Saturday, August 27, 2005


And now for some really good news...

The Bush regime with their cadre of talking-heads and talk-show hosts have tried their hardest to shush the voices of the antiwar movement. They have trotted out the old Vietnam-era accusations against anyone who speaks out—" aid and comfort to the enemy," "Could they have said that under Saddam Hussein and get away with it?" "disloyal, unpatriotic and un-American," "dupes and tools of the enemy," and so forth.

Well, the public isn't buying it. CBSNews reports on a most amazing poll result—

An overwhelming number of Americans say critics of the Iraq war should be free to voice their objections — a rare example of widespread agreement about a conflict that has divided the nation along partisan lines. Nearly three weeks after a grieving California mother named Cindy Sheehan started her anti-war protest near President George W. Bush's Texas ranch, nine of 10 people surveyed in an AP-Ipsos poll say it is OK for war opponents to publicly share their concerns about the conflict.

Ninety percent. Wow. That just has to be putting some brownish coloration in the White House briefs.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Ohio just keeps getting hotter

Every which way you look in Ohio there's scandal.

The Governor

Ohio's Governor Taft had hardly had time to apologize for all those gifts he'd forgotten to report (and for which he was convicted) when a further search turned up 8 more! As Sandy Theis and T.C. Brown wrote in the Cleveland Plain Dealer,

The admission quickly shifted the debate from Taft's ethics to his competence, and it came just hours after an unusual alliance debuted a new interactive Web site,, to try to force the governor from office 16 months before his term expires.

Because some of the newly discovered gifts were received in 1999 and 2000, he could face two additional charges.

The new website is the result of cooperation between the conservative group Ohio Roundtable and the "liberal-leaning" Ohio Citizen Action. Their mutual goal is to remove Taft from office whether by resignation or impeachment.

According to Steve Eder and James Drew of the Toledo Blade,

Both organizations plan to deploy volunteers to football games across the state during the upcoming season to disperse information explaining why they believe the governor must be removed. Organizers said there is not enough time to launch a petition drive to oust the governor.

“We don’t anticipate that Governor Taft is necessarily going to respond to this campaign without the assistance of members of the General Assembly,” said Mr. Zanotti [head of Ohio Roundtable], adding that the effort would be focused largely on convincing legislative leaders to remove the governor.

Liberals and old-style conservatives in other states should take note of the cooperation the Ohioans have been able to forge on this issue.

The pension fund abuses

Though many writers (myself included) have been referring to this as "Coingate," the investigation into the handling of the pension-fund money is leading far beyond Tom Noe's rare-coin investments.

The Oversight Commission is looking into the investment practices of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Yesterday it surfaced that beginning in 2002 the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had "repeatedly complained over several years that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation paid excessive fees to some of its brokers."

The letters sent by the SEC included one sent directly to Ohio Attorney General (and wannabe governor) Jim Petro. His Chief Council Elizabeth Smith wrote back to the SEC and told them that "the trading fees were acceptable."

Christopher Kirkpatrick and Mike Wilkinson write that—

One of the brokerage firms mentioned in the SEC letters is Great Lakes Capital Partners, operated by Patrick White, a former Cleveland police officer.

Mr. White has been linked to Mr. Gasper, who was forced to resign as chief investment officer for the bureau after $215 million was lost in an unapproved Bermuda hedge fund.

Mr. White and his firm are active politically, contributing nearly $30,000 to candidates, most of them Republicans.

Attorney General Jim Petro

If Jim Petro isn't corrupt, he's sure as shit incompetent. The House Minority Leader (a Democrat) said of him—

I don’t know what he does as the attorney general. But clearly going after people who are over-billing the state is one of his jobs.”

This may be news to the Attorney General as all the other crimes, misfeasances and malfeasances have been.

Petro is not, however, just sitting on his duff. No, he is going to court to argue against potential reforms of the Ohio electoral system. These reforms would come in the form of amendments to the Ohio constitution put forward by the group Reform Ohio Now (RON), so they're referred to as the RON amendments.

Jim Provance writes in the Blade

Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro has sided with the group trying to keep four election-reform constitutional amendments off the Ohio ballot, a move that places his office on both sides of the case.

Petitions for the amendments were gathered with the assistance of out-of-state workers, and that is the basis for the challenge.

Both Petro and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell oppose the amendments, which would end gerrymandering of the voting districts. If there's one thing they can't tolerate, it's fair and open government.

