American Samizdat

Wednesday, June 30, 2004. *
Dark and interesting interview:

What I'm arguing in MP is that in our totally pacified world the only acts that will have any significance at all will be acts of meaningless violence. Already we have seen signs of this - random shootings, the lack of motive for Jill Dando's murder, suicide bombings that achieve nothing, as in Israel. As MP tries to show, even a political revolution may be pointless. All this, it seems to me, means that the main danger in the future will not be from terrorist acts that advance a cause, however wrong-headed, but from terrorist acts without any cause at all. Dr Gould in MP articulates all this more fluently than I can. I agree with him.

Can art be a vehicle for political change? Yes, I assume that a large part of Blair's appeal (like Kennedy's) is aesthetic, just as a large part of the Nazi appeal lay in its triumph of the will aesthetic. I suspect that many of the great cultural shifts that prepare the way for political change are largely aesthetic. A Buick radiator grille is as much a political statement as a Rolls Royce radiator grille, one enshrining a machine aesthetic driven by a populist optimism, the other enshrining a hierarchical and exclusive social order. The ocean liner art deco of the 1930s, used to sell everything from beach holidays to vacuum cleaners, may have helped the 1945 British electorate to vote out the Tories.

(via Abstract Dynamics)
posted by Klintron at 9:03 PM
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I heard there were 55,000 people there . . . let's hope 55,000 people booing at him put a dent in that man's intractable arrogance. Sitting next to Giuliani at a baseball stadium wearing a New York team's baseball hat and he still gets booed by New Yorks' finest baseball fans . . . let that be a taste of what's in store for his ass at the GOP convention this fall.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:43 PM
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The government needs to establish guidelines for canceling or rescheduling elections if terrorists strike the United States again, says the chairman of a new federal voting commission.

Such guidelines do not currently exist, said DeForest B. Soaries, head of the voting panel.

Soaries was appointed to the federal Election Assistance Commission last year by President Bush. Soaries said he wrote to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in April to raise the concerns.

"I am still awaiting their response," he said. "Thus far we have not begun any meaningful discussion." Spokesmen for Rice and Ridge did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Soaries noted that Sept. 11, 2001, fell on Election Day in New York City - and he said officials there had no rules to follow in making the decision to cancel the election and hold it later.

Events in Spain, where a terrorist attack shortly before the March election possibly influenced its outcome, show the need for a process to deal with terrorists threatening or interrupting the Nov. 2 presidential election in America, he said.

"Look at the possibilities. If the federal government were to cancel an election or suspend an election, it has tremendous political implications. If the federal government chose not to suspend an election it has political implications," said Soaries, a Republican and former secretary of state of New Jersey.

"Who makes the call, under what circumstances is the call made, what are the constitutional implications?" he said. "I think we have to err on the side of transparency to protect the voting rights of the country." [more]

. . . via BartCop.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:32 PM
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"We can free videogames from the "dictatorship of entertainment", using them instead to describe pressing social needs, and to express our feelings or ideas just as we do in other forms of art. But if we want to express an alternative to dominant forms of gameplay we must rethink game genres, styles and languages. The ideology of a game resides in its rules, in its invisible mechanics, and not only in its narrative parts. That's why a global renewal of this medium will be anything but easy."

This is a very cool web site. I haven't played any of the games yet, though. They also have links to other activist games.
posted by Klintron at 6:15 PM
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Boston Protester Faces Felony Charges For Protesting Abu Ghraib Abuse

From Democracy Now:

Prvitera stood outside the recruitment center for over an hour. And then the police arrived. Within hours he was facing charges more serious than any US soldier is facing for their role in the actual prison abuse in Iraq. Previtera was charged with three crimes: disturbing the peace, possession of a hoax device and making a false bomb threat. If convicted he could face years in prison.

Also check out the pictures from the follow up protest

via Notes From Somewhere Bizzare
posted by Klintron at 5:28 PM
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The last time a US secretary of State visited Sudan was 1978, when Jimmy Carter's envoy, Cyrus Vance, stopped to refuel his plane.

But in a sign of Sudan's growing significance, Colin Powell arrived Tuesday for a high-profile two-day visit. The trip is the latest evidence of a major shift in US policy toward the Muslim-led state that once harbored Osama bin Laden.

posted by A.Q. at 11:08 AM
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For more than two years, Israeli has been constructing a wall that runs through the West Bank and around Jerusalem. Israeli authorities say the wall is defensive and is needed to prevent terrorists, weapons, and explosives from infiltrating Israel. But almost 90 percent of the wall's planned route traverses Palestinian land inside the West Bank, and the Palestinians call it a land grab. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled today that part of the wall violates the human rights of Palestinians and must be rerouted.

It is very rare for the Israeli Supreme Court to rule in any way in favor of Palestinian rights; this decision underscores just how devious and wrong the wall, in its current form, is
posted by A.Q. at 9:24 AM
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Tuesday, June 29, 2004. *
In a few key areas - electricity, the judicial system and overall security - the Iraq that America handed back to its residents Monday is worse off than before the war began last year, according to calculations in a new General Accounting Office report released Tuesday. [more]
posted by Bill at 10:39 PM
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If you ever get depressed, if you ever start to feel hopeless, just remember: The United States is just 4 percent of the world's population. I know we have all those guns and nuclear weapons and all those cell phones. But the truth is that the power of the people when it is organized overcomes whatever concentrations of money and military might there are.

We have seen this in history again and again, where governments that seemed all powerful, untouchable, that seemed to have total control of the country, suddenly you wake up one morning and the head of the government is on a plane fleeing the country, fleeing the Philippines with shoes. I admit it, every once in a while I have this fantasy. . . . I'm willing to chip in for the airfare.

There are wonderful signs of resistance all over the world, resistance to authority, resistance to governments, resistance to war. It makes me feel good when I pick up the paper and I see that seventeen Israeli pilots are refusing to fly missions any more.

You forget what power people have. Did you see that picture of that woman from Nigeria who was going to be stoned to death because of a sexual escapade? There was a worldwide protest against that, and the Nigerian government had to back down. People forget how powerful protest is, and how actually vulnerable these presumably powerful entities really are when people get together. We've seen this happen again and again in places where the all-powerful government wakes up in the morning and there are a million people in the streets, and that's it. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:23 PM
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. . . via the great BartCop, from which I also find the transcript to an exchange I heard part of earlier on liberal radio:

Moore Gives It To CBS

An exerpt:
Storm: "So this is satire and not documentary? We shouldn’t see this as..."
Moore: "It’s a satirical documentary."

     Storm: "Some have said propaganda, do you buy that? Op-ed?"

     Moore: "No, I consider the CBS Evening News propaganda. What I do is..."

     Storm: "We’ll move beyond on that."

     Moore: "Why? Let’s not move beyond that. Seriously."

     Storm: "No, let’s talk about your movie."

     Moore: "But why don’t we talk about the Evening News on this network and the other networks that didn’t do the job they should have done at the beginning of this war?"

     Storm: "You know what?"

     Moore: "Demanded the evidence, ask the hard questions-"

     Storm: "Okay."

     Moore: "-we may not of even gone into this war had these networks done their job. I mean, it was a great disservice to the American people because we depend on people who work here and        the other networks to go after those in power and say 'Hey, wait a minute. You want to send our kids off to war, we want to know where those weapons of mass destruction are. Let’s see     the proof. Let’s see the proof that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.’"
Storm: "But-"
   Moore: "There was no proof and everybody just got embedded and everybody rolled over and everybody knows that now."

     Storm: "Michael, the one thing that journalists try to do is to present both sides of the story.    And it could be argued that you did not do that in this movie."

     Moore: "I certainly didn’t. I presented my side..."

     Storm: "You presented your side of the story."

     Moore: "Because my side, that’s the side of millions of Americans, (the majority) rarely gets told. This is just a humble plea on my behalf and not to you personally, Hannah. But I’m just saying to journalists in general that instead of   working so hard to tell both sides of the story, why don’t you just tell that one side, which is the administration,      why don’t you ask them the hard questions-"

     Storm: "Which I think is something that we all try to do."

     Moore: "Well, I think it was a lot of cheerleading going on at the beginning of this war-"

     Storm: "Alright."

     Moore: "A lot of cheerleading and it didn’t do the public any good to have journalists standing in front    of the camera going 'whoop-dee-do, let’s all go to war’. And, and it’s not their kids going to war.       It’s not the children of the news executives going to war-"

     Storm: "Michael, why don’t you do you next movie about networks news, okay? Because this movie..."

     Moore: "I know, I think I should do that movie."

     Storm: "...because this movie is an attack on the president and his policies."

     Moore: "Well, and it also points out how the networks failed us at the beginning of this war and didn’t do their job."
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:55 PM
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Let the record show...
An unannounced five-minute, "furtive" ceremony, two days early, on half an hour's notice, in a "nondescript room" in the new Iraqi prime minister's office, under a blanket of security, with snipers on adjoining rooftops in the heavily fortified Green Zone, "before only a handful of Iraqi and U.S. officials and journalists." A few quick, polite lies (L. Paul Bremer III: "I have confidence that the Iraqi government is ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead"), a few seconds of polite clapping by the attendees. That was it. Sovereignty transferred. The end.

