Asshat quote of the week

"We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee"
-Ann "The Man" Coulter


Stepping on civil rights

So now Dubya wants to call it a "terrorist surveillance program" instead of a domestic spying program.

As we consider this, let's not forget how his administration stonewalled the 9/11 commission, buried the petition of more than 500,000 citizens who had questions about the Downing Street memo, dodged the inquiry into the Valerie Plame leak and is not cooperating with congressional hearings into the Katrina tragedy. Let us also not forget that this is an administration that leaned on the CIA to produce intelligence that would justify a war in Iraq and questions the patriotism of anyone who questions it.

For a president whose administration is highly secretive and uncooperative with sharing documents or testimony about its own activities, Bush seems fairly cavalier with our basic civil liberties.

Friday Bush Monkey Blogging


Well, that's one way to put it...

Warriors and wusses
Joel Stein

I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.

I'm sure I'd like the troops. They seem gutsy, young and up for anything. If you're wandering into a recruiter's office and signing up for eight years of unknown danger, I want to hang with you in Vegas.

And I've got no problem with other people — the ones who were for the Iraq war — supporting the troops. If you think invading Iraq was a good idea, then by all means, support away. Load up on those patriotic magnets and bracelets and other trinkets the Chinese are making money off of.



Bush's Geometry Test

This is a typical Bush answer to what he perceives to be a complex problem.

Thanks to JimBob

Terror threat

So this new Bin Laden tape makes explicit threats of an impending attack on the United States.

But the Homeland Security threat meter hasn't moved a bit. Still yellow.

Interesting. I don't think we've seen a terror warning since the election.


Either Bin Laden's tape doesn't actually mean there's any new threat, and all the crap on TV about it is propaganda, or the Homeland Security thingy is merely propaganda.

I just want to know which crap is the crappiest.

Of course, there's exactly one other logical possibility: both.


Church signs revisited


Quote of the day

"You'd think the only focus tonight would be on destroying Osama Bin Laden, not comparing him to an American who opposes the war whether you like him or not. You want a real debate that America needs? Here goes: If the administration had done the job right in Tora Bora we might not be having discussions on Hardball about a new Bin Laden tape. How dare Scott McClellan tell America that this Administration puts terrorists out of business when had they put Osama Bin Laden out of business in Afghanistan when our troops wanted to, we wouldn't have to hear this barbarian's voice on tape. That's what we should be talking about in America."
-John Kerry responding to Chris "I want to have Bush's lovechild" Matthews

Friday Bush Monkey blogging


Republicans reviving the Hitler Youth idea

From the LA Times:
A fledgling alumni group headed by a former campus Republican leader is offering students payments of up to $100 per class to provide information on instructors who are “abusive, one-sided or off-topic” in advocating political ideologies.

The year-old Bruin Alumni Assn. says its “Exposing UCLA’s Radical Professors” initiative takes aim at faculty “actively proselytizing their extreme views in the classroom, whether or not the commentary is relevant to the class topic.” Although the group says it is concerned about radical professors of any political stripe, it has named an initial “Dirty 30″ of teachers it identifies with left-wing or liberal causes.

Some of the instructors mentioned accuse the association of conducting a witch hunt that threatens to harm the teaching atmosphere, and at least one of the group’s advisory board members has resigned because he considers the bounty offers inappropriate. The university said it will warn the association that selling copies of professors’ lectures would violate campus rules and raise copyright issues.

The Bruin Alumni Assn. is headed by Andrew Jones, a 24-year-old who graduated in June 2003 and was chairman of UCLA’s Bruin Republicans student group. He said his organization, which is registered with the state as a nonprofit, does not charge dues and has no official members, but has raised a total of $22,000 from 100 donors. Jones said the biggest contribution to the group, $5,000, came from a foundation endowed by Arthur N. Rupe, 88, a Santa Barbara resident and former Los Angeles record producer.

Jones’ group is following in the footsteps of various conservative groups that have taken steps, including monitoring professors, to counter what they regard as an overwhelming leftist tilt at elite colleges and universities around the country. He said many of these efforts, however, have done a poor job of documenting their claims. As a result, Jones said, the Bruin Alumni Assn. is offering to pay students for tapes and notes from classes.
24-year-old Republican Andrew Jones is clearly looking for a war to fight. As luck would have it, there’s a big one going on in Iraq right now. Somebody should point him toward the local enlistment office.

