Friday, December 31, 2004

"I hope you're happy, heavy metal music magazines."

Yearend Listmonger: Douchebag Edition From AlterNet, a list of the 25 Dumbest Quotes from 2004. Go fuck yourself with a falafel on the internets, girlie men.

General Clark Signs Major Endorsement Deal With Bad Idea Jeans, Inc. Apparantly tired of being taken seriously, former General and presidential hopeful Wesley Clark is working on a sitcom based on his own life.

For The Xenophobic, American Spectator-Reading Kindergartener On Your Christmas List
Border Patrol pajamas.

No, Seriously. What The Fuck IS The Matter With Kansas? "A Newton, Kansas, couple already charged with forcing mentally ill residents of a group home to work on their farm in the nude were indicted Wednesday on 35 charges."

No, I Mean It. What The Fuck Is The Matter With Kansas? Really. From the makers of GodHatesFags. com and everybody's favorite insane church suspected to be an intricate performance art project, The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, comes a bizarre tyrade praising the tsunami in Asia for killing gay Swedes. WTF?

I've Become The Year's Most Speechless Sikh Geek While trying to post about BeliefNet's "Year's Most Inspiring Person" award ridiculously going to Pat Tillman, I had the wind taken out of my sails by this douchebag: "I Believe that Clay Aiken has been one of the Most Inspiring People of 2004. He has brought a new meaning to GOOD WHOLESOME music. He spreads the Good News of Our Lord in every song he sings, his public image, and his love for his family and God. I know of several people who have been baptized as a result of finding the Lord through their encounters with the works of CLAY AIKEN!! I believe that God has a place for CLAY in this world and sent him as an example for all ~~~ this is shown in the fact that CLAY came in 2nd Place in American Idol, and strives everyday to walk in the light of Our Lord. Thank you God for sending us your Angel of Love and Compassion in one CLAY AIKEN!!! Sing a joyful noise unto the Lord!!!"

-The Sikh Geek

Thursday, December 30, 2004

$8,751 To Iraq For Every $1 To Asian Disaster Relief

At Least That Fucking Hot Chick Wasn't Amongst The 100,000+ Dead! God bless you, CNN. You get more like the Post and USA Today with every passing moment. Cringe as you read this hard hitting article about the handful of beautiful and famous people caught up in the greatest natural disaster in recent memory. Does Anderson Cooper care to speculate as to the tsunami's effect on the Olsen twins?

Just Because They Didn't Call Us "Stingy" Doesn't Mean That They Won't Invade Our Country With Black Helicopters... Remember the UN comment in the wake of the tsunami that called the US "cheap" for its initial $15 million donation? It was made up. Would you really be that shocked to learn that the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth are connected to this?

Is Anyone Else Weirded Out That Osama Bin Laden Continues To Make Tapes And Nobody Really Cares?
"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."- G.W. Bush, 9/13/01

"I want justice...There's an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive,'"- G.W. Bush, 9/17/01, UPI

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." - G.W. Bush, 3/13/02
"I am truly not that concerned about him." - G.W. Bush, responding to a question about bin Laden's whereabouts, 3/13/02

-The Sikh Geek

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Susan Sontag, RIP.

President Douchebag to the Rescue Criticism of the U.S. response to the tsunami disaster continues, as the White House was browbeaten by the U.N. into upping its paltry $15 million aid offer to a slightly less paltry $35 million. "The United States is not stingy," Colin Powell said, in what may be his final major lie as a hireling of the Bush administration. As for the Head Cowpoke himself, Dubya has remained secluded - where else? - on his brush-choked Crawford, Tex. ranch, preferring to let the grown-ups handle the humanitarian aid. Hey, George, I know what you can do: Declare tectonic plates part of the Axis of Evil! Meanwhile, the death toll continues to rise.

The Great Drain The latest top CIA official to fall victim to new director Porter Goss is the agency's top analyst, Jami Miscik, who has been forced to resign. This makes six top public officials forced out of the CIA, including the No. 2 and No. 3 people at the agency, plus an undisclosed number of clandestine operatives. I have a feeling that CIA briefings from now on are going to consist of sentiments like, "Everything's coming up roses, Mr. President - thanks to your forward-thinking leadership!"

The Daily Mayhem: Iraq Edition A bomb in Baghdad today killed 29 people, including seven Iraqi policemen. This follows a bloody Tuesday in which 26 Iraqi policemen were killed in separate attacks. The insurgents are actively targeting members of the country's security forces, and are seemingly having some success; recruitment of Iraqi police puts staffing levels at less than half of what analysts say are needed to restore order in the country.

Uganda in "Good News" Shocker! One of the world's nastiest guerrilla conflicts looks like it might be coming to an end, as the Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army have signed a total cease-fire set to begin on New Year's Eve. The LRA is one of the most vicious guerrilla groups in the world, having killed thousands, kidnapped thousands of children to use as slaves and soldiers, and driven more than 1 million people from their homes in the 18-year war to establish the Ten Commandments as the only law in the country. This is the first time the phrase "Good news from Uganda" has been used since Idi Amin fled the country.

No Silver Lining Too Bright to Be Clouded The Bush administration's lamebrained tax "reform" proposal, which could have included a national sales tax, has been postponed until 2006 at the earliest. Hurray! The reason it's been postponed, though, is because Bush's economic team wants to devote all their "political capital" to wrecking Social Security and to "a budget plan that will demand politically painful cuts to non-defense spending." Boo!

-Consider Arms
You'll Never Walk Alone, Consider Arms

Americans Support "Melting Pot" (Especially If It'll Burn Those Muslim Bastards) A recent nationwide poll conducted by Cornell University found that almost half of all Americans support restricting the civil liberties of Muslims in the US. Almost a third would like to see Muslims required to register where they lived with the federal government. Maybe we can get them to wear little yellow Korans on their clothing...

Wearing Sackcloth, Covered In Ashes and Drinking A Venti Half-Caf Mocha Latte
And I who was so morbidly fascinated by the trend of "megachurches" should be glad that it took this long to learn about churches who are adding franchises like Subway and Starbucks to the grounds of their churches. "Starbucks has done what churches should have done a long time ago, and that's to become more people-friendly," says the Rev. Peter Bonanno, senior pastor of Grace Capital Church. "It's not so much the coffee as the environment the coffee and the coffee bar create - a relaxed, relational, and fun place. We hope to create an environment that we believe is more biblical than [conventionally] religious."

But That Would Mean The Central Logic Of Bush's Social Security Plan Is... Is... FLAWED!? A San Diego man recently did a side by side comparison of the money he got back from Social Security and the amount of money he would have made if he invested the same money in the Dow. The result? Social Secuirty won by
$261,372 to $255,499.

It's Not As Bad As You Think. It's Much Worse. A long, but very worthwhile article from Noam Chomsky on the 2004 presidential elections.

-The Sikh Geek

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: All By Myself.

Paging Dr. Freud Speaking before troops in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made a passing reference to Flight 93 - you know, the "Let's Roll!" flight, the one that the passengers heroically crashed - that has raised some eyebrows. Rumsfeld told the troops the plane was shot down - a longtime contention by people skeptical of the official version. The Pentagon, naturally, insists that Rummy "misspoke."

Holy Fucking Shit, Part 2 I realize that you're probably sick of hearing about this earthquake/tsunami combo. It's such horrendous news and the immediate impulse is to feel totally impotent - 45,000 people are now believed dead. But for geology nerds, this one is a biggie: This earthquake was so powerful it actually shortened the day - by three microseconds, granted, but still. That's a fucking earthquake.

The Honeymooners Okay, so George W. Bush has the worst approval ratings of any sitting president since 1948, when Harry Truman had to beat three other major party candidates in the election. Bush's numbers are below 50 percent, around 48 or 49 percent. The funny thing about this story is the idiotic Gallup pollsters asking questions like "What happened to the honeymoon?" You douchebags! Bush only won 51 percent of the fucking vote in the first place! Are pollsters really so stupid that they think all the people who voted against Bush are going to give him a "honeymoon" just because he eked out a win? Hey, I know what happened to the "honeymoon": President Douchebag won the smallest margin of victory in any presidential election since World War I! Dicks.

Postcards from the Red States Hey, is it time to celebrate a two-year-old girl's birthday party in the Red States? That must mean it's time for an alcohol-fueled brawl that leaves seven men in the hospital with stab wounds! "You couldn't script a worst-case scenario," a paramedic said. "You have 60 people inside, some wounded, the weather, the ice, at the time no one appeared to speak English, and on top of that, it's Christmas. The scene was horrendous, you just can't describe it."

