Select to have links open in new windows

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Behind the Scenes with Pete

Pete's not too happy about working on New Year's Eve, but he was nice enough to make these great signs. Happy New Year to you too, Pete. Keep up the good work and I promise you 2006 will be the year you get to write a post for State of the Day. And to all of our loyal State of the Day readers, a big Happy New Year to you as well.

Clean Sweep

Geov Parrish has a solution for our current constitutional crises. And if you do not think we are in the midst of a constitutional crises you must get your head out of the sand. From WorkingForChange:
The only solution is a clean sweep. Congress must reject Samuel Alito, and Congress, if it is (in the words the Bush White House once reserved for the U.N.) "to remain relevant," must impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney. In both cases, citizen outrage will be required to force a corrupt and reluctant Congress to act. And in November, citizens must use the leverage our once-relevant Constitution gives us, and we must sweep the whole rotten Congressional carcass from office -- conclusively enough that no Republican dirty tricks or Diebold-style tampering can alter the results. Regardless of party, we must replace lawmakers, at the local, state, and especially federal level, with candidates who are truly responsive and accountable to the ordinary people who elect them.
Read more, and while you are at WorkingForChange, act more too.

Fun with Bigfoot

When I was growing up in the '70s Bigfoot was all the rage. The big guy was in movies, television specials, he even made a few guest appearance on the Six Million Dollar Man. Which was probably not the best career move, but I digress. Well I am happy to report that Mr. Foot is making a comeback. A new memoir, “Me Write Book: It Bigfoot Memoir” (Plume), is out and Newsweek has landed an exclusive interview.
Newsweek: So the monster getting all the publicity these days is King Kong. Do you know him?
Bigfoot: Oh that just such ignorant question. You think because we both elusive forest creature that we must know each other? No, I not know King Kong, but I hear he a hack. Bigfoot would be much better choice for lead role in “King Kong 2.” Maybe all roles in that movie. It amazing what can be do with computer film compositing these days.

Newsweek: What about Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton?
Bigfoot: No, they would be terrible in lead role of “King Kong 2.” No should be able to see King Kong ribs. Bigfoot is only reasonable choice.

Newsweek: For people who don't know you, tell us briefly who you are and why we should care.
Bigfoot: Are you suggest that there might be people that not care? Please give me name and address and I go fix. Really, how someone not love Bigfoot when I a multitalented, go-go crypto hominid of the 21st century? I enjoy long walks on beach, eat thing I find on ground and yelling at moon while punching and kicking at air.
And watch out for the next big memoir: "The Loch Ness Monster: Please Don't Call Me Nelly."

Read more.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Justice Dept. Probing Domestic Spying Leak

It is absurd that the Justice Department is going after this as a leak investigation instead of as a investigation of whether the government completely subverted the Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of thousands, perhaps millions, of Americans. The leaker is someone concerned about the administration's clearly illegal, not to mention grossly un-American, domestic surveillance programs. Said leaker is a whistleblower, not someone who is aiding our enemies.

The Bush administration is in full obfuscation/kill the messenger mode because (a) they are embarrassed by what they've been doing, and (b) are terrified that they will be held legally accountable for these repugnant, fascistic activities. Seriously, this is not just impeachable stuff, people need to go to jail for this.

If the spying on scores of average Americans is nearly as intrusive and widespread as reports suggest, it represents the undermining of the very freedoms the president is sworn to protect. And Bush has already admitted to it. And promised to continue doing it.

As White House counsel, current Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez himself wrote some of the legal briefs designed to give the adminstration cover for these illegal activities (amongst others, like torture). The Bush legal team basically distorted existing laws until the laws fit their needs, then decided which laws, rules, statutes, and precedents to ignore completely. Now Albert The Snooping Torturer, as head of the Justice Dept., is going to lead the investigation? I think not. This is obviously a case from which he needs to recuse himself.

