Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween ~ The Season Of The Long Night Is Officially Upon Us

And there's nothing like an outsider's perspective to jolt us into realizing just what frightening fools & assholes we appear to others to be. (Title bar.)

The British view of our elections--& particularly the negative campaign ads, that are, fundamentally, our culture wars as expressed in American politics--seem not to be about the "big issues" such as invading foreign countries, or the economy or public policy--but about sex.

They may be onto something--although I personally think government has no business sticking its hands down our pants for any reason or in any guise, collectively we may just prove that our fusspot tendencies & penchant for all manner of rules where sex is concerned is far & away more important than matters more directly related to statesmanship & running a country.

An AP report today observes that "negative ads are the coin of the realm in politics, especially with only one week left in the campaign. Voters can expect to "be bombarded on television, in the mail and over the phone as political strategists make their closing arguments to a shrinking pool of those who haven't made up their minds."

"Under the terms of a 2002 campaign finance law, these messages are independent expenditures that the parties can undertake only if they do not coordinate with the candidates they are seeking to help. This type of spending by the parties on congressional campaigns is 54 percent higher than it was for the same period in the 2004 campaign season, according to data compiled by the Federal Election Commission.

"It is also decidedly more negative. In 2004, the parties spent
about $6 on ads in favor of congressional candidates for every $5 spent opposing candidates.

"At this point, Republicans have spent $87.5 million to oppose candidates and Democrats have spent $72.6 million. But the edge on negativity, according to independent analyses of the ads, goes to the GOP.

"'Negative ads only work in two situations — when you are incredibly desperate or when you're incredibly close to the end,' said Ray Seidelman, a professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College who has studied political advertising and voter turnout.

"For example, the political ad in Tennessee against Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford that features the blonde with a come-hither look received widespread attention. Critics denounced the ad financed by the Republican National Committee as appealing to racism because it suggested Ford, who is black, dated white women. The ad is no longer running.
Other ads are less subtle:

• The National Republican Congressional Committee has run an ad in Ohio that accuses Democrat John Cranley, a Cincinnati City councilman, of judgment that ranges from "bad to bizarre." The ad cites his vote last year on a nonbinding resolution that asked the police department to ban the use of stun guns on children under 11 years old. The measure failed 5-4 after the police department indicated that a stun gun would be an appropriate response if a child was armed.

"The NRCC tried to place an ad in New York against Democrat Michael Arcuri, the district attorney in Oneida County, accusing him of calling a sex hotline while on county business. But records show that the call to the 800 number lasted only seconds and that the number has the same last seven digits as the phone number for the state Department of Criminal Justice Services. The Arcuri campaign said a colleague of Arcuri's mistakenly placed the call.

"An analysis by the Annenberg Public Policy Center's nonpartisan FactCheck.org concluded that negative ads aired by the NRCC had a 'pronounced tendency to be petty and personal.'

"Rep. Tom Reynolds, the New York Republican who is chairman of the NRCC, said the party has chosen to run opposition ads to counter 'a full slate of undistinguished Democrat challengers campaigning on national issues with cookie-cutter talking points.'

"'The best way for us to overcome this is to draw contrasts and offer voters a true choice,' Reynolds said recently at the National Press Club. 'So, through television, radio and mail, we are saying to the voter: This is who the alternative on the ballot is; this is where he or she stands on the issues that matter in your community; and this is what he or she has done that is relevant to being qualified for federal office.'

"Democrats are running their share of negative ads. For the most part, those ads link Republican candidates to President Bush, exploiting the president's low approval ratings. One ad airing in Pennsylvania cites October as the bloodiest month in Iraq and accuses Republican incumbent Rep. Jim Gerlach (news, bio, voting record) of blindly following Bush.

"After the electronic message sex scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley (news, bio, voting record), R-Fla., some Democratic ads connected candidates to Republican congressional leaders who were challenged for failing to address the problem.

"Meanwhile, the candidates' campaigns are generally running more positive or self-promotional ads.

"It's good cop, bad cop," said Evan Tracey, chief operating officer at TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group, a company that tracks political advertising. 'The parties can throw the sharp elbows and give the candidates plausible deniability.'

"Independent groups not affiliated with the parties are adding to the negative tone on the airwaves, in mailboxes and over the phone. Labor unions, nonprofit organizations and obscure groups are reaching out to voters in competitive races with negative messages.

"One group, the Economic Freedom Fund, has been running ads and sending mail against Democratic candidates in Georgia, Iowa and West Virginia. In one mailing, the group accuses Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell (news, bio, voting record) of Iowa of voting to let lawyers 'sue Little League for scrapes and bruises during a game.' At issue was Boswell's vote in 2004 against legislation that would have provided nonprofit athletic organizations with immunity from some negligence lawsuits. Critics of the bill argued that it would have affected other litigation, including civil rights claims.

"Strategists and political ad analysts generally agree that negative ads work because negative opinions linger with voters longer than positive opinions.

"But it works only in the narrow sense," Seidelman said. "In the long run what it does is create a tremendous amount of distrust in the process."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dr. Rove's 11th Hour Magic Pork Transfusions

Ill: Internetweekly.org

What would Halloween be without a costume for Karl Rove?


The spell: Indications: balky voters concerned about their incumbent reps' involvement in gay-sex coverup scandals & his allocation of RNC funds to nasty, simplistic attack ads; candidates needing sympathy votes.

Solution: Solicitous visits to electorate, although you are not an elected official, timed particularly to coincide with the aftermath of severe winter weather storm. In absence of same, find some sort of tie-in with debilitating disease in candidate's family. (But not Parkinson's.)

Instructions: Conjure government resources provided by all taxpayers, & inject liberal doses until poll temperatures rise for your favored GOP candidate. If necessary, disappear behind magic wall to confer, thereby heightening anticipation. At magic moment, reappear & announce funds to be delivered ASAP. Let candidate announce as if s/he has special pull in such matters &/or the ear of God always.

Result: Johnny on the spot liquid pork application.

*Caution, not to be applied to true large-scale disaster areas, e.g. Katrina or Hawaiian earthquakes* For GOP campaign disaster-aversion prevention only. Not for long-term extended consumption. May cause hives, blisters, oozing boils & other indicia of cynical Satanic practices. Discontinue use immediately should red horns sprout &/or when widespread media outrage seems imminent. Hide all evidence & wash hands thoroughly with Lucky Mojo flower-water.

(Title bar: LA Times Article)

Halloween Weekend Special Edition ~ GOP & Gays

Yes, it's Demon Prince-a-pessa's favorite holiday of the entire year (seriously).

