Saturday, June 25, 2005

Democrat Soldiers 

Much has been made in the past few days about how offensive Karl Rove's remarks are to the Democrats who are serving in the U.S. military during time of war.

In my experience, soldier are experts in the sort of understated, deadpan humor, that often flies right under the radar of their party-line superiors.
Billmon captured an outstanding example from the American Armed Forces Press Service:

Cheney Attributes Spike in Attacks to Insurgents Sensing Defeat

By Sgt. Sara Wood

Increased violence and a growing number of foreign insurgents are signs that the United States is close to accomplishing its objective in Iraq, Vice President Richard B. Cheney said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer June 23.

Perfect, SGT Wood. Absolutely perfect.

By the way, if you're interested in following the training and deployment of a National Guard infantryman soon to deploy to Afghanistan, go over to Daily Kos and start tracking the
diary of Soonergrunt. It should be well worth it if he is allowed to continue posting.

UPDATE Saturday Night: Now there's an entire web site where Democratic Service Members take the fight to Karl Rove.


Friday, June 24, 2005

Pre-Indoctrinated Cool-Aid 

Tild~'s got some. And while you're at it, go read the sad truth CPB comic over at Part of the Plan.


Give me some words I can dance to 

or a melody that rhymes. (thanks Steve)

It's Friday night. What are you doing reading the blogs?????

Go out and find some music that makes you want to dance!


All your children are belong to us 

In the wake of falling recruiting numbers, the Pentagon wants to keep track of all your sons and daughters. According to this WaPo article:
The Defense Department began working yesterday with a private marketing firm to create a database of high school students ages 16 to 18 and all college students to help the military identify potential recruits in a time of dwindling enlistment in some branches.

The program is provoking a furor among privacy advocates. The new database will include personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying.

[. . .]

"The purpose of the system . . . is to provide a single central facility within the Department of Defense to compile, process and distribute files of individuals who meet age and minimum school requirements for military service," according to the official notice of the program.

Privacy advocates said the plan appeared to be an effort to circumvent laws that restrict the government's right to collect or hold citizen information by turning to private firms to do the work.
But those bright civilians at the Pentagon aren't subtly gearing up for a new draft to keep their war machine well-lubed, are they? Well, how much do you trust them?

I'm flashing back to the 1971 Sunfighter album:
What are we going to do
when Uncle Samuel comes around
asking for the young one's name
and lokkin' for the print of his hand
for the files in their numbers game
I don't want his chances for freedom
to ever be that slim --
Let's not tell 'em about him


Impeach the Traitor Scum 

O'REILLY: Any American that undermines that war, with our soldiers in the field, or undermines the war on terror, with 3,000 dead on 9-11, is a traitor.

CIA: (T)he Iraq insurgency poses an international threat and may produce better-trained Islamic terrorists than the 1980s Afghanistan war that gave rise to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, officials said yesterday.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. By invading Iraq on the basis of a wildly overhyped and nonexistent WMD threat, the Cheney administration has deliberately and with malice aforethought created a failed state -- one that is producing a generation of "better-trained Islamic terrorists than the 1980s Afghanistan war that gave rise to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda."

If that isn't an open and shut case of "undermining" the war against terrorism, I don't know what is. Ordinarily, I'm opposed to capital punishment, but in this case I don't think the court has any choice but to impose the maximum penalty provided by law. And I'm sure a patriot like Bill O'Reilly would agree.
Heh, heh.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Putting parents back in charge of their adolescent daughters 

The new Parental Notification law seems to be working it's way through both houses of Congress. The American Street has a piece from a Ms. Magazine article that quotes fundie-fascist Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), as saying:
this bill does nothing but put parents back in charge of their adolescent daughters.
"In charge of." Hmmm. Interesting choice of words.

The legislation in question would require:
clinics receiving federal funds under Title X to notify the parents of any minors who seek contraception at least five days before writing a prescription. It does not demand parental consent, but allows no exceptions to the notification requirement, regardless of situations of abuse or estrangement.
As the father of daughters just let me say that I don't really care about being notified before my daughters receive a prescription for a contraceptive.

But I would like to have 5 days notice before Congress passes any really fucking stupid laws. That would be a piece of legislation I could support. Let somebody be in charge of that.