Free Paul Krugman

I wish somebody would convince me to pay for TimesSelect, but I just can't get myself to do it. Here is how Paul wrapped up his brilliant column today:
A year ago, we didn't know for sure that almost all the politicians and pundits who thundered, during the Lewinsky affair, that even the president isn't above the law have changed their minds. But now we know when it comes to presidents who break the law, it's O.K. if you're a Republican.
Read more at True Blue Liberal, but please be careful the Times police may put a cookie on your browser.

Follow the Money

[Thanks to Yellow Dog Blog for the Pic.]

BAGeL Radio on iTunes

Our very own political blogger Ted from BAGeL Radio [pictured above] has hit the big time. Ted says:
An announcement to all you iTunes users out there: you can now officially find BAGeL Radio in the iTunes Radio Tuner! I am not a screamer, but I screamed when I got that news! After years of applying, this week the folks at Apple finally deemed BAGeL Radio worthy of being listed in the Alt/Modern Rock category of the internet radio tuner section of iTunes. It's kinda like having your piddling little cable station picked up by the biggest and best cable provider, very exciting stuff. Please check it out, and tell your friends and other potential listeners.
As always today's live show runs from 9a-5p Pacific, and you can get in touch with Ted in all the usual ways:

Yahoo IM: bagelradio
AOL/iChat: bagelradiolive
MSN Msgr:

Tell Ted you found him through State of the Day, he'll get a kick out of it.

And for more things indie music, go to the BAGeL Radio Podcast Blog. It's like a political blog, except for music. I know, what a concept.

Listen more, because you can't always talk about politics.

Toss Your Cookies!

Big Brother was a saint compared to these guys. Here is the latest from your friendly neighborhood spy agency.
The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most of them.

These files, known as "cookies," disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week, and agency officials acknowledged Wednesday they had made a mistake. Nonetheless, the issue raises questions about privacy at a spy agency already on the defensive amid reports of a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States.
It's okay, no worries, they simply made a mistake.

Read more here, and even more here, but please wipe your prints off when you are done.

"W" Is For Victory

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The fog of victory
In Iraq, neither victory nor defeat will be clear-cut, which is bound to raise skepticism.
By Robin Wagner-Pacifici

The recent National Security Council document "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" makes this explicit: "Unlike past wars, however, victory in Iraq will not come in the form of an enemy's surrender, or be signaled by a single particular event - there will be no Battleship Missouri, no Appomattox."

In fact, the document goes to great lengths to persuade the U.S. public that we should no longer expect victory to be clearly marked by ceremonies in which an enemy accepts defeat. It turns out that victory itself is to have a new meaning.

How are we to make sense of this spreading out of "victory"? How shall the public respond to the idea that victory is a process rather than a recognized moment?

War requires symbolic transitions. Forgoing these symbolic markers and the recognitions that go with them is politically risky.

The risks include the exhaustion and skepticism of a public told it cannot trust its own eyes - victory and defeat are not going to look familiar, so leave it to us, the war strategists, to tell you when they can be declared. We have redefined victory and only we can recognize it when it occurs. But if the public cannot recognize victory, how can the public trust it?

But in these wars, the apparent disappearance of clear boundaries of time, territory and enemy should be confronted with more than a redeployment of the rhetoric of victory. The exceptional state that we call war must have an end, lest victory lose its meaning altogether.
Read more.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Will Congress Take the Challenge?

This article by Jonathan Schell at The Nation was posted on December 20th--a lifetime ago in blog years--and has already made the blog rounds, but in case you missed it, it's worth a look. When President Bush defied the law and authorized warrantless wiretaps. he sent a clear message to congress that, in his drunk-with-power mind, their laws are worthless and they are worthless. The question becomes: what will Congress do about it? Here's how Jonathan Schell lays it out:
With Bush's defense of his wiretapping, the hidden state has stepped into the open. The deeper challenge Bush has thrown down, therefore, is whether the country wants to embrace the new form of government he is creating by executive fiat or to continue with the old constitutional form. He is now in effect saying, "Yes, I am above the law--I am the law, which is nothing more than what I and my hired lawyers say it is--and if you don't like it, I dare you to do something about it."

