Saturday, February 25, 2006

21 U.S. ports will now be taken over by United Arab Emirates

I can't even believe this. Now BuschCo wants to let 21 U.S. ports be controlled by and Arab country, not 6 as previously reported.

In this United Press International article written by Pamela Hess the details of the situation are articulated. The major points, as far as I can tell, are:
Bush did't bother to tell Congress.

A company based in the United Arab Emirates is taking over operations at 21 U.S. ports on the east-and-gulf coasts.

An employee from the company was appointed by Bush on the same day to an administrative position in the maritime arm of U.S. Dept. of Transportation.

The United Arab Emirates, although seen as a U.S. ally now, had definite links to Al Queda a few years ago.

The companies in charge of port terminal operations are intimately involved in maintaining security there.

7 million cargo containers come through 361 U.S. ports. 37% are screened for radiation, and few are searched.

Congresspeople from both parties are up in arms, as are state governors and a noted conservative "think tank."

And, there is such strong rhetoric (I hesitate to call their rhetoric "strong," lets say "constant" instead) coming from the "right" about how democrats, and anyone else who opposed the destructive doings of BushCo, are weak on defense. Who is weak on defense? Who sent a big chunk of our talented, brave, and important armed forces overseas on a wild goose chase? Hunting a threat directed at us here at home in the U.S?

I get so sick of that "you're a pussy" argument coming from the right wing mouthpieces- they always direct it anyone who doesn't like the invasion of Iraq and subseqeunt waste of resources and lives, not to mention that fact that the reasons given for going over there were false. They like to say we are weak, weak on defence, and weak in general, which is of course bullshit. It's more accurate to say we think our country should not conduct national defence in a stupid manner.

The affair with the ports is a good example of the Bush Administration's stupidity, secrecy, and back room deal making between corporation and government resulting an increased threat of attacks on the U.S.

The irony is that BushCo loudly cries "NATIONAL SECURITY" any time anyone asks such troubling issues as the systematic dimantling of the Bill or Rights, the destruction of the environment, or the erosion of checks and balances.

The affair with the ports kind of demonstrates who we are dealing with here. We are seeing in action a group of people here that behave like a private corporation, showing little respect for the U.S. Congress, U.S. citizens, or U.S. national security. Constantly two-faced, lying, speaking out of the other side of their mouths, getting away with it, being proud of getting away with and training their followers to laugh snidely at those of us who give a damn about this country.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Election fraud question surfaces again back in the news. Nobody wants to discuss it, the press doesn't mention it, the Democrats won't touch it with a 40 foot pole, but everyone got the idea that the presidential election in Florida and Ohio was tampered with in 2004. We had owners of voting machine companies saying they'd do whatever it takes to get Bush reelected, a ton of stories of wierd shit going on, etc, etc.

"There's no way to tell who the votes should have gone to," according to's Bev Harris.

According to this Associated Press article published in the 2/24/06 Arizona Daily Star, Blackbox has been in Florida recently, gathering evidence of malfunction and lack of accountability in the Florida vote counting system. will be serverely dissed- even in the mainstream, just cuz no one wants to talk about even the possibility of this issue.

Major news in the torture saga

This is huge. Remember this next time you hear Rush Limbaugh or his clones dissing the ACLU.

According to this Knight Ridder article published in the 2/24/06 Arizona Daily Star,
Military interrogators posing as FBI agents at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, wrapped terrorism suspects in an Israeli flag and forced them to watch homosexual pornography under strobe lights during interrogation sessions that lasted as long as 18 hours, according to one of a batch of FBI memos released Thursday.
Wow. Not only were "military interrogators" impersonating FBI at the Guantanamo prison, the article goes on to say, but real FBI agents complained to supervisors about the torture for 2 years.

So this means torture, at Guantanamo anyway, was part of official policy, not the work of privates and corporals who were not right in the head at the time. Also, there's now evidence that high-ups, Wolfowitz is cited as an example, knew about and approved the torture.

