Friday, July 30, 2004

The Democratic National Convention was this week, and with it came a plethora of material for me to post here. Unfortunately, I am on vacation and due to some, er, technical difficulties, I've been unable to post until now. It seems kind of futile at this point, so instead, let me present you with the following bits of entertainment:

First, this little song that brings together liberals and conservatives. (Turn up the volume on your computer, and yes, it's fairly work-safe).

Next, via Turquoise Waffle Irons in the Back Yard:

2004 Republican Convention Event Schedule

By Rich Proctor

AUG. 30

OPENING PRAYER read by Mel Gibson, while being flogged with a spiked leather strap wielded by Ann Coulter, who will enjoy it a little too much.

1. TOM RIDGE raises National Alert Level to RED.
2. LEST WE FORGET -- HONORARY ROLL CALL of All Members of (and Friends of) Bush Administration Who Might Very Well Have Been Killed In Vietnam If It Hadn't Been For Nasty Trick Knees, Anal Cysts, Recurrent Headaches, and Highly-Placed, Overly-Protective Parents. (Sponsored by Tyson Chicken)
4. DICK CHENEY hosts AMBASSADORSHIP RAFFLE - Opening Bid 1,000,000 (cash, non-sequential bills 20's or less)
5. CLIMAX OF THE EVENING -- FILM - "BRING IT ON!" Stirring fictionalized re-creation of Mr. Bush's actual dental appointment in Alabama in 1972, where he showed the incredible courage to allow "deep cleaning" of gums without anesthetic. (Sponsored by Sinclair Broadcasting)
6. SUGGESTED AFTER-EVENT -- "GET BAKED WITH RUSH "Crankster" LIMBAUGH! (Location TBD) (Sponsored by Pfizer)

AUG 31

OPENING PRAYER read by Our Lord (The Passion Of) Jesus H. Christ, as channeled by Lt. General William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the man who first revealed that Mr. Bush was chosen by God to lead this country into war against the heathens. Mr. Boykin will then give a short, upbeat presentation on Islam called, "My God can Beat Up Your God."

1. TOM RIDGE raises National Alert Level to FLASHING RED.
2. WAYNE LAPIERRE will pry Davy Crockett's Kentucky Long Rifle out of Charlton Heston's cold dead fingers (subject to Heston's death) (Sponsored by Smith & Wesson)
3. DESIGNATED BROWN PERSON (Hispanic or Muslim, or possibly an Hispanic Muslim, if we can find one) will speak on how being a brown person doesn't automatically disqualify you from being a Republican (subject to finding a brown person capable of being bribed to do this -- may need professional actor, possibly brought in from third world country)
4. CLIMAX OF THE EVENING -- PAUL WOLFOWITZ announces American plans to invade Iran, strip them of nuclear weapons, and turn over entire country to Bechtel to be run as a subsidiary. (Wolfowitz will tell anxious voters that the operation will involve 200 out-sourced "consultants", will take one week and will be entirely funded by pocket change found in a White House couch.) (Sponsored by Halliburton)
5. SUGGESTED AFTER-EVENT -- "RIDE THE WAVE WITH RUSH "Big Oxy" LIMBAUGH!" (Do a couple of 'ringers' with Big Pharma -- sponsored by ROBITUSSIN)


OPENING PRAYER by the REVEREND JERRY FALWELL who will demonstrate the spirit of Compassionate Conservatism™ and the eternal mercy of God by wishing a horrible fiery death and an eternity in the pit of hell for all non-white, non-male, non-Christian non-heterosexual non-Republicans.

1. TOM RIDGE raises National Alert Level to PULSATING RED
2. THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF INSANELY RICH PERSONS (AAIRP) will present LAURA BUSH with A PLATINUM CHAINSAW in thanks for the Bush Administration tax cuts (Sponsored by Gulfstream)
3. ANN COULTER, BILL O'REILLY and SEAN HANNITY will lead a special TWO-MINUTE HATE aimed at photo of John Kerry.
4. CLIMAX OF THE EVENING -- DIEBOLD CORPORATION WILL ANNOUNCE ELECTION RETURNS - BUSH WINS RE-ELECTION WITH 51% OF VOTE (YET TO BE CAST). (JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA will certify vote results) Diebold Board member Wilbur H. Grafton will deny fraud, announce his retirement, and be named the new Ambassador to Jamaica. (Sponsored by Diebold)

SEPTEMBER 2 (nomination night)

OPENING PRAYER by ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT, who will then sing "Let the Eagle Soar" and light the ceremonial "TORCH OF FREEDOM™ with the (actual) Bill of Rights.