Members of Congress have no choice but to accept the challenge. They did so once before, when Richard Nixon, who said, "When the President does it, that means it's not illegal," posed a similar threat to the Constitution. The only possible answer is to inform Bush forthwith that if he continues in his defiance, he will be impeached.

If Congress accepts his usurpation of its legislative power, they will be no Congress and might as well stop meeting. Either the President must uphold the laws of the United States, which are Congress's laws, or he must leave office. [Emphasis added.]
Where is the outrage of the American people? Where is the media?

Read more.

Fun with Chuck Lorre Vanity Cards

Sit back, relax, and take a break from the serious. It's time for some fun, with Chuck Lorre, the creative genius behind Two and a Half Men, and his show closing (they go by too fast to actually read) vanity cards.

When I was in the shower this morning, I thought: If we assume a Big Bang beginning of the universe, then every molecule, every atom, every proton, every electron, every quark, every wavelength, every vibration, every multi-dimensional string, every everything that makes up everything else shares an ineffable property of pre-Bang Oneness. Assuming that, then every everything is always moving in one of two directions: either away from that primordial state, or returning towards it. We feel these quantum movements. Moving away is experienced as loneliness, fear, anger and despair. Returning is experienced as one or more of the infinite variations and gradations of what we call love. Now, while some might say that equating the miracle of human feelings to the meandering of sub-atomic bric-a-brac robs them of their mystery, the truth is quite the opposite. Connecting our fundamental experience of life to the great mystery of existence ties us to the eternal within our every waking moment. We are not separate. We are made of the same stuff that existed at the beginning and will exist at the end. Therefore, the question we must each ask ourselves is simple: "In what direction am I moving today - towards oneness, or away from it?" When I was done reflecting on this, I stepped out of the shower, toweled off, and, while glancing at the mirror, pondered a new thought: "I have a pretty nice ass for a guy my age."

Bush In Search of New Plan

This gets me so mad. From the Washington Post:
Bush Team Rethinks Its Plan for Recovery
New Approach Could Save Second Term

President Bush shifted his rhetoric on Iraq in recent weeks after an intense debate among advisers about how to pull out of his political free fall, with senior adviser Karl Rove urging a campaign-style attack on critics while younger aides pushed for more candor about setbacks in the war, according to Republican strategists.
You know what? Maybe if you didn't invade other countries on bogus evidence in search of profit, kill thousands of people in search of profit, decimate the economy for everyday Americans in search of profit, you wouldn't need to stop a political free fall and save your second term with a new strategy. Just stop hurting the people they are polling. I'm so tired of the Bush team. How much longer are they in power?

Read more.

Illegal Spying May Free Terror Convicts

Bush's War On Terror is not just creating more terrorists abroad, it is also potentially undermining the prosecution of those caught and convicted. Nice going boys!

Yet somehow the President's approval rating is back up to a staggeringly high (for a staggering presidency) 47%? I think special thank-you notes from the Bushists should be dispatched post-haste to Bill O'Reilly, Matt Lauer, The Washington Post, and all of the other media outlets more interested in playing with themselves and reporting Republican talking points than asking tough questions, following them up, and holding lying liars accountable for their lies.
Terrorism cases in US may be reopened after wiretap scandal

Defence lawyers in several terrorism cases in the United States are planning to appeal against the convictions of their clients on the ground that evidence may have been garnered from illegal wiretapping by a federal government surveillance agency.

Among the cases is that of Ali al-Timimi, a Muslim scholar, who is serving a life sentence for involvement with an alleged "Virginia jihad" cell, and for inciting his students to wage war overseas against the US.

[F]or many Americans, the very notion of intelligence agencies eavesdropping on domestic targets raises the spectre of Watergate, "dirty tricks," and how Richard Nixon used the CIA to snoop on his political opponents.

The victim of one such error was Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon lawyer who was wrongly arrested in connection with the March 2004 Madrid train bombings before being released. Mr Mayfield is now suing the government and is likely to raise the NSA wiretapping issue.
Read more.

