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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Dirty Harry and The VRC

We watched "Dirty Harry" last night. It was produced in 1972 (the same year as the "Godfather"), but in look and feel it was much closer to the hardbitten detective stories of the '50's and '60's. The director, Don Siegel, had been considered a quality "B" movie craftsman until he hit it big by teaming up with rising western star Clint Eastwood.

I first saw the film when it was released, and, along with millions of others, enjoyed it immensely, but left the theater feeling, vaguely, that our society was heading down a bad path.

Seeing it now I am appalled at the level of (conscious or unconscious) political manipulation. Couple this with the traditional emotion-impacting nature of a well-crafted movie and the situation becomes problematic.

The storyline follows the attempt of badass cop Harry Callahan (Eastwood) to collar a psycho killer (a flambouyant Andy Robinson) before a woman he has buried alive suffocates. By the time Callahan catches up to him, we have grown to loathe the killer, and cheer as Dirty Harry beats the info out of him.

Usual "vigilante cowboy" fare so far. But now the film gets into the meat of the matter. In the next scene an unbelieving Callahan is castigated by the liberal DA. The psycho will be turned loose and it is Dirty Harry's fault for not following procedure and denying the killer his rights. To add insult to injury a liberal judge (educated, slight, balding,milquetoast) is there to add his own admonishment. At this point it is not just Callahan who is angry, but we, the audience, are furious. "This is Wrong", we shout in our minds, "this is Insane". And then we look around for someone to blame. And the answer is provided, ready made, for us. It is the egghead liberals who think criminals' rights are more important than victims' rights. The leftwing judges and lawyers are soft on crime and only out to make a buck. It is their fault, goddamn their souls.

What the audience forgets is that, although we know he is guilty (because we have watched it all unfold), the DA only has hearsay and tainted evidence upon which to make a decision.

So this brings me to the points I want to make:

1. Media (including entertainment media) has an overwhelmingly powerful affect on the formation of our opinions. And these opinions, because they are emotion based, are more properly "frames" than "opinions". (see George Lakoff, "Moral Politics") In watching "Dirty Harry", we begin to form the frame: Liberals are not like us.

2. Americans (by happenstance or design) are losing the ability to think critically. The underpinning for this is the ever shrinking "fact file" that makes up Americans' knowledge of the world. Without "facts", opinions are formed by emotion. Without "facts" there is no basis for critical thinking skills. Without "facts" opinions are more susceptible to manipulation, and, prey to propaganda. These factless opinions then become "frames" which are a lower level (more basic) surety. And as George Lakoff states, "frames become hardwired in the brain. When presented with opposing facts, a person will refuse the facts and maintain their frames". If we were to apply critical thinking to the situation presented in "Dirty Harry", we would see that by following the law every time (even though it is distasteful sometimes) all people are protected.

3. The law (the Constitution) is what makes America, America. Consequently, every time we circumvent or minimize, or abuse, the Constitution, every time we take short cuts (no matter how well meaning), America becomes less America. The topicallity of "Dirty Harry" is obvious. In 1972 we wanted the DA to lock up the killer, even without evidence, because we FELT he was "evil" and because we FELT he would kill again. Even if we didn't know for SURE, it was better to be safe than sorry. In 1972 this thinking was the beginning of a frame. Today this frame has come to fruition in the opinions of Alberto Gonzales and John Ashcroft, the statements of Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney, and the US actions at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prison.
Dirty Harry solved the plot dilemma in the mythic American fashion: Taking matters into his own hands, "proving" that the end does justify the means. He has many contemporary counterparts, including John Negroponte, Oliver North, Elliot Abrams, and John Poindexter. These men all broke the law but (or because of it) are considered heroes by the rightwing.

Tonight we are going to watch "Magnum force".

Raising FICA To Finance Destruction of Social Security?

Matthew Yglesias claims "The proposal being floated is not a proposal to raise taxes in order to fully pay promised benefits. Instead, the proposal being floated is a proposal to raise taxes in order to finance the transition to a system that would radically reduce government expenditures for decades to come. Slightly higher taxes in the near future would pave the way for dramatically lower taxes down the road, not to mention the gutting of the New Deal's crown jewel." READ MORE:

Yesterday's Poll Results

Well, I guess we answered that:

Friday, February 18, 2005


By David Podvin

The United States Senate is a place where those who can’t tell the difference between right and wrong perpetrate evil with the complicity of those who can. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy can certainly tell the difference, but like his Democratic colleagues he doesn’t allow that ability to affect his behavior.

When considering the nomination of Condoleeza Rice to be Secretary of State, Leahy noted that Rice was an incompetent National Security Advisor who had repeatedly deceived the American people. The senator then said this: “My vote in favor of Dr. Rice is difficult to explain. It is more the product of a belief than a cold analysis of her record. I believe that Dr. Rice is capable of learning from her mistakes and changing her ways. That she will rise to this new challenge. That she can be a good Secretary of State.”

