It wasn’t long after my grandfather died that we were in New York City again, visiting my grandmother, and we all went out to dinner at her second favorite German restaurant. Her favorite one was a short walk, six blocks or so, from her house in Queens, where they always had her Dewers waiting for her and she was known as Mrs. Noble; we had to take a cab to this one, but it was more convenient for Aunt Lillian—my grandmother’s best friend, an aunt by design rather than blood—who was taking the bus to meet us.

We’d already been seated when Lil came in with her usual bluster, her hand wrapped in a pile of bloody tissues. Her ring, the wedding band she still wore years after Uncle Herb had died, had somehow been caught on the door of the bus, which had started to pull away while she was still attached. It had torn her finger terribly, and we wanted to take her to the emergency room. “I’m fine,” she said. “Bring me a drink and some ice. Let’s eat.”

We had a lovely meal, only interrupted by Lil’s waving away the occasional furtive glances at her hand, which rested in a champagne bucket full of ice.

What I remember most about Lil was her sparkling eyes and her personality, which managed to be bigger than life and yet completely unaffected at the same time. She was utterly charming and loved and related to my sister and I, even though she and Herb had never had kids of their own; I don’t know whether by choice or circumstance. Lil was a working woman, long before such creatures were meant to exist, and she was great at her job. Witty and wicked, with a bawdy sense of humor and a raucous, infectious laugh, she didn’t take any shit from anyone, and was forced by her boss to keep a note on her desk that read: Don’t use the word fuck on the phone.

Lil was never one for advice giving, or trying to teach lessons about life or anything else, even though there’s no doubt there was a wealth of information and experience worth imparting. She traveled extensively—had been to all 50 states, and loved to talk about how beautiful Alaska is—but her stories were never laden with surreptitious meaning. She just was, and I don’t think it ever occurred to her to be any other way.

She died very suddenly when I was still quite young. At the time, I don’t think I realized how much she had affected me, nor what she really meant to me—I never expected how often I would think of her in my own adulthood. I wonder sometimes if she had any inclination. Did my wide eyes at I sat in her lap listening to her talk convey a sense of how much her words meant, how much she meant…and would mean in my future? I hope so. And I think so, too. Lil was wonderfully perceptive that way.

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Sneer and Loathing at Alternate Brain

Which is, of course, why it’s a daily read.

First up, Fixer says it’s time to impeach President Stupid.

We should not have to wait until '08. We should refuse to be led by a criminal organization.
I can’t say I disagree. If perjuring oneself about a blowjob is an impeachable offense (and frankly, you won’t ever find me arguing that it’s not; perjury is perjury, regardless of how resolutely asinine were the circumstances that provoked it), then lying to take the country to war ought to register, too. (See G.D. Frogsdong for the pertinent reference.)

And you know what? Zogby reports today that 42% of Americans don’t disagree, either:
In a sign of the continuing partisan division of the nation, more than two-in-five (42%) voters say that, if it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment.
Us crazies is findin’ ourselves in ever-larger company these days.

Meanwhile, Gordon at Alternate Brain also takes on the College Republicans who support the war but aren’t too interested in fighting it. Says G in response to a College Republican who claims his “old hippie” parents don’t want him to go:
"Oh, I would mos' def love to kick some raghead ass but Mommy won't let me" seems just a little lame, but that's just me. Whatever works. Those old hippies are savin' your worthless life, dipshit.
No kidding. If I was the mom of some little shit who turned out to be a College Republican that supported the war but wouldn't fight it, I'd forge his name on the enlistment papers myself.

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White House Announces Formation of Domestic Secret Police

What can a girl who’s sure to end up on the domestic enemies list in no time say?


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Energy Blues

As if the administration’s new energy bill isn’t disgraceful enough (“Another controversial issue is a House provision to protect major oil companies and gasoline refiners from lawsuits over MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, a gasoline additive that has contaminated drinking water in hundreds of communities.”), now the administration has designated Joseph Kelliher to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency which controls the country's natural gas industry, hydroelectric projects, electric utilities, and oil pipelines, and has played a critical role in the deregulation of those industries.
President Bush had previously picked Rebecca Klein, the former Republican head of the Texas Public Utilities Commission and a close friend of the president, to chair FERC but red flags were raised recently during a routine FBI background check on Klein which forced the president to choose a new chairman at the last minute. The White House would not comment on the FBI’s probe on Klein. Klein did not return numerous calls for comment.

Still, news of Kelliher’s appointment to chair FERC came late Wednesday as a welcome surprise to many industry lobbyists and energy executives who view him as a staunch supporter of the free-market principles of deregulation and an advocate for eliminating regulatory restrictions that interferes with the free-market, despite the fact those rules are in place to protect consumers from energy price gouging and market manipulation that took place prior to the Enron scandal four years ago and, to some extent, is still somewhat routine in various parts of the country.

However, what’s most troubling about Kelliher’s appointment to head FERC, a role in which his main priority will now be to protect consumers from the manipulative tactics of the very industry he enjoys a cozy relationship with, is the relentless lobbying of bigwigs in the energy industry in early 2001, as a member of Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force, to help write President Bush’s National Energy Policy in such a way that would be financially beneficial to energy corporations—at the expense of consumers.
One of those bigwigs whose ideas for our national energy policy he solicited: Stephen Craig Sayle, an Enron Corp. lobbyist, who was the brain child behind market-based emissions trading, which found its way into the administration’s national energy policy.

Funny how the White House Personnel Announcement doesn’t mention that part of his résumé.

I believe I can say with some certainty, though, that if a reporter happened to question the administration about this decision (oh, ho ho ho—how I do make myself laugh with such preposterous hypotheticals!), the administration would assure us that suggesting this appointment might reflect poorly on their assertions that they are stewards of the environment, as opposed to soulless favor farmers, constantly dumping ever more egregious amounts of slop into the trough at which feed the corporate pigs who will richly reward them in their post-White House repose, is pure partisan nonsense, and that Mr. Kelliher will do a fine, fine job on behalf of the American people. So we can all breathe easy.

At least for awhile.

*cough cough*

(Hat tip Freiheit und Wissen, who’s doing a blog round-up of anyone writing on this one, so if you do, leave him a comment or a trackback.)

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..And somewhere, lying on a filthy mattress reeking of PBR and Vicks Vap-O Rub, Fred Phelps has a minor seizure.

Spain has just legalized gay marriage, including with it the right to adopt children, and inheritance rights.

Bravo, Spain. You know, I do take it as a good sign that the rest of the world is still marching forward, even as the US tries to crawl back into the past. Hopefully, one day, we'll be forced to catch up.

(Don't sleep in the Cross-Post, darling, don't walk in the pouring rain...)

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You are Napoleon Dynamite and a buttload of gangs
are trying to recruit you.

Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Here’s a curious fact about Shakespeare’s Sister… I can do dead-on impressions of both Napoleon and Kip Dynamite. Also, sometimes when Mr. Shakes is grumpy, I put on the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack and do some funky dance moves for him. It blows his mind that I remember all of Napoleon’s crappy choreography.

(Hat tip Kip, aka Evil Li-brul Overlord.)

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“Bush: Sorry and Sorrier”

Go read The Heretik, who never fails to amaze, and truly outdoes himself today.

Call Bush a lame duck, a cooked goose, or a roast tom turkey—this foul fowl is done.

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He'd Know, I Guess

"One of the things I like to say about the leader’s job is that it is somewhat similar to being the groundskeeper at a cemetery: There are a lot of people under you, but no one ever listens."

-- Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), quoted in Roll Call.

Thus speaketh the cryptkeeper.

Mmmffff. Blurrrggghhhhhhhh.
Brains taste good.

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Blair is Full of Crap (Just Like his Yankee Masters)

So Blair claims that the Downing Street Memos distort the facts. Bullshit they do. This is, for my money, the best quote from the AP wire story (which is being picked up by seemingly every newspaper from here to Hiroshima, including papers who haven't even reported on the DSMs until now):

"I am a bit astonished at how this has received such coverage in the U.S. because the fact is, after the memo was done, we went to the United Nations," Blair said.
Ah, the Cheney defense. Well, here's the problem with that: executing the scheme outlined in the Memos is technically proof of the scheme, not a means of discrediting documentation of the scheming. The originally leaked memo states:
The NSC had no patience with the UN route…

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors…

The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.
So Blair's big attempt at discrediting the Memos is to say that because they did exactly what the Memos suggest they considered doing in order to make the war more politically palatable, somehow the Memos distort the facts. I guess trying to give people whiplash is their best option at this point.

