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