Previous posts
Ohio Republican Attorney General Petro has coins in his pocket (7/29/05)
Jean Schmidt elected to lifetime appointment as U.S. Congresswoman from Ohio (8/3/05)
Fun in Ohio (8/22/05)


First American graduate from Cuban medical school

Last Sunday Cedric Edwards of New Orleans became the first American ever to receive a medical degree from Cuba. But he was not alone. Over 1600 students from Latin America and the Caribbean also received their degrees from Cuba's Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), which opened in November 1999.

The graduation was a watershed event for the poorer countries of the hemisphere and was attended by over 20 foreign dignitaries including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Panamanian President Martin Torrijos. From the U.S., Lucius Walker of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization(IFCO)/Pastors for Peace, which had sponsored Edwards, was allowed to attend, but the U.S. would not permit Edwards' parents to travel for the event.

According to Rose Ana Dueñas writing in Granma,

Like his classmates from Latin America and the Caribbean, Edwards’ studies were completely free; his modest room-and-board, textbooks and tuition were all paid for by Cuba as part of the Revolution’s efforts to bring medical care to those who need it all over the world.

When President George W. Bush’s administration intensified its aggression against Cuba in 2004, it made an exception – under grassroots pressure – to the economic blockade and travel ban so that more than 80 young people from the United States studying medicine at ELAM could continue to do so, as could future students.

It would have been politically costly for them to deny young Black, Latino and other minority youth, from working-class families, the opportunity to become doctors and serve their communities.

It was in 2000 that Cuba opened ELAM’s doors to qualified U.S. students from such backgrounds whom otherwise would not be able to attend medical school because of the high cost. The students, in turn, pledge to work in needy and underserved communities after graduating.

.... The students come from 19 states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico; 85% of them are from minority groups and 73% are women.

Edwards found Cuba to be quite different from the impressions he had received in the U.S.—

"There’s a lot of propaganda against Cuba. My parents were scared. They thought it was dangerous. I was scared to death, but I wanted to get my medical degree no matter what, and I also thought it would be a good opportunity to learn about another country, since I had never traveled outside of the States."

Cuba turned out not to be so scary. "I was shocked in a good way. Everybody was friendly. You see people hitchhiking, which you never see in the U.S. It’s a different environment.

"As an African-American, I don’t feel the racial tension that I feel in the States. That feeling is completely new to me. I feel like I’m free, like I can do whatever I want without fear."

Edwards is also leaving with an appreciation for universal healthcare—

Together with his degree, he is taking with him a deep appreciation of Cuba’s medical system.

"I love the fact that regardless of a person’s economic situation, he or she can see a doctor and get preventive care, free of charge." This is quite different from the situation of millions of U.S. people who don’t have medical insurance and therefore only see a doctor when the illness has become severe or when it’s too late.

That may be the condition of our political system as well.

Prensa Latina reports that according to Castro,

... there are over 12,000 students from 83 countries studying medicine in Cuba.

.... the students come from South America (5,500) Central America (3,244), Mexico (489), United States (65) and Puerto Rico (2).

The Caribbean, with 1,039 students, and sub-Saharan Africa (777) are also represented, while 42 students come from Northern Africa and the Middle East, 61 from Asia and two from Europe.

Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfeld was touring South America and succeeded in establishing an expanded but still temporary military base in Paraguay. The likelihood is that the U.S. will attempt to make it permanent. More on that in another post.


Quote of the Day

They can take a $1 million missile and put it up some Iraqi's ass and they can't tell me what time my son's coming in? This is why my son's dead, this total incompetence.
—Ray Maida, father of Mark Maida who was killed May 26. The Army gave only hours' notice of the arrival of the body.

A victory for Fallwell over Falwell

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court and ruled that Christopher Lamparello did not violate the trademark of Jerry Falwell's by operating his site Lamparello uses his site to counter Falwell's homophobia, and Pastor Falwell has been harrassing him since 2001.

Larry O'Dell reports for the AP—

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton ruled last August that Lamparello's domain name was nearly identical to the trademark bearing Falwell's name and could confuse Web surfers, despite a disclaimer noting that it is not affiliated with Falwell. The appeals court disagreed, citing the adversarial nature of the Lamparello's site.

"After even a quick glance at the content of the website ... no one seeking Reverend Falwell's guidance would be misled by the domain name into believing that Reverend Falwell authorized the content of that website," Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote in the opinion....

