60 percent of all federal taxes. But by 2003, that was down to 16 percent. So individual taxpayers have to make up the difference, as corporate profits soar and wages fall.
Compare and Contrast
Viagra ruled kosher for Passover
A leading Israeli rabbi has ruled that the anti-impotency pill Viagra can be taken by Jews on Passover, reversing a previous ban.
April 14, 2005 (Emphasis in Original)
Pharmacists 'denying birth control'
A growing number of pharmacists across America are refusing to dispense birth control and the morning-after pill, because it goes against their religious and moral convictions.
For a visual, check out Tony Auth's April 12 cartoon captioned: "I'm sorry, Lady. I'm morally opposed to birth control pills."
Texas Businessman Indicted in Oil for Food Scandal
Three charged over oil-for-food
A Texas businessman, a Bulgarian and a Briton have been indicted over the UN oil-for-food programme, US federal prosecutors have said.
They are accused of taking part in an alleged scheme to pay bribes to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.
Source: BBC News (Emphasis in original.)
Odd that the alleged financial mismanagement during The Bush League's Coalition Provisional Authority haven't produced similar indictments. Was it mere coincidence that when The Bush League invaded Iraq, massive fraud and corruption came along for the ride?
posted April 7, 2005, updated 12:30 p.m.
Iraq is becoming 'free fraud' zone
Corruption in Iraq under US-led CPA may dwarf UN oil-for-food scandal.
By Tom Regan | csmonitor.com
A former senior advisor to the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which ran Iraq until the election of an interim Iraq government last January, says that the US government's refusal to prosecute US firms accused of corruption in Iraq is turning the country into a "free fraud zone."
Newsweek reported earlier this week that Frank Willis compared Iraq to the "wild west," and that with only $4.1 billion of the $18.7 billion that the US government set aside for the reconstruction of Iraq having been spent, the lack of action on the part of the government means "the corruption will only get worse."
The Washington Post reported last Friday that the Justice Department gave "strong support" to the men suing the company, "concluding that the company can be held liable for allegedly defrauding authorities in Iraq of tens of millions of dollars." Twice before the US governmment had declined to participate in the case when asked to do so by lawyers for the plaintiffs.
Source: Christian Science Monitor
Maybe we shouldn't be surprised, though. The US apparently knew about various misdeeds in the "Oil for Food" program since well before The Bush League's Excellent Iraq Adventure, so they've had more time to prepare indictments. Odd they kept so quiet about fraud in the Oil for Food program until they needed a distraction from the far larger financial scandals surrounding the ironically-named CPA's mishandling of Iraqi finances.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Did Limbaugh Broadcast Exploit Ohio Rape Case?
A high school principal in Columbus, Ohio was recently fired for failing to report allegations that a 16-year-old special ed student was assaulted in the school’s gym.
A group of four boys videotaped themselves as they forced the girl to perform oral sex and punched her in the face. Even though she told her teacher minutes after the incident occurred, school administrators delayed in calling the girl’s father. They then asked her father not to call the police.
The administrators later told police that after having viewed the videotape, they concluded that the sexual acts were consensual.
This apparently happened on or around March 9, 2005:
Principal Fired For Not Calling Police About Sexual Assault
Crenshaw Placed On Unpaid Leave
UPDATED: 5:01 pm EDT April 6, 2005
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A Columbus high school principal was fired for failing to call police after learning that a female student had been sexually assaulted by four male students in the school auditorium.
Superintendent Gene Harris said police, the parents, children's services and school district administrators should have been notified immediately about the assault on March 9.
Atrios recently posted a Rush Limbaugh show transcript from April 12 in which Mr. Limbaugh apparently said: "What the hell is the point of view of young people? Blow jobs, that's what they're doing out there. They're out there getting oral sex all day long..."
Atrios suggests complaining to the FCC about Mr. Limbaugh's offensive "blow job" comments. I wonder whether Mr. Limbaugh also [Updated]
[Update: yeah, Limbaugh wasn't glorifying blow jobs on his show the other day - quite - but can't you almost Rush's young male listeners giving Rush a big "Hell, yeah" when they heard those comments? If Mr. Limbaugh has also been making derogatory comments about the mentally disabled, the link between the Ohio attack and Limbaugh-style radio should at least make folks blaming "Hollywood Popular Culture" for all society's ills uncomfortable.
And I do think there's a link between trash-talking AM radio hosts and violent actions by their listeners. Not that Limbaugh's evil brain-wave manipulator sends hypnotized ditto-headed zombies into the streets, more that people listening to this garbage enter into a "group think" mentality where, say, using force to show your power against a despised scapegoat group seems a reasonable thing.
The Nazis used this against the Jews, and I expect the Romans used the same strategy (but different media) against the Carthaginians. It's still disgusting, though.]
Terrorist or Freedom Fighter?
Permalink to Hoffmania's post Here's An Interesting Test Coming Up...
Wow. How will Bush handle THIS? Does he send the guy back? Does he do some recreational pandering to Florida's Cubans by allowing him to stay - even though the guy has terrorist tendencies? Does this story drift aimlessly into oblivion?Sounds like we should monitor the name Luis Posada Carriles, just to make sure this international terrorist doesn't find shelter in a "rogue nation" known to "sponsor terrorism."