What a bunch of pricks.

Oh, and by the way, all the wingnuts who have been yowling about how the Memos are probably fake? They're not. Once and for all, they're not. If nothing else, Blair's dissembling has proved that much.

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Jim Belushi is 24% Republican

Misty at Expostulation emailed me the link to a site that tracks celebrity campaign contributions. It tells you how much they contributed and to what political party.

The Liberal Dream Celebrity Award goes to Steve Bing, most famously the father of Elizabeth Hurley’s baby, who has donated $10,888,319, 88% of which went to the Dems and the other 12% to Special Interests, with nary a dime falling into the hands of the GOP.

Here are some other random stats for you:

For Bob Barker, the price was right to the tune of $2,000 to the GOP. 100% Republican.

David Blaine’s $2,000 vanished right into the GOP’s pockets. 100% Republican.

Drew Carey proves the rule—there are no funny conservatives. $3,000 to the GOP. 100% Republican.

Tom Clancy knows who butters his bread by creating international conflicts his ghost writer can turn into a poorly written novel. $147,750 to the GOP. 100% Republican.

Tony Danza can’t decide who the boss is. His $2,300 went 43% to the Dems, 43% to the GOP, and 14% to Special Interests.

Clint Eastwood, who I believe became a mayor on a Republican ticket, seems to have changed his mind. 80% of his $1,250 of contributions went to the Dems.

Joe Eszterhas, purveyor of such family values films as Showgirls, is 100% Republican, which made the GOP $1,000 richer.

With a donation of $6,500, Sammy Hagar is 100% Republican, except perhaps for his hair which looks more Libertarian, if you ask me.

Dr. Phil spared $1,000 for his favorite models of psychological health. 100% Republican.

It turns out Ted Nugent, heinous heir aficionado and lunatic gun nut, who I always regarded as the original rightwing nutzoid, is only 33% Republican. The remaining 67% of his $1,500 contribution went to the Dems.

What do Maury Povich and Prince have in common? They’re both 100% Republican, although Prince outspent Maury’s $2,000 by another grand.

Mr. Smith, aka Jimmy Stewart, was 93% Republican, with total donations $56,097. He was a Bob Dole fan, it seems.

Some other funny things I noticed—all game show hosts seem to be Republicans, and although most country stars are Republicans, there are a couple of notable exceptions: Tim McGraw, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, and Faith Hill (as examples) are all 100% Dems (except for Raitt, who’s 1% Republican). Sex and the City author Candice Bushnell is solidly GOP, but Sarah Jessica Parker is solidly Dem.

Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien were both 100% Dems, which means I can go on enjoying their shows…not to mention The Golden Girls: Rue McClanahan is 100% Dem! I love you, Blanche Devereaux.

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I’m reading Life of Pi right now, a book with which I have fallen madly in love, and I just found out it’s being made into a movie directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Cream!

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Wednesday Blogwhoring

Your chance to promote your blog, other blogs, and various things of interest. What's going on?

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Angry Old Broad pointed this out to me in comments: (Over in Spudville)

US Suspected of Keeping Secret Prisoners on Warships

"Rumors," yes, but seriously... WTF is up with this???

They're seriously going off the edge of looney and into full-blown insane cartoon evil territory.

(Ooo-eee-oo-ah-ah, ting-tang, walla-walla cross-post)

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Justice Desserts


Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."
Honestly—how bad was that decision that I’m even finding wingnuts’ responses genuinely funny?

(What I don’t find funny is their constant refrain that this crackpot ruling was because of liberals. I haven’t heard a liberal yet who agrees with that shit, so shut it with the “liberal activist judges” crap. Here’s finally an issue on which we can agree; stop ruining it.)

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Re: Paul’s post below, The Heretik liveblogged the president’s speech last night:

Shorthand Live Blog of President of the United State’s Speech on Iraq. I’m not sure he convinced anyone on this one tonight, not even himself. Has there ever been a Presidential address in the usual Oval Office setting political PR Event in front of hand picked troops that so invigorated the nation fell so flat?

Here is the play by play:
Stand in front of troops. I have a dream plan. Commander in Chief. Rah, rah. A plan, a progress. Elections. September Eleventh. The Mission. September Eleventh. Hate. Innocent. Coalition. September Eleventh. Hail to the Troops. We were attacked. September Eleventh. Fight them there. Ideology of Hate. Not here. Rah, rah, Hail to the troops. God bless America. September Eleventh.

Maybe now people will give Bush the Downing Street Memos the deserved respect.
That about sums it up.

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Sean Hannity: Pathetic 8-Year Old

God, this is awesome. Jebus bless Crooks & Liars.

We need more Democrats like Charlie Rangel getting on shows like H&C and poking them full of holes. He didn't back off, he had some great points, and even Colmes managed to get in some DSM comments.

Of course, rather than offer any debate or facts, Hannity cuts off Rangel just as they cut to commercial (his favorite tactic), claiming everything he said was a conspiracy theory, and "maybe next time we'll get facts." What a miserable little man he is. Sorry Sean, but your snide comments did nothing to deflate the message that Rangel (and even Colmes!) got across. You lose, wanker.

Is it just me, or does Hannity look tired? I think even he is getting sick of the dung dropping out of his mouth on a daily basis... how long can one man do this kind of thing before he cracks? He doesn't even try to debate anymore, he just sneaks in the last word.

Look at him as the clip starts. That's the face of a beaten man.

(Girls just want to cross-post...)

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You're Dethpicable

Well, I'm sure today, like me, you'll be combing the blogs and news sites to read about President Quackers' speech. Judging by the silence, it would appear that most of us lefty bloggers are either still:
1. Blinking the sleep from our eyes and hoping our coffee will wake us up, or

2. Didn't watch the damn thing and are looking at other blogs.

I'm thinking that #2 is the most common. Not a lot of us can stand listening to all that quacking. (How does a duck sneer, anyway?) But you might want to head over to Tom Tomorrow's place to get the short & sweet, and Ezra did a little number crunching, and has some links.

It looks like people are finally, finally starting to call Bush on his Iraq = 9/11 comments.

Democrats in particular criticized Bush for again raising the Sept. 11 attacks as a justification for the protracted fight in Iraq after the president proclaimed anew that he plans to keep U.S. forces there as long as necessary to ensure peace.

Urging patience on an American public showing doubts about his Iraq policy, Bush mentioned the deadly 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington five times during a 28-minute address Tuesday night at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Some Democrats quickly accused him of reviving a questionable link to the war in Iraq — a rationale that Bush originally used to help justify launching strikes against Baghdad in the spring of 2003.

Seriously, why is he still beating this dead horse? Is there anyone out there that still believes Iraq had a hand in 9/11? I mean, actually believes this, and isn't just clinging to it because they can't bear the thought of admitting they were wrong about this?

Anyway, there are two articles you may want to check out. David Corn weighs in on the speech (bold mine):

With the polls registering what might be deepening skepticism about the war, this may be the most powerful political argument Bush has: Americans don't quit. His allies in Congress and the commentariat have been repeating a street-level variant of this message: America does not turn tail. It's the ultimate fall-back position for the pro-war crowd. It is not a policy argument; it's pushing a psychological button. And as the public mood appears to sour on the war, Bush-backers are also starting to accuse critics at home of undermining the war effort and--worse of all--demoralizing the troops in Iraq. Bush stayed clear of this scoundrel maneuver. But soon after his speech was done, Senator John Warner, the Republican chairman of the armed services committee, was on Fox News Channel warning unnamed persons of making "statements back home....that are troubling the troops." He added, "We here at home have to show a strong bipartisan support for our troops." This is the ultimate escape hatch for supporters of a war that is not going well: the critics are to blame. Bush ended his speech by thanking and praising the members of the US military and their families. He said nothing about the recently disclosed $1 billion shortfall in funding for veterans' health care.

[Spit take]

What's that?

Yes... that's the other article. Troops, Shmoops.

Senate Republicans have repeatedly voted down funding increases for vets to keep pace with inflation and meet rising needs.

The Bush Administration tried to add an enrollment fee and double the prescription co-payment for VA health care.