Let's, see, I believe the current "conservative" (I'll put that in quotes, as these morons are certainly not real conservatives), rhetoric against anyone speaking out against torture is a variety of the "you're a pussy" argument, and will take the form of "aw, well maybe the Democrats and Lubberuls and Lefties wanna get the poor witto terrorists a glass of warm milk instead." The neocon rhetoric more and more these days seems to be taking the form of vague inside jokes, added to the usual obliteration of facts, voluminous but inaccurate details, and false premises.

I guess the neocons paid mouthpieces and half-witted PR volunteers argue that way cuz they don't really have any solid arguments to condone some of the bad things Bush and Company are responsible for. So in this case, expect accusations of unpatrioticness and weakness on national defense to be directed at the ACLU, and anyone else who doesn't like Bush and the bad things he is responsible for allowing to happen.

People who oppose Bush include plenty of Republicans, and many, many Democrats. So, you'll also see the Democrats- any Democrats, portrayed as or associated with dangerous or stupid-sounding elements. "Radical," "fringe," etc. are terms that are commonly used in neocon rhetoric's sound-bite-able, inaccurate, attempts at automated persuasion.

Article doesn't mention corrupt AZ Treasurer's political party

This article in the AZ Daily, by Capitol Media Services' Howard Fischer, contains a very nice, articulate, clearly written story of an investigation of the AZ State Treasurer. The article tells why he's being investigated- some really creepy, corrupt-sounding stuff, mind you, and gives specific examples of the Treasurer's doings. The accusations center around this guy, the Treasurer of Arizona, and his complete waste of taxpayer dollars in promoting a business he's got financial ties to. Where it gets creepy is that the business has something to with "character education," and people in the Treasurer's office were required to attend "character education programs" weekly, with the State paying the Treasurer's own character education business for the classes. It gets thicker, with the Treasurer trying to get his program installed in Arizona schools, and on and on. I won't put the guy's picture in this post, as he looks like a disgusting, poofy-haired, businessman PR-bullshit expert. God, what slime.

My point here, is, however, that the article makes no mention of the Treasurer's political party. Gee, I wonder what party? The Greens? I don't know, the article certainly does not mention it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Roller derby in Tucson

Emily "Fisti the Kid"... breaks loose from the pack during a bout in advance of this weekend's flat-track tournament.
Rich-Joseph Facun / Arizona Daily Star
A well written article from the Arizona Daily Star:

Women who elbow in :
National gathering here spotlights sport's comeback

I like the part about the "bizzarre stream of consciousness narrative." That I have got to see. The article also says the teams who are eliminated during the "jams" will retire to the beer garden. Now that is my kind of sport- go out there and give it your best, and retire to the beer garden.

Plus, where else can you see cool bands, drink beer, and watch women who are not a bunch of whiners engage in a great wheeled sport? See

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Investigation into NSA spying continues

Something that's been on my mind since this Bush shit got started: I usually call it a "take the wind out of your sails" argument or press story, but it's better described as the mechanics or psychology behind the creepy perception that the Bush administration can, and will always, get away with anything, no matter how heinous, and that there is no hope of stopping it. I'll use Glenn Greenwald's words from his recent blog post from his excellent blog, Unclaimed Territory:
Dick Cheney lobbied so hard to prevent the Intelligence Committee from investigating precisely because they want to create the appearance that this [warrentless NSA spying] scandal is dying.
And again, from the front of the article:
There are lots of people who appear to be morbidly depressed -- to the point of conceding defeat -- as a result of yesterday’s unilateral obstruction by the incomparable White House shill Sen. Pat Roberts of the long-planned and long-promised investigation into the operational aspects of the NSA program by the Senate Intelligence Committee. That defeatist reaction and the borderline-self-pitying sentiments which accompany it are, for literally countless reasons, completely unwarranted.
Hey presto, it seemed like that was the end of that, huh? Well it's not. 2 other congressional committees are investigating the NSA spying scandal. A federeal court has ordered the release of NSA documents related to the spying. And the more BushCo tries to cover it up, the more suspcisious the public becomes.