Place your bets.
Castro foe to apply for U.S. asylumSource: Hoffmania Here's An Interesting Test Coming Up...
A militant, anti-Communist Cuban exile who was jailed in Panama and then pardoned in connection with a plot to kill President Fidel Castro is in the United States and will apply for asylum on Wednesday, his lawyer said on Monday.
Protecting Traditional Social Values
Saudi Arabia bans forced marriage
April 12, 2005
...Grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said forced marriage was against Islamic law and those responsible for it should be jailed.
Fortunately, Saudi Arabia still maintains some "traditional values," like:
(Women) are obliged to wear a veil and are not permitted to travel alone or mix with men other than relatives.Also in the news, Iran's "Culture of Life" compliant laws are being slowly corrupted:
Women were not able to obtain separate identity cards until 2001, and even then only with the permission of a male relative.
They do not have the right to vote or run for public office and, until June this year, were forbidden from working in most jobs.
Source: BBC Saudi Arabia bans forced marriage
Iran liberalises laws on abortion
By Frances Harrison
BBC News, Tehran
The Iranian parliament has voted to liberalise the country's abortion laws.
Under the law approved on Tuesday, a pregnancy can be terminated in the first four months if the foetus is mentally or physically handicapped.
Under this new bill, even if a woman is pregnant as a result of rape she still doesn't have the right to an abortion.
(Emphasis in original)
Note the obviously Al Qaida-inspired contempt for life among some clerics:
...the religious debate has centred more on when the foetus in the mother's womb is deemed to have developed a soul - with some leading clerics saying this happens only after four months of gestation.We must invade Iran immediately (and probably Saudi Arabia as well) to protect Traditional Social Values!
Source: Iran liberalises laws on abortion (Emphasis added.)
(Sorry about the gratuitious sarcasm, but with all the folks foaming at the mouth about the threat to "traditional values" from liberals, I thought it time to explode the "if it's traditional, it's a good thing" theme. Lynching folks based on their skin's melanin content was traditional in these United States for many years - and liberals opposed lynchings! Does that make lynchings good?)
Closing thought: "People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute." --Rebecca West
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Bush Nominee Beating Reality
A former US official has said President Bush's choice to be US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, is a bully unsuitable for the job.Republicans:
Source: BBC News - Official blasts Bush UN nominee April 12, 2005 (Emphasis in original)
If at first you don't succeed, you obviously never made the attempt:
Chafee noted calmly that analysts criticized by Bolton had "kept their jobs."Reality:
Source: Washington Post- Former State Dept. Official Blasts Bolton April 12, 2005 (Emphasis added)
Mr Bolton is one of the toughest campaigners in the Bush administration for a foreign policy based on US power and catering to narrowly defined US interests, correspondents say.Republicans: "We may forgive the UN for not following our orders - if they shape up..."
Source: BBC News - Official blasts Bush UN nominee
Sen. George Allen of Virginia told the embattled undersecretary of state, "... You will bring a credit to the U.N. that they sorely need."The historian eventually writing "The Decline and Fall of the American Empire" will almost certainly note the sheer pigheaded blindness of Republican politicians placing their short term political careers ahead of the country's good. That same historian will also remark on how these Senators are "shocked" by the natural consequences to US diplomacy of letting these delusional neocons out of their padded rooms and onto the world stage.
Source: Wash. Post- Former State Dept. Official Blasts Bolton April 12, 2005 (Emphasis added.)
The Perfect Storm for the Perfect Sh*thead
First read this post from Lawyers, Guns and Money:
Chinese Military PreparationThe NY Times article states:
Very solid article in Friday's NYT on China's increasing military prowess. China is making a remarkably rational set of upgrades to its air and naval forces. The focus of Chinese attention remains the conquest of Taiwan
Even the most hawkish officials at the Pentagon do not believe China is preparing for an imminent invasion of Taiwan. Nor do analysts believe China is any match for the United States military. But as neighboring North Korea is erratically trying to play the nuclear card, China is quietly challenging America's reach in the western Pacific by concentrating strategically on conventional forces.Today's Washington Post article China Builds a Smaller, Stronger Military includes the wonderful dividends we're getting from Donald "Old Europe" Rumsfeld's pre-Iraq invasion diplomacy:
"They are building their force to deter and delay our ability to intervene in a Taiwan crisis," said Eric McVadon, a former military attaché at the United States Embassy in Beijing. "What they have done is cleverly develop some capabilities that have the prospect of attacking our niche vulnerabilities."
Source: New York Times Chinese Navy Buildup Gives Pentagon New Worries April 8, 2005. (Emphasis added.)
...China has been testing use of Global Positioning System devices to guide its cruise missiles but remains some time away from deploying such technology.Speaking of "niche vulnerabilities" reminded me of someone holding a worrisome amount of US debt:
Buying such electronic equipment would be China's most likely objective if the European Union goes ahead with plans to lift its arms sales embargo despite objections from Washington, a senior European diplomat in Beijing said.
