Thursday, November 23, 2006

Demon Princess's Holiday Gift Shopping Gift Guide

Those of you who, unlike Demon Princess, have their shit together & have already done their Christmas shopping won't be needing this handy-dandy holiday gift guide. So go away. You organized-holiday-people sicken me.

But for those of you for whom the holidays wouldn't be the same without a certain amount of creative choas, like me, or who are merely into stretching the delicious challenge that only concerted procrastination can deliver, now would be the time to at least start thinking about it.

So, as Demon Princess sails into the wild blue yonder & leaves you with nothing really to do for the next week or so, I encourage you to peruse the following pages of interesting gifts, for the Holiday Shopping Season is officially upon us. Thanks to DP's innate sense of fun & talent for finding amusing ways to spend money, here is her Holiday Gift Shopping Guide:

Curious George Commemoration Dashboard Hula Doll: $6.99

Other Budget-Oriented Fun: Bumperstickers from

Too Stupid to be President License Plate Frame: $12.99

Religious Items & Manly War Games

Jesus loves you (unless) /Jihad fer Christ & Bong Hits for Jesus Bumperstickers: $4.49 (free shipping)

Toys & Dolls
Farting Bush Doll: $19.99

Mugs, magnets & stickers & T's:
Kill some time at work ~ full list of virtual Awol.Bush action figures:

Voodoo Items & Target Practice

Erudite Reading Materials, Clothing & Underwear


Bush: State of Denial

The Dick T-shirt from

T's & Art Prints from Mark Bryan:


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Intractable Social Problems Defined Out Of Existence

This op-ed article terms it "the low truth diet" (title bar).

"News flash, and just in time for Thanksgiving: Hunger has been eradicated in America.

"Well, not really. But the authors of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual report on Americans' access to food have concluded that 'hungry' is no longer an acceptable way to describe the condition in which millions of Americans find themselves. "

Instead, the USDA refers to these things now by the alternative "low food security."

"USDA sociologist Mark Nord said that hungry 'is not a scientifically accurate term for the specific phenomenon being measured in the food-security survey.' In fact, he said, 'We don't have a measure of that condition.'

"Some on the USDA panel took a stab anyway, saying, for example, that prolonged and involuntary lack of food produces pain and discomfort 'that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation.'

"So 'hungry' is out and 'very low food security' is in. The USDA does acknowledge that 35 million Americans do, in fact, have a problem putting food on their tables, at least part of the year, but henceforth they'll be categorized as suffering either 'food insecurity without hunger,' meaning that they do eat, only sometimes not so well, or 'food insecurity with hunger,' meaning families who experience 'multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.'

Just as long as nobody's going hungry in the world's wealthiest nation--not unless they want to.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Legal News ~ Kangaroo Military Tribunals Steam Full Speed Ahead While Cheney Exhorts The Faithful

Pope Cheney Blesses the Party Faithful

Cheney appears before the Federalist Society, archconservative lawyers' group & incubator of conservative legal thought for decades

Cheney & other luminaries of the neocon movement--all of whom serve in the GWB administration or were appointed to the Supreme Court by same--spoke to the Federalist Society, just days after the Republicon Revolution was soundly trumped at the election polls. But as to the latter, not if Dick Cheney & friends like Michael Chertoff have anything to say about it. We all know what a stubborn man Dick, particularly, is.

In today's Washington Post, an article entitled, "No Secrets Here--Federalist Society Plots in the Open" (title bar) opens thus:

"'Some people now have taken up the idea that, really, the Federalist Society is kind of like a modern-day da Vinci conspiracy, a secret society that controls all the legal jobs and all the legal decision-making in the administration,' Chertoff quipped. 'And of course that is nonsense.'

"Of course.

"Except, um... what about all those Cabinet secretaries, White House lawyers, Justice Department memo writers and appeals court nominees who are so tight with the society? Not to mention Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, a longtime Federalist and Thursday's dinner speaker.

"As Cheney said, to big, big applause from the audience of more than 600: 'And I assure you, nothing that's happened in the last two weeks' -- what election? --'will change [President Bush's] commitment to nominating first-rate talent like John Roberts and Sam Alito.'"