The astute Greenwald goes on to point out that it took a few years for the Watergate scandal to end up in Nixon's resignation, and that Nixon was a very popular president when the scandal broke. Bush, of course, is massively unpopular, a fact which Greenwald acknowledges, but which does not get acknowledged enough. In the press, it usually seems to boil down to phrases like, "critics say..."

Greenwald goes on to point out that, hey of course they are going to do everything they can to cover up what they've done, but that they are basically running scared shitless. Another area I agree with Greenwald on, and which does not seem to make it to the press.

It's strange there seems to be this perception that there is no hope for getting Bush and his crooked associates out of office, and undoing the damage they've done to the democracy, the constitution, the judiciary, social policy, the environment, national defense, global stability, foreign relations, the economy, labor laws, separation of church and state, etc. But it's not so. I usually argue with the defeated or those trying so hard to convince me that a neocon society is inevitable that:
You can't say what is going to happen
It is up to us to stop them
Sooner or later they are going to shoot themselves in the foot or step on their dick
It looks like they are always going to win cuz that's what they want you think and the press is usually but not always very obedient
Our man Glenn Greewald the blogger includes in the post I mention above a long quote detailing the downfall of Nixon through the Watergate scandal. I was going to just rent "Clerks" tonight but I think I'm going to pick up "All the Presidents Men" too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Fox backs up Cheney

Don't worry Dick, Fox has got your back.

However, I dub thee the Bulletproof Corporate Asshole.

Anybody shooting birds has to be shooting pretty low to hit somebody at 30 yards with buckshot!! This sounds more like 13 feet. I'm posting the entire text of this article:
Birdshot Pellet Migrates to Heart of Man Shot by Cheney
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
By Sharon Kehnemui Liss

Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter in Texas
A birdshot pellet that hit Harry Whittington, the friend Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot on Saturday, has migrated to his heart, causing a "minor" heart attack, hospital representatives said on Tuesday outside the hospital where Whittington is being treated.

"He has not had a heart attack in the traditional sense. As I said before, he was asymptomatic," said Corpus Spohn Hospital Memorial administrator Peter Banko.

"He will have a full life the Lord intended to have, and this shouldn't affect him one way or the other," he added.

Dr. David Blanchard, director of emergency services at the hospital, said Whittington, 78, suffered a "silent heart attack," meaning he did not exhibit any signs of a heart attack, the sweating, shoulder pain or crushing chest pain, but an EKG showed that he suffered an atrial fibrillation. The event occurred around 6:30 a.m. CST, the doctor said, and Whittington was immediately moved to the cardiac catheterization lab in the intensive care unit where a blockage in blood flow was discovered.

"The BB basically has lodged in a certain area that has caused inflammatory changes. When that occurs, there is irritability to the heart muscle ... it is basically like an electrical short circuit," Blanchard said, adding that it is "easily treated with medications" and is a nonsurgical condition.

(Story continues below)

Advertise Here

Whittington was accidentally shot by Cheney, an experienced hunter, during a quail hunting trip on Armstrong Ranch in south Texas on Saturday afternoon. Not aware that his hunting partner had returned from retrieving a bird he had shot, Cheney turned right to shoot a covey of quail and sprayed his hunting partner with shotgun pellets instead. Whittington was shot in the face, neck and chest but never lost consciousness, Katharine Armstrong, the owner of the ranch, reported.

Commenting publicly on the incident for the first time Tuesday, the vice president's office issued a statement saying Cheney had called Whittington around 1:30 p.m. EST to check up on him.

"The vice president wished Mr. Whittington well and asked if there was anything he needed. The vice president said that he stood ready to assist. Mr. Whittington's spirits were good, but obviously his situation deserves the careful monitoring that his doctors are providing. The vice president said that his thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Whittington and his family," the statement reads.

Blanchard said that one birdshot pellet is the focus of concern, and other birdshot pellets have not endangered Whittington. Banko said that cardiologists tending to the Austin attorney do not want to perform any surgery on him, particularly as the birdshot has not entered any chambers of the heart or coronary arteries.