Leahy’s vote is not difficult to explain. He is a coward whose stated principles have no practical significance. This real life Barney Fife is so obsessed with capitulating to an administration that has tarred Democrats as unpatriotic that he gave Rice the benefit of the doubt even after admitting there was no doubt.

The Democratic rank and file has been betrayed by losers like Leahy for so long that any brief respite from the torment is greeted with a sincere outpouring of gratitude. When Barbara Boxer aggressively interrogated Rice about the Bush sycophant’s criminality, Boxer was hailed as a hero by liberals across America. There was a time when brave Democrats risked their lives to promote social justice by taking stands against the ruling class, but the party’s greatly reduced threshold for heroism now consists of the willingness to criticize a perjurer.

A Democratic senator is supposed to condemn a nominee who deceived this nation into supporting an illegal war and then helped prosecute that war in a barbaric manner. Praising a Democrat for not passively submitting to the depravity of Condoleezza Rice is morally equivalent to exalting a business partner for not embezzling. It is an excruciatingly degraded standard by which to judge people. PLEASE READ MORE:

The 34 Scandals Of Bush's First Term

All nicely laid out in one easy-to-read format.

"Print it out, send it to Harry Reid, or just read it and weep. Here are 34 scandals from the first four years of George W. Bush's presidency - every one of them worse than Whitewater." READ MORE:

Rumor: Gannon Behind Tang/CBS Forgery

(from: dailykos)

"It now appears that Jeff Gannon could be the thread that unravels the real story behind the TANG/CBS forgeries.  I have put together a case here that if looked at carefully by the blogosphere would show that the TANG forgeries were made by the White House, probably Dan Bartlett, and then given to Bill Burkett by a former associate of Karl Rove, Roger Stone." READ MORE:

Is Liberalism Unideological?

(from TNR)

by Jonathan Chait

Post date 02.17.05 | Issue date 02.28.05

Imagine that God were to appear on Earth for the unlikely purpose of settling, once and for all, our disputes over economic policy. And suppose that, to my enormous surprise, he announced that every empirical claim advanced by conservatives was correct. Cutting taxes produces such great economic growth that even the poor benefit. Privatizing or eliminating social programs like Medicare and Social Security will cause the elderly to save more money and enjoy higher living standards. Slashing regulations, by eliminating unintended side effects, actually does a better job helping those whom the regulations were intended to help than the regulations themselves. Suppose that God presented these conclusions so convincingly--if his stature alone did not suffice--that everybody immediately accepted them as truth. 

How would liberals respond? No doubt by rethinking and abandoning nearly all their long-held positions. Liberalism, after all, claims to produce certain outcomes: more prosperity and security, especially for the poor and middle classes; a cleaner environment; safer foods and drugs; and so on. If it were proved beyond a doubt that liberal policies fail to produce those outcomes--or even, as conservatives often claim, that such policies hurt their intended beneficiaries--then their rationale would disappear. It may be hard to imagine liberals advocating capital gains tax cuts as a way to lift up the working stiff. But that's just because there's no evidence to show they do. If the evidence were to change, so would the liberal mindset. The point is that liberalism has no justification other than the belief that liberal policies produce beneficial outcomes. READ MORE:

US Soldiers To Be Given Ecstasy

Ecstasy trials for combat stress

David Adam, science correspondent
Thursday February 17, 2005


American soldiers traumatised by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered the drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares. READ MORE:

Krugman Debunks Greenspan's Positive Image

"But Mr. Greenspan is no longer entitled to such deference. By repeatedly shilling for whatever the Bush administration wants, he has betrayed the trust placed in Fed chairmen, and deserves to be treated as just another partisan hack." READ MORE:

Yesterday's Poll Results

It looks like still Vinny has a few more seasons in him:

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Anyone Remember Iraq?


Iraqi women find election a cruel joke

Sunday, January 30, 2005


I am an Iraqi woman, and I am boycotting the elections. Women who do vote will be voting for an enslaved future. Surely, say those who support these elections, after decades of tyranny, here at last is a form of democracy, imperfect, but democracy nevertheless?

In reality, these elections are, for Iraq's women, little more than a cruel joke. Amid the suicide attacks, kidnappings and U.S.-led military assaults since Saddam Hussein's fall, the little-reported phenomenon is the sharp increase in the persecution of Iraqi women. Women are the new victims of Islamic groups intent on restoring a medieval barbarity and of a political establishment that cares little for women's empowerment.

Having for years enjoyed greater rights than other Middle East women, women in Iraq are losing even their basic freedoms -- the right to choose their clothes, the right to love or marry whom they want. Of course women suffered under Saddam. I fled his cruel regime. I personally witnessed much brutality but the subjugation of women was never a Baath Party goal. What we are seeing is deeply worrying: a reviled occupation and an openly reactionary Islamic armed insurrection taking Iraq into a new dark age. READ MORE:

Writer Claims Negroponte Could Be Charged As Enemy Combatant Under Provisions Of the Patriot Act

Excellent background and context.