Other than L. Paul Bremer, not a significant American official was in sight, even though the President, Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor, and Secretary of State were all in Turkey, not 90 minutes away. There were no representatives from other governments. No flags. No bands. No cheering crowds. No marching troops. No hoopla. Nothing at all. And two hours later, Bremer, the erstwhile viceroy of Baghdad, his suits and desert boots packed away, was on a C-130 out of the country.

dispatched by Tom
posted by mr damon at 8:52 PM
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Political organizers: read this.

(I can't believe how many people think the economy is "good"!)
posted by Klintron at 8:06 PM
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The officer said Corporal Hassoun, a 24-year-old Marine linguist who was born in Lebanon, was shaken up after he saw one of his sergeants blown apart by a mortar shell.

"It was very disturbing to him," the officer said. "He wanted to go home and quit the game, but since he was relatively early in his deployment, that was not going to happen anytime soon. So he talked to some folks on base he befriended, because they were all fellow Muslims, and they helped sneak him off. Once off, instead of helping him get home, they turned him over to the bad guys."

"It's all we know right now," the officer added.
posted by A.Q. at 7:46 PM
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Thirty thousand people have died over the last year and a half in Darfur, Sudan. Even in a best-case scenario, 300,000 more Sudanese will die over the summer.

Have you heard?

Maybe you have. The New York Times has given more than 10,000 words to stories that mention Darfur since May 23, says Lexis-Nexus.

In the same period, the paper has devoted at least 17,000 words to stories mentioning Paris Hilton.
posted by A.Q. at 2:38 PM
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If you didn't leave angry, you weren't paying attention
My Pet Scapegoat: Michael Moore further insinuates himself into the mind of George W. Bush. Funny what a good fit it is.

'The Awful Truth' About America

Score at least one more vote for Kerry. Neither I nor anyone else in ultraliberal Seattle is going to pull a different lever this fall after seeing Fahrenheit 9/11.... If you hate Dubya already, you’ll hate him more after viewing Michael Moore’s latest op-ed documentary, which is obviously more of an indictment than a neutral account of the president’s election and subsequent response to 9/11. And I seriously doubt any area Bush supporters will line up for Fahrenheit; they’ll just wait for the Fox News review, feel outraged, then leave it at that.

- Brian Miller

Let's get this out of the way: "Fahrenheit 9/11" is a savagely partisan indictment of George W. Bush's presidency. It pulls no punches and has nothing nice to say about the commander in chief, whom director and professional rabble rouser Michael Moore portrays as venal, flip and box-of-rocks dumb. Supporters of the president will find this reprehensible. Detractors of the president will rub their hands with glee.

- Karen Karbo

To the shock of absolutely no one, I'm certain, I saw "Fahrenheit 9/11" on Saturday. If you've read Michael Moore's "Dude, Where's My Country?" (I finished it 24 hours before seeing "Fahrenheit 9/11"), you'll have a pretty good idea of what you'll be seeing in the theater. To say that Moore's documentary is profoundly disturbing would be something of an understatement. Unless you're a hopelessly committed Bush True Believer (and if you are, you probably refused on principle to see the movie in the first place), "Fahrenheit 9/11" will quite probably leave you angry about the theft of our country. I know that I was, but rather than go off on some unfocused rant, I want to address some of the points the movie makes:
  • After BushCo engineered the theft of the 2000 presidential election, members of the Congressional Black Caucus went before the Senate to dispute the validity of the election. All they needed was the signature of one member of the Senate- any member. Not one of the 100 members of the Senate would agree to put their signature on ANY of the petitions. Bush partisans must have found the irony of this moment particularly delicious, for presiding over the Senate that day was Vice-President Al Gore, who was forced to certify the theft of an election he had in fact won.
  • When notified that the second plane had hit the World Trade Center on 9.11.01, Bush sat at a photo op in a Florida elementary school class room looking like a cow staring at a passing train- for seven minutes. It was as if he hadn't a clue about what to do next. With no one there to tell him what to do, perhaps he didn't. At a time when a little bit of leadership would have gone an awfully long ways, Bush was paralyzed with indecision. "War president"? Hardly. More like "deer caught in a headlight."
  • Even after all civilian flights were grounded after 9.11.01, members of Osama bin-Laden's family in the US were gathered and flown out of the country without law enforcement officials been given an opportunity to interview them. Of course, given the long and close business ties between the Bush family and the bin-Ladens, one can perhaps understand why the bin-Ladens were hastily evacuated. Too many messy questions and difficult to control answers, and that would have no doubt have adversely impacted Bush's self-created image as a leader in the "war against terror".
  • Not many people remember that the Taliban came to visit Texas in 1997, while George W. Bush was Governor. The tactics, philosophy, and brutality of the Taliban regime was as well-known then as it was prior to the American invasion of Afghanistan. Of course, there was money to be made, so ignoring the political realities- particularly the repression of women- was an easy thing to do. Nothing personal, you understand; it was about business.
  • And what ARE we to make of the fact that, depite 15 of the 19 9.11 hijackers being Saudi nationals, BushCo still maintains a VERY tight relationship with the Saudi government? Given the very lucrative partnership between the Saudis and the Bush family over the years, it seems clear that the opportunity to make a buck trumps everything- including admitting to the reality that Saudis were largely responsible for 9.11 and 3000 murdered Americans. Prince "Bandar Bush" enjoys a relationship with BushCo that no other foreign diplomat enjoys. Why? It's the oil, stupid.
  • Post-9.11, BushCo created a political environment in which dissension was not only discouraged, it was in some cases actively persecuted. Bush's support is based largely on fear- fear of terrorism (exploding floating beer coolers??), fear of losing one's job, fear of anything different, fear of THEM. As long as that fear can be manipulated and ratcheted up a notch or two when necessary, no one asks those uncomfortable questions, like "How do you plan on fixing the economy?" or "Why is it now considered unpatriotic to question the President?", or "Why does this country live in such a constant and yet unjustifiable state of fear?"

I could go on, but the damage should already have been done. My wife's reaction was enough for me: "As if I didn't already hate the man...." (and she wasn't talking about Michael Moore) This from one of the kindest, gentlest souls I know.

What impressed me most was that while Moore is known for being rather over the top at times, "Fahrenheit 9/11" was much more subdued and reasoned than I had expected. Sure, there were a couple things that I felt could and probably should have been toned down (e.g.- the "Bonanza" parody, f'rinstance), but in general the message was sound and well-presented. If nothing else, seeing the movie should raise some questions that we all should be asking ourselves prior to entering the voting booth in November.

It will come as no shock that I loved the movie. Given my Left-ward political leanings, I got what I expected, as did the vast majority of the audience, who applauded loudly at the end of the movie. Certainly, Moore was preaching to the choir, but I do believe that all of us need to see the movie. I don't expect it to change every mind, but there is certainly nothing wrong with asking questions. Or are you afraid of the answers that might be provided?
posted by Jack Cluth at 10:59 AM
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Monday, June 28, 2004. *
Having trouble keeping track of all the torture memos? I know I am. This guide from the NY Times might come in handy.

The National Security Archive at GWU is also collating all of the torture material that has come to light.
posted by Bill at 11:40 PM
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Intelligent people, and I assume that includes Kerry, must begin to challenge the basic premise behind the post-9/11 hysteria. Terrorists may be a growing threat, and we may be unprepared to deal with the challenges they pose, but they have no hope of destroying our society. Only we can do that.

By overstating the threat and overreacting to incidents, we not only give terrorists exactly what they seek, but we seem to create a panicked environment that clouds our judgment when it comes to intelligence, propels us into military adventures abroad and distorts our priorities at home.

Americans should demand a certain level of competence and accountability from their government to protect them, but the Bush (and Kerry) approach is not securing a peaceful future. In fact, the entire war on terrorism, based on the false assumption that it is a war for our survival, seems to be feeding hatred and aggravating the fault lines.

We need to rethink this problem, pure and simple, and Kerry needs to unburden himself from the conventional wisdom.

Otherwise, for many in the Islamic world, Kerry's adoption of the Bush administration's worldview and strategies merely reinforces the idea that the United States is indeed the problem, that there is a clash of civilizations that only might can resolve and that Islam will be an American target no matter who is president. If reducing terrorist attacks is the goal, I can't imagine more dangerous perceptions to foster.

The United States would be safer with a Democratic political platform that demonstrated fundamental disagreement about our current course.

It's tough in a campaign season to stop worrying about the polling booth and start thinking afresh about national security. So here is one final argument against Kerry's muscle-bound "me-too-ism," an argument rooted in domestic, not foreign, policy concerns: For young people energized by the Howard Dean campaign, for liberals and the silent majority, Kerry's carbon-copy campaign conveys the impression that political involvement doesn't matter. Whether you back Kerry, stay home, vote for Ralph Nader or stick with the Bush team, the result will be the same.