"No one would believe that Reverend Falwell sponsored a site criticizing himself, his positions, and his interpretations of the Bible."

But the Falwellians aren't quite finished—

Falwell's attorney, John H. Midlen Jr., said he will ask the full appeals court to reconsider the decision.

"We have argued from day one that the likelihood of confusion test relates only to the domain name itself and not to the content of the Web site, which is not known to the Internet surfer until they've already been confused by the domain name," Midlen said. "It is an argument we will be pressing forcefully to the full court."

The panel considered the "initial interest confusion theory" but ruled that it applies only when someone is trying to profit financially. No such motive existed in this case, the court said.

This was a good decision. Bloggers and other internet informants need to be aware of it. Are you ready for

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Joke of the Day

The war is over, and the Iranians won.
—Timothy Garton Ash, columnist in the Guardian

Gallup: 77% think the Pentagon lies sometimes

The McCormick Tribune Foundation, a philanthropic organization established by the editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, commissioned a poll for their semi-annual Military and the Media Conference. The survey focussed on public perceptions of the military and the media. Conducted by the Gallup Organization, the poll surveyed 1,016 adults between May 31 and June 16 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. The results were released yesterday.

Here is a summary of the findings based upon the Foundation's press release "Americans' Confidence in Military News Coverage Takes Steep Drop"—

Americans' distrust of information coming from the media and the military is on the rise—good news when you consider that the trustworthiness of information coming from the military and the media is on the decline.

Is George Bush responsible?

I hope someday to do a post on "being responsible." There is a growing chorus of pundits who insist that we should withdraw from Iraq—oh, yes, yes, yes! But not now—it wouldn't be "responsible."

Before getting around to that broader matter, I thought it would be well to consider whether George Bush is "responsible." gives 8 meanings for "responsible"—

  1. Liable to be required to give account, as of one's actions or of the discharge of a duty or trust.
  2. Involving personal accountability or ability to act without guidance or superior authority: a responsible position within the firm.
  3. Being a source or cause.
  4. Able to make moral or rational decisions on one's own and therefore answerable for one's behavior.
  5. Able to be trusted or depended upon; reliable.
  6. Based on or characterized by good judgment or sound thinking: responsible journalism.
  7. Having the means to pay debts or fulfill obligations.
  8. Required to render account; answerable: The cabinet is responsible to the parliament.

Now let's see if any of these attributes might apply to the President.

1. Liable to be required to give account, as of one's actions or of the discharge of a duty or trust.

Since Bush may not be re-elected, he is liable to be required to give account only to the extent that impeachment is a possibility. Since impeachment is highly unlikely we may say that Bush in this sense is probably not responsible.

2. Involving personal accountability or ability to act without guidance or superior authority.

Are you kidding? Bush can't piss without wetting Rove or Cheney.1

3. Being a source or cause.

George Bush was the source or cause of a great deal of grief to his parents earlier in life. But his father was able to secure a post for him that has effectively put him out of harm's way. At the same time, care had to be taken that George would not be the source or cause of any significant government decisions (see 2 above). There is still some concern over his insistence on riding bicycles, where he remains a danger to himself and others.

4. Able to make moral or rational decisions on one's own and therefore answerable for one's behavior.

If George were competent to make moral or rational decisions, his dad wouldn't have needed to secure him a position as President. And George—Christian that he is—wouldn't have accepted it after having considered Mark 8:36.

5. Able to be trusted or depended upon; reliable

Surely you jest.

6. Based on or characterized by good judgment or sound thinking

If Bush had applied himself, he might have had the wit and wisdom of Mr. Potato Head, that "crafty, resourceful potato who has a weakness for gambling, drink, female vegetables and a penchant for exploring!" But alas, he didn't.

7. Having the means to pay debts or fulfill obligations

It'll take generations to pay off the bills he's run up.

8. Required to render account; answerable

The members of Congress, to whom he normally would be answerable, have decided it's best just to let him romp about the countryside. If George knows anything at all about what's going on, they'd rather not found out.

As you can see, the term "responsible" fits George Bush like a condom on a small penis—only loosely at best.

Please bear that in mind as you hear the pundits pontificate on the "responsible" position vis-à-vis the withdrawal from Iraq—or anything else, for that matter.

