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