Saturday, June 26, 2004

GOP Buzzword Alert: "Surrogates"  

Hey, guess what? The word "surrogates" is the new "black" for Rebublicans! You'll find it all over the place, eg here to explain why the GOP has added Hitler to the list of folks who are in ads approved by the president:
"We're using the video from to show our supporters the type of vitriolic rhetoric being used by the president's opponents and John Kerry's surrogates," said Scott Stanzel, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.
But such a big, rather exotic (to Republicans) word. Why not just use "substitute?"

My theory: it's the way the word sounds. The first part rhymes with a synonym for "smear" or a suspension of liquid waste, as in "slur" and "slurry" ("Kerry"!) and the last part sounds like "guts."

Slurry-guts. Disgusting. Eeeeuw!

(Random thoughts on "surrogate."

"Surrogates" is a little smutty, as in "sex surrogate." Shades of The Clenis!!!

Hey! Does this mean we get to call David Duke a Bush surrogate?)

Quote Of The Day  

"George Bush never should have come here and it's not a moment too soon that he leaves."

Richard Boyd Barrett, leader of Irish Anti-War

Runner-up from the same article: Carol Fox, an American living in Dublin:

"We came to demonstrate to show that the people here aren't anti-American...We're all anti-George Bush. Everything I ever learned in school about human rights has been contravened by this man.''

Oh, and while we're at it, here's the incident tout blogosphere is yakking about:
Interrupt President Bush one too many times and he won't let you talk to his wife.

The White House canceled Radio and Television Ireland's scheduled interview of First Lady Laura Bush during her short stay here for the U.S.-European Union summit, the president's spokesman Scott McClellan said Saturday.

He didn't say why, but the reason for the decision was clear: The White House didn't like the news organization's interview with the president at the White House last Thursday.

During the interview, Bush became exasperated with his questioner, [Carol Coleman, bless her heart] who seemed intent on controlling the discussion. [Sic!]

In one exchange, Bush made the point that Saddam Hussein had used weapons of mass destruction against Iraqis.

``Indeed, Mr. President, but you didn't find the weapons of mass destruction,'' the interviewer shot back.

``Let me finish,'' Bush said. ``Let me finish, please. Please. You ask the questions and I'll answer them, if you don't mind.

Three more times he scolded the interviewer:

-- ``Let me finish, please. Please. Let me finish, and then you can follow up, if you don't mind.''

-- ``Let me finish.''

-- ``Please. Please. Please, for a minute, OK. It'll be better if you let me finish my answers, and then you can follow up, if you don't mind.''

Open Letter To Dick Cheney  

Dear Dick,

Fuck you, too.



(There. I feel much, much better.)

Most. Bizarre. Lottery. Ever  

Digby's got the goods. Jeebus, is nothing sacred to these people?

Friday, June 25, 2004

It's Clinton's Fault, Says The Messiah's Newspaper  

Moon's Washington Times:
The Clinton administration talked about firm evidence linking Saddam Hussein's regime to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network years before President Bush made the same statements.

The issue arose again this month after the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States reported there was no 'collaborative relationship' between the old Iraqi regime and bin Laden.
So what? The last time I checked, President Clinton is not the president today (unfortunately). I thought these were the grownups who knew better than the Clinton children.

Bush Administration Thinks Model Rockets Are Terrorist-Grade Weapons  

Sigh. Once more, ignorance and stupidity triumph over intelligence. There are few hobbies more fun for smart kids (and their parents) than rocketry. It has a stellar safety record and it has the potential to teach numerous skills from building to the application of advanced mathematics and physics concepts.

The high end of the hobby is truly inhabited by awesomely brilliant people who launch large rockets capable of reaching 45,000 feet. The supplies required to launch at this level are heavily regulated by highly knowledgeable peers. Furthermore, there is no public evidence that even large model rockets could be used successfully as weapons, as they lack guidance systems.

That doesn't stop the Justice Department, in its manifest ignorance of all things scientific, from trying to ban the high end and intimidate everyone else involved at the more common 1000 ft high flight levels. And what a pity. Rocketry has served as the entree into engineering and science careers by generations of American kids. It should be a requirement, I think, in all middle/high school science programs.

