Friday, April 30, 2004

According to the Washington Post, only 5% of the foreign aid package for the rebuilding of Iraq has actually been spent, and much of that has gone to administrative costs. "So far, occupation officials have reassigned $184 million appropriated for drinking-water projects to fund the operations of the U.S. Embassy after the provisional authority is dissolved June 30. An additional $29 million from projects such as "democracy building" were reallocated to fund the U.S. development agency's administrative expenses." Congress is, understandably, upset. "Aides from both parties told CPA officials this week to find the embassy money somewhere else, said Tim Rieser, chief Democratic clerk for the Senate Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee. 'Cutting funds from water and sanitation makes no sense,' Rieser said. 'Potable water is desperately needed in that country.'" It's kind of hard to win the hearts and minds of the people when you're not even giving them basic necessities like clean drinking water!
Atrios has a list of examples of how Sinclair Broadcasting has been serving as a Right-Wing propaganda machine. Examples include requiring its journalists, over their objections, to read pro-Bush statements, refusing to air DNC commercials which feature Bush making statements which have since been proven false, and firing much of the staff at local stations which it then used to air "centralized Right-Wing content." The "Clear Channel of local news" indeed!
The Guardian sheds some light on the apparent role of "civilian contractors" in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by soldiers at a prison outside of Baghdad. "A military report into the Abu Ghraib case - parts of which were made available to the Guardian - makes it clear that private contractors were supervising interrogations in the prison, which was notorious for torture and executions under Saddam Hussein. One civilian contractor was accused of raping a young male prisoner but has not been charged because military law has no jurisdiction over him." Who, exactly, thought it was a good idea to hire private mercenaries who have no obligation to follow military rules and procedures, and give them authority over a military prison?
Sinners Unite! Molly Ivins on the unfairness of the sin tax, as well as the entire tax structure. Something to think about next time you're shelling out money for wine, lotto tickets, or a lap dance at the local strip club.

Bill Berkowitz has an excellent article on the prevalence of mental health problems among troops deployed to, and returning from, Iraq. It appears that many soldiers had pre-existing conditions and never should have been sent in the first place, which might explain why the suicide rate for this war is even higher than it was in Vietnam. To add insult to injury, the Bush Administration has gutted funding for VA hospitals and veterans centers, shutting many of them down.

It appears that 62 ABC affiliates across the nation will not be broadcasting tonights edition of Nightline, which will feature a reading of the names of soldiers killed in the war in Iraq, along with accompanying photos. Sinclair Broadcasting, a major GOP contributor, has ordered all of its affiliates to pull the program under the guise that the show's content is politically motivated. (Pot, meet...)

Update: It appears that at least one Sinclair Broadcasting affiliate will be airing tonight's Nightline. According to Atrios, WTXL of Tallahassee has a contract which forbids pre-emption. SOMEONE was really on the ball in drafting THAT contract! Too bad more local affiliates weren't nearly as smart!

Quote for the Day: "As far as we know, Senator Kerry got three Purple Hearts for risking his life in Vietnam and President Bush got a dental examination in Alabama."--Nancy Pelosi (D-California), House Minority Leader

Idiotic Quote for the Day: "I came away good about the session because I wanted them to know how I set strategy... how we deal with threats."--George W. Bush, on his session with the 9/11 Commission. ("I came away good about the session"??? This guy went to Yale? If I was his daddy, I'd want my money back!)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Oops, almost forgot...this week's Top Ten Conservative Idiots list from Democratic Underground. Enjoy!
This Friday's edition of Nightline on ABC will feature Ted Koppel reading the names of soldiers killed in the war in Iraq, and photos of each accompanying the reading. "Nightline executive producer Leroy Sievers said: 'We realised that the casualties were on their way to becoming just numbers.'" I'm sure the White House will be thrilled about this, considering their reluctance to face the human costs of this war.

Whomever the U.S. is going to be handing over control of Iraq to at the end of June, is apparently, going to have to give some of their sovereignty back, according to Colin Powell. "'I hope they will understand that in order for this government to get up and running - to be effective - some of its sovereignty will have to be given back, if I can put it that way, or limited by them,' Mr Powell said. 'It's sovereignty but [some] of that sovereignty they are going to allow us to exercise on their behalf and with their permission.'" Massoud Barzani, head of the Iraqi Governing Council, doesn't sound so happy about it. "'If it were me, I wouldn't have allowed it to come to this by making earlier mistakes,' Mr Barzani said. 'I probably wouldn't have made the mistake of letting an army of liberation turn into an army of occupation.'" Glad to see we're succeeding at capturing the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people!