Neocons' Lasting Contribution to Legal Thought?--Guilty Until Proven Innocent (And We’re Not About to Let You Prove Innocence)

According to a report released yesterday by a
law professor whose students analyzed transcripts obtained via Freedom of Information Act request of what the Pentagon euphemistically termed “administrative procedures” at Gitmo--as opposed to illegal actions per the later Hamdan decision which sent Bushco back to the drawing board to come up with another, preferably legal means for determining the treatment of alleged terrorists-- the proceedings as practiced for the past several years are legal “shams.”

“Twenty-one first-year law students at Seton Hall University in Newark, N.J., analyzed the documents to create a database analyzed by eight second- and third-year students.
Among their findings:

"1. The government did not produce any witnesses in any hearing;

2. The military denied all detainee requests to inspect the classified evidence against them;

3. The military refused all requests for defense witnesses who were not detained at Guantanamo, but in 74 percent of the cases, the government denied requests to call witnesses even though they were detained at the prison;

4. In 91 percent of the hearings, the detainees did not present any evidence;

5. In three cases, the panel found that the detainee was 'no longer an enemy combatant,' but the military convened new tribunals that later found them to be enemy combatants.

“No American would ever consider this to be hearing,” [Professor] Denbeaux said. “This is a show trial.”

These kangaroo court legal procedures earned Bushco a spanking by the Supreme Court (minus 2 archconservative Justices who had to recuse themselves from participating in the decision) . Later we saw Bushco’s attempt to legalize these sorts of trials in the form of “military tribunals” in the recently passed Military Commissions Act ("MCA") --pushed through Congress just before the mid-term elections for the specific purpose of ostensibly satisfying the requirements of democratic government by belatedly letting Congress in on the lawmaking project. The MCA is currently being litigated. If you remember, the MCA sets up the "new" procedures by which Gitmo detainees will be railroaded--er, tried.

I’m not the only legal mind to think so.

Group of 7 former judges file “friend of the court” brief in opposition to the MCA

Why? Well, because it not only allows evidence obtained by torture, it makes it “presumptively” valid, among other heinously stupid & inhumane provisions.

“The military commissions set up by the Bush administration to try Guantanamo detainees may order indefinite detention of suspects based on evidence secured by torture, concluded an amicus curiae brief filed by seven former federal judges before the D.C Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Lawyers for Guantanamo detainees also filed separate briefs arguing that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) does not prevent the court from hearing habeas corpus petitions from detainees.

“A court uses the writ of habeas corpus to examine whether a person is lawfully imprisoned by the government, and to compel release if the imprisonment is not legal. In common law countries, habeas corpus is an important instrument for protecting an individual's freedom against arbitrary state action.”

Catch that—“arbitrary state action?” You would think that a bunch of archconservative lawyers would not only comprehend but defend the concept of habeus corpus, ancient & fundamental to the conservative cause as it has always been--champions of small & presumably non-tyrannical government that the conservative movement originally purported to be (until , we surmise, it came to mean the preservation of such legal rights that nobody but the "right-thinking" should be able to enjoy). What more proof do still-sane Americans need that the aggro far right has gone way too far? Must we really allow them to wipe out the fundamental legal underpinnings of civilized society while crowing about their completely bankrupt adherence to "principle" as exemplified by the likes of Dick Cheney?

“Based on rules that compelled the tribunal to accept the government’s evidence against prisoners as presumptively ‘genuine and accurate,’ the tribunal relied on incriminating statements by detainees, even though they testified that the statements were obtained by torture and that medical records and other reports confirm the use of torture.

“The government has maintained that investigating allegations of torture was not ‘the CSRT's role’ and has claimed that the tribunals are permitted to rely on evidence ‘obtained through a non-traditional means, even torture’ to determine that a prisoner was an enemy combatant.

"The MCA interpretation of the review process falls short of the "adequate and effective" remedy constitutionally required, according to detainee lawyers, with the following shortcomings -

1. The administration contends that detainees, or their attorneys, are not entitled to classified information relevant to the case but not in the CSRT's record;

2. The administration claims that the Act forbids the Circuit court from considering any facts not in the record of the CSRT proceedings or excluding any part of the evidence presented in the record (for instance, evidence obtained by torture);

3. The government also interprets the Act to require the Court to uphold the CSRT's decision, unless there was no evidence supporting detention.

4. It does not allow the Court to assess the relative weight of the evidence, thus, as long as some evidence supported detention, this Court would be constrained to uphold the imprisonment;

5. Finally, the Circuit court itself has no power under the Act to order the release of a detainee if the CSRT process or its ruling is unlawful.