Wired has a decent roundup of the issues. More can be found at the National Association of Rocketry website. In the scheme of things, the pressure Bush is putting on Americans to give up rocketry is not a great concern. But it illustrates the stupidity of the people in this administration, and their superstitious ignorance of genuine science. The loss of such hobbies and outlets for smart kids will have an incremental loss on science studies and careers as a whole; it could very well weaken the US in an area in which it has been proudly pre-eminent for decades.


Try to wrap your brain around this one. It truly boggles my mind. But it is very true. The Bush administration is making public service announcements ridiculing the idea that cars can be made more environmentally friendly. Here's the skinny:
A new series of whimsical public service announcements from the Environmental Protection Agency are lampooning the notion that cars can be made more energy efficient while the ads encourage conservation at home...[Administration pro forma denial stating that the spots are not intended to ridicule car conservation removed because, well, read on.]

It also comes less than two months after an E.P.A. report emphasized how much more fuel efficient new cars and trucks were in the mid-1980's. The E.P.A.'s transportation division was not consulted for the new public service announcements, the E.P.A. official, Brian McLean, said, despite the fact that a car plays a starring role.
And here's the plot of the spott:
In a 60-second version of the public service announcement, a woman named Suzanne says she is concerned about pollution and global warming, but laments the homegrown efforts of her husband, Mark, to cut emissions from the family car. Mark - nerdy, pudgy, harried - is shown rigging up their car, first with a sail, then a microwave contraption using huge satellite dishes, and finally a helium tank with a bulbous hose.

"The E.P.A. says the energy we use in our home can cause twice the greenhouse gases of a car," Suzanne says, adding that she has started buying energy-saving household products.

Buying a cleaner car, or say, a smaller sport utility vehicle, does not appear to be a viable alternative for reducing emissions. The ad ends with a shot of Mark pushing the car down a hill and Suzanne saying, "He still marches to the beat of a different drum." At one point, the car fills with helium, Mark starts talking like Mickey Mouse and two men in the backseat shake their heads and say "Genius!"
Needless to say, this view is nonsense and, like all Bush lies, they can claim they're not really lying because, well...
ndeed, as the E.P.A. says, energy use at home can cause twice the emissions of a single car. But most families have more than one car and emit roughly the same amount of global warming gases in their vehicles as in their homes, said David Friedman, senior policy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental research and advocacy group.

"With a car, you can cut your fuel use in half by using a hybrid," he said. "You're not likely to cut your electricity use in half by using more efficient appliances..."

In late April, the latest version of the E.P.A.'s annual fuel economy trends report showed that it would not take innovative technology - not to mention sails or microwaves - to improve vehicle efficiency. In fact, new cars and trucks would be 20 percent more fuel efficient if they simply had not become so much heavier and faster since the mid-1980's, the report's executive summary stated.
Has a PSA ever been produced with your tax dollars that has ever been so filled with lies? Well, given the Bushies' track record, I'd have to say yes, but this may serve as a low benchmark nevertheless.

My God, please forgive them for they know not what they do or say.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Quote Of The Day  

"Why have a Constitution at all if the president can unilaterally decide who to torture, when to torture and why to torture?"

Michael Glennon, Professor of International Law, Tufts University.

By the way, read the whole article. Turns lots of legal experts and human rights groups ain't buying Bush's denials that he authorized torture. Of course he did.

Gore On Al Qaeda/Saddam/Bush  

Gore rips Bush on al Qaeda-Saddam link:
"Beginning very soon after the attacks of 9/11, President Bush made a decision to start mentioning Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in the same breath in a cynical mantra designed to fuse them together as one in the public's mind," Gore said.

Bush and Cheney created a false impression in the minds of American people that the former Iraqi leader and al Qaeda, blamed for the Sept. 11 terror attacks, were working together, Gore said at the Georgetown University Law School...