China also raised eyebrows late last (November) after China Business News reported Beijing had cut its U.S. debt holdings. The news shook markets because China's $174 billion of Treasuries makes it the second-biggest holder after Japan...Fortunately, George Bush has nominated as our next UN Ambassador the perfect man to ensure UN support for US positions, a man ideally suited to follow in Donald Rumsfeld's conciliatory footsteps: John (Yosemite Sam) Bolton.
Source: Bloomberg News Asia Draws Nearer Shocking U.S. Treasuries: William Pesek Jr. Dec. 5, 2004 (Emphasis added.)
Democrats repeatedly pressed Bolton, 56, to explain his criticisms of the United Nations, including those from a fiery speech about 10 years ago to the World Federalists. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) played a three-minute video clip in which Bolton said that "there's no such thing as the United Nations," and that if 10 floors of the 38-story U.N. headquarters building were eliminated, "it wouldn't make a bit of difference."Yeah, the UN's credibility was sure damaged when they invaded Iraq looking for non-existent WMDs. Oh, wait, wasn't that the US? Isn't it the US that needs to repair its standing in the world?
Bolton told Boxer: "What I was trying to do at that audience of World Federalists was get their attention...
Source: Washington Post Bolton Talks of Restoring Confidence in the U.N.
And I can't wait to see how Ambassador Bolton plans to get the attention of UN audiences...
To sum up: when and if the fecal material impacts the rotary-bladed air circulation device in Taiwan, the guy seeking to solidify UN support for yet another US military intervention will be John Bolton. The only thing more brainless would be to put a known death squad supporter like John "Salvador Option" Negroponte in charge of the new National Intelligence office. Oh, wait...
Monday, April 11, 2005
Negroponte's Black Heart
Overall, Negroponte comes across as an exceptionally energetic, action-oriented ambassador whose anti-communist convictions led him to play down human rights abuses in Honduras, the most reliable U.S. ally in the region. There is little in the documents the State Department has released so far to support his assertion that he used "quiet diplomacy" to persuade the Honduran authorities to investigate the most egregious violations, including the mysterious disappearance of dozens of government opponents.Short version: John Negroponte is the kind of guy that thinks the ends justify the means - and will make every effort to hide illegal and immoral actions to ensure his side doesn't get any bad press.
The contrast with his immediate predecessor, Jack R. Binns, who was recalled to Washington in the fall of 1981 to make way for Negroponte, is striking. Before departing, Binns sent several cables to Washington warning of possible "death squad" activity linked to Honduran strongman Gen. Gustavo Alvarez. Negroponte dismissed the talk of death squads and, in an October 1983 cable to Washington, emphasized Alvarez's "dedication to democracy."
Source: Washington Post Papers Illustrate Negroponte's Contra Role April 12, 2005. (Emphasis added.)
What a great guy to put in charge of National Intelligence! I'll bet we won't hear any more about torture with him in charge - and that anybody even mentioning torture promptly disappears from public view.
It's Delightful, It's Delicious, It's the DeLay-Abramoff Scandal
Mr. Abramoff..., wrote to a Texas tribe in June 2002 to say that a member of Congress had "asked if we could help (as in cover) a Scotland golf trip for him and some staff" that summer. "The trip will be quite expensive," Mr. Abramoff said in the e-mail message, estimating that the bills "would be around $100K or more." He added that in 2000, "We did this for another member - you know who."Let me get this straight: a Congresscritter calls and "suggests" you take the Critter and the Critter's staff on an all-expense paid golfing trip to Scotland - and this is legal and ethical because nobody mentioned the magic word (bribe) or uttered the phrase "quid pro quo?"
Mr. Abramoff did not explain why the tribe should pay for the lavish trip, nor did he identify the congressmen by name. But a tribe spokesman has since testified to Congress that the 2002 trip was organized for Representative Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican and chairman of the House Administration Committee, and that "you know who" was a much more powerful Republican, Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader and old friend of Mr. Abramoff's. Both lawmakers have said they believed that the trips complied with House travel rules.
E-mail messages subpoenaed from their files show that Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon mocked tribal leaders as "monkeys," "morons" and "troglodytes,"' and manipulated tribes into making large donations to Congressional Republicans and their political action committees, as well as to private charities that Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon controlled.
The messages document how (Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon) maneuvered secretly in 2001 to organize a campaign to pressure the Texas state government to shut down a casino owned by the Tigua tribe of western Texas, only to then turn around and present themselves as the casino's savior. Mr. Abramoff offered his services to the tribe for a suggested monthly lobbying fee of $125,000 to $175,000 a month.
There is no evidence to prove that a member of Congress promised a vote to Mr. Abramoff in exchange for gifts, although in his e-mail messages, the lobbyist wanted to leave the impression that Mr. Ney's 2002 golf trip would produce a clear benefit to the Tiguas in reopening their casino.
Source: New York Times Inquiries of Top Lobbyist Shine Unwelcome Light in Congress April 11, 2005 (Emphasis added.)
This is obviously a new meaning of the word "ethical" not covered in my dictionary. But then, that's Republican "values" for you. If that wasn't a solicitation for a bribe, then Bill and Monica weren't having "sex."