Open and Honest Government, the GOP Way Speaking of Ohio...Secretary of State and supreme douchebag, Ken Blackwell, is seeking a court order that will allow him to refuse to be deposed by lawyers challenging Ohio's handling of the Nov. 2 elections in the state Supreme Court. You heard it right: an elected official in statewide office is asking a judge to give him special permission not to have to answer a lawyer's questions about his conduct in office. Cue the Lee Greenwood music.

-Consider Arms

Monday, December 27, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: The Day The Earth Wouldn't Stand Still.

Holy Fucking Shit The death toll in the earthquake/tsunami combo that devastated the Indian Ocean region over the weekend is now at 21,000, with more than 12,000 of those in Sri Lanka alone. The earthquake was so powerful that it moved the island of Sumatra 100 feet to the west; it was so powerful that it actually disturbed the rotation of the planet. The relevant governments are saying that they gave inadequate warnings of the tsunami...but what's an adequate warning for a 20 foot wall of water traveling 500 miles per hour?

Today, All the World Wants to be Ukrainian! So says president-elect Viktor Yushchenko, anyway, and who can blame him for being a little over-excited? He's just won the third round of presidential elections in his country, and it looks like he's the winner, although the pro-Russian candidate vows to challenge the results of the election in court. Still, in this brief period before the shit storm really kicks up, let's take a moment and enjoy the fact that, incredibly, the good guys managed to win one.

Night of the Living Muslim Dead Residents in Somerville, Tenn. have successfully blocked a Muslim group from building (installing? developing?) a cemetery on a plot of land it owns, in part because of fears that the cemetery would be used as a terrorist staging ground. "Ladies and gentlemen, you may think this is farfetched, but that is what the Jewish people thought when the Nazis started taking a small foothold, a little at a time, in their community," one opponent said at a public meeting. I would almost support this insane act of bigotry if the reason they opposed the cemetery was a fear it would attract goths.

The Nigerian Letter, Alex P. Keaton-Style The College Republicans - which, since 2002, is not a group affiliated with the Republican Party - is in trouble for soliciting millions of dollars in a direct-mail campaign that used front organizations to make people think they were sending money to the Republican Party. A large number of those who made donations apparently include that reliable demographic for fraud: elderly people with dementia. Hey, shouldn't these College Republican douchebags be fighting in Iraq or something?

Bringing You the Wars of Tomorrow, Today More than 1.7 million Iraqi Kurds have signed a petition calling on the United Nations to allow a referendum vote on independence for Iraqi Kurdistan. This is the largely-unnoticed powder keg simmering beneath all the other disasters in Iraq: A huge number of Kurds want independence, despite the weasel-words of the two main Kurdish parties in Iraq. However, Turkey, Iran, and Syria all vehemently oppose an independent Kurdistan, with Turkey boasting a decades-long war against its own Kurdish population as proof of how far it's willing to go to block the political aspirations of the Kurds. Thank God we have capable foreign officials like Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and that nut who combs his hair with his own spit to sort these delicate situations out.

-Consider Arms

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas Is Early This Year

I know I said I was going to take a much needed holiday from posting, but then guess what happens? John G. Rowland, the disgraced former Republican governor of my home state, enters a federal courtroom in New Haven with the intention of pleading guilty to corruption charges.

Now he's prison-bound like Social Distortion, although the details of what charges he's pleading to and how much time he'll do are not yet available. This is poetic justice: It's been a year since Patty Rowland helped bring about her husband's downfall by lashing out at the press in poetry form, and it's been two years since hundreds of state employees (including blind people who worked at a special factory sewing canvas bags) got laid off by Rowland on Christmas Eve. Now, two days before Christmas, Rowland is going to cop a plea that will put him in a federal prison sometime in 2005. And they say the good guys never win...

-Consider Arms

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: It's Cliche to be Cynical at Christmas

The Daily Mayhem: Iraq Edition 22 people were killed in a rocket attack on a U.S. mess tent in Mosul, including 20 Americans, in one of the deadliest attacks on American forces in Iraq since the start of the war. The carnage coincided with a surprise visit to Iraq by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The White House insists that January elections will still take place, even though reporters have raised questions about the U.S.'s ability to protect 9,000 polling places throughout the country when it seemingly cannot protect its own bases.

They Love Big Brother British citizens will now be issued national identification cards, despite a last-ditch revolt by hundreds of Conservative and Labour MPs to block the measure from passing Parliament. Tony Blair's government argues that the ID cards will help the government better combat terrorism and "trafficking in people"...oh, and also eliminating dissent. Can't forget about that benefit.

O Little Town of Bethlehem Michel Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, said in his annual Christmas remarks that Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is turning into a "prison" thanks to Israeli efforts to erect a "peace barrier" around the mostly-Palestinian city of 61,000. Why is that guy such a freedom-hater/anti-semite/French person?

There Has Been Some Concern About the Torture, Yes FBI agents repeatedly wrote memoranda complaining about the torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay by U.S. government interrogators, only to have their concerns subject to a high-level cover up. Memos obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union show that over a period of several months, FBI officers complained about witnessing military interrogators beat, strangle, and burn Gitmo detainees, often while pretending to be FBI agents themselves. The memos indicate that approval for the torture came from the "Dep Def Sec," or Deputy Defense Secretary, or Paul Wolfowitz, as his mother knows him. Interesting to note there isn't much outrage over this. Well, at least these Gitmo psychos aren't bringing their torture tactics home with them.

This Would Be a Great Christmas Present The Supreme Court of Chile is gearing up to hear what could be the final appeal for Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the brutal dictator who staged a coup against the democratically elected Socialist government in 1974 and ruled until 1990. Chilean authorities are hoping to prosecute Pinochet for some of the political murders carried out on his orders, while Pinochet's lawyers, as they have in the past, are arguing that the old man is too sick to stand trial. Let's hope the good guys finally win one.

-Consider Arms, about to embark on a much-needed break from posting over the Christmas holiday

Monday, December 20, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: The Love is Free and the Freeway's Long.

The Daily Mayhem: Iraq Edition Bomb attacks in the heavily Shi'ite cities of Karbala and Najaf have left at least 60 dead and more than 120 wounded, while gunmen in Baghdad assassinated three top election officials who were making preparations for next month's scheduled vote. The violence shows an increasing division in the country between Shi'ites, who strongly support the vote, and Sunnis, who do not.

Saving Christmas...From Capitalism You've no doubt noticed the intense right wing crusade this year to "save Christmas" from trial lawyers and PC bureaucrats. But a fairly notable religious figure thinks the real menace to Advent isn't from overzealous grade school principals, but rather from our friends the capitalists. Pope John Paul II has warned that materialism is "suffocating" Christmas, and admonished Christians to keep the imagery of the Nativity at the center of their holiday devotions. What will Bill O'Reilly say?

This Year's "Have You Forgotten" Here's a sordid little tale in the Nashville paper about a deal by which the members of the fan club of country singer Chely Wright have goosed airplay and sales for her patriotic song by a well-orchestrated campaign of calling radio stations and pretending to be in the military. The song, which I'm sure is a corker, is called "The Bumper of My SUV" and it's the second-fastest selling country single in America. At any rate, the story's more valuable as a sad glimpse into the world of fading country stars than anything else.

Why People Don't Like Liberals, Part 265,189 Okay, some Christian church in Colorado Springs pays the local paper $36,000 to print the entire New Testament as an ad insert. Who cares, right? Oh, no, so wrong. Liberals care. Liberals care a lot, and they're really upset about this huge imposition on their freedom and their wall of separation and everything else that liberals love. Not only is a private company taking money to print an ad a terrible assault on the liberties we all cherish, but that money could be put to better use: people who never attend church and who despise Christians sure have a lot of ideas about how churches should spent their money. To get the full effect, you really have to read the comments, like this one: "Religion is a personal matter; one can read specialized books for that.One shouldn't be allowed to impose any religion on a general newspaper : it is a lack of respect for people having a different religion, or having no religion at all." Or, as Monty Python once put it, "Help, help, I'm being repressed!"

Chapter 11: Graveyard of Empire Here's an interesting analysis of Bin Laden's latest message from the AP. Basically, it argues that Bin Laden's strategy is to lure the U.S. into financial insolvency, as he believes the war in Afghanistan did to the Soviets in the 1980s. This is a fascinating analysis, because the basic conservative interpretation of the collapse of the Soviets is that we forced them to go bankrupt by pumping up the arms race. I don't accept that conclusion for a couple of reasons, but I think it's possible that the war in Iraq and the war on terror, combined with Bush's ruinous tax cuts and the massively expensive privatization of Social Security, could cause a genuine economic crisis in the U.S. Bin Laden, the conqueror?

- Consider Arms

Thursday, December 16, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Now With Slightly Fewer Dioxins.

The Furry Slug: A History Here's an excellent article from the Washington Monthly that shows how Bob Novak, known as "the Prince of Darkness," has been able to create and maintain an ethics-free journalism empire and evade taking the fall even for his illegal activities. Also interesting to note is that the Slug started at the same newspaper my father did. Well, it's interesting for me, anyway.