Failing to plan is planning to fail -- The VA discovers a budget shortfall 

It looks like winning the peace and an exit strategy weren't the only things those bright civilians in the Bush administration forgot to think about. Somebody forgot to remember that wars produce casualties, and the ones that survive get their health care from the VA.

In failing to anticipate the rising rate of wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Veterans Affairs didn't ask for enough money. Now they're coming up a little short.
WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs told Congress that its health care costs grew faster than expected and left a $1 billion hole in its budget this year, lawmakers said Thursday.

[. . .]

"I was on the phone this morning with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson letting him know that I am not pleased that this has happened," said Craig, chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.

"This shortfall results from either deliberate misdirection or gross incompetence by this administration and the Department of Veteran Affairs," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

[. . .]

The shortage came to light during a routine budget review. Lawmakers said they are still gathering details, but it appears health care for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and poor budget forecasting contributed to the problem.

[. . .]

Murray had urged lawmakers to give the VA an extra $2 billion this spring while they assembled an $82 billion emergency spending bill on war and homeland security, but the VA said it didn't need any more money.
It's time for the senators to start asking why a hack like Jim Nicholson still has a job.


The Debate is Over 

Markos links to an excellent post by Steve Gilliard who says if the young war hawks aren't willing to enlist, there's no point in prolonging the inevitable. There will never be enough boots on the ground in Iraq to defeat the insurgency. Kos adds:
So the debate is over. They have proven by their inaction and silence that they don't think this war is worthy of sacrifice.

Now, all that's left is withdrawal, and hope the Iraqis can make sense of the mess.
In deed.


We're all Dixie Chicks now 

Atrios has it.

Josh Marshall adds:
I remember talking last year to a guy who'd been on shows a few times with Rove. And he told me how when you talk to the guy, there's nothing in his eyes, no soul. Just a machine, an animal.
No, not an animal. Animals are never intentionally malicious. Rove has made a career out of it.


It's not just Big Bird 

Call you congressperson today and tell them to restore funding for public broadcasting. It's not just programming at the national level. The impact on stations in smaller, more rural markets will be devistating:
"We usually get a few months' notice," Dobbs said. "Generally speaking, the committee members want to hear about the impact the cuts will have, but that just didn't happen this time. It was a done deal before we heard about it. "

Big-market stations such as KQED in San Francisco say the cut in Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding, plus the proposed elimination of other federally funded programs, could change the look of its television and radio stations. KQED receives 8 percent of its funding from the federal government. KRCB gets between 25 and 30 percent of its budget from the government. Dobbs said the station would be devastated by the proposed cut but likely would continue to exist.

But the cuts could force public TV and radio stations in more rural areas to pull the plug altogether. At Eureka station KEET, where 46 percent of funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, station officials say the cuts would be a death sentence.

"In a market like Eureka, where you only have 59,000 television households, you can't make up that kind of money," said KEET Executive Director Ron Schoenherr. He said the situation is the direst he's seen in 40 years as a public broadcaster. "We are the only public broadcasting signal coming in to the Northern Coast of California. If the station goes away, there's nothing left."
Please make that call today.


She's come a long way ... 

For your summer live entertainment pleasure, let me recommend Michelle Shocked. I was at her show the other night. All I can say is that it was the most fun I've had at a concert in decades (maybe since Bonnie Raitt was opening for Jackson Browne back in the mid-70s).

You may not know Michelle's music. It defies classification. That has tended to keep her off the corporate airwaves and got her in trouble with a couple of record companies, too. Her current show, featuring cuts from two of the three new CDs she just released at once a couple of days ago, includes folk, gospel, salsa, roots, and blues, all done with a wonderful theatric flare. And she doesn't hesitate to play a few old favorites like Come a Long Way and Anchored Down in Anchorage.

The music was great, and Michelle is a woman who loves to move as she performs. She had the crowd moving, too. By the end of the show, most of the audiance was down by the stage dancing and clapping.

So look out, Salt Lake, Boulder, Taos, Austin, Lexington, Baltimore, New York City, Philadelphia, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Milwaukee, Portland, and Seattle. She's coming your way. Beginning July 15, the tour starts in Europe. The whole schedule is online at michelleshocked.com.