On a related note, Hannity — always looking for somebody new to hassle — has been encouraging his listeners to tape their professors lately as well. It’s a disturbing trend, but I think that it can be easily dealt with — if you’re a student and you see one of your peers trying to covertly tape your professor, just make sure the professor knows about it.

However I must point out that many students tape their classes instead of taking notes. I guess the key word here is ‘covertly’. But hell, I’m just riffing here. It just seems like there ought to be an easy way to push back on this crap.

The Scanner Photography Project

Audi TT

This guy has come up with quite a unique method for capturing images.

Click HERE to read about it and view his images. Awesome stuff if you're into photography.


The Heckuva Job Award

The “Heckuva Job” badge for political euphemism. And the nominees are…

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.), for her reply when asked after a speech how she would describe what she does in Congress: “I’m a hooker.”

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), for visiting the wretched children sleeping on cots in the Houston Astrodome after Hurricane Katrina and joking with them about how the whole experience was like going to sleep-away camp. “Now tell me the truth, boys,” he asked. “Is this kind of fun?”

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), for shouting to reporters his reply to those who dared to suggest that funds for his infamous “Bridge to Nowhere”—which would have cost $223 million and be named after himself—should be redirected to help dying people in New Orleans: “They can kiss my ear!”

Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.), who was forced to drop out of the 1988 presidential race after plagiarizing whole passages of British pol Neil Kinnock’s life story and claiming them as his own, for revealing that he still believes the verb “to write” is a euphemism. Discussing the Violence Against Women Act with John Roberts, Biden said, “People say they wrote things. I mean, I actually did write that my little ol’ self”—wait for it—“with my staff.”

WINNER! Ginny Brown-Waite, who elaborated on her trope by explaining just what she believes a congressional representative’s job to be: “That’s right, I said I’m a hooker,” she insisted to her stunned audience. “I have to go up to total strangers, ask them for money, and get them to expect me to be there when they need me. What does that sound like to you?”

Today's cartoon


"But I checked it out and, guess what? Dean was right."

Post-scandal cleanup
by Clarence Page

WASHINGTON -- It is not healthy to blow your favorite evening beverage through your nostrils. But that's how surprised I was to hear Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean deny that any Democrats had taken money from Jack Abramoff, a formerly well-connected Republican who has pleaded guilty to federal charges tied to his lobbying operations. Right-wing bloggers and others pounced on Dean and flailed away, since a number of Democratic senators and representatives had already handed over their Abramoff-associated money to charity. How, then, could Dean say otherwise?


Quote of the day

"If you think Bush is spying on you, just use big words."
- Randi Rhodes

Friday Bush Monkey blogging

This pin is available HERE.


Funniest book title I've seen in a while


Check out this web site


I Maureen

Doing the Alito Shuffle
by Maureen Dowd
The New York Times
January 11, 2006


You've got to like a man who knows how to juggle.

Samuel Alito picked up the skill on a summer vacation a decade ago, and his juggling talent was on full display yesterday as he tried to balance the old Sam, who was eager to impress Reagan revolutionaries with his zeal, with the new Sam, who is eager to impress a bipartisan Senate panel with his open-mindedness.

It was a tale of two Sams.

Is he the old Sam, who devised ways to upend Roe v. Wade and crimp abortion rights? Or the new Sam, who has great respect for precedent and an "open mind" about abortion cases?

Is he the old Sam, who plotted ways to tip the balance of power to the executive branch? Or the new Sam, who states that "no person in this country is above the law, and that includes the president"?

Is he the old Sam, who said Robert Bork "was one of the most outstanding nominees of this century" and "a man of unequaled ability"? Or the new Sam, who shrugged off that statement as the dutiful support of one Reagan appointee for another?

Is he the old Sam, who cited membership in a Princeton alumni club that resisted the admission of women and minorities when he was seeking a promotion in the very white Reagan old boys' club? Or the new Sam, who has "no specific recollection of that organization," unless, of course, he innocently joined it to support R.O.T.C. on campus, and who says he's been shaped partly by his hopes for his 17-year-old daughter, Laura, and by his sister's experiences "as a trial lawyer in a profession that has traditionally been dominated by men"?

Is he the old Sam, who thoughtlessly blew off a pledge to recuse himself from cases involving Vanguard, where he has a six-figure mutual fund? Or the new Sam, who admits that the problem was not "a computer glitch," as he had suggested, and humbly says, "If I had to do it over again, there are things that I would have done differently"?