"It's not moving and ... the cardiologists do not feel it's going to move. ... If it were in a position where it's going to move they would have gone in and done surgery immediately. It's not in a position where they think it's going to move any further to endanger his health," Banko said, adding that Whittington's heart is as healthy or healthier than that of a much younger man.

Blanchard said the birdshot pellet is a rounded, smooth object, which in itself is good news since it won't pierce the body at a later time. He added that thousands of Americans are walking around with shrapnel in their bodies without any complications, and he said Whittington has shown no signs of developing any infection.

"We are very, very optimistic that with Mr. Whittington's strong heart, his personality, his stamina, the will, that he will do very well, and we're prepared to deal with anything that may develop," Blanchard said, adding that doctors make daily rounds of all patients to check for these types of eventualities.

Blanchard added that doctors were taking a "conservative" approach in treating Whittington and that he and other cardiologists at the hospital had the "concurrence" of the White House medical team.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan did not mention the medical report during his daily briefing, though Blanchard said the White House had been informed around 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. EST. McClellan said later that he was not asked about Whittington's health nor did he volunteer the information. He said he did not think it was his place to reveal the development out of respect for doctor-patient confidentiality.

As reporters scold the White House for skimming on the details, Democrats also called on the vice president to be more forthcoming. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged Cheney to hold a press conference, which he has not done since 2002. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., accused the administration of being the most secretive in "modern history."

"Talk about secrecy, the vice president accidentally shoots someone and keeps that a secret for nearly a day. That man, of course, is now very sick," Reid said.

Cheney's office said that he had been informed around 12:30 p.m. EST that hospital officials were going to hold a 1 p.m. press conference. When the vice president returned from a meeting with Republicans on Capitol Hill, he watched part of the news conference, his office said.

On Monday, the state gave Cheney and Whittington warning citations for breaking Texas hunting law by failing to buy a $7 stamp allowing them to shoot upland game birds. A spokesman for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said warnings are being issued in most cases because the stamp requirement only went into effect five months ago and many hunters weren't aware of it.

The Parks and Wildlife Department report said Whittington was retrieving a downed bird and stepped out of the hunting line he was sharing with Cheney. "Another covey was flushed and Cheney swung on a bird and fired, striking Whittington in the face, neck and chest at approximately 30 yards," the report said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Addressing subterfuge in criticism of Paul R. Pillar

My freshman comp class was taught by an asshole grad student who just wanted us to persuade, persuade, persuade (Vonnegut would say that- "persuade, persuade, persuade"). I dropped the asshole's class and signed up for a community college class taught by a real writer, I believe her name was Barbara Slivac, who focused on writing clearly, i.e. being understood, not bullshitting.

All the brainpower in the world can't make a strong argument if the argument is laced with bullshit. And directing brainpower at making a confusing argument based on vagueries is still a form of lying- I guess you could call it subterfuge.

The willingness to lie, decieve and redirect attention is what seems to separate those arguing, apparently, for President Bush and Company from those arguing against. How can you believe the arguments of anyone who distorts the facts or distracts attention from the issues?

I ended up at the Weekly Standard when I was looking for this article by a guy who worked at the CIA for 28 years. The article argues that BushCo intended to invade Iraq all along, and used the CIA in making a case to the public that Iraq was a threat to the U.S. Google News, which is so good at showing articles by lots of different news publishers, had a link the to shifty and vague bullshit-factory The Weekly Standard right at the top. Hooray! (That's what Vonnegut would say- "hooray!")

My jaw dropped when I read this article and this blog post at The Weekly Standard. The Weekly Standard is indeed a pitiful bullshit-factory which apparenlty intends to somehow legitimize some of the crazy things the Bush administration is up to. There's plenty of vague assumptions, re-direction of attention, and attempts to sabotage the credibility of anyone making anti-BushCo arguments. You'll also find a pseudo-intellectualism that tries to cover an argument structure that's about as clear as mud. The Standard also does not acknowledge that people speaking out against BushCo, such as Paul R. Pillar, the retired CIA official, are making very serious charges, that if true will land Bush and all the top NeoCons in jail. The Standard, in the obviously hastily written articles I read, does not directly address the arguments made by BushCo critics. It's as if writers at the Standard believed the loser grad student who taught my Reagan-era freshman comp class, and his arguments that writing was all about persuasion. I call it bullshit.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Boehner masquerading as a fresh face. :)