And now the VA admits it is $1 billion short on health care funding for this year alone.

After months of dodging Congressional questioning, VA undersecretary for health Jonathan Perlin finally gave the House VA Committee an unexpectedly honest answer last week. It turns out the $1.6 billion spending increase promised last year has been a matter of accounting trickery, achieved by shifting money from one account to another, and cutting almost $1 billion for medical administration, facilities and prosthetic research.

Yes, once again, the Bush team is screwing over the soldiers they put in harm's way for their little game of Risk.

Come on wingnuts, explain to me how Bush "supports the troops." No body armor, no vehicle armor, a pathetic paycheck, cuts in services (they pay for their own laundry, for chrissakes), and now they're losing funding for the one thing that could help them when they come home completely fucked up thanks to Bush's adventure.

Seriously, how do these bastards sleep at night?

(By the way, what's this I hear about Bush getting all weepy at the end of his speech?)

UPDATE: Crooks & Liars has tons 'o links.

(There is always something there to cross-post me...)

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Red State Bumpers

In addition to the profusion of BC’04 stickers, American flags, NASCAR emblems, Calvins pissing on various international enemies, Jesus fish, ribbon-shaped magnets, and strange hybrids of the last two (my favorite being a yellow Support the Troops ribbon shaped like a Jesus fish, with the fish’s tail parts turning into American flags), there are lots of interesting bumper stickers out here in red state land.

Mannion recently wrote a post about a truly annoying bumper sticker he’d seen, to which I responded that my all-time most detested bumper sticker is:

WARNING: In case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned.

Every time I see it, it makes me believe in God, just long enough to pray, "Please take them. Please take them all as soon as possible." I’m willing to navigate a few careening, driverless cars for a chance at life on earth without the Rapture Gang.

This morning, I saw one which ranks right up there with the worst, though:

1 cross + 3 nails = 4GVN

“What the fook’s a GVN?” Mr. Shakes asked. He’s a heathen, you know.

“One cross plus three nails equals forgiven,” I explained.

“Wanker,” he muttered, then launched into his usual Yosemite Scot routine (fookin wankin jibbety flibbet haggis and tatties!) when we saw that all four doors of the car were emblazoned with giant American flag stickers.

It’s not that he hates America; he loves it. In fact, he’s prepared to die for it—one of the requisites of immigrating to America is signing your name to an acknowledgement that if there’s a draft, you know you’ll be first in line. But he also comes from an ex-empire, where the dangers, the foolhardiness, of blind nationalism and viewing your country as infallible, haven't been forgotten. And the whole intertwining of church and state didn’t always work out so well for them, either. (Just ask Lady Jane.)

You don't have to be from Britain to know these things, of course—only a student of history, and not a particularly fervent one, at that. But even history is political these days; not a half hour after seeing my new favorite bumper sticker, I heard a Republican State Senator on some rightwing radio morning chat show talking about how he switched his major from history to accounting at university because he realized that East Coast history professors wouldn’t make room for the views of a Midwestern boy. I wondered what that meant, exactly. I wondered if perhaps he had views like one of my high school history teachers, who was, if you can believe it, a slavery apologist. (We loathed him thoroughly.) Maybe the GOP-er on the radio wasn’t that bad…or maybe he was worse. He didn’t say. He just explained that the liberal view of history was what turned him away from the field.

The thing about red state bumpers is that they remind me how many people either have a skewed view of history or are willing to reject its lessons, and recklessly drive headlong into making the same mistakes others have made. I try to stay away from these bumpers as much as possible, lest I inadvertently follow them down the same perilous road…or just in case the Rapture comes during rush hour.

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The Hands of Shakespeare’s Sister

This morning, I read a funny post at Mike’s Well Hidden Genius, which I believe may well be the first ever blog fugue. (Mike’s an innovator.) It reminded me to check in on The Piano Man, to see if there was any news.

For those who haven’t heard of him, I’ll introduce you. The Piano Man, as he’s known, is an unidentified man who was found wandering the streets of Sheerness, Kent in England in April of this year. Wearing a soaking wet suit and tie, he appears to be suffering from some kind of dissociative disorder, perhaps amnesia, and he doesn’t speak. When offered a pen and paper by the staff of the hospital to which he was taken, he sketched a grand piano.

To date, he hasn’t been identified (although he was at different times thought to be a French street musician and a Czechoslovakian drummer, theories which were decidedly hampered by both men having turned up in the media to say, “Not me, I’m afraid.”), and he hasn’t spoken a word, choosing instead to express himself by playing the piano—everything from The Beatles to Tchaikovsky.

I suppose there are many people attracted to the mystery, and although that’s part of my interest in The Piano Man, it’s more than that. I’m also drawn by memory.

I took piano lessons when I was young, and was told I’d never be a virtuoso because I have small hands. It was a correct assessment; I’m not very good at all at the classics, as it turns out. I struggle to reach an octave chord, and though I would love to play Rachmaninov, it will never be; he had a hand span that would be the envy of any NBA player. For many years, I didn’t play much at all.

At university, navigating year three of the bad years, and running low on excuses to offer concerned professors who wondered why I regularly showed up to class with cuts and bruises, I wandered down to the basement of the student union one night and found, shoved in a closet behind a cobwebbed ping-pong table, an old and dilapidated upright piano. I dragged it out into the room, and sat down in front of it, running my hands over its chipped keys. After a moment, I started to play. It wasn’t Rachmaninov; it wasn’t even Billy Joel. I closed my eyes and listened to the music as if someone else were playing it, letting my hands do whatever they wanted to do. It was a glorious sound, and the size of my hands didn’t matter.

I spent a lot of time alone with that piano that year. Perhaps a bit like The Piano Man, I found it the only conduit for expressing that which lingered inside me and refused to come out any other way. It’s not a unique story at all; anyone who’s seen Shine or The Piano or watched Tori Amos writhing on her piano bench knows that. But there’s a reason there aren’t stories about tambourines or oboes the way there are about pianos; they are soulful in a way that makes them a perfect partner for a lost soul.

I play songs in my sleep even now, tapping out chords on the headboard or across Mr. Shakes’ back. And my small hands, a hindrance to my playing others’ compositions, were a gift in the end; they help me write my own music, still with my eyes closed, letting my hands do whatever they want to do.

I’ve realized I have to do the same thing with blogging. I’ve had a few moments lately where I’ve doubted whether all the blogging in the world of a smalltime, amateur blogger, or even a sizable group of smalltime, amateur bloggers (and a few big guns), can make much of a difference. It began with fleeting thoughts, easily dismissed, but then they started to linger, and by last weekend, the doubt hung on me like a rain-soaked cloak. A day off, a visit with friends, a reconnection with someone who was once a very good friend and, as it turns out, still is, helped rejuvenate me a bit and set my mind back to the task at hand. It didn’t eradicate the doubt, but it gave me the energy to work through it.

It’s difficult to be passionate about something over which one has no control, no matter the particular passion or the circumstances that inform the feelings of powerless. Such difficulty is universal; I imagine no one escapes this life without having suffered the pain of futility at one time or another, except perhaps for the most deliberately apathetic, or the very stupid, who cannot discern a specific ineffectuality from the rest of their frustrating existence.

I am overwhelmed sometimes by the things that need to change, and overcome with the sense that I am helpless to make a difference, in spite of my desire to do so. But I’ve found that when that creeping sense comes calling, I can shoo it away in much the same way I have before, substituting one keyboard for another. So you must forgive me if sometimes I close my eyes and let my hands search out the keys on my desktop as they will. They may tap out an unusual piece like this now and then, but they’ve served me well before, finding a way to tug out of me that which ties me in knots, and I need to let them do it again.

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Damn isn’t pulling any punches: Urges Bush to Apologize, Exit Iraq - and Resign or Face Impeachment

As George Bush prepares to speak to the nation about Iraq, urged him to apologize to the nation for lying about Iraq, to start pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq by Thanksgiving - and to resign from office by New Year's Day or face the largest grassroots impeachment campaign in the nation's history.