The judge didn't deign to say what he thought of illegal wiretaps - which you'd think would be an easy one.

About the judge's memory lapses, Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, drolly noted, "And I hope you'll understand if any of us come before a court and we can't remember Abramoff, you'll tend to believe us."

Some of his answers, Senator Joe Biden complained to Chris Matthews, did not "ring a chord of sincerity." (The National Review Web site says the voluble Biden got in 3,673 words and held Judge Alito to 1,013.)

You don't have to know the difference between horizontal and vertical stare decisis, or between emanations and penumbras, to see that the man who could take Sandra Day O'Connor's seat and yank back women's rights was, in a word, shifty.

Or in three words, shifty, sapless and sighing.

To offset his reputation on women's rights, he even played the henpecked husband. When Republican senators used the expression "When did you stop beating your wife?" about Democratic questions, Judge Alito riposted, "I wasn't asked whether she had stopped beating me."

His basic defense to Democrats boiled down to: "I was just saying what my boss wanted to hear at the time." Haven't we had enough yes-men mangling government for the last five years? Heck of a job, Sammy.

I understand why the president is drawn to the judge. Mr. Alito is dubbed "Scalito" - a conservative senator, John Cornyn, accidentally blurted out the nickname - because he's so much like Antonin Scalia. And W. loves Nino.

Judge Alito has supported imperial powers for the presidency, not strong checks and balances; he approved the strip search of a 10-year-old girl but is not probing too deeply into what the executive branch is doing. That's W.'s philosophy, too - a pre-emptive right to secretly do everything from war to torture to snooping.

Like the president, the judge loves baseball. Mr. Alito once vacationed at a fantasy baseball camp (O.K. fielder, hopeless hitter), wearing the red and white Phillies uniform. W. has spent five years in fantasyland on Iraq, on occasion donning military costumes.

His fingers in his ears, W. didn't want to hear that we had too few troops in Iraq - ignoring advice from Viceroy Paul Bremer and Gen. Eric Shinseki - or that the troops didn't have enough armor. But the president continues to fling blame outward. In a speech yesterday before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he warned the Democrats that they should take care not to bring "comfort to our adversaries."

Judge Alito was evasive, disingenuous and deferential. He fits the Bush era like a baseball glove.

Dubya sez...

"As you can possibly see, I have an injury myself — not here at the hospital, but in combat with a cedar. I eventually won. The cedar gave me a little scratch. As a matter of fact, the Colonel asked if I needed first aid when she first saw me. I was able to avoid any major surgical operations here, but thanks for your compassion, Colonel."

—Dubya, after visiting with wounded veterans from the Amputee Care Center of Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 1, 2006

Yeah a scratch from a tree limb is comparable to getting your legs blown off. And what's with refering to Laura as Colonel? Must be some kinky stuff going on in Crawford. The mental image I have is funny as well as disturbing.


24 returns

Four hour season premiere - this Sunday @ 8pm and Monday @ 8pm

Jack is back with another action packed day!



After nearly three decades of creating music, Shears said he is where he wants to be, making music that really matters. “I care more about the timeless aspect of making records, and less about making my records sound current or competitive,” says Shear. “I'm still always looking for that same thrill I got when I was a kid, when I'd hear something great on the radio and be completely blown away by it. I try to keep in touch with that feeling and let the rest of it fall by the wayside. At this point, I kind of realize that I’m not going to end up on the cover of Rolling Stone, and that I've got a deeper reason for doing this.”

Click here to read more and hear sample cuts

THE IRS - put it together and it spells THEIRS

Report: IRS Holds Fraud Suspects' Refunds

We can't even count on limbo anymore

An eminent panel of Catholic theologians met at the Vatican last month and although word is not yet official, they apparently decided to abolish the concept of limbo. Another cherished childhood belief bites the dust. It seems that limbo was never actually official church teaching, but a sort of medieval theory that kept getting passed along with all the good stuff, kind of like a B-52s CD that winds up in your CD collection. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger himself --- who, before becoming Pope Benedict XVI last year, spent two decades as the church's chief arbiter of doctrine --- said in 1984 that, "Personally, I would let [limbo] drop since it has always been only a theological hypothesis."

Isn't religion, at it's core, nothing but theological hypothesis?

Thought for the day

I remember a time when the Soviet Union eroded civil liberties, spied on its citizens, did not tolerate dissenting opinion, invaded sovereign nations, was led by irrational, autocratic leaders and disseminated propaganda as news — all for the cause of national security. Welcome to Amerika, comrades.