The Lady is a Herring This holiday season has already brought us all a wonderful gift in the form of the jaw-dropping, seemingly endless revelations about the sliminess of Bernard Kerik. Today's installment: the New York Times, along with many others, is beginning to suspect that this "nanny" that supposedly cost Kerik his nomination doesn't exist. Not only can't the Times find any neighbors or relatives who remember a nanny, but Kerik refuses to provide some basic information on the woman, like her name, her nationality, her age, and how long she was employed. If in fact there is no nanny, the theory is that Kerik and the White House might have cooked it up as a red herring to throw everyone off the track of his very real ethical, moral, and legal deficiencies (por ejemplo: today, the Bronx D.A. is considering a criminal investigation into whether Kerik illegally used a mob contractor to perform renovation work on a property he owned).

What's New in Crazy Judge-wear Two of the best judge-related trends in recent years have been emblazoning judicial robes with gold trim (courtesy of William Rehnquist) and trying to post the 10 Commandments in court (courtesy of Roy C. Moore). Now, an Alabama judge is in trouble for combining his chocolate with his peanut butter: Judge Ashley McKathan has caused quite a stir by wearing a robe in court with the Ten Commandments emblazoned in gold on the front. As McKathan said, though, it's really all a matter of semantics: "If the Ten Commandments, or the appearance of the Ten Commandments would prevent someone from getting a fair trial then I have a problem with the definition of the word fair," he said. Got that, fair-boy?

The Parallels to John Major Continue David Blunkett, the British Home Secretary and the third most powerful man in the Labour Party, has tearfully resigned his post, thanks to a juicy sex scandal. Well, it's more of an ethics scandal; Blunkett's ex-mistress, the publisher of the right wing magazine The Spectator, leaked info that Blunkett improperly bent the rules to grant her nanny a visa. The ex-mistress decided to ruin Blunkett when he demanded DNA testing to prove that her two kids are his rather than her husband's.

The Littlest Freedom-Hater Loudon County, Va. detectives are pretty busy these days, what with all the America-hating going on in local elementary schools. Recently, two detectives paid a visit to the home of Yishai Asido, an 11-year-old boy who said in class, when assigned to write a letter to Marines in Iraq, that he didn't care if the Marines lived or died. For this, the boy was suspended from school and reported to the police, who dropped by and questioned his parents for two hours about their political opinions and whether or not they were teaching their children "anti-American values." They also asked whether a friend from Germany who had recently visited the family was a "Taliban supporter." Incidentally, Asido's father is an Israeli immigrant who served in an elite combat unit in that country's military, an outfit that has spent considerably more time fighting terrorists than the Loudon County sheriff's department.

-Consider Arms

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: A Barry Bonds of Virtue pursuing a Home Run Record of Truth using the Steroids of Sarcasm.

NextYear: Free and Fair Elections, We Promise So, you think there were some voting problems in Ohio this year? Black voters waited for hours to vote in towns where white voters were able to go in and out in 15 minutes; poll workers gave faulty instructions that caused thousands of ballots to be disqualified; electronic voting machines transferred a still-unknown number of votes cast for Kerry to be counted for Bush. And guess where most of these problems occurred? "The foul-ups appeared particularly acute in Democratic-leaning districts, according to interviews with voters, poll workers, election observers and election board and party officials, as well as an examination of precinct voting patterns in several cities," according to the Washington Post. Gee, you think there might be a story there?

Virtue Is Its Own Reward; For Being a Dick, Though, You Get a Cushy Job Zell Miller, the unhinged ex-Democrat who foamed at the mouth on behalf of the Republicans at their annual convention this year, is being rewarded for his disloyalty with a job at Fox News. He's also getting a job at the powerful Atlanta law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge despite, you know, not actually being a lawyer.

Public Enemy Number One I'm really sad that Bernard Kerik isn't going to be Secretary of Homeland Security - this guy would have been a hoot. Not only did he employ an undocumented worker and evade his employment taxes for her; not only did he accept thousands of dollars in illegal contributions while NY City Police Commissioner; not only does he have ties to mob-owned businesses; but now, apparently, he spent much of the 1990s conducting two separate extramarital affairs at the same time, including one with a correction officer that has resulted in a $250,000 civil judgement against the city. Just how loathsome is this individual? When his sister was sick in the hospital, he had her two daughters stay with one of his mistresses instead of at his family home.

I Can't Resist Still not queasy over Bernard Kerik? Then relish this parting shot: After September 11, Kerik conducted an extramarital affair in an apartment overlooking the devastation - an apartment that had been donated to the city for the express purpose of allowing weary rescue and construction workers a place to sleep. The fact that there is an overflow of sewage in Kerik's past is a salutary lesson: All this stuff was discovered by reporters, not the Bush administration that was supposed to vet him before putting his nomination forward. Forget Iraq; Bush can't even get good intelligence on guys he wants to hire!

Meet the New South, Same as the Old South Timothy Ellender, a Louisiana judge, has been suspended without pay from the bench for six months for wearing blackface, fake handcuffs, and a jail jumpsuit to a Halloween party. Worryingly, even the judges who voted to suspend him agreed he "did not intend to insult blacks." Really? Sort of a tribute to the achievements of their race, then?

- Consider Arms

Monday, December 13, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Hussein Urges Calm.

The Daily Mayhem: Iraq Edition Eight U.S. Marines were killed in Anbar province Sunday, the highest single-day U.S. death toll in more than a month. Meanwhile, a car bomb in Baghdad killed 13. The attacks come exactly one year after U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein.

Another Tragic Suicide-by-Homicide Remember the lonesome death of David Kelly? The British WMD expert was fingered by Blairistas as the man who leaked damaging information about the British government's sloppy rush to war in Iraq; in the resulting public furor, Kelly killed himself...or so a coroner's inquest ruled. The Guardian, however, presents a special report complete with testimony from the paramedics who were first on the scene suggesting that Kelly may, in fact, have been murdered, since he couldn't have possibly died from the wrist wound the coroner said was fatal. Hey, but who would want to kill a prominent scientist who had humiliated a secretive, vindictive government? I guess we've hit another dead end.

Bernard, We Hardly Knew Ye Well, it's time for the post-mortems on the brief but shining moment in which it looked like Tammany tiger Bernard Kerik would get appointed to the thankless federal czardom that is the Department of Homeland Security director's post. Kerik, of course, showing exactly what Republicans mean when they say they are the party of the average American, had tax and nanny problems; how many people do you know have live-in servants, by the way? But now begins the process of finding exactly who will fill Tom Ridge's excruciatingly miniscule shoes. Scroll down for a horrifying possibility: Homeland Security Director Joe Lieberman!

Rest in Peace Gary Webb, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who wrote a controversial series for the San Jose Mercury News about the connection between the CIA, the contras, and crack in America, was found dead in his home over the weekend, an apparent suicide. After his career as a newspaper reporter, Webb went to work for the state of California, and completed an important report documenting cases of racial profiling by the state highway patrol. He suffered from severe depression, though, and at the end of his life was writing stories for a local weekly.

Mullahs Call For Greater Intellectual Freedom in U.S. Here's another dry irony that sticks like a fishbone in the craw: Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian lawyer who won last year's Nobel Peace Prize, is unable to sell her memoirs to a U.S. publisher because the State Department refuses to grant a license necessary in trade cases that involve "trading with the enemy." That's right; the book, which is freely available in the Islamic Republic of Iran, is forbidden in the United States. Another irony not mentioned by the story: One of the U.S. companies cited by Congress last year for continuing to violate rules on trading with Iran is none other than Halliburton, which actually has a suite of offices in Teheran.

-Consider Arms

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: I Love a Man in Uniform

Recent Reports Indicate That The Sky Is Not, In Fact, Falling Paul Krugman, like Jay-Z with rap, can't leave column-writing alone; the game needs him. So he came out of hiatus to pen this excellent rejoinder to the Bush-pushed delusion that the Social Security system, under its current arrangement, is in danger of "bankruptcy." Actually, the problem is a revenue shortfall (equivalent to about a missing 20 percent of what's needed) sometime around 2052. That shortfall could be made up by government expenditures equivalent to 25 percent of the Bush tax cuts; these expenditures would keep the system solvent until the 22nd century. Mark my words, though: If we let Bush privatize Social Security, it truly will go bankrupt.

Blair: We're Not Going to Be Doing That Tony Blair has rejected a call for an independent inquiry into the number of civilians killed thus far in the Iraq war. Blair says that the numbers from the Iraqi Health Ministry are the most reliable (they put the figure at just over 3,500, by the way), thereby marking the first time in history that the words "Iraqi Health Ministry" and "reliable" have been used in the same sentence.