"Thanks to the Downing Street Memos, we now know that George Bush deliberately and systematically lied about his reasons for invading Iraq. Iraq had no stockpiles of WMD's and no ties to Al Qaeda, and George Bush knew it. Bush even lied about the start of the war, which began with bombing 'spikes' in June 2002," said Bob Fertik, President of

"George Bush lied about Iraq to Congress, the American people, and the world. He lied before the war, he lied when he claimed victory on the U.S.S. Lincoln in May 2003, and he's lying today when he claims Iraqi insurgents will be defeated soon," Fertik said.
Yowza. I don’t know that I agree with the idea of bringing the troops home immediately, although I don’t know that I disagree with it, either. I didn’t support the war, but now that we’re there, I feel like we have a responsibility to see it through—although I don’t know if that’s even possible. Like I said, I just don’t know. I’m no expert, and I won’t even pretend to be. In any case, it’s crazy cool to see someone call Bush a liar point-blank like that. Bask in the balls as you read the rest.

And speaking of Bush being an idiot, which I know is a rare occurrence around here, CapitolBuzz posts excerpts of Bush’s speech tonight, and in the 300 words that are posted, 9/11 is invoked twice. Recall, this is meant to be a speech about Iraq. Yeesh.

In other tangentially related news, the Wall Street Journal has finally decided to get in on the Downing Street Memo act with an article crediting progressive bloggers with keeping the story alive (even though the Big Brass Alliance is brutally ignored, once again).

And, finally, BradBlog reports:
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and a number of other Congressional Members will announce their intention to hold open Town Hall Meetings across the country on July 23rd to discuss the "Downing Street Documents" with constituents.

The meetings, to be held on the same day around the country in the members' various Congressional Districts, will mark the third year anniversary of the creation of the original Downing Street Minutes document.
Visit AfterDowningStreet here to find out more about what’s being called DSM Day.

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Wanted: More Republicans like Chaney

He's had it. He's speaking the truth. And it's beautiful to read.

Just a delicious sample:

As of today, after 25 years, I am no longer a Republican.

I take this step with deep regret, and with a deep sense of betrayal.

I still believe in the vast power of markets to inspire ideas, motivate solutions and eliminate waste. I still believe in international vigilance and a strong defense, because this world will always be home to people who will avidly seek to take or destroy what we have built as a nation. I still believe in the protection of individuals and businesses from the influence and expense of an over-involved government. I still believe in the hand-in-hand concepts of separation of church and state and absolute freedom to worship, in the rights of the states to govern themselves without undo federal interference, and in the host of other things that defined me as a Republican.

My problem is this: I believe in principles and ideals which my party has systematically discarded in the last 10 years.


I could go on and on - about how we have compromised our international integrity by sanctioning torture, about how we are systematically dismantling the civil liberties that it took us two centuries to define and preserve, and about how we have substituted bullying, brinksmanship and "staying on message" for real political discourse - but those three issues are enough.

We're poisoning our planet through gluttony and ignorance.

We're teetering on the brink of self-inflicted insolvency.

We're selfishly and needlessly sacrificing the best of a generation.

And we're lying about it.

Go and read the whole thing.

(Tip 'o the energy dome to Crooks and Liars. Cross-post river... wider than a mile...)

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Question of the Day

Sorry for the quiet...I'm incredibly busy, but will have something for you later this evening.

In the meantime, are you going to watch/listen to the president's speech tonight? Why or why not?

I haven't decided yet. Probably not. I can only listen to the same record so many times.

Unless it's Morrissey.

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Pushing our buttons

Another goddamn smug Republican. (bolds mine)

WASHINGTON - A White House official said Friday the administration finds it "somewhat puzzling" that Democrats are demanding presidential adviser Karl Rove's apology or resignation for implying that liberals are soft on terrorism.

"I think Karl was very specific, very accurate, in who he was pointing out," communications director Dan Bartlett said, contending the comments weren't aimed at all Democrats. "It's touched a chord with these Democrats. I'm not sure why."

I'm just simply flabbergasted!

Jesus, what a dick.

Notice the mocking language they're using. "Somewhat puzzling." "I'm not sure why." My god, what children.

Make no mistake; this is another tactic to piss us off. This "My Goodness!" attitude is all an act. They are openly mocking us, trying to make us angry again, and hoping we'll start trumpeting for more apologies.

Don't fall for it.

What Rove said is over and done with. Yes, it was incredibly offensive. But as they've shown time and again, the Radical Republicans will NEVER apologize for anything. Ever. It was futile for us to even suggest it. As has been stated on other blogs, we should have used his comments against him, and we should have openly mocked him. But... no use crying over spilled milk.

However, we cannot allow these ridiculous attempts to provoke us to... well, provoke us. They are trying to divert our attention elsewhere so we take our eyes off the brass ring.

Hmmm... what in the world could possibly be coming up that they'd want us looking the other way?

President Bush is using the first anniversary of Iraq's sovereignty to try to ease Americans' doubts about the mission and outline a winning strategy for a violent conflict that has cost the lives of more than 1,740 U.S. troops and has no end in sight.

In a prime-time address from Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division, Bush was to argue that there is no need to change course in Iraq despite the upsetting images produced by daily insurgent attacks.

He could do this from the White House, of course, but it will be so much more convincing if he uses cannon fodder American soldiers as his backdrop. Might even wear a new costume, I tell you what.

Iraq is in shambles, more proof about the Bush Administration's lies continues to appear, and they are running scared. The last thing they want is a strong Democratic party watching every move they make.

Let it go. We don't need apologies from the likes of them.

Update: I like Paperwight's ideas.

(The cross-post is blue, and there's nothing I can do.)

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Well, guess what’s on the front page of the Washington Post today, my pets?

From Memos, Insights Into Ally's Doubts On Iraq War

As the headline suggests, the article focuses primarily on British issues, so don’t expect to read it and reward it with thunderous applause, but it does a decent job of explaining the Memos, and what the controversy in America is all about:

Critics of the Bush administration contend the documents -- including the now-famous Downing Street Memo of July 23, 2002 -- constitute proof that Bush made the decision to go to war at least eight months before it began, and that the subsequent diplomatic campaign at the United Nations was a charade, designed to convince the public that war was necessary, rather than an attempt to resolve the crisis peacefully. They contend the documents have not received the attention they deserve.

Supporters of the administration contend, by contrast, that the memos add little or nothing to what is already publicly known about the run-up to the war and even help show that the British officials genuinely believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They say that opponents of Bush and Blair are distorting the documents' meaning in order to attack both men politically.
It’s a start, anyway (nearly two full months after the starting pistol went off).

I’ll take it.

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Following up on yesterday’s post about the general who confirmed in a 2003 briefing the secret air war, known as the “spikes of activity” which preceded Congressional authorization for the Iraq War, we come to find out, care of Spoof News editor JJ, that the same general, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, was nominated by Bush on May 16 as chief of staff of the Air Force to succeed Gen. John P. Jumper who has served in the position since September 2001.

Call me crazy (I know you will), but I think Wednesday's confirmation hearing would be the perfect place to question Gen, Moseley, who served as the Combined Forces Air Component Commander for operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom, about the “spikes of activity” that were alleged in the Downing Street Memos to have been designed to provoke Saddam.

Bush and Cheney and Rove and McClellan may be able to dodge questions about the DSMs posed by a still rather complacent media, and Sensenbrenner and the other GOP jackholes might be able to relegate Congressman Conyers to a basement, and perhaps the Dems will never be able to secure the formal inquiry based on the Memos that they warrant, but surely, surely, Gen, Moseley cannot be appointed to serve as chief of staff of the Air Force while there are unanswered questions about the legality of a military action which was executed under his command.

Wouldn’t it be swell if some enterprising reporter asked the president about all this?


On a related note, check out Raw Story’s coverage of the Unofficial War here, and take a look at their graphic tracking the air bombings of Iraq from Jan. 01 to Mar. 03 here. Spikes of activity indeed.

[UPDATE—Action Item: Contact the members of the Senate Armed Forces Committee members (click on their names for contact information) to politely request that tomorrow's hearing not pass without questions about the alleged attempts to provoke Saddam into war, even as the administration was telling us they still considered war a last resort. Thanks to Misty of Expostulation for the link.]

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I’ve Been Tagged… Yelladog. Here goes:

1. What were three of the stupidest things you have done in your life?

A. Start smoking.
B. Delete a novel I’d written in a fit of pique.
C. Marry the wrong person (not Mr. Shakes; someone else long ago).

2. At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life?

The same people who have had for many years. Those roles rarely change, unless it's adding someone new who has touched me in some way.

3. If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to only pick up to five people to dine with, who would you pick?