Normally she'd be in New Orleans, where they really know how to throw a masquerade party, most especially on Halloween, but since she's still in tragically hip & painfully self-conscious Seattle, she might as well mourn the fact that she is & get over it. And ever since Katrina, New Orleans is a neglected third world country full of macacas the GOP feels it can safely ignore. She doubts the 9th Ward even has reliable electricity yet.

But in celebration of the audacious spirit that really IS Halloween, she'd like to open this Halloween Weekend Special Edition of MoronCowboy.com with a special tribute to the girls who play dress-up like no others.

And she is absolutely dying to ask: gay men ~ GOP?? Closeted gay men deliberately joining the Republican party? What were you guys thinking?

Halloween Weekend Special Edition ~ He Didn't Neither Say "Stay The Course"

He never said "stay the course," didn't you know?

Press Secretary Tony Snow leapt in to clarify: he hasn't said it in a couple of weeks. Bush kinda apologizes: "I don't have a real good vocabulary."

What he means is, given time to have his speechwriters gussy it up for him: We're not pursuing an "artificial timetable in Iraq." (Title bar.)

Crikey, I can only think what a miserably ungratifying job it must be to be employed as a speechwriter for George W. Bush.

Halloween Weekend Special Edition ~ Dirty Trix & Politix

The biz-as-usual GOP distract-&-sling-shit- Rovian campaign dirty trix are in full swing, as is the resort to using ostensibly independent PAC groups ~ whose "independence" is as imaginary as WMD's in Iraq ~ as a front for wild attack ads funded by the Republicon National Committee.

Case in point: the ad attacking Democratic candidate Harold Ford (who is black), designed to appeal to whites' fears of miscengenation, or interracial sex. The RNC funded the ad, wherein a sexy white woman says she met Harold at a Playboy party, tells him to give her a call, & winks suggestively. Chairman of the RNC, Ken Mehlman, disowned it by claiming the RNC did not have the authority to approve the content, although it paid for the ad.

Next they'll be raping our women, or worse, marrying them & expecting to be invited over every holiday, as if they were our equals.

Let's see, what other particularly vile dirty trix have the RNC & GOP candidates had up their sleeves? Oh yes,the annoyance & loathesomeness of people forcing us all to look at & think about their debilitating diseases & handicaps--I covered GOP shill Rush Limbaugh's attacks on Michael Fox the other day--Fox says, by the way, he was not off his meds at the time (in fact, he's at a point of diminishing returns which happens to Parkinson's patients although they take their meds faithfully, or so it is said.) Fox adds that if he got the message across, & polls say he did, it was worth the savaging he received at the fat bloated idiot's hands. (No, I certainly don't mind pointing out that Rush has, or has had, weight, chronic substance abuse & chronic blowhard problems so as to assure he gets a taste of his own medicine--lame pun intended).

And elsewhere, we see a report of a debate between candidates so fierce & out of control that the Republican shouted at the Democrat, "If you weren't sitting in that wheelchair, I'd bitch-slap you right now" ~ er, loose paraphrase. I don't even remember who the candidates were, what state, or what the hell they were arguing about, but the Repug coming so unglued as to threaten her opponent with physical violence was quite memorable.

Don't forget the badly dressed, cud-chawing, influence-peddling, non-kosher, probably racist Republican rhinestone cowboy out of Virginia, Senator Allen, who's being challenged by Jim Webb. Webb sounds like a colorful & spirited character. He's served in the military & changed parties seems like half a dozen times, besides writing novels. A versatile & interesting person-- even more interesting because some of his writing has contained racy passages, which Allen reportedly read on the radio.

We like Webb just because: he promptly fired back that at least he wasn't trying to appeal to the purely prurient interest by imaging hot lesbian unrequited love scenes--unlike First Vice-President Lady Lynne Cheney did in her novel. (Um, I thought that was the objection, anyway.)

I think he should have added that at least it was fiction, not actual messages to hot-boy pages.

There's something to be said about having the decency to keep your thoughts about sex on a page rather than trying to inveigle a page into actually performing said acts with you.

A big, big difference.

Halloween Weekend Special Edition ~ GOP Ghouls Out In Force

Ill: Cyberspaceorbit.com

Well, leave it to Rummy to become a flashpoint over the weekend & poster child for the failed war on Terra as intepreted in Iraq (again).

In today's news (title bar):

"Rumsfeld's leadership of the bloody mission in
Iraq has become a divisive issue in the Nov. 7 elections. Many Democrats and a few Republicans are calling for his resignation, but President Bush repeatedly has defended him. So did House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, during an appearance Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

'"I think Donald Rumsfeld is the best thing that's happened to the Pentagon in 25 years' Boehner said.'This Pentagon and our military needs a transformation. And I think Donald Rumsfeld's the only man in America who knows where the bodies are buried at the Pentagon, has enough experience to help transform that institution.'

Well, he's recently demonstrated that he doesn't have the sense to appear to be a calm & collected rational man, so maybe being a loose cannon is what's really kept him in the post so far. Keep on doing whatever works, Rummy, & that goes for your boss, too,

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dickie's Very Bad Day

Ill: Whitehouse.org

Poor Dick. It's been a very bad news day for the world's shyest & most secretive vice-president.

First, he sticks his foot in it the other day on a radio show aired in Fargo, North Dakota. Asked by the show's host if it would save American lives, for cryin' out loud, would he condone something to do with"a dunk in the water"?

Dick fearlessly stood up & said that he would, & all a sudden he's beset by the nattering nabobs of negativity, accusing him of endorsing water-boarding, which the nabobs imagine is tantamount to torture.

Use of water is not necessarily water-boarding, you ding-dongs! How many times do we have to say this? America does not torture. (Alberto Gonzales). America does not torture. (George Bush). America does not torture (Dick Cheney). America does not torture. (Tony Snow, White House Press Secretary).

Dick said it best in his own defense, I think:

"In his interview, Mr Cheney described the torture debate as 'a little silly'. He cited the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the senior al-Qa'ida figure captured in Pakistan in 2003, who provided 'enormously valuable information'.

"Mr Cheney said: 'you can have a fairly robust interrogation programme without torture. We've got that now'." (Title bar.)

See, you guys, there's a difference between a "fairly robust interrogation program" and torture. We wonder what it is, exactly, but we are not going to pry. If you can't trust your government, who can you trust?

Besides, others in the government have said torture is not permitted:

"In September the Pentagon issued a new field manual on intelligence interrogation that explicitly forbids the use of water boarding. On that occasion General Jeff Kimmons, the US Army's top intelligence officer, said that 'no good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that.'