...Luckily, there is still one hope for justice. Let's look at two important facts:

1) The current Bush Administration has set a precedent, freely applying the label of "enemy combatant" to those it feels are working or have worked with the enemy against the United States.

2) The "Patriot" Act has a clause that eliminates the statute of limitations on such matters (USPA: Title VIII, Sec. 809).

Given that evidence already exists that Weinberger, McFarlane, Abrams and their associated group, (which included Negroponte) were involved in "aiding the enemy" it is certainly within recent character and precedent to take them into custody, indefinitely and without being charged, being named or being counseled. In fact, under current definitions and past evidence, the entire Reagan Administration qualifies as "enemy combatants". But this article is about despicable presidential appointments, not despicable presidential administrations....READ MORE:

Oh, Man Oh Man

FROM THE IRONY FILES: Bush Fights Compensation For Gulf War Vets

White House Turns Tables on Former American POWs

Gulf War pilots tortured by Iraqis fight the Bush administration in trying to collect compensation.

By David G. Savage
LA Times Staff Writer

February 15, 2005

WASHINGTON — The latest chapter in the legal history of torture is being written by American pilots who were beaten and abused by Iraqis during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. And it has taken a strange twist.

The Bush administration is fighting the former prisoners of war in court, trying to prevent them from collecting nearly $1 billion from Iraq that a federal judge awarded them as compensation for their torture at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime.

The rationale: Today's Iraqis are good guys, and they need the money.

The case abounds with ironies. It pits the U.S. government squarely against its own war heroes and the Geneva Convention.

Many of the pilots were tortured in the same Iraqi prison, Abu Ghraib, where American soldiers abused Iraqis 15 months ago. Those Iraqi victims, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said, deserve compensation from the United States. READ MORE:

How Much Will You Get From Social Security

The dailyKos has a great online calculator to determine the yearly benefit you would get from the existing Social Security system, and what you would get after it has been privatized. (Very Easy to use).

Investigative Report On Negroponte

(There actually was a time when the news media felt a responsibility to report hard news. This piece (from the Baltimore Sun) is from that time).

Unearthed: Fatal Secrets

A carefully crafted deception

By Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson
Sun Staff

June 18, 1995

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- A dangerous truth confronted John Dimitri Negroponte as he prepared to take over as U.S. ambassador to Honduras late in 1981.

The military in Honduras -- the country from which the Reagan administration had decided to run the battle for democracy in Central America -- was kidnapping and murdering its own citizens.

"GOH [Government of Honduras] security forces have begun to resort to extralegal tactics -- disappearances and, apparently, physical eliminations ` to control a perceived subversive threat," Negroponte was told in a secret briefing book prepared by the embassy staff.

The assertion was true, and there was worse to come.

Time and again during his tour of duty in Honduras from 1981 to 1985, Negroponte was confronted with evidence that a Honduran army intelligence unit, trained by the CIA, was stalking, kidnapping, torturing and killing suspected subversives.

A 14-month investigation by The Sun, which included interviews with U.S. and Honduran officials who could not have spoken freely at the time, shows that Negroponte learned from numerous sources about the crimes of the unit called Battalion 316.

The Honduran press was full of reports about military abuses, including hundreds of newspaper stories in 1982 alone. There were also direct pleas from Honduran officials to U.S. officials, including Negroponte. READ MORE:

Veteran Death Squad Enabler Named Intelligence Director

This a dark day for America.


Negroponte Named Intelligence Director
Iraq Ambassador Will Return to Washington

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 17, 2005; 10:42 AM

President Bush today named veteran diplomat John D. Negroponte to the new post of national intelligence chief, picking the former ambassador to Iraq and the United Nations in a surprise choice to oversee 15 intelligence agencies. READ MORE:

Ridge Illegally Used Office To Stump For Bush

(From Capitol Hill Blue)

From Capitol Hill Blue

Ridge Lied About Political Activity During Election
Feb 17, 2005, 07:44

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge met privately with Republican pollsters twice in a 10-day span last spring as he embarked on more than a dozen trips to presidential battleground states.

Ridge's get-togethers with Republican strategists Frank Luntz and Bill McInturff during a period the secretary was saying his agency was playing no role in Bush's re-election campaign were revealed in daily appointment calendars obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act.

"We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security," Ridge told reporters during the election season.

His aides resisted releasing the calendars for over a year, finally providing them to the AP three days after Ridge left office this month. READ MORE:

And Sidney Blumenthal On Gannon

(from The Guardian)

Thursday February 17, 2005

The White House press room has often been a cockpit of intrigue, duplicity and truckling. But nothing challenges the most recent scandal there. READ MORE:

MAUREEN DOWD Today On Gannon

"It's hard to believe the White House could hit rock bottom on credibility again, but it has, in a bizarre maelstrom that plays like a dark comedy. How does it credential a man with a double life and a secret past?" READ MORE:

Possible Celebrity Sighting

NAME : Romper Stomper

DATE : Yesterday

LOCATION : MLKjr Park, Berkeley


COMMENT : He was wearing long pants, so couldn't verify

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Whoa--This Guy Is Pissed

(from The Detroit MetroTimes)

The New McCarthyism

by Jack Lessenberry

This is equally as bad as anything that happened in the dark days of McCarthyism. Actually, this is worse.

