Songs Sung Blue

Even here in predominantly Buddhist Bangkok, it’s impossible to escape some form of Christmas season torture. Most of the time it’s only innocuous things like decorated trees in malls, store employees wearing Santa hats, or seasonal song medleys blaring in restaurants.

But things start to get particularly creepy when gangs of overzealous Christians go public in their attempts to force their message on the locals. Bangkok's BTS skytrain system announced earlier this week that on Saturday and Sunday passengers will be “entertained” with Christmas carols by students from local Christian schools and churches.

I recall this horror from last year. I boarded one afternoon train on Christmas Day and was immediately confronted by a half-dozen kids singing their traditional odes to baby Jesus. There was no escape. All I could do was grimace and bear it. I noticed the Thai passengers in the carriage looking away from the minstrel missionaries, also obviously uncomfortable with this overt religious "celebration."

It puzzles me - and annoys me - that Christian groups are allowed, if not encouraged, to use public transporation as a "vehicle" for their preaching, even if it's being billed as seasonal entertainment. Would they let a group of Muslims use the trains for afternoon chanting and prayers? I think not.

This year I'll make it a point to avoid the Skytrain on those two days. My taxi is waiting!


This is asinine

Merry F***in Christmas
-Denis Leary

Having ended the War on Terror, solved poverty and fixed our schools, the House will be voting on a resolution expressing support for "the symbols and traditions of Christmas" today.



This kid is a hero!

A Pennsylvania student is off the hook after the American Civil Liberties Union defended his right to wear a political T-shirt to school.

Chris Schiano's T-shirt said "International Terrorist" and had a picture of President Bush.

A security guard at his high school north of Philadelphia told him to take it off. He refused.


Pentagon bravely vigilant against sinister, threatening Quakers

NBC has published excerpts from a leaked Department of Defense document in which it is revealed that the Pentagon spied on a meeting of peace activists at Florida Quaker House and branded their work as a threat to national security.
The DOD database obtained by NBC News includes nearly four dozen anti-war meetings or protests, including some that have taken place far from any military installation, post or recruitment center. One "incident" included in the database is a large anti-war protest at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles last March that included effigies of President Bush and anti-war protest banners. Another incident mentions a planned protest against military recruiters last December in Boston and a planned protest last April at McDonald's National Salute to America's Heroes -- a military air and sea show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Fort Lauderdale protest was deemed not to be a credible threat and a column in the database concludes: "US group exercising constitutional rights." Two-hundred and forty-three other incidents in the database were discounted because they had no connection to the Department of Defense -- yet they all remained in the database.


You're, Your, Yrrrr

I never did read Eats, Shoots & Leaves, the bestselling book on punctuation that came out last year. Despite having taught English and worked as a copy editor, I'm not that much of a punctuation stickler. But I gotta tell you, some mistakes just drive me up the wall. Foremost among them is the misuse of the word "your."

A few weeks ago I was watching a WWE wrestling match on TV with some Cambodians at a guesthouse owned by Brits. Nothing too odd there, except for the fact that I was even watching TV in the first place. Before one of the matches, the camera focused on someone in the audience holding up a sign that said: Your Pathetic.

There it was again: someone screwing up the simple contraction of you and are. You see it every day. Go ahead and check your e-mails and see what I mean. Apparently the vast majority of Americans (and yes, these are native English language speakers we're talking about) do not realize that there is a difference between you're and your. I honestly think all the people that write lines like "I hope your having a good time" don't even realize they are making a mistake. Perhaps these are the same misguided individuals that voted for Bush.

Well, it's a theory, anyway.


New Music Friday

Excellent stuff from James Blunt. Listen to this song and guess who he's singing about. Hint: The keyboard riff is a huge clue.
So Long, Jimmy (5mb)



50 Years Ago Today

by Michael Moore

December 1, 2005


I just thought we should all pause for a moment today to remember the simple act of courage, defiance and dignity committed by Rosa Parks when she refused to move to the back of the bus because the law said she had the wrong skin color. The greatest moments in history, the ones that have truly mattered and have taken us to a better place, are made up of scores of these singular acts by ordinary, everyday people who could no longer tolerate the crap and the nonsense of those in charge.

Today, whether it is a student who holds a sit-in to get the army recruiters off his campus, or the mother of a dead soldier who refuses to leave the front gate of the president's ranch, we continue to be saved by brave people who risk ridicule and rejection but end up turning huge tides of public opinion in the direction of righteousness. We owe them enormous debts of gratitude. It is not easy to stand up for what is right, especially when everyone else is afraid to leave the comfortable path of conformity.

Rosa Parks may have been alone on that bus at the moment of her arrest but she wasn't alone for long. The old order was shaken, the world was upended and, as a people, we were given a chance for a bit of redemption.

Perhaps the best way to celebrate this most important day in American history is to ask yourself what it is that you can do today to make a difference. What risk can you take to move the ball forward? What is that one thing you've been wanting to say to your co-workers or classmates that you've been afraid to say -- but in your heart of hearts you know needs to be said? Why wait another day to say it or do it?

There is probably no better way to honor Rosa Parks -- and yourself -- than for you to put a stop to an injustice you see, not allowing it to continue for one more second. Do something. Then send me an email to contributions@michaelmoore.com and tell all of us what you did (I'll post as many as I can).

Fifty years later, the bus we're on could use a few more people simply saying, "No. I'm sorry. I've had enough. I'm not going to take it anymore."


Michael Moore

Joke of the Day

Sitting by the window of her convent, Sister Barbara opened a letter from home one evening. Inside the letter was a $100 bill her parents had sent.

Sister Barbara smiled at the gesture. As she read the letter by the window, she noticed a shabbily dressed stranger leaning against the lamp post below.

Quickly, she wrote, "Don't despair. Sister Barbara," on a piece of paper, wrapped the $100 bill in it, got the man's attention and tossed it out the window to him. The stranger picked it up and, with a puzzled expression and a tip of his hat, went off down the street.

The next day, Sister Barbara was told that a man was at her door, insisting on seeing her. She went down and found the stranger waiting. Without a word, he handed her a huge wad of $100 bills.

"What's this?" she asked.

"That's the $8,000 you have coming Sister," he replied. "Don't Despair paid 80-to-1."

Thanks to Brenda

Welcome to Silly Land

The New York Times leads with newly released documents showing that Judge Alito was a player in a pushback against Roe v. Wade when he worked at the Reagan-era Justice Department. In a 1985 memo, Alito wrote that two Supreme Court cases represented an "opportunity to advance the goals of overruling Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects." A White House spokesman said that despite the memo's strong morality-centered language, suggestions that it might be indicative of how Alito would rule on abortion cases "cross the border into silly land."

I argue that we crossed the border into Silly Land the day we rolled over and allowed the Supreme Court to appoint Dubya as president. Of course Alito will rule far to the right. Why else would he have been chosen? With Dubya's popularity continuing to tank he needs to shore up his base. Expect this to be a nasty fight.


Great exerpt from Al Franken's "The Truth (with jokes)"

“You can’t count on them to give you straight information. You can’t count on them to tell us straight why we’re going to war. You can’t count on them to tell us what’s happening over there.

You can’t count on them to do their homework. To keep track of our money. You can’t count on them to punish war profiteers. You can’t count on them to protect our troops.

You can’t rely on them for much of anything. Armor. Veterans’ benefits. You can’t count on them for the true story of how Jessica Lynch was captured, or how Pat Tillman died. Even for how the “Mission Accomplished” sign went up on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. They actually lied about that.

You can’t count on them to count terrorist attacks. You can’t count on them to count civilian victims. You can’t count on them to listen to military commanders and send in enough troops, or to not lie about the commanders asking them to send more troops, or to listen to Colin Powell and not torture people, or to not lie about whether the torture policies started at the top.

You can’t trust them to care. About Iraqis. About Americans.

You can’t trust them to do the work of actually signing killed-in-action letters. You can’t trust them not to lie about not signing killed-in-action letters.

You can’t count on them to acknowledge any mistakes whatsoever. You can’t trust them not to lie when confronted with those mistakes.

You can’t trust them not to believe their own propaganda.

You can’t trust them. Period.”


Quote of the day

Bill Moyers swings back at Kenneth Tomlinson, and tells it like it is, as usual.

We were biased, all right—in favor of uncovering the news that powerful people wanted to keep hidden: conflicts of interest at the Department of Interior, secret meetings between Vice President Cheney and the oil industry, backdoor shenanigans by lobbyists at the FCC, corruption in Congress, neglect of wounded veterans returning from Iraq, Pentagon cost overruns, the manipulation of intelligence leading to the invasion of Iraq. . .

It is an old canard of right-wing ideologues like Tomlinson to equate tough journalism with liberalism. They hope to distract people from the message by trying to discredit the messenger.

Now threw the fear of God into Tomlinson's crowd because they couldn't dispute the accuracy of our reporting.

-Bill Moyers

Welcome to Amerika!

One morning in late September 2005, Deborah Davis was riding the public bus to work. She was minding her own business, reading a book and planning for work, when a security guard got on this public bus and demanded that every passenger show their ID. Deb, having done nothing wrong, declined. The guard called in federal cops, and she was arrested and charged with federal criminal misdemeanors after refusing to show ID on demand.