"The manual states that 'torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment is never a morally permissible option, even in situations where lives depend on gaining information'. Those who do use them, 'lose moral legitimacy'.

So America does not torture! Ya got that yet?

Second, the shameless flogging of that tired old story about Dick's former company, Halliburton & its subsidiary KBR in Iraq & Afghanistan. Don't tell me it's not about partisan politics when an independent investigator chose this day, only weeks before the elections, to remind us that those operations have been fast & loose with the tax-payers' dollars & that bribery was involved, as well as price-gouging. And the fact that it was a no-bid contract? Hell, that's all old news, tired news, & who cares, anyway. In the next rounds, Halliburton will have some competition.

Except that the report charges that Halliburton/KBR "classified" so much information under the private trade secrets provision of the contracting regulations, it'll be well-nigh impossible to tell whether the taxpayers will really be getting a better deal, & probably take another 5 years before somebody really does something about it if so.

Wonder where Halliburton got the notion that it should keep everything secret?


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Compassionate Conservatives Behaving Compassionately ~ Limbaugh Style

Oh goody. Demon Princess gets to use this photo again.

Besides that, she thinks this funny bit on Slate by Timothy Noah (title bar) ridiculing Rush Limbaugh (he can't be that stupid!) for his ferocious & unprincipled partisan attack on Michael J. Fox's appearance in a Democrat's ad-- advocating stem cell research into Parkinson's & other devastating diseases-- is particularly interesting in juxtaposition with the rest of her posts today.

Whilst absolutely horrendous destruction of extant life is going on in Iraq such that other Middle East countries that formerly wanted democracy are changing their minds, & as we further demonstrate that we have no respect for humane principles in our own system of justice, Rush "addicted to Oxycontin" Limbaugh delights in torturing Fox for what Limbaugh thinks is a deliberate failure on Fox's part to take his meds in order to trot the reality of his condition before Democratic-leaning voters.

There you have it in a nutshell.

No wonder no one wants American-style democracy. (Rhymes with hy-po-cra-cy.)

Syrians No Longer Agitate For Democratic Government, Thanks To US Antics In Iraq

Alongside news reports today that October has so far been the deadliest month for Iraq, another report demonstrating what is perhaps the most damning failure of Bush's "visionary" fantasy of democracy's allure to the backwards denizens living under Medieval oppressive rule in Syria & other countries in the Middle East.

"Horror at the bloodshed accompanying the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Iraq has accomplished what human rights activists, analysts and others say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been unable to do by himself: silence public demands for democratic reforms here."

Seems Syrians who formerly advocated democracy have indeed learned an important lesson about democracy from watching what's been going on in Iraq under U.S. occupation & have decided they don't want it--the exact opposite of the lesson George opined they'd learn. (Title bar.)

The question now, it seems to me, is how many generations will it take to undo the damage in the Middle East that the rash & arrogant "unilateral war" policies advocated by hawkish Neocons with no real experience of, or respect for the tolls of war, hath wrought?

"Bomb them into submission to democracy" hasn't exactly produced very good results so far. Nice fantasy, though.

Is Habeus Corpus Really Dead?

ell. The first legal challenge to Bushco's new "everyone we say is a terrorist is a terrorist & centuries of law on the rights of the accused to know why he's been jailed be damned" legislation is being challenged in a U.S. court.

Those paying attention: civilization as imagined in the law is on the line.

Those not paying attention: go back to sleep. We'll wake you when the jackboots come for you.

"Suspending habeas rights is a step that has been taken only four times previously in U.S. history, and its legality this time will almost certainly be decided by the Supreme Court. "

Counsel for an admitted terrorist--although the admission may have been obtained by torture--filed today for a hearing before a U.S. court, although the recently passed MCA says he can't.

"Because of Binalshibh's alleged admission that he was a key player in the Hamburg cell that carried out the attacks, his legal suit may provide the starkest test yet of America's justice system, legal experts said.

"'It is how our system treats the worst of the worst, the most reviled of the reviled, that shows how true we are to our principles, ' said David H. Remes, who has represented 17 detainees, mostly from Yemen, and coordinated defense arguments to the Supreme Court in the successful Hamdan case.

"Binalshibh may never get the hearing he is seeking. His is one of hundreds of cases the government asked the courts to dismiss immediately after Bush signed the new law. For his part, Binalshibh did little more than assert his habeas rights and ask for a lawyer.

"Binalshibh is part of a select group of detainees that even defense lawyers acknowledge may be guilty -- 14 suspected terrorists the government deemed "high-value detainees," some of whom have allegedly admitted high-level roles in the al-Qaeda attacks. President Bush cited the 14 men, selected from more than 100 terrorist suspects who had been held for years in secret CIA-run prisons, when he successfully lobbied for the military commission law."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Funny ~ Halloween Masks For Frugal Billionaires

Spied today on Forbes.com: downloadable cut-out full-color paper masks for the Frugal Billionaires among us.

Choose from notorious robber-baron CEO's & ex-CEO's such as Bernard Ebbers, the recently dearly departed Ken Lay, & other persons who, only in America, would we pray at their manicured feetsies (well, some of us). Paris Hilton (with fashion accessory Tinkerbell, the itsy-bitsiest dog ever), Martha Stewart, & Oprah Winfrey.

Search the site for George Bush (with hat), Dick Cheney & Donald Rumsfeld. Other dictators included are Kim Il Jong & Bill Gates.

Suggestion: for added effect, LEAVE the white vacant eyes as is.

Denotes lack of conscience, empathy, remorse, & don't forget--"character." You won't be able to see, but remember, the point of Halloween is to personify the character. And most of them can't, either.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Desperate, Desperater, Desperatest

Denying the the story appearing in the New York Times yesterday that Bush has moderated his plans for "staying the course" in his highly unpopular war in Iraq-- whatever the cost or the consequences-- in the Washington Post today (title bar) we see this news:

"The White House is bracing for guerrilla warfare on the homefront politically if Republicans lose control of the House, the Senate or both--and with it, the president's ability to shape and dominate the national agenda.

"Republicans are battling to keep control of Congress. But polls and analysts in both parties increasingly suggest Democrats will capture the House and possibly the Senate on Election Day Nov. 7.
"Everything could change overnight for President Bush, who has governed for most of the past six years with a Republican Congress and with little support from Democrats.

Nothing whatsoever to be alarmed about, says George, although his expression belies his words: "'Every session you change the way you do business with the Congress. And you test the mood of the Congress, find out what their appetite will be. But it doesn't change your priorities,' the president told ABC News.
"Democratic victories essentially could block Bush's remaining agenda and usher in a period of intense partisan bickering over nearly every measure to come before Congress.