...But the real terrorists that this nation should fear then went to work: the right-wing ideologues in our media and government, who are far more dangerous to our country than al Qaeda could ever be, and, yes, you can quote me....

"Trustanoia" A Great Interview With The Lauranader

Q and A: A Conversation with Laura Nader

An anthropologist urges us to challenge the assumptions that guide our lives.

...Last year, I asked my class, “How many of you know that more people have died as a result of the Gulf War and the sanctions than died in Nagasaki and Hiroshima?”

A student of mine did a paper on this. She wanted to find out whether what I said was true or not. She found that over a million children have died as a result of the bombing, the destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure, and the sanctions. Most Americans don’t know that. It’s not politically correct to ask or talk about it.

We seem to be a trusting society.
Right. One of the questions I ask students is: “Why is there not an opposite word for paranoia?” I invented such a word; I call it “trustanoia.” America suffers from trustanoia.

Did you ever play trust games in school?
No. Neither did I. That tells us how old we are. But today, when children go to school, they are taught to trust. They play a game where they fall back and have to trust that somebody’s going to catch them.

Troy Duster [professor of sociology at Berkeley] told me that, in the black community, among others, the father says, “Jump and I’ll catch you.” But he doesn’t. “Don’t ever forget that lesson!” ...READ MORE:

Are The Dems Going to Do Anything About This Gannon Crap, Or What?


Democrats make moves behind the scenes as reporter-prostitute story hits Washington Post

Democrats chew over Washington Post story on prostitute-reporter

By John Byrne | RAW STORY Editor

Democratic congressmembers are quietly mulling whether to respond to an article in the Washington Post which raises serious questions of how a man who sought to prostitute himself got access to the president, and potentially to a confidential memorandum naming a CIA agent, RAW STORY has learned.

In both the House and the Senate, Democrats are struggling to figure out how best to deal with the issue. No one is touching the sexual elements of the story; rather, the focus is placed on what Democrats see as a continued campaign of media manipulation that involved such columnists as Armstrong Williams.

Senators Kennedy, Dorgan, Durbin, Reid, Leahy and Lautenberg either declined to comment or did not return calls seeking comment today. Sen. Lautenberg is the likeliest to make a move, since he was the only senator to put out a statement Friday asking for all documents relating to Gannon’s credentialing. READ MORE:

Everybody Is Choosing Up Sides

(from The BBC News)
Iran to aid Syria against threats

Iran has vowed to back Syria against "challenges and threats" as both countries face strong US pressure.

"We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats," Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said after meeting Syrian PM Naji al-Otari. READ MORE:

Attention Paranoids: You Have Nothing To Fear

According to Freud, it is just your unconscious homosexual impulses struggling to rise to the surface that power all those persecution thoughts.

Life Is Sweet Again

The rain has stopped, the Times still has crosswords and the Caffe Strada still has Americanos.

Paso Robles Shopper Claims Jesus Made Her Put Her Cart Back

"I NEVER put my cart back", explains the young woman, who wishes to remain anonymous. "They have people they pay to do that".

"But yesterday this odd feeling came over me at the grocery store. I thought I was going crazy, I felt like I was losing my will. I tried to fight it, but this voice came in my head. It said 'Put your shopping cart back; put your shopping cart back; put your shopping cart back'".

"I must have sort of passed out, cause when I woke up my shopping cart was back in the rack with the others and I felt kind of sick to my stomach."

"It was later that I finally realized what happend, that Jesus spoke to me and took over my body. I got real excited and wanted to tell everybody. I bet Jesus will take over my body again and I am starting a blog to record these and to spread the word."

Anyone having any corroborating information about this incident please contact this blog.

Spine or Greed?

(NY Times)
February 16, 2005

Asked to Resign, 3 at CBS Hire Lawyers Instead

More than a month after Leslie Moonves, the chairman of CBS, requested the resignations of three top journalists at the network who helped oversee a flawed report on the National Guard service of President Bush, they have yet to step down, two CBS officials said yesterday. READ MORE:

Author Claims Bush Decision Put Money Into Flawed Missile Defense Instead Of Soldier's Equipment

From Capitol Hill Blue

Why Can't We Provide Even Basic Protection for Our Troops?

Feb 16, 2005, 07:18

On Aug. 18, 2004, President Bush was in campaign defense mode as he stood in a Boeing factory in Pennsylvania and championed the vast $50 billion missile defense system that he ordered deployed before it has been fully tested.

"We say to those tyrants who believe they can blackmail America and the free world, 'You fire, we're going to shoot it down,' " said the president. "I think those who oppose this ballistic missile system really don't understand the threats of the 21st century. They're living in the past. We're living in the future. We're going to do what's necessary to protect this country."