She is scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. District Court on December 2005. Her crime: refusing to show ID on a public bus. At stake is nothing less than the right of Americans to travel freely in their own country.

She's a 50 year-old mother of four who lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Her kids are all grown-up: her middle son is a soldier fighting in Iraq.

She hasn't commuted by public bus since that day.

"Duke" resigns in shame over $2.4 million bribe

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) pleaded guilty today to fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion. Shortly after entering his plea, Cunningham announced that he is immediately resigning his seat, though he had already announced that he would not seek reelection next year.

A walking disaster

Former Federal Emergency Management Agency head Michael Brown is now in the disaster-consulting business. The only question: On whose side?

Brown was sent home from the Gulf Coast by Homeland Security boss Michael Chertoff after FEMA's dangerously slow and confused response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Brown, who resigned a few days after being ordered back to Washington, was out of touch --- literally and figuratively --- during the disaster. Chertoff was unable to reach Brown most of the day on which New Orleans flooded; e-mails to and from Brown and FEMA staffers suggest his focus was elsewhere.

When warned in one e-mail that the situation in New Orleans was "past critical," Brown responded: "Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?"

It turns out that Brown had already been planning to quit FEMA before Katrina upset his schedule, and he bemoaned in another e-mail that he was still on the job. A lot of people quickly came to share that opinion.

Brown has since experienced an epiphany of sorts: "If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses - because that goes straight to the bottom line - then I hope I can help the country in some way," Brown told the Rocky Mountain News last week. He told the paper he plans to set up shop in the Boulder, Colo., area.

All Brown needs is a slogan. "Master of Disaster" might be appropriate.


Memories of Thanksgiving and Stolen Elections

Thanksgiving has come and one and it just struck me: it's been five whole years since I was last in the United States. People frequently ask me when I plan on going back to visit, and my answer is usually along the lines of; "No time soon."

Frankly, I don't have much of a desire to go back. I'll admit that I do feel a bit guilty for staying away so long. I miss my parents and sisters, but not so much that I get homesick and want to rush back and spend the Christmas holidays with them. That's the last time of year I'd want to visit. Just thinking about all my nieces and nephews ripping open gifts from Santa (and complaining when they don't get the latest iPod model) and having to put up with all the right-wing babbling from my relatives gives me the creeps. The chestnuts may be roasting but I won't be around to watch it all.

I still have not-so-fond memories of my last trip back to Florida, where my parents live. It was mid-November of 2000, and the presidential elections had been held over a week before. But absurdly - as we all know - they still hadn't finished counting the ballots in Florida. I had to wake up every morning and deal with my family complaining about how Gore wanted to "steal" the election. I just kept my mouth shut and nodded yes when my mother asked if I wanted more grits. Stealing? Somehow they seemed to have forgotten the fact that Dubya's brother was the governor of Florida.

Meanwhile, I'll probably wait a few more years before I dare to venture back to the land of SUVs and gun-toting Republicans. As John Mellancamp sang: "Ain't that America."


XM Radio

Damn it! I knew this would happen. I installed my XM radio in my car. No problems. Not one. Now after listening to it for a week or two I can't stand to listen to regulat radio anymore. It would be like going back to rabbit ears after cable or satellite TV.

The variety is simply awesome. Best of all I can now actually make out what they're saying on Air America Radio. Looks like I'm in for the long haul.

Now I want the unit that resembles a Walkman :-)

Luckovich 11/23/2005


Flush your way to Good Health...and Tourism

Thailand has dreams. With the opening of a new international airport in Bangkok next year, the Thai government hopes its goal of being a regional aviation hub can be achieved. Medical tourism is also another area in which Thailand hopes to be a major player.

Meanwhile, Thailand is in the toilet. Literally. This week the World Toilet Organization (yes, there is such a beast) announced that Thailand will host the World Toilet Expo and Forum 2006. While it may not rival the Olympics or APEC, it promises to be a most unique "public health brainstorming session."

This is what Jack Sim, the WTO founder, has to say about it all:
"We hope the event will be a catalyst and facilitate Thailand towards the progressive development and standardization of public toilet service," said Sim. "Governments everywhere realize that toilets are the competitive edge of a nation. People who are healthy produce more."

If that wasn't enough inspire a worldwide toilet revolution, Sim has another promise up his sleeve:
"If you have better toilets you will have more tourists."

Well, why didn't someone tell the folks in Afghanistan all about that magic solution? If they replace all those stinky old port-o-potties with shiny new porcelain fixtures, I'm sure tourists will start flocking to Kabul in droves.


Jimmy Carter's view of the "Real America"

Former US President Jimmy Carter, now 81, has been perhaps the most active of all presidents since leaving office. Most historians give Carter’s presidency low marks, but his post-White House years have been remarkably productive. Even Carter admitted in a recent interview that, “I can’t deny that I am a better ex-president than I was a president.”

He established the Carter Center in 1982 with the aim of “advancing human rights and alleviating unnecessary human suffering.” And that work is not confined to the United States; many of the center’s activities take place in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In addition to that, since 1984, the Jimmy Carter Work Project has been a part of Habitat for Humanity International and their goal to alleviate homelessness. Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 in recognition of his “decades of untiring efforts to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”

In a syndicated column this week, “This Isn’t the Real America,” Jimmy Carter had some insightful things to say about the current US government and their “war on terror.” Here are a few highlights:

“In recent years, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.”

“Instead of our tradition of espousing peace as a national priority unless our security is directly threatened, we have proclaimed a policy of ‘preemptive war,’ an unabridged right to attack other nations unilaterally to change an unsavory regime or for other purposes. When there are serious differences with other nations, we brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct discussions to resolve disputes.”

“Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.”

“Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favors to the rich, while neglecting America's working families.”

“Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry and other powerful lobbying groups.”

“It is time for the deep and disturbing political divisions within our country to be substantially healed, with Americans united in a common commitment to revive and nourish the historic political and moral values that we have espoused during the last 230 years.”


Weirdness in the workplace

Blogging will be a bit light for the time being. Please bear with me.


Zebra Stew

The weirdness in Thailand continues. At the Chiang Mai Night Safari Park, an “exotic” new restaurant will be opening soon. Among the menu offerings will be imported zebra and giraffe meat from Africa, crocodile, snake, mongoose blood, dog meat (only the finest domestic cuts), and a variety of insects.

Plodprasop Suraswadi, an assistant Natural Resources and Environment Minister, acknowledged that the restaurant's theme was an "odd idea" but defended the operation after criticism from animal rights groups. "I welcome the girls stripping off to protest, so I will take off mine," said an obviously confused Plodprasop. "People could disagree with the idea, but don't block me. Don't prohibit tourists who like this cuisine, because this is marketing."

Ah yes, marketing. The perfect justification for everything.

In yet another bizarre twist to this story, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was in Kenya last week, where he signed an agreement to export Kenyan wildlife to zoos in Thailand. Naturally, this has raised eyebrows after news of the "Predator" restaurant opening.

"We need to verify the truth about this buffet," said a spokesperson with Kenya Wildlife Service. "If it's true, the government needs to rethink about sending animals to Thailand."


Shine Your Love Light

The Thai festival known as Loy Krathong will be held this year on the full moon night of November 16. On this occasion Thais flock to the nearest river, lake or canal, and float their krathongs (a circular object cut from the trunk of a banana tree, and decorated with flowers, candles and sticks of incense) on the water. Hundreds, if not thousands, of krathongs floating tranquilly under the moonlight, their candles flickering, is a most lovely sight.

But many Thais also use Loy Krathong night as an excuse to play with firecrackers – and play with each other. An article in local newspapers this week warned that “Thai youngsters may use the festivities as an excuse to become drunk and indulge in sex.”

Alarmed at this threat to the country’s morals, Social Development and Human Security Minister Watana Muangsook has suggested that, in addition to setting up ID-card checkpoints along major roads, police officers “train spotlights on teenagers walking in and out of motels in the hope of embarrassing them.” Watana also advised that police should detain and call the parents of all underage youths “caught in the act.”

The minister’s idea has brought howls of protest from local child rights activists and even from other government officials, one of whom blasted the plan as “idiotic.”

Watana is the same official that suggested using vocational school students (ones that had been suspended for fighting) to “hunt down” beggars as part of their probation sentence. Watana also proposed that state hospitals adopt the newborn babies of unwed teenage mothers.


Time for Pat Robertson to make reservations...

...for the looney bin.

"If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."
-Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson Warns Pa. Town of Disaster


No Sex, please, we're Pandas

To mark their 28th anniversary, official at Thailand's Chiang Mai Zoo held a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony for their two giant pandas.

"Start making children soon, don't let me down," pleaded visiting Chinese Consul Peng Ren Dong. Whether the two pandas get down to breeding anytime soon is entirely their own affair, but zoo officials are hoping for the best.

But the zoo is also sensitive to the opinions of the general public. Not wanting to offend the more conservative members of the local community ("who think that marrying animals is undignified"), the zoo dubbed this week's ceremony as the "Happiness and Fun Fair."

Hey, dress it up in festive red ribbons, dragon decorations and elaborate tea ceremonies, but the whole purpose of the event comes down to simple sex. Go to it, you crazy pandas!

Bush Borrowed More Than All Previous Presidents Combined

Bush and the current administration have borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks than the previous 42 presidents combined, a group of conservative to moderate Democrats said Friday.