Frank Zappa on Crossfire

Although it's almost twenty years old, under the leadership of the Bush administration, this snippet of a 1986 debate between Novak, Lofton and Frank sounds exactly like the ones we are having today. The idea of government censorship being led by the religious groups of today and yesteryear. I thought it was important to see this exchange again (I've posted it before) between intelligence and winguttery-especially with the Alito nomination going on. Can you imagine what fun it would be seeing Zappa take on today's wingnuts? The good truly do die young.
Zappa: The biggest threat to America today is not communism; it's moving America towards a fascist theocracy and everything that has happened during the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pipe.

When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view and if that code happens to be very, very right wing almost toward Attila the Hun...

Lofton: Well then you are an anarchist. Every form of civil government is based on some kind of morality, Frank.

Zappa: Morality in terms of behavior-not in terms of theology.

Dubya sez

"You took an oath to defend our flag and our freedom, and you kept that oath underseas and under fire."
-Dubya speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Washington

Dean bitch-slaps Blitzer

Blitzer: Should Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, who has now pleaded guilty to bribery charges, among other charges, a republican lobbyist in Washington, should the Democrat who took money from him give that money to charity or give it back?

Dean: There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, not one, not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a republican. Every person under investigation is a republican. Every person indicted is a republican. This is a republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money. And we've looked through all of those FEC reports to make sure that's true.

Blitzer: But through various Abramoff-related organizations and outfits, a bunch of Democrats did take money that presumably originated with Jack Abramoff.

Dean: That's not true either. There's no evidence for that either. There is no evidence...

Blitzer: What about Senator Byron Dorgan?

Dean: Senator Byron Dorgan and some others took money from indian tribes. They're not agents of Jack Abramoff. There's no evidence that I've seen that Jack Abramoff directed any contributions to Democrats. I know the republican national committee would like to get the Democrats involved in this. They're scared. They should be scared. They haven't told the truth. They have misled the American people. And now it appears they're stealing from indian tribes. The Democrats are not involved in this.

(long, awkward pause, filled with Wolfie sighing in defeat)

Blitzer: Unfortunately Mr. Chairman, we got to leave it right there.


They eat cats, don't they?

According to an article this week in the Bangkok Post, animal rights activists in Thailand have requested that a popular song about cat eating be banned on the grounds that it “encourages feline consumption” in the country’s poor northeastern provinces.

The song in question, “Poo Bao Gin Maew” (Cat-eating Men), is sung by a group of northeastern comedians. The lyrics mention a group of lads that cook cats because they can’t afford more expensive cuts of meat. Roger Lohanan, chairman of the Thai Animal Guardians Association (TAGA) declared that “the song has incited more people, especially teenagers, to try it.” Ah yes, those crazy teenagers. When they get tired of sniffing glue and piercing their tongues, they turn to cat grilling.

One elderly Thai man was quoted in the newspaper as saying that in his village, near the city of Kalasin, “some people eat cat meat and some do not, but all realize that it is a private matter.”

Is that the same as: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ?


Bryan Harvey remembered

The heading on the e-mail message I received said simply: Not so happy New Year.

It was from a friend in Richmond, Virginia; a girl that I used to date back in high school. Very cool young lady. Instead of going to the prom during our junior year, we bought tickets to the Rolling Thunder Revue and went to see Bob Dylan and friends in concert.

But nearly thirty years later, she was writing to me with very bad news. A musician that we both know was found dead on New Year’s Day. If that shock wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that his wife and two young daughters were also killed. All of them were found bound and gagged in their basement with their throats slit. Gruesome is not the word for crimes like that.

The musician was Bryan Harvey. He was 49 years old. Back in the 1990s he earned minor fame as the guitarist in a band – a duo actually - called House of Freaks. They released four full-length albums and an EP during their brief recording career. The albums were never million-sellers but they were well-received and the band garnered many fans. After House of Freaks broke up, Bryan formed a new band, Gutterball, along with ex-Dream Syndicate leader Steve Wynn. Yet another friend of mine living in Richmond - he used to be in an Athens band called Love Tractor - played with Gutterball when they toured in Europe and the states.

