Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Homeless Iraq Vets Speak Out

I've written before about how veterans from Iraq are strting to show up in homeless shelters. Monday and last Thursday, Amy Goodman interviewed two Iraq vets who are or have been homeless. Remarkably enough, the Army was the cause of one soldier losing his home, because they failed to pay him while he served in Iraq. I guess the GOP only supports the troops while they have a use for them. After they get home, they're on their own.

Compelling interviews, not to be missed.

Kerry to Iraq

In an e-mail to supporters last week John Kerry mentions that he's planning a trip to Iraq next month "to see the situation firsthand".

If this is part of his permanent campaign, good. However, I can't help but wonder if it might have done more good if he had pledged to do that during the campaign. Like when Eisenhower pledged to go to Korea during the 1952 campaign. I'm sure the right-wingers would have found a way to spin even that into a negative, claiming that Kerry would be exploiting the troops for political gain, even though Bush does that every time he gets dressed up to appear before crowds of troops who have been ordered to be there.

It will be interesting to see how this trip plays out when it happens.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

US Media Stinks

I'm up late/early this morning, as I often am on the weekends and I was watching the BBC News on BBC America. They did an uninterrupted half hour of reporting on the earthquake and tsunamis that have killed thousands and affected millions in south Asia. After the half hour was up (BBC America is primarily an entertainment channel), I wanted to see more coverage. I turn to CNN and I see a show about Jesus. MSNBC, a show about Tom Brokaw. Fox actually had a brief live report and then started a show about Jesus. I know it's the day after Christmas and a weekend, but this is a huge story and the US media is asleep at the wheel. No wonder Americans are so ill informed about world events.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

My Idea for Social Security

Bush is eager to "fix" Social Security. To the extent it needs fixing, here's my idea on how to do it.

Remove the earnings cap, currently $84,900, and cut the payroll tax rate for everyone. Simple, huh? No private accounts, no $2 trillion in borrowing and a tax cut for the majority of workers. Makes sense to me, but what do I know.

This Weekend's Movies

Saw some great ones this weekend:

Punch-Drunk Love wasn't a fluke, Adam Sandler can act and so can the rest of this terriffic cast. Keep an eye on Paz Vega. Wow! (9/10)

Hard Boiled:
John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat. 'Nuff said. (9/10)

Heavenly Creatures:
Peter Jackson before Hobbits. Kate Winslet's first film. Amazing. (9/10)

My first Italian horror movie. Good stuff. (8/10)

Happy Solstice!

In the spirit of the season, I'm lifting my previous restrictions and will give away Gmail invites to the first 6 people to send me an email. Use the link on the right.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Rumsfeld to Sign Death Notices

Via Political Wire:
Donald Rumsfeld is now going to start signing death notices himself, after previosly designating the task to a machine.

Good. Anything to help drive home the cost of this war to its leaders is a good thing.

Now if we could just get Bush to go to a funeral....

The Army We Have

Via GreenCine Daily:
Just in case you doubted it, Salon has a clip from the upcoming documentary Gunner Palace that has a soldier showing off his Humvee that's been armored with scrap metal.

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Farewell, Bill Moyers

I've written before about Bill Moyers and his show on PBS. So I wanted to remind you that tonight is his last show. Check your local lisings for time and station.

Today's Fresh Air featured a collection of interviews with Mr. Moyers and the NY Times has a nice story.

Bill Moyers was a unique voice on the airwaves, one which will be greatly missed.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A Reminder

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Boy Refuses Assignment, Parents Interrogated

The Washington Post is reporting that the parents of an 11 year old boy who refused an assignment to write to a Marine by saying "(The Marines) might as well die, as much as I care" received a visit from police and were questioned in their home for three hours.

The boy's mother, Pamela Albaugh, said:

"It was intimidating," she said. "I told them it's like a George Orwell novel, that it felt like they were the thought police. If someone would have asked me five years ago if this was something my government would do, I would have said never."

What I find chilling is this part of statement that was placed in the boy's file after he was suspended.
Instead, Yishai (the boy) said he has learned that it is not worth challenging authority. "At the end of the day, you lose," he said, adding: "All of these freedoms and things they're supposed to uphold, they bash them."
Are these the values we want to teach our children?