3. PRESIDENT BUSH WILL GIVE ACCEPTANCE SPEECH, standing on Osama's dead body.

FIRST PEEK - Here is the proposed text for President Bush's speech:

Hey, Freedom-Lovers! 9-11 Democracy Freedom Stay The Course Evil-doers trust my gut 9-11 Freedom Evil-doers Stay The Course Democracy 9-11 Evil-doers trust my gut 9-11 Democracy Freedom Stay the course Trust my gut Tax cuts Who cares what you think Evil-doers Things are great Jesus speaks to me 9-11 Democracy Freedom Stay The Course Evil-doers 9-11 Freedom Evil-doers Stay The Course Democracy 9-11 Evil-doers trust my gut 9-11 Democracy Freedom Stay the course Trust my gut Tax cuts Who cares what you think Evil-doers Things are great Jesus speaks to me. G'night everybody!


1. "GET MAXED with RUSH 'ROCKET CAP' LIMBAUGH!" (Sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline)
2. RICK SANTORUM '"OG ON DOG'" PETTING ZOO (adults only, please)

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Winning the hearts and minds of the people, by any means necessary.
The US military has found 94 cases of confirmed or alleged abuse of prisoners by its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, a Senate hearing has been told.

Correspondents say the number is significantly higher than previous estimates given by Pentagon officials.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

And he calls Kerry a flip-flopper...
After launching two wars, President Bush said on Tuesday he wanted to be a "peace president" and took swipes at his Democratic rivals for being lawyers and weak on defense.

With polls showing public support for the war in Iraq in decline, the Republican president cast himself as a reluctant warrior as he campaigned in the battleground state of Iowa against Democrat John Kerry and his running mate, former trial lawyer John Edwards. Bush lost the state in 2000 by only a few thousand votes.

"The enemy declared war on us," he told a re-election rally. "Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president."

Bush has called himself a "war president" in leading the United States in a battle against terrorism brought about by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America.

"I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind," he said in February.
We should be so lucky...
Large areas of the nation's capital were in ruins as violent protests continued for the third day against a bill that would revive the military draft, but only for neoconservatives.

The bill, officially called the Bellicose Resources Deployment Act but informally known as the Roast Chickenhawk Initiative, would supplement the nation's dwindling supplies of mindless belligerence by drawing on inexhaustible deposits found in seething think tanks, frothing newspaper columns, fulminating talk-radio programs, frenzied Sunday morning television and publications owned by Australians. It would then be shipped to the Middle East, where it is urgently needed.

The bill, explicitly requiring people who have never been in combat to serve in the wars they start, would affect thousands of neoconservatives in Washington and New York. It was strongly opposed by the Bush Administration on the grounds that it would leave most of the Administration's upper-level positions vacant, including the presidency and vice-presidency, but it was left unattended on President Bush's desk and he inadvertently signed it after deciding it looked too long and too hard to read first.

Obviously, I don't want to see riots anywhere, for any reason, but I have to say, that draft thing doesn't sound too bad!
Media Matters for America, a great website that exposes right-wing bias in the media, has a parody going on called Right Wing Squares, which features real quotes from Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and other neo-con talk-show hosts. Check it out, it's hilarious (in a scary sort of way)!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Do as I say, but not as I do...

The Bush Campaign is whining about comments made about Bush by Hollywood celebs at a recent Kerry-Edwards fundraising event, and an alleged statement by Kerry himself really has them riled.
MARQUETTE, Michigan (CNN) -- President Bush criticized Democrats on Tuesday over a fund-raiser last week where celebrities used off-color language and called him a "thug" and a "liar."

His campaign demanded that the Kerry-Edwards campaign release footage of the event.

Speaking at a campaign stop in Michigan, Bush told supporters that "the other day, my opponent said, when he was with some entertainers from Hollywood, that they were the heart and soul of America.

"I believe the heart and soul of America is found in places right here, in Marquette, Michigan," he said, to applause from the crowd.

Ken Mehlman, Bush's campaign manager, sent a letter Tuesday to his counterpart in the Kerry campaign, Mary Beth Cahill, demanding that footage of the event be released.
The good people of Marquette may be the "heart and soul" of America, but Dubya made it painfully clear, at a black-tie fundraiser in 2000, who he REALLY cares about: "This is an impressive crowd, the haves, and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base." Of course, now that footage of that statement is being shown on movie screens across the country (in Fahrenheit 9/11, which was fabulous, btw), he's grasping for ways to control the damage by deflecting attention on Kerry: "Look, he's rich and out-of-touch, too!" Sorry George, while I disagree with Kerry's statement, actions still speak louder than words, and your actions positively scream "out-of-touch!"
According to this article in the illustrious Onion, the University of Michigan has been implicated in a "checks-for-degrees" scandal. Oh, the horror!
ANN ARBOR, MI—The University of Michigan has become the 17th institution of higher learning to be implicated in the checks-for-degrees scandal rocking American campuses, representatives from the Department of Justice reported Tuesday.