Very Bad Things A U.S. Marine seeking asylum in Canada has testified before that country's immigration board that he is responsible for the deaths of at least 30 civilians over a single 48-hour period in Iraq. Sgt. Jimmy Massey is the second Marine to publicly make the claim that he had orders to shoot on sight, and the third to seek political asylum in Canada. Yeah, but, you know, we had to liberate those people, and sometimes liberation means shooting unarmed women and children.

Are You Still Here? I Thought We Fired Your Ass In the midst of all the ship-jumping at the Bush Administration, it's easy to forget that there are some people who don't want to go, like Donald Rumsfeld. It's also easy to forget that there are some people who don't want to go but who the administration is trying to push out the door, like Donald Rumsfeld. To that august category, add the name John Snow. Snow was hired to replace Paul O'Neill as Treasury Secretary because unlike O'Neill, Snow was willing to unblinkingly tell people that day was night. For example: This is how Snow explained, to a group of powerful bankers and investors in Zurich, the administration's policy of promoting a "strong dollar" while pushing trade deficits that ensure a weak dollar: "Because that's the policy." For some reason, though, the Bush administration has determined that this dull-witted hack is too dull-witted to sell their insane new economic plan, so they're looking at replacing him with either White House Chief of Staff Andy Card (who once typed, in an Internet forum, this phrase: "We need the biggest tax cut possible!!!!!!!" Yes, he used all those exclamation points) or former Senator Phil Gramm. Gramm would be a hilarious choice for two reasons: One, his wife was on Enron's Board of Directors and he was one of the few people in the country willing to publicly oppose the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform bill that Bush signed into law in 2002. Second, Gramm will forever be linked with the Gramm-Rudman Act of 1985, which was a historic first step on the road to the balanced budgets of the Clinton administration. A longtime deficit hawk, Gramm, as Treasury Sec'y, would essentially be in charge of shitting on himself. Oh, and he also produced porno movies in the 1970s (true!).

President or Bartender on "Love Boat"? You Make the Call

-Consider Arms

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: The Same Old Cheese.

Empty Barrels Make the Most Noise In the wake of Janet Jackson's boob exposure at the Super Bowl, FCC Chairman/corporate stooge Michael Powell revealed some startling statistics: in 2003, there were 240,000 complaints about indecency made to the FCC, up from only 14,000 in 2002. What Powell didn't announce is that almost all of those complaints - 99.8 percent, in fact, - come from a single group. The organization, the Parents Television Council, is almost solely responsible for all complaints made to the FCC - in fact, aside from the Super Bowl this year, so far 99.9 percent of FCC complaints have been made by the PTC. The New York Times recently did a story showing that every single one of the 23,000 e-mail complaints about the Fox TV show "Married by America" was traced back to exactly three people working at the PTC.

Computers: Not Our Friends In a very interesting development, a 46-year-old computer programmer has come forward to testify before the House Judiciary Committee that he was paid to create software that would allow election officials to alter vote totals in e-voting machines. The man who paid him? The programmer says it was U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), who bragged about using e-fraud in 2002 elections in the state and said he wanted it done to eliminate vote totals in minority-heavy districts in 2004. Watch this space for details.

Everything's Going Great, Thanks for Asking A secret CIA cable to Washington has been leaked, and the message is "Everything's coming up roses" for Iraq. Ha! No, just kidding, the CIA officer's cable says Iraq is a disaster and is getting worse. You'll be happy to know, however, that US Viceroy in Baghdad, John D. Negroponte, says that the cable was too negative. Of course, take it with a grain of salt, as this is a man whose idea of "negative" in the 1980s was "pointing out that death squads are killing people in Central America."

Dr. Doom and the Joker Team Up in a Crossover Spectacular Clear Channel, the Satanic fascist radio behemoth that strides across our airways like a mighty tyrannosaurus, has picked the unofficial source of White House propaganda, Fox News, to provide the national news reports for more than 500 stations. If this were a wrestling match, at this point Hulk Hogan would run from the back and drop the big leg on the two evildoers; Hulk, where are you, man?

So Heroic We Had to Kill Him Ourselves You may remember the jingoistic fervor that surrounded the death of former Arizona Cardinal Pat Tillman, who was killed while serving with the military in Afghanistan. By now, you're also probably aware that, as it turns out, Pat Tillman was actually killed by his fellow Rangers, who thought he was an enemy soldier (although you could be forgiven for not being aware of this, as the press coverage of Tillman's death now is not nearly as intense as when we first heard of it). As this story makes clear, the Pentagon knew that from the beginning, but instead chose to peddle a bogus version of Tillman's death. Does this sound familiar to anyone? If the name "Jessica Lynch" suddenly dislodged itself from your unconsciousness, give yourself a hand.

-Consider Arms

Friday, December 03, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: What's So Funny 'Bout War, Hate, and Ignorance?

The Daily Mayhem: Iraq Edition Insurgents launched two attacks in Iraq today, targeting a Shiite mosque and a police station. 30 people were killed, including 16 Iraqi police officers. In addition to killing the policemen, guerrillas looted weapons, torched police vehicles, and released prisoners. Meanwhile, two city councilmen from Khalis, north of Baghdad, were assassinated while on their way to a regional planning session about the scheduled Jan. 30 elections. Additionally, a U.S. soldier was killed during heavy mortar attacks in central Baghdad, while the U.S. announced this week it will send an additional 12,000 troops to Iraq, bringing the total to 150,000. A spokesman for the Iraqi government said today that the security situation has much improved recently.

Meanwhile, in the Land of Mordor While we're busily ignoring the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and talking about how "terrorism" is our number one security concern, our old pal Communist China has launched a new class of submarine capable of carrying nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. This will be China's first truly intercontinental ballistic missile delivery system. The technology is believed to be based entirely on Russia's, as a leaked CIA report indicates that Russia is the leading supplier to China of nuclear weapons technology. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Thank God we stopped Saddam Hussein from using his vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The world is truly a safer place.

Don't Laugh: Those Quakers Are Up to No Good The American Civil Liberties Union has filed Freedom of Information requests in 10 states for evidence it says will show that the FBI and local police forces are colluding in an illegal spy operation targeting religious groups like the Quakers and Catholic Peace Ministries. Not that we might better spend the effort spying on, say, China.

Schadenfreude, Provincetown-Style Andrew Sullivan, the insanely obnoxious right-wing journalist/blogger, is having his home in Provincetown, Mass. foreclosed on because he hasn't been paying his property taxes. I guess leaving print media for blogging wasn't quite as lucrative as Mr. Sullivan had claimed. Next: We evict Christopher Hitchens from his prime bunk near the steam tray at the Interfaith Cot Shelter.

New For Fall: Trial By Ordeal The U.S. government now concedes that it is using evidence obtained via torture to determine whether it should detain individuals in the increasingly-bewildering War On Terror. Another unpleasant surprise: Using torture in police investigations only became illegal in the U.S. 70 years ago.

-Consider Arms

I Guess My Question from Yesterday has been Answered
Who is the next to fall in the steroid scandal? Did anyone doubt Bonds was next? This story is full of some great stuff like Bonds claiming he thought he was using "flaxseed oil," and the fact that kept using "the cream" and "the clear" out of loyalty to his trainer even though he didn't think they are working. But make sure you get to the last paragraph where Bonds talks about why he didn't buy a house for his trainer (who allegedly was living in his car at times.) "I'm black, and I'm keeping my money. And there's not too many rich black people in this world. There's more wealthy Asian people and Caucasian and white. And I ain't giving my money up." Classic. This story will only get better (unless you are part of Major League Baseball that is.)

-Lil' Antonin is still celebrating the fact he passed the NY Bar Exam (send gifts c/o MLWL)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: How Will We Ever Fill Tom Ridge's Shoes?

I Don't Believe in Anything Now! The man who news reports invariably refer to as "Yankees slugger Jason Giambi" has admitted to using steroids during the 2001, 2002, and 2003 baseball seasons from Barry Bonds' weight trainer. don't think Barry Bonds has used illegal steroids, do you? I just don't know what to believe anymore.

Sex Makes You Gay, and Other Things I Learned in School According to the congressional staff of Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), public school students who learn from the 100 federally-funded "abstinence only" sex ed programs are learning a variety of interesting facts. Such as: HIV can be spread via sweat and tears; touching a person's genitals can lead to pregnancy; half of gay male teens are HIV-positive. These, and many other aspects of the programs, are, how you say, "completely fucking bonkers." Still, the Bush administration has budgeted $170 million in public money for these excellent educational programs in the coming year.

Snapshots From George Bush's America: Gay Novels Must Go An Alabama state legislator (Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale) has introduced a bill that would ban books with gay characters and textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural from being in public libraries, including university libraries. Allen, who naturally says that his bill is designed to protect children from "the homosexual agenda," says that his law would prohibit university theater groups from staging productions of, say, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and would also ban books that have heterosexual couples doing things that violate Alabama's anti-sodomy and sexual misconduct laws.

