Countdown to Bush's Last Day

Grim Statistics

Thursday, August 23, 2007


This will be the last post at this site. There are plenty of people doing progressive blogging much better than I am, so as of tomorrow I am changing to a more Maine-life focus but with a decidedly blue bent.

You can find me here and if the Red Sox are your thing, I'm also still here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Overheard Today at the Water Cooler

"Face it, if liberals were not attempting to change long-held traditional values, conservatives would have nothing to oppose."

You mean the pre-emptive doctrine is a traditional conservative value? Who knew?

Revising Goals

From CNN:

Nightmarish political realities in Baghdad are prompting American officials to curb their vision for democracy in Iraq. Instead, the officials now say they are willing to settle for a government that functions and can bring security.

"I would describe it as leaving an effective government behind that can provide services to its people, and security. It needs to be an effective and functioning government that is really a partner with the United States and the rest of the world in this fight against the terrorists," said Mixon, who will not be perturbed if such goals are reached without democracy.

A nonelected government in Iraq installed for the expressed purpose of providing it's benefactor, the United States of America, cover in the region. A puppet government set up in the middle of the perfect storm of the fractious, anti-American Middle East.

You think you got problems with Iran and Syria now? You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Tale of God's Will

You can read about the the making of this album here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Comment on "The Other War"

In the July 30 edition, The Nation ran a special investigation entitled, "The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness," an article which detailed brutal, gratuitous and cruel attacks on Iraqi civilians by American servicemen and women. The attacks, when perpetrated, are rarely reported, leading to a distorted perception of civilian casualties of the war; when they are reported, they are routinely dismissed as the cost of doing business by military officials. It reminds me of that scene in "Casualties of War," a film which tells the story of four soldiers who rape and murder a Vietnamese girl and the efforts of one soldier to bring them to justice. At one point, frustrated with the Army's response to his reports, PFC Eriksson (played by Michael J. Fox) physically attacks one of the perpetrators who has been threatening him for speaking out, shouting, "Nobody cares! I told everybody. I told them. You don't have to worry. You don't have to try to kill me, man. I told them, and THEY DON'T CARE!" Some things never change, apparently.

(Another great line from that film: "Everybody's acting like we can do anything and it don't matter what we do. Maybe we gotta' be extra careful because maybe it matters more than we even know.")

The article is unsparing to say the least, and an unflattering portrait of the perpetrators of these crimes-the near-diefied American soldier (or the "self-sacrificing white male patriotic hero" as described by one Nation detractor)-comes into sharp focus during these vignettes. It is not necessarily, however, an indictment of the individual servicemen that are being held up to task in this piece, but rather the policies, and bureaucracies, and take-no-prisoners idealism that define the American military that make such situations almost unavoidable, if unspeakably tragic.

Needless to say, the article received a lot of feedback. Some soldiers who were interviewed for the piece wrote to say that they were misquoted and taken out of context (two out of 50 interviewed, actually ) while others thanked the Nation for their accurate representation of their words. What was most interesting is the response from Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who bristled not at the idea that the Nation was reporting on atrocities committed by American servicepeople but that they weren't laying appropriate blame, which he places squarely at the feet of the Bush Administration. "Anyone who wants to write a serious piece about the ethical lapses of US troops should start and end the article by putting the blame where it belongs-on the politicians who sent our troops to war unprepared and without a clear mission."

This is not the first time Paul Reickhoff has made these accusations. He has been an unwavering critic of the Bush war policy. In a 2006 interview to PBS, he made the same claim-stress, poor leadership and repeated deployments are causing these outbreaks of extreme violence against Iraqi civilians. (Ironically, he also says, "I think the press has fallen asleep at the switch in many ways or has been intimated by the administration in many different ways.")