Blue Dog Coalition, which describes itself as a group "focused on fiscal responsibility," called the administration's borrowing practices "astounding."

According to the Treasury Department, from 1776-2000, the first 224 years of U.S. history, 42 U.S. presidents borrowed a combined $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions, but in the past four years alone, the Bush administration borrowed $1.05 trillion.

"The seriousness of this rapid and increasing financial vulnerability of our country can hardly be overstated," said Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition and member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

"The financial mismanagement of our country by the Bush Administration should be of concern to all Americans, regardless of political persuasion," said Tanner in a press release.

Earlier this year, the Blue Dog Coalition unveiled a 12-step plan to "cure" the nation's "addiction to deficit spending." It included requiring all federal agencies to pass clean audits, a balanced budget, and the establishment of a rainy day fund for use in emergencies specifically a natural disaster.

"No American political leadership has ever willfully and deliberately mortgaged our country to foreign interests in the manner we have witnessed over the past four years," said Tanner. "If this recklessness is not stopped, I truly believe our economic freedom as American citizens is in great jeopardy."


Cool tune


Jamie Cullum - Get Your Way
Click image to download (5.3mb)

At war with the IRS

When the Internal Revenue Service starts threatening churches for opposing war, it is time to take a closer look at the IRS.

Have they been equally aggressive in chasing down the churches that support war? How about capital punishment?

Somebody needs to ask Dubya some pointed questions about this policy, and the sooner the better.


Funny video

This video beautifullly illustrates the difference between leaving work on Friday and going to work on Monday.

Friday vs. Monday

Thanks to Tim Jordan!

How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to change a lightbulb?

Answer: TEN...

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed,

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs
to be changed,

3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb,

4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either for changing
the light bulb or for eternal darkness,

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new
light bulb,

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing
on a step ladder under the banner "Bulb Accomplished",

7. One administration insider to resign and in detail reveal how Bush
was literally "in the dark" the whole time,

8. One to viciously smear #7,

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has
had a strong light bulb-changing policy all along,

10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between
screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

And after all is said and done, no one will notice that they never actually
managed to change the light bulb.

That's our Dubya!

Reporter: "Do you owe the American people an apology for your administration's assertations that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby weren't involved?" Bush: "War on Terror, Supreme Court nominee, hurricanes..."

Religious tract artwork

Further evidence that these people are really sick.

Where do you stand?

Tom mentioned a quiz of sorts to compare where we stand on issues. Until he gets it together here are a few I found. WARNING: Some of the questions are kind of lame.

Here are the links followed by my results:

Party Matchmaking Questions - Green
World's Smallest Political Quiz
- Liberal
OK Cupid Politics Quiz Social liberal, economic liberal, Democrat


Rain on the Scarecrow

Many people in South Thailand are unhappy with the current government, particularly Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They blame his policies and "heavy handed" way of dealing with protests for contributing to the the ongoing unrest in the predominantly Muslim deep south. The insurgency has claimed the lives of over 2,000 people in the past two years and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

This week a new form of protest was used by locals: dozens of scarecrows, each sporting a photo of Thaksin's face, were seen around the southern town of Pattani. The scarecrows were positioned at busy intersections, in front of schools, and even attached to garbage cans. In addition, each scarecrow had a message criticizing Thaksin or the Thai government.

Just a thought

I just bought a Delphi Roady2 XM radio. I've been putting it off since last Christmas because I thought $120 was just too much. Now the XM radio web site is selling that same model for $30. When I get it I'll let you know how it is. I suspect I'll really like it.

Everyone I know who knows someone who has it says they won't be without it. I'm afraid that it'll be like going from dial-up to broadband. I'll never be able to use dial-up again so in turn I'll never be able to go back to regular broadcasts again.

After looking over the playlist, I can't wait to get hooked up. They have a real nice menu to choose from. I did, however, find something that bothers me. It's not just with this playlist but something more universal. They have a station called America Right that is listed as Conservative Talk. Then they have Air America Radio that is listed as Progressive Talk. The AM station that carries Air America here in Atlanta is very weak and has lots of static. Sometimes I just can't bear to listen to it.

But I digress. My point is that I'm a proud liberal and I don't much like the Progressive tag that is being used now. Just because the wingnuts started using the word liberal in a disparaging fashion doesn't mean we have to change what we call ourselves.

I am quite fond of the term liberal and consider myself a proud liberal.

Who's the liar?

So it's Ambassador Joseph Wilson who's the liar, huh? I guess that's why they are charging Scooter with a crime - because Wilson is a liar.

Here's what the wingnuts don't get: It's neither Valerie Plame nor Wilson who gave false testimony to the grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA agent's identity. It was from someone inside the White House. Why did that someone lie? Scooter lied because telling the truth possibly would have led to his being charged with a crime, or would have made the White House look bad for revealing Plame as retaliation against Wilson, who had attacked Dubya's "yellowcake" claim in his prewar speech.

All of this is the result of the neocons being hellbent on going to war in Iraq, and their resolve to attack all who get in their way.

Excellent Jay Bookman column

From the AJC:
Did the Bush administration mislead the American people in order to draw us into war?

The short answer is yes.

The longer answer is a little more complicated, but it leads to the same place: Yes.

Defenders of the administration point out that before the war, most of Washington --- and most foreign intelligence agencies --- believed that Saddam Hussein retained at least some biological and chemical weapons.

That much is true. Even the Clinton administration believed that Saddam still possessed at least some weapons of mass destruction.

Unfortunately, to hype its case for war, the Bush administration pushed beyond those widely accepted facts to make three other assertions that were outright deceptive.

First, it argued that Saddam's WMD caches posed a direct danger to our safety and could perhaps be delivered to U.S. shores by "unmanned aerial devices" that later proved as real as a Martian death ray.
Read the rest of Bush and Co. pulled wool over own eyes


Pat Roberts: Then & Now

“Well, there’s been a lot of talk about phase 2. What is phase 2? Why has it been delayed, if in fact it has been delayed? … It isn’t like it’s been delayed. As a matter of fact, it’s been ongoing. As a matter of fact, we have been doing our work on phase 2.”
-Senate Intelligence committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), yesterday on the senate floor

“I don’t think there should be any doubt that we have now heard it all regarding prewar intelligence. I think that it would be a monumental waste of time to replow this ground any further.”
-Pat Roberts, 3/31/05
So all that horseshit about "We've been working on it" was just that. Horseshit.

Telnaes 11/01/2005

Click image for larger view

SCOTUS justices nominated by Republican presidents are more likely to legislate from the bench

In a July 6 article in The New York Times, Yale law professor Paul Gewirtz analyzed each of the 64 U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 1994 wherein the court overturned or upheld laws passed by Congress. Which justices were most likely to overrule the democratically elected U.S. Congress? Clarence Thomas (65 percent), Anthony Kennedy (64 percent) and Antonin Scalia (56 percent) --- all "conservative" justices in the mold of President Bush's nominee Samuel Alito. Which justices were least likely to second-guess Congress? Ruth Bader Ginsberg (39 percent) and Stephen Breyer (28 percent) --- both appointed by President Clinton.

Spare us the nonsense about which judicial philosophy is less likely to supplant its views for those of our democratically elected representatives. The right-wing outrage over Harriet Miers' nomination and the subsequent celebration over Alito's are about one thing: obtaining predictable results favorable to conservatives.


Senate secret session

I'm watching the news concerning developments of the Senate's secret session instigated by the Democratic members. It's good to see the Dems grow cajones for a change. Hearing Trent Lott say "This was nothing but a stunt. We were going to begin phase two, investigating the administration, very soon anyway." That reminds me of a kid who is in trouble for not cleaning his room saying "But I was gonna do it."

Then Bill "insider trader" Frist said "This was a slap in the face. The past Democratic leadership would have never pulled a stunt like this." That's because the Democratic leadership had no balls and were terribly ineffective. Harry Reid responded that that the Repulican's inaction and stonewalling was a slap in the face of every American.

You go Harry!

Dubya's church wants us out of Iraq

It's one thing when former high-ranking members of your own Administration come out against your war. It's another thing when two-thirds of the country calls the invasion and occupation a mistake. It's really something when your own church issues a statement urging you to pull out the troops now.

Last week, the United Methodist Church Board of Church and Society--the social action committee of the church that both President Bush and Vice President Cheney belong to--resoundingly passed a resolution calling for withdrawal with only two 'no' votes and one abstention.

Sweet Victory: United Methodist Church Calls For Withdrawal

Elected GOP doesn't want a showdown over Alito

The conservative agenda seems to be, fight over abortion, fight over gay rights and fight over the ability of Congress to pass laws when a mostly republican nominated Supreme Court weighs the need and or wisdom of every statute.

But elected republicans don't see anything glorious in losing, like martyrs or christians who get points with God for battling evildoers and non-believers. They don't enjoy the circle jerk theorizing of the federalist society or the states rights or the libertarians. They backed the wingnut agenda as part of a larger agenda.

The unelected ideologues gladly throw away the rest of any agenda for a few hot button issues that they feel need to be crammed through no matter how the majority of Americans feel about it. This is the right wing, fundies and nutbags last chance. The last chance to make the US a conservative heaven no matter how many americans want something different in the future. Five unelected men to rule us, for generations, striking down liberal laws, confirming rights to buy influence and candidates, no matter how many Democrats get elected to congress.