If revitalizing American democracy and reinforcing its most precious values are our key objectives, I can't imagine a worse message for a Democratic presidential candidate to be sending. [more]
posted by Bill at 11:15 PM
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In other words, 64% of Israeli Jews support ethnic cleansing:
A University of Haifa poll released Monday reveals that a majority of the Jewish public in Israel - 63.7 percent - believes that the government should encourage Israeli Arabs to emigrate from Israel.

The survey, conducted by the university's National Security Studies Center, also found that 48.6 percent of the Israeli Jews polled said the government was overly sympathetic to the Arab population.

Compared to similar polls conducted in 2001 and 2003, the current survey indicates an increase in the public's extremism.

The majority of Jewish respondents, 55.3 percent, said Israeli Arabs endangered national security, while 45.3 percent of those polled said they supported revoking Israeli Arabs' right to vote and hold political office. [more]
More disturbing news: Reuters reports that "Israel is considering moving settlers slated for evacuation from Gaza to expanded West Bank enclaves despite U.S. objections to the Jewish state cementing a hold on occupied land."

As many feared, this makes Sharon's "disengagement" from Gaza look like a pretext to gain a stronger foothold in the West Bank, akin to what Israel is accomplishing with the construction of its security barrier/apartheid wall.
posted by Bill at 10:41 PM
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Soldier of Fortune: "A third of George Bush's public speeches have been in a military venue, often in uniform. There is nothing this draft-dodging, Ivy League jock loves as much as playing commander-in-chief."

. . . I wonder if Peter Jennings will interview this author?

posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:04 PM
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Evil is a word usually reserved for serial killers, Austin Powers villains, and kids who tear the legs off baby spiders.

But, a new poll shows a significant number of young Canadians would use "evil" to describe their U.S. neighbours.

In a telephone poll of 500 teens aged 14 to 18, more than 40 per cent of respondents saw the U.S. as an evil global force. Among French-Canadians, that number jumped to 64 per cent. [more]

Watch it, Canuckistan! We'll send another McDonald's to your neighborhood if you keep that lip up!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:00 PM
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A Christian charity has accused the coalition authority in Iraq of failing to account for up to $20bn (nearly £11bn) of oil revenues which should have been spent on relief and reconstruction projects.

At the same time, the Liberal Democrats are demanding an investigation into the way the US-led administration in Baghdad has handled Iraq's oil revenues. The coalition is obliged to pay all oil revenues into the Development Fund for Iraq, but according to Liberal Democrat figures, the fund could be short by as much as $3.7bn.

Sir Menzies Campbell, Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, said yesterday: "This apparent discrepancy requires full investigation". [more]

. . . is an investigation really necessary? We know who took the money. But better not look into it, lest someone tells you to "go fuck yourself."
posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:57 PM
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1.3 Megs of Flash dedicated to "Bush the fascist and Blair the appeaser"

We're on the eve of destruction...
posted by Unknown at 6:47 PM
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This week, after 20 months of doing nothing about North Korea's drive to build nuclear weapons, President Bush finally put a proposal—a set of incentives for disarmament—on the negotiating table. The remarkable thing is, the deal is practically identical to the accord that President Clinton signed with Pyongyang in 1994—an accord that Bush condemned and scuttled from the moment he took over the White House.
posted by Klintron at 6:47 PM
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A senior US intelligence official is about to publish a bitter condemnation of America's counter-terrorism policy, arguing that the west is losing the war against al-Qaida and that an "avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked" war in Iraq has played into Osama bin Laden's hands.
posted by Klintron at 6:42 PM
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Boondocks (6.27.2004)
posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:32 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:29 PM
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It’s a stunningly scary scenario for those who work or play in the woods, yet it’s as real as the 9-foot hairy creature rumored to live in Southern Oregon’s forestlands.

Eco-terrorists have placed PVC bombs with mercury- detonators in the lock cans of metal gates that block access to forest roads to all those without keys, the story goes. Reach into the metal bell-like covering for the gate’s lock and, boom, there goes your hand.

And when a Washington state agency spokeswoman last week issued a warning about the bombs after saying a spate of such booby-trapped gates occurred around Medford, the gate bombs joined the Kentucky Fried rat as yet other bogus story the public won’t let go away.

"It’s an urban myth, as far as we can determine," said Frank Mendizabal, a spokesman for Weyerhaeuser Co., whose Western Washington lands were among several where the bombs were rumored to have been found. [more]

"Eco-terrorist" . . . soon to be followed by "Free Speech Terrorist," "Free and Fair Election Terrorist," "Human Rights Terrorist," "Anti-Genocide Terrorist," etc.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:23 PM
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And the Winner is...
Last week, in order to help President Bush with his Rename the Food Stamps Program project, I held a contest. The results are here.
posted by Mad Kane at 10:58 AM
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Berlusconi's Bunker
Well, if one doesn't feel paranoid enough, one will after learning that Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has built a bunker near his villa in Sardegna. The bunker is, apparently, big enough to house the entire Italian government Vips. Why build a bunker? Does Silvio know something we don't know? And isn't it a bit anti-democratic to be the head of the government and build a bunker for yourself and not for the rest of the people?
Anyway, Silvio built the bunker without asking the needed building permits. You know, the head of the country built his bunker illegally. But the left has regained political control in Sardegna and demands an explanation. Also, because it seems as if the tax payers are paying for the bunker's construction.

Berlusconi: "Il bunker in Sardegna? Me l'ha chiesto il Cesis"---Un bunker nella residenza estiva di Berlusconi----berlusconi si costruisce il bunker in Sardegna ---Berlusconi: «Lavori in villa solo per la sicurezza»--"Il bunker di Villa Certosa sede d'emergenza del governo"---
posted by cynthia korzekwa at 8:22 AM
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Any decent journalist would add a 'symbolic' in front of that 'sovereignty.'
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:39 AM
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Sunday, June 27, 2004. *
The toll, part II
The United States has spent more than $126bn on the war in Iraq, which will ultimately cost every American family an estimated $3,415, according to a new report by two thinktanks. On top of the war spending approved by US Congress to date, another $25bn is likely to be spent by the end of this year.

The report, published by the Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy in Focus also counts the human costs.

As of June 16, before yesterday's nationwide attacks, up to 11,317 Iraqi civilians and 6,370 Iraqi soldiers or insurgents had been killed, according to the report, which is titled "Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War."

The death toll among coalition troops was 952 by the same date, of which 853 were American. Some 694 were killed after George Bush declared the end of major combat operations on May 1 last year. Between 50 and 90 civilian contractors and missionaries and 30 journalists have also been killed, the report says.

[The number of lethal agents and munitions that posed a clear and present danger to America's interests... still holding at zero. However, the number of people who have organized and informed themselves about this criminal nonsense rises by thousands each day.]

This is Part I.
posted by mr damon at 11:18 PM
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Nader vs. Moore
Nader: "Hey Michael, Where Were Your Friends?"

Moore: "He doesn't give a shit about anyone but himself. He's let himself be taken over by his own anger towards the Democrats…He's gone crazy."

I'm siding with Moore on this one . . . I voted for Nader in 2000 and still defend that decision: my state was won by Gore, I knew it would be won by Gore, and plus I was helping the Green Party (and all third parties) to be stronger in the future (to get that six percent, etc.). Most importantly, it was the Bush in Florida and Katherine Harris and the Supreme Court, et. al, who stole the election--not Nader's fault. This time, however, I think Nader is running just because he's a stubborn asshole.

What do Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn have to say on the issue?

Noam: “Voting for Nader in a safe state is fine. That's what I'll do. I don't see how anyone could read what I wrote and think otherwise, just from the elementary logic of it. Voting for Nader in a safe state is not a vote for Bush. The point I made had to do with (effectively) voting for Bush.”

Zinn: “I will vote for Nader because Mass. is a safe state. And voters in ‘safe states’ should not vote for Kerry.” He also notes, “I don't have faith in Kerry changing, but with Kerry there is a possibility that a powerful social movement might change him. With Bush, no chance.”

Nader also seems to have the GOP in Oregon on his side . . .
posted by Dr. Menlo at 5:48 PM
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The movie is on less than half of the screens of it's competitors . . .
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:07 AM
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According to a recent feature story in The Tribune, administrators at Hillcrest High, with approval from the Jordan School District, have been prohibiting students from wearing anti-war T-shirts, out of concern that such displays might provoke violent reactions from pro-war students. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:38 AM
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"This question contained the first of [Jeremy] Paxman's Media Herd Clichés -- a banal idea mindlessly repeated by the media. There were several over the course of the 8-minute interview (with Noam Chomsky on BBC Newsnight, 19 May).

"In this case, the implicit idea is that leaders are primarily responsible for formulating and directing policy. Focusing on individuals in this way obscures the reality that destructive policies are deeply rooted in structures of power subordinating people to profit. This helps justify the media's failure to examine the consistent brutality of policy goals and means over many years and decades, and the kind of mass popular awareness and opposition that would be required to reform them.