"Loss of either chamber also could subject his administration to endless congressional inquiries and investigations. "

It's to be hoped, anyway.

Maybe that accounts for the disturbed & pensive expression on George's face here, uncharacteristic as it is.

Photo: Washington Post

And meanwhile, Kingmaker Karl Rove (who elected him, anyway) swings into action, also reported in the WaPo today. Rove took it upon himself to "test drive" his new campaign plans by launching absurdly reductionist arguments against Democrats, still insistent that what the country needs is more of the same: draconian "fixes" in laws that don't need to be fixed, among other things.

"Appearing in support of embattled GOP Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.), Karl Rove offered biting jibes against House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), took a shot at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and asserted that Democratic policies would leave the country weaker.

"'You can't say I want to win the war but not be willing to fight the war,' said Rove, Bush's top political adviser. 'And if leading Democrats have their way, our nation will be weaker and the enemies of our nation will be stronger. And that's a stark fact, and it's the reason that this fall election will turn very heavily on national security.'

"Officially, Rove was speaking at the annual dinner for the Erie County Republican Party, but in many ways, the appearance was a show of support for Reynolds, the chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, who is in danger this fall after questions about his role in responding to the Mark Foley page scandal.

"Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was supposed to be the speaker at the dinner and rally, but he canceled, pleading a scheduling conflict, the Buffalo News said. McCain did speak to the rally by telephone, praising Reynolds as "one of my heroes."
Rove stepped in at dinner and used his speech to road-test new lines of attack on the Democrats. The basic themes -- that voters face a stark choice between the parties on taxes and terrorism -- have been a Bush standard.

"But Rove, who once claimed liberals preferred 'therapy' to war against terrorists, delivered them with an acerbity not seen from his boss.

"For instance, he needled congressional Democrats for voting against a GOP plan to try terrorist suspects at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. Many Democrats said the plan violated basic rights, but Rove rejected that. 'You need to have the ability to try these people without worrying about the ACLU showing up saying, 'Wait a minute, did you Mirandize them when you found them on the battlefield,' " he said. 'With all due respect, I don't happen to remember that in World War II, that when we captured Nazis and Japanese and took them to camps, that the first thing we did was provide them legal aid.'

"He also went after the would-be House speaker for voting against renewing the USA Patriot Act, the warrantless wiretapping program and the war in Iraq. 'With a record like that, you can see why Nancy Pelosi wouldn't want this election to be about national security,' Rove said."

Demon Princess is delighted to archly note that Karl's speechifying took place at what was, for all intents & purposes, a Neocon rally for Reynolds, who devoted a huge portion of the GOP re-election campaign funds to the sordid brand of dumpster-diving, lying, thieving & forging-of-signatures- on-documents that Rove himself purportedly pioneered when he was just a lad with hair.

This from the party that anoints itself defenders of moral fiber & "character counts," no less.

We guess that includes setting up straw-man arguments & absurdist scenarios with no basis in real fact whatsoever. The fixes the Republicons so ardently desire is that the electorate turn off their critical thinking faculties and dive deep into the depths of the dumpster of shameful Rovian politix & governance by propaganda.

In other words, more of the same.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Let's Take A Vote: He's Kidding, Right...

Ill: Perrspectives

Bush proclaims "National Character Counts Week"

Demon Princess enjoys nothing about this Administration so much as its really entertaining flair for unintentional irony, as in today's news direct from the White House Department of "you must be dreaming ~ grand & meaningless hyperbole" ~

"Our changing world requires virtues that sustain our democracy, make self-government possible, and help build a more hopeful future. National Character Counts Week is an opportunity to recognize the depth of America's character and appreciate those who pass on our values to future generations.

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 15 through October 21, 2006, as National Character Counts Week. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, parents, students, and all Americans to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.

"IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.

(Title bar to see the official White House Proclamation.)

The horror, the horror, er, *I mean* the irony, the irony.

Need I remind anybody really that in recent news, all we've heard is the GOP, the party of "personal responsibility," & friends to "values voters," & now "character," frantically, desperately clutching at straws, so as not to appear that they have nothing to say about the domestic & international scandals that threaten to swamp their brave little boats?

Instead they've filled the airwaves & news media with loud, frantic & hysterical blather blaming Bill Clinton & the Democrats for all their woes: the Foley scandal & North Korea as well as 9/11.

Soon we'll be hearing that Democrats are to blame for the 'cons lack moral fiber in matters ranging from Jack Abramoff's influence peddling to Tom DeLay and Bob Ney--who refuses to resign his seat despite having just pled guilty because he needs the $100,000+ paycheck & benefits the American taxpayers have generously afforded him. Hell, if they work really hard at it, I'm sure that the botched response to Hurricane Katrina was somehow Bill Clinton's fault, too.

We also see a report that the most deluded Radical Christian right leaders are planning a massive Sunday sermon defending the Administration that lied to & used them for political gain, while attempting to hang & quarter the messenger-- one of their own-- after his audacity in writing a book exposing the fact that they've allowed their flocks to be exploited & that they foolishly allowed themselves to be bought off with trinkets--with cufflinks & fine writing instruments.

And with respect to our candidates for Congress, we see bitter & spiteful personal attacks going largely to the personal integrity & trust issues.

Ahem, y'all! Would you like to know what them thar voters are facing right here at home--the issues we're stuggling with? For starters:

1. Huge economic disparities ~ the super-rich get super-richer, & the poor get pushed out into the streets. Record profits due to the particularly boisterous & virulent brand of crony capitalism that's sure to go down in history as the defining hallmark of this neo-revival of Robber Baronism, but it's a winner-take all sorta game, definitely not a rising tide that lifts all boats;

2. The rapidly shrinking middle class whose struggles with skyrocketing healthcare costs, poor public schools, educational debt & diminishing prospects across the board have been completely & totally ignored;

3. The enormous deficit spending that has also become a hallmark of the "party of fiscal responsibility."

When Republicons attempt to tar & feather Democrats (falsely) as the party of "cut & run" & pro-terrorism, the Dems should be retorting that the GOP is the party of "cut & spend" ~ a financial fantasyland where tax cuts & corporate welfare for those who least need it go on forever & the bills never become due. For the favored few, that is.

Yes, indeed, character counts, & we're all looking forward to November.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Under The Radar: Disagreeing With Dick Cheney Publically Gets Man Colorado Arrested For Assault

Ill: Whitehouse.org

Glenn Greenwald on his blog Unclaimed Territory today has a great piece on former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan's paeon piece waxing poetic on the topic of (are you ready?) liberals' exceeding intolerance, incivility & inability to be reasonable about dissent.