Related post
George Bush: Cheerleader-in-Chief of Social Security "reform" (2/14/05)


1Here's how a former Republican insider matter-of-factly describes the power relations of the Bush White House—

While Karl Rove may call the shots when it comes to President Bush's domestic agenda, Cheney is king when it comes to foreign policy. Paul Wolfowitz may have been the architect of the war in Iraq, but Dick Cheney made the call to go forward and persuaded the president to give his approval.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Quote of the Day

[Cindy] Sheehan gets quizzed about strategic policy as if she were on the Council on Foreign Relations, and she gets ridiculed when she founders. She's treated the way the interrogators ought to be treating the likes of Pat Robertson when he says we should save ourselves some bucks on another war by just assassinating the president of Venezuela (which is illegal under a presidential ban). He's a Yale law grad, a Phi Beta Kappa, a former presidential candidate and a TV preacher with a tele-flock following of 20 years' standing. He holds himself up as an authority and ought to be held to account as one, and not just be dismissed, as Donald Rumsfeld remarked, as "a private citizen." —Patt Morrison in LA Times op-ed

Nonsense of the Day

With most of the congressional Democrats having voted for the war three years ago, many have a hard time admitting that they were misled. —Clarence Page in his latest column

Why, pray, should the Democrats have a hard time admitting they were misled when George Bush, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice and the whole lying pack of them claimed to have been misled?

What the Democrats are having a hard time admitting is that the corporations in their states and districts—political contributors all—are greatly enjoying the benefits of the war.


Pentagon to investigate itself in Pat Tillman case

The parents of former NFL player Pat Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan by his fellow Army Rangers, have raised enough ruckus to force the Pentagon into the appearance of investigating itself. The Pentagon tried to turn Tillman into a war hero, as they did with Jessica Lynch (who started college yesterday).

Josh White of the Washington Post reports,

The Defense Department's inspector general is reviewing the Army's investigations into the friendly-fire death of Cpl. Patrick Tillman after repeated assertions from his family that the probes did not hold officials accountable for wrongdoing and did not fully explain the shooting in Afghanistan last year.

Tillman's mother and father have railed against the Army for what they have said were repeated lies about the nature of their son's death and what they view as a cover-up.

Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004, while fighting with his Army Ranger unit in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. Tillman was shot multiple times by comrades who told investigators they mistook him for the enemy.

Officials in Afghanistan then burned Tillman's uniform and body armor. They reported Tillman had been killed by enemy fire, ordered other soldiers not to discuss the incident, and then honored Tillman with a Silver Star. Army officials waited until weeks later to tell the family that they believed it was a friendly-fire case.

Related post
"I think I need some serious counseling"—Hero propaganda (2/10/05)


Pentagon Lie of the Day

The headstone is not a PR purpose. —Steve Muro, Department of Veterans Affairs official

The Pentagon has introduced an innovation on its gravestones. According to Dave Pace of the AP,

Unlike earlier wars, nearly all Arlington National Cemetery gravestones for troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan are inscribed with the slogan-like operation names the Pentagon selected to promote public support for the conflicts.

Families of fallen soldiers, sailors and Marines are being told they may have the government-furnished headstones engraved with "Operation Enduring Freedom" or "Operation Iraqi Freedom" at no extra charge, no matter where the burial is.

The vast majority of stones from other eras are inscribed with just the basic information: name, rank, military branch, date of death and, if applicable, the war and foreign country in which the veteran served.

Families are supposed to have final approval over the tombstones. However, the titles have sometimes appeared without approval.


Condemnations of the Day

Pat Robertson does not advance the Christian faith by announcing on television his own preferences about who around the world he wants killed —Phil Strickland, director, Christian Life Commission of the Texas Baptist Convention

Those of us who call for Muslims to condemn terrorism by their brethren cannot be silent when one of ours advocates this kind of violence. — Charles Wade, Executive Director, Texas Baptist Convention

Clearly Scripture gives governments authority to go to war, but assassination is another thing all together. Assassination is always a criminal act. —Craig Mitchell, instructor of Christian ethics, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

All as quoted by Tara Dooley in the Houston Chronicle


Steer away from these steers

Michael Hedges of the Houston Chronicle reports,
The Treasury Department, trying to block an elaborate money-laundering scheme, has announced that two Mexican cattle companies are fronts for drug-trafficking cartels.

The action means that cattle sold by the companies to Texas ranchers after Friday's announcement are subject to seizure by the federal government, said a high-ranking Treasury official who asked not to be named.