Shame on NBC

[Bumped from the comments -Creature]
by Ted (aka BAGeL Radio)

Matt Lauer did the country a disservice in his Today Show interview of Ann Coulter. The woman referred to the Democratic voting base as "crazy," referred to this as "a time of war" twice (there has been no declaration of war) and compared it with WWII and The Civil War (in which millions died), compared spying on Americans with interning innocent Japanese-Americans as if both were good things, inferred that the confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito would only be opposed by 'safe' Democrats (a follow-up question like "could you shed a little light on this, Ann, why do you think that?" would have been nice) and was allowed to state numerous whoppers as fact (for example, she repeatedly asserted that the illegal spying scandal has helped the President's poll numbers) without challenge from Lauer. How do softball questions with zero follow-up (and therefore zero accountability from the interviewee) help viewers understand the issues?

The American people, the American way of life, requires the media to be an active government watchdog. By allowing government apologists/cheerleaders like Coulter on the air to assert the party line UNCHALLENGED, NBC is just being used as a delivery system for the propaganda of a discredited administration.

Shame on NBC.

* * *
Note: Watch the Matt and Ann love fest on Crooks & Liars.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Philly Day Trippin'

I apologize for the light blogging today, but the little lady and I went down (from NYC) to Philly for the day to see the Rocky steps and get a cheese steak. I'll be back on track soon with more news. By the way, did you hear the one about about the Enron executive pleading guilty? Good stuff, more soon.

And while I'm here, I need to extend a BIG congratulations to my co-blogger Ted from BAGeL Radio. BAGeL Radio will now be included on the iTunes Radio tuner. This is big news. After years of hard work BAGel Radio and Ted are getting the recognition they deserve. Look for BAGeL Radio on your iTunes tuner any hour now. Great work, Ted. We are proud. More info to come.

Watch TV @ Work

Or maybe I should title this post "Watch TV While on Vacation" since most of you are enjoying the week off. If you are at work, don't feel bad, you're keeping the economy running and protecting us from terrorists.

We start this jaunt through the Internet at Crooks & Liars. If you haven't checked out this clip of Matt Lauer and Ann "My Neck is Longer Than My Arm" Coulter from the Today show it's worth a look. It's hard for me to believe that she is spinning the NSA domestic spying scandal as a positive for the President, but she is. Go watch TV now! But be careful with this one, it may take an eye out.

Before you leave Crooks & Liars go check out the clip from Countdown where Keith takes down John Gibson. I was watching this one live with my jaw on the floor. Yes, it is that good. And yes, my floor is clean, I hope. Go watch TV now! Olbermann is my hero.

To end our journey, let's stay with Keith Olbermann and Countdown. Over at CanOFun you can watch former Nixon counsel John Dean call Bush a criminal. Again I was watching this one live and it's amazing to hear a man who knows crooks firsthand call out the President for circumventing the law. Go watch TV now! I swear I am not a crook.

Another Quality Year-In-Review

Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World comic strip year-end round-up:

See and read more.

Backfire of the Neocons

The evil worldview of the Neocons and what their rise to power in the U.S. hath wrought on the world:
The tragic irony of the 21st century is that just as faith in technology collapsed on the world's stock markets in 2000, it came to power in the White House and Pentagon. For the Project for a New American Century's ambition of "full-spectrum dominance" - in which its country could "fight and win multiple, simultaneous major-theatre wars" - was a monster borne up by the high tide of techno euphoria of the 1990s.

[Dark] dreams surfaced in America's military universities. The theorists of the "revolution in military affairs" predicted that technology would lead to easy and perpetual US dominance of the world. Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters advised on "future warfare" at the Army War College - prophesying in 1997 a coming "age of constant conflict". General John Jumper of the air force predicted a planet easily mastered from air and space. American forces would win everywhere because they enjoyed what was unashamedly called the "God's-eye" view of satellites and GPS: the "global information grid". This hegemony would be welcomed as the cutting edge of human progress. Or at worst, the military geeks candidly explained, US power would simply terrify others into submitting to the stars and stripes.