And that last one is the kicker. Elected republicans don't sit around, not caring how many Democrats get elected to congress in the future. Republicans know that they got into power by spending twenty years campaigning against the Supreme Court when it was making popular decisions. Imagine what happens when it makes unpopular ones. Imagine law after law sent up to the Scotus and sent back as beyond federal power. That's why they fought so furiously and dishonestly to assure Dubya's first term. When nobody on the Supreme Court died off during the first term, surely they would on the second. Making the second term even more important.

The republicans didn't send up stealth candidates because they are strong. They did it because they are weak. Weak, and afraid. They will cave. They would rather be beaten on Alito than win on the grounds that they want a reversal of Roe and all the other things on the wingnut legal wish list.

Better late than never?

Not this time.
From E.J. Dionne Jr.

Has anyone noticed that the coverup worked?

In his impressive presentation of the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby last week, Patrick Fitzgerald expressed the wish that witnesses had testified when subpoenas were issued in August 2004, and "we would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 2005."
It's now clear that Administration officials intentionally deceived the American people prior to the election. There was a coverup that goes all the way to the Oval Office. These guys are incompetent, immoral and corrupt. And they will never stop.

What the 'Shield' Covered Up


Quote of the day

"You can't say 'Please don't be mean to me. Please let me win sometimes.' Give me a break here. If you don't want to fight for the future and you can't figure out how to beat these people then find something else to do."
-Bill Clinton, at the 10th annual Texas Book Festival.

Happy Halloween!

The Vent from the AJC


For Scooter, the wheels have come off.

Patrick Fitzgerald for Supreme Court justice!

Scooter Libby now qualifies as a Fox News commentator.

Let’s compare: committing treason for political retribution while leading the country into war under false pretenses, vs. trying to avoid direct answers about an illicit affair with an intern.

It looks like the oil companies will be able to afford the next round of presidential campaign contributions.

If you vote for a used car salesman as a legislator, you deserve what you get.


Resisting the Ideology of Fear

Tariq Ramadan is a senior research fellow at the Lokahi Foundation in London, and currently a visiting professor at Oxford’s St. Antony’s College. He recently wrote a syndicated article titled, “Resisting the Ideology of Fear.” Here are a few excerpts from that article:

“Global terrorism and the global war against terrorism both fuel, in equal and pernicious ways, the global ideology of fear.

“The upkeep and feeding of the “ideology of fear” has become a political weapon, particularly as part of the opportunistic strategies of the great economic powers of the day.

“Terror is a fact, not an ideology, and the killing of innocent people must be condemned with no exception. It is the ideological use of its consequences that is problematic.”

“Our very conception of humanity and life are at stake. Far more than simple politics, this new ideology is the challenge of our times.

“Today’s most urgent task is to bring together women and men from all backgrounds, from all convictions and religions, in the name of the common universal principles of the dignity of human beings and of the critical spirit. To overcome the ideology of fear, to loosen the grip of the emotions, requires a demanding critical intelligence, and a sense of ethics of debate, or receptivity. Some will identify these qualities with belief and spirituality, others with their conscience alone. But each one will understand them as the necessary imperative qualities of his or her humanity.”


Obscene profits

This morning on The Today Show they reported that while many Americans were paying those high prices at the gas pump, the oil companies like Exxon-Mobil were raking in the big bucks. During the 3rd quarter alone they raked in $100 billion dollars while Shell brought in $76.4 billion.

What's the oil execs response to all this money that they're making?

“We are capturing the benefits of high oil and gas prices and refining margins,” said Shell Chief Financial Officer Peter Voser.

Makes you proud to be an American doesn't it?

The ball is white and so are the players

Rosa Parks, the black woman who refused to give up her seat on a public bus in 1955 and thus helped accelerate the American civil rights movement, died earlier this week. Since her courageous act of civil disobedience African-Americans have made great strides in attaining equal rights in American society. Professional sports – a domain once ruled solely by white athletes – has been energized in recent decades by the infusion of talented African-Americans.

However, at this year's baseball World Series we saw a rather disturbing exception to this trend. The Houston Astros were the first World Series team since 1953 - two years before Rosa Parks made headlines - to field a team without an African-Americans player. The other series team, the Chicago White Sox, only had three blacks on their post-season roster. The composition of baseball teams changes frequently during the season, but there were times this year when - in addition to Houston - Boston, Seattle, Baltimore, Colorado, and even Atlanta, had no active African-American players on their roster (this does not include "black" Hispanic players). Yet over in Minnesota, a state with a negligible minority population, the Twins boasted a self-dubbed "Soul Patrol" outfield of three black players.

Make what you want with that trivia, but there is no denying that a definite "color drain" is occurring in professional baseball. Thirty years ago, 27 percent of major league baseball players were African-American. By 1995 that total had slipped to 19 percent. This year it dropped way down to 9 percent. In the college ranks, the figure is even worse, at less than 6 percent. By contrast, the number of Hispanic players in pro baseball now stands at 28 percent, and in the past decade the number of Asian players (from Japan, Taiwan and Korea) has increased sharply.

Part of the reason for the decline in black baseball players is due to the "hip factor." Baseball, to put it simply, is not nearly as appealing to American black youth as is NBA basketball or even NFL football. The percentage of African-American players in those leagues reflects that popularity; in the NBA about 80 percent of the players are black, and in the NFL it's over 65 percent.

On the other end of the pro sports spectrum, there is that last bastion of good old white boys: professional golf. On the men's tour, the only African-American is Tiger Woods, but he is actually half-Thai. Vijay Singh is also "dark-skinned" but he's from Fiji so he really doesn't count either. Like baseball, pro golf wasn't always so pale. Back in the 1970s the PGA tour sported high-profile black players such as Lee Elder, Charlie Sifford, Jim Dent, Jim Thorpe, and Calvin Peete.

"There's a perception among African-American kids that they're not welcome here, that baseball is not for inner city kids," said hall of fame member Joe Morgan. "It's a daunting task to get African-American kids into baseball, and I don't see the trend changing."

Is it a coincidence that both baseball and golf use white balls?

Luckovich 10/28/2005

Mike Luckovich, Atlanta's premier political cartoonist, has a new blog. It's really a forum in which people are asked to comment on his cartoons. He's getting his share of snarky wingnut comments and they always seem to be from the same small group of braindead locals. The majority of the comments are from folks who actually have a brain and agree with Mike's commentary.

Have a look and post a comment or two.

Mike Luckovich/AJC

Friday Bush Monkey blogging

I didn't get to spend much time on this but you get the idea.

Don't ask, don't tell

A federation helmsman has disclosed the fact that he is gay. It sucks that our society is so uncivilized that he felt the need to hide his sexual orientation nearly his entire life.

George Takei Discloses His Homosexuality

Doin' the Bush Boogie Woogie

"Thousands upon thousands are suffering and dying in Iraq while, in Washington, incompetence continues its macabre marathon dance with incoherence."
New York Times columnist Bob Herbert


A call from Iraq

As you can tell I haven't had much time to contribute to Wild Sects except to pass on a couple of interesting items. I hope to be back up to speed soon.

In the meantime here's another item that brought tears to my eyes. It was written by a mother whose son is in Iraq.

Go read it.

Merry Fitzmas!

AMERICAblog's new greeting card.


I see dead people

If you are at all interested in photography you should find this site interesting. This guy develops old film that he finds in some of the vintage cameras he buys. Many of them more than 50 years old. A strange thought crossed my mind as I viewed the photographs. Hence the title of this post.



You eat what ?!

Thailand is among the many countries in Southeast Asia that are closely monitoring the avian influenza, or “bird flu”, situation. Authorities and medical professionals are hoping that the virus does not mutate and spread from poultry to other animals, or in a worse case scenario, humans.

Even after a farmer died in the Thai city of Kanchanaburi (famous for being the location of the real "Bridge on the River Kwai") this week, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra did his best to downplay fears about human-to-human transmission of the virus.

“It’s okay to eat well-cooked chicken,” the PM assured the Thai public. “Uncooked chicken is dangerous, including excrement of infected chickens.”

Excrement? Man, the PM sure has some bizarre eating habits! But maybe that explains why I see “Fried Crap” listed on some local restaurant menus.


Hell Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

The Beatles Dubbed Icon of the Century

Remember those weird religious pamphlets?

This actually rings true :-)

What do these newspaper editorials have in common?

The right-wing manure spreader is at full capacity.

Appeal-Democrat - Marysville-Yuba City, CA
The Daily News - Jacksonville, NC
The Free Press - Kinston, NC
The Colorado Gazette - Colorado Springs, CO

All of them are unsigned editorials, which makes it look like they're original opinion pieces for each paper. (The Colorado Gazette even says it's "our view.")

It's amazing that newspapers from California, Colorado, and North Carolina could be channeling, simultaneously and in complete harmony, the Bush administration line for cutting wages for workers rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

Disaster Fatigue

The world has experienced several horrible natural disasters this past year. The devastating earthquake this month in the Kashmir region of Pakistan and India was the latest to capture our attention. But is the public becoming desensitized by these seemingly endless series of heartbreaking tragedies? Has “disaster fatigue” overwhelmed us all?