"Cattle already purchased and owned before the companies were identified as tied to the drug cartels are not going to suddenly be blocked," the official said.

For the life of me I can't see why a "high-ranking Treasury official" would request anonymity in this case. Has it reached the point that American officials fear retaliation from Mexican drug lords—or Texas ranchers?

Two Mexican drug cartels were named in the Treasury Department's statement, the Arriola Marquez organization and the Arellano Felix cartel based in Tijuana. The Arriola Marquez group, based in Mexico's Chihuahua state, is linked to Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the department said. Guzman leads one of the factions fighting for control of Nuevo Laredo and its smuggling routes into Texas, officials have said.

The two Mexican cattle companies named by the Treasury Department are Corrales San Ignacio S.P.R. de R.L. de C.V. and Del Nortes Carnes Finas San Ignacio S.A. de C.V., both of Mexico's Chihuahua state.


Really bad luck

Jose Luis Betancourt, a Mexican resident of Brownsville, thought he had won $2.7 million from the Texas lottery back in 2002. But Betancourt is now a convicted drug trafficker serving a 24-year sentence in federal prison.

Last week the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed his sentence and his forfeiture of half of a $5.5 million lottery ticket that he had bought with a neighbor. The jury found that he had paid for his half of the ticket with drug money.

The U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of Texas was so happy that they issued a press release—

Two days after the Texas Lottery Commission paid Betancourt approximately $5.5 million, representing the cash out proceeds from the Texas Lottery minus an amount withheld for federal income taxes, he delivered cocaine that led to his arrest and convictions. Betancourt's arrest followed his long involvement in drug trafficking activities in the Brownsville, Texas, area.

Federal law authorizes the government to seek to forfeit all property and proceeds obtained from drug trafficking and any monies or other property obtained with those proceeds. The Fifth Circuit agreed with the District Court's determination that Betancourt did not have any other source of income aside from selling cocaine; therefore, he acquired his interest in a winning Texas lottery ticket with money he had made selling cocaine. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals concluded that Betancourt's Texas Lottery proceeds of approximately $2.7 million – his interest in the total amount of the winnings – were correctly forfeited to the United States.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Statistics of the Day

A Pew poll taken last March concluded that 33 percent of Democrats gave their leaders high marks for standing up for party principles. By contrast, 51 percent of Republicans approved of the way their leaders handled party issues.
—Bennett Roth in "Liberal Democrats want the party to take a stand"

Utah antiwar demo draws 2000

While Bush was in Salt Lake City addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, an estimated 2000 antiwar demonstrators gathered to address Bush. Celeste Zappala, co-founder of Gold Star Mothers with Cindy Sheehan, was the featured speaker. The mayor of SLC also spoke.

According to the AP,

One of the event's organizers, Aaron Davis with a group called Veterans for Peace, said he filed a permit for a gathering of 1,000 people. Thirty minutes into the three-hour event Monday, he said he knew there would be that many and more.

This is good news.

Previous post
Biggest demo ever in Utah? (8/22/05)


Factlet of the Day

Gasoline costs a lot less in Baghdad than it does in the United States.... in Baghdad it's 8 cents a gallon. This astonishing price is not a result of Iraq's producing oil; it's because the United States subsidizes the price of gas in Iraq, most of which is imported.
—Editorial in the Toledo Blade

Ohio may get its own Patriot Act

Now that Ohio has a proven-corrupt Governor's office, a Secretary of State who cheats voters out of their right to vote and Republicans in control of both houses of the legislature, the state is beginning to look like a microcosm of the federal government. So what else do Ohioans need? Their own Patriot Act.

The Toledo Blade editorializes

WHILE Congress debates whether to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, Ohio lawmakers are quietly - and unnecessarily - creating a state counterpart of the draconian anti-terrorist law.

The legislation, substitute Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Jacobson, a Dayton-area Republican, would waste state resources by duplicating federal anti-terrorism laws, make Ohioans less free than they are now, and would do little or nothing to actually make anyone safer from terrorists.

New police powers conferred under the bill would give local authorities nearly free rein to stop, question, and arrest anyone at almost any time, and would broadly target immigrants by requiring state officials to report "suspected aliens" to federal immigration officials.

In addition to seriously abridging the civil liberties of every Ohioan, the measure would appear to require a new and expensive bureaucracy within the state Department of Public Safety that would be given sweeping authority to screen applicants for state licenses for would-be terrorists.