On Dec. 8, 2004, Specialist Thomas Wilson of the Tennessee National Guard, who lives in the present, doing what is necessary to protect this country by living in harm's way each day in Iraq, put a secretary of defense in defense mode. The guardsman told the secretary that soldiers are so lacking in basic armor that they are scrounging through landfills for rusty metal and bulletproof glass to help keep themselves safer.

"Why don't we have those resources readily available to us?" asked Wilson. His words prompted clapping and cheers from many of the 2,300 soldiers; but only a non-answer from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whose defensive posture was basically that war-is-hell and it's not his fault.

Wilson's words should have put the president in defense mode as well; but no one in the White House press corps ever thought to ask Bush the key question of why he sent his troops into war without the basic armor they need to protect themselves. The reporters apparently forgot that they are covering the place where the buck stops.

It was the chief executive and commander-in-chief who made the choices to spend billions of bucks to put still-unproven defense missiles in the ground while putting soldiers on the ground in Iraq without basic armor. READ MORE:

BREAKING: Local Pundit Purportedly Likes Pretty Horses

A popular North County personality, described variously as a "wag", a "Mac Wonk", and even a "cartoon character", apparently likes pretty horses. Though at this time, there are more questions than answers, this is allegedly the pretty horse at the center of the controversy":

A reqest for comment has gone unanswered. More as it happens.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

"Stolen US Election" Stories Will Not Go Away

20 Amazing Facts About Voting in the USA

Did you know....

1.80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/04280 04landes.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diebold
2.There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry. http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0916-04.htm
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/04280 04landes.html
3.The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers. http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/private_company.html
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/04280 04landes.html
4.The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.”
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/07/28/sunday/main63 32436.shtml
5.Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.
http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2004/03/0 03_200.html
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/031004Fitrakis/031 1004fitrakis.html
6.Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.
http://www.blackboxvoting.com/modules.php?name=News& p;file=article&sid=26
http://www.blackboxvoting.com/modules.php?name=News& p;file=article&s i d=26 http://www.hillnews.com/news/012903/hagel.aspx http://www.onlisareinsradar.com/archives/000896.php
7.Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush’s vice-presidential candidates. http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_28/b3689130.htm http://theindependent.com/stories/052700/new_hagel27.html
8.ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes. http://www.essvote.com/HTML/about/about.html
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/04280 04landes.html
9.Diebold’s new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters. http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0225-05.htm
http://www.itworld.com/Tech/2987/041020evotestates/pfin ndex.html
10.Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.
11.Diebold is based in Ohio. http://www.diebold.com/aboutus/ataglance/default.htm
12.Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted
50% of the votes in 30 states.
13.Jeff Dean, Diebold’s Senior Vice-President and senior programmer on Diebold’s central compiler code, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree.
14.Diebold Senior Vice-President Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a “high degree of sophistication” to evade detection over a period of 2 years. http://www.chuckherrin.com/HackthevoteFAQ.htm#how
15.None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio. http://www.globalexchange.org/update/press/2638.html
16.California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold’s claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it. (See the movie here blackboxvoting.org/baxter/baxterVPR.mov .) http://wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,63298,00.html http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4874190
17.30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/07/28/sunday/main63 32436.shtml
18.All - not some - but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates. http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,65757,00.html
http://www.ilcaonline.org/modules.php?op=modload&na ame=News&file=article&sid=950
http://www.ilcaonline.org/modules.php?op=modload&na ame=News&file=article&sid=950 http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0411/S00227.htm
19.The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the President’s brother.
http://www.tallahassee.com/mld/tallahassee/news/local/7 7628725.htm
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10544-20 004Oct29.html
20.Serious voting anomalies in Florida - again always favoring Bush - have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation.
http://www.computerworld.com/governmenttopics/governmen nt/policy/story/0,10801,97614,00.html

Posted by Claire on February 15, 2005 at 10:15 AM. READ MORE

Have I Mentioned That I Hate It When It Rains?

Not only do I get cold and damp, and not only is it more difficult to get around, but the low pressure that usually accompanies rain storms causes my sinuses to implode in my head. Headaches, neck and shoulder tension, feelings of claustrophobia and depression are some of the reactions I get when I go singin' and dancin' in the rain.

Who Da You Wanna Invade Next, George? I Dunno, Who Do YOU Wanna Invade Next?

U.S. Withdraws Ambassador From Syria

1 hour, 5 minutes ago

By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON - The United States pulled its ambassador from Syria on Tuesday, expressing "profound outrage" over the assassination of a Lebanese leader who had protested Syrian influence in his country.

Asked if the United States would punish Syria with new economic sanctions, Rice said, "We will continue to consider other options."

The Syrian ambassador, Imad Moustapha, said Tuesday that those insinuating Syria had a role in the attack are "lacking logic" and accused people of trying to use a tragedy for political advantage. He also suggested damaging Syria was part of a plot. READ MORE:

Is It Possible That We Are Going To Have A Voice In The Mainstream Media?