6. "The briefs further argue that the MCA does not prevent the detainees claiming rights under the Geneva Conventions. "

But fear not--not yet, anyway. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, next year's chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has already written to Alberto Gonzales & requested the release of documents the existence of which was unearthed by the (evil) ACLU.

Gonzales & Co.'s response was more of the same: hiding behind a claim of state secrets & confidential attorneys' opinions (a confidentiality principle the government does not respect if the attorneys are from the ACLU & the BushState wants to spy on them).

Leahy “asked the Justice Department to release two newly acknowledged documents, which set U.S. policy on how terrorism suspects are detained and interrogated.

“The CIA recently acknowledged the existence of the documents in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The first is a directive President Bush signed giving the CIA authority to establish detention facilities outside the United States and outlining interrogation methods that may be used against detainees.

“The second is a 2002 memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel to the CIA's general counsel regarding interrogation methods that the spy agency may use against al-Qaeda leaders.

"’The American people deserve to have detailed and accurate information about the role of the Bush administration in developing the interrogation policies and practices that have engendered such deep criticism and concern at home and around the world,’ Leahy wrote Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

“Leahy asked Gonzales to produce any revisions and analyses of those and other memos. He also requested agency documents that interpret the scope of interrogation practices permitted and prohibited by the Detainee Treatment Act or the Military Commissions Act.

“The Justice Department will respond appropriately, spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said yesterday.

“But he added that ‘it is vital to protect national security secrets,’ particularly in sensitive programs overseen by the intelligence committees. Roehrkasse also said the department will weigh whether the documents being sought fall under the category of confidential deliberations, including legal advice. "

All lawyers know that when you can't cover up the speciousness of your position anymore, it's time to push a novel argument & hope the judges buy it. In view of the recent elections, I'd say that the judges' gullibility has already been exploited to the max.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Another Election Behind Us ~ Dirty Trix In Politix Not

Demon Princess, like all y'all, is resting up & keeping an eye out for what are likely to be the most interesting developments post-house-cleaning. Most telling so far are Ken Mehlman's decision not to continue as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Karl Rove's disgrace & de-facto resignation due to irrelevance--for now, anyway. (Bush is reported to have ribbed him about "reading too much" when he should have been doing his wicked best & using his direct connections to Satan to get Republicons re-elected.)

I never thought I'd feel sorry for Karl Rove, of all people, but seems to me it's just like George to lash out & reveal himself to be the spoiled, ungrateful, overprivileged brat I always thought he was by publicly cannibalizing his own beloved "turdblossom" the minute said turd ceases to be able to con an entire nation into believing George & the "party of moral purity" are anything but a bunch of con-men & thugs. Ah well--I won't waste a lot of time on it, but it seems to me it was nothing short of a minor miracle & inspired propaganda that Rove was able to cover up & paper over the truth of the Neocons' stinking rotten corrupt soulessness as long as he did. I give him that.

But before we all go on, get busy with other things, & forget, there were some familiar "irregularities" in these elections--& your Demon dares opine that it is a reliable measure of the extent our collective displeasure & fed-up-ness with GOP election dirty trix that we were able to make our disgust known despite them this time. We sent an overwhelming message, but it took how long? These trix & their persistence surely must be bubbling up from the deepest sulfurous pits of hell & would seem to have the architects' typical M.O.'s, if not their actual fingerprints, all over them:

1. Exploiting & bussing homeless people from outside of an electoral district to hand out flyers so as to lend "cred" to Republican candidates gunning for re-election--one black & one white. (Title bar). It's beyond ironic--it's pathetic.

The go-go Robber-Baron capitalism that, by Republicon economic policies--together with a calculated policy of ripping the rug out from under social welfare programs of any stripe (meaning that the uber-rich don't need them & aren't interested)-- has had the effect of engineering a new servant class ripe for exploitation. It's nowhere as chillingly evident as here, & downright disgusting.

There must be a special place in hell for the GOP persons up for re-election who apparently think so little of resident blacks' intelligence that they thought they could sneak a deceptive sample ballot claiming they were Democrats who'd been endorsed by leading lights of the black community past them:

2. Targeting & robo-calling of Hispanic voters threatening them with arrest if they dare show up to vote.

3. In Virginia, the FBI is investigating the hotly contested Allen-Webb campaign. Seems someone called voters there claiming to have knowledge of out-of-state registrations & threatened them with criminal charges if they dared vote in Virginia. Listen to the call (captured on an answering machine) here, & read a roundup of other alleged dirty trix from Alternet, here:

4. Voting machines continue to malfunction. Insist on an audit trail. I personally do not trust my vote to one of these error-ridden monsters. It's not that I'm a Luddite, by any means. But until their manufacturers can guarantee that my vote will not be lost, automatically transferred to the other column, or easily tinkered with by poll workers, I vote by mail, on paper.