Applicants for any state license except a driver's license would be denied and could be charged with a felony if they failed (or refused) to swear that they had not given "material assistance" to any organization on the U.S. State Department's terrorism exclusion list.

The first problem is that a licensee who had knowingly provided terrorist aid would never answer yes. The second is that this "have you now or have you ever been" line of questioning was discredited during the anti-communist scares of the 1950s as an unconstitutional abridgement of the right against self-incrimination.

In addition, those who were denied licenses but later were found to have done nothing wrong would have to negotiate a murky appeals process. They would be considered guilty until proven innocent, standing the Constitution on its head.

With the advent of the federal Department of Homeland Security, Congress already has created what may be the biggest government bureaucracy of all time without demonstrating that anyone is actually safer. We see no need to duplicate that sense of insecurity at the state level.

Monday, August 22, 2005


John Pilger: The rise of the democratic police state

British journalist John Pilger has just concentrated our minds a little more as he describes some of the doings in Britain.

A highlight—

On 26 July, Blair emoted that the entire British nation was under threat and abused the judiciary in terms, as Simon Jenkins noted, "that would do credit to his friend Vladimir Putin". What we are seeing in Britain is the rise of the democratic police state.

Should you be tempted to dismiss all this as esoteric or merely mad, travel to any Muslim community in Britain, especially in the north west and sense the state of siege and fear. On 15 July, Blair's Britain of the future was glimpsed when the police raided the Iqra Learning Centre and book store near Leeds. The Iqra Trust is a well-known charity that promotes Islam worldwide as "a peaceful religion which covers every walk of life." The police smashed down the door, wrecked the shop and took away anti-war literature which they described as "anti-western".

Among this was, reportedly, a DVD of the Respect Party MP George Galloway addressing the US Senate and a New Statesman article of mine illustrated by a much-published photograph of a Palestinian man in Gaza attempting to shield his son from Israeli bullets before the boy was shot to death. The photograph was said to be "working people up", meaning Muslim people. Clearly, David Gibbons, this journal's esteemed art director, who chose this illustration, will be called before the Blair Incitement Tribunal. One of my books, The New Rulers of the World, was also apparently confiscated. It is not known whether the police have yet read the chapter that documents how the Americans, with help from MI6 and the SAS, created, armed and bankrolled the terrorists of the Islamic Mujahideen, not least Osama Bin Laden.

The raid was deliberately theatrical, with the media tipped off. Two of the alleged 7 July bombers had been volunteers in the shop almost four years ago. "When they became hardliners", said a community youth worker. "They left and have never been back and they’ve had nothing to do with the shop." The raid was watched by horrified local people. who are now scared, angry and bitter.

If the raid on the Muslim bookstore in Britain was attended by the media, the media were apparently not invited to a raid of a "rave" in Utah on Saturday by some 90 police agents—

Many eyewitness accounts indicate that officers singled out party goers attempting to document the events on camcorders, cameras and camera phones. Victims have claimed that officers knocked cameras out of the hands of the owner, even confiscating some. Luckily, one video has surfaced, and is quickly spreading across the internet, as well as being featured by at least one local news station. The video clearly displays a large number of officers dressed in full camouflage fatigues, some brandishing rifles. In the higher quality version of the video, which includes sound, it is apparent that the use of a taser was employed. While the video is somewhat unclear at times, the viewer can plainly see an officer atop a young girl fully subdued on the ground on her stomach; he swings on her at least twice, as more officers rush forward to manhandle the girl. It is clear that many others were subdued using similar levels of force.
If there is one sentiment that the Neocons and Conservatives share, it is a hatred for "the Sixties." The country came damned close to an outbreak of real democracy, and they don't intend to see that happen again.

Biggest demo ever in Utah?

Bush is in Utah today to promote his war to the Veterans of Far Wars (VFW), and the mayor of Salt Lake City hopes to greet him with "the biggest demonstration this state has ever seen." The mayor says he will personally attend the demonstration.

Yes, folks. Things are finally heating up. The senior vice-commander of the VFW called Mayor Rocky Anderson a "son of a bitch" and of course questioned his patriotism, which the SLC Tribune describes as "a howl of outrage."

"I voted for the son of a bitch and I'll never vote for him again," said the Vietnam War veteran.

Anderson disagrees with that measure of patriotism.

"Patriotism," the mayor said, "demands that people speak out when we see our government officials acting in such anti-democratic and deceitful ways to the people of our country."