Unlike my two friends in Richmond I didn’t know Bryan Harvey very well, but I still feel a most definite sense of loss after hearing about his death. I first met him when House of Freaks toured to support their debut album, Monkey on a Chain Gang. He and drummer Johnny Hott came by my record store in Orlando for an acoustic performance. I enjoyed talking to Bryan. He was friendly and had a natural down-to-earth disposition. He was very “normal” compared to more eccentric musicians. I ran into him again in the early 90s when I visiting my friend in Richmond. He remembered me and my store and was as nice and pleasant as usual.

I’ve been following the aftermath of these brutal slayings in the online edition of Richmond’s daily newspaper. The killers haven’t been found yet, but police are actively investigating. Meanwhile, there have been a series of candlelight vigils held outside the Harvey’s home and his wife Kathryn’s gift shop. It is obvious that Bryan, along with his wife and two daughters, touched a lot of lives; through music and love and caring for others. He will be missed.

Author of "Bush's Brain" put on No-Fly list

The exchange between the author and the ticket clerk is priceless.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Another useless photo-op

Colin Powell said nothing - a silence that spoke volumes to many in the White House today.

His predecessor, Madeleine Albright, was a bit riled after hearing an exceedingly upbeat 40-minute briefing to 13 living former secretaries of state and defense about how well things are going in Iraq. Saying the war in Iraq was "taking up all the energy" of President Bush's foreign policy team, she asked Mr. t Bush whether he had let nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea spin out of control, and Latin America and China policy suffer by benign neglect.

"I can't let this comment stand," Mr. Bush shot back, telling Ms. Albright and the rare assembly of her colleagues, who reached back to the Kennedy White House, that his administration "can do more than one thing at a time."

What was the purpose of this? It seems to me that it was just another useless attempt to sway the opinions of those much more adept than anyone in the Bush administration except for maybe James R. Schlesinger who is braindead.

Asshat Quote of the day

I have said last year that Israel was entering into the most dangerous period of its entire existence as a nation. That is intensifying this year with the loss of Sharon. Sharon was personally a very likeable person. I am sad to see him in this condition. But I think we need to look at the Bible and the Book of Joel. The prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who, quote, "divide my land." God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible, he says, "This is my land." And for any prime minister of Israel who decides he going carve it up and give it away, God says, "No. This is mine." And the same thing -- I had a wonderful meeting with Yitzhak Rabin in 1974. He was tragically assassinated, and it was terrible thing that happened, but nevertheless, he was dead. And now Ariel Sharon, who was again a very likeable person, a delightful person to be with. I prayed with him personally. But here he is at the point of death. He was dividing God's land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations or United States of America. God said, "This land belongs to me, you better leave it alone."
-"Wacky" Pat Robertson


Letter to the Editor - The Orlando Sentinel

In case this news slipped by your notice, the Bush administration recently announced a $319 billion budget deficit for fiscal 2005. This figure was, as usual and hence not so surprisingly, cut out of whole cloth, since the true deficit was closer to $551 billion for 2005. The $232 billion shortfall was deftly lessened by secretly "borrowing" $173 billion from Social Security retirement money and simply posting it against general operating expenses. Presto! Negative fallout muted, just like that.

Charley Bartlett, author of Coleman/Bartlett's newsletter, Washington Focus, and the source of this news item, goes on to point out that estimated Bush budgets, projected over the next 10 years, will perforce rely on "borrowings" from the Social Security Trust Fund totaling $2.4 trillion.

It's worth recalling that, at his first election, George W. Bush promised never to draw any monies from Social Security -- easily said when projections also promised $6 trillion in federal surpluses over the same 10-year period. So much for promises.

Could this deplorable reality be at the root of Bush's insistence that the Social Security system as a whole is in such dire need of overhauling and privatization?

Happy New Year, young and old alike, from those caring folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and on Capitol Hill.

Chauncey G. parker III


I'd rather talk to a human

Tired of automated customer service phone systems that keep you waiting for ages? Paul English began to pound the telephone keys in an effort to circumvent the computer and reach a human being. Earlier this year, the 42-year-old software engineer from Boston shared his shortcuts with other consumers by posting his IVR (interactive voice response) Cheat Sheets for 110 companies on his personal Web site, paulenglish.com. Check it out - it could save your sanity.

Submitted for your approval...

I love the Twilight Zone!

Many thanks to Brenda for this one.

10 x 10

Today's Cool Site, 10x10, takes an interesting approach to the news. It scans news sites every hour and compiles a list of the 100 most popular words. Click on the words or the related pictures to see a selection of news stories.