Our Buddies, the Pro-Sharon Lobby In a story that is apparently only getting attention in Israel, the FBI has raided the offices of the American Israel Political Action Committee and subpoenaed four members of the neoconservative organization to appear before a grand jury in an ongoing investigation of Israeli espionage at the Pentagon. AIPAC was one of the key centers of pro-war fervor during the buildup to the Iraqi invasion.

Ethan Allen Would Be Proud Vermont was an independent republic before joining the union after the Revolutionary War. As opposed as I am in principle, I can't help being sympathetic.

-Consider Arms

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Some Good News for a Change

Thumbs Up for the 3rd Circuit
About 10 years ago there was a law passed commonly referred to as the "Solomon Amendment" which forced schools to allow military recruiters on campus to, well, recruit. Many schools (mostly law schools) had banned the recruiters from campus because they refuse to consider all applicants for their jobs (if you are openly gay don't bother applying.) My law school had worked a deal where the recruiters could go to a different part of campus and interview, not using law school facilities. A couple years ago the government threatened to cut all federal funding (millions of dollars in student loans) if the military recruiters were not allowed on the law school. Yesterday's ruling outlawed this practice. Which is good news, although law students (with help from the administration) can no longer do things like drape rainbow flags outside the interview room or fill up the interview slots and then ask if it is cool that you are gay after sitting through an interview.

-Lil' Antonin

Monday, November 29, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: I'm Thankful That Bush Can Only Run Twice.

Hot Gay News The U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on the Massachusetts State Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage, turning it down without comment. This upholds the decision, leading many in favor of gay marriage to cheer: Not so fast, friends. This could be a signal that the Supremes are going to leave the whole question of gay marriage up to the states, which means that while gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, other states could ban it without fear of judicial review, as 11 states did in November.

You're Retired! In more Supreme Court news, 60 percent of Americans favor a mandatory retirement age for justices on the nation's highest court. This is something I've long favored: I think it's bizarre that we have a robed priesthood of nine people who are the only ones capable of a definitive interpretation of the sacred scriptures (er, I mean, Constitution) and that they keep their jobs until they die. What kind of primitive bullshit is that? Less inspiring for my cause, though, is that an almost equal number of Americans in the survey could not correctly identify what job William Rehnquist does (he's a spokesman for Avis).

Never Have Cattle Been So Eager For the Ring Through Their Noses Evangelical Christian voters who have lately been spraining their arms while patting themselves on the back for getting Dubya an actual election victory apparently haven't gotten the memo: The base's role is to win elections, then get ignored for four years (Black Democrats can tell you all about it). These hoppin' mad evangelicals think that "it's payback time": they want, among other things, a Supreme Court ban on gay marriage and abortion (well, you already lost the first one, folks). Actually, Rove's post-election analysis shows that the biggest growth in GOP voters was among married white women with children whose main concern was "security," and that's who's going to get pandered to (aside from the top 1 percent of the income-earners, of course). Note to evangelicals: Will you ever get tired of being hoodwinked?

The Argentina Parallels Just Keep Coming The Bush administration has a foolproof plan for financing its risky privatization of Social Security: first, the costs of the operation will be taken "off-book," meaning they won't show up in the annual budgets approved by Congress. This doesn't actually, you know, do anything, but it makes people feel better. Next, they plan to pay for the huge costs of privatization by BORROWING the money, which will do two things: It will increase the national debt-to-GDP share by an astonishing 23.6 percent, and it will increase the national debt, in real terms, by about $4.7 trillion. In the private sector, this would mean two things: ruin and jail (you can't take expenses "off-book" unless you're the federal government). In the public, it means a greater chance that foreign investors, panicky about that astonishing debt-to-GDP, will stop buying t-bills, which happen to keep the budget deficits afloat. The possible result of that would be that the U.S. would be forced to default on its loans, with a corresponding devaluation of bonds and hyperinflation. But, you know, anything for the free market.

So THIS is What They Meant By "Moral Values" In Redder-than-Red Alabama, the God-fearing voters went to the polls on Nov. 2 and did two things: they voted to elect George W. Bush, and they voted in favor of racial segregation. There was a constitutional amendment on the ballot there that would have eliminated language from 1901 still in the state constitution that mandates separate schooling for "white and colored children" and allowing poll taxes. This amendment was defeated by voters, although by such a slim margin that there's currently a recount. Opponents of the amendment argued, bizarrely, that repealing racist language in the constitution would allow "federal judges" to institute income tax hikes. The heat's off ya, Ohio: This is officially the dumbest result of an election on Nov. 2.

-Consider Arms

Friday, November 26, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Default Rag.

Armageddon, Here We Come At a private meeting of investors this week, Morgan Stanley chief economist Stephen Roach sketched out a scenario he says gives America a 90 percent chance of facing "economic Armageddon": America's record trade deficit means that the dollar will keep falling, especially against Asian currencies. In order to keep foreign investors buying T-bills and to prevent a rise in inflation, Alan Greenspan is going to have raise interest rates farther and faster than he wants. The result: Americans in debt will get crotch-punched by the sudden interest hikes. Consumer spending will drop off sharply, and the economy will plummet. The alternate is that Greenspan raises inflation and keeps interest rates down, allowing consumer debt to shrink in real terms (household debt in the US is now worth the equivalent of 85 percent of the total US economy). The only problem with that is that it totally devalues long-term t-bills, which could mean a dropoff in foreign investment in those, which would in turn mean that the US government could no longer finance its massive budget deficits. Roach says there's only a 10 percent chance we'll avoid both outcomes. Like those odds?

The Government Grabs the Bozack. Literally Here's a pleasant surprise for holiday air travelers: As part of new search procedures, airport security personnel are now going to be, in the words of R. Kelly, "feelin' on yo booty." "In late September, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began allowing security checkpoint screeners to manually pat down women's breasts and the genital and derriere regions of both sexes during searches." Once again, the Republican administration gets government off our backs...and swinging from our balls.

Dude! We Were Totally Going to Call You! According to newly-released CIA documents, the U.S. government knew for weeks in advance about the planned coup in 2002 against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (a coup, of course that lasted almost a full weekend). Before saying, "What? Is it our job to tell everyone when there's a sinister conspiracy afoot in their country?", think about how angry you'd be if you found out that Hugo Chavez knew for weeks about September 11 but didn't inform the US government.

Democracy Marches On A lot of people complain that not enough Americans vote...well, in the very red state of Wyoming (residence of Destro Cheney), they've somehow managed to solve all that. According to the Wyoming Secretary of State, out of 232,396 registered voters, there was a turnout of 245,789 - a whopping 106 percent.

The Bloodless Purge Continues In the latest sign that "everything's a-ok" at the CIA, two more senior officials have announced early retirements, and are widely believed to be casualties in Porter Goss' war to make the agency more Bush-friendly. The chiefs of the Europe and the Far East sections are stepping down, with Goss vowing in an internal memo that more heads are going to roll.

-Consider Arms

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Show Me Your Taxes.

We Built This City on Rock and Roll...and Taxpayer-Funded Bonds Despite record budget deficits, our heroic fiscal conservatives in Congress managed to find plenty of money to fund such essential projects as: $350,000 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; $2.3 million for an "animal waste management lab" in Kentucky; $50,000 to control wild hogs in Missouri; $1 million for a "Wild American Shrimp Initiative"; $4 million for a fertilizer plant in Alabama; $450,000 for researching the use of salmon as baby food in Alaska; etc. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), por ejemplo, had enough pork to write 20 press releases this weekend. Note also that the vast majority of this wasteful spending goes to Red States, the welfare queens of the USA.

Ukrainians Gone Wild Tens of thousands of Ukrainians gathered to demonstrate in Kiev as pro-Western opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko declared himself president following an election that most observers say was rigged by the pro-Russian candidate's party., in that country, when someone rigs an election, the people protest? Haha! How primitive and backward! Don't they know that they're supposed to embrace fraud for the sake of national unity?

Charter Schools: Nature's Cruelest Mistake According to the US Department of Education (that's Rod Paige's Dept. of Education, remember), charter schools cannot match the performance of public schools, producing students who fail to meet state education standards 30 percent more often than their public counterparts. So let's review: We take public money and give it to any jackass who wants to open a school, and we let them manage it as if it were their money. Then, they fail. Response from the Bush administration? Charter schools need more money. Of course they do.

Red State Schadenfreude: Ohio Edition Hardy-har-har. Ohio, the state that gave the White House to Bush, now has more people out of work than any other state in the country. In October, the number of unemployed people jumped from 345,000 to 373,000, and job loss came in sectors that are gaining employees in every other part of the country, like healthcare. Okay. It's true, there are nearly 400,000 adults out of work in Ohio. That's a negative. But on the positive side: Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved the most punitive anti-gay discrimination measure in the country, which actually forbids gay people to visit each other in the hospital! That's SO much better than having a job, don't you think?