"Focusing on individuals, particularly rogue 'bad apples,' promotes the idea that the status quo is fundamentally benign -- with Bush and Blair gone, all will be well under John Kerry and Gordon Brown (just as all was supposed to have been well under Clinton and Blair). In the real world, the institutions of power that dominate society remain unaffected by such minor alterations, providing little reason to expect significant positive change. Result: we keep focusing on, loving, hating and changing our leaders -- and the institutions pulling their strings keep bombing and exploiting Third World countries."

This is the most important concept that was (somewhat indirectly) presented in F9/11. George Bush was never capable of authoring and implementing the destructive and exploitative policies we now see at work. He is simply the doorman who greets and serves those who want to increase their profits and power.

Part One of the MediaLens commentary on Paxman's interview... and this is Part Two
posted by mr damon at 2:09 AM
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Saturday, June 26, 2004. *
The most intriguing story in Washington these days is a subterranean conflict that reporters cannot cover because some of them are involved. A potent guerrilla insurgency has formed in and around the Bush presidency--a revolt of old pros in government who strike from the shadows with devastating effect. They tell the truth. They explode big lies. They provide documentary evidence that undermines popular confidence in the Commander in Chief. They prod the media and the political community to ask penetrating questions of the Bush regime. Doubtless, these anonymous sources act from a mixture of motives--some noble, some self-interested--but in present circumstances one might think of them as "embedded patriots."

The business of leaks is an everyday thing in Washington and, arguably, the government could not function without them. It is a way to communicate official and unofficial information in a tentative fashion--nudging events in one direction or another without the need to take responsibility for what's communicated. Reporters participate enthusiastically in the traffic and call it "news." The process is sustained only because everyone can rely on the journalists' mock-heroic code of omertà: Never reveal the names of your secret sources--never--even if the revealed "information" turns out to be spurious.

But what has occurred during the past several months is not the normal commerce. A series of explosive leaks--closely held documents and well-informed tips--have altered the course of politics and might very well influence the outcome of this year's presidential election. Yet we don't know whom to thank. Who gave the Justice Department's "torture" memorandum to the Washington Post? Who provided the International Red Cross's letter of complaints on prisoner abuses to the Wall Street Journal? Who confirmed for the New York Times that Iyad Allawi, the newly appointed Prime Minister of Iraq, had supervised the CIA's terrorist bombing campaign in Baghdad a decade ago? Who informed U.S. News & World Report that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld had authorized the holding of a "ghost prisoner" in violation of international law? Who--someone close to the President?--leaked the "torture" memo written by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales? [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:55 PM
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This type of thing . . . really turns me off of someone forever. How could anyone want the animal shelter system to kill faster? As it is, I couldn't walk into a pound without being overwhelmed with helplessness at all the doomed canine and feline faces. And Arnold wants to walk in, clap his hands together and announce, "OK! Here's what up little doggies and kitties! You're all being put to sleep! Sorry, maybe in the next life . . ." Then he gets out a cigar and lights it. Waiting in the car for him is Cruella DeVille . . . Bastard!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:43 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:24 PM
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Government scientists must now be cleared by a Bush political appointee before they can lend their expertise to the World Health Organization, a change that a Democratic lawmaker said fits a pattern of politicizing science. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:52 AM
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Friday, June 25, 2004. *
John Stewart slaps down Dick Cheney's Iraq-Al Qaeda claims on the Daily Show.
posted by Bill at 8:59 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:04 PM
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Great column by Molly Ivins that skewers the lines being spewed by the Bush administration and the willingness of the media to lap 'em up.
posted by Bill at 5:06 PM
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Holy Hegemony, Batman!

I can take no credit for this... found it during my morning browse at What a Quiet Stiff.
posted by mr damon at 12:22 PM
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a link re: Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and Typical Housewives
posted by cynthia korzekwa at 1:47 AM
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Thursday, June 24, 2004. *

Mr. Schwarzenegger, in an interview in the Bedouin-style smoking tent he has set up in the courtyard of the State Capitol here -- smoking is banned in state buildings -- made it clear that he expected a prominent role at the Republican National Convention in New York in late August.

[I doubled over in stifled laughter halfway through that paragraph]

'Whether I'm speaking, I'll leave that up to them,' said Mr. Schwarzenegger, a global celebrity who has emerged as perhaps the most intriguing new Republican face of the political season. 'If they're smart, they'll have me obviously in prime time.'

No one has ever accused Mr. Schwarzenegger, no matter what role he is in, of lacking self-confidence, and the governor himself knows that both his celebrity and his superhero screen image are at the core of his distinctive and so far successful political style. Asked to describe his governing philosophy seven months after toppling Gray Davis in California's recall election, he said, 'Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.'

He stopped himself. 'Wait a minute, that's Conan,' he said. 'I stepped out of character here for a second.'

The governor, his skin and hair the color of a tarnished brass bed [here, I fell out again], his pectoral muscles testing the strength of his shirt buttons, is clearly a man enjoying himself and at ease with power.

Flashing a jade ring as he talked, he ruminated on his introduction to government, in the 15-by-15-foot courtyard tent where he does much of his private business. It is decorated with rattan chairs, orchids, a humidor, a mirror, floor fan and books written by Mr. Schwarzenegger.

There was an expensive, half-burned cigar in a Baccarat crystal ashtray. The tent itself was placed precisely 20 feet from the doors leading to the governor's offices to comply with state smoking regulations.

Mr. Schwarzenegger said business lessons he learned in Hollywood applied directly to running the nation's most populous state. Success, he said, requires a combination of discipline, optimism, humor, a willingness to share credit and good cigars, and an ability to cut back-room deals.

He defended his practice of negotiating key sections of important legislation and the budget behind closed doors or in his smoke-filled tent...

[About a third of the article goes by. Then here's the nut in the last two 'graphs, a quirk of the NYT that I've pointed out in the past]

On fiscal matters, Mr. Schwarzenegger considers himself an old-school Republican determined to ferret out waste. No item is too minor to escape his attention.

For instance, since Mr. Schwarzenegger took office on Nov. 17, the toilet paper in the Capitol has been switched from two-ply to one-ply, a saving of thousands of dollars over the years. 'It's not anymore the two-ply,' he said. 'Because you know what? We're trimming. We're living within our means."

Orchids. Crystal ashtrays. Free cigars for the lobbyists. Hella bronzer. And one-ply tissue.

Yes, California will be just fine.
posted by mr damon at 8:00 PM
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"It seems a little curious because the president made a pretty forceful presentation that he had nothing to hide," said AP General Counsel Dave Tomlin, when asked for his reaction to what the AP considers government stonewalling. "But we are not surprised." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:44 PM
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"Frankly, part of our problem," Wolfowitz said, "is a lot of press are afraid to travel very much. So they sit in Baghdad, and they publish rumors." [more]

. . . this from a guy who, when asked how many US soldiers had already died in Iraq, said "about 500"--which was more than 200 soldiers short. So when he talks about not knowing what you're talking about, he knows what he's talking about, right? Or does he? For the former remark, he gives his "deep regret".
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:33 PM
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Honorable Restorations

. . . via BartCop.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:09 PM
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I can't keep up with all the anti-Bush sites . . . perhaps NASA could help . . .
posted by Dr. Menlo at 3:43 PM
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Remember this whenever the Bush Party Loyalists demand progressives to be "civil."
posted by Dr. Menlo at 3:38 PM
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Should go without saying, eh? Who was it who said of this, "You don't remodel while your house is burning down"--?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:57 AM
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Touting his program to rehabilitate ex-offenders in Cincinnati on Monday, President Bush put his arm on Tami Jordan's shoulder and called the convicted embezzler a "good soul" and an "inspirational person."

But the victims of Jordan's crime - a small, family-owned business in Fairfield that lost $308,170 to Jordan's deception - say she isn't rehabilitated and hasn't paid the court-ordered restitution.

"Of all the people in Cincinnati they could pick out as an example, and they picked her," said Susan Morin, the owner of Gorman Supply Inc. "She's on the front page of every paper, sitting with the most powerful man in the country, and I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to pay my bills next week. Is that fair? Where's my federal program?" [more]

From one con to another . . . this administration loves their cons. What? Chalabi convicted of a con? Well, that makes him qualified! Lookee here, mistuh, there are two types of people out there: the cons and the suckers, now which one you gonna be?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:42 AM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:26 AM
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There are untold profits to be made from controlling the simplest and most vital ingredient of our survival: water.

The only question, from a profit standpoint, is why it has taken this long.

"You can't do anything without water," says Alan Snitow, co-producer and co-director of Thirst, a groundbreaking and provocative new film about the rush to privatize what the filmmakers rightly define as the very "essence of life." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:18 AM
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The toll

"Of the 842 U.S. service members who have died in Iraq since the invasion 15 months ago, 622 were killed by hostile fire, according to a Pentagon tally. The largest part of that combat death toll, 513, has come since President Bush's declaration on May 1 last year that major combat was over. These troops died at the hands of Iraqis and a sprinkling of foreign Arabs fighting the U.S. occupation and seeking to derail the Bush administration's plan to transform the country.