This article in today's Arizona Daily Star was a little bit less of a propaganda piece in spite of its headline " Republicans' 'fresh face.'" This guy Boehner (I'm not going to make any jokes about his name but you can find them here and here in the sarcastic Wonkette blog) (but I guess you could speculate whether that's a halo or a condom in the photograph) is the Republican's new man as majority leader in the House, post- DeLay. As we all know. Ahem. What's good about the article in the star is that the article mentions something Boehner ought to be famous for (no, not his name, which I'd probably change to Jones), and has a description of him that matches the would-be famous incident.

The description:
"Distinctive for his perpetual tan and cigarette in hand."
The incident:
"Boehner was forced to apologize in the mid-1990s for distributing checks from tobacco companies to his colleagues on the House floor."

Oh, man. The guy is not only from Ohio, the center of the universe in terms of Republican election scumbagery, he is not only involved in the Abramoff scandal ("Last month, Boehner — pronounced BAY-nur — refused to return some $30,000 in donations from American Indian tribes represented by Abramoff."), he not only runs his own Republican money-funnelling agency (The Freedom Project? Give me a break!), he actually distributed checks from tobacco companies on the House floor. On the House floor. To colleagues. Checks from tobacco companies. ...And he smokes. All the time.

The President's law firm -- Gonzales

Buried in this A.P. propaganda piece about BushCo's effort's to sanitize its passion for warrantless searches is a good description of a trend, a perception. The democrats, quoted in the article, state it well:
"The issue is whether this Justice Department, more than any other, is an arm of the president, sort of like the president's law firm,"

Charles Schumer, New York

"Regrettably in my view, he has continued to act like the president's in-house counsel."

Patrick Leahy, Vermont

That really rings a bell. You can almost imagine the dialog from damage control meeting: "Hmm, better bring the Attorney General forward, create a shroud of legality here..."

I'm guessing what a lot of people are wondering about the NSA spying program (euphemistically referred to as "eavesdropping" in the paper now) is just how widespread is this kind of thing and just who's getting targeted? It's hard to believe the spying is just data mining overseas phonecalls between terrorist suspects. If this were the case warrants would obviously not be a problem for those in charge of preventing attacks against the U.S.

"...the president does have the legal authority to authorize this electronic surveillance of the enemy in a time of war."
But who is the enemy? In a paranoid, secretive, controlling, lying, lawless presidential administration like Bush's, just who do they think the enemy is and why is the Bill of Rights being systematically dismantled?

Friday, February 03, 2006

"Activist Judge:" enforced-semantic-shift mentioned in local press

The Arizona Daily Star carried a small article about Justice O'Connor, who's from southeast Arizona, in today's edition. O'Connor was apparently speaking out against changes in the way judges in Arizona are selected. The article quotes O'Connor's sage-sounding words regarding right-wing diddling of a term, "activist judges:"
"If you don't know about it, find out about it because it's real, it is very serious and, unless all of us take it seriously and do what we can to make the public understand, then an activist judge is a judge who gets up in the morning and goes to work."
Although the article does not go into much detail, it demonstrates, obtusely the NeoCon / BushCo strategy of attempting to destroy the credibility of those who don't tow the party line. "Activist judge" is a term used to describe judges who rule against BushCo policy, usually policy that steps on liberty, the Bill of Rights, destroys the environment, or supports the encroachment of fundamentalist-based social policy.

The key thing to know is the Bush admin. has been packing U.S. circuit courts with right-wing fundamentalists continually, and this has received very little press coverage. What O'Connor spoke out against yesterday in Tucson is the loonies in the Arizona legislature aping BushCo attempts to get hanging-judges installed in as many courts as possible.

More cheating from BushCo reflected by "conservatives" in Arizona- mirroring the dubious installation of Reagan-era hatchet-man Alito on the Supreme Court.