Clearly democracy (like the marketplace) can't function properly where fraud interferes, & even if it means recounts & more votes counted for the GOP (perish the thought), this state of affairs needs fixin.'

The Entire World ~ Even Our Allies ~ Breathe A Collective Sigh Of Relief

Today in the WaPo (title bar), a piece entitled "Relief Suffuses World View of U.S. Vote," included here for the contemplation of those of us who've watched with increasing horror & disbelief while Bushco arrogantly stomped over every principle we as Americans always thought we held dear, here & abroad. The rest of the world was anxiously anticipating the outcome of our mid-term elections--would America would be able to snap out of the weird bizzardo world of "truth is a lie" propaganda Bushco has visited upon us all in the quest for absolute power (which they, having been there & done that, could have told us corrupts absolutely).

Yes, thank heaven, we have!

A Brit newspaper, the Guardian, said in a headline on the op-ed page: "Thank you America!"

"For six years, latterly with the backing of both houses of a markedly conservative Republican Congress, George Bush has led an American administration that has played an unprecedentedly negative and polarising role in the world's affairs. On Tuesday, in the midterm US congressional elections, American voters rebuffed Mr Bush in spectacular style and with both instant and lasting political consequences. By large numbers and across almost every state of the union, the voters defeated Republican candidates and put the opposition Democrats back in charge of the House of Representatives for the first time in a dozen years."

Of the rest of the world's reaction, the WaPo reported that only Russia, China & Iran were not liking the change, although Iran thought that Bush's policy of belligerence toward it would be derailed by his having to fight with Democrats about it:

"PARIS, Nov. 9 -- For Europe and much of the rest of the world, U.S. voters' repudiation of the Bush administration in midterm elections Tuesday and the dismissal of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday confirmed the widespread view that President Bush and his policies have done more to tarnish America's image abroad and strain its global relations than any other U.S. president in recent history.

"The Socialist Group in the European Parliament, the legislative body's second-largest voting bloc, called the election results "the beginning of the end of a six-year nightmare for the world.'
The seismic political shift in the United States was greeted in many places less with jubilation than with a sense of relief that Americans had at long last come to their senses.

"'It took a while for the Americans to realize who they had elected and the damage he had caused in the world," said Philippe Bas, 56, whose newsstand near a Paris subway stop was stacked with newspapers from across Europe carrying analyses of the election.

"That view was echoed in some newspaper editorials and headlines around Europe. In Britain, the headline over the Guardian newspaper's lead editorial read, "Thank you, America."
In many capitals, Rumsfeld's dismissal was as momentous as the prospect of Democratic control of the House and Senate.

'"After the Democratic victory, Bush sacrifices Rumsfeld,' the French daily newspaper Le Figaro declared in a banner headline Thursday. An editorial in Le Figaro described Rumsfeld as 'the symbol of the horrors of the American military intervention in Iraq,' and said, 'By dismissing the architect of this unpopular conflict, by sanctioning the neocons' idol, George Bush shows that he stopped believing that he could 'maintain the course' in Iraq.'"

"Rumsfeld never had many friends in Europe," Marcin Zaborowski, who monitors transatlantic relations for the Paris-based European Union Institute for Security Studies, said in an interview. "'He exemplified anything that was bad about this administration. He personified the approaches Europeans had the most problems with -- going to war in Iraq on the false premises that it was closely linked to the war on terrorism and directly linked to the events of 9/11.'

"Political parties, government leaders, pundits and citizens from many countries seized on the return of a bipartisan government in the United States as a harbinger of welcome change in the Bush administration's policy of using the military. But others expressed concerns about the Democratic Party's agenda promoting trade restrictions and human rights.

"'I hope the policy will be better balanced regarding the use of armed forces outside the United States," Boris Gryzlov, speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, told reporters in Moscow. "However, there are fears that the Democrats are more prone to apply double standards in human rights."

"'Democrats have traditionally had more complicated relations with Russia," said Tatyana Parkhalina, a senior analyst at the Center for Problems of European Security in Moscow. 'And our politicians worry that they will pay more attention to human rights, the democratic development of the country and relations with former Soviet republics. They're not happy about that.'