In a syndicated article this week, Susan Moeller a university professor and author of Compassion Fatigue, says that the media and the focus of its news coverage play a huge role in determining how the public reacts to these events. In the past, she says, the media thought of most natural disasters as “simple emergencies” that had a relatively short duration. “This all seemed to justify hit-and-run reporting," she writes. "Cover the drama and leave the clean-up for the experts.”

But that mindset, Moeller feels, has changed. After witnessing the social upheaval caused by the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, the media have come to the realization that what they have been covering are actually far more “complex” events.

“This newest global calamity is not just another ‘simple’ disaster,” stresses Moeller. “It is a complex emergency that is, and will turn out to be, about much more than the obliteration of homes and schools and roads and bridges. The earthquake in Pakistan, like the hurricane along the Gulf Coast and the Asian tsunami, will be found to have shattered a government’s carefully erected constructions about the responsibility it takes for its citizens. How Pakistan, Asia and the United States use these emergencies to rebuild not just infrastructure, but also social, political and diplomatic relationships, will be a story worth covering and a story worth watching.”


Friday Bush Monkey blogging

Luckovich 10/21/2005

Swamp City

The Thai government announced this week that it will create a special city – an entirely separate province, actually – surrounding the new Bangkok airport, which is scheduled to open in 2006. The plans for this new town, to be called Nakhon Suvarnabhumi, are ambitious to say the least. The planners envision a “water city” and “logistics center” that will be 816 square kilometers in size. It will be constructed amidst a vast network of canals, much like what Bangkok was comprised of over a century ago.

But, like most grandiose government plans, there are many logistical problems to overcome. The biggest hurdle is the geography of the area itself: over ninety percent of the area that is designated to be “Bangkok’s twin city” is composed of freshwater lakes and swampland. In fact, the land where the airport was built is known as “Cobra Swamp.” Just great, huh? Fasten your seat belts, don’t leave your bag unattended, and watch where you step.

Not surprisingly, environmentalists are alarmed at the idea, citing “inappropriate land use” in an environmentally sensitive area. The headline in Thursday’s The Nation newspaper said simply: Dream City called Flood Nightmare.

“The idea to create a new city is an idea to flood Bangkok,” was the blunt assessment from respected local architect Sumet Jumsai. Like many, he fears that further construction in the area will impede water flow and increase the likelihood of flooding in nearby Bangkok, home to over 10 million people.

The “experts” involved in this mega-project should remember what can happen in low-lying flood-prone areas. Just ask the folks over in New Orleans.


Joke of the Day

I don't advocate violence against anyone. Not even Bush but this joke is funny.

President Bush was visiting a primary school and he visited one of the classes. They were in the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings. The teacher asked the President if he would like to lead
the discussion on the word "tragedy". So the illustrious leader asked the class for an example of a "tragedy".

One little boy stood up and offered: "If my best friend, who lives on a farm, is playing in the field and a tractor runs over him and kills him, that would be a tragedy."

"No," said Bush, "that would be an accident."

A little girl raised her hand: "If a school bus carrying 50
children drove over a cliff, killing everyone inside, that would be a tragedy."

"I'm afraid not," explained the president. "That's what we would call a great loss."

The room went silent. No other children volunteered. Bush searched the room. "Isn't there someone here who can give me an example of a tragedy?"

Finally at the back of the room a small boy (Lil Johnny) raised his hand. In a quiet voice he said: "If Air Force One carrying you and Mrs.Bush was struck by a "friendly fire" missile and blown to smithereens, that would be a tragedy."

Fantastic!" exclaimed Bush. "That's right. And can you tell me why that would be tragedy?"

"Well," says Lil Johnny, "It has to be a tragedy, because it sure as hell wouldn't be a great loss and it probably wouldn't be an accident either."

Thanks to Suzy

Luckovich 10/20/2005


Most military personnel vote Republican, why?

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has reneged on its offer to pay a $15,000 bonus to members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who agree to extend their enlistments by six years, according to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Seattle)

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, confirmed the bonuses had been canceled, saying they violated Pentagon policies because they duplicated other programs. She said Guard and Reserve members would be eligible for other bonuses.

Krenke said some soldiers had been paid the re-enlistment bonuses, but she was unsure how many or whether the money would have to be repaid. Murray’s office said that as far as it knew, no active Guard or Reserve members had received the bonuses.

This is rich!

Texas Court Issues Warrant for DeLay


AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A state court issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for Rep. Tom DeLay, requiring him to appear in Texas for booking on state conspiracy and money laundering charges.

DeLay, R-Texas, could be fingerprinted and photographed, although his lawyers had hoped to avoid this step.

Complete story here

Dear God by XTC

Download MP3 (3.5 mb)

Dear god,
Hope you got the letter,
And I pray you can make it better down here.
I don’t mean a big reduction in the price of beer,
But all the people that you made in your image,
See them starving on their feet,
’cause they don’t get enough to eat

From god,
I can’t believe in you.

Dear god,
Sorry to disturb you,
But I feel that I should be heard loud and clear.
We all need a big reduction in amount of tears,
And all the people that you made in your image,
See them fighting in the street,
’cause they can’t make opinions meet,
About god,
I can’t believe in you.

Did you make disease, and the diamond blue?
Did you make mankind after we made you?
And the devil too!

Dear god,
Don’t know if you noticed,
But your name is on a lot of quotes in this book.
Us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look,
And all the people that you made in your image,
Still believing that junk is true.
Well I know it ain’t and so do you,
Dear god,
I can’t believe in,
I don’t believe in,

I won’t believe in heaven and hell.
No saints, no sinners,
No devil as well.
No pearly gates, no thorny crown.
You’re always letting us humans down.
The wars you bring, the babes you drown.
Those lost at sea and never found,
And it’s the same the whole world ’round.
The hurt I see helps to compound,
That the father, son and holy ghost,
Is just somebody’s unholy hoax,
And if you’re up there you’ll perceive,
That my heart’s here upon my sleeve.
If there’s one thing I don’t believe in...

It’s you,
Dear god.

Republicans declare open season on DNA

Do you want to keep your DNA out of the hands of the government? Do you think your DNA is too private for you to be forced to give it to government bureaucrats so they can analyze, catalog, share, retain indefinitely and possibly abuse it? Tough shit.

If Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.) have their way, every person in this country who is unfortunate enough to be arrested for any federal offense, or simply "detained" by the federal government, will be forced to give a DNA sample, to be used for whatever purpose it wants, whenever it wants.

I can't decide if this is like something right out of 1984 or an idea more likely to be instituted by a communist regime.

Law Would Place DNA of Innocent Arrestees in National Database


Random Thoughts

The Neocons and right wing one party state (I am right and you are wrong therefore you must be silenced and called a traitor) have hijacked the conservative party in the same way terrorists hijacked the Muslims. They follow and believe the same Mantra as Hermann Goering.

Perhaps we should stop calling the Republican party the G.O.P. The T.S.B.M would be more accurate: as in (T)here’s a (S)ucker (B)orn every (M)inute. We anti-Bushies aren’t quoting any syncophant’s propaganda. We say what we think. You neo-cons may as well be saying “Polly wants a cracker”. You just parrott the same lies we’ve heard over and over from Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, Limbaugh, Hannity ad nauseum, ad absurdum.

America just doesn’t look right as a third-world, banana republic dictatorship run by a cowardly, war-mongering, semi-literate, power-happy, greedy, faux-Christian puppet.

I find it incredibly sad that this country is so horribly divided over politics and religion. Red State/Blue State aside, I thought we all were Americans first and we were supposed to give a damn about one another’s well being as a priority. I also thought this was supposed to be a place where you shouldn't be afraid to speak your mind and heart without being attacked, constantly shouted down and labeled a traitor. Today’s “conservatives” think that being fair and balanced is to follow this president no matter what. They just blatantly shout down and ridicule anyone who disagrees with them. Or smear and undermine people’s lives as payback for not being a neoconservative and trying to stop the rampant corruption. Nothing is sacred any more, not even God.

The Bush administration makes me look back fondly upon the days when people had their panties in a twist over a stain on a size 12 blue dress.

The Vent from the AJC - Triple Header


Halloween is a celebration of evil, what’s good about that?

When I grow up to be president, I’m going to take those oil company executives out to the woodshed and wear them out.

This winter’s natural gas bill will take about half of my Social Security check each month. Thanks again, Sonny, for deregulating natural gas. It helps the elderly a lot.
(Sonny Perdue is the Republican Governor of Georgia)


Bush going to New Orleans eight times after Hurricane Katrina is like me locking my barn eight times after all of my horses are stolen.

I’m only sad for Republicans because they have dragged the country down with them.

Now that we have religion back in politics, when do we start burning witches at the stake again?

I wish we could see the tape where they trained Bush and told him what questions to ask those troops.

Natural gas deregulation in Georgia was the Democrats’ idea. Enjoy your heating bills this winter.


It’s pretty sad that Bill Clinton is the best president we’ve had since Eisenhower. What do we have to do to get another FDR?

Cars in Decatur still sport John Kerry bumper stickers because it would be uncivil to replace them with stickers saying “We Told You So.”

Republican Sonny Perdue introduced natural gas deregulation in the Legislature while he pretended to be a Democrat. A wolf in sheep's clothing.