A. My maternal grandfather
B. William Shakespeare
C. Aristophanes
D. Shirley Chisholm
E. Oscar Wilde

4. If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be?

A. Bush and his entire band of neo-con, false Christian, anti-patriots out of office and politics forever.
B. A viable and competitive progressive party.
C. A true melting pot.

5. Someone is visiting your hometown/place where you live a the moment. Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid.

Regret not having:

1. Class
2. Style


1. Coming in the first place.
2. Talking to any of the locals.

6. Name one event that has changed your life.

Bailing on work with my friend and former coworker Miller one day in 1999, to hang out at my place and watch an Eddie Izzard video. She loved him immediately, and joined an Eddie Izzard eGroup for fans, where she met a Londoner called Andy. When she went to Britain later that year, she met him in person and decided he and I would be great friends, and virtually introduced us upon her return. She was right about the two of us, and he became one of my best friends, not to mention my first friendship that originated online. If I hadn’t had that relationship with him already, I doubt I ever would have given much credence to the possibility that people could forge a bond over the internet—which probably means Mr. Shakes and I wouldn’t be together today. It was also on one of my trips to London to hang out with Andy that I met Mr. Shakes for the first time in person. All because of an Eddie Izzard video.

7. Tag 5 people.

As always, Pam, followed by Kathy Flake, The Green Knight, The Heretik, and Lance Mannion.

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Read My Lips...

Go read The Dark Wraith on tax reform. Good stuff.

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Question of the Day

I keep trying to write something either vaguely intelligent or sufficiently snarky about Santorum’s latest douchebaggery, but I’m feeling uninspired, so instead, I’ll just steal from the always clever John at Blogenlust:

CapitolBuzz points out that Rick Santorum, in a recent op ed for Catholic Online, suggests that the Catholic Church's priest sex scandal can be blamed on the city of Boston.

Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.


To those keeping score at home, please add this to the list of things that are liberals' fault:

1) This Administration's failure to plan for post war Iraq
2) The Iraqi Insurgency
3) 9/11
4) Hundreds of priests not being able to keep their dicks in their pants.
We shouldn’t forget the complete collapse of the family, either, because of our belief in women’s equality, reproductive choice, and gay rights. You know what they say: Moral decay begins with tolerance!

For what else are liberals to blame that ought to be added to the list?

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Downing Street Minutes to Hit House Floor

From (not blockquoted due to length):

Congressman John Conyers, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee are asking their colleagues in the House of Representatives to join them on the evening of June 28 to discuss the Downing Street Minutes on the floor of the House.

They need our help. Please contact your Congress Member right away and ask them to contact the Judiciary Committee staff and commit to taking part.
Phone: 1-877-762-8762

Below is a letter that has been circulated to Congress members:

Join the 'Out of Iraq' Caucus
On June 28, 2005 for an Hour of Special Order on the Downing Street Minutes

June 24, 2005
Dear Democratic Colleague:

Please join the 'Out of Iraq' Caucus this Tuesday, June 28th for a Special Order hour on the Downing Street Minutes. The Democratic hour for these remarks is scheduled for the second hour of the Special Orders, which will commence immediately after votes for the day have ended.

Over the past month, 128 Members of Congress, along with some 560,000 citizens have sent letters to the President demanding a response to reports of a pre-war deal between Great Britain and the United States and to evidence that pre-war intelligence was intentionally manipulated. All of these letters have gone unanswered.

Given the importance of these matters, we believe it is incumbent upon Congress to discuss these issues in a public and forthright manner. We hope you will join us in this hour of Special Orders.

To reserve time during the Special Order, please contact Stacey Dansky or Adam Cohen of the Judiciary Committee staff at 225-6906. Thank you.

John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary

Maxine Waters
Member, Committee on the Judiciary

Barbara Lee
Member, Committee on International Relations

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Sympathizing with the Troops

Patrick at Yelladog posts today about a military man he trusts implicitly who has, since voting for the Bush administration in November, completely changed his mind about them. Patrick surmises his tipping point may have been the Downing Street Memos.

It’s an interesting and sad post. I imagine the only thing worse than reading the DSMs and having them confirm all your worst fears would be reading them and having them undermine everything you believed in. My heart really goes out to the military people who trusted this administration and no longer do; it must be very hard to realize their trust was so callously betrayed.

And speaking of soldiers who have a right to be angry, check out this website, which is dedicated to letting soldiers (and their loved ones) air their grievances with Karl Rove’s assertion that liberals weren’t interested in defending this country from terrorism. My first thought when I first read his comments was I wonder what liberals currently serving in Iraq think of that. You’ll find out…not to mention what liberals who have served in other wars and during peacetime think of his trash, too.

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Monday Blogwhoring

Your chance to promote your blog, other blogs, and various things of interest. What's going on?

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Does This Make You Nervous?

It makes me nervous:

The United States plans to produce highly radioactive plutonium 238 for the first time since the Cold War, The New York Times reported on Monday.

The newspaper quoted project managers as saying most, if not all, of the new plutonium was intended for secret missions. The officials would not disclose details, but the newspaper said the plutonium in the past powered espionage devices.

The Times said Timothy Frazier, head of radioisotope power systems at the U.S. Energy Department, vigorously denied in a recent interview any of the classified missions would involve nuclear arms, satellites or weapons in space.

"The real reason we're starting production is for national security," Frazier was quoted as saying.
Staring production of 330 pounds of plutonium 238 (which is hundreds of times more radioactive than plutonium 239, the version used in nuclear arms) at a cost which could reach at least $1.5 billion and generate over 50,000 drums of hazardous and radioactive waste, is for national security, but it’s not for arms, satellites, or weapons in space. Okay…
Federal and private experts not connected to the project were quoted as saying the new plutonium would likely power devices for espionage under the sea and on land.
Why am I starting to picture a submarine in the shape of Karl Rove, a la Dr. Evil?

Oh, and good news for Idahoans: this will all be done at the Idaho National Laboratory—but don’t worry, it’s not that dangerous. As long as you can avoid every last speck of it.
Medical experts say inhaling even a speck posed a serious risk of lung cancer, the Times said.

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Don't Touch Me; I'm Dirty All Over

Rolling Stone’s got an interesting story on the abstinence movement afoot in America, which totally confirms what one tends to think about people who abstain from sex—they are utter sex fiends. They think about sex exponentially more than anyone I ever met who clumsily, lustily, disappointingly, or fabulously lost his or her cherry sans any lifetime commitment.

Power holds up his right hand. Wrapped around his wrist, in a figure eight, is a black plastic bracelet. "This," he says, "is a 'masturband.' " One of their friends at college -- Pepperdine University -- came up with the idea. As long as you stay pure -- resist jerking off -- you can wear your masturband. Give in, and off it goes, a scarlet letter in reverse. No masturband? No one wants to shake your hand. "It started with just four of us," says Dunbar. "Then there were, like, twenty guys wearing them. And girls too. The more people that wore them, the more people knew, the more reason you had to refrain." Dunbar even told his mother. He lasted the longest. "Eight and a half months," he says. I notice he's not wearing one now. He's not embarrassed. Sexuality, he believes, is not a private matter.
(Insert your own “Master of Your Domain” joke here.)

No masturband? No one wants to shake your hand. Even as a joke, it fails, because it reveals an ugly truth that the abstinence crowd holds dear—that sexuality is dirty, unless it is between two people bound by God, and, more disturbingly, the people who practice an unsanctified sexuality are dirty, too. To withhold touch from “a sinner” is a decidedly strange interpretation of Christian doctrine, in which its central figure, Jesus Christ, shocked his disciples by touching the sinful and the sick, and letting them touch him, too. Message lost, I think it’s safe to say.

I could spend all day deconstructing this article, or, rather, the movement on which it reports. Zany stuff. Check it out, if you’re in the mood for another exposé on how completely nutzoid this country is really getting.

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Spikes of Activity

Ron Brynaert of Why Are We Back in Iraq? has written a great comprehensive piece on what Michael Smith, the Times of London reporter who broke the Downing Street Memo story, rightfully referred to in an LA Times editorial as the “arguably more important” component of the memos than the issue of facts being fixed around the policy—that of the escalated air strikes which were used to try to provoke Saddam, months before Congressional authority was given for military action against Iraq.