For the American imperial strategists invested deeply in the belief that through spreading terror they could take power. Neoconservatives such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and the recently indicted Lewis "Scooter" Libby, learned from Leo Strauss that a strong and wise minority of humans had to rule over the weak majority through deception and fear, rather than persuasion or compromise. They read Le Bon and Freud on the relationship of crowds to authority. But most of all they loved Hobbes's Leviathan. While Hobbes saw authority as free men's chosen solution to the imperfections of anarchy, his 21st century heirs seek to create the fear that led to submission. And technology would make it possible and beautiful.

The Afghanistan war of 2001 taught the wrong lessons. The one-eyed Mullah Omar's great escape on his motorbike was a warning that the God's-eye view can miss the human detail.

Iraq revealed the hubris of the imperial geostrategy. One small nation can tie down a superpower. Air and space supremacy do not give command on the ground. People can't be terrorised into identification with America. The US has proved able to destroy massively - but not create, or even control. Afghanistan and Iraq lie in ruins, yet the occupiers cower behind concrete mountains.

The spin machine is on full tilt to represent Iraq as a success. Peters, in New Glory: Expanding America's Supremacy, asserts: "Our country is a force for good without precedent"; and [Thomas] Barnett, in Blueprint, says: "The US military is a force for global good that ... has no equal." Both offer ambitious plans for how the US is going to remake the third world in its image. There is a violent hysteria to the boasts. The narcissism of a decade earlier has given way to an extrovert rage at those who have resisted America's will since 2001. Both urge utter ruthlessness in crushing resistance. In November 2004, Peters told Fox News that in Falluja "the best outcome, frankly, is if they're all killed".
Read more.

Can You Say "Civil War?"

From Knight Ridder, with thanks to AMERICAblog for pointing the way:
Kurds in Iraqi army proclaim loyalty to militia
KIRKUK, Iraq - Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq to lay the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan.
- - -
The soldiers said that while they wore Iraqi army uniforms they still considered themselves members of the Peshmerga - the Kurdish militia - and were awaiting orders from Kurdish leaders to break ranks. Many said they wouldn't hesitate to kill their Iraqi army comrades, especially Arabs, if a fight for an independent Kurdistan erupted.
- - -
The Kurds have readied their troops not only because they've long yearned to establish an independent state but also because their leaders expect Iraq to disintegrate, senior leaders in the Peshmerga - literally, "those who face death" - told Knight Ridder. The Kurds are mostly secular Sunni Muslims, and are ethnically distinct from Arabs. [Emphasis added.]
I have to assume the Kurds don't get Fox News. Don't they know an independent Kurdish state is not part of Bush's "Plan for Victory?"

Read more.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

SnoopGate/ Impeachment/ Big Lies of '05

I often mockingly refer to MSNBC as MSGOP for the way it parrots Bush Administration lies and spins the news into Roger Ailes-worthy tales of "War Is Peace." Well, last week MSNBC published some quality stuff and I missed it...
Bush’s Snoopgate
By Jonathan Alter
The president was so desperate to kill The New York Times’ eavesdropping story, he summoned the paper’s editor and publisher to the Oval Office. But it wasn’t just out of concern about national security.

President Bush...made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Bush claimed that “the fact that we are discussing this program is helping the enemy.” But there is simply no evidence, or even reasonable presumption, that this is so. And rather than the leaking being a “shameful act,” it was the work of a patriot inside the government who was trying to stop a presidential power grab.

No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker.
Read more.
Spying, the Constitution — and the ‘I-word’
By Howard Fineman
2006 will offer up Nixon-era nastiness and a chorus of calls to impeach Bush

As best I can tell — and this really isn’t my beat — the only people who knew about the NSA’s new (and now so controversial) warrant-less eavesdropping program early on were Bush, Cheney, NSA chief Michael Hayden, his top deputies, top leaders of the CIA, and lawyers at the Justice Department and the White House counsel’s office hurriedly called in to sprinkle holy water on it.

Which presents the disturbing image of the White House as a series of nesting dolls, with Cheney-Bush at the tiny secret center, sifting information that most of the rest of the people around them didn’t even know existed. And that image, in turn, will dominate and define the year 2006 — and, I predict, make it the angriest, most divisive season of political theater since the days of Richard Nixon.