Too bad none of the brass at the Pentagon has the courage to tell the strutter-in-chief to stop using the military for photo ops.

Whoever sent the “Halloween is evil” vent is a moron. All Hallows’ Eve originated in the Catholic Church to honor saints in the fifth century.


When God Made Neil Young

Back in the late 1970s, when I was living in Orlando, I used to have a bumper sticker on my car (a Toyota Corolla, if I recall) that said: Neil Young is God. I was a huge Neil Young fan and had all of his albums. When Neil Young announced a concert in Atlanta – about an 8-hour drive away – my friends and I didn’t hesitate to order tickets and drive up for the show.

All those years later, I’m still a big Neil Young fan and buy most everything that he releases. Last month I stumbled upon his new album, Prairie Wind at a small shop in Bangkok. Musically, the album is in the vein of his laid back classics such as Harvest, Harvest Moon, and Comes a Time; lots of mellow songs, acoustic arrangements and introspective lyrics. The closing song, “When God Made Me,” is particularly moving and wise:

Was he thinking about my country
Or the color of my skin?
Was he thinking about my religion
And the way I worshipped him?
Did he create just me in his image
Or every living thing?Was he planning only for believers
Or for those that just had faith?
Did he envision all the wars
That were fought in his name?
Did he think there was only one way
To be close to him?
Did he give us the gift of love
To say who we could choose?
Did he give me the gift of voice
So some could silence me?
Did he give me the gift of vision
Not knowing what I might see?
Did he give me the gift of compassion
To help my fellow man?

...When God made me…When God made me


Phony photo op was choreographed

I saw this on the news this morning and meant to create a post about it but Rob in Baltimore already did such a good job with it.
Troops Photo Op: Bush is a complete phony

Just a thought

Remember after the election last year when Dubya arrogantly stated that he had political capital and that he intended to spend it? Considering his ever plummeting poll numbers I think he went just a tad over his limit don't you?

More corporate malfeasance

A federal lawsuit alleges that hundreds of Boeing jets made with "bogus" parts are unsafe and "must be grounded."

Documents made public in the whistleblower lawsuit filed against Boeing suggest that thousands of unsafe and unapproved parts have been installed on jets the company produced between 1994 and 2001 - and perhaps longer.

The scope of the Wichita, Kansas, federal case - which is focusing on parts supplied by Carson, California-based Ducommun - is limited to jets built for the government, but it is alleged that the flaws could threaten at least 1,600 commercial airplanes manufactured between 1994 and 2004, many of which are still flying. The suit alleges that Boeing knew the Ducommun parts were faulty but used them anyway.

In 2003, Boeing named Ducommun one of its top suppliers of the year.

Friday Bush Monkey blogging

Greetings from George, Laura, Babs & Jen


President Gore Speaks

Imagine this: Al Gore - the true winner of the 2000 US Presidential election - is still in office. There is no war in Iraq and no climate of fear grips the rest of the world. The US is a respected country that does not interfere in the affairs of other foreign nations. I know; it’s pretty damn hard to fathom.

Meanwhile, as the fiddler continues to play, Al Gore speaks his mind. At an economic forum in Stockholm this week, Gore warned against the threat that global warming (a “theory” that the Bush administration continues to ignore) poses to the environment.

“The scientific community is just as clear about the consequences of global warming for our planet, as the meteorologists were very clear in their warnings about what could happen to New Orleans. My country is extremely attentive to the slightest increase in a risk from terror, and that’s appropriate. But why should we be so tolerant of risk where the future habitability of our planet is concerned?”

Imagine…an intelligent president! It would have been nice.

Strings attached

The Republican-led Congress attached unprecedented strings to legislation that would provide $750 million in federal loans for hurricane-damaged cities. For the first time in our history, they are "explicitly forbidding the federal government from forgiving loans if state or municipal governments fail to repay them."

In contrast, House GOP leaders approved legislation that would give tax breaks to energy companies to encourage refinery construction and expansion. Do the profit-rich energy companies have to pay back their tax breaks?

Don't hold your breath.

Quote of the day

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."
- Ronald Reagan

Luckovich 10/13/2005


Let's play "Smokescreen"

In the latest round of “Smokescreen,” Tom DeLay’s legal team has subpoenaed Ronnie Earle. They want to ask him questions about “improper contact” with the grand juries. And even though Earle voluntarily accepted the subpoena (which, according to him, was improperly prepared), DeLay’s lawyers are claiming that he refused it, trying to make it look like he is evading the law.

Let’s not forget who’s really on trial here…

Read all about it

Just might make sense

A man eats two eggs each morning for breakfast. When he goes to the grocery store he pays 60 cents a dozen. Since a dozen eggs won't last a week he normally buys two dozens at a time.

One day while buying eggs he notices that the price has risen to 72 cents. The next time he buys groceries, eggs are 76 cents a dozen.

When asked to explain the price of eggs the store owner says, "the price has gone up and I have to raise my price accordingly".

This store buys 100 dozen eggs a day. I checked around for a better price and all the distributors have raised their prices.

The distributors have begun to buy from the huge egg farms. The small egg farms have been driven out of business.

The huge egg farms sells 100,000 dozen eggs a day to distributors. With no competition, they can set the price as they see fit.

The distributors then have to raise their prices to the grocery stores. And on and on and on.

As the man kept buying eggs the price kept going up. He saw the big egg trucks delivering 100 dozen eggs each day. Nothing changed there.

He checked out the huge egg farms and found they were selling 100,000 dozen eggs to the distributors daily.

Nothing had changed but the price of eggs.

Then week before Thanksgiving the price of eggs shot up to $1.00 a dozen. Again he asked the grocery owner why and was told, "cakes and baking for the holiday". The huge egg farmers know there will be a lot of baking going on and more eggs will be used. Hence, the price of eggs goes up.

Expect the same thing at Christmas and other times when family cooking and baking happen.

This pattern continues until the price of eggs is 2.00 a dozen. The man says,"there must be something we can do about the price of eggs".

He starts talking to all the people in his town and they decide to stop buying eggs. This didn't work because everyone needed eggs.

Finally, the man suggested only buying what you need. He ate 2 eggs a day. On the way home from work he would stop at the grocery and buy two eggs. Everyone in town started buying 2 or 3 eggs a day.

The grocery store owner began complaining that he had too many eggs in his cooler. He told the distributor that he didn't need any eggs. Maybe wouldn't need any all week.
The distributor had eggs piling up at his warehouse. He told the huge egg farms that he didn't have any room for eggs would not need any for at least two weeks.

At the egg farm, the chickens just kept on laying eggs.

To relieve the pressure, the huge egg farm told the distributor that they could buy the eggs at a lower price. The distributor said, " don't have the room for the eggs even if they were free".

The distributor told the grocery store owner that he would lower the price of the eggs if the store would start buying again.

The grocery store owner said, "I don't have room for more eggs. The customers are only buy 2 or 3 eggs at a time".

"Now if you were to drop the price of eggs back down to the original price, the customers would start buying by the dozen again".

The distributors sent that proposal to the huge egg farmers. They liked the price they were getting for their eggs but, them chickens just kept on laying.

Finally, the egg farmers lowered the price of their eggs. But only a few cents.

The customers still bought 2 or 3 eggs at a time. They said, "when the price of eggs gets down to where it was before we will start buying by the dozen.

Slowly the price of eggs started dropping. The distributors had to slash their prices to make room for the eggs coming from the egg farmers.

The egg farmers cut their prices because the distributors wouldn't buy at a higher price than they were selling eggs for.

Anyway, they had full warehouses and wouldn't need eggs for quite a while.

And them chickens kept on laying.

Eventually, the egg farmers cut their prices because they were throwing away eggs they couldn't sell.

The distributors started buying again because the eggs were priced to where the stores could afford to sell them at the lower price.

And the customers starting buying by the dozen again.

Now, transpose this analogy to the gasoline industry. What if everyone only bought $10.00 worth of gas each time they pulled to the pump. The dealers tanks would stay semi full all the time. The dealers wouldn't have room for the gas coming from the huge tank farms. The tank farms wouldn't have room for the gas coming from the refining plants. And the refining plants wouldn't have room for the oil being off loaded from the huge tankers coming from theMiddle East.

Just $10.00 each time you buy gas. Don't fill it up. You may have to stop for gas twice a week but, the price should come down.

Think about it.

As an added note...When I buy $10.00 worth of gas, that leaves my tank a little under half full. The way prices are jumping around, you can buy gas for $2.65 a gallon and then the next morning it can be $2.15. If you have your tank full of $2.65 gas you don't have room for the $2.15 gas.

You might not understand the economics of only buying two eggs at a time but, you can't buy cheaper gas if your tank is full of the high priced stuff.

Thanks to JimBob

Cheney's Halliburton Stock Options Soar to $9.2 Million

Is this the face of a man who's Halliburton stock options are now worth $9,214,154.93?

Lautenberg: congratulations Halliburton and Vice President Cheney!

Public Service Announcement

This is an especially virulent strain

The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of Sexually Transmitted Disease. This disease is contracted through dangerous and high risk behavior.

The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim (pronounced "gonna re-elect him"). Many victims contracted it in 2004, after having been screwed for the past 4 years, in spite of having taken measures to protect
themselves from this especially troublesome disease.