"We have strong evidence that the University of Michigan granted academic degrees to students in exchange for hefty payments, often totaling tens of thousands of dollars," Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey said. "In the process, thousands of graduates have emerged with degrees, but few or no skills applicable to everyday life. And many are as unprepared to enter the job market as they were when they first enrolled."

According to documents collected as a part of the Justice Department's ongoing investigation, some University of Michigan undergraduates attended classes fewer than three times a week. During these classes, students were asked to do little more than listen to lectures delivered by their professors.

Besides attending classes, students read materials relating to their lectures, write the occasional paper, and participate in testing, Comey said. Although the content of many courses was often thought-provoking, what alarmed investigators was the subject matter's "intractably abstract nature."

"A course in Chaucer can be a fascinating examination of medieval mores and the evolution of the English language," Comey said. "Such knowledge, however, has little application in larger society. Students can graduate with majors in creative writing, Latin, women's studies, and history, yet still not know how to fix a sink, sew on a button, or even properly feed themselves.Virtually the only opportunity graduates have to apply their arcane knowledge takes place during discussions over coffee with their peers, or attempts to impress members of the opposite sex at parties."
As an employee of this institution, I am utterly shocked to learn of this scandal. Also shocking, is that I now realize I was duped by a similar scheme at another local institution, Eastern Michigan University. As stated in the article, U of M is the 17th institution to be involved in such a scandal, but I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg, and thousands of institutions will be discovered to have engaged in similar conduct.
Mary Beth Cahill, manager of the Kerry-Edwards campaign is my new hero, thanks to this little letter she sent to Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman in response to his request that she release footage of a recent campaign fundraiser (see related story above). The whole thing is brilliant, but here are some highlights:
Dear Ken:

Over the past several months, allies of the President have questioned John Kerry’s patriotism while your staff has criticized his service in Vietnam. Republicans and their allies have gone so far as to launch attacks against his wife and your campaign has run $80 million in negative ads that have been called baseless, misleading and unfair by several independent observers.

Considering that the President has failed to even come close to keeping his promise to change the tone in Washington, we find your outrage over and paparazzi-like obsession with a fund-raising event to be misplaced. The fact is that the nation has a greater interest in seeing several documents made public relating to the President’s performance in office and personal veracity that the White House has steadfastly refused to release. As such, we will not consider your request until the Bush campaign and White House make public the documents/materials listed below:

We also wanted to wish you a happy anniversary. As we are sure you and the attorneys representing the President, Vice-President and other White House officials are aware, today marks one year since Administration sources leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent to Bob Novak in an effort to retaliate against a critic of the Administration.

In light of the fact that the Administration began gutting the laws protecting the nation’s forests yesterday, we hope you will accept the paper on which this letter is written as an anniversary gift. (The one year anniversary is known as the “paper anniversary.”)

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

MoveOn.Org has a petition against the Hate Amendment here, which they will be sending to President Bush, Congressmen, and Senators. They will be delivering copies to members of the Senate today, as the Senate is set to vote on the Amendment tomorrow (I just found out about the petition today, or I would have posted this sooner). If you would like to sign it, you can merely sign with your name and address, or you can also include a brief message expressing your opinion in more detail. Here is what I wrote:
As a Buddhist, I'm am deeply offended by the proposed amendment to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. The "sanctity of marriage" argument holds no water in relation to Buddhism, as marriage is not a Buddhist sacrament. While Buddhists do get married, their ceremonies are civil, not religious, in nature. In fact, Theravadin Buddhist clergy are prohibited from performing marriage ceremonies. There are many other religions which view marriage in a similar way (as a civil, not religous, ceremony). Indeed, even some religions which view it as religious have no problem with same-sex marriage. Just as the Catholic Church does not recognize the second marriages of Catholics who have gotten divorced, ANY church which has a problem with same-sex marriage would not have to recognize such unions. However, that should NOT interfere with the right of people of any religion (or no religion) to get married in a civil ceremony should they wish to do so.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Courtesy of Democratic Underground, this week's Top Ten Conservative Idiots list. Enjoy!
A lot of people have been tossing around the idea that the Bush Administration might try to postpone the elections this fall (or outright cancel them), but until now such talk was merely supposition (not that I didn't think it would happen, mind you).
The Bush administration is reported to be investigating the possibility of postponing the presidential election in the event of a terror attack.

US counter-terrorism officials are examining what steps would be needed to permit a delay, Newsweek reports.

Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge last week warned al-Qaeda was planning to attack the US to disrupt the poll but conceded he had no precise information.

In its latest edition, Newsweek reports that Mr Ridge has asked the Justice Department to examine what legal steps would be needed to permit the postponement of the 2 November election.

This follows a letter from the chairman of the new Election Assistance Commission, DeForest Soaries, who urged Mr Ridge to seek emergency legislation from Congress that would allow his agency to reschedule the vote in the event of an attack.

Mr Soaries noted that while New York's board of elections suspended primary elections on 11 September 2001, "the federal government has no agency that has the statutory authority to cancel and reschedule a federal election."

No US presidential election has ever been postponed.

Abraham Lincoln was urged by some aides to suspend the election of 1864 - during the US Civil War - but despite the expectation that he would lose, he refused.

"The election is a necessity," Lincoln said. "We cannot have a free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forgo, or postpone, a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered us."
It will be interesting to see what effect this story will have on Bush's approval ratings, I can't imagine it will be anything but bad considering what a transparently desperate plan it is.

Friday, July 09, 2004

According to this Salon article, the Iraqi insurgency is bigger than previously thought (by the Bush Administration). Gee, isn't that a surprise! (If you're not a Salon subscriber, you'll have to sit through a short ad to get a day pass to read the whole article, but it may be worth it since this isn't the only Salon article I'm posting on today)
The Iraq insurgency is far larger than the 5,000 guerrillas previously thought to be at its core, U.S. military officials say, and it's being led by well-armed Iraqi Sunnis angry at being pushed from power alongside Saddam Hussein.

Although U.S. military analysts disagree over the exact size, dozens of regional cells, often led by tribal sheiks and inspired by Sunni Muslim imams, can call upon part-time fighters to boost forces to as high as 20,000 -- an estimate reflected in the insurgency's continued strength after U.S. forces killed as many as 4,000 in April alone.

And some insurgents are highly specialized -- one Baghdad cell, for instance, has two leaders, one assassin, and two groups of bomb-makers.

The developing intelligence picture of the insurgency contrasts with the commonly stated view in the Bush administration that the fighting is fueled by foreign warriors intent on creating an Islamic state.

"We're not at the forefront of a jihadist war here," said a U.S. military official in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official and others told The Associated Press the guerrillas have enough popular support among nationalist Iraqis angered by the presence of U.S. troops that they cannot be militarily defeated.
So much for winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people!

Quote for the Day: "Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events."--Sir Winston Churchill

Idiotic Quote for the Day: "I think the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence and the speeches I have given are backed by good intelligence."--George W. Bush, July 14, 2003 (via Atrios).
It looks like Republicans here in my lovely home state have resorted to collecting ballot signatures for Nader in an attempt to sway the state for Bush in November.
July 9, 2004 | LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan Republicans are helping gather signatures to place independent Ralph Nader on the presidential ballot in the battleground state, irritating Democrats who accuse the GOP of trying to pull votes away from candidate John Kerry.

"It's another example of state Republicans willing to try every unethical trick in the book to hold power," Democratic Executive Chairman Mark Brewer said Thursday "This clearly shows that a vote for Ralph Nader is a vote to re-elect George Bush. The Republicans know that, and that's why they are desperate to have Nader on the Michigan ballot."

Michigan Republicans aren't the only ones attempting to swing elections; two former Australian Prime Ministers have criticized U.S. officials for interfering in Australian politics.
The United States has been told to "butt out" of Australian politics by two former prime ministers who accused U.S. officials of trying to sway Australian voters in knife-edge general election due within months.

Top U.S. officials, including President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell, have been pressuring Australia's opposition Labor party to drop a promise to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq if it won polls tipped for October.

Conservative Prime Minister John Howard, a close U.S. ally, wants the troops to stay until the "job is done." A poll showed he has the backing of two-thirds of Australians, but the row has created a sharp political divide.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage stepped up criticism this week, telling Australian reporters in Washington that he believed center-left Labor was split on its policy to withdraw Australia's 850 troops in and around Iraq by Christmas.

With Labor polling neck-and-neck with the eight-year-old Liberal/National government, former Labor prime minister Paul Keating and former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser condemned U.S. interference in Australian politics.

"The intervention, not only of Richard Armitage but his bosses, in our political scene, I think, are quite unforgivable," Fraser, who was prime minister between 1975 and 1983, told Australian television late on Thursday.

"He's (Armitage) doing it for a very specific purpose -- to try and achieve a specific outcome that the United States wants. If it had been in older times, American officials would have been told to butt out."
Blah3 has this brilliant little notice that you might find on your door should John Aschroft decide you pose a threat to national security.