"They dare not admit the truth lest they look like complete fools for launching our country into a reckless, discretionary war against a nation that posed no immediate threat to us whatsoever," Gore charged...
At this point in the article, there's the obligatory insert of a quote from the other side. And what did the GOP serve up? Not a lie, and of course not a word in response to Gore's assertions. No, they issed a fucking baldfaced lie on top of another one:
"Al Gore's history of denial of the threat of terrorism [Gore NEVER denied the threat of terrorism] is no less dangerous today in his role as John Kerry's surrogate [Gore speaks for himself, not Ketty] than it was in the 1990s in his role as vice president, a time when Osama Bin Laden was declaring war on the United States five different times," [and a time when the GOP made every effort to deflect attention from Clinton's attempt to detail with bin Laden by pruriently focusing on Clinton's wee-wee. ]RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke said in a written statement.
Gore then started to breathe fire:
"The administration works closely with a network of rapid-response digital Brown Shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors for undermining support for our troops," Gore said. The term "Brown Shirts" refers to Nazi supporters in the 1930s and '40s.

"The Bush administration's objective of establishing U.S. domination over any potential adversary led to the hubristic, tragic miscalculation of the Iraq war, a painful adventure marked by one disaster after another based on one mistaken assumption after another.

"But the people who paid the price have been the U.S. soldiers trapped over there and the Iraqis in prison," Gore said, referring to the prisoner-abuse scandal.

And Gore said administration lawyers have provided a legal rationale for what he called "sadistic activities" at the prisons -- even though the administration has said it is committed to the humane treatment of all prisoners.

In essence, Gore charged, the lawyers found that the president -- whenever he is acting as commander-in-chief -- is above the "rule of law."
Oh, Al, where oh where was this kind of talk in 2000? Do you realize you could have won in a landslide, with or without Florida?

Ryan Thinks Of Quitting  

He should quit.
Beleaguered Senate Republican candidate Jack Ryan is considering quitting the race in the uproar touched off by the release of his divorce records, a Republican source told the Chicago Sun- Times on Thursday...

Jeri Ryan said Wednesday she stands by allegations she made in their 1999 divorce that Jack Ryan insisted she go to sex clubs during their marriage and asked her to have sex with him while others watched.
The GOP: home of public sex orgy lovers (Ryan), high-stakes gamblers (Bennett), drug addicts (Limbaugh), adulterers (Gingrich, Hyde), avowed Hitler admirers (Schwarzenegger) and racists (Lott).

Think that's an unfair characterization of all Republicans? Well, it is, and I don't believe it; even now, there are still a few decent Republicans. I've even met one. But my little screed is mild milquetoast compared to what Limbaugh, Bennett, Gingrich, Hyde, and Lott and many, many others (like DeLay) have been slinging, and still sling, at Democrats and liberals every hour of the day.

Ivins On Computer Voting  

Why aren't people screaming for a paper trail?
I suppose I've been calmer about the possibility/probability that electronic voting machines can be rigged than some others who are now looking at the bad news because it's an old story to me...'s clear this is something about which the general public needs be aroused and even plenty upset.

The problems with electronic voting machines are numerous and grave, starting with the fact that the software which runs them is considered "proprietary information" by the companies that make them. In other words, they won't tell anyone what it is, how it works or anything else about the systems, meaning we have no way of knowing if they're clean, reliable or even functional.

That uncomfortable situation was rather dramatically underlined when Walden (Wally) O'Dell, chairman and CEO of Diebold Election Systems and a Bush campaign "Pioneer" (meaning he raised at least $100,000), wrote in a 2003 fund-raising letter that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president." At the time, Diebold was trying to get on Ohio's "favored vendor" list and is now on it. Elections Systems and Software, the country's largest maker of the machines, also has a Republican pedigree...

Last July, a team of computer scientists from Johns Hopkins and Rice universities studied the Diebold machines and concluded they are "a threat to democracy." Bev Harris, author of "Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century," reports electronic voting machines are "designed for fraud."... One experiment in how long it took to open one up and swipe its software produced a record of 10 seconds...

As The New York Times pointed out, slot machines in Las Vegas are held to far higher standards of transparency and inspection...