Can you say "projection"?

Glenn considers the absurdity of the pot calling the kettle black yet again (methinks it's actually a tried-&-so-far-true GOP campaign strategy), & gives several famous instances where just the reverse has been true.

One of them flew under my radar, & maybe it got past you too. So in the interest of public service, Demon Princess would like to bring this article from a Colorado paper to all a y'all's attention. (Title bar.)

Seems a Denver man happened to be walking with his son when he noticed a huge commotion nearby. Lo, it was the Dick Cheney in town to speak to the good people of that state. The man, walking by Cheney, said in passing, " I find your policies reprehensible."

For that temerity, he was arrested--for assault!

The article also details the case of a man in another state arrested for carrying a protest sign when Cheney was speaking.

I've said this before, but I'll repeat it as often as indicated: folks, do we still live in America?

Insider Says Faith-Based Initiatives Were Only Front For GOP Election Campaigns

"While the White House was happy to take evangelicals' votes, it had nothing but contempt for their leaders, Kuo asserts. He alleges that staffers in Rove's office referred to Religious Right leaders as 'nuts' and writes, 'National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ridiculous, out of control and just plain goofy.'" To placate them, the evangelical leaders were given White House cufflinks or pens.

Oh, the illusion of power & influence with none of the substance.

A religious liberty watchdog group originally founded in 1947, & dedicated to the idea the separation of church from state is essential to ensuring freedom of religion, reported yesterday that a new book by a former staffer in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives details how the much-ballyhooed Bush "faith-based" initiative was "cynically manipulated by Republican operatives to help GOP candidates locked in close races."

"David Kuo's forthcoming book, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, also asserts that applications for federal faith-based funds were sometimes rejected by reviewers because they came from non-Christian applicants, that civil rights rollbacks sought by the administration to permit groups receiving federal funds to discriminate where hiring was concerned were unneeded, and that Bush's conservative Christian allies were derided behind their backs and bought off with White House cufflinks and other trinkets.

"Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which has led opposition to President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative, said the information is confirmation of critics' long-standing complaints.

"'This is proof that the faith-based initiative was a deplorable sham from day one,' said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. 'This initiative was never about helping the poor; it was about shameless partisan politicking. It has undercut the constitutional separation of church and state, and it has been horrible public policy.'

Kuo alleges that White House strategist Karl Rove and other Republican leaders staged a series of supposedly non-partisan events around the faith-based initiative in states with tight House and Senate races.

"According to Kuo, 20 events were held, and Republican candidates subsequently won 19 of those races. Discussing the book on MSNBC's Countdown last night, Keith Olbermann remarked, 'The [faith-based] office was literally a taxpayer-funded part of the Republican campaign machinery.'

In the book, Kuo writes that in 2002, "The office decided to hold roundtable events for threatened incumbents with faith and community leaders, using the aura of our White House power to get a diverse group of faith and community leaders to a 'nonpartisan' event discussing how best to help poor people in their area.

"Kuo says faith-based office staffers spent a lot of their time trying to prove that religious groups were often denied federal funds because they discriminated in hiring on religious grounds. In fact, staffers were able to find few examples of such conduct. That absence of such evidence dramatically undercuts the Bush administration's demand that Congress revise civil rights law so that religious groups will be better able to apply for funds.

"Kuo also maintains that non-Christian groups were sometimes excluded from faith-based funding, even though White House officials insisted the money would be available to all.

Kuo quotes one official who rated grant applications. He told Kuo, "When I saw one of those non-Christian groups on the set I was reviewing, I just stopped looking at them and gave them a zero. A lot of us did."

"While the White House was happy to take evangelicals' votes, it had nothing but contempt for their leaders, Kuo asserts. He alleges that staffers in Rove's office referred to Religious Right leaders as 'nuts' and writes, "National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ridiculous, out of control and just plain goofy."

To placate them, the evangelical leaders were given White House cufflinks or pens, Kuo writes.

"Americans United's Lynn said the new revelations underscore charges AU made four years ago about the faith-based initiative.

"During the 2002 elections, AU issued a report noting that James Towey, then head of the faith-based office, traveled to states and districts with close races to host "seminars" on how religious leaders could get federal money. He was usually accompanied by Republican candidates. The pattern was repeated in 2004.

"All of this just underscores why the faith-based initiative is such a bad idea. The White House politicized the initiative, and many religious leaders have ended up being manipulated. I hope this sorry incident is a lesson to them."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hey! Guess What?

Cartoon: Al Jazeera
*Fluency in Arabic not required to get the punchline*

In The While You Were Away Pounding The War Drums Department

My goodness--how inconvenient! We've got a war-mongerers election here at home to worry about, & suddenly it seems diplomacy, talks, & cooperation with the world's most recalcitrant leaders is called for, or somethin'.

News today that "Dear Leader" Kim Il Jong purports to have pulled off a nuclear test (after the spectacular fizzle of his planned fireworks on the 4th of July). Hit the title bar for Washington Post article.

Where will we get the fortitude & political will to face down a nuclear threat when we haven't even been able to deal with improvised roadside bombs by a rag-tag gang of bandidoes a gazillion billion dollars later?

I know, let's outsource the problem to Japan's rising neo-fascists, much as we did the Israelis with Hezbollah.

It's a complex & dangerous world out there, and we need more sophisticated tools in the toolbox to deal with it. Right now, we've only got cowboys with hammers.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Auwe Already ~ Couldn't Happen To A Nicer Bunch

Axis of Evil: The Worried Shrimp

Dateline: October 7, 2006, leaving a month exactly until the crucial mid-term elections, and a good time to review where things stand for our friends the Republicons.

War in Iraq: the much-ballyhooed choice to remake the imbroglio that is Iraq the centerpiece in the push to re-elect Bush’s rubber-stamp Congress seems to be backfiring big time. With a Senate report concluding that Saddam Hussein’s regime had no links to terrorists pre-invasion, and a leaked National Intelligence Estimate saying that Iraq has caused more problems than it has remedied, the recent release of Bob Woodward’s book Denial sums up the Bush brigade’s mindset and tactics in one pithy word.

Draconian unwarranted legislation permitting torture and the designation of American citizens as “enemy combatants” is, in a lot of legal scholars’ opinions, unconstitutional. Let’s hope it’s soon held to be so, because it certainly signals the death of many bedrock legal principles upon which this country was founded if not. Prominent Republicans John McCain, Lindsey Graham & even Colin Powell added their voices to a growing chorus from within the military justice system—if it’s not broke, don’t try to "fix" it—but Bush & Cheney, fearless leaders with no experience of war themselves (unless dodging it counts), arrogantly go their own way.