Cognitive sequelae of individuals infected with Gonorrhea Lectim include, but are not limited to: Anti-social personality disorder traits, delusions of grandeur with a distinct messianic flavor; chronic mangling of the English language; extreme cognitive dissonance; inability to incorporate new information; pronounced xenophobia; inability to accept responsibility for actions; exceptional cowardice masked by acts of misplaced bravado; uncontrolled facial smirking; ignorance of geography and history; tendencies toward creating evangelical theocracies; and a strong propensity for categorical, all-or-nothing behavior.

The disease is sweeping Washington. Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed and baffled that this malignant disease originated only a few years ago from a Texas Bush.


Quote of the day

"The president would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure."
-Alexander "$10 Bill" Hamilton, writing in the Federalist Papers

Material Assistance

In the aftermath of last December’s horrific tsunami disaster in South Thailand, another strange phenomenon has occurred: the number of Christian churches in this Buddhist community has mushroomed. But don’t go thinking that all the locals have suddenly become “born again” religious fanatics. The reason for the surge in church building is simply due to Christian missionaries targeting a susceptible group of people whose lives have been turned upside down by a natural disaster.

According to an article this week in Thailand’s The Nation, many provinces in the tsunami-affected region are experiencing an explosion of new churches. In the popular tourist island of Phuket, the church count has increased from eight to 16 since the tsunami, and 17 new churches have sprouted along a single five-kilometer stretch of road in the neighboring province of Phang Nga.

“I never gave much attention to the church,” admitted villager Nu Rukdee. “But when I saw them building replacement homes for their members, I figured it was the only way I could get mine fixed.”

Nu’s strategy appears to be shared by other poor villagers, many of whom are joining churches in order to get new homes or repairs made to ones that weren’t washed away. As would be expected, though, some of the new “converts” aren’t sticking around to become active church members.

“We stopped helping those who were too keen to get just material assistance,” said Busrakum Suparaj, a Phuket church leader. “We don’t have enough resources to help everybody, so we just have to concentrate on our members who truly believe in God.”

Hmm…I guess these Christians are the sort of morally superior souls that think they hold a monopoly on the “true” belief in God.

Phang Nga senator Wongphan Na Takuathung also views such Christian “charity” with distrust. “I strongly disagree with the ties between material aid and religious conversion. It does not come from pure hearts. It is happening everywhere in my province and I worry about this trend.”

Amen, brother!

More than just a game

My beloved Atlanta Braves lost today, prematurely bounced out of the playoffs for yet another year. Despite winning their Baseball division every year since 1991, the Braves are seldom able to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs.

Today's loss in Houston, however, was at least an historic one; the 18-inning battle with the Houston Astros was the longest playoff game ever played. I remember being glued to the TV watching the previous longest post-season game ever; the Astros-Mets 16-inning duel in 1986.

This time, however, the Astros came out on top. Jayson Stark, of ESPN.com, captured Houston's post-game euphoria brilliantly:

Astros players couldn't stop hugging. Fans who had sat in their seats for six hours had no interest in leaving, even after this game was over. Families posed for photos of themselves amidst the bedlam. It was a scene that summed up exactly why sports hold the place they do in our world. Clearly, this wasn't merely a game these folks had just experienced. It was a special day in their lives.

Indeed. Despite the outragous salaries that professional athletes are now making, like many fans, I still love the game and follow baseball religiously. Sports still casts a magical spell upon us and remains a special part of our lives.

The Braves may have lost again - done in this time by a weak bullpen - but there is always the hope of next season. In the meantime, all I can say is: Go Astros!



Who are the "bad guys" ?

"Is it moral to kill someone you don't know, a grunt probably just like yourself, just because the government says you can? Or you drop a bomb from thirty thousand feet to kill the bad guys, you bury women and children under the rubble of their own homes in the process, but you're not bothered because you didn't actually have to see the damage, that's moral? And the medals they give you afterward to reassure you that the slaughter was just. All that shit is an illusion, a soporific fed to killers to anesthetize them after they've killed."

The John Rain character in Barry Eisler's novel Hard Rain


Cool site

Very interesting site. The premise is that we may no longer need mice with buttons on them. They offer a clickless method for navigating web pages. As you move around the site you must fight the urge to click on anything. With some practice you'll see just how responsive everything is without clicking. In just a few minutes I got the feeling that clicking may be a thing of the past or at least just an alternative for those who found clicking a habit they could not break.

It's called Don't Click it but click this link anyway to get to it.


You want that Super-Sized ?

"One thing that becomes clear from the democratic imperialism of the Bush years is that you cannot invade a country with its own dynamic complexity and reshape it according to Western prescription. Democracy is not something you can order, upsized, as if at McDonald's."

Michael Connors, author of New Global Politics of the Asia-Pacific


Republicans want to put the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit in prison

UPDATE: It looks as if the controversial legislation has been withdrawn. Sanity wins yet another battle.

Legislator drops controversial plan

If the Virgin Mary had been born 2000 years later, she might have ended up in an Indiana State prison, if Republican lawmakers there get their way. A proposed bill hopes to make criminals out of unmarried women in Indiana who conceive "by means other than sexual intercourse."

Peter Svensson says: "Under the proposed Indiana law, if [Mary] willingly accepted the Holy Spirit's visitation, that would be a misdemeanor:
As the draft of the new law reads now, an intended parent 'who knowingly or willingly participates in an artificial reproduction procedure' without court approval, 'commits unauthorized reproduction, a Class B misdemeanor.' The criminal charges will be the same for physicians who commit 'unauthorized practice of artificial reproduction.'
"Presumably, if the Holy Spirit didn't give her a choice in the matter, she would have been let off. But in either case, the Holy Spirit would be charged."

Pride should deter U.S. from torture

Read this excellent column from the AJC's Jay Bookman.

Conquering America

Tracy Chapman is still doing it. Most people remember her bursting upon the music scene back in the late 1980s, catching our ears with a stunning debut album that contained the hit single “Fast Cars.” Since then she has continued to record consistently good albums, sticking close to her folk roots, but sadly the impact of her music seems to have been drowned out by the current proliferation of hip-hop influenced fare. A few months ago she released an excellent new album; Where You Live. One of the strongest songs on the album, both lyrically and musically, is a tune called “America.” But don’t go thinking that the song is a patriotic ode to the beloved country. Oh no, this is one the old flag-wavers won’t like hearing.
Here are some sample lyrics:

You were lost and got lucky
Came upon the shore
Found you were conquering America
You spoke of peace
You waged a war
While you were conquering America
There was land to take
And people to kill
While you were conquering America
You served yourself
Did God’s will
While you were conquering America
The meek won’t survive
Or inherit the earth
‘Cause you’re still conquering America

Blank and Blanker

Back in the early 1980s a record company in the US put out an album with the clever title; The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan. The catch: the record was totally blank; no sounds at all. What a brilliant idea! Truly captured the essence of the man.

A man in Thailand has been similarly inspired by a dullard politician. Chirmsak Pinthong, a Thai senator and outspoken critic of the current governement, recently published a book about the Prime Minister, and titled it Kwahm Dee Khong Thaksin (“The Good Deeds of Thaksin”). And, as you would expect, the pages of the thin, little book are entirely blank! Said Chirmsak:
“I’ve been prevented from expressing my views through regular mass media channels, so I will do so through a smaller apparatus.”

Meanwhile, we anxiously look forward to the US publication of a similar book concerning the "intelligence" of George W. Bush. More blank pages await!


What's different now?

It wasn't him in the hot seat...

"This nation sits at a crossroads. One direction points to the higher road of the rule of law. Sometimes hard, sometimes unpleasant, this path relies on truth, justice and the rigorous application of the principle that no man is above the law. Now, the other road is the path of least resistance. This is where we start making exceptions to our laws based on poll numbers and spin control. This is when we pitch the law completely overboard when the mood fits us, when we ignore the facts in order to cover up the truth.

No man is above the law, and no man is below the law. That’s the principle that we all hold very dear in this country."

-Rep. Tom DeLay, on the impeachment of President Clinton, October 9, 1998


I lived in Orlando years ago when Jeb Bush first ran for governor. At that time I knew that his election would mean oil rigs just off the coast of Tampa. He lost that election and basically whined about it publicly for some time.

Four years later he ran again. This time he adopted the popular stance of NO OIL RIGS in the Gulf. I knew it was only a matter of time before he got around to doing an about face on the issue. After all. We all know where his family got all their money, right? Sometimes it sucks to be right.

They (drilling opponents) continue to insist that a strong political front in Florida can stop all new drilling in the eastern Gulf.

"Sure they do," Bush said, deriding their position. "But that's great. I've talked to the fairy godmother about it."
WTF? Sounds like another "Chang" moment. These Bushies are Bonkers!

Gov. Bush reverses stance, now supports oil drilling rigs in eastern Gulf of Mexico

Quote of the day

Republicans Beware!

"If you have not become more just, more peaceful, and in general more sensible...then may the Devil take you!"
-Albert Einstein

Letter to Karl Rove

From: Wild Sects
Sent: 10/05/2005
To: Karl C. Rove [karl_c._rove@who.eop.gov]

Dear Karl Rove:

I just wanted to tell you that no matter how much indisputable evidence those fact-obsessed intellectual reporters release about you betraying America, I join the President in not caring diddly-squat about so-called national security when the only war that matters is the one we're waging against Democrats. So that makes you TOPS in my book! Anyway, however it happened, that bimbo Valerie Plame got what she deserved for marrying a moron who spouted crazy talk about Saddam bin Laden not having all those Nukepox Laser Deathrays you made President Bush promise we'd find. Heck, she should be happy that you only assassinated his CHARACTER!