The simplest way to make sure the machines aren't miscounting is to require a paper trail on each ballot. In California, the Voting Systems and Procedures Panel recommended the machines be shelved, and then Secretary of State Kevin Shelley revoked certification of Diebold's paperless electronic voting machines.

Eight other states now require a paper trail, something that is not difficult to design or install, despite Diebold's initial protests that it is oh-so-hard. Florida, scene of so many painful voting memories in 2000, had a single race election in January in Palm Beach where the victory margin was 12, but the machines registered more than 130 blank ballots. You think 130 people came to the polls to not vote? There was no recount because the machines had no paper records.

Anonymous Gets It  

There's a lot I've heard that I don't like about the views of "Mike," the anoymous CIA official. But these comments of his on CNN are exactly right:
In many ways, the primary goal of bin Laden is neither to destroy the United States or destroy our liberties or our freedoms. It's simply to get us out of the Muslim world. And until we come to grips with that, we are going to be defeated regularly by Osama bin Laden, who is a much more patient opponent and a much more powerful opponent than we've yet recognized.
In fact, I've been making exactly the same point
One of the many things that I've suspected for quite a while is that we are not central to bin Laden's mission, but simply a sideshow to goals he feels are far more important...The so-called "clash of civilisations" is not as important as re-uniting the faithful and "restoring" Islam.

"Male Enhancement Pump" Allegedly Used By Oklahoma Judge. While On The Bench.  

And during a murder trial, no less. Well, whatever floats your boat:
While seated on the bench, an Oklahoma judge used a male enhancement pump, shaved and oiled his nether region, and pleasured himself, state officials charged yesterday in a petition to remove the jurist. According to the below complaint filed by the Oklahoma Attorney General, Donald D. Thompson, 57, was caught in the act by a clerk, trial witnesses, and his longtime court reporter (these unsettling first-hand accounts will make you wonder what's going on under other black robes). Visitors to Thompson's Creek County courtroom reported hearing a "swooshing" sound coming from the bench, a noise the court reporter said "sounded like a blood pressure cuff being pumped up." Thompson, the complaint charges, even pumped himself up during an August 2003 murder trial.
More at The Smoking Gun whose headline will is number 4 in my list of greatest headlines of all time, just below "Ford to City: Drop Dead," "Headless Body Found In Topless Bar" and the unforgettable Variety masterpiece: "Hix Nix Stix Flix."

Election 2004: A Referendum On The Democrats  

Go read Digby. I agree with him, especially about this:
At this point, the Democrats will have better luck persuading the growing numbers of aghast moderate Republicans to vote with us this time than getting the Nader vote to switch. The aghast moderate Republicans, after all, are people who after seeing the havoc that's been wrought by the boy king are motivated to replace him for the good of the country. The Naderites, apparently, aren't. That's just the way it is. We've gotta go where the votes are.
Well put.

That said, Nader is not the problem. This set of elections is the Democrats' to lose. If they can't win either a house of Congress or the Presidency this season, I will never vote for a Democrat qua Democrat again as they would be proven to inept to take seriously in national politics again. I will either work for a viable second party or only vote for candidates endorsed by MoveOn or some other sensible group.

In short, this election is not a referendum on Bush's leadership. This country knows damn well he's been a total disaster. No, this election is a referendum on the competence and future relevance of the Democratic Party. And they damn well better not blow it.

NY Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional  

An end to state barbarity here for "some time."
New York State's highest court today declared a central provision of the state's nine-year-old death penalty law unconstitutional, assuring that there will be no executions in the state for some time and continuing what has been a tortured legal road for the capital punishment law.

In a 4-3 decision, the state's Court of Appeals said the legislature improperly required judges to tell jurors in capital cases that if they deadlocked, the judge would impose a sentence that would leave the defendant eligible for parole after serving 20 to 25 years. The decision said that represented improper coercion of jurors to vote for execution.