Following that, just for good measure, Bush makes a big show of reasserting his novel & wholly invented “unitary executive” legal theory which he promulgates in countless “signing statements” and thereby seeks to neuter the very Congressional representatives he hopes will get re-elected. He tells them he’s going to edit Homeland Security reports if he damned well wants to, regardless of what they said in that law he just signed.

Suggested Note to Self, Bush: your contrived war & all the laws & policies you’ve invented to prop it up are highly unpopular with the electorate. You persist in a course of self-aggrandizement that comes at the expense of the very Republicans you hope will get re-elected—unless you’re thinking of abolishing Congress altogether with a coup—which wouldn’t at all surprise this Demon.

DP estimation overall of the gambit to get re-elected based on this: ballsy but not very bright.

For one, news today that the numbers American troop casualties (in terms of wounds) in Iraq go ever higher, while the Administration still refuses to admit that what we’ve fomented over there is nothing less than a civil war:

“The number of U.S troops wounded in Iraq has surged to its highest monthly level in nearly two years as American GIs fight block-by-block in Baghdad to try to check a spiral of sectarian violence that U.S. commanders warn could lead to civil war.”

Also in today’s news, a General warns that Afhgans will start supporting the Taliban if we don’t stop destroying their country & do something substantial to put them on the path to stability instead. Like Clinton said in the now-famous interview on Fox: “I've never criticized President Bush because I don't think it's useful. But what do we have? We have a government that thinks Afghanistan is only 1/7 as important as Iraq."

Ill: Whitehouse.org (real T shirt, BTW)

Meanwhile “The Dick” Cheney stumps the country, pounding the drums of fear & terror: there’s only one way to fight this war on Terra that we, by our policies, have only made worse: re-elect a do-nothing neutered Congress. (Come again?) And stay the course.

No wonder the candidates whose fates hang in the balance refuse to be photographed with him. Only the most brainwashed party faithful wingnuts are still falling for it.

“…The message is…carefully targeted. More than half of Cheney’s fundraisers in this two-year cycle have been behind closed doors. Even at a lunchtime speech to Wisconsin Republican donors that was open to reporters, gubnernatorial candidiate Rep. Mark Green did not stand on stage, ensuring no pictures of the two together on the news, and some other Republican candidates did not attend at all.

“That is okay with the White House, which at a perilous moment is counting on Cheney's under-the-radar campaign to rally the base, not the broader public. ‘The fact that he's willing to go after Democrats as harshly as the Democrats are going after the White House gets the party faithful going,’ said GOP strategist Glen Bolger.

“It happens to inflame the Democratic faithful as well, and party strategists consider him a prime target for their own pitch to voters. ‘When he threatens Democrats and calls them names, it's something that really fires up our base,’ said John Lapp, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's independent expenditure program.

“Cheney's fundraising visits often end up as fodder for opponents of those he tries to help. ‘Dick Cheney, Big Oil and Big Drug Companies Threw Curt Weldon a secret Washington thank you party,’ reads a Democratic brochure targeting the Republican Pennsylvania congressman. ‘And we got stuck with the bill.’"

So it’s all good: a dog whistle that only the most deluded wingnuts can hear. Except that it’s a campaign strategy that, like the war itself, is a very, very bad idea.

However, all this drum-banging, tub-thumping & war-mongering can’t drown out the fact that the lunatics are in charge of the asylum where the Republican Congress is concerned: sex scandals (old as time itself) sell, and like the Abramoff corruption scandal which has just claimed an aide to Karl Rove—the White House, of course, claims Abramoff’s influence there went no further—the stench permeates the Capitol, & every day, it seems, puts more Republicon seats in jeapordy.
Senator Allen, he of the preposterous “rhinestone cowboy” boot affectation, has problems extending beyond his sartorial style and evil tongue: he seems to have conveniently “forgotten” to disclose some stock options to and shady delalings to Congress. He reportedly doesn’t think a quarter of a million dollars “windfall” in stock value qualifies as “extraordinary riches”--notwithstanding that he may have peddled government influence to get it.

“For the past five years, Sen. George Allen, has failed to tell Congress about stock options he got for his work as a director of a high-tech company. The Virginia Republican also asked the Army to help another business that gave him similar options.

“In interviews, Allen and his staff sought to play down his corporate dealings, saying they were a good learning experience but did not lead to extraordinary riches -- except for a quarter-million-dollar windfall from Com-Net Ericsson stock.
"Allen's office said he sold his Xybernaut stock at a loss and has not cashed in his Commonwealth options because they cost more than the stock is now worth.

“The senator also said he saw no conflict going to work for companies shortly after assisting them as governor.”

But if mere money & technical legalities fly over some Americans’ heads, sex scandals—especially gay sex scandals with Congressional pages—rivets the public's attention. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas for Democrats.

The Foley scandal, as it unwinds, looks more & more like a concerted effort by Republicans to cover up for an aging homosexual pedophile going back to 2003—according to an aide to Foley, who will testify that that’s when he alerted Speaker Dennis Hastert’s office—contrary to Hastert’s protests that he knew nothing about it until just recently. But it gets worse for the ‘cons.

“There are several places where local factors could amplify the scandal's destructive power against Republican candidates. Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R), who is facing questions about his own role in responding to reports of Foley's conduct, is suddenly in a tough race against Democrat Jack Davis in an upstate New York district.

“In Pennsylvania, Republican Rep. Don Sherwood's already troubled campaign hardly needed anything that might remind voters of his admission earlier this year that he had an affair with a woman who accused him of physical abuse.

“Beyond these specific races, however, many strategists in both parties believe the scandal might echo principally as a metaphor for a GOP leadership that over the past year has drawn more attention for ethical lapses and partisan turmoil than legislative achievements.”

Moveon.org is delighted to see Reynolds in so much trouble, as it was he who, on behalf of the Republican National Committee, loudly & baldly announced that Democrats better watch out: big, big bucks are being spent in pursuit of Rovian dumpster-diving attack politics. No court records, no ex-wives or husbands, no nasty gossip, no slimy rock will be left unmolested in the Republicon quest to keep themselves in pwer by hook or by crook.

“Tom Reynolds, a central figure in the scandal, is one of the most powerful and malicious politicians in Washington. Reynolds recently devoted nearly the entire Republican Congressional Committee budget—$50 million dollars—to nasty, personal attacks against Democratic candidates.