Happy Thanksgiving Through the Looking Glass Ah, the Republican Party. It stands, as we all know, for fiscal responsibility (runs up record budget deficits), low taxes (plans to raise taxes on employers who provide health insurance to workers and on people who deduct state and local taxes from their federal returns), a "stand-alone" foreign policy (embroils us in costly occupations of far-flung countries with no end in sight), libertarian values (passes legislation preventing gays from entering into civil unions or recieving partnership benefits from their employers), and, of course, a strong law and order policy (cuts the federal program that funds new police officers; passes laws to allow people who have been indicted to retain Congressional leadership positions). Now, as this article shows, the Republicans are once again flying their flag, getting the intrusive, oppressive federal goverment off our backs by writing provisions that allow Congressional committee chairmen to review the tax returns of any American they want. Let the eagle soar...

-Consider Arms, who will not be posting tomorrow, as it is a day to give thanks for our glorious leader and all that he has done for our proud nation

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Secretary of Defense Ron Artest.

Congress in "Good Decision" Shocker Congress has eliminated funding for two nuclear weapons research programs, including the one designed to produce so-called "bunker busters" that President Bush says are essential to the nation's security. This is a surprising blow to Bush's overall nuclear strategy, and a spokesman for the think tank that came up with that strategy said bitterly, ""We just don't seem to be able to turn the corner even on researching what's doable with new kinds of weapons." I know! Damn the public's pig-headed aversion to the total extinction of life on the planet!

The Liberal Media Strikes Again Last week, we brought you the exciting news that a UC Berkeley study into e-voting irregularities in Florida shaved between 130,000 and 260,000 votes off Bush's total in that state - not enough to reverse the course of the election, but a significant warning that e-voting is a dangerous threat to democracy. I say "we" brought it to you because, along with Keith Olbermann and the Oakland Tribune, the MLWL is seemingly one of the only media sources in the world interested in talking about this major story. This Media Matters analysis tells the sorry tale: Even after an MIT professor duplicated the results of the UC Berkeley study at the behest of the Associated Press, the mainstream press has yet to touch the story with a ten foot pole. Olbermann is literally the only TV outlet to talk about the story at all.

Don't Cry for Me, Argentina Yesterday, I mentioned Argentina in my daily round-up of Bush administration tragedies. While I was thinking of that country's slide, under Peron, from being one of the 10 wealthiest countries in the world to being one of the poorest in the hemisphere, Paul Krugman - Princeton econcomist and NY Times columnist - has another reason for the comparison. Krugman, currently on sabbatical from the newspaper while he writes an economics textbook, says that our economy today looks very much like Argentina's in the late 1990s. Argentina, you'll recall, kept itself afloat for years by expanding its public debt - and the privatization of its Social Security system was the key element in the expansion of that debt. You'll recall, also, that in 2001, Argentina was forced to default on that debt, which led to massive inflation, rioting in the streets, and three presidents in a single year. "So if you ask the question do we look like Argentina, the answer is a whole lot more than anyone is quite willing to admit at this point. We've become a banana republic," Krugman says. But before we jump all over President Bush, it's important to remember some key successes: for example, gay people can't visit each other in the hospital.

Monkeys! Monkeys! Monkeys! The battle between evolution and creation isn't as clear-cut as many of us would like to believe: It's not simply a matter of inbred Biblical literalism vs. pure science. For starters, evolution is not the most well-supported scientific theory, in terms of evidence; there are huge gaps in the theory that no one can explain. Additionally, creationists' opposition to evolution has a lot more to do with an entire view of society predicated on the notion of Original Sin than on their revulsion at descending from monkeys. That said, I present you with a story from a genre that I'm calling "Red State Horror Tales": Most Americans believe in creation, and an astonishing 37 percent think it should be taught INSTEAD of evolution, while 65 percent of Americans think it should be taught in addition to evolution. Only 13 percent of Americans believe that God played no role in evolution or creation at all. I think there's something to that "It's the culture, stupid" analysis...

We Love You, Perfect Leader!

-Consider Arms

Monday, November 22, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Hunting Is Now Apparently More Dangerous for Hunters than Animals.

Screw You, Taxpayer The liberal media is at it again. The headline of this story ("Bush Plans Tax Code Overhaul; Changes Would Favor Investment, Growth") makes the president's new tax plan seem like a relatively benign affair, but when you read the story you realize that Bush is actually proposing at least two very radical things. First, Bush plans to shift the tax burden even further away from people who earn money on investments and interest (i.e. the very rich). No surprise there. But: in order to fund these cuts, the Bush administration is proposing (1)eliminating the ability to deduct state and local taxes on your federal income tax and (2)eliminating the tax credit for businesses that provide healthcare for their employees. In effect, the first provision punishes "blue states," which have higher state and local tax rates (and already pay more than "red states" in federal taxes), while the second provision encourages businesses to dump insurance programs, thus allowing health insurance companies to sign up more people under vastly expensive, individual health plans. The net effect, for many people, would be higher taxes and a loss of their healthcare. Some economists have said the two proposals are red herrings, designed to force moderates in Congress to concede the administration's real agenda (tax cuts for the wealthy), but you have to wonder.

Screw You, College Student In the omnibus spending bill approved over the weekend, Congress has given the Department of Education the go-ahead to make radical changes in the way that federal financial aid for college students is calculated. The net result could be that as many as 84,000 families who are currently eligible for federal financial aid will lose that eligibility. Additionally, the budget that was approved by Congress keeps the maximum Pell grant pegged at just over $4,000 for the third year in the row, despite Bush's constant claims during the election campaign that he had raised Pell grants. At what point do Americans realize that "class war" is not something that nasty liberals want to wage, but rather is currently the policy of the governing majority?

The Bug Man Goeth? Tom DeLay, the House majority leader who once said that he couldn't enlist in the army during Vietnam because all the slots were filled by Blacks and Mexicans, gets to keep his job, thanks to a hasty Republican move to change a congressional rule that doesn't allow people who have been indicted to keep their seats. The Republicans originally did this 10 years ago to embarass a Chicago politician, but are now reversing their votes to keep DeLay, whose indictment in Texas is pending, in his job, at least until he goes to the slammer. Somehow, as the author of this Houston Chronicle column points out, I don't think this is what Republican voters had in mind when they made "moral values" their top issue of 2004.

Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Cheated? So far, all of Bush's Cabinet appointees have been dogged loyalists rather than bomb-tossing Christian ideologues. Now, he announces that he's going to push legislation next year to allow illegal aliens to work legally in the United States. This, you'll recall, was a plan he hatched earlier this year, but quickly shelved it when it became apparent that tons of Republicans hated the idea. Additionally, majorities of Latinos in the US oppose it, as it's basically a way to legalize the exploitation of immigrant labor. But so far, Bush has been fucking over the conservatives left and right; when are they going to wake up and realize it?

Have You Forgotten? Because It Kind of Seems Like You Have When Sen. John McCain came to Monster Limo Weblog Land in October to stump for our Republican congressman, the key selling point was that our congressman and McCain would be part of a Republican majority that would pass the recommendations on intelligence reform made by the 9-11 commission, and then President Bush would sign them into law, making us safe from terrorism forever. Well, during the lame duck session that ended this weekend, the Republicans in Congress got together, rubbed their hands together, and...killed the intelligence reform bill. Although Bush says he wants it passed before Dec. 31, a Republican leader says the chances of the reforms getting passed at all are "slim and none, and slim just left town."

-Consider Arms

Friday, November 19, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Before the Law Stands a Doorkeeper.

U.S. Rep. Franz J. Kafka (R-Pit of Despair) I'm glad to live in a country where there are laws that are so important I'm not even allowed to know what they are: former Idaho Republican Representative Helen Chenoweth tried to get on a plane recently, only to be told that she had to submit to "advanced screeing procedures." Chenoweth asked to see the legal authorization for such procedures, and was told no; she got back in her car and drove to her destination. But why wasn't Chenoweth simply shown the language authorizing the procedure? "Because we don't have to," says TSA Security Director Julian Gonzales. "That is called 'sensitive security information.' She's not allowed to see it, nor is anyone else."

My Vote Cancels Out Yours...But 130,000 "Ghost Votes" Cancel the Fuck Out of Mine Whoah, big surprise! It looks like electronic voting machines in heavily Democratic counties in Florida improperly awarded George W. Bush about 130,000 votes in this election. In Broward County alone, which went big time for Gore in 2000 and where exit polls showed John Kerry with a big lead, Bush got 72,000 votes he shouldn't have. Now, Bush won Florida by 310,000 votes, so this obviously won't change the outcome of the election. But here's the interesting thing: If the 130,000 votes were "ghost votes," which means votes that were never cast by actual people but were added to Bush's total, Bush's margin in Florida drops to 180,000. If they were Kerry votes that were switched, though, Bush's margin drops to 51,000. Either way, it gives me a renewed sense of confidence about the infallibility of electronic voting.