Go read Ron’s piece to get up to speed on why this is important and what it means. He’s done a good job putting this information all together.

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Selective "Activist Judges"

So the Supreme Court has ruled that The Ten Commandments don't belong in courthouses.

Well, I have to say, I'm pretty shocked by this. Good for them, first of all. It was a close vote... and they did leave themselves a "don't shoot us" clause:

The justices left themselves legal wiggle room on this issue, however, saying that some displays — like their own courtroom frieze — would be permissible if they're portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.

I can live with that.

But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held.

"The touchstone for our analysis is the principle that the First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion," Justice David H. Souter wrote for the majority.

"When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates that central Establishment clause value of official religious neutrality," he said.

Damn right.

So, here's the prediction by Swami Spud:

News coverage on this will far outweigh the coverage on another recent Supreme Court ruling.This will be treated more seriously, and there will be more activism over the ten commandments than Wal-Mart taking away someone's home. The judges will be labeled "activist judges" for this, and not the eminent domain story.

I'm feeling pretty confident on this one.

(Bow down before the one you cross-post, you're gonna get what you deserve)

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Calling Bullshit

Great editorial by Philip Gailey in the St. Petersburg Times:

If only George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld hated war as much as they hate admitting a mistake. To hear them tell it, Iraq is a success story and the Guantanamo prison is a tropical paradise.


Army Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, provided a sober reality check on the Iraqi insurgency. "I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago," he told the committee, adding that insurgency's "overall strength" is about the same. "There's a lot of work to be done against the insurgency."

Was the general off-message? Only last month Dick Cheney assured us that the insurgency was in its "last throes." Asked if he was contradicting the vice president, Abizaid sidestepped the question, saying, "I gave you my opinion."


Meanwhile, Cheney shrugged off charges from domestic and foreign critics that Islamic detainees have been abused at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "They're living in the tropics," he said in a CNN interview. "They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibly want."
Except due process, perhaps.

Read the whole thing. It’s good.

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General Admits to Secret Air War

The “spikes of activity” intended to provoke Saddam Hussein into war, referenced in the Downing Street Memos, were seemingly confirmed in a 2003 briefing:

THE American general who commanded allied air forces during the Iraq war appears to have admitted in a briefing to American and British officers that coalition aircraft waged a secret air war against Iraq from the middle of 2002, nine months before the invasion began.

Addressing a briefing on lessons learnt from the Iraq war Lieutenant-General Michael Moseley said that in 2002 and early 2003 allied aircraft flew 21,736 sorties, dropping more than 600 bombs on 391 “carefully selected targets” before the war officially started.

The nine months of allied raids “laid the foundations” for the allied victory, Moseley said. They ensured that allied forces did not have to start the war with a protracted bombardment of Iraqi positions.

If those raids exceeded the need to maintain security in the no-fly zones of southern and northern Iraq, they would leave President George W Bush and Tony Blair vulnerable to allegations that they had acted illegally.

Moseley’s remarks have emerged after reports in The Sunday Times that showed an increase in allied bombing in southern Iraq was described in leaked minutes of a meeting of the war cabinet as “spikes of activity to put pressure on the regime”.

Moseley told the briefing at Nellis airbase in Nebraska on July 17, 2003, that the raids took place under cover of patrols of the southern no-fly zone; their purpose was ostensibly to protect the ethnic minorities.
The more information we receive, the more pertinent the question asked in a recent column by Robert Steinback becomes: Do you want to know?

Finding out whether we were lied to by our government shouldn’t be a partisan issue. So how about it, conservatives? Do you want to know? I do.

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“It's not who I am underneath, but what I do, that defines me.”

When I offered my Top 5 list of the best movies of 2004, one of the films on the list was Spider-Man 2. I declared it the best superhero movie ever, and noted that “One is left with the notion that the world needs more Peter Parkers, rather than more Spider-Mans, and that is the film’s greatness.”

I’ve yet to decide if Batman Begins has eclipsed Spider-Man 2 as the best superhero movie ever (a tough call made tougher by Spidey’s always having been my favorite), and I don’t know if such a decision even needs to be made. The truth is, Batman Begins is simply fantastic, and allows Bruce Wayne to be as much a hero as his alter ego, much like Spider-Man 2 did the same for the endearing Peter Parker, letting the superhero genre serve once again as an extraordinary backdrop for an ordinary story of struggling to be one’s best self.

For those who prefer their superheroes on a pedestal, to be admired and regarded as having broken the bounds of mere mortaldom, the opportunity is left intact, but as those of us who were raised on the flawed and fallible, inimitably human, heroes populating a galaxy far, far away are coming into their own as filmmakers, we are given the chance to relate to our heroes as well. Far from taking anything away from our heroes, instead behind this door left ajar for those who want to venture inside, we find that seeing ourselves in our heroes elevates us all, and encourages us to be our best selves, too.

There is a time for perfect heroes who are handed powers of someone else’s design and never doubt their destinies, but this is not it. This is a time of self-made heroes who take on more than they might have been meant, and who do the right thing not because it is easy, or because there is glory to be had, but because we are defined by what we do, and so doing nothing is not an option.

I like these new superheroes of ours. They are quite different from their previous incarnations and yet seem accessible, familiar, in their very humanness. As I recently noted to someone who resists acknowledging his own ability to be a hero, being familiar is not insignificant, even if it sounds so. It's rare in heroes, even ones without a cape, and thus awe-inspiring in its own way.

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I’m out of town for most of the day today, so here are a few recommendations…

Massive Crack Opens In Earth In Texas. Is it too much to hope that Governor Rick Perry will fall in?

Elise at After School Snack has a shout-out to big-hipped girls (and the men and women who love them).

Jeanne at Body and Soul on a kidnapping in Italy with which it seems we’d all better get familiar pretty quick.

Brad Plumer with a nice little rant about the complete fucking idiots running Congress.

Misty at Expostulation with a fantastically comprehensive post on exactly how the troops are being supported these days.

Lance Mannion, on being an annoyed liberal.

Me4President with some righteous indignation about conflating Rove’s and Durbin’s recent respective statements—and as a liberal and a former soldier, I think he’s probably worth listening to on this one.

Paperwight’s Fair Shot with an intriguing theory about John Kerry.

If you still need exercise some Rove-related demons, capture this photo at Rox’s place.

And go visit Skippy—a few times, because there’s always good stuff to see and also to help with the grand plan of garnering 82,000 more hits, bringing the total to 1,000,000, just in time for their upcoming 3rd blogiversary!

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From the Friday Night Newshole (Again)

I trust that Dick Durbin will be receiving a much-deserved and heartfelt apology:

Washington has for the first time acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said.

The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the ten-person panel, speaking on on condition of anonymity.


Four UN human rights experts on Thursday slammed the United States for stalling on a request to allow visits to terrorism suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, and said they planned to carry out an indirect probe of conditions there.
Huh. But see, what I’ve been reading on conservative blogs is that there’s obviously no torture happening at Gitmo, the proof being that the US lets people in to visit whenever they want. Gee, does that mean conservatives might have been wrong about what’s been going on at Gitmo? Yikes, what a shocker!

"[Washington] said it was a question of isolated cases, that there was nothing systematic and that the guilty were in the process of being punished."

The US report said that those involved were low-ranking members of the military and that their acts were not approved by their superiors, the member added.
More isolated cases, eh? Nothing systemic, you say. It’s simply amazing, so coincidental as to be completely unbelievable, in its quite literal sense. Anyone who steadfastly insists on remaining an apologist for the administration at this point is either manifestly stupid, delusional, or a thoroughly disingenuous ass who will parrot lies without compunction. We’ve got a real problem, folks, and we can either stare it in its ugly face and take it on honestly, or we can continue to pretend like what we’re doing is somehow different from the historical analogies we stubbornly resist simply because we’re Americans.

Read The Heretik on this issue here.

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Friday Night Name That Movie

1. It was dark... All I can tell your for sure is that they all wore Brut after-shave and reeked of Lavoris.

2. You know…for kids!

3. If I'm gonna shit in a bag for the rest of my life because I got shot after the war was over, that would pretty fucking stupid wouldn't it, Major?

4. Did I ever tell you that this here jacket represents a symbol of my individuality and my belief in personal freedom?

5. You Americans, you're all the same. Always overdressing for the wrong occasions.

6. I like art; I work in a gas station; my best friend is a tomboy. These things don't fly too well in the American high school.