When you visit the site, you'll see the results for the current time. But I find it enlightening to go through the archives.



Game of Four

Saw this on Bob Harris' site and thought it sounded like fun.

Here goes:

Four jobs you’ve had in your life: (assuming this is supposed to be the worst ones) Boat rental dude on Lake Eola in Orlando (high school), Janitor at the John Young Museum (high school), Magazine route driver, Olan Mills photographer (absolute worst)

Four movies you could watch over and over:
Chronicles of Narnia (just saw it with my daughter - AWESOME), American Grafitti, Blazing Saddles and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (not Charlie... the new one. I was kind of disappointed in that one.)

Four places you’ve lived:
Charleston, WV, Canon City, CO, Schenectady, NY and Orlando, FL

Four TV shows you love to watch:
Arrested Development, The Daily Show, My Name is Earl and 24 (I have to cheat and include Real Time with Bill Maher)

Four places you’ve been on vacation:
Canada (4 years old), Lake George, NY, Atlanta, GA (while living in Orlando) and Orlando, FL (while living in Atlanta)

Four websites you visit daily:
AJC.com, AmericaBlog, Orlando Sentinel and Boing Boing

Four of your favorite foods:
Anything Thai, turkey sandwiches on white bread with mayo and salt & pepper, Chicken cheese steak sandwiches and a chicken breast dish with sour cream gravy over rice (my wife made it for me when we were dating and I still love it to this day)

Four places you’d rather be:
New England, California, Orlando or England

Four albums you can’t live without: "Albums?" What century was this written in? Anything by The Beatles, Joe Jackson "Night and Day", John Mayer "Room for Squares" and just about anything by REM.

OK, your turn!

George Bush's Dumbass Head on a String

Many, many thanks to JimBob for sending this to me. He found it in a funky little shop in Mount Dora, FL. I'm gonna save this one for posterity but if I ever run across another one I will proudly display it on my rear view mirror. It has sort of a funky aroma. Much like I imagine George Bush's cologne to smell like. It's too funny that it is the same pic that I use for my "Dubya Sez" posts.

Thanks again JimBob - I really wish you had included your phone number. At least I have your address now :-)

Nice column by Eugene Robinson

On politics and more for 2006
Eugene Robinson - Washington Post
Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Columnists are endowed with the gift of perfect clairvoyance, so here are a few predictions for 2006 --- each guaranteed to be at least as accurate as George Tenet's "slam-dunk" intelligence about Iraq:

(1) President Bush will continue his bid to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for "Most Frequent Use of the Blame-the-Messenger Strategy (Modern Era)." We saw the latest example last month when the administration reacted to disclosure of its vast domestic surveillance program by launching a Justice Department investigation --- not to re-examine the electronic spying itself, which seems to clearly violate the law, but to identify the whistle-blower who brought this practice to light. Next target: Who's leaking all that unhelpful news from Iraq, such as figures on American casualties and reports of torture by U.S.-trained Iraqi police?

(2) The administration will see steady "progress" in Iraq, even if the new government's first act is to sign a friendship pact with neighboring Iran. This "progress" will allow some U.S. troops to be brought home in the summer and fall. Unfortunately, they will have to be sent right back to Iraq in mid-November, after the midterm election. But who could have foreseen that?

(3) Congress will soldier on in its brave attempt to spend and collect public funds without the use of a pocket calculator. It seems that whenever a senator or representative tries to bring one of those devices into the Capitol, it gets confiscated at the door. It's wartime, and simple addition can be a security risk --- to say nothing of multiplication. The only duty of Congress is to spend money as fast as the Chinese will lend it to us.

(4) Whenever she's asked, Condoleezza Rice will deny she's even thinking about running for president. But when reporters get back to the office and review their notes, they'll discover that somehow the door was left open just a crack --- that she said "I don't want to" run, not "I won't." Meanwhile, Rice will discover that solving the world's crises somehow requires taking quite a few domestic trips, a la her recent homecoming tour of Alabama. Photogenic little children, American flags and miles of campaign-style bunting will magically appear whenever the cameras are rolling.

(5) Hillary Clinton will also deny that she's running for president --- at least until she gets re-elected to the Senate. But all the while, she will slog ahead on her epic rightward march, reinforcing her change of allegiance in the Culture War. When her support for a bill to outlaw flag-burning fails to soften the hearts of the most adamant Hillary-haters, she may have to go all the way and announce she intends to honor our troops in Iraq by baking a batch of cookies for each and every brave unit.