Keep on rockin' girl.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The MSM and the DSM 

Mark Morford on why nobody cares:
Look at it this way: The majority of the nation knows Bush lied like a dog to drive us into an unwinnable (but, for his cronies, incredibly profitable) war. The rest either refuse to believe it, or they claim, with equal parts ignorance and blind jingoism, that the ends (ousting a pip-squeak dictator who was no real threat to anyone and who had been successfully contained for 20 years) justify the means ($200 billion, 1,700 dead Americans, over 10,000 wounded and disabled U.S. soldiers, countless tens of thousands of dead innocent Iraqis, staggering economic debt, the open disrespect -- if not outright contempt -- of the entire international community).

Here is the American cynic's view: It is almost too late to care about the lies. It is almost pointless to scream and rant and point fingers of blame. We all know who is to blame, and it ain't Saddam, and it ain't Osama, and it ain't "terror," and it ain't our "freedoms." Bush has driven us so deep into the Iraq hellhole it serves almost no purpose to whine about the obvious deceptions and blatant whorelike pre-9/11 machinations that got us here.

We are now, instead, focused on endurance. On gritting teeth and getting through and getting the hell out of this new Vietnam Bush has imbecilically driven us into, all while surviving 3.5 more years of one of the most abusive, secretive cadres of warmongering leadership in American history.
Unless, or course, you're a young Marine, about to get sent to the desert. In that case you're trying to borrow money from your family so you can go shopping for body armor in the hopes that it might keep your ass alive and in one piece long enough to get back home someday and repay your parents. Makes me want to cry.


Other people's blood . . . 

and other people's son's and daughters. The left blogosphere is calling bullshit on the hypocracy of the elitist right. Markos says it so well:
It's easy to support war when you're sending other people's sons and daughters to die. But are they willing to sacrifice their own in pursuit of the cause?

Somehow, I doubt it. Those elitist fucks prefer others do the dying on behalf of their war lust. To paraphrase draft-dodging Cheney -- I'm sure they have "other priorities".
Indeed. That's why Rain Storm enthusiastically supports Operation Yellow Elephant. Talk is cheap. Those who love war should volunteer to see it up close and personal.


Hey Grads, the party's over 

You need a good chuckle today. Go over to Daily Kos right now. Bill in Portland Maine has posted the Will Ferrell Commencement Address, Harvard University, 2003:
One of the challenges you will be faced with is finding a job in our depressed economy. In fact, the chances of landing a decent job are about as good as finding weapons of mass destruction in the Iraqi desert. Slim and none. And Slim just left the building.
As Julie with a B reminded me, with the solstice behind us, it's all downhill from here.


This summer I hear the drumming 

Lots of stuff shaking in the big Ohio rare coin investment scandal. Could be more than a few people going down, including Governor Taft. Josh Marshall notes that Hypothetically Speaking seems to be on top of the juicy dirt:
As we so subtley suggested yesterday, Ohio's appears to be do for a change in Governors in a matter of days - or hours. Remember - ya' heard it hear first.

And we even provided a hint that there was a link to golf - assuming you were reading us closely. And you better had. We like to drop hints a lot,

Today, Gov. Bob Taft had a revelation. Shucks! Darn! He forgot to jot down about 4 or 5 golf outings on his annual financial disclosure statement. Well, maybe not 4 or 5 . . . maybe it was 40 or 50. Who knows cause ya' know, it's so hard to keep track of those kinds of things when get into that ol' golf game banter about money and coins and appointments and fundraising. And you can really lose yourself when you go to those warm-weather states. OOPS - we are only hypothetically speaking, of course!

And since we are speaking hypothetically, say of serious criminal charges, then Taft might have been wise in his hiring of noted criminal defense attorney William Meeks. Who is Bill Meeks? Thanks for asking.

"one of the most experienced and accomplished defense attorneys in the state." One respected commentator said: "If one day I am accused of robbing a bank my first and only call would go to Meeks."
Rob banks? Heavens no! Why rob a bank when its much easier to do your "work" from a golf cart.
There's a strange and twisted karma in all this, since the big red machine in Ohio managed to steal the election for their boy Shrub. Payback is hell. And the Dems should be able to fully exploit every single indictment and resignation in 2006.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

My Favorite Holy Day 

Happy Solstice. The Longest Day is a good day to make amends, so I will.