Molly Ivins has a good piece about her experience at Sunday's March for Women's Lives in Washington D.C. Allison Stevens also has a good article about the March. The Center for American Progress has a photo essay about the event. Meanwhile, Karen Hughes fends off criticism of her remarks comparing Sunday's marchers to terrorists. In a related story, Mary Lynn F. Jones talks about the GOP's attacks on women's rights, and it's not just abortion rights.

In environmental news, Chile's San Rafael glacier is melting rapidly. The glacier, part of the Patagonian Icefield, is a major tourist attraction. Dr. Neil Glasser says "If the glacier retreats further up valley, it will cease to calve icebergs into the Laguna San Rafael, and one of the reasons why this area attracts so many tourists will be largely gone." Well, at least the Kyoto protocol should help reduce the impact of global warming, and hopefully save the glacier. Oh, wait, Bush, aka Captain Anti-Planet, refused to sign it. Never mind.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I can't believe I forgot this until now... *smacks forehead* Happy Earth Day! In the spirit of Earth Day, I would like to call to your attention the links in the right column under the "The Environment" heading. Also, under the "Take Action" heading are the Earth Day-pertinent links to Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, and Working for Change. Under the "Click to Help" heading are a variety of charities you can help out by simply clicking a button (yep, it really is THAT simple!). So easy, even Dubya could do it (not that he'd want to, but it IS within even his limited brainpower).

Other good links: Method--environmentally-friendly household products (I use them myself and love them!), Trader Joe's grocery stores, where practically *anyone* can afford to buy organic (seriously, the place sells organic shade-grown fair-trade certified coffee for $6.99/lb, and it's GOOD coffee!). This site has a list of recycling links. And introducing the new 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid. Who says SUV's have to be pollution-spouting gas hogs?

I'm always on the lookout for new links to worthy environmental causes or environmentally-friendly products, so if anyone has any I haven't posted, please forward them to me! Just post the URL in the comments or email me. Thanks in advance to anyone who does!:-)
Well, that was fast! Daily Kos has a detailed comparison of Bush and Kerry's respective military records. Not surprisingly, they show that the White House has picked the wrong issue to fight over these last few days, and now they have egg on their faces.
Happy Minion's Day, er, I mean...Administrative Professional's Day! Now, for those of you who have min-, er, secretaries, administrative assistants, personal assistants, ect; go straight to your nearest Hallmark store and buy them cards and gifts, as is your duty as a consumer on this profit-driven Hallmark Holiday.

John Kerry has posted his full military records on his website following Republican criticism that he promised to release his records but didn't. Included are his citations for a bronze star, silver star, and three (3) purple hearts. Now his full service record, including his awards, are available for comparison to President Bush's records. Happy now?

This Alternet article explains how those tax cuts Dubya likes to brag about weren't so much tax CUTS as tax SHIFTS, with the bulk of the shift being away from the rich and onto the poor and middle-class (okay, no REAL surprise there, at least not to anyone who's actually been paying attention.) Also on Alternet, Jim Hightower puts the 300,000 jobs created in March into perspective, and they aren't nearly as impressive as the GOP would like us to think they are.

Via Atrios, Michigan is considering legislation that would allow doctors to refuse to treat homosexuals. The bill has been passed by the Michigan House, and now will go before the Senate. Both, not surprisingly, are Republican-controlled. Also not surprising is who pushed for the bills, the Michigan Catholic Conference. American Taliban, indeed!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

This weekend in Washington D.C. is the March for Women's Lives, a march for women's reproductive rights. Molly Ivins is calling for any woman who can get there to go, and points out that the demonstration is not just about abortion rights, but threats to reproductive rights across the board. Will Durst points out that the March for Women's Lives "...isn't just a women's march, this is a rights march," and men should have an interest, too.

File this under the "what the F**k???" category. Jim Hightower talks about the tax loophole that allows businesses to write off up to $100,000 from their taxes for big SUV's. He's not talking Explorers and Suburbans folks, he's talking about the HUGE gas guzzlers, the Hummer H2's, Range Rovers and Navigators. You know, the ones that get about 5 miles to the gallon on the freeway, even less in city traffic, and that force you to mortgage your house so you can afford to fill the tank. At a time when global warming is becoming such a concern that our own Pentagon is worried about it, Dubya creates a tax loophole that encourages people to buy vehicles that contribute to the problem, and at the taxpayers' expense to boot! That man gives me a headache!

And more good news. Courtesy of Josh Marshall, this illustrates how we're all apparently paying for RNC propaganda with our tax dollars. Where's my Advil?