All this is likely very true, and it's hard to imagine what you yourself would do under similar circumstances. Still, it all conjures up the idiocy of Rush Limbaugh dismissing the Abu Ghraib abuses as guys just "blowing off steam" (the Limbaugh mantra of "personal accountability" ends as soon as one enters the military, apparently). Mr. Reickhoff, in his zeal to protect the soldiers (as in Rush's zeal to protect the administration), misses the point and weakens his cause. You can't tell the full story of the administration's failings in the war without telling the stories of the soldiers, even if it may not be pretty and even if some of your soldiers come out looking like little more than petty thugs. As despicable and without moral compass as George Bush may be (and he is)-these guys should never be there in the first place-there were no direct orders to anyone from the president to shoot the family dog in front of the children, deny a badly beaten man medical care and send him back to whence he came so the job could be finished, or pretend to eat the brains of a dead Iraqi man lying on the street. While that may be the result of poor planning, poor execution, and administration lies-and I know it is-part of trickle-down effect of a blustering, "Bring 'em on" and "We will get him dead or alive" is that it often inspires a specific type of personality to action-the type who is more likely to see the world in the black-and-white terms of the president and thus see all Iraqis as less-than-human "hajis" and potential terrorists ("I also know, because of that same base of knowledge, that the military has some folks in it that should never have passed the psych evaluation. Because military recruting rules have become so lax, folks that should be locked away for their own protection have instead been sicced on Iraqis" notes another Nation responder.)

The problem is when you take already troubled, angry, disaffected young people-many of whom would have been ineligible for military service on 9/10/01-and give them guns and power and no training, no oversight and no sense of accountability, it is a recipe for a disaster of epic proportions. Shooting pets and children, terrorizing families at gunpoint, and indiscriminately detaining anyone who looks suspicious is not a recipe for winning "hearts and minds," nor is it likely to contribute to a feeling that Americans are "liberators" of a foreign country, 80% of whom want us gone. It is a recipe for an endless cycle of violence, resistance, and war.

You can also read an interview here with Carmelo Mejia, a veteran who went to prison rather than return to Iraq.

You can read more about civilian casualties in Iraq here.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dick Tells The Truth!

What Changed Between 1994 and 2002?

Thanks to for digging this up!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Plea For Animals

From my Inbox:

Dear Lisa,

Barnes & Noble, Powells and other online booksellers do not sell these magazines, but Amazon does. Get your friends to ask Amazon to stop their ridiculous fight for animal fighting.

The cruelty of animal fighting is not news to you, and I thank you for taking online action in the past against this bloodsport. But I still need your help in asking your friends to speak up, too.

The time to do this is now, because the indictment of Michael Vick has awakened the rest of the nation to the cruelty of animal fighting. But Amazon is still in the lonely position of promoting animal fighting activities. It's the only online retailer of subscriptions to animal fighting magazines in the United States!

We need as many voices as possible telling Amazon to stop -- please tell your friends and family right now how they can help.

As you know, Amazon claims that its commercial sale of cockfighting magazines like The Gamecock and The Feathered Warrior is protected by the First Amendment. But the First Amendment does not protect companies advertising illegal contraband, and that's exactly what the magazines sold by Amazon are doing. The Feathered Warrior even advertised fighting dogs from a dogfighter whose operation makes the enterprise described in the Michael Vick indictment look like a bunch of amateurs.

Please ask your friends and family to add their voices to yours in demanding that Amazon stop selling animal fighting materials.

Thank you for all you do for animals.


Wayne Pacelle
President & CEO
The Humane Society of the United States

P.S. Get the full story on Amazon and animal fighting on our new Animal Cruelty and Fighting campaign website.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bob Murray is More Concerned With Saving His Own Ass...

...than saving his employees. And making himself a buck in the process.

The proof?

The mine in central Utah where six miners lay buried was cited 300 times since January of 2004, including 118 "significant and substantial" violations that are considered serious enough to cause injury or death;

His Galatia mine in southern Illinois counts at least 2,787 violations and more than $2.4 million in fines from the Mine Safety and Health Administration since 2005;

He flat out lied about the cause of the collapse, saying it was caused by an "earthquake" despite the assertions by seismologists that the collapse caused the tremors and the company knew about structural problems with the roof at least since March;

And then there's this, from the Washington Post last June:

A senior coal company executive on Wednesday lambasted U.S. lawmakers for proposing caps on emissions blamed for global warming, saying the Democrats were out to destroy America's coal industry.

Robert Murray, chairman, president and chief executive of Murray Energy Corp., also blasted the federal government's mine safety agency for "outrageous" new fines that he warned could put some miners out of business.

He is, of course, a huge donor to the Republican party, members of which share much of his dim view of workers' rights and safety issues, as well as his take on the environment.