Book Banner is Bush Buddy

The Guardian of London (an excellent news source, btw) has an interview with Alabama state legislator Gerald Allen who has introduced a bill that would ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that "promote homosexuality" in order to "encourage and protect our culture". Read the interview to see how much Mr. Allen knows about culture.

Mr. Allen has met with Bush five times. What a surprise.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Missile Test Fails

A test of the national missile defense system failed today.

In other news, water is wet and the sky is blue.

We're spending $10 billion a year on this piece of junk. What a colossal waste of money.

Schwarzenegger Terminates Lunch

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to ram through rules that would allow employers to eliminate previously state-mandated lunch breaks. The new rules would also limit employees' right to sue for damages resulting from lost lunch breaks.

You probably think that I'm going to say this is a bad thing. I'm not. It's a good thing because this may be the single greatest union recruiting tool ever devised. Way to go.

Franken Puts Money Where Mouth Is

Comedian, author and talk-show host, Al Franken is going on a USO tour to the Persian Gulf to entertain the troops. This will be the second time he's gone to the region.

Kudos to him. I'd find it difficult to believe that Limbaugh, Hannity, or O'Reilly would have the guts to do the same.

Who supports the troops?

Monday, December 13, 2004

Gmail Giveaway Update

Still no takers on my Gmail invite giveaway. Please read the rules in my first post on the subject. You may also subscribe to the site feed to qualify.

This Weekend's Movies

It was very good, but I still felt a little disappointed by it. (8/10)

Zatoichi: The Fugitive: (7/10)

Mystic River:
For some reason, I thought I wouldn't like this. Absolutely brilliant (10/10)

One Year Ago

Saddam Hussein was captured. And today...

Wow, that made a lot of difference. I feel so much safer.

It was Hussein's capture that derailed Howard Dean's candidacy, according to some, because he claimed that Hussein's capture wouldn't make us any safer. Turns out he was right about that too.

Hussein's capture knocked Dean off the cover of Newsweek. Here's the original cover:
Image Hosted by

Sigh, what could have been.

Iraq Vets Show in Homeless Shelters

Believe it or not, but as many as 50 veterans form the Iraq war have started to show up at homeless shelters around the country. That 's not even the most disturbing thing. Up to one sixth of returning vets may suffer form post traumatic stress disorder. With 1 million troops having served in Iraq or Afghanistan (300,000 more than once) this could be a huge problem.

You can listen to an interview with the reporter who wrote the story here.

NASA Administrator Resigns

NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe resigned today to take a position at LSU.

This troubles me. I am afraid of what might happen to the agency when Bush appoints another one of his partisan idealogoues to run it. He already has a record of trying to inject politics into science. If the wrong person gets a hold of it, there might not be a NASA for much longer and that would be a tragedy for everyone.

This does bring to mind a joke:
Why did Bush want to go to Mars?
Because it's the red planet.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Recommended Online Viewing

I should kick myself for taking so long to get to it, but Howard Dean's speech Wednesday at George Washington University on the future of the Democratic Party is recommended. Watch it in Real Video or read the transcript.

Life Imitates Art

From Low Culture:
An eerie juxtaposition of real life and art.

Friday, December 10, 2004

It's Not Physics

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said during his now infamous exchange with Tennessee National Guard Specialist Thomas Wilson Wednesday:

"It's essentially a matter of physics," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it."

According to an NPR report this morning, it's not. A producer of armored humvees says they could produce another 50-100 vehicles a month. A producer of ceramic armor kits for the humvee can double its current level of production to 600 kits a month. Both said they were only waiting for the Pentagon to ask them to make more.

Which, according to tomorrow's New York Times, they will do.

So, if it wasn't "physics", money or desire, what was the problem? Could it be incomptence? Bush and Rumsfeld sent the troops into battle under-manned and under-equipped. Two years later they're still scrambling to make things right.

If this had happened during a Democratic Administration, Republicans would be screaming bloody murder about how Democrats didn't "support the troops". During the campaign, the GOP warned of the dire consequences for our troops if Kerry was elected because he voted aginst the $87 billion appropriation. Well the bill passed, Kerry lost (for now), so what's their excuse? My guess is they'll try and blame it on Clinton. Four years after he left office.

Are these guys ever responsible for anything?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Shop Blue

Previously, I posted a link to some basic information on corproate political donations as a guide to your holiday shopping. Today, I found about a couple of sites with some more detailed information. Choose the Blue and Buy Blue. Check them out.