So that explains it! Monty Python's Terry Jones has uncovered the real reason for the lunacy exhibited by both Dubya and Tony Blair regarding the situation in Iraq. is selling new "Bush 2004, Draft 2005" merchandise, go check it out!

I didn't get to it Monday, but here's this week's Top Ten Conservative Idiots list from Democratic Underground. Also from DU, a couple of new bird species, which "can be observed almost year-round except for occasional migrations to undisclosed locations."

Quote for the Day: "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Idiotic Quote for the Day "Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."--Pat Robertson at the 1992 Republican National Convention

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I only saw part of Dubya's press conference last night, so I'm not the best person to comment on it, but had some excellent comments about it, both last night after the conference, and this morning. What I did see was NOT impressive, he was evasive, not answering questions, and stammering and stumbling like a bumbling idiot. The scary thing is, as Blah3 points out, that some of the media apparently were watching a different press conference altogether.

Quote for the Day: "When your head is in the sand, you don't know your ass is out."--one of my co-workers (talking about a totally different subject, but it still seems fitting).

Thursday, April 08, 2004

For anyone who missed all, or part, of Condi's testimony before the 9/11 Commission today, the full transcript is here. In Condi Gets a Reality Check, David Sirota, Christy Harvey and Judd Legum go through Condi's testimony with a fine-toothed comb, and provide verifiable evidence which contradicts her statements.

Quote for the Day: "Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."--Mark Twain

Idiotic Quote for the Day: "That's not a lie, It's a terminological inexactitude."--Alexander Haig

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

For your reading pleasure, this week's Top Ten Conservative Idiots list from Democratic Underground.

Just in case any of you have been trying to listen to Air America online, and have had difficulties getting the stream to work (or who don't have RealAudio and can't listen online), the network's Portland station has its own stream that has been fairly problem-free, and doesn't run on RealAudio. You can find the Portland station's streaming audio here, just click and listen! Also, if any of you have been listening to Air America, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the programming.

Friday, April 02, 2004

It looks as though GOP members of the House are blocking Democratic efforts to investigate claims that the Bush Administration suppressed the true cost of the Medicare prescription drug program. "Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee had sought to question the officials to learn whether the Bush administration intentionally withheld higher estimates of the bill's cost, fearing that the larger figure would sink the Medicare overhaul....In party-line votes, the committee defeated proposals to subpoena Doug Badger, an economic adviser to President Bush, and Thomas A. Scully, who until December headed the federal agency that runs the Medicare program." Oh, sure, they were willing to spend billions of dollars investigating Clinton's private sex life, but when Bush suppresses the true cost of one of his pet projects, they do nothing.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in the Valerie Plame case are expanding their investigation to see if "White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case, lawyers involved in the case and government officials say." Stay tuned...

Finally, according to one of former President Clinton's lawyers, the White House may have failed to turn over Clinton Administration documents to the 9/11 commission. "Bruce R. Lindsey, who represents the former president on records issues, said yesterday that the Bush administration has turned over about 25 percent of the nearly 11,000 pages of Clinton records that document custodians had determined should be released to the commission investigating the terrorist attacks. Lindsey said that, as a result, the commission may not have a full picture of the Clinton administration's anti-terrorism efforts." Considering BushCo's record with the commission so far, can anyone really be surprised by this? It's just business as usual in the Bush Administration!
At a time when expertise in Middle-Eastern languages and cultures is so important to our nation's security, you'd think that the GOP would be courting and supporting the academic institutions that teach the subjects. Especially since that expertise is also sorely lacking in our intelligence agencies. But no, the neo-cons are actually proposing legislation which threatens the quality of the programs that teach these badly needed skills. Apparently the neo-cons are upset that the scholars teaching in many Middle Eastern Studies training centers are critical of US policy in the Middle East and Israel's policies toward the Palestinians. First they tried to reduce federal funding for the colleges and universities that provide this training. That didn't work, so now they're trying to affect the academic freedom of said institutions. Conservatives in the House proposed H.R. 3077, which "calls for establishing an International Higher Education Advisory Board with broad investigative powers "to study, monitor, apprise, and evaluate" activities of area studies centers supported by Title VI. The board is charged with ensuring that government-funded academic programs "reflect diverse perspectives and represent the full range of views" on international affairs. "Diverse perspectives," in this context, is code for limiting criticism of U.S. Middle East policy and of Israel." The article goes on to discuss how this could adversly affect national security. "No first-rank university would accept direct government intrusion into the educational process. Such institutions would likely refuse to accept Title VI funding if it were subject to political oversight. The already dangerously low number of Americans competent in Middle Eastern languages would then be further reduced." The perpetual short-sightedness of the Neo-Cons never ceases to amaze me!