The Great American Idiot Ah, undecided voters. Just how stupid are they? Pretty stupid, according to this excellent memoir of the campaign trail by Christopher Hayes. While working in Wisconsin, Hayes encountered undecided voters who favored Bush because their chief concern was the environment; a voter who voted for Bush because he thought Cheney, an oilman, would help end the country's dependence on foreign oil; a voter who switched, inexplicably from Dean to Bush; and a woman who had actually canvassed for John Kerry but then switched to Bush because she FAVORED stem cell research. But it's not just that they're dumb: They don't even understand what politics is about. "The majority of undecided voters I spoke to couldn't name a single issue that was important to them," Hayes writes. "Often, once I would engage undecided voters, they would list concerns, such as the rising cost of health care; but when I would tell them that Kerry had a plan to lower health-care premiums, they would respond in disbelief--not in disbelief that he had a plan, but that the cost of health care was a political issue." Eye-opening.

A Bizarre, Growing Respect for Linda Ronstadt Linda Ronstadt's awesome! First she gets banned from a Vegas casino for giving props to Michael Moore, and now she's railing about how Bush is like Hitler! "It's like Germany, before Hitler took over. The economy was bad and people felt kicked around. They looked for a scapegoat. Now we've got a new bunch of Hitlers," she says. Now, I don't actually agree, but when Linda Ronstadt is more politically outraged than most young, "edgy" artists, how punk rock is that?

Your Next Secretary of State: A Liar, or Simply Incompetent? Media Matters does a good job outlining some of Condoleeza Rice's numerous falsehoods, things that in a perfect world would disqualify her from being the chief diplomat of the United States, but which, perversely, seem to actually work in her favor these days.

-Consider Arms

Thursday, November 18, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Raise the Roof! The Debt Roof, That Is.

Waiting for the Man-istan The United Nations warns that Afghanistan is on the verge of becoming a "narco-state," since the only economically productive activity in the country is growing poppies for heroin production. The UN recommends that NATO, which is currently occupying Hamid-istan (the tiny part of the country ruled by U.S. puppet Hamid Karzai), start fighting the drug producers as well as the terrorists. "We're supposed to be fighting the terrorists?" NATO responded, quizzically.

Cage Match Settles Nothing Surprise, surprise: The Arab press seems to be the only ones reporting news of a Marine intelligence report saying that, despite the huge operation in Fallujah, the insurgency will continue to grow not only in that city but throughout the country. Events are bearing them out: Militants have launched numerous attacks in Mosul and Kirkuk this week, while continuing to set off bombs in Baghdad and to attack members of the Iraqi civilian government.

The Eighties Revival Has Run Amuck Vladimir Putin, into whose soul George Bush has famously peered, has weirdly announced that Russia is currently building a new nuclear missile system "unlike any weaponry held by other countries." Putin, who veers from day-to-day between claiming to be a staunch ally of George Bush and a sinister menace, is definitely racking up the "sinister menace" miles with this one. Experts say it's a response to Bush's own long-held plans to create a missile defense system over the United States, which if true, would signal the return of a low-level arms race. Red peril, anyone?

Elliott Abrams, Globe-trotting Asshole Convicted felon Elliott Abrams, currently botching the Middle East section of the National Security Council, is looking like he will soon be getting a new job: Ambassador to Israel. Abrams, who plead guilty to a number of charges stemming from his involvement in illegally funding the Contra terrorists, was a key Reagan administration figure in the formulation of disastrous foreign policy for that regime. The news comes along with what must seem like old memories for Abrams: the Bush administration is bypassing the rabidly pro-Israel evangelical Christians in Congress and giving $20 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority, although this time it's legal for some reason. Hey, I guess I can see why they want Elliott Abrams: bypassing Congress to give millions of dollars to terrorists is something he knows a lot about.

Cops to Ashcroft: Drop Dead In a speech to the nation's largest association of law enforcement executives, outgoing Attorney General and tit-fearer John Ashcroft said that in his four years as AG, he has succeeded in making the country much safer from crime and terrorism. He probably should have remembered not to lie to an audience full of people able to refute him. Now, the 20,000-strong International Association of Chiefs of Police is firing back (so to speak), saying that the Bush administration has actually reduced the ability of police departments to fight crime and terrorism, and that the country is more vulnerable on the local level than it was before September 11. Particular ire from the chiefs is aimed at the Bush administration's elimination of the $10 billion federal program started by Bill Clinton that allows departments to hire new cops. Yes, this is a Republican administration that wants to eliminate the CIA and reduce the number of cops on the streets. What world is this?

-Consider Arms

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: I Love You, Perfect Leader!

Those Fiscal Conservatives Tigthen Their Belts Again Sorry for the link to the Douchebag Report, but the story apparently isn't available elsewhere (except in the Wall St. Journal in print). Anyway, the congressional Republicans are seeking to increase the federal debt ceiling by a whopping $800 billion through the end of the fiscal year. This is in order to allow the Treasury Department the borrowing authority it needs to finance record budget deficits. If Congress approves the measure (and, hell, why wouldn't they?), Bush will have a debt ceiling 37 percent higher than the one he inherited from Bill Clinton. Okay, which one's the party of fiscal responsibility, again?

Shoot the Hostages Fallout from the videotaped shooting of a wounded, unarmed man in a Fallujah mosque continues, although the story isn't as cut-and-dried as it seems. Apparently, the Marine who pulled the trigger had earlier been wounded by a booby trapped wounded man's body, which might indicate that he acted in self defense. Another interesting factor: the majority Shiites don't seem to care all that much. It seems weird to say so, but the mutual enmity between the Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq is about all the U.S. occupation has in its favor right now.

Iran Invasion Deathwatch, Day 165 Here's a familiar scenario for you: There's a country in the Middle East whose government is disliked by our government. It's name begins with the letters "Ira," and there is an exiled opposition group based in the West that claims this country has illegally acquired the technology to make nuclear weapons. What country, and what time period, am I referring to? If you guessed "Iraq, 2002," you're right - but if you guessed "Iran, present-day," you're also right! You think that at the very least they'd come up with new lies: Say that Iran is responsible for Columbine or something.

All Purge and No Binge Porter Goss, the inept slaphead chosen to be CIA director by Bush, originally promised to be non-partisan and independent. Well, shit, that didn't last long! In a secret memo to the CIA last week, Porter lays down the law: The CIA's job is "to support the administration and its policies," he wrote. "As agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies." Keep in mind that he's not talking about opposition to the government, which the CIA obviously doesn't support: he's saying, in effect, that the CIA now has to be a praetorian guard for the Bush administration and its policies, even if those policies are wrong.

Pension Tension. Ha! I Should Write Headlines for the NY Post Here's a story that's sure to be overlooked, but could play a significant part in the Bush plan to remake America. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. is a federal agency that oversees failed pension plans from U.S. corporations (wait! The free market can fail??); currently, it ensures the benefits of about 44 million people. The agency is in about $23 billion worth of debt, an all-time record for the agency, which had never been in deficit until 2002. The deficit is fueled by the various tanking airlines (wait! Private airlines are inefficient and unprofitable??). Republicans on Capitol Hill are talking about a taxpayer bailout: Basically, public funds would be diverted to the agency to clean up the mistakes of private industry. Now, here's the trick: The Republicans are using the possibility of a bailout as a way to scare people into agreeing to massive pension reforms - reforms that would not only gut the PBGC, but would radically alter the way that corporations provide pension plans. Keep in mind that this whole crisis is a result of Republican policies: Pensions of U.S. companies ensured by the PBGC are currently under-funded by about $450 billion, an increase of more than $200 billion from the Clinton years - this is because Republicans keep allowing corporations to write off pension contributions as tax breaks. I realize this is all very complicated, but here's what it means in a nutshell: the Republicans are deliberately fucking with a New Deal reform to weaken that reform's successes in an effort to allow private companies to slash pension benefits for their workers. Meanwhile, liberals are busy talking about secession and how much it sucks that the words "under God" are in the Pledge of Allegiance.

-Consider Arms

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Learning to Adjust to PVA (Post-Veneman America).