"Most of the 513 have died one or two at a time in roadside bombings or skirmishes too small to make headlines back in the States. But for those involved -- the soldiers who fell, the men and women who lived through the battle, the families left behind -- each casualty has been a large-scale tragedy, filled with their sweat, their rage, their courage, their blood and, ultimately, their tears."
posted by mr damon at 12:53 AM
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Wednesday, June 23, 2004. *
Media Matters has more on this, along with lots of other goodies from prominent right wingers in the media.
posted by Bill at 10:22 PM
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We are faced in the 2004 election with an unusually retrograde Republican administration. It is presiding over one of the largest upward redistributions of wealth in U.S. history, one of the most serious challenges to civil liberties in half a century, and one of the most aggressive foreign policies in years, made more dangerous by Washington's status as the world's sole superpower. But beyond these distinctions, the Bush administration has been manipulating the political system to entrench its hold on power for years to come. Aside from stealing the 2000 presidential election, it has been gerrymandering Congressional districts to give it a lock on the House of Representatives. The only other time since 1933 that the Republicans have controlled both houses of Congress and the White House was in the first two years of the Eisenhower administration, but at least Eisenhower was checked by an unusually liberal Supreme Court. A Bush victory might give the Busheviks a firm hold on all three branches of government, and the power to make the conservative Supreme Court even worse, as new judges in the image of Scalia and Thomas will be appointed for life-time terms, with long-lasting implications.

Does this mean we should endorse Kerry? No. It is sometimes assumed that the question before us in this (or any) election is which candidate are we to endorse, where endorse means vote for, work for, provide funds for, and speak for. To endorse Kerry -- whatever its short-term benefits -- would come at an immense cost: We would be using our limited time to canvas for Kerry rather than on building radical movements; we would be expending our scarce financial resources on the corporate-backed Kerry rather than on cash-starved grassroots projects; and our message would be the false one of trust in Kerry rather than the radical truth that Kerry and the system are fundamentally flawed. In some extreme circumstances, endorsing a Kerry-type might be warranted. But that is not the issue before us. The question, rather, is what we should do for fifteen seconds on Election Day and what we should urge like-minded individuals to do on election day. That is, we can vote for Kerry without endorsing him. We can pull the lever for him (or punch out the hanging chad for him, or whatever) while still, in every other respect working for and speaking for radical change. [more]
Although written from an explicit socialist position, there's plenty in this essay that even non-socialists will find stimulating and useful.
posted by Bill at 9:52 PM
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Garofalo Sounds Off

Garofalo Sounds Off

. . . of course, it goes without saying that there are millions, if not tens, hundreds of millions of progressive men out there who look upon Janeane as THE perfect woman . . .

Me included, of course.

See also: Majority Report Radio, where Janeane splits open the radio waves weekdaily with her radical beauty, intelligence and wit. Ooh la la, one listen to her and instant mind-percolation. Forward male minds immediately know the future of the race when they see her; the little white guys start swimming frenetically, if only in circles. Goddess, she is. Yet down to earth, too. Plus fiery--don't forget fiery . . .

Janeane is my Eve, baby. Propagate wisely.

posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:37 PM
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Deep-rooted corruption in Palestine
In February, press reports that cement imported from Egypt through Palestinian companies and ready-made concrete manufactured in the Palestinian village of Abu Dis were being used to build Israeli settlements and the apartheid wall provoked outrage among Palestinians. Israeli television showed trucks transporting cement from a factory originally owned by Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qureia to the Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, east of occupied Jerusalem. Qureia reportedly had transferred ownership of the plant to other members of his family.

In an attempt to mollify public disgust, the Palestinian Authority (PA) ordered an investigation, even as the accusations were vigorously denied. The committee charged with the job, headed by Palestinian legislator Hasan Khreisheh, has now completed its work, according to a June 14 report in the Jordanian daily Ad Dustour.


Deaths in Palestine Surpass 3,300

Official Palestinian statistics said 3,345 Palestinians were killed by Israel since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in October 2000.

The survey, conducted by the General Palestinian Statistics Authority, also indicated that more than 40,000 Palestinians were wounded and 62,888 houses were damaged or totally destroyed in the violence.

Among the Palestinian casualties, 617, including 233 females, were younger than 18 years old and 196 people died at Israeli roadblocks, including patients, pregnant women, children and the elderly.
posted by A.Q. at 5:28 PM
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Rename The Food Stamps Program Contest
I was amused to learn about a new Bush administration goal: It wants to change the name of the Food Stamps Program (since it no longer uses stamps) and is soliciting suggestions from the public. I've taken a personal interest in this. Why? Because many years ago, in order to subsidize my symphony orchestra oboist habit, I worked for the Nassau County, New York Food Stamps Department.

Needless to say, I couldn't resist the challenge, and the new name I've come up with is "Leave No Stomach Behind."

But I think it's important to give Dubya a wide selection of creative names. So, as a public service, I challenge my readers to come up with some good names and post them in my comments. If I get suggestions from ten or more people, I'll even award a prize -- $10 in PayPal cash.

So please post your name suggestions in the comments section of this Rename The Food Stamps Program Contest post.
posted by Mad Kane at 11:54 AM
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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court ruled Monday that people do not have a constitutional right to refuse to tell police their names.

The 5-4 decision frees the government to arrest and punish people who won't cooperate by revealing their identity.

The decision, reached by a divided court, was a defeat for privacy rights advocates who argued that the government could use this power to force people who have done nothing wrong to submit to fingerprinting or divulge more personal information.

Police, meanwhile, had argued that identification requests are a routine part of detective work, including efforts to get information about terrorists.

The justices upheld a Nevada cattle rancher's misdemeanor conviction. He was arrested after he told a deputy that he didn't have to reveal his name or show an ID during an encounter on a rural road in 2000.

posted by mr damon at 11:52 AM
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Tuesday, June 22, 2004. *
posted by A.Q. at 11:41 PM
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Real Life Monsters Scaring Away Paranormal Ones?

Ghosts, Nessie, Bigfoot, "little silver men with menacing probes": there was a time we used to hear a lot about these various manifestations of the strange, spooky and suspect. But not any more. In the past few years there has been a spectacular market crash in many kinds of paranormal activity; somehow our world just isn't as weird as it was.

Take the Loch Ness Monster. Since the first modern sighting in 1933, Nessie-watchers have been able to rely on about 15-20 reported sightings a year, with occasional paranormal peaks of up to 40. This January the official Loch Ness Monster fan club admitted that in the preceding 18 months they had heard of a meagre three spottings. "There has been an unusually low number of sightings, all of which were made by local people," admits Gary Campbell, club president. "It appears that no tourists at all have seen anything unusual."

Then there's the slump in hauntings...

via follow me here
posted by A.Q. at 11:40 PM
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Yes, the same Loews which will be showing Fahrenheit 9/11 . . . why the sudden expansion from the economics of death to the movie business?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:30 PM
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On May 1, 2004, Paul Rieckhoff delivered the Democratic response to the President's National Weekly Radio Address

Good morning. My name is Paul Rieckhoff. I am addressing you this morning as a US citizen and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I served with the US Army in Iraq for 10 months, concluding in February, 2004.

I'm giving this address because I have an agenda, and my agenda is this: I want my fellow soldiers to come home safely, and I want a better future for the people of Iraq. I also want people to know the truth.

War is never easy. But I went to Iraq because I made a commitment to my country. When I volunteered for duty, I knew I would end up in Baghdad. I knew that's where the action would be, and I was ready for it.

But when we got to Baghdad, we soon found out that the people who planned this war were not ready for us. There were not enough vehicles, not enough ammunition, not enough medical supplies, not enough water. Many days, we patrolled the streets of Baghdad in 120 degree heat with only one bottle of water per soldier. There was not enough body armor, leaving my men to dodge bullets with Vietnam-era flak vests. We had to write home and ask for batteries to be included in our care packages. Our soldiers deserved better. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 12:33 PM
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Monday, June 21, 2004. *
Two tidbits from the Times of Washington and LA
"In another Colorado campaign event yesterday, Mr. Kerry raised $500,000 in a fund-raiser at the home of Michael Goldberg, president of Aerolease International.

"Mr. Kerry invited writer Hunter S. Thompson to ride in his motorcade and brought three copies of Mr. Thompson's book about the 1972 presidential race, 'Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail.'

"'Just to put your minds all at ease, I have four words for you that I know will relieve you greatly,' Mr. Kerry said at the fund-raiser. 'How does this sound -- Vice President Hunter Thompson.'"

Ha ha, yes, how amusing. But really, John, what will you do as president?

"Kerry's defense plans might be a slam-dunk for the atherosclerotic set in the national security community, but here is the alternative that the senator offers to Democrats and people of liberal values in November:

• no plan to withdraw from Iraq, not even the kind of "secret plan" the late President Nixon offered on Vietnam, and no change in Afghanistan;

• continuation of Bush's preemption policy;

• a larger military with many more special operations units, plus accelerated spending on "transformation," which in today's defense jargon means creation of greater capability to intervene around the world on short notice;

• a new domestic intelligence agency and a vastly beefed-up homeland security program.