Poor, put-upon, persecuted bastard.

Here's Murray in action, railing against unions and safety regs to Barbara Boxer in June.

Another One Bites the Dust

Holy crap! What do they HAVE on him?

Investigative journalists, take note: Do your goddamn jobs for once and DO NOT let this story die. There is something fishy going on here. This is part of a deal.

"Spend time with my family" is the refuge of the guilty and the hunted, who have entered into agreements to leave to save their own necks.

From the Washington Post:

Karl Rove, the architect of President Bush's two national campaigns and his most prominent adviser through 6-1/2 tumultuous years in the White House, will resign at month's end and leave politics, a White House spokeswoman said this morning.

Bush plans to make a statement with Rove on the South Lawn this morning before the president departs for his ranch near Crawford, Tex. Rove, who holds the titles of deputy chief of staff and senior adviser, has been talking about finding the right time to depart for a year, colleagues said, and decided he had to either leave now or remain through the end of the presidency.

"Obviously it's a big loss to us," White House spokeswoman Dana M. Perino said this morning. "He's a great colleague, a good friend, and a brilliant mind. He will be greatly missed. But we know he wouldn't be going if he wasn't sure this was the right time to be giving more to his family, his wife Darby and their son. He will continue to be one of the president's greatest friends."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Guess Who's Back? The Taliban! Fightin' in Afghanistan!

Read about the failure of the Bush administration in Afghanistan here.

Can You Imagine It Here?

File this under "And the world didn't come to an end!" We learned this week that Canada will have an elected member of parliament married to his same-sex partner. Canada passed a same-sex marriage law in 2005. Oh, the humanity!

Liberal MP Scott Brison is set to become the first federal politician to tie the knot in a same-sex ceremony since MPs made gay marriage the law of the land just over two years ago.

Brison, 40, will marry partner Maxime St. Pierre next Saturday in his Kings-Hants riding, a bucolic corner of Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.

He follows Ontario cabinet minister George Smitherman in smashing one of elected politics' last social taboos. Smitherman exchanged vows last week with partner Christopher Peloso at a northern Ontario resort.

Having a spouse has traditionally been considered an important asset on the hustings — but not one of the same sex.

Only in the last decade have many gay and lesbian politicians begun publicly acknowledging their sexual orientation.

Brison, a former Progressive Conservative party and Liberal party leadership hopeful, came out in 2002 and became Canada's first openly gay cabinet minister in 2004. But he's never defined his political persona around the issue and has closely guarded his private life.

In Brison's words, he is "not a gay politician, but a politician who happens to be gay."

After his engagement to St. Pierre was first reported by the Canadian Press in October 2005, Brison played down the social significance.

"I'm looking forward to the day when the idea of a gay or lesbian politician getting married is not a story at all," he said at the time.

Brison's office said Friday he was not available for an interview, and friends — some of them invited to the ceremony — were reluctant to discuss the wedding plans.

After the highly divisive debate on the same-sex marriage bill in June 2005 that saw more than two dozen Liberals join with the Conservative Opposition in voting against the legislation, Brison joked that then prime minister Paul Martin told him: "Well, after all I've been through on this Brison, you'd better get married."

Brison, in an autumn 2005 interview, made it clear he's been deeply affected by the steady reminders of young Canadians who tell him he has served as a role model, however reluctant.

"Sometimes when somebody can express something like that to you, that you've made a difference in terms of their confidence or their life — not based on something that you've really done, just by the fact that you're there — I don't think I can articulate how that makes me feel," said Brison.

Universal health care, gun control, and now married gays in high places? Sounds like my kind of place, if only winter weren't ten months long. And the right wing's new battle cry?...

Blame Canada!
Blame Canada!
Seems like everything's gone wrong
Since Canada came along...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Second Hand Fatal Illness

Of interesting note in this week's news is the disclosure by the White House that George Bush was treated for Lyme disease a year ago. However, it seems that there was a misunderstanding on the part of the major news outlets that reported the story.

The president was not diagnosed with Lyme disease; rather, he was found to be suffering from a far more common and obvious affliction, Lying disease. It was found as well in his staff and close associates, although it is unclear who gave the disease to whom, or if they were all infected independently of each other.