The Final Total is... Nine

The White House announced today that the remaining Cabinet members who haven't resigned will be staying put. Making the final total for Cabinet changes, nine. I guess Bush didn't have what it takes to break Nixon's record.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Today's Recommended Listening

Two great segments on today's Democracy Now!, both recorded Tuesday at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. First, former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke on Iraq, the Intelligence bill and the threat of another attack on the US. Second, BBC reporter Greg Palast on the election in Ohio.

Quote of the day from Richard Clarke:
"His (Bush's) new Cabinet, which is, if the old Cabinet was a closed circle, this Cabinet is an infinite dot."

Snow Stays, Principi Goes

After previous reports that Treasury Secretary John Snow was on his way out, he accepted Bush's offer to stay on today. Just to keep things balanced, VA Secretary Anthony Principi resigned.

I expect Snow is staying because they couldn't find anyone fool enough to take the job.

Nine and counting.

Rumsfeld Gets an Earful

Donald Rumsfeld, in Kuwait to give a pep talk to troops headed to Iraq, got more than he bargained for during a question and answer period.

"A lot of us are getting ready to move north (to Iraq) relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We're digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that's already been shot up, dropped, busted - picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat."

Rumsfeld's response:
"You go to war with the Army you have ... not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time ... and if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up."
Senator Chris Dodd's (D-CT) response to Rumsfeld:
"Mr. Secretary, our troops go to war with the Army that our nation's leaders provide," he wrote.

What I'd like to know is, two years into this: Where has the money gone? Over $149 billion, according to Cost of War, and our soldiers have to scrounge to protect themselves? Where has the money gone?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Can't We Work this Out?

In an ideal world, there would be a way for the people filing this lawsuit to serve in the military and the people filing this lawsuit could go home. But this is Bushworld, which is far from ideal.

Seriously, this reminds me of the situation in Major League Baseball during WWII. While a one armed player, Pete Gray, was in the majors, great players like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige were stuck in the Negro Leagues. We have the same situation in the military today, where we're sending one legged soldiers back to Iraq and soldiers who thought their commitments were long over are being recalled. Meanwhile, there are untold thousands of able-bodied, patriotic Americans who would be proud to serve their country, except they're homosexual.

I think there's going to be a draft, but if there's not, the Iraq war may be what it takes to allow homosexuals to freely serve, just out of necessity.

It's a Small World Department

The Chicago building where the fire took place last night? I used to work there. Of course, I was on the first floor, but still.

Gmail Giveaway Update

Still no takers on my Gmail invite giveaway. Please read the rules in my first post on the subject.

Monday, December 06, 2004

This Weekend's Movies

The Incredibles: Great fun! I can't wait for the DVD on this one. (9/10)

Better Off Dead: With John Cusack. Not without it's charms, but looks a bit dated. (7/10)

The Last Samurai: Perhaps not historically accurate, but enjoyable nonetheless. (8/10)

Big Fish: Directed by Tim Burton. Part fantasy, part father-son drama. (8/10)

Wonderland: John Holmes and the Wonderland murders. (7/10)

Cartoon of the Day

On politics and science. From the excellent Tom Toles.

Number Nine...

Via Political Wire:
The New York Times is reporting that Bush is looking to replace Treasury Secretary John Snow with his chief of staff Andrew Card.

C'mon George one more to break the record! Go for it!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The One Guy Who Needs to Go, Stays...

Tommy Thompson resigned his post as HHS secretary Friday, bringing to eight the number of Cabinet members who've resigned since the election. Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfeld is staying. That's right, the only Cabinet member, other than Ashcroft, who needed to go, is staying. Once again, failure is rewarded in this Administration.

Holiday Spending Guide

If you'd like to consider a company's politics when deciding where to spend your holiday dollars this year, Donkey Rising has a guide to corporate political giving. Here's five from each side:


  • Price Club/Costco donated $225K, of which 99% went to democrats;
  • Rite Aid, $517K, 60% to democrats;
  • Magla Products (Stanley tools, Mr. Clean), $22K, 100% to democrats;
  • Warnaco (undergarments), $55K, 73% to democrats;
  • Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, $153K, 99% to democrats;
(Makes you wonder if her prosecution wasn't politically motivated)

  • WalMart, $467K, 97% to republicans;
  • K-Mart, $524K, 86% to republicans;
  • Home Depot, $298K, 89% to republicans;
  • Target, $226K, 70% to republicans;
  • Circuit City Stores, $261K, 95% to republicans;

From the Irony Department

The only place you can work for Wal-Mart and freely join a union? Communist China.