I realize that lately my tone with regards to Christians has been a little less than, well, Christian.

Regular Rain Storm readers (I think there are 4 or 5 of you now) will realize that I have no fight with real Christians. By real Christians I mean those folks who sincerely try to incorporate the Sermon on the Mount into their daily lives. They are my spiritual brothers and sisters. I think it's a shame that their religion has been hijacked by a bunch of neo-nazi thugs.
Turns out they do, too.

Solstice isn't Christmas (thank God!). Even so, I thought I'd share some Jackson Browne lyrics that somehow seem appropriate:
So pardon me if I have seemed
to take a tone of judgment
for I've no wish to come between
this day and your enjoyment
in a world of hardship and of earthly toil
there's a need for anything that frees us
so I bid you pleasure and I bid you cheer
from a Pagan and a Heathen
on the side of the rebel Jesus
Happy Solstice


Monday, June 20, 2005

You want a blindfold, Punk? 

Billmon reminds us that it's not okay to have political opinions in America if they are different from those held by the Fundie Fascists:
Cunningham recently told the Washington Post that Democrats blunting Republican legislation "ought to be lined up and shot. I'm talking about the liberal leadership."
Yeah, that's Duke Cunningham, who apparently has stepped in some deep legal doo doo. But that's okay 'cause he's a macho conservative.

And that great American warrior Rush (boil on my ass) Limbaugh says:
Let me tell you something, folks, if we are hit again, if we are hit again, we need to hold these people in our country who are undermining our efforts responsible. It ain't going to be the FBI's fault next time. It isn't going to be the CIA's fault next time. It isn't going to be some bureaucracy's fault next time. It's going to be the fault of politicians, left-wing groups and the like who have names and identities and spend their every waking moment trying to obstruct our ability to secure intelligence information for our own national security.
Oh yeah. And it's the liberal media's fault, too. Apparently they're not telling you about all the schools that are getting built in Iraq or something.

Pardon me while I step out to buy a couple boxes of ammo. I don't think I want to give them the chance to offer me the blindfold.


The Left Behinds of the Bush Society 

There's a great conversation going on over at TMPCafe. Kicked off by Josh Marshall under the topic Sui Generis, it involves the true motivations of the Bush regime, and what will be left of America once we run this scum out of office.

Here's a little of Ed Kilgore weighing in:
The two things that jump out at me about this gang are (1) an almost frantic determination to change the facts on the ground to entrench their policy preferences even if they lose political power; and (2) the deliberate pursuit of a political strategy of maximum, and even provocative, polarization.

On the first point, I've wondered for some time if Bush, Rove, DeLay and company are attempting to entrench their party in government perpetually, or simply do as much damage as possible until they lose control of Washington. They are obviously trying to do both, but I'm now inclined to believe the wrecking psychology is predominant, and that much of the power-abuse is designed to forestall the invevitable backlash while maximizing the short-term advantages of incumbency for both office-holders and their hungry and loyal constituencies.

There's not much, after all, about the current Bush/GOP agenda that's scientifically aimed at helping Republicans do well in 2006 or 2008. But it is designed to paralyze the options available to the next Democratic administration or Congress.

That's most obvious with respect to the administration's fiscal policies, which will haunt the country for years to come, in part through deliberately engineered budget deficits, and in part through a decisive tilt against progressive taxation that will be politically difficult to reverse.

Indeed, I think the administration's overall economic policies, which have replaced the broad-based real income gains of the
1990s with a return to the bifurcated rich-get-richer-and-poor-get-poorer patterns of the 1980s, are another example of an effort to institutionalize a conservative world-view for the foreseeable future.