“But Reynolds has a problem: this week, it was revealed that he knew about Mark Foley's scandalous emails, buried them, and did nothing to intervene. Folks in his district aren't happy that he covered his own butt instead of protecting kids—and polls show that all of a sudden, his race is neck and neck.”
"In a Pivotal Year, GOP Plans to Get Personal," Washington Post, September 10, 2006http://www.moveon.org/r?r=2080&id=9027-1238628-zGCXAuA1Jq7ACnaxV9xYNQ&t=5
Demon Princess sez: boo-yah, dudes! Could not happen to a nicer bunch. (Where'd my little violin get off to?)

Image of Original Painting, "Binky's Bad Karma," Used with Permission.
http: www.artofmarkbryan.com

Friday, October 06, 2006

He's Baaack ~ Herr Uber-Decider

Demon Princess is often of two minds regarding George Bush. One mind says he's moronically arrogant (so sit still, I tell myself, & enjoy the show while he self-destructs).

The other says he's a very scary megalomaniacal dictator-in-training who knows no limits, which is often reflected in public actions & statements so dizzyingly brash, obnoxious & patently hostile to democratic government I have a hard time believing that I still live in America when he comes up with this crazy stuff.

Today it was the announcement that doesn't consider that he has to obey a law he just signed (the old signing statement trick again) having to do with Homeland Security's obligation to report to Congress. The law requires that that privacy concerns be handled by a privacy officer, & that the officer report to Congress. Only the privacy officer was to have authority to alter or delay the report. (Title bar.)

Au contraire, says Bush. L'etat, c'est moi, & I can withhold any information as I see fit. You'll see what I want you to see. I'll edit those reports if I want.

Is anybody--especially Congress--falling for that discredited "just trust me, I'm the President" bullshit anymore?

Funny ~ More From The Committee To Protect Aging Homosexual Pedophiles

Pages Declared Enemy Combatants & Sent To Guantanamo

"Washington, D.C. - In a last ditch effort to save the Republican Party from losing one or both houses of Congress, President Bush today signed an executive order declaring that all congressional pages who had contact with Representative Mark Foley were operating against the welfare of the United States and are therefore to be designated as Enemy Combatants. Shortly after this declaration was released, agents from the Department of Homeland Security detained all pages who fit this description and transferred them to Guantanamo for interrogation..."

(Title bar for rest of post by Assimilated Press blog)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Lies, Damned Lies, & Sexual Compulsions

Foley Photo: Washington Post

Demon Princess understands that there's a vacancy on the Congressional Committee to Employ Aging Homosexual Pedophiles ("AHP's") within the Department to Protect Congresspersons' Rights to Sexually Harass & Exploit Children, and that, regrettably, the GOP's determination to thwart discrimination against AHP's has resulted in a political scandal & brouhaha that may even cost House Speaker Denny Hastert his job. (Title bar.) What a shame.

Gives new meaning to the GOP spin on being the defenders of God, Mom, apple pie, torture & other assorted family values.

Foley promptly checked himself into alcohol rehab, got an attorney, & the next thing we know he claims to be a victim of molestation himself--by a clergyman.

The miracle cure of repentance, rehab & good advisors have worked wonders for others, Rush Limbaugh & George Bush among them. The American voters are a charitable & forgiving lot. The good news, Mr. Foley, is, like Rush, you can use it over & over again.

DP wants to be the first to wish Rep. Foley well on his long & winding road to a full recovery, & on behalf of the American taxpayers, tell him not to worry, we'll take care of the expense. Your heathcare plan is far superior to anything the rest of us get, but we don't begrudge you it. (Me, for instance, I pay 100% of my own premiums & 100% of my $2500 yearly deductible if I actually use the plan. Mostly I don't.)

But I do want my Congresspersons to live a lifestyle I myself cannot afford. I want to be able to look up, admire & aspire to the greatness of kingly beings like yourself. Maybe I will be able to become a pampered, covered-up, & lied-for Congressperson one day.

Don't worry your pretty little head about us or our children, Mr. Foley, we just want you to make a full recovery so you can enjoy your generous retirement plan as well.

After all, you won't be returning to office. Ever.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Update: Watch Yourselves ~ MCA Expands Definition of "Enemy Combatant"

An opinion piece in that heretic liberal 'zine, The Nation, with its proud tradition of boldly poking holes in the hot-air noise balloons of Neocons, yesterday ran this article (title bar) comparing Bushco's new torture, mayhem & indefinite detention terrorist-control legislation to what this country went through in WWII with the Japanese internment camps. Upshot: we've learned nothing from that experience. (*surprise*)

The piece, titled "Bill of Rights, RIP" also points out that Bush's new terror toy, besides paving the way for political show trials, also contains vague language as to who can be designated an "enemy combatant" & why.

"Anyone anywhere in the world at any time may be summarily classified an 'unlawful enemy combatant' by the executive branch, seized and detained indefinitely in military prisons.

"As Bruce Ackerman points out in the LA Times, the definition of 'unlawful enemy combatant' includes those who 'purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States' (by say, writing a check to a Middle East charity) and may extend to US citizens."

Might that include liberal bloggers who dare criticize the arrogant shenanigans of members of Bushco? Does deflating the Bushco fantasy of worldwide omnipotence provide "aide & comfort" to the enemy?

There appears to be good news if so: "Thanks to the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, US citizens at least appear to retain habeas corpus rights, a foundation of Western jurisprudence."

The article adds, "Foreign nationals do not; the Act explicitly denies them the writ of habeas corpus (the right to be charged and tried and the right to appeal any convictions in a court of law)."

Update: 10/3

Some drive-by wingnut posted a rude & nasty comment (pissed me off, so I rejected it, besides referring to a non-existent "intelligent discussion" of the issue on another site.) The Military Commissions Act is far too new for anybody to say definitively how it will be applied, but this much is clear. U.S. citizens can be designated enemy combatants, & for what we just don't know until George's henchmen start showing up on doorsteps & dragging us away, which was my point, Mr. Wingnut. The definition is intentionally broad & it's not at all clear how it will be interpreted. And guess who will be providing that interpretation. More to the point, does anybody in their right minds trust them to do that?

A detailed discussion from the Balkinization website appears below, if, Mr. Wingnut, you care to bother reading it. (BTW, the absolute worst thing about this bill is that it purports to be the final word about George's interpretation of the Geneva Conventions--& further attempts to deny any court review of that interpretation.)

If you have something specific you want to address further Wingnut, fine, but if not, fuck off.
Friday, September 29, 2006

Does the Military Commissions Act apply to citizens?