Buffett, Soros make cable buys

Buffett's firm doubles holdings in Comcast; Soros buys Time Warner, Echostar.
February 15, 2005: 10:09 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Billionaire investors Warren Buffett and George Soros are getting hooked up with cable.

Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway (Research), doubled its holdings in Comcast Corp....

Soros Fund Management LLC disclosed in its own SEC filing that as of Dec. 31, it owned 2.6 million shares of Time Warner (Research), owner of Time Warner Cable, the nation's No. 2 cable operator, as well as a host of other media properties, including CNN/Money. It had no shares in Time Warner at the end of the third quarter. READ MORE:

Is This the Correct Path For Us To Take?

Democrats Seek to Outmaneuver Republicans by Imitating Their Strategy
Ronald Brownstein

February 14, 2005

For inspiration, Democrats these days appear to be looking more to Newt Gingrich than to Dick Gephardt, more to Bill Kristol than to Al From, and more to George W. Bush than Bill Clinton.

Democrats aren't taking ideological cues from these Republican leaders. It's their tactics and political strategy that's attracting Democrats. READ MORE:

Radical Right Continues Its Attempt To Remake America Along Classist, Racist Lines

"Among the most controversial nominees are Janice Rogers Brown, nominated to a seat on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, who Democrats say has referred to the New Deal as a "socialist revolution""

By Michael A. Fletcher and Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writers

Tuesday, February 15, 2005; Page A05

Following through on a promise he has made repeatedly since his victory in November, President Bush yesterday renominated 12 candidates for federal appeals court seats whose confirmations were blocked by Senate Democrats during his first term.

The renomination of the judicial candidates promises to once again ignite an intense partisan battle with Senate Democrats. They have vowed to thwart Bush's nominees, whom they consider too conservative.

The battle over the makeup of the federal bench is also a key issue for conservative evangelicals and others at the core of the president's political base who see judges as crucial to their efforts to outlaw abortion, allow for a broader religious presence in daily life and limit the influence of the federal government.READ MORE:

Fake reporter's questioning of the president fits into the administration's widening pattern of manufactured journalism.

--What makes this editorial particularly interesting is that it comes from the arch-right wing Houston Chronicle--

Feb. 13, 2005, 10:33PM


The unmasking of an alleged journalist who used a pseudonym to gain access to White House briefings and news conferences raises more questions about the Bush administration's tactics for securing favorable news. James Guckert, who used the Talon News byline "Jeff Gannon," managed to get access to the White House on a daily basis for two years.

Guckert questioned President Bush at a January news conference last month, tossing a softball query that ridiculed Democrats for "being divorced from reality." The organization Guckert worked for turned out to be an arm of a partisan group, GOPUSA, a conservative Web site based in Houston and dedicated to "spreading the conservative message throughout America." It turns out Talon News was created only a few days before Guckert first applied for a White House daily pass. READ MORE (loads slowly):

Al Gore to Give Speech Tomorrow on Significance of Kyoto Protoco

Arrived in Berkeley for the next 3 days. Just saw this:

Gore: Bush Administration displays "a stunning display of moral cowardice" dealing with Global Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

In an advance phone call with BuzzFlash and other selected members of the press, former Vice President Al Gore announced a major speech in Los Angeles on Wednesday, February 16, 2004, about the importance of the Kyoto Protocol going into effect, President Bush's leadership vacuum on the issue, and new efforts to get the auto industry to drop its lawsuit against California and other states that are enacting laws to force the auto industry to create vehicles that pollute less. READ MORE:

Monday, February 14, 2005

US To Nip Iraqi Democracy In the Bud According to Asia Times

Feb 15, 2005

US fights back against 'rule by clerics'
By Syed Saleem Shahzad, Bureau Chief, Pakistan Asia Times Online.

"To head off this threat of a Shi'ite clergy-driven religious movement, the US has, according to Asia Times Online investigations, resolved to arm small militias backed by US troops and entrenched in the population to "nip the evil in the bud". " READ MORE

Off To SLO

For an evening of drinking Americanos and reading magazines.

Finished "Guns, Germs, and Steel"

"...the striking differences between the long-term histories of peoples of the different continents have been due not to innate differences in the peoples themselves but to differences in their environments." p.405.

The obvious implications for us and our future place in the community of nations underlie the irony of our current policy of ecological know-nothingism:

LA Times

What Mercury Problem?

February 14, 2005

Later this month, Europe and other industrialized regions will grapple with the problem of mercury pollution. The United States, apparently, will continue to pretend it doesn't exist. READ MORE:

"The aerial espionage is standard in military preparations for an eventual air attack..."

U.S. Uses Drones to Probe Iran For Arms

Surveillance Flights Are Sent From Iraq

By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 13, 2005; Page A01

The Bush administration has been flying surveillance drones over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs and detect weaknesses in air defenses, according to three U.S. officials with detailed knowledge of the secret effort.