Kerry's defense advisors see much of this as innocuous rhetoric to protect the Democratic candidate's flanks from traditional conservative accusations of being soft on national security. At the same time, it represents a calculated strategy to "keep your head low and win."

In his stump speeches, Kerry stresses a spirited dose of alliances, the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and a return to what he calls an "America that listens and leads again." He roundly criticizes the Bush administration on Iraq, Afghanistan and homeland security. He promises as commander in chief that he will never ask the troops "to fight a war without a plan to win the peace."

All that is to the good. Yet when Kerry describes the contemporary world, and the challenges that the U.S. faces, he sounds just like the president, the vice president and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Terrorism, he says, "present[s] the central national security challenge of our generation." Preventing terrorists from "gaining weapons of mass murder" is his No. 1 security goal, and Kerry says he would strike first if any attack "appears imminent." The senator promises to "use military force to protect American interests anywhere in the world, whenever necessary." On May 27 in Seattle, he promised to "take the fight to the enemy on every continent" (I guess that probably doesn't include Antarctica)."
posted by mr damon at 11:39 PM
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. . . is the new url for American Samizdat!

A belated big thanks to new Harbingers! Thank you: Sauceruney of Memetic Invasion, Mr. Spock of the LGF Quiz and The LGF Quiz Blog, Alec Kinnear of la vie viennoise and Susan of Easy Bake Coven!

Attn Harbingers: any one of you who doesn't have your own domain is welcome to a permanent address at! Would you or anyone you know be interested in becoming a harbinger here? Let me know! ( We'd love to have ya! Let's keep building this progressive coalition and ramp up our collective efforts to help unseat Bush this fall!

Please update your links and bookmarks! And thanks for reading!

posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:37 PM
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. . . another great anti-Bush art site. I plan to compile a new category of links to anti-Bush art sites to put up on all my blogs--any recommendations? What are your favorites?

posted by Dr. Menlo at 3:13 PM
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. . . this kid, here. He don't take orders alla time--he got attitude.

Aisle 5.

The kid looks, stops: "Conformity Camp! Fuck!" Within seconds he is marching . . .
posted by Dr. Menlo at 2:15 PM
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Sunday, June 20, 2004. *
"To improve the ability of intelligence personnel of the Department of Defense to recruit sources, it is necessary for Defense intelligence personnel, without having to divulge their affiliation with the Department or the U.S. Government, to approach potential sources and collect personal information from them to determine their suitability and willingness to become intelligence sources."

"The Pentagon has long had the authority to conduct intelligence within the United States to protect its military personnel or bases against an attack, according to experts. But, during the Vietnam War, a scandal broke out when it was revealed that military agents had spied on civilians as well as soldiers for their political beliefs instead of their threat to the Defense Department's security.

"Following the 1970 revelations of Christopher Pyle, then a graduate student at Columbia University, that the Pentagon spied against antiwar groups in the 1960s, Congress held hearings that resulted in recommendations that the Defense Department be barred from conducting domestic intelligence. But no new laws were created specifically prohibiting the practice.

"'The Pentagon gave [Congress] strong assurances they would not return to domestic spying on civilian political activity,' Pyle, now a professor at Mount Holyoke College, said by telephone Tuesday.

"In 1974, the Privacy Act (PL 93-579) was signed into law, requiring representatives from most government agencies -- including the Defense Department -- to identify themselves when they collect information on U.S. citizens and legal resident aliens, and to identify the purpose of their information collection.

"But language inserted in the Senate version of the intelligence authorization bill would exempt the Defense Department from those provisions, opening the door to an expanded authority to surreptitiously collect information on U.S. residents."
posted by mr damon at 4:01 AM
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Saturday, June 19, 2004. *
Faithful Citizenship?
Politicians Face Censure From Bishops on Abortion Rights
This really pisses me off! Now the Fundies seem to have buffooned the Catholic bishops into a de facto endorsement of Too Stupid To Be President. "Politicians Face Censure From Bishops on Abortion Rights". The actual text (generically named "Catholics in Political Life") is here. The question here is why, when the Catholic Church's position on abortion has been fully clear for years, these bishops suddenly felt the need to issue a statement like this in the middle of an election campaign. Are Catholics now supposed to vote for Idiot Boy on the basis of a single political stance? The same dry drunk who actual paid for a girlfriend's abortion when it was still illegal. Or has God forgiven that "evil"?

How about a similar statement regarding the ethical considerations involved in blowing up little children with cluster bombs in an illegal war of choice? (Oooh. There's that "choice" word again.) Or maybe a statement about what Jesus would have to say about a "Christian nation" that failed to provide adequate healthcare for all of that nation's sick and injured? Or maybe something about Christian congressmen who chop the legs from under the social safety net as they simultaneously trumpet the need for more costly and effective killing machines? Or funding cuts for education that disproportionately punish those children whose only mistake was that of being born to impoverished parents? What about some statements on these?

Faithful citizenship, my ass. This is nothing more than blatant religio-political hypocricy! And they wonder why I left the Church?

posted by Mischa Peyton at 11:31 AM
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Friday, June 18, 2004. *
"It is [in regard to] the stopping of the machine that we seem to falter. For some reason, we have not understood clearly what the blueprint was when we recall and think about what happened in the Civil Rights Movement and the Labor Movement and the Women's Movement in [their] early manifestations. The one thing that all those movements had in common was that they stopped the machine.

"And until we stop the machine, and the way in which they hungrily pursue profit; until we tell them you will not turn another moment of profit until you deal with our spiritual bankruptcy as a nation; until you find a new code of honor in which to deal with the world, we will not tolerate any longer your banks, your institutions. We'll no longer tolerate your military interventions and your military impositions. And we are ready to put our bodies and our lives on the line to do that."

Harry Belafonte, who spoke at the 2004 Human Rights Awards Ceremony in San Francisco on June 10.
posted by mr damon at 3:16 PM
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The United States is holding suspects in the war on terrorism in more than two dozen detention centres around the world, at least half of which operate in total secrecy, a human rights group charged on Thursday.

In a report called "Ending Secret Detentions," Human Rights First said that secrecy surrounding the detention centres makes "inappropriate detention and abuse not only likely, but inevitable".
posted by A.Q. at 2:53 PM
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9/11 tapes and closed-door testimony
Despite all the high secrecy surrounding the briefing, a half-dozen different [9/11] family members were so horrified by voice evidence of the airlines' disregard for the fate of their pilots, crew and passengers that they found ways to reveal some of what they heard on those tapes, and also what they felt. To them, the tapes appeared to show that the first instinct of American and United Airlines, as management learned of the gathering horror aboard their passenger planes on Sept. 11, was to cover up.

The response of American's management on duty, as revealed on the tape produced at the meeting, was recalled by persons in attendance:

"Don't spread this around. Keep it close."

"Keep it quiet."

"Let's keep this among ourselves. What else can we find out from our own sources about what's going on?"

"It was disgusting," said the parent of one of the victims, herself a veteran flight attendant for United Airlines. "The very first response was cover-up, when they should have been broadcasting this information all over the place."

There's also a little more about Sibel Edmonds, who's now teamed up with Daniel Ellsberg:

"The whistleblower pair were protesting yet another delay by Judge Reggie Walton of the District Court of Columbia in determining whether Edmonds' closed session testimony to Congressional inquiries can be declared state secrets by U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft.

"In a statement, Edmonds called Ashcroft's legal moves anti-freedom of speech and anti-due process.

"Ellsberg's common cause with Edmonds is founded on his own battle to make public a top secret study of US decision-making in Vietnam, known as the Pentagon Papers."
posted by mr damon at 1:30 PM
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I know, I know: this sounds very much like a call for class war. But the class war was declared a generation ago, in a powerful paperback polemic by William Simon, who was soon to be Secretary of the Treasury. He called on the financial and business class, in effect, to take back the power and privileges they had lost in the depression and new deal. They got the message, and soon they began a stealthy class war against the rest of society and the principles of our democracy. They set out to trash the social contract, to cut their workforces and wages, to scour the globe in search of cheap labor, and to shred the social safety net that was supposed to protect people from hardships beyond their control. Business Week put it bluntly at the time: "Some people will obviously have to do with will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more."