(6) Many other potential candidates will not deny they are running for president in 2008. In fact, anyone who might need to travel to New Hampshire or Iowa anytime in the next two years should book now because flights and hotel rooms are filling up. Of all these hopefuls, though, only John McCain will gain any real traction. The White House will attempt to seem pleased by this development.

(7) Any and all of the above will be driven from the public consciousness, or at least crowded off the cable television news shows, by an engrossing, ratings-boosting saga: An attractive young white woman will go missing.

(8) Fox News Channel, having had such success inventing and then covering last month's imaginary "war on Christmas," will go on to concoct imaginary "wars" against other holidays. A "war on Easter" would be too obvious and a "war on Independence Day" too easy, so here's a challenge to my talented friends at Fox: Come up with a "war on Labor Day." It sounds tough, since organized labor isn't a natural Fox constituency, but maybe there's a way to work in the illegal immigration issue, or examine how the practice of outsourcing jobs robs Americans of employment opportunities.

(9) When the summer hurricanes come to batter Florida and wipe out what little progress has been made on rebuilding the Gulf Coast, the president will give a bold speech full of noble promises. Evacuees from Hurricane Katrina, still in their cramped trailers and temporary apartments, will not applaud.

(10) Americans will suddenly wake up and question the Bush administration about Iraq, about domestic spying, about global warming, about tax cuts. But just then, as the president fumbles for answers, a compelling news event will steal away the nation's attention.

Hard to believe, but another attractive young white woman will go missing.


Happy New Year to All!

After a 10 day vacation from the insanity that my job has become I am hopeful that 2006 will bring a better sense of purpose and calm. I apologize for the extreme lapse in posting and hope to do better. Below are two new offerings.

Thanks again to Bertha for adding excellent content!


It’s one thing to give up our civil liberties in exchange for the safety of our children. It’s quite another to give them up and get little in return. Let’s examine just how much safer George Bush has made America since September 11.

1. Osama is still free, and Bush never even talks about him anymore.

2. Our military is bogged down in a war that had nothing to do with Osama or Al Qaeda UNTIL WE INVADED AND MADE IRAQ AL QAEDA’S NEW HOME.

3. We’ve turned Iraq into the biggest terrorist training camp in the world:

“Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of ‘professionalized’ terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director’s think tank….

“President Bush has frequently described the Iraq war as an integral part of U.S. efforts to combat terrorism. But the council’s report suggests the conflict has also helped terrorists by creating a haven for them in the chaos of war….

“Before the U.S. invasion, the CIA said Saddam Hussein had only circumstantial ties with several al Qaeda members. Osama bin Laden rejected the idea of forming an alliance with Hussein and viewed him as an enemy of the jihadist movement because the Iraqi leader rejected radical Islamic ideals and ran a secular government.”

4. Far too many of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, recommendations to make us safer, have still not been implemented.

5. The Homeland Security budget is being spent on frivolous pork:

“The District of Columbia used part of its grant to buy leather jackets and to send sanitation workers to self-improvement seminars. Newark bought air-conditioned garbage trucks. Columbus, Ohio, bought body armor for fire department dogs. These are not the priorities of a nation under threat.”

6. The 9/11 Commission gives Bush a grade of “D” under the category: “Maximum effort to prevent terrorists from acquiring WMD” - i.e., he gets a D for his efforts to stop terrorists from getting nuclear bombs. Here’s what the 9/11 Commissioners had to say about Bush’s efforts to stop Osama from getting a nuclear bomb and dropping it on an American city:

“Countering the greatest threat to America’s security is still not the top national security priority of the President and the Congress.”

7. Most of the world now hates us.

“Iraq has joined the list of conflicts — including the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, and independence movements in Chechnya, Kashmir, Mindanao in the Philippines, and southern Thailand — that have deepened solidarity among Muslims and helped spread radical Islamic ideology.”

8. And let me leave you with the words of the head of Republican head of the 9/11 commission, just a few weeks ago:

“Four years after 9/11 it is scandalous that police and firefighters in large cities still cannot communicate reliably in a major crisis,” said Thomas Kean, the Republican who was chairman of the commission.

“It is scandalous that airline passengers are still not screened against all names on a terrorist watch list.

“It is scandalous that we still allocate scarce homeland security dollars on the basis of pork barrel spending, not risk….”