The small, pilotless planes, penetrating Iranian airspace from U.S. military facilities in Iraq, use radar, video, still photography and air filters designed to pick up traces of nuclear activity to gather information that is not accessible by satellites, the officials said. The aerial espionage is standard in military preparations for an eventual air attack and is also employed as a tool for intimidation. READ MORE:

WP Exposes the Perfidious Nature Of Bush's Budget

After Bush Leaves Office, His Budget's Costs Balloon

By Jonathan Weisman and Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, February 14, 2005; Page A01

For President Bush, the budget sent to Congress last week outlines a painful path to meeting his promise to bring down the federal budget deficit by the time he leaves office in 2009. But for the senators and governors already jockeying to succeed him, the numbers released in recent days add up to a budgetary landmine that could blow up just as the next president moves into the Oval Office.

Congress and the White House have become adept at passing legislation with hidden long-term price tags, but those huge costs began coming into view in Bush's latest spending plan. Even if Bush succeeds in slashing the deficit in half in four years, as he has pledged, his major policy prescriptions would leave his successor with massive financial commitments that begin rising dramatically the year he relinquishes the White House, according to an analysis of new budget figures. READ MORE:

AMERICAblog Has the Dope On Jeff Gannon

So in the end, why does this matter? Why does it matter that Jeff Gannon may have been a gay hooker named James Guckert with a $20,000 defaulted court judgment against him? So he somehow got a job lobbing softball questions to the White House. Big deal. If he was already a prostitute, why not be one in the White House briefing room as well?

This is the Conservative Republican Bush White House we're talking about. It's looking increasingly like they made a decision to allow a hooker to ask the President of the United States questions. They made a decision to give a man with an alias and no journalistic experience access to the West Wing of the White House on a "daily basis." They reportedly made a decision to give him - one of only six - access to documents, or information in those documents, that exposed a clandestine CIA operative. Say what you will about Monika Lewinsky - a tasteless episode, "inappropriate," whatever. Monika wasn't a gay prostitute running around the West Wing. What kind of leadership would let prostitutes roam the halls of the West Wing? What kind of war-time leadership can't find the same information that took bloggers only days to find?

None of this is by accident.

Someone had to make a decision to let all this happen. Who? Someone committed a crime in exposing Valerie Plame and now it appears a gay hooker may be right in the middle of all of it? Who?

Ultimately, it is the hypocrisy that is such a challenge to grasp in this story. This is the same White House that ran for office on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. While they are surrounded by gay hookers? While they use a gay hooker to write articles for their gay hating political base? While they use a gay hooker to destroy a political enemy?

Who in the White House is at the center of all of this? Who allowed this to go on in the People's House? Who committed the crime of exposing Valerie Plame? Jeff Gannon has the answers to these questions, and boy we know he loves to talk.

Let him talk to Patrick Fitzgerald. READ MORE:

Can You Hear the Beat of the Martial Drums Yet?

Blogged by Brad on 2/14/2005 @ 2:21am PT...

CNN's Nuke Plant Photos Identical for Both Iran and N. Korea!

Who's the source for the photos?!

And are there any responsible corporate media outlets left in America?!

Two stories posted in the last week on the CNN website, one on nukes in Iran last Wednesday, and another on nukes in North Korea on Saturday, both use the same aerial photograph of the same purported nuclear power plant!

But one is supposed to be in Iran and the other is supposed to be in North Korea!

A story posted Saturday to CNN's website suggesting that North Korea is rallying behind their leader Kim Jong Il in his latest nuclear saber-rattling makes use of a satellite photo described in the caption as "An aerial photo of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear plant outside of Pyongyang". READ MORE:

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Jeez It's Getting Bad Out There-- This is From a Former Editor of WSJ Editorial Page

February 12 / 13, 2005

As Things Fall Apart, Lie and Lie Again

Nothing to Fear But Bush Himself


Suppose you are the party responsible for invading a country under totally false pretenses. Suppose you had totally unrealistic expectations about the consequences of your gratuitous aggression.

What do you do when, instead of being greeted with flowers, you find your army is tied down by insurgents and you have no face-saving way to get out of the morass? If you are the moronic Bush administration, you blame someone else.

Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Cheney and Bush blame Syria and Iran for the troubles that they brought upon themselves. The Iraqi insurgency, say the Five Morons, is the fault of Syria and Iran.

Here is Rumsfeld excusing himself for his dismal failures in Iraq: "Partly it's [the insurgency] a function of what the Syrians and the Iranians are doing."

You see, the facts that the US invaded Iraq on false pretenses, killed and maimed tens of thousands of Iraqis, shot down women and children in the streets, blew up Iraqis' homes, hospitals and mosques, cut Iraqis off from vital services such as water and electricity, destroyed the institutions of civil society, left half the population without means of livelihood, filled up prisons with people picked up off the streets and then tortured and humiliated them for fun and games are not facts that explain why there is an insurgency. These facts are just descriptions of collateral damage associated with America "bringing democracy to Iraq." READ MORE:

"The Era of Big Government Being Over is Over"


The Revolution That Wasn't

Published: February 13, 2005

WASHINGTON — If the history of the Republican revolution were being written today, a single overarching question would have to be answered: Whatever happened to the promise of smaller government?