Affirmative Action, Republican-Style So Colin "My Lai/Iran Contra/Iraq Fuckup" Powell is out, and Condoleeza "Iraq Fuckup" Rice is in. "Dr." Rice, lest we forget, is a foreign policy specialist in the crucial area of U.S.-Soviet relations: She got her doctorate for a book she wrote about relations between the Soviet Red Army and the government of Czechoslovakia, the only book she has ever written (keen-eyed observers will note that neither the Soviet Red Army nor the state of Czechoslovakia, as of press time, exist any longer). Additionally, she has proven herself singularly inept and inadequate for the task of being National Security Adivsor, as she has been little more than a cheerleader for the administration's failed policies. So...with the Republicans desperate to woo women and black voters to their party, we'll have to dig deeper for the reasons behind this appointment. Gosh, what could it be? Maybe Chief Justice Clarence Thomas can tell us.

Whoah, Mama! Where'd That Come From? Last month, wholesale prices soared by 1.7 percent, the largest increase since 1990, when we were mired in the depths of, ahem, a recession. Don't worry, though; Alan Greenspan says a little inflation will be good for the economy. I'll keep telling myself that when I'm paying my heating bill this winter.

Surely Not Better Than Erasmus? Ah, how much more enlightened and civilized those Europeans are than us crude Americans: A survey this week conducted by the Dutch equivalent of the BBC finds that the people of Holland have chosen immigrant-hating politician Pim Fortuyn, who was assassinated by an animal-rights activist two years ago, as the greatest Dutchman of all time, beating out such notables as Anne Frank and Vincent Van Gogh. You know: Because they hate immigrants.

The Few, The Proud, The War Criminals The military is investigating an incident in a Fallujah mosque where a Marine allegedly shot a wounded Iraqi prisoner in the head. The investigation comes because an NBC reporter actually did the right thing and reported the crime to the authorities. Watch as the patriotic American press demonizes this guy now.

Good Question Four years ago, I never thought I would be praising the wisdom of Conservative politician Jacques Chirac (I never thought I'd see a militarist Republican administration purge the CIA, either, but here we are), but last night he had a really good question: What has Britain gotten in return for its dogged, damaging loyalty to King George's wacko war? What dividend - either in terms of jump-starting the peace process in the Middle East, enhancing its role in the world, or even economic benefits - has Tony Blair earned for Britain?

-Consider Arms

Monday, November 15, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: I Go On Vacation For a Week, and Everything Goes Bonkers.

The Monday Morning Massacre Around 9 a.m. today, a friend of mine who works in Congress sent me an e-mail saying that the big rumor was that Colin Powell would resign; earlier in the morning, I got an e-mail from the Chronicle of Higher Education saying that Rod Paige (remember: the guy who called the NEA a "terrorist organization") was going to leave the Cabinet this week. Lo and behold, not only Powell and Paige, but Agriculture Sec'y Anne Veneman and Energy Sec'y Spencer Abraham also resigned today, bringing the total number of cabinet resignations to six. The current speculation on Powell's replacement is either John Danforth, former senator and ordained minister, and Condi Rice, whom we all know from Act One. My speculation: they're going to go with someone who will roll over and get fucked even more enthusiastically than Powell.

Morning of the Long Knives Hey, but it wasn't just the cabinet that saw resignations today: the CIA's two top officers in charge of clandestine operations resigned this morning following clashes with Porter Goss, the inept buffoon chosen by Bush to head the troubled agency. According to the Washington Post, Bush has ordered a "purge" of "disloyal" officers at the agency that militarist Sen. John McCain calls "a rogue agency." This makes three top CIA officers in a week to resign under pressure from Goss. Boy, did you ever think you'd see the day when the Repiglicans were calling the CIA "a rogue agency" and purging its ranks?

Our Gay-Loving Republicans Welcome More Gays Aboard Note to my countrymen in the Red States, who cited "moral values" as their most pressing concern on Nov. 2 and voted overwhelmingly to ban civil unions in 11 states: guess who's running your party, you stupid jackasses? Ken Mehlman, outed by gay web sites but still officially in the closet, is all but certain to become the National Chairman of the Republican Party; he will join openly gay Chief Financial Officer Jay Banning and openly gay National Field Director Daniel Gurley at the top of the party's national organization. Interesting question: If conservatives are so inflamed by stomping out gays, why are they voting for a party that's run by gays? Also, what are two (three?) gay dudes doing running a party that advocates making discrimination against them part of the Constitution? That's like black dudes running the Klan.

Hail Caesar!'s so messy, don't you think? All those safeguards. Especially when you consider the avalanche of new Bush appointees that are going to be coming down the line (six new cabinet members at least; how many federal judges?), and the fact that those damn Democrats in the Senate can block the appointment of those selfsame appointees by filibuster. Well, thank God Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is on the job: Frist and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott have a plan to essentially eliminate filibusters if a simple majority of the Senate votes to do so. Keep in mind that these are the same two dudes who lavishly praised Strom Thurmond's famous weekend-long filibusters at his 100th birthday - those filibusters, incidentally, were against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Yes, that means it's time to Vomit in Terror once again.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Prior to the invasion of Fallujah, U.S. Marines relaxed by dressing up as gladiators and staging a chariot race straight out of Ben-Hur, complete with confiscated ("stolen") Iraqi horses. I can't believe this country voted to ban gay marriage in 11 states!

-Consider Arms

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Where My Dogs At?

--MC No Shame, who would like to send a special apology to Lil' Antonin for my Nader-induced, cyber-freakout on him. Keep up the good work.

Friday, November 05, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Our Friends Say It's Darkest Before the Sun Rises...We're Pretty Sure They're All Wrong.

The Worst Isn't Over Just as I frickin' predicted in my Nightmare Scenario, Bush has already announced his ambitious plans: privatize Social Security, "tort reform" that essentially fucks over everyone except insurance companies, and a national sales tax. Bush to America: You People Are Fucked.

George W. Bush, Jacobin Here's the invaluable Paul Krugman on what the election means: A "radical" who "deeply dislikes America" has been given a second term in office by the very people he will work hardest to screw over. Krugman's taking a hiatus from his column until January. We're going to miss him, but at least he'll be back in time for the Inauguration (I hope Dennis Miller will be there with some of his trademark "humor"!).

Insert Your Own "Feel A Draft?" Pun Here This confusing looking jumble of words and numbers is a legal notice published today in the Federal Register. This notice shows that Selective Service has filed a request to check the computer records of the Department of Education to make sure that everyone receiving financial aid from the federal government is registered with the draft board, as required by federal law. Is this significant? No, I'm sure it's just one of those unprecedented moves that's really benign and harmless. Nothing to see here: Move along.

You Can Find Him In Da Club Ah, the denoument of Bulge-gate: Despite the constant White House denials that Bush's bulging coat during the debate was the normal folds of the fabric, the Secret Service now claims it was, in fact, a bulletproof vest, just like the kind 50 Cent wears. I realize this is a trivial point, but doesn't it drive you nuts that the White House lies about EVERYTHING and gets away with it?

We'll Miss You, Crisco John The word has gone forth: the first Cabinet official to leave the Bush Administration in '05 will likely be serial cat-fearer John Ashcroft, the all-singing, no-dancing AG whose Chong-jailing antics amused us all. Like I said: the first term belongs to the moderates, the second to the ideologues. Ashcroft's replacement is said to be former Indiana senator John Danforth, an ordained Protestant minister. Also, this article contains what is perhaps the meanest sentence ever written about Ashcroft: "Ashcroft, 62, is described as exhausted from leading the Justice Department in fighting the domestic war on terrorism." Get it? Because he fought that war so poorly!

-Consider Arms

Thursday, November 04, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again.

This Kind of Says It All, Doesn't It?

Get Your Bets In Now! The Arafat Death Watch Has Reached a Fever Pitch There are conflicting news reports about whether Palestinian leader and Grade A creepo Yasser Arafat is in a coma. I don't want to sound cruel, and perhaps it's just the election that has coarsened my mood, but this dude can't shuffle off the stage of history fast enough for me.

Was There Vote Fraud? Undoubtedly, but was it significant enough to tip the balance in Bush's favor? Some people think so, based on discrepancies between exit polls and final results in states where electronic voting machines were used. Mark Crispin Miller, for one, seems weirdly insistent that Bush didn't pick up 8 million more votes this year than in 2000 without some kind of electronic jiggery-pokery. I guess that's an explanation easier to live with than "Republicans won because they successfully appealed to the majority's hatred of gay sex."

Speaking of Gay Dudes... Unbelievably, Bush received the same amount of support from gay voters this year that he did in 2000. Was something about his "I hate gays and want to legalize discrimination against them" message not getting across?

I've Got to Admit: It's Getting Better...Wait, No It's Not The economy shed more than 100,000 jobs in October, and it looks like it will match or top that number in November. George W. Bush is the first president since Hoover to lose jobs in his first term, and the first since the 19th century to win re-election with a net job loss (McKinley was the last...also boosted by a needless colonial war, I might add). But, you know, at least we stopped them gay dudes from civilly uniting.

-Consider Arms