Many people have been asking about whether the new MCA applies to citizens. The answer seems pretty straightforward.
(1) Yes, a few parts of the MCA do apply to citizens; and
(2) the MCA is probably unconstitutional in many of its applications to citizens; and
(3) some constitutional applications of the MCA to citizens are deeply troubling.

A U.S. citizen may be an unlawful enemy combatant under section 948a.

Section 948a(1) defines an unlawful enemy combatant as

"(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces; or
(ii) a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense."

Section 948b states that "[t]his chapter establishes procedures governing the use of military commissions to try alien unlawful enemy combatants." So the MCA's procedures apply only to aliens; not to citizens. Nevertheless, Congress has declared that persons falling into the definition in 948a are unlawful enemy combatants whether they are aliens or citizens.

Why does this matter, if the military commission procedures in the MCA don't apply to citizens? The answer is that the government might seek to detain citizens as unlawful enemy combatants using the new definition in section 948a.

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld states that the President had authority to detain enemy combatants according to the laws of war based on a fairly narrow definition of the term "enemy combatant":
for purposes of this case, the "enemy combatant" that [the government] is seeking to detain is an individual who, it alleges, was " 'part of or supporting forces hostile to the United States or coalition partners' " in Afghanistan and who " 'engaged in an armed conflict against the United States' " there. Brief for Respondents 3. We therefore answer only the narrow question before us: whether the detention of citizens falling within that definition is authorized."

The MCA greatly expands the definition of enemy combatants, because it greatly expands the definition of "unlawful enemy combatants." If the government may detain any enemy combatants, a fortiori it may detain unlawful ones. The new definition is fuzzy: it includes citizens who "materially support" hostilities against the U.S. or whom the DoD says are unlawful enemy combatants.

Hamdi, however, states that citizens have the right under the Due Process Clause to contest their designation as enemy combatants. Because section 948a(1)(ii) purports to make determinations of enemy combatant status conclusive, it is unconstitutional to that extent. Moreover, some applications of "material support" in section 948(1)(i) would violate the Due Process Clause or the First Amendment.

But even putting those cases to one side, the new definition is still troubling: there would be many cases where the new definition is not otherwise unconstitutional but sweeps up people who pose no serious threat to national security. For example, suppose a person knowingly lets an al Qaeda operative stay at their house overnight. That person may be in violation of federal law, but it's hardly clear that the government should have the right to detain such a person indefinitely in a military prison without Bill of Rights protections until the end of the War on Terror, whenever that is.

The problem with 948a(1) is that it may place Congress's stamp of approval on a definition of "unlawful enemy combatant" that is far too broad and that allows the government to move a wide swath of citizens outside of the normal procedural protections of the criminal justice system and into a parallel system where the Bill of Rights does not apply.

One last point: Section 7(a) of the MCA strips habeas and federal court jurisdiction with respect to aliens. It does not strip jurisdiction with respect to citizens.

However, what if the DoD determines that a U.S. citizen is an alien in a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, claims that its determination is conclusive under section 948a(1)(ii) and ships the person off to Guantanamo?

As I noted before, section 948a(1)(ii) is probably unconstitutional to the extent that it suggests that DoD determinations are conclusive. The citizen should still have the right to prove that he is a citizen in a habeas proceeding, and a court must determine that question in order to determine whether it has jurisdiction. To the extent that the MCA would prevent such a determination, it is unconstitutional.

Just Funny: The George Allen Automatic Insult Generator

Do you, too, have trouble refraining from calling brown people "macaca?" Have you, too, reacted quite badly to your mother's surprise revelation that she's half-Jewish--at least in part because you can no longer call Jews kikes without being accused of secret self-loathing?

If so, get your ya-ya's out here:

Be sure to scroll down so you can also generate the appropriate lame excuses.

Too Bad PR Doesn't Kill Terrorists, Part II

But it will cost $20 Million

What did I say in my last post on this topic? Oh yeah,

"Merely symptomatic but highly instructive & very timely..."

Reflecting Bushco's faith (pun intended) in the magic of mere PR--that is, style--to trump substance, which has, after all, has worked so well here at home in convincing American voters that they're not seeing nor hearing what they really are seeing and hearing-- in the news we see this item about efforts to export that same strategy overseas, to Iraqis.

News of a want-ad placed by the U.S. military for a private contractor to conduct polls & focus groups among disgruntled Iraqis was carried in the WaPo last Thursday (title bar), as follows:

"As violence continues in Iraq, the military is looking for ways to achieve stability through opinion polls and public relations.

"The Multi-National Command in Baghdad wants to hire a private firm to conduct polling and focus groups in Iraq 'to assess the effectiveness of operations as they relate to gaining and maintaining popular support,' according to a notice the Department of the Army posted yesterday.

"'Since the end of major combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Coalition Forces have sought to build robust and positive relations with the people of Iraq and to assist the Iraqi people in forming a new government,' the notice says, posted on the government contracting Web site FBODaily.com.

"Polling and focus groups are being sought as 'important tools for assessing changes in the level of a population's support for various groups,' according to the posting.

"Polling in Iraq is so sensitive that the contract proposal states that the winner must ensure those being questioned 'are not aware of the survey sponsor's identity.' One member of a firm that has conducted polling for the Baghdad command said yesterday that 'if someone out there believes the client is the U.S. government, the persons doing the polling could get killed.' The official insisted on anonymity for fear of putting his company's employees at risk.

"Word of the proposed new contract comes a day after release of a State Department poll that found that majorities in all regions of Iraq, except the Kurdish areas, want U.S. and allied troops to withdraw immediately and that their departure would make people feel safer. It also follows the release of an April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism that found that U.S. military action has become a 'cause celebre' in the Arab world and has fueled anti-American feelings in Iraq and the Middle East."

One of the bidders for the contract, the Lincoln Group, has previously done this type of work in Iraq (what did that cost the American taxpayers, we wonder?) but came under fire with the publication of a memo listing what it would cost to run Army-provided propaganda--er, news, to Iraqi news outlets. See, in our image.

"Lincoln's practices have attracted controversy, most recently because of a report in the current issue of Harper's Magazine. In it, Willem Marx, an Oxford University student, describes working for Lincoln in Baghdad last summer and using a spreadsheet listing amounts charged by Iraqi newspapers to run articles written by Army personnel, at costs that ran from $50 to $1,500."

Welcome to American-style politics & governance, Iraq. We call it "the best government money can buy" & "death by sloganeering."

All else we can tell ya is: Don't worry. Be happy.