He also said: "I don't understand people simply blindly going along with the sort of deceit and utter cruelty of this administration. It's not just we have the right to speak out, but we have the obligation to speak out when we see misconduct on the part of the government. The most patriotic thing we can do is stand up against the misuse of governmental power.

Give him hell, Rocky!

Meanwhile, according to Mike Allen in the Washington Post on Page 1 of the Style section,

Camp Casey, which started with one mom and a grievance, mushroomed over the weekend into a massive settlement with a party tent for 2,000, a shuttle-bus service and an elaborate catering operation that deposited a 26-foot-long refrigerator truck, generators, and restaurant-quality ranges and warming ovens in a field next to President Bush's ranch.

The hippie crowd that originally was drawn to Cindy Sheehan's protest is still in town -- activists from Food Not Bombs are sleeping in an old school bus that has been painted sky blue and can be started only with jumper cables.1 But now they have been joined by liberals from throughout the West who are double-parking their hybrid-fueled cars to take part in a peace protest with a budget that is $120,000 and rising.

This must be further upsetting to the Democrats, who are described on Page 1 of the News section as being "split" and in a dither.

Related post
Where's the antiwar movement? (7/6/05)


1It is the view of writers and editors of the Post, as it is of all right-thinking people, that the value of an opinion should be measured in dollars. [back]


Fun in Ohio

Ohio Governor Bob Taft last week was fined $4,000 on 4 misdemeanor charges for failing to disclose golf outings, dinners and other fine gifts. In fact there were some 52 known occasions when the Governor received a gift worth more than $75, so the governor was not actually penalized; he was just ordered to pay the State the minimum value of what he had already received, which has been estimated to be more than $6,000.

Despite the carping of critics, Governor Taft insists that Ohio does not have a "pay-to-play" system of government. And I believe him on this. It would be better to call it a "play-to-pay" system, since you needed a round of golf or a dinner with the Governor in order even to discuss remuneration.

Governor Taft suggests that his golfing partners and dinner companions were all dear friends, even if an extraordinary number of them happened to be lobbyists or businessmen seeking "state money, deregulation, or policy change."

"These were recreational events with friends, primarily on the weekends, and we don't have a pay-to-play system," Mr. Taft told reporters.... "There is no connection between golf or contributions and state contracts in our administration."

The public has been misled by organizations such as the Center for Public Integrity and the liberal press into thinking that the Governor's associates did not desire a true friendship with him. In fact there was a lot of catching up on family news, which is what lobbyists and politicians do when they get together.

There was one golfing companion, however, who was a mystery to the Governor—Tom Noe, who managed the state's $50 million investment in rare coins.

"We didn't know who Tom Noe really was," said Taft, who received $22,000 in campaign contributions from Noe over the years. "He fooled people from one end of Ohio to the other, including me."

In fact, though Governor Taft has known Mr. Noe for 20 years, he said he didn't know that Mr. Noe had business with the state at all, which must have left him puzzled why Mr. Noe was out on the fairway.

Not only did Governor Taft not know of Noe's involvement with the state, he certainly knew nothing of any "rare-coin fund." The Governor has also suggested that Mr. Noe did everything he could to hide his involvement in state business from him.

So yesterday Mr. Noe took umbrance at the Governor's remarks and has demanded a "correction"—

Tom Noe yesterday asked Gov. Bob Taft to issue a public statement correcting his accusation Thursday that Mr. Noe "made a great effort to conceal" his role in the state's $50 million investment in rare coins.

If Mr. Taft does not acknowledge that he made a "simple mistake," then Mr. Noe "will help people to understand that it was incorrect," said Mr. Noe's attorney, William Wilkinson.

Now you can't get much clearer than that, can you?

Mr. Noe has been trying to phone and email the Governor without success. (I have had similar bad luck, as it seems the Governor is more and more away on the golf course.) But he is sharing with the public the content of his email—

"I saw your press conference on Thursday after your court appearance where you stated that I had 'made a great effort to conceal' my association with the coin funds," Mr. Noe wrote in a message released to The Blade through the coin-dealer's attorney. "We all know that is an incorrect statement."

He added, "I am requesting that you immediately correct your misstatement publicly," and signed the e-mail "Tom Noe."

There is concern as to just what the Governor should do in the face of such not-so-veiled threats—

David Mark, the editor of Campaigns & Elections, a Washington-based nonpartisan political magazine, said Mr. Taft is "between a rock and hard place."