There is no cure except permanent removal of the carriers from office. If left untreated, it is fatal to U.S. citizens and the world at large.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Change in Nothing

From today's Portland Press Herald:

"The surge isn't working," said Susan Hudson-Wilson, 55, of
Chebeague Island. "Every kid who dies from now on, it's just –
you really want to go right to that kid's parents and apologize."

Of course, I've said all along that every person who cast a vote for George Bush needs to apologize for their part in propagating this murderous sham. To do so to the parents of dead soldiers would be as good place to start as any.

Susan Collins, as the article notes, supports "a change in mission," but not troop withdrawal, making her no different than the other Republican drones who are standing by their man.

Empty words from an empty head. Mainers who cast a vote for Collins in this upcoming election need to apologize to the parents of dead soldiers as well.

Republicans: He's a Miserable Failure, But He's Our Miserable Failure...

According to a new CNN poll, George Bush's approval rating got a little better last month, going from 32% in June to 36%. According to poll analyst Keating Holland, the increase reflects Republican sentiment only, as Democrats and independents remain disdainful of the Schmuck in Chief. Hard to understand why, though, given the administration's series of victories in July...

1. The surge report card revealed an Iraqi government woefully unable to meet the simplest conditions laid out for continuing American participation in the "war effort"...

2. An NIE report that demonstrated that Al-Qaeda had grown "significantly stronger" in Pakistan over the past two years (whatever happened to that "no safe haven" declaration, George?)...

4. Woes in the mortgage market threatened to spread to other sectors, and caused real concern that the stock market would soon tank under the weight and cause a global economic crisis...

3. Robert Muellar became only the latest in a long line to out Alberto Gonzales as a lying, clownish political hack with no observable redeeming qualities.

Geez, given all that, it's hard to see why even Essenes wouldn't be jumping on the Bush approval bandwagon...what I want to know is, where were all these low-standard bearers while I was in college? I could have used their type of grade inflation...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Buck Henry Lives

Yes, I'm back, and I'm still here...I'm still thinking about expanding the focus of the blog, but for now, I'm here.

For those of you of a certain age, you'll probably appreciate that Buck Henry is back as a regular contributor to The Daily Show, although this time, thankfully, not playing a pedophile (remember, that sketch was from the mid-'70s, when dirty old men were just a smutty joke). Here's Buck taking on media madman Murdoch last night.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


The blue state blogger is headed on vacation to another blue state, that bastion of decadence and conduit of conservative antipathy, Massachusetts-Cape Cod to be exact. When I get back, I'm considering shutting down this blog and starting a new one with a broader focus but decidedly left bent. I'll let you know where it is when I get back.

In the meantime, let's hope for peace for the people of Minneapolis, especially those who have lost loved ones in that horrible bridge tragedy yesterday.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Focus on the Hypocrites

"In this time of call-ups and alerts and mobilizations and deployments, your employers are standing behind you, and so is your government. The country owes you something in return for your sacrifice"-George Bush, speaking to the Idaho National Guard, 8/24/05

Given the results of the study summarized below and printed in the 8/1/ edition of JAMA, I fully expect Focus on the Family's James Dobson and The Family Research Council's Tony Perkins to be making strong statements condemning the war's effects on military families soon and calling for more federal support of those left behind...

Any day now, in fact...

I can almost hear it from here...

Rates of neglect and abuse of the children of servicemen and women rose 42% within the family when the enlisted parent was deployed on a combat mission, according to a new study led by senior health analyst Deborah Gibbs of RTI International, a research institute in North Carolina. Previous studies have shown an association between combat-related deployments and higher levels of stress in the family, and it is this stress that is thought to play a major role in the maltreatment of children by the parent who stays home.

The current study is the first to take a comprehensive look at how deployment affects child neglect and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Backed by funding from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the researchers harvested data from the U.S. Army Central Registry of 1,771 families worldwide with at least one instance of child neglect or abuse between Sept. 2001 and Dec. 2004, a period during which many soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The results show that a staggering 1,858 parents had maltreated their children during that period — boys and girls in equal numbers, with an average age of 6. Nearly 10% of those parents neglected or abused their children on more than one day. The number of times a parent was deployed, however, whether once or twice, did not significantly affect the rate of maltreatment — researchers speculate that by the time of a soldier's second tour of duty, the homebound parent has developed at least few coping strategies.