“While the terrorists are learning and adapting, our government is still moving at a crawl.”

Tell me again how Bush has made us safer?

A Life, Wasted Let’s Stop This War Before More Heroes Are Killed

By Paul E. Schroeder

Tuesday, January 3, 2006; Page A17

Early on Aug. 3, 2005, we heard that 14 Marines had been killed in Haditha, Iraq. Our son, Lance Cpl. Edward “Augie” Schroeder II, was stationed there. At 10:45 a.m. two Marines showed up at our door. After collecting himself for what was clearly painful duty, the lieutenant colonel said, “Your son is a true American hero.”

Since then, two reactions to Augie’s death have compounded the sadness.

At times like this, people say, “He died a hero.” I know this is meant with great sincerity. We appreciate the many condolences we have received and how helpful they have been. But when heard repeatedly, the phrases “he died a hero” or “he died a patriot” or “he died for his country” rub raw.

“People think that if they say that, somehow it makes it okay that he died,” our daughter, Amanda, has said. “He was a hero before he died, not just because he went to Iraq. I was proud of him before, and being a patriot doesn’t make his death okay. I’m glad he got so much respect at his funeral, but that didn’t make it okay either.”

The words “hero” and “patriot” focus on the death, not the life. They are a flag-draped mask covering the truth that few want to acknowledge openly: Death in battle is tragic no matter what the reasons for the war. The tragedy is the life that was lost, not the manner of death. Families of dead soldiers on both sides of the battle line know this. Those without family in the war don’t appreciate the difference.

This leads to the second reaction. Since August we have witnessed growing opposition to the Iraq war, but it is often whispered, hands covering mouths, as if it is dangerous to speak too loudly. Others discuss the never-ending cycle of death in places such as Haditha in academic and sometimes clinical fashion, as in “the increasing lethality of improvised explosive devices.”

Listen to the kinds of things that most Americans don’t have to experience: The day Augie’s unit returned from Iraq to Camp Lejeune, we received a box with his notebooks, DVDs and clothes from his locker in Iraq. The day his unit returned home to waiting families, we received the second urn of ashes. This lad of promise, of easy charm and readiness to help, whose highest high was saving someone using CPR as a first aid squad volunteer, came home in one coffin and two urns. We buried him in three places that he loved, a fitting irony, I suppose, but just as rough each time.

I am outraged at what I see as the cause of his death. For nearly three years, the Bush administration has pursued a policy that makes our troops sitting ducks. While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that our policy is to “clear, hold and build” Iraqi towns, there aren’t enough troops to do that.

In our last conversation, Augie complained that the cost in lives to clear insurgents was “less and less worth it,” because Marines have to keep coming back to clear the same places. Marine commanders in the field say the same thing. Without sufficient troops, they can’t hold the towns. Augie was killed on his fifth mission to clear Haditha.

At Augie’s grave, the lieutenant colonel knelt in front of my wife and, with tears in his eyes, handed her the folded flag. He said the only thing he could say openly: “Your son was a true American hero.” Perhaps. But I felt no glory, no honor. Doing your duty when you don’t know whether you will see the end of the day is certainly heroic. But even more, being a hero comes from respecting your parents and all others, from helping your neighbors and strangers, from loving your spouse, your children, your neighbors and your enemies, from honesty and integrity, from knowing when to fight and when to walk away, and from understanding and respecting the differences among the people of the world.

Two painful questions remain for all of us. Are the lives of Americans being killed in Iraq wasted? Are they dying in vain? President Bush says those who criticize staying the course are not honoring the dead. That is twisted logic: honor the fallen by killing another 2,000 troops in a broken policy?

I choose to honor our fallen hero by remembering who he was in life, not how he died. A picture of a smiling Augie in Iraq, sunglasses turned upside down, shows his essence — a joyous kid who could use any prop to make others feel the same way.

Though it hurts, I believe that his death — and that of the other Americans who have died in Iraq — was a waste. They were wasted in a belief that democracy would grow simply by removing a dictator — a careless misunderstanding of what democracy requires. They were wasted by not sending enough troops to do the job needed in the resulting occupation — a careless disregard for professional military counsel.

But their deaths will not be in vain if Americans stop hiding behind flag-draped hero masks and stop whispering their opposition to this war. Until then, the lives of other sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers may be wasted as well.

This is very painful to acknowledge, and I have to live with it. So does President Bush.

The writer is managing director of a trade development firm in Cleveland.