7. He's weird, he's strange, he's sloppy, he's a total nightmare for women... I can't believe I haven't slept with him yet.

8. To a New Yorker like you, a hero is some type of weird sandwich, not some nut who takes on three tigers.

9. I used to live like Robinson Crusoe…I mean, shipwrecked among 8 million people. And then one day I saw a footprint in the sand and there you were.

10. You see the whole culture—Nazis, deodorant salesmen, wrestlers, beauty contests, a talk show. Can you imagine the level of a mind that watches wrestling? But the worst are the fundamentalist preachers. Third grade con men telling the poor suckers that watch them that they speak with Jesus, and to please send in money. Money, money, money. If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up.

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Breaking: Kerry Grows a Pair!

Raw Story reports (not blockquoted due to length):

Senator Kerry (D - MA) sends letter to Senate Intelligence Committee pressing for answers on the Downing Street Memo and other Downing documents. The letter leaked to Raw Story, is also signed by Senators Johnson, Corzine, Reed, Lautenberg, Boxer, Kennedy, Harkin, Bingaman, and Durbin. The text of the letter is below.

June 22, 2005
The Honorable Pat Roberts, Chairman
The Honorable John D. Rockefeller, IV, Vice Chairman
United States Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller:

We write concerning your committee's vital examination of pre-war Iraq intelligence failures. In particular, we urge you to accelerate to completion the work of the so-called "Phase II" effort to assess how policy makers used the intelligence they received.

Last year your committee completed the first phase of a two-phased effort to review the pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Phase I-begun in the summer of 2003 and completed in the summer of 2004-examined the performance of the American intelligence community in the collection and analysis of intelligence prior to the war, including an examination of the quantity and quality of U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the intelligence on ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and terrorist groups. At the conclusion of Phase I, your committee issued an unclassified report that made an important contribution to the American public's understanding of the issues involved.

In February 2004-well over a year ago-the committee agreed to expand the scope of inquiry to include a second phase which would examine the use of intelligence by policy makers, the comparison of pre-war assessments and post-war findings, the activities of the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) and the Office of Special Plans in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and the use of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress.

The committee's efforts have taken on renewed urgency given recent revelations in the United Kingdom regarding the apparent minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting between Prime Minister Tony Blair and his senior national security advisors. These minutes-known as the "Downing Street Memo"-raise troubling questions about the use of intelligence by American policy makers-questions that your committee is uniquely situated to address.

The memo indicates that in the summer of 2002, at a time the White House was promising Congress and the American people that war would be their last resort, that they believed military action against Iraq was "inevitable."

The minutes reveal that President "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

The American people took the warnings that the administration sounded seriously-warnings that were echoed at the United Nations and here in Congress as we voted to give the president the authority to go to war. For the sake of our democracy and our future national security, the public must know whether such warnings were driven by facts and responsible intelligence, or by political calculation.

These issues need to be addressed with urgency. This remains a dangerous world, with American forces engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other challenges looming in Iran and North Korea. In this environment, the American public should have the highest confidence that policy makers are using intelligence objectively-never manipulating it to justify war, but always to protect the United States. The contents of the Downing Street Memo undermine this faith and only rigorous Congressional oversight can determine the truth.

We urge the committee to complete the second phase of its investigation with the maximum speed and transparency possible, producing, as it did at the end of Phase I, a comprehensive, unclassified report from which the American people can benefit directly.


Go DSM 10, go!

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Kristen Breitweiser’s Open Letter to Karl Rove

That noise you hear is the sound of a new poop chute being torn in Turd Blossom’s big white arse:

…Karl when you say, “Conservatives saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war,” what exactly did you do to prepare for your war? Did your preparations include: sound intelligence to warrant your actions; a reasonable entry and exit strategy coupled with a coherent plan to carry out that strategy; the proper training and equipment for the troops you were sending in to fight your war? Did you follow the advice of experts such as General Shinseki who correctly advised you about the troop levels needed to actually succeed in Iraq? No, you didn't.

It has always been America's policy that you only place soldiers' lives in harm's way when it is absolutely necessary and the absolute last resort. When you send troops into combat you support those troops by providing them with proper equipment and training. Why didn't you do that with the troops that you sent into Iraq? Why weren't their vehicles armored? Why didn't they have protective vests? Why weren't they properly trained about the rules of interrogation? And Karl, when our troops come home – be it tragically in body bags or with missing limbs – you should honor and acknowledge their service to their country. You shouldn't hide them by bringing them home in the dark of night. Most importantly, you should take care of them for the long haul by giving them substantial veteran's benefits and care. To me, that is being patriotic. To me, that is how you support our troops. To me, that is how you show that you know the value of a human life given for its country.
Go read the rest.

And on a related note:
The Bush administration, already accused by veterans groups of seeking inadequate funds for health care next year, acknowledged yesterday that it is short $1 billion for covering current needs at the Department of Veterans Affairs this year.

The disclosure of the shortfall angered Senate Republicans who have been voting down Democratic proposals to boost VA programs at significant political cost. Their votes have brought the wrath of the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and other organizations down on the GOP.
When, exactly, can we declare the troops officially unsupported by this jackhole administration and the rest of the GOP?

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Via Political Wire:

"Now I want you to pay careful attention to this — he's the PhD, and I'm the C student, but notice who is the advisor and who is the President."

— President Bush, speaking at a Maryland nuclear energy plant with Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.
See? See all you willfully ignorant dumbfucks who wear the stereotype of the ugly American like a Scout badge and proudly display your contempt for intellect and reason and science and facts with a swagger usually reserved for those who have accomplished something? See? I’m just like you. And I’m the leader of the free world, and I get to make the smart folks lick my fucking boots.

Keep eating it up, dumbos. Should the champion of your ignorance and all his Ivy League educated buddies finally get all the power they want by exploiting you and your dumb-dog loyalty for every ounce you're worth, you’ll be left in the shit—and those of us who bothered to educate ourselves will find welcome in places that haven’t been led to ruin by the likes of you.

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Friday Blogwhoring

Busy again today. What's going on out there?

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Forty-nine percent (49%) of Americans say that President Bush is more responsible for starting the War with Iraq than Saddam Hussein. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 44% take the opposite view and believe Hussein shoulders most of the responsibility.

In late 2002, months before the fighting began, most Americans thought that Hussein was the one provoking the War. Just one-in-four thought the President was doing the provoking at that time.


Among those not affiliated with either major party, 52% name Bush and 34% Hussein.
I believe those are called swing voters.

(I know, in some cases, dedicated Greens or Libertarians, etc., but you take my point—which is that a lot of people prefer to be led by a competent person rather than a lame duck.)

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Friday Blogrollin'

This is, across the board, the week of the overdue additions. My apologies to you all; I probably have month-old milk in the fridge, too.

Just past the sell-by date*: Two Glasses and Something Requisitely Witty and Urbane

Starting to get whiffy: Night Light and Sumo Merriment

Covered in green fuzz: TBogg and An Angry Old Broad

Good lord; it’s evolved into its own species: Lawyers, Guns and Money

All worth your time. Give ’em a peek.

* Categories based on how long I’ve been meaning to add these blogs and failed to do so.

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Action Items

Go read Mahablog, from which I nicked the below image:

Sign the petition to fire Rove here.

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Rovian Tricks

It would be unlike the Master of All Things Evil to say something as outrageous as he did without some diabolical reason lurking beneath its just plain old reckless and offensive veneer. So I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and so it has. Thud.

Wednesday night on Hardball, guest host David Gregory asked Rove about the Downing Street documents (emphasis mine):

GREGORY: As you well know, critics of this war have seized on what’s being called now the Downing Street Memo, based on meetings that Britain’s Chief of Intelligence had with American officials about the war. One issue that comes up in that memo and subsequent memos is British concerns about the fact that the White House in their view wasn’t adequately thinking about what happens after the regime falls.

ROVE: I'm glad you brought that up because I want to put that in context. First of all that is the British — a Brit making a comment about what he perceived to be U.S. policy. But remember the time frame, it is months and months and months before the balloon goes up in Iraq. And in those intervening months there was plenty of time planning for post-war efforts, vast amounts of planning. You never know exactly how a war is going to plan out. Napoleon once said, 'vast numbers of refugees enormous problems with food aid'- did not happen. Vast uprising- didn't happen. That we would see a vast uprising by hundreds of thousands of Iraqis- didn’t happen. War is ugly, but a lot went very well with this effort and in part it was because the United States government and our coalition partners used the months to plan for any eventuality.