Welcome to Wal-Mao!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Is it 2004 or 1984?

From Cinemocracy:
Just when you think things can't get worse, they do.

Friday, December 03, 2004

How Bad Off Is the Army?

That we have to send one legged soldiers to Iraq?

After an anti-tank mine destroyed his foot and part of his leg in Iraq, Capt. David Rozelle, 31, considered his future. In another era, the commander of a cavalry troop would have been heralded for his bravery and likely issued a medical retirement.

But Rozelle experienced a different message while hospitalized at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Nearly every officer who visited his room cheered on a comeback. The Texas native spent the next nine months swimming, weight lifting, mountain biking and getting used to running with an artificial leg. He passed the necessary physical fitness tests given by the Army medical board and was declared fit for duty. Next year, Rozelle is slated to deploy to Iraq as the commander of a 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment headquarters troop.
Yeah, I believe there's no draft coming.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Nader Does Good

I'm no fan of Ralph Nader, I think it's his fault Bush was installed in 2000, and his run this year was pure ego. But I'm willing to give credit where credit's due, and the partial recount he asked for in New Hampshire was a good thing. Even though it didn't change the result, it should go a long way toward giving people like me confidence in the system. It should also reinforce the need for a paper trail, no matter what system is used.

On to Ohio!

NOW He Tells Us

Ken Starr says now he shouldn't have been the one to investigate Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky case.

The former independent counsel, now dean of the Pepperdine University law school, says "the most fundamental thing that could have been done differently" was for somebody else to have investigated Clinton's statements under oath denying he had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
I wish he had done something about it six years ago, maybe we all could have been saved the trouble.

Thanks Ken!

Gmail Giveaway Update

I have yet to receive a valid response to my Gmail giveaway I announced last week. ("Gimme Gmail" is NOT a valid comment.) Read the full details in last week's post.

This Weekend's Movies

Zatoichi: The New Tale of Zatoichi
The first color entry in the Zatoichi series. Good drama. (8/10)

Lost in La Mancha
The story of Terry Gilliam's failed attempt to film Don Quixote. A fascinating look at a doomed film production. If he ever finishes it, I'd love to see it. (8/10)

About Schmidt
With Jack Nicholson (7/10)

How'd They Let THIS Get Out?

The Wednesday before the Thanksgiving the Pentagon confirmed the contents of a report by the Defense Science Board that's highly critical of Bush Administration policy. Here's a key quote:

'Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies [the report says]. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.'

Of course, those of us NOT in the cult of the GOP already knew this, but it's amazing that something that so clearly contradicts Administraion policy come out from anything resembling a government agency.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Will the Last Person in the Bush Cabinet Please Turn Off the Lights?

Tom Ridge's resignation this week brings to seven the number of Cabinet members leaving the Bush Administration. With three more rumored to be on the way out, (Mineta, Snow, Thompson) Bush would break Richard Nixon's(!) old record of nine. I guess Bush doesn't inspire as much loyalty as he would have you believe.

Update (12/2): Although he's not a Cabinet member, the respected John Danforth resigned today from his post as UN ambassador after a whopping five months on the job. If anyone voted for Bush based on who his advisors were, they were sold a bill of goods.

Carpetbagger has an excellent analysis on this.

Walter Cronkite is PO'd

Sorry for the long delay between posts. I hope everyone had a a happy Thanksgiving.

This is from last week, but I think it's approprate with Tom Brokaw's retirement tonight.

What America needs right now, legendary TV anchor Walter Cronkite said Thursday, is a new election -- and, he warned a laughing press conference full of reporters, he wasn't kidding.

''That's not entirely a joke,'' Cronkite said solemnly, arguing that the Bush administration has spent itself into ruin while embroiling the country in a war that will eventually make public revulsion to the war in Vietnam look ``like peanuts.''

If the year was 1974 instead of 2004, when Cronkite was still on the job, he would have had Bush ridden out of Washington on a rail long ago. It just proves how toothless the media is nowadays. I was only 14 when he retired, but I'd still trust him over anyone on TV today.

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