He said Mr. Taft would be better off cutting his losses and issuing the retraction, rather than letting Mr. Noe's attorney jog his memory.

"Noe has a lot more to tell, whether it's to the media or prosecutors," Mr. Mark said. "It sounds like the governor's troubles are not over. His memory might very well get freshened up in the not too distant future."

Mr. Wilkinson said he and Mr. Noe will wait to see if Mr. Taft complies with Mr. Noe's request today. Mr. Wilkinson said he plans to talk to reporters tomorrow.

Tomorrow is today. Keep an eye peeled for what Mr. Wilkinson has to say.

Related posts
Ohio Republican Attorney General Petro has coins in his pocket (7/29/05)
Hope of the Day (7/21/05)

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Statistic of the Day

The Labor Department reported that the average weekly earnings of people in the private sector who are not bosses fell during July by 0.2 percent.
—Thomas Oliphant in "Disturbing news on the economy

Disappointment in the war effort

Bad news for the U.S. war effort. Of course by "war effort" I mean the U.S. effort to conduct another war—this time with Iran. For a group that doesn't seem to have a clue as to how to win a war, you would think the Bush administration might try something else, such as diplomacy. But I suppose that would expose them to vulnerabilities on two fronts, since most Americans don't yet realize that they're equally bad at diplomacy.

In any case the U.S. has been charging that Iran has been trying to produce highly enriched uranium that could be used in nuclear weapons or—to put it in a way that's more familiar—that Iran is trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. Iran has consistently denied the charge, though traces of the uranium had been found on Iranian centrifuges in 2003.

Now the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has tested those traces and found they were produced elsewhere. According to the Washington Post,

U.N. nuclear agency tests have concluded that traces of highly enriched uranium on centrifuge parts were from imported equipment rather than from any enrichment activities by Iran, a senior Western diplomat said. The findings support Iran's claims that the material entered the country with centrifuge parts provided by Pakistan. The diplomat who confirmed the results spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

The White House has declined to comment while they try to think of something else.

Related posts
The Butler Report and "AQ Khan" (7/16/04)


Hope of the Day

First people start telling lies, then the lies start to conflict. And, the fact is that there is nothing Bob Taft can say that won't incriminate Noe. There is little Noe can say that won't incriminate Taft. —State Sen. Marc Dann of Ohio, commenting on the relationship between Governor Taft and Coingate investor Tom Noe

Quote of the Day

In Washington, people in government often communicate with one another and with the public in guarded, even coded statements. The mass media seldom detect, note or explain these messages.
—Richard A. Clarke, national security insider, in the NY Times

MoveOn tiptoes around the war

Norman Solomon at Truthout has noticed the truth about MoveOn—its leadership is pro-war. Oh they try to disguise the fact, which they've just done by supporting the Cindy Sheehan vigil. But by blunting the force of the antiwar movement they may be doing more harm than good—and it raises the question of whom they're serving.

Solomon writes,

... the disconnects between MoveOn and much of the grassroots antiwar movement are disturbing.

Part of the problem is MoveOn's routine fuzziness about the war - and the way that the group is inclined to water down the messages of antiwar activism, much of which is not connected to the organization

And their description of the Sheehan vigils is pure hypocrisy—

Consider how the MoveOn website summarized the vigils: "Last night, tens of thousands of supporters gathered at 1,625 vigils to acknowledge the sacrifices made by Cindy Sheehan, her son Casey and the more than 1,800 brave American men and women who have given their lives in Iraq - and their moms and families." Such a gloss excludes a key reason why many people participated in the vigils: They wanted to express clear opposition to any further US involvement in the war.

Iraq does not seem to be a significant issue for MoveOn—

Despite its high-profile role in the vigils this week, MoveOn is still not giving a high priority to addressing the Iraq war in its ongoing work. When I went to the MoveOn website today and looked at its roster of "Current Campaigns," just a single item on the list was focused on Iraq - and that one, from June, involved "demanding that Bush address the evidence in the 'Downing Street Memo.'"

Clearly MoveOn is little more than a front for the Democratic Party and displays the lack of policy and direction for which the Democrats are justly famous.

Previous posts
What in the hell is a content-neutral movement? (3/22/05)
MoveOn conducts a push poll on Iraq and cons its supporters (6/23/05)
What is it with MoveOn? (7/12/05)

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