GREGORY: But if you're talking about the number of troops necessary, the level of American casualties, the force and intensity of the insurgency…did the president mislead the American people about the cost of the war or was he just simply surprised by what happened?

ROVE: I would go back to the president’s statements over the last several years and I would defy you to find one speech which he talked about Iraq where he doesn’t say there would be difficult times ahead, that we had a long road to hope that a great deal of sacrifice was going to be called for by both the American people and by the Iraqis to achieve this goal. Look, we do not underestimate the ferocity and the anger and the viciousness of the people that we face. We are in a war. Some people may treat it as a law enforcement matter and be worried about indictments from the U.S. attorney from the southern district of New York. But we recognize this administration and the American people we are in a war and the only way you have a successful outcome in the war is to aim for a complete and total victory, which is exactly what we’re doing.
Clearly, he used questions about the Downing Street Documents to set himself up for the comments he made in his Wednesday night speech (to recap):
"Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Rove said Wednesday night. "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."
Today, the RNC issued talking points obviously constructed in support of Rove’s statement, in addition to an attack ad against Dick Durbin based on his Gitmo comments.

And so the red herring is cast ashore for all to admire.

This is their defensive play—deflect all interest in the Downing Street Documents by some controversy and force liberals to defend themselves…again.

It’s nothing but subterfuge, designed to detract from this major issue with their usual disingenuous bullshit. The Good News: This is their last line of defense against something that’s big and bothersome for them, so we’re on the right track. The Bad News: This line of defense has worked for them before and it will work again, if we don’t call them on it.

Whatever you’ve done to push the Downing Street Documents out into the world, redouble your efforts to discredit Rove and the GOP’s obfuscation of the issues raised by the documents.

Rove must resign. His dirty and divisive brand of politics has gone far enough.

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What a Dick

Cheney, that is:

Cheney said he had not read the so-called "Downing Street memo," a document written by a British official in the fall of 2002 suggesting that President Bush had already decided to remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and that U.S. officials were over hyping intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to build support for the policy.

However, the vice president said the premise of the memo -- that a decision to go to war had been made months before the March 2003 invasion -- was "wrong."

"Remember what happened after the supposed memo was written. We went to the United Nations. We got a unanimous vote out of the Security Council for a resolution calling on Saddam Hussein to come clean," he said.
This response is, of course, utter crap. Considering the Memos indicate that going to the UN and backing Saddam into a corner would help “sell” the war, this hardly passes as a defense. He's basically trying to discredit the memos by saying, "How could they be true? We did exactly what they said we were planning to do." Illogical garbage from a heinous jackass who’s used to saying whatever mumblefuckitude comes out of his mouth and having the American populace never question it.

"The president of the United States took advantage of every possibility to try to resolve this without having to use military force. It wasn't possible in this case."
Oh shut up, you lying sack of shit.

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Hot Karl

Crooks and Liars has the video of Rove's bloviating here. Keep a barfbag handy.

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My Answer…

…to my own question below:

Sir, you have orchestrated one of the great disappointments of my lifetime. No one has done more to divide this country and turn people with different ideas against each other than you, and not only have you made being the ugly American fashionable, but you have turned being the ugly American into a political movement to be used against other Americans.

But I’ve got news for you, buster. I’m an American, try as you might to marginalize, demonize, or silence me. Short of throwing me out on my ass, there’s nothing you can do to make that untrue, as much as you’d like it not to be. I’m a progressive, I’m a voter, and I’m an American. And all your vitriolic rhetoric from here to eternity won’t change that. So I win.


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Question of the Day

If you came face to face with this man, what would you say to him?

Do Your Worst.
Get It Out Of Your System.
Let Him Have It.

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Changes to our photo policy mandated by the Bush Administration

Always on the lookout for hot guys and ways to keep people from having fun, the U.S. Dept. of Justice is taking a break from prosecuting terrorists to do something it thinks is more important: restricting your right to view and share photos online.

All member photos identified as adult on our site are temporarily unavailable for public view as the result of the sudden, and unconstitutional, decision by the U.S. Dept. of Justice to place new restrictions on all Web sites around the world that do business in the United States. (I guess nobody ever told them the internet is borderless.) thinks your adult photos should be sexy, secure and legally protected, so we've joined with other companies to seek an injunction against this ruling. We're doing everything possible to minimize its impact on you.


Make your voice heard!
Contact U.S. elected officials and the Dept. of Justice to tell them you oppose 18 U.S.C. §2257

U.S. Dept. of Justice:
U.S. Senate:
U.S. House of Representatives:
What the fuck is going on?

(And whatever will Jim West do?)

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The Sound of My Voice

I was a quiet child.

My shyness was for no good reason, really, other than that I was strange. I felt quite out of place in childhood; rambunctiousness didn’t suit me. The ability of most children to inhabit their bodies without inhibitions—flailing arms and legs, tumbling somersaults, endless spinning to a dizziness that left them stumbling until they collapsed to the floor in a giggling heap—was as foreign to me as I must have seemed to other children, with my knitted brow studying them curiously, or my nose buried in a book. I was ever acutely conscious of my own physical presence, intimidating myself with my own awkward gestures, until I folded myself inward and tried to stay very still. I couldn’t relate, and so I retreated.

Nothing brought me outside the safe space in my head more quickly than the sound of my own voice in a public space. I spoke so rarely that, when I did, my classmates would stare at me, which made me miserable. I never raised my hand in class, and when I was called on, hot tears would burn my eyes, and I would desperately will them away as I choked through giving my answer. Painfully shy only begins to describe it. I was 13 when I laughed out loud in a classroom full of my peers for the first time.

At 14, the shyness went away, disappearing one day so completely it was as if it had never existed at all. Suddenly, the eyes out of which I looked at the world seemed to belong to me; I no longer felt like an interloper in my own skin. I happily contributed to conversations in and outside class, and I discovered I was an unafraid (and hence skillful) public speaker. Accused of being weird for the books I read or the music I liked felt like a badge of honor, even if it wasn’t intended to be so. There only needed to be one other person in a high school of 3,000 who carried a copy of Camus’ The Stranger under his arm and knew down to his bones what I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar really means to make the world perfect, and I found him (or he found me), and so it was.

And then I was raped. I’d barely ever kissed a boy, no less had sex with one; of course, rape isn’t about sex, but about control. It’s about controlling another person, both during the act and often, particularly in the cases of acquaintance rape, afterwards. Victims of acquaintance rape, especially young ones, as I was, are easily controlled (and silenced) using fear, threats of imminent danger to themselves or loved ones, and, for the most unfortunate among us, repeated abuse. After three years of such a cycle, my shyness had returned. I spent many of my days at university crumbling inside myself and hating the sound of my own voice. Only with my Camus-carrying friend could I find any peace—and even that was dependent on his compassion, and his infinite patience with my madness.

The shyness has never quite gone away again.

But I’m not called quiet anymore. Aloof, maybe; bitchy, definitely, in those moments when the shyness takes me, because even though I can sound terse, I won’t be quiet, or still, and eventually people realize I was just being awkward. Better to be awkward, I've decided, than quiet; it’s important to have a strong voice, and a loud laugh, and to use them both as often as you can, even when it feels futile.

The current political climate can sometimes seem as little more than a constant barrage of attempts to silence dissent. It’s easy to become weak with not getting heard, and frustrated to the point of apathy with the humiliation of opponents, the attempts to ensure capitulation and forced loyalty through threats and intimidation, the control of people through fear, the slow encroachment on free speech rights. I doubt, sometimes, whether anything, anyone, can make a difference.

But lately, I’ve started to appreciate the sound of my voice again. It’s a smoker’s voice, low, infused sometimes with gravel and always with sibilant S’s—a speech impediment that will never leave me. My voice has become familiar in a way it has not been before, and useful, too. When I think about the time I have spent stranded in my self-imposed quiet, I am scared of my own will taking me there again. I remind myself, then, firmly and as often as is needed, that whether it is I, or someone else, who demands my silence, it is simply not something that I can afford to offer. And all it takes to break the silence is the sound of my voice, which now, finally, makes me happy.

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