That question was asked again last week, when President Bush unveiled a $2.57 trillion budget for 2006, the largest in the nation's history. The cuts he called for, in areas like veterans' medical care, farm subsidies and vocational training, were met in Washington with doubts that they would ever get through the Republican Congress. READ MORE:

Maybe They Just Can't Keep Up

Where are the great women thinkers? Thinking so much about women has shrunk their minds.
By Charlotte Allen

Charlotte Allen, author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus," co-edits the InkWell blog for the Independent Women's Forum.

February 13, 2005

When Susan Sontag died recently, she was mourned as America's leading female intellectual. So the question naturally arose: Is there anyone to take her place? If you can't come up with many names, you're in good company. The list is short.

This wasn't always the case. Ironically, during that part of the 20th century when overt discrimination barred many women from advanced educations, lucrative fellowships and prized teaching and editorial positions preparatory for the world of public letters, there were many brilliant, highly articulate female writers who combined a rigorous mind with a willingness to engage broad political, social and literary issues for an audience beyond academia. We still read their books (or at least their epigrams), and we remember their names: Gertrude Stein, Dorothy Parker, Simone de Beauvoir, Simone Weil, Mary McCarthy, Iris Murdoch, Hannah Arendt and Sontag, to name several.

Some of these women possessed glittering scholarly credentials. But most did not, because a public intellectual is more than simply an intellectual. Unlike the academic version who speaks mostly to fellow scholars, public intellectuals pitch their ideas to the general reading public — and their writings appear in newspapers, magazines and books. Garry Wills is a public intellectual; Berkeley's jargon-laden postmodern theorist Judith Butler is not.

Public intellectuals also explore the implications of ideas, which distinguishes them from sharply observant journalists. When Sontag wrote about camp — or Tom Wolfe about customized cars as kinetic sculpture — they joined writing about popular culture with the long tradition of writing about high culture.

One possible explanation for the dearth of Sontag successors is our electronics-saturated age that is inexorably diminishing the number of people who read. Our hyper-specialized higher education system is another candidate. Academic postmodernism, with its contempt for the general public, has largely replaced the core liberal arts curriculum that once created a shared literary culture and an appetite for serious ideas. READ MORE:

I Sure Miss Magic Johnson

Making the Extra Pass

American basketball has lost its way. A game born of teamwork became a celebration of individual prowess. Now a growing number of NBA franchises are trying to turn back the clock.
By David Wharton
David Wharton, a Times staff writer, last wrote for the magazine on sports talk radio host Petros Papadakis.

February 13, 2005

A voice keeps whispering in Carlos Arroyo's ear as he dribbles upcourt. C'mon. Make a move. Score. The sleek point guard tries not to listen, but he has played this way all his life. Quick and instinctive. Shoot first, ask questions later. And the cynics out there might be nodding their heads, figuring he sounds exactly like a child of basketball's new generation, raised on Air Jordan sneakers and a constant diet of ESPN highlights, all those crossover dribbles and slam dunks. But then another voice beckons, his coach calling from the sideline. Stop. Pass the ball. Set a screen. Run the offense. That was how Jerry Sloan played in the National Basketball Assn. three decades ago, back when you sacrificed for the good of the team.

Sloan took over as coach of the Utah Jazz in 1988, and molded the offense around a decidedly old-school guard, John Stockton. When Stockton retired, Sloan went looking for a replacement and, for better or worse, picked Arroyo. Over the last season and a half, the 25-year-old Puerto Rican star has shown flashes of progress, remaining patient, making good decisions. He has also suffered lapses, arguing with his coach, exiled to the bench for days at a time.

The change has been tough because, Arroyo says, "My game is like that . . . flashy." Sloan insists in his folksy way, "I believe you still have guys out there who want to get on that old yellow school bus, take a ride and get off and play together. They may not be as good as some of the high fliers, but I still think there are players who will perform in the team concept." Think of Gene Hackman as the grizzled coach in the film "Hoosiers," leading a tiny high school to the Indiana state championship by demanding his players make the extra pass. It is a romantic notion, with practical underpinnings. You can win with less talent, for one thing, and fans seem to love it. The sport was its most popular in the 1980s and '90s, when Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and other superstars used their all-around skills to get teammates involved in the game.

No one argues that today's players work hard and are physically talented, running faster and jumping higher than their predecessors. But a growing chorus of voices—team executives, coaches, even some players—are calling for a return to the game's roots. They believe fundamentals and teamwork should trump individual expression, one-on-one moves, soaring dunks that make the highlight reels.

The Detroit Pistons offered a glimpse of old-time basketball last June. A team without a superstar upset a Laker squad built around Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Then came the Summer Olympics, at which a roster of NBA stars finished third to foreign teams that had greater cohesiveness.


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