Lawyers said the ruling left little ground for review by any federal court and they said it seemed clear that the state's death row would also be emptied of its four current occupants. The decision would also pose obstacles to prosecutors now seeking the death penalty in 12 cases around the state and, if the legislature fails to amend the law, would bar prosecutors from seeking capital punishment until the provision is repaired.

"Under the present statute, the death penalty may not be imposed," the decision said.


'Fahrenheit 9/11' advertising ban???
Michael Moore may be prevented from advertising his controversial new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” on television or radio after July 30 if the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today accepts the legal advice of its general counsel.

At the same time, a Republican-allied 527 soft-money group is preparing to file a complaint against Moore’s film with the FEC for violating campaign-finance law.

In a draft advisory opinion placed on the FEC’s agenda for today’s meeting, the agency’s general counsel states that political documentary filmmakers may not air television or radio ads referring to federal candidates within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.

The opinion is generated under the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, which prohibits corporate-funded ads that identify a federal candidate before a primary or general election.

The proscription is broadly defined. Section 100.29 of the federal election regulations defines restricted corporate-funded ads as those that identify a candidate by his “name, nickname, photograph or drawing” or make it “otherwise apparent through an unambiguous reference.”

Should the six members of the FEC vote to approve the counsel’s opinion, it could put a serious crimp on Moore’s promotion efforts. The flavor of the movie was encapsulated by a recent review in The Boston Globe as “the case against George W. Bush, a fat compendium of previously reported crimes, errors, sins, and grievances delivered in the director’s patented tone of vaudevillian social outrage.”

The FEC ruling may also affect promotion of a slew of other upcoming political documentaries and films, such as “Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War,” which opens in August, “The Corporation,” about democratic institutions being subsumed by the corporate agenda, or “Silver City,” a recently finished film by John Sayles that criticizes the Bush administration.

Another film, “The Hunting of the President,” which investigates whether Bill Clinton was the victim of a vast conspiracy, could be subject to regulations if it mentions Bush or members of Congress in its ads.

Since the FEC considers the Republican presidential convention scheduled to begin Aug. 30 a national political primary in which Bush is a candidate, Moore and other politically oriented filmmakers could not air any ad mentioning Bush after July 30.
That could make advertising for the film after July difficult since it is all about the Bush administration and what Moore regards as its mishandling of the war on terrorism and the decision to invade Iraq.

After the convention, ads for political films that mention Bush or any other federal candidate would be subject to the restrictions on all corporate communications within 60 days of the Nov. 2 general election.

“Fahrenheit 9/11” opens nationally tomorrow.

The film’s distributor, Lions Gate Films, an incorporated organization, would almost certainly pay for its broadcast promotions.

David Bossie, the president of Citizens United, plans to allege that “Fahrenheit 9/11” violates federal election law, arguing that “Moore has publicly indicated his goal is to impact this election season.”

Bossie had planned to file a complaint with the FEC yesterday but postponed action because his lawyers want to review it at the last minute, said Summer Stitz, a spokeswoman for Bossie’s group.
And then Bossie lies outright:
“I don’t think much of Michael Moore or his two-hour political advertisement — that’s all it is,” Bossie said. “He uses all of these words to make it look like he makes documentaries, but it’s the furthest thing from the truth. Documentaries tend to be fact-based.”
Show me one assertion in Fahrenheit 9/11 that isn't "fact-based."

If there was a flood of anti-Kerry movies in the queue right now, there most certainly would not be these draft rulings from the FEC.

Fahrenheit 9/11 Review  

Go see it. Now.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

No Al Qaeda/Fedayeen Connection  

Yup, one more lie.Newsday:
The CIA concluded "a long time ago" that an al-Qaida associate who met with two of the Sept. 11 hijackers in Malaysia was not an officer in Saddam Hussein's army, as alleged Sunday by a Republican member of the 9/11 commission...

The claim that the Iraqi officer and al-Qaida figure are the same first appeared in a Wall Street Journal editorial on May 27. A similar account was then published in the June 7 edition of the Weekly Standard, which reported that the link was discovered by an analyst working for a controversial Pentagon intelligence unit under Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy.
Liars. Liars. Liars.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Bush Fed Appeals Court Nominee Practicing Law Without A License  

He, uh, forgot to renew it four years ago.