The middle class and working poor are told that what's happening to them is the consequence of Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand." This is a lie. What's happening to them is the direct consequence of corporate activism, intellectual propaganda, the rise of a religious orthodoxy that in its hunger for government subsidies has made an idol of power, and a string of political decisions favoring the powerful and the privileged who bought the political system right out from under us. [more]

posted by Dr. Menlo at 12:13 PM
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Caption contest?

didn't know about the alternate view
until I saw it with
the thirdredeye

posted by mr damon at 12:21 AM
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Thursday, June 17, 2004. *
George Orwell, meet Franz Kafka.
"For 1984, his classic novel of totalitarianism, George Orwell created 'Room 101,' an interrogation room where a prisoner's deepest fears were to be realized and applied. Tier 1 in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, as the now-infamous photos indicate, was the Bush administration's Room 101 for the 'Arab mind,' and so the crown jewel of its global interrogation facilities; just as Guantanamo was the 'crown jewel' of the prison camps in its global Bermuda Triangle of injustice; just as the new appointed 'interim government' hidden within the ever-more fortified Green Zone in Baghdad and led by a prime minister and former CIA asset whose exile organization, we learned this week, once set off car bombs in downtown Baghdad, is now the crown jewel of "freedom and democracy" in the Middle East. This is our 'war against terrorism.' Talk about an Orwellian world."

from TomDispatch
posted by mr damon at 9:27 PM
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New to Boston and coming soon to a city near you: random ID checks on commuter trains. Sounds more like Nazi Germany than 21st Century America. Are the two as different as we once thought?
posted by tim at 7:32 PM
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Dubya Seeks A Little Help From His Pope
As Pen-Elayne points out, religion's been in the news lately. Not only do you have your basic Baptist secession, but you have Bush seeking political favors from the Vatican. The latter inspired this poem:

Dubya's Plea
By Madeleine Begun Kane
Our Bishops need to do much more
To safeguard all that's good,
Said Dubya to the Pope when Dub
Was in the neighborhood.

The rest of Dubya's Plea is here and here.
posted by Mad Kane at 2:44 PM
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Wednesday, June 16, 2004. *
Matthews:  According to the papers this week, there's three guys in the running right now.  They're all men.  They're all white guys, because it seems to be the list we go from anyway. 

Franken:  OK, white men.  So you're talking Edwards, Gephardt and Vilsack?  

Matthews:  No, Edwards, Gephardt and Clark still.

Franken:  Oh, Clark.

Matthews:  Clark is back in.  Vilsack seems to be out.

Franken:  Oh, I don't follow these as closely as you do.

Matthews:  Which of those three do you think is the most likely to be picked by the next convention? 

Franken:  I'd say Edwards is.  They have to make a sort of threshold choice, Edwards or not.  So I think that's a 50-50 on Edwards. 

Matthews:  That's very shrewd.  That's exactly where I think it is.  No, I really do think that's what he thinks, too.

Franken:  Thank you.  (LAUGHTER)

Matthews:  Fifty-fifty on Edwards.  Which way would you—if you were putting together the ticket, where would you go?

Franken:  I would go with Edwards.   I'll tell you why:  The job of the running mate is to make the case for the guy at the top of the ticket.  Well, who would you like to make the case for you other than one of the great trial lawyers in our country? 

Matthews:  So he's the up-up man.  He's the guy who's going to say, “I give you John Kerry. “ I think he complements more than supports.  I think he would be the regular guy, humble upbringing, son of a factory worker, a father who lost his job, a good thing to take that case to Ohio, places like that.

Franken:  Yes, absolutely. The two Americas. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:10 PM
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"I'm not bothered [by the danger] - nothing bothers me," said Mr Menefee, grinning. "The chances of something happening are the same here. I could step out of the door and get hit by a bus."

Wait... didn't I just read this "Well, I could die right here at home, so why not go where people are inclined to shoot me" rationaliztion?

"The only thing I'm really scared of is if I can't do it, can't get through basic [training]," Ms. Jordan said. "I guess I didn't want to be a small-town girl who figures she's not going to amount to much. I may not have my name in the stars, but I'll be part of something.

"You could get shot," she added, "going to the gas station."

Yes, in that restive ghetto that is Lyndon, Kansas...
posted by mr damon at 1:09 AM
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Tuesday, June 15, 2004. *
Dump Bush Song Parody
Here's my Dump Bush Song Parody, to be sung to "Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush," It's perfect for Bush's next appearance in an elementary school classroom, don't you think?

Dump Bush Song
By Madeleine Begun Kane

We must defeat George W. Bush,
George W. Bush, George W. Bush.
We must defeat George W. Bush.
Vote Kerry this November.

Cheney and Bush are our nation's foes,
Our nation's foes, our nation's foes.
Cheney and Bush are our nation's foes.
Vote Kerry this November. ...

The rest of my Dump Bush Song Parody is here and also here.
posted by Mad Kane at 12:35 PM
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Israel stealing land? The sun coming up in the morning?

How about a little, "Mr. Sharon, tear down this wall!"--?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:18 AM
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Tim Elliott, a Chicago attorney who recently challenged the revision in a Texas federal courtroom on behalf of a bankrupt food distributor, said defining French fries as fresh vegetables defied common sense.

"I find it pretty outrageous, really," said Elliott, who argued that the Batter-Coating Rule is so vague that chocolate-covered cherries, packed in a candy box, would qualify as fresh fruit. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:15 AM
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"It turns out to be a really brilliant piece of work, and a film that members of all political parties should see without fail."
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:10 AM
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Monday, June 14, 2004. *

"The trip by the current US defence secretary, to pledge US support for Saddam Hussein (in 1983), marked one of the lowest points of the entire Reagan presidency, and symbolically represents the real legacy of the 'Great Communicator.' For Reagan was the president who allowed the US to secretly arm the Iraqi dictator with weapons of mass destruction, supported Iraq's military expansion, turned a blind eye to Saddam using chemical weapons against Iran, and thereby set in train the events that would lead to George W. Bush's disastrous decision to invade the country in 2003...

"'Saddam Hussein showed obvious pleasure with... Rumsfeld's visit... Rumsfeld told Saddam US and Iraq had shared interests in preventing Iranian and Syrian expansion. He said the US was urging other states to curtail arms sales to Iran and believed it had successfully closed off US-controlled exports by third countries to Iran.

"'Our initial assessment is that meeting marked a positive milestone in development of US-Iraqi relations and will prove to be of wider benefit to US posture in the region.'"
posted by mr damon at 3:35 PM
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Score one for the neo-con religious right. The Supreme Court dismissed the case brought by Michael Newdow of California on a technicality, saying the father did not have sufficient custody to sue on behalf of his daughter. Not only is the Court allowing religion to remain in public schools, it is doing so in a backhanded, cowardly way. Bastards.
posted by tim at 10:52 AM
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"The only thing I'm really scared of is if I can't do it, can't get through basic," Ms. Jordan said. "I guess I didn't want to be a small-town girl who figures she's not going to amount to much. I may not have my name in the stars, but I'll be part of something."
posted by mr damon at 3:05 AM
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Sunday, June 13, 2004. *
"The State Department is scrambling to revise its annual report on global terrorism to acknowledge that it understated the number of deadly attacks in 2003, amid charges that the document is inaccurate and was politically manipulated by the Bush administration," reports the LA Times.

The report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism," was released to much fanfare in late April and used to bolster claims that the Bush administration was winning the "war on terror." So much for that. The revised version will indicate that global terrorism has increased over the past year.
posted by Bill at 3:07 AM
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The St. Petersburg Times has confirmed the existence of the long denied flight of Saudis out of Tampa International Airport on September 13, 2001.

For added context, see this recent op-ed piece by Craig Unger, author of House of Bush, House of Saud, from the NY Times.
posted by Bill at 3:04 AM
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In a content analysis of CNN's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Nigel Parry writes:
Palestinians and Israelis continue to die because citizens of the US — the country that intervenes more than any other to perpetuate the status quo on the ground — are offered a grossly distorted account of events on the ground that gives them no real sense of the imbalance of power between the two sides in the conflict, no idea of the extent of the US role in the conflict, and little impetus to call for a more even-handed US foreign policy in the Middle East.

It is hard to quantify in absolute terms, but most regular readers of the extremely detailed Palestinian Center for Human Rights' Weekly Reports on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories would be willing to make a safe guess that somewhere in the region of 98% of the violence perpetrated against all civilians in the conflict is violence perpetrated by Israel against Palestinian civilians, their property, and their land.

Consumers of the US media can be forgiven for concluding that the majority of violence is perpetuated by Palestinians against Israeli civilians, as this violence receives grossly disproportionate coverage.

In the same way that Serbian state television was considered complicit in Serbian war crimes by communicating a distorted view to its people of the decade-ago conflict in the former Yugoslavia, it is time that people begin to consider the culpability of the US media.

In the case of CNN's coverage of Palestine, the lie is one of omission. The effect of the majority of US news coverage is to promote an unbalanced view of who is perpetrating the violence, which has the potential to affect reality in disturbing ways. [more]
While I have misgivings about prosecuting media workers for the consequences of their reportage, the question that remains is how to hold the media accountable, particularly when they are inciting violence. Besides Serbia, we've recently seen this in Rwanda. And for anyone who hasn't been asleep for two years, we've also seen it in regards to how the American media banged the Iraq war drums.