Well, I would say don't let this 'Plame Game' get you down, but I'm sure you're already orchestrating your greatest-yet Machiavellian stratagem (replete with Clintonesque legalistic parsings) to slither out of doing any prison time - especially since you were polite enough not to use Mrs. Wilson's first name. So good luck with the indictments and likely cover-up conspiracy investigation, and next time you're whispering him sweet nothings, please tell Bob Novak I think his waxy tufts of silver ear hair are massively SEXY - in a totally non-homosexual way, of course!

Wild Sects



New sitcom

I have an idea for a new sitcom but I need a name for it. Any ideas?

Rall 09/29/2005


I'm Brian Eno

Here's a fun little quiz to see which 70s glam rocjer you are. There aren't many answers to choose from but it's still kind of fun. It will be interesting to see some of your results. Here are my results:

You're a little reclusive maybe, a little quieter than most people...
But man, who needs outside entertainment when your brain is like KABOOM all the time? You are innovative, creative, and intelligent. You dress flamboyantly, gravitating towards large feathers and tinsel. Everyone respects you, and looks up to you. We are not worthy, we are not worthy...

Which rad old school 70's glam icon are you?

Barney Frank is a funny man

Reporters were asking the openly gay congressman Barney Frank if David Dreier was denied DeLay’s leadership position because he was too moderate – or because he was gay. Frank said it was because Dreier was too moderate, and then quipped, “And I’m going to a moderate bar after work tonight.”

And the pattern continues

Bush's pattern of nominating and appointing unqualified people to high positions continues with Harriet Miers. She's never been a judge. It would seem to me that one would have to have just a wee bit of experience to sit on the highest court in the land.

It also appears that Miers scratched the truth from Bush's scandalous National Guard service by allegedly using taxpayer money to have a witness paid off. So now Dubya appoints her to the Supreme Court to protect him when White House trouble hits the court. Compounding the Mafia-Like travesty, Harry Reid basically gives her a green light. We don't want to hear Reid or any Democrat say, "We need to know more about her because she doesn't have a record." She has a record alright, but it's more of a Bush rap sheet.

According to the GAO propaganda is illegal

With Bill Bennett and Judith Miller getting all the attention lately this story nearly slipped by most Americans. The General Accounting Office released their reports related to the Armstrong Williams propaganda event last year. You remember. The Bushies paid "consulting fees" to Williams to assure the BushCo education agenda was "properly represented" in the media.

Following an inquiry requested by New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg and Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, the General Accounting Office reported this week that, in fact, these activities violated the law. See Senator Lautenbergs press release:
In response to the scathing decision by the GAO, Lautenberg and Kennedy sent a letter to Education Secretary Margaret Spellings urging her to abide by the law and recover the misspent funds, and come to Capitol Hill immediately to meet with the lawmakers on this matter.


We can dream can't we?

Thanks to Brenda!

Bring the Boys Home

Back in 1970 Freda Payne scored the biggest hit of her singing career with the classic tune “Band of Gold.” One of her follow-up singles, “Bring the Boys Home,” isn’t as well known but it should be, not only for its pop delectability, but also for the important message it expressed. “Bring the Boys Home” was released in 1971 - during the height of the Vietnam War – and was a brave, heartfelt plea of a song, dressed-up in shimmering Motown-style strings and sweet soul: get our soldiers out of that mess of a war that you politicians got us into.

Fast forward to 2005 and it’s clear that the USA needs another public outcry, another call to “Bring the Boys – and girls - Home.” Who will sing the new version? And more importantly, who will listen?

“Mothers are praying
Send our sons back home
…What are they doing over there?
Can’t you see them trying to get home?
…Bring them back alive!”


Free Music Friday

They're still at it and Still The Ones... the band ORLEANS has a new CD. Politically active over its 33 years, the band's Sly/Tower of Power-tinged, anti-wingnut "Get A Life" is offered as a FREE download. Click the album cover above and then scroll down to the GET A LIFE - FREE DOWNLOAD button.

The group is donating 10% ($1.50) per CD sale to ACORN, Higher Ground Relief Fund (musician-specific help) and Red Cross Hurricane Relief.

You may remember that last October the RNC / Bush Re-election Campaign used "Still The One" as their campaign theme song. Orleans demanded they stop. The band has since offered Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) the AUTHORIZED use of the song for his re-election bid (Katherine Harris is his opponent)

Quote of the day

"Welcome to the world of the politics of personal destruction, you tubthumping, chin-jutting, Bush humping gits. Welcome to the nasty and partisan world that Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, and a legion of insignificant lowest-rung toadies like yourselves nurtured into fruition daily with eager, grubby hands, and now look upon with dull-faced faux horror."
-Hunter on Daily Kos

New Jules Shear CD could be released as early as January 2006

It had been a while since my last contact with Jules' manager, Peter Lubin, so I sent an email to him asking if they had made any progress in finding a distributor for the new CD. Here is his reply:

We have found a champion and the record will be released in January of 2006. You will no doubt be contacted before then to pitch in and play a role in the launch! I'm really glad to hear that there's interest.

How cool is that? I'll post news as I receive it. I need to get with Bangkok Bertha and devise some sort of contest. The winner will receive the new CD when it is finally released.

Friday Bush Monkey blogging

Quote of the day

"The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may become in the course of time as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time."
-Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the diesel engine said this in 1911

I think it's time that I seriously consider a diesel for my next vehicle. It would be nice to be able to fill up at McDonald's.

A Scary Day with Bill & Willie

The day suddenly got weird. All it took was a simple customer request: "Do you have The O’Reilly Factor for Kids?" I stood there stupefied for a few seconds. Even though I live in Thailand and don’t watch Fox News, I had heard enough about the horrific “O’Reilly Factor” to know what the customer was talking about. I knew that we didn’t have the book in stock – I’d thankfully never seen it - but I played dumb, and went through the motions of looking for the title on our bookshop's computer database. The customer, a man that appeared to be in his late twenties, sighed in disappointment. “That’s too bad. My mother asked me to find that for my sister. I guess I’ll look for it somewhere else.”

You guessed right, buddy. Take a hike! But I was curious; was there really such a revolting book? O’Reilly for Kids? Nice, innocent children will be subjected to this guy’s right-wing drivel? I checked online and, sure enough, found the offensive title listed: The O’Reilly Factor for Kids: a Survival Guide for American Families. Oh that’s great; wrap your narrow-minded views under the guise of keeping families together. Pathetic.

But the day's weirdness wasn’t over yet. After work I stopped by a branch of CD Warehouse and perused the new releases. Some interesting new albums by the likes of Tracy Chapman, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Ryan Adams. But there was something else nestled among the fresh titles, something inexplicably odd and revolting: a Willie Nelson reggae album called Countryman. Yes. Really. I’m not making this up. I like old Willie, but the idea of him singing “The Harder They Come” is even harder to fathom. Try Jah Love? In this case, I think not.

If this is a Soft Opening, prepare for a Hard Landing

The big news in Thailand this week was the “soft opening” of Bangkok’s new Suvarnabhumi International Airport. But after the much hyped landing of VIP planes on Thursday, don’t expect any more flights for the rest of this year. In fact, the airport is not scheduled to handle any regular commercial flights until June of next year, and even that goal may be a bit optimistic. Many industry experts say that the real opening could be 12-18 months away.

So why did the Thai government make this mad rush to “open” the airport well before it was ready for commercial air traffic? And why waste so much fuel and manpower just so a bunch of VIPs could parade around in the new terminal? Ah, it’s politics, don’t you know! The Thai government hopes that the swanky new airport will help it achieve its goal of being the region’s aviation hub. The airport has been dubbed by one local newspaper as “the world’s longest running project of its kind” due to the fact that plans for its construction began over 30 years ago! After years (okay, decades) of delays, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra promised the Thai public that the airport would be open by September 29 this year. Sluggish construction made such a goal unrealistic, but Thaksin became obsessed with meeting this deadline, even if it meant only one plane – his plane - would land on the tarmac.

Asked by a foreign reporter why the Thai government decided on the premature airport opening, Thaksin snapped: “I didn’t expect this sort of question from the BBC.” Oh, no? What did he expect? Cooking advice on how to make spicier Tom Yum Goong? Even though he appeared annoyed by the question, Thaksin attempted to explain his reasoning for the rushed opening. “If we didn't set a date, the schedule would slip further behind and this would have cost the country more,” he said. “We set today so that everyone had a goal, so that they could work actively.”

Some of that work, according to reports in the media, included the use of air rifles to “scare away” animals in the vicinity (such as birds, dogs and turtles) that might have impeded the safe landing of the PM’s plane. The waste of fuel used on this glorified publicity stunt (which included test flights the day before, and a second plane full of media on opening day) rivals George W. Bush and his entourage making their myriad hurricane tours to the US gulf coast.

What are the politicians hoping to accomplish, besides a staging a bunch of photo ops and acting like they are actually doing something productive?