This reminded me of something. If Zoe Baird, Kimba Woods, and Linda Chavez had to withdraw from their respective nominations for not paying taxes and/or hiring illegal immigrants, this clown needs to as well. And the Bar association needs to discipline the boy. But not Abu Ghraib style. No one deserves that.


Iran confiscates three British warships. Ain't this a casus belli???
Iran confiscated three British warships Monday and arrested eight armed crew members, state-run television reported.

The three British ships -- described only as "warships" -- entered Iranian territorial waters not far from the Iran-Iraq border, the Arabic language Al-Alam television reported. The station is part of the state-run Iranian radio and television network.

"Iranian forces confiscated the ships and eight military personnel on board," the report said.

In London, the Ministry of Defense said it was investigating the report but did not know if it was true.

The ministry said there were no British warships operating in the Shat al Arab waterway but some smaller vessels were there.

"We are assisting the Iraqi water police there so it may be one of those vessels," a spokesman said on condition of anonymity. "We don't know."

Five More Americans killed in Iraq  

Four more in combat, one in an undescribed noncombat situation.
Four U.S. service members were killed Monday in an ambush in the Sunni Muslim city of Ramadi, witnesses said. Videotape delivered to Associated Press Television News showed the four, still in uniform, lying dead near what appeared to be a walled compound.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military command.

On Sunday, attackers lying in wait for Iraqi troops detonated a roadside bomb on the dangerous road leading to Baghdad's airport Sunday, killing two Iraqi soldiers and wounding 11. American troops took the Iraqi wounded to a U.S. aid station and waited while they were treated.

An American Marine was killed in a non-combat incident Saturday in Anbar province, which includes Ramadi and Fallujah, the U.S. military said. A mortar round also injured six police and four Iraqis in a separate attack Sunday near the Iraqi central bank in Baghdad.

Genuine Saddam/al Qaeda Links? Experts say: Not So Fast.  

Sunday UPI:
The commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has received new information indicating that a senior officer in an elite unit of the security services of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein may have been a member of al-Qaida involved in the planning of the suicide hijackings, panel members said Sunday.

John F. Lehman, a Reagan-era GOP defense official told NBC's 'Meet the Press' that documents captured in Iraq 'indicate that there is at least one officer of Saddam's Fedayeen, a lieutenant colonel, who was a very prominent member of al Qaida.'

The Fedayeen were a special unit of volunteers given basic training in irregular warfare. The lieutenant colonel, Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, has the same name as an Iraqi thought to have attended a planning meeting for the Sept. 11 attacks in January 2000, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting was also attended by two of the hijackers, Khalid al Midhar and Nawaf al Hamzi and senior al-Qaida leaders.

Lehman said that commission staff members continued to work on the issue and experts cautioned that the connection might be nothing more than coincidence.

'Shakir is a pretty common name,' said terrorism analyst and author Peter Bergen, 'and even if the two names refer to the same person, there might be a number of other explanations. Perhaps al-Qaida had penetrated Saddam's security apparatus.'

Analysts say the Fedayeen was not an intelligence unit, but an irregular militia recruited from clans loyal to the regime in the capital, in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit and in the surrounding Tigris valley area. Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank set up by the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, described them to United Press International last year as 'thugs and bumpkins.'

He said the Fedayeen were 'at the low end of the food chain in the security apparatus, doing street level work for the regime.'
Actually, this report has been around for a while. The WSJ recently used it in an editorial.

F9/11 Opens Wednesday, June 23 In NYC  

And guess who has tix? Bwahahahahahahahahah!

Now if you want to join me y'gotta be in NYC. Go here, click on New York and find a theater in New York, NY.

WaPo Editorialists Hit The Roof  

Recently, Donald Rumsfeld complained about some nasty editorials about the torture scandal. He singled out the Washington Post in particular. Today, in a display of gumption unusual for a mainstream newspaper, the Washington Post told Rumsfeld where to shove it, metaphorically speaking:
Dictators who wish to justify torture, and those who would mistreat Americans, have no need to read our editorials: They can download from the Internet the 50-page legal brief issued by Mr. Rumsfeld's chief counsel.
The whole editorial is well worth a squint or two.