What to do about this? My own conclusion is to start mobilizing for media reform, but still that strikes me as a bit of an amorphous prescription. Any other ideas?
posted by Bill at 2:44 AM
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Saturday, June 12, 2004. *
Friday, June 11, 2004. *
"Going to where the silence is. That is the responsibility of a journalist: giving a voice to those who have been forgotten, forsaken, and beaten down by the powerful. It is the best reason I know to carry out pens, camers, and microphones into our own communities and out to the wider world."
Back in April I had the opportunity to hear Amy Goodman near the start of her tour promoting her new book, The Exception to the Rulers. As I'm sure virtually every one of my readers knows, Goodman is the host of the Pacifica radio (and TV) show Democracy Now!, the single best progressive news show on the air today.
"If you are opposed to war, you are not a fringe minority. You are not a silent majority. You are part of a silenced majority. Silenced by the mainstream media."
Goodman's book, written with her brother David, covers the full gamut of issues from her perspective as reporter and news anchor. Some of the chapters cover familiar territory - the media coverage of the invasion of Iraq, attacks on civil liberties with the PATRIOT act, the consolidation of the media. Other chapters cover events more associated with Goodman in particular, some about well-known events, like her coverage of the Nigerian dictatorship and the genocide in East Timor, and some about more uniquely personal events, like Goodman's appearance on the Sally Jessy Raphael show or her lengthy on-air interview of Bill Clinton ("hostile, combative, and even disrespectful" according to Clinton). Others deal with historical issues, like the coverup of the radiation deaths in Hiroshima by the New York Times.
"You have to ask the question: If we had state media in the United States, how would it be any different?" [A particularly appropriate question during this week of Reagan hagiography, I might add]
Whether you're reading about things you know, or things you don't, this book will add something to your understanding of those events. It's well-written, easy to read, and, as the pulled quotes sprinkled through this review hopefully show, filled with memorable phrases. It is also a wonderful gift book for your friends or relatives who maybe aren't so political, or aren't political at all, or are political but are more "centrist" and lacking a real understanding of how this country and its power structure operates. Because, although the book pulls absolutely no punches, it's still written in Goodman's generally mild-mannered tone in a way that inspires absolute confidence in what she writes (not to mention well-documented for the skeptics). And as an added bonus, as Goodman explained in her recent interview on C-SPAN's Booknotes, all profits from the book are going to Pacifica and local radio stations. What a deal! Read a good book, buy some presents that will influence your friends, and support a good cause at the same time.

You can watch or read the transcript of the Booknotes interview on the Democracy Now! website (upper right hand corner), read excerpts of the book, and get details of her book tour (see her if you have the chance).

Read this book! And if Democracy Now! isn't part of your daily listening habits - what's wrong with you? ;-)

posted by Left I on the News at 8:27 PM
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I don't see how this will look good to either side--the right-leaning middle of the roaders will not like it that McCain said no, and all the lefties will wonder why the hell he was asked in the first place. Of course, if Kerry kneeled down and asked a turnip growing by the side of the road to be his running mate, I'd be voting for Kerry as well . . .
posted by Dr. Menlo at 4:39 PM
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Dear Mr. Reagan,
posted by backspace at 7:43 AM
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From an email I just received:

"This is a one time only ad that will run only in the NYTimes shortly..."

posted by nina h.pixie at 1:36 AM
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Thursday, June 10, 2004. *
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:16 PM
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No RNC Poster Collective is a small collective of friends with experience in graphic design and independent media. We came together with the goal of facilitating visual resistance against this summer’s Republican National Convention. We want to make protest beautiful and connect artists with organizations working against the RNC.

Our goal is to create a visual blitz in New York City against Bush and the Convention, and to blend art with politics in the finest New York style.

posted by Klintron at 6:02 PM
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Reagan vs. Bush

You know, Reagan's policies were cruel and unusual punishment to tens of thousands, to be sure, but when comparing him to GW on a personal level, this cover says it all.

posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:24 AM
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Wednesday, June 09, 2004. *
From today's NY Times:
Iyad Allawi, now the designated prime minister of Iraq, ran an exile organization intent on deposing Saddam Hussein that sent agents into Baghdad in the early 1990's to plant bombs and sabotage government facilities under the direction of the C.I.A., several former intelligence officials say.

Dr. Allawi's group, the Iraqi National Accord, used car bombs and other explosive devices smuggled into Baghdad from northern Iraq, the officials said. Evaluations of the effectiveness of the bombing campaign varied, although the former officials interviewed agreed that it never threatened Saddam Hussein's rule. [more]
Terrorism: bad for them; ok for us.

Thankfully, this is history long gone by, so we need not find it relevant to current events. I only wonder if this operation had a cool name, ya know, something like "Operation Mongoose."
posted by Bill at 3:23 PM
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Does it matter if a few (hundred?) unfortunate fellows get beaten and sodomized?
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, in a heated exchange with Mr. Ashcroft, asked him if he believed torture was ever justified. When he first declined to answer, Mr. Biden accused him of being evasive, and Mr. Ashcroft replied: "You know I condemn torture. I don't think it's productive, let alone justified."

But Mr. Biden persisted, saying: "There's a reason why we sign these treaties: to protect my son in the military. That's why we have these treaties, so when Americans are captured they are not tortured. That's the reason in case anybody forgets it."
posted by mr damon at 8:55 AM
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Galerie St. Etienne, New York (June 8, 2004 - September 17, 2004). "...The Galerie St. Etienne's 2004 summer exhibition is given a slightly atypical slant by the forthcoming presidential election. An important component of the show is Sue Coe's new series, Bully: Master of the Global Merry-Go-Round, an examination of the Bush administration. It will come as little surprise to followers of Coe's career to learn that she is no admirer of George Bush (the 'bully' in her title). Like the work of the Weimar-era artists George Grosz and John Heartfield (with which it is paired), Bully is an impassioned protest against the abrogation of democratic and human rights. In these meticulously wrought, finely detailed small drawings, Coe documents what she perceives as the Bush administration's manifold failings."
posted by Andrew at 5:18 AM
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Tuesday, June 08, 2004. *
According to a Justice Department memo, sometimes torture "may be justified" while interrogating prisoners. This seems in stark contrast to the White House's claim that the attrocities at Abu Ghraib prison were isolated incidents. You can't have it both ways, Mr. Bush.
posted by tim at 9:49 AM
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Ronald Reagan was a conman. Reagan was a coward. Reagan was a killer.

In 1987, I found myself stuck in a crappy little town in Nicaragua named Chaguitillo. The people were kind enough, though hungry, except for one surly young man. His wife had just died of tuberculosis.

People don't die of TB if they get some antibiotics. But Ronald Reagan, big hearted guy that he was, had put a lock-down embargo on medicine to Nicaragua because he didn't like the government that the people there had elected.

Ronnie grinned and cracked jokes while the young woman's lungs filled up and she stopped breathing. Reagan flashed that B-movie grin while they buried the mother of three. [more]

See also: Planet Reagan, by William Rivers Pitt and 66 (Unflattering) Things About Ronald Reagan by the editor of the Nation, David Corn.

Of course, Reagan had many good qualities--i.e., he loved to read (unlike Bush the Minor). But he was also responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. He created homelessness. Etc. I never applaud anybody's death, but it is important to be reminded of the actual policies and actions of a man when he dies and not just the loss of his charming smile, eh?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:06 AM
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Monday, June 07, 2004. *
As a nation, a distinct republic, the United States of America is relatively young. When we are taught its history in the republic’s public schools, we are left with the impression of a natural, inexorable march from “Discovery” in 1492 to “Freedom” in the 1770s. The glowing, pulsing arrow directing this march, we are told, was “Democracy”, codified in our federal constitution and born as a plump and smiling child to be nurtured by the Bill of Rights, the perfect mechanism of checks and balances, separation of church and state, and so forth. That child, however, was still-born, brain-dead, since its parents were all wealthy, white, rich, and male. The money behind the rebellion and the early years of the republic knew this. They also knew that freedom from the tyranny of monarchy — both present and future — required that the unwashed masses get and stay on board. They were in many ways, however, more terrified of the tyranny of the masses than they were of a tyrannical monarchy.

So The Child named “Democracy” was hooked up to a life-support system of myth and rhetoric, costumed, animated, and displayed whenever the masses got too organized and uppity. The hardest tasks the wealthy have faced are those of timing and script writing. For 230 years, you have to admit, they’ve done a pretty good job. The republic is still here, still serving wealth well. The question is whether they will decide to pull the plug on the kid. That decision will be the result of two critical calculations: (1) “is the republic secure enough in our hands?” and (2) “if not, do we still need the republic?”
[full essay]
posted by total at 8:20 AM
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Sunday, June 06, 2004. *
Now that we know the truth behind how U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have been treating captured fighters (and captured innocent bystanders), it's time to revisit the case of John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban fighter" who is now serving 20 years in federal prison. For had Lindh pursued his case in court, instead of settling and getting slapped with a gag order, he might have exposed the whole prisoner abuse scandal two years ago, and spared the U.S. -- and a whole lot of abused or slain POWs -- the Abu-Ghraib fiasco. [more]
posted by Bill at 1:10 AM
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