The president says that his highest duty is to protect the American people and our homeland. And it is true that, as commander-in-chief, he has sweeping powers to, as his oath says, “faithfully execute the office” of president. But the entity he swore to “preserve, protect and defend” isn’t the homeland per se — but the Constitution itself.
Read more.
Big Lies
By Eleanor Clift
Who told the worst political untruth of 2005? It’s a shame the list of contenders is so long.

[As] “Biggest Lie,” I chose the White House declaration that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby had nothing to do with leaking the identity of a covert CIA agent. They were the principal participants in the effort to discredit former ambassador Joe Wilson because he had raised doubts about one of the pillars of their argument for war, namely that Iraq had tried to buy yellowcake uranium to make a bomb.

Another favorite—heard all the time from the White House—is that “everybody saw the same intelligence we did.” Members of Congress don’t see the President’s Daily Briefing (one of them was the glossed-over pre-9/11 document that warned “Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the U.S.”), and they didn’t see all the qualifying caveats about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, or the doubts about the credibility of the sources the administration was relying on.

Bush is good at stating the obviously untrue. “We do not torture,” he declared despite ample evidence to the contrary from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to secret prisons in Eastern Europe. Vice President Cheney went to Capitol Hill repeatedly to lobby for the U.S. right to torture, capitulating only when the vote went against him 90 to 9. Sen. John McCain, who was tortured when held prisoner during the Vietnam War, took on Bush’s No. 2 and stood up for democratic principles. It’s a wonder Cheney has any credibility left after assuring the country in May, “the insurgency is in its last throes.”

The revelation that President Bush authorized spying on American citizens without warrants is a late entry to the year’s “Biggest Lies” list. Bush says he bypassed the law because of the need for speed. He may believe that, but the facts say otherwise.

Bush’s explanation is riddled with lies. He says our enemies are watching and threatens The New York Times, which broke the spying story, with legal action. It takes a vivid imagination to believe that Osama bin Laden and his buddies are keeping up with the niceties of FISA courts and would otherwise have no idea their phones might be tapped.

The cavalier attitude toward the checks and balance of a democratic society is a pattern with this administration. Bush and Cheney regard Congress and the judiciary as obstacles, not as equal branches of government. The polls show that a majority of Americans no longer trust this team, which is why Bush and Cheney are hitting back hard at their critics.

In the weeks since being named by Bush, there have been a series of stories about Alito’s early writings as a member of the Reagan administration. The White House is telling senators that Alito didn’t mean all those things he wrote about disregarding privacy rights and overturning Roe v. Wade—another big lie. No wonder this year’s list was so easy to put together.
Read more.

Do Bush's Actions Justify Impeachment?

A lot of people think so.

Go see the results at MSNBC.

But Clinton Did It!

Shakespeare's Sister puts the whole Clinton defense thing into perspective:
As is their wont, Bush defenders have decided to discuss Clinton’s alleged misdeeds regarding warrantless eavesdropping instead of Bush’s.

For a moment, let’s hypothesize that Clinton did exactly the same thing Bush did, but just didn’t get caught. (That’s not true, but let’s just say it, anyway.) Here’s the thing: I don’t fucking care. And it’s not because I love Clinton (because I don’t), or because he’s a liberal (which he isn’t), or any other reason in the same neighborhood as blind allegiance to the Clenis. It’s because he’s not the president anymore! And he hasn’t been for five bloody years! And I don’t give a tiny drip of dogwank what any former president did or didn’t do when it has nothing to do with what the current president is doing now. What Clinton did about wiretapping in 1994 has about as much to do with what Bush is doing about wiretapping now as pickled pigs’ feet have to do with supernovas. As it happens, I don’t care what Bush Sr. or Reagan did about wiretapping, either.

Give it a rest already. Yeesh.
Give 'em hell Sis!