From The You Can't Make This Up Department  

Anti-choice activists protest UNICEF Halloween Money Drive.Think I'm kidding?
"It's a bad idea because UNICEF is involved with organizations that promote abortion," said Judie Brown, president of the [self-styled] American Life League. "It has also become clear to us that they have no desire to change this effort in which they are involved because they... gave an award to Ted Turner, who is one of the leading pro-abortion population control billionaires in the United States."

"We therefore recommend that parents not let their children collect money for UNICEF, but that they take the positive step of going to school teachers and saying there are more beneficial places for our children to raise money for charity, and UNICEF is not among them," Brown said...

"They are just wrong on a couple of points," said Sally Ethelston, Population Action International Vice President for Communications. "None of the UN agencies have any involvement in family planning and abortion services."

Ethelston said it "is completely false" to suggest that UNICEF provides abortions or contraceptives in the Third World.

"They tend primarily to work in the area of children's health," Ethelston said. "The idea that a woman be able to space her children at least two years apart is seen as a very vital health intervention for children's health" because children who are born less than two years apart in developing countries are not as healthy, Ethelston said.

"Births spaced too close together [are] very detrimental to the child and the woman, so to the degree UNICEF is actually involved with family planning, I would imagine it is within the context of birth spacing," she said.
Hat tip to Jeanne d'Arc.

Atta In Prague Or Not? Update  

A few days ago, The New York Times reported this:
A report of a clandestine meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer first surfaced shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. And even though serious doubt was cast on the report, it was repeatedly cited by some Bush administration officials and others as evidence of a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

But on Wednesday, the Sept. 11 commission said its investigation had found that the meeting never took place.

In its report on the Sept. 11 plot, the commission staff disclosed for the first time F.B.I. evidence that strongly suggested that Mr. Atta was in the United States at the time of the supposed Prague meeting.

The report cited a photograph taken by a bank surveillance camera in Virginia showing Mr. Atta withdrawing money on April 4, 2001, a few days before the supposed Prague meeting on April 9, and records showing his cellphone was used on April 6, 9, 10 and 11 in Florida.
As the incomparable Bob Somerby points out, it is something of a judgment call as to whether this evidence proves much of anything. There's no proof that Atta was the person actually using his cell phone on April 9. But then again, there's very, very little reason to assume he wasn't. Occam's Razor may not be totally apropos in concluding that Atta was definitely not in Prague on the basis of this evidence, but to me it seems less and less likely that he was there.

Amy Tan And Scott Turow On John Kerry And George Bush  

Via a good friend who is also a friend of Amy Tan, this correspondence arrived in my inbox yesterday:

Dear Friends:
If you are receiving this and are an ardent Bush supporter, I apologize.  Please ignore the rest of this email.  We both know I won't change your mind, and you won't change mine.
However, if you feel we may need a different President for the next four years, I hope you will find the following useful.  
Like many of you, my stance on the elections has been basically "anyone but  Bush."  When John Kerry evolved as the Democratic candidate for President, he became my choice as well.  I found, however, I was not as passionate about Kerry as I was passionate about simply getting rid of Bush. 
Yet I wanted to be a strong Kerry supporter.  I wanted to know why I would choose Kerry beyond partisan politics, why we needed someone exactly like him given the fact that our country has never before suffered such a rapid loss in our civil rights, the environment, our educational systems, employment,  health care, our economic health,  our standing in the world,  our ability to deal with terrorism without it escalating into a worse situation--in essence, the now fragile underpinnings of our future, in which any one of those troublesome situations could undo us, let alone a multitude of them. 
 So what makes John Kerry particularly well-suited for the Presidency and these times?
I asked a friend who might know better than I.  Scott Turow, consummate writer, Chicago lawyer, a smart guy,  a sensible man with a conscience, who stays up to date with the issues that face our country. 
Scott emailed me a quick response.  And it was so articulate and concise, so well informed and true, that I wanted to share it with my friends.   I have reprinted it below,  I encourage you to send it to your friends and family, and encourage them to send it to their friends. I especially hope you will send it those who are undecided or have not yet bothered to register.  Please also consider making a special effort to reach people in "battleground" states, for example, the Midwest, Colorado, and Florida,  and find the biggest issue that affect them personally, be it health care, education, stem cell research, or the security of our nation.   Be able to articulate specifically why Kerry addresses their best interests.  Herewith some remarks you can say about the overall qualifications of John Kerry....
Scott Turow’s remarks on John Kerry and why he is the right person to be President:

     I could say the following without blushing:  He is running against a man who was not fit for duty in 1968 and is not fit for duty today, a man who lacked the qualifications for the office when he was elected and has demonstrated it.  We have been through a skein of national disasters, for which he accepts no blame, because he literally doesn’t understand enough about the job to realize how a better President would have responded.  John Kerry has been in public life for 35 years..  He was a prosecutor when GWB was running an oil company into the ground.   And he was already a seasoned United States Senator when GWB decided it was time to give up abusing substances.  JK has a sharper grasp of foreign policy, and more experience with it, than any candidate for President in the last 50 years, with the possible exception of GHWB (see today’s NYT).   His dedication to the cause of our military and veterans is long established.  And his commitment to economic and social justice for all Americans cannot be doubted.  A man can’t be the committed liberal Bush sometimes maintains Kerry is, and also the unprincipled waffler.  Life and public service are complicated, as GWB doesn’t understand.  JK does.  He has a sense of nuance, and the experience and values to improve the life of the country. 


Please feel free to circulate this letter to whomever you wish to reach.  Let's help reach the 10% of undecided voters.


Amy Tan

[UPDATE] Digby reminds us of a post in which he gives some more reasons why Kerry would make a great president.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Frisco Street Art  

Go to TalkLeft for the story.

If Experts Disagree With You, Lie About What The Experts Say.  

There they go again.

Republican operatives, when confronted with a seemingly credible source highly critical of their behavior, simply lied about the source said. First, the latest example:

First of all, Bush and his administration are lying when they assert anything that so much as suggests a relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam.

Secondly, Bush and his administration are lying when they assert anything that so much as suggests that the 9/11 report agrees with them.

Courtesy Billmon, here is what the 9/11 commission says:
Bin Ladin also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein's secular regime. Bin Ladin had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded Bin Ladin to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda.

A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Ladin in 1994. Bin Ladin is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded.

There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after Bin Ladin had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship.

Two senior Bin Ladin associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.
End of story. For whatever reason or reasons, Saddam's thugs and bin Laden's thugs apparently hated each. All attempts to get them to work together failed, according to the best available public evidence.

To suggest otherwise is to parse words in order to lie.

Here's an earlier example of the same sleazy lie tactic. A Diebold spokesman lied about the conclusion reached by a group critical of its voting machine technology. From the New York Times, November 3, 2003:
Mr. Bear of Diebold said the election security and the virtual walls around his company’s computer network are different; “You’re looking at apples and oranges,” he said. Of the security breach, he said, “We acknowledge that was unfortunate that that occurred.” But the “security and sanctity of the election process,” he said, has been proved by the Science Applications International Corporation report.
In fact, the SAIC report concluded just the opposite. In the NY Times on September 25, 2003, which reported on the SAIC report, the lead paragraph was:
Electronic voting machine technology used nationwide is "at high risk of compromise" because of software flaws that could make them vulnerable to computer hackers and voting fraud, according to a review released yesterday. The report also said, though, that proper safeguards could help to mitigate the risk.

The new report, the second concerning voting machines from Diebold Election Systems, was conducted for the state of Maryland after researchers warned this summer that the Diebold AccuVote-TS voting machines, more than 33,000 of which are used in 38 states, may be vulnerable to manipulation. Maryland is adopting the machines for elections. [Note: In May, 2004, Maryland was sued over the use of Diebold machines.]

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