But it's also true in foreign policy, not only because of the nightmarish mess the administration has created in Iraq (and perhaps even Afghanistan), but also as a result of the large wedge that has been driven between the U.S. and much of the rest of the world, not to mention the international organizations the U.S. largely created.
Todd Gitlin, an excellent student of recent American history (as well as a pretty good sociologist), looks at the Bush regime in comparrison with other recent truth-challenged adminstrations:
(1) Lyndon Johnson’s mendacity about Vietnam was a continuing and catastrophic sin, but when it came to most other issues (the Dominican Republic belonging on the Vietnam side of the ledger), his government did not make a habit of lies. On relations with the Soviet Union, on domestic policy of all sorts, Johnson and his lieutenants respected truth. And there were Democrats who, after taking a dive in 1964 and giving Johnson the Tonkin Gulf authority he craved to pursue his white whale into Vietnamese waters, finally availed themselves of the levers they had at their disposal. The Fulbright hearings of 1966 were one instance of a search by respectables to curb Johnson’s lust for disaster. By 1968, not one but three Democrats were fighting Johnson for control of the party—two on the left, one on the right. So weak was Johnson’s command over his own party, in fact, that it broke apart.

(2) Richard Nixon’s mendacity was more pathological, his commitment to power more ferocious than Johnson’s, but even here there were limits. For one thing, on domestic policy, the very intelligent Nixon had a decent respect for reality. For a second, there were independent bureaucrats like J. Edgar Hoover who stepped in—for their own parochial purposes, of course—to thwart some of his more egregious abuses of power (like the Huston Plan to pulverize civil liberties). For a third, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And in the end, enough Republicans in Congress were willing to face the awful reality of Nixon’s power-lust to help dump him overboard.

(3) Ronald Reagan’s fecklessness often enough slid over into mendacity, but again, the Democrats never lost control of the House during his reign. They could investigate. They could pass laws over Reagan’s objections. Indeed, Reagan was so hard-pressed to resist that he embraced haywire schemes to do so: thus his Iran-contra maneuver, to do an end run around Congressional restrictions on funding the anti-Sandinista guerrillas in Nicaragua.

Believe me, I feel no nostalgia for those earlier moments in American disgrace. But pardon me if I do feel some nostalgia for the limits imposed upon presidential power in days of yore.
Personally, I can't help but wonder if Bush, Rove, DeLay, et al, don't just plan on making as much of a shit pile as possible, knowing that once the Republicans are out of power, the Democrats will be so preoccupied with cleaning up the mess there won't be much time to create any policy of substance. I'm sure that's in Rove's playbook somewhere.

Lots of interesting comments from readers who hang out at the TPMCafe if you've got the time to listen. Personally, I'm heading over to the Whiskey Bar -- just to eat the peanuts, you understand.


The Air Force Academy of Christ -- a good place to learn who Jesus would bomb 

Here is comes -- another cheap shot at those good Christian folks who believe that we all should be good Christian folks, and anybody who doesn't want to be deserves what they get.

Republican Representative John Hostettler (IN), while leading the charge to block an amendment that would have called for an investigation into allegations of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy, was quoted as saying:
Democrats can't help denigrating and demonizing Christians.
But that wasn't all. Brother Hostettler felt the need to add:
The long war on Christianity today continues on the floor of the House of Representatives.
just because Representative David Obey thought that numerous reports of persecution of non-Christians at the U.S. Air Force Academy ought to be investigated.

Personally, I think those young Christian boys and girls at the academy need all the oversight they can get. They might end up stationed in Louisiana (Barksdale AFB), and might find themselves attending services in one of those congregations that likes to push the envelope (to use that delightful aero-naughty term):
Last month, the suspicions played out in a way that almost no one in this southeastern Louisiana town of 5,000 could have imagined: Nine people, including the pastor, his wife and a sheriff's deputy were accused of engaging in cult-like sexual activity with children and animals inside the hall of worship. Eight now face child rape charges that could bring the death penalty.
But Christians are for the death penalty. So I guess everything is okay.


Save Public Broadcasting 

Not an internet hoax.

MoveOn.org says:
The House of Representatives is about to vote on whether to slash funding for NPR and PBS, starting with "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow" and other commercial-free children's shows. If approved, this would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting, threatening to pull the plug on Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch.
Go sign the petition. This time it's personal. My girls will be seriously pissed if Reading Rainbow, Between the Lions, and Clifford the Big Red Dog disapperar.


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