Chalabi Lacks Support

Let's file this one under: Things that make me happy.
Chalabi Lacks Votes Needed to Win Spot in Iraqi Assembly
BAGHDAD, Dec. 26 -- Unexpectedly low support from overseas voters has left Ahmed Chalabi -- the returned Iraqi exile once backed by the United States to lead Iraq -- facing a shutout from power in this month's vote for the country's first full-term parliament since the 2003 invasion.
- - -
With 95 percent of a preliminary tally from the Dec. 15 vote now completed, Chalabi remained almost 8,000 votes short of the 40,000 minimum needed for him or his bloc to win a single seat in the 275-seat National Assembly, according to election officials. Without a seat in the assembly, Chalabi would presumably be unable to obtain a post in the resulting government.
Mr. Chalabi will somehow makes his presence felt in Iraq, but at least for now he, and his backers in the White House, must eat some humble pie. [Insert dancing blogger here.]

Read more.

Post-War Planning at Home

It seems the National Guard troops are having trouble adjusting to life at home. This is sad. I'll admit I don't know too much about the workings of the military, but the National Guard wasn't meant for combat, and the National Guard, as an organization, is not prepared, or properly funded, to deal with the return home. From the L.A. Times:
"We don't have the resources that the active component does, in terms of bases and facilities to provide that support," said Maj. Jon Siepmann, a California National Guard spokesman. "That we're performing an active-duty role without commensurate resources is frustrating."
- - -
"Phones started ringing at the armory 30 to 60 days after the soldiers came back," said 579th Engineers operations officer Zachariahs Delwiche. "We had more problems than we could deal with. We had one soldier who basically sequestered himself in a motel for two months. Another soldier was living in the armory. We requested to have a team go out and check on the soldiers and families, but it was never funded."
I do not want to be snide here, these soldiers deserve our respect, but to the "support our troops" crowd I need to ask; is this how you support these brave men and women? You fight a war on the backs of the National Guard and you let them flounder when they get home? It is disgraceful.

The stories of the soldiers adjusting to life at home are sad. I believe they also must be talked about. Here is another snippet from the article:
After the party, on a two-lane road home to Livermore, Michael pulled out to pass a car. Soon, he passed another and reached 100 mph, forcing oncoming cars off the road. Mentally, he was back in Iraq.

"You're going to kill us! Stop!" Rene recalled yelling.

"She was yelling, and that didn't make sense, because we yell at each other back there" in Iraq, Michael recalled.

Finally, Rene touched her husband's arm and asked: "Who will raise our children if you kill us?"

He slowed down and, within days, Rene was at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Livermore, looking for a counselor who specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder.
Read more, because you must. To find out more about how you can help the soldiers coming home please go to IAVA, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America [formerly known as Operation Truth].

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Only 2005 Roundup You Need

Written by Barry Crimmins in the Boston Phoenix:
By [late November] no one — absolutely no one — could keep track of all the scandals involving the Bush-Cheney administration, the Republican Congress, and state and local Republican leaders and their corporate and evangelical cronies. There were procurement scandals, media scandals, emergency-preparedness scandals, even treason scandals. These people stole everything, from coins in Ohio to billions in Iraq — including, in the estimation of some, the 2004 election, giving George W. Bush a matched set of nebulous claims to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Which is where we entered 2005: believe it or not, Bush and Cheney’s second inaugural was a scant 11 months ago. Feels more like 11 years, doesn’t it? I’ve suppressed almost all memory of the inauguration except for two things: a hazy recollection of the halftime show for the Crusades and the faint hope that Bush-Cheney arrogance would lead to such brazenly incompetent and unconstitutionally criminal behavior that not even Rupert Murdoch would be able to conceal it.

We have a president who has twice been "elected" despite polling data that told us it wasn’t going to happen. And then his administration is fraught with every possible insider scandal. They fix intelligence, they fix the media, they fix government contracts, and now the man that promised to hand them Ohio leaves his job at the secret voting-booth company because he was caught insider trading. Is it paranoid to connect the dots and understand that we have been living, for the past five years, under an unelected criminal regime? Or is it, to put it in W-era parlance, a slam-dunk? Use your own intelligence and trust it.
Read more. It is well worth the time.

The Good Solider

Once a good solider, always a good solider. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell throws in his two cents regarding the NSA domestic spying scandal. From the NYT:
"My own judgment is that it didn't seem to me, anyway, that it would have been that hard to go get the warrants," Mr. Powell said. "And even in the case of an emergency, you go and do it. The law provides for that."
Thank you, Colin, "the law provided for that." So you will break with your old boss and stand up for the people? Well, I guess not, hold on, here comes the big but:
But Mr. Powell added that "for reasons that the president has discussed and the attorney general has spoken to, they chose not to do it that way."

"I see absolutely nothing wrong with the president authorizing these kinds of actions," he said. [Emphasis added.]
I was never on the Colin Powell bandwagon. This just reconfirms that. He could have stopped the Iraq war from moving forward. I believe that. But instead he gave the U.N. speech that turned the tide in Bush's favor once and for all. Respectfully, Mr. Powell, please keep you mouth shut. You've done enough harm already.

Read more, be a good State of the Day solider.

More Best Of

I didn't think I was going to feature any more "Best of 2005" lists, but Time magazine has just validated my geekdom. A big hat tip to Time for picking my favorite television show, Battlestar Galactica, as the best show on the tube. Sorry, I gave away number one, but I'll leave the number two show as a surprise. Which, by the way, is also a favorite of mine. See the list for yourself.

And here is what Time had to say about Battlestar Galactica.
Most of you probably think this entry has got to be a joke. The rest of you have actually watched the show. Adapted from a cheesy '70s Star Wars clone of the same name, Galactica (returning in January) is a ripping sci-fi allegory of the war on terror, complete with religious fundamentalists (here, genocidal robots called Cylons), sleeper cells, civil-liberties crackdowns and even a prisoner-torture scandal. The basic-cable budget sometimes shows in the production, but the writing and performances are first-class, especially Edward James Olmos as the noble but authoritarian commander in charge of saving the last remnants of humanity. Laugh if you want, but this story of enemies within is dead serious, and seriously good.
Buy more.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Watch TV @ the In-Laws'

So you've slipped away from the Christmas festivities to sneak a peak at the Internet. You know you shouldn't have, but you did anyway. Now what? The State is here to say that just because it is Christmas, it doesn't mean you can't have fun.

Let's start this video trip through the Internet keeping with our usual political theme. If you missed this clip when it made the rounds last week it's worth a look. Here is Congressman John Dingell from the floor of the House reciting his version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Thanks to Crooks & Liars. Go watch Christmas TV now!

Next, we join Stephen Colbert as he gives us a quick Christmas history lesson. If you don't know why you are doing what you're doing today, this is a must-view. Thanks to onegoodmove. Go watch Christmas TV now!

And finally, we bring our Christmas festivities to an end with a bit of amateur video. Move over Rudolph because "Jingles the Cat Who Saved Christmas" is gunning for your job. Thanks to me for painstakingly sifting through pages of Google Video to find this clip. Go watch Christmas TV now!

Quote of the Week

"This has been a year of strong progress toward a freer, more peaceful world and a prosperous America," he [Bush] said. "It's been a good year for the American people."
The President lives on a different planet.

For more on the President's wonderful year, I'm sending you to Limbo.

Bush's Holiday Gift to the Right Wing

Merry Christmas, James Dobson. Love, The Bushes:
Judge Alito, 55, wrote in a memo to the solicitor general in 1985 that the government "should make clear that we disagree with Roe v Wade and would welcome the opportunity to brief the issue of whether, and if so to what extent, that decision should be overruled".

While his current opinions on abortion are not known, evidence has quickly accumulated of his opposition to it in the past. Paperwork released earlier showed he advised the solicitor general's office in the 1980s on how the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling should be dismantled piece by piece. He also suggested that the US Constitution does not guarantee abortion rights.

"It makes our position clear; does not even tacitly concede Roe's legitimacy, and signals that we regard the question as live and open," he argued at the time.
The confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court will ensure that back-alley abortions are back in business.

Read more.