"Some Chinese analysts also said the Beijing government is worried about potential changes in the way the United States approaches trade relations, noting that Democrats have traditionally been more attuned than Republicans to labor union complaints about loss of U.S. jobs to low-wage Chinese factories.
Officials and analysts in other nations embraced the prospect of changes in U.S. social policies.

"Germany's minister for economic cooperation and development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, a Social Democrat, told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, "There is hope that our concerns in the world -- for peace, development, environmental and climate protection -- will be given more weight on the political agenda in the USA."

"On the opposite side of the globe, Mexican officials said they hope Democrats will use their new power to improve Bush's approach to immigration issues, particularly the question of constructing a barrier on the U.S.-Mexican border.

"Some European analysts expressed fear that some pressing issues, including the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, could be neglected with a lame-duck leader in the White House.

"Britain's Daily Mail newspaper said in an editorial that Bush had received a 'richly deserved bloody nose,' but the results had 'left the free world with a severely compromised leader, stripped of moral authority at home and abroad.'

"But one of Iran's hard-line newspapers, Kayhan, relished the prospect of a politically diminished White House. 'Bush's government will be obliged to take more cautious steps and instead of creating war around the world, it will be obliged to fight politically with Democrats,' it said.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"It Wasn't An Election ~ It Was An Intervention"

This is a happy dance
This is not

My oh my ~ the last two days have been very, very hard, haven't they? DP has gotten virtually no sleep.

She was up into the wee hours last night waiting for the East Coast returns, & glued to C-Span & CNN all day today, but it's safe to say now that Bushco's spanking at the polls was thorough & well-deserved.

First, Dems took the United States House of Representatives. We've been waiting with bated breath all day to see if the same would be true of the Senate as well, with Montana & Virginia thwarting our desires for instant gratification.

Montanans are a notoriously independent-thinking, proud, tough & contrarian lot who don't take instructions well ~ responsible for sending the 1st woman to Congress, in fact, in 1916, & she had the distinction of being the only vote against war in WWI. Alas, Montana had the audacity to keep the rest of us waiting (like they give a shit) to see if a Democrat, Jon Tester, would be able to take the Senate seat from Conrad Burns. Tester prevailed, we hear, by a slim 3,000 vote margin. Like I said--contrarian, & the election results prove it.

The jury is still out in Virginia (DP has no idea what that state's problem may be, much as she loves to lampoon the incumbent's rhinestone cowboy boot affectation). Democrats need both seats to control the Senate, & prevent Dick Cheney, with his particularly arrogant & unpopular views, from being the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

Then came George's 1st speech after the coup ~ & a coup it certainly was. As the New York Times reported today (title bar):

"Everything is different now for President Bush. The era of one-party Republican rule in Washington ended with a crash in yesterday’s midterm elections, putting a proudly unyielding president on notice that the voters want change, especially on the war in Iraq."

Suffice to say that George was plainly not a happy camper, & the shift from decrying a vote for Democrats just last week as a vote for terrorists & high taxes to "welcoming bipartisan government" struck me as more than a little abrupt & ungainly. It's rather simple, really. Bush & his cronies have taken the country too far to the right, & particularly, in my opinion, neglected the homefront, which is another reason they lost bigtime. Racing off to war was supposed to have the effect of distracting us & leaving us open to charges of being unpatriotic if we didn't like it. Alas, Americans aren't as gullible as Mr. Rove would like to think.

The stunner of the day, of course, was Donald Rumsfeld's resignation from the position of Secretary of Defense.

So, all in all, it's been two very long days, albeit a greatly gratifying two days.

Signing off for now,

A tired kitten

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Update: Funny ~ A Treat & Some Trix for Voters With Brains

First, a treat: Mark Fiore, cartoonist & animator, lampoons simplistic negative ads on both sides & then some in this series of animated attack ads.

Click on the title bar. Leading off: George "I never said 'stay the course" Bush. (He was for it before he was against it.)

Then some trix for those of us with working brains: research the ads (if you're inclined to believe there's a grain of truth in them), and then avail yourself of some more handy-dandy research tools, as described below. Cut through the propaganda & histronics.

1. Nonpartisan FactCheck. Sort truth from fantasy after being bombarded by negative ads all night & day 'til next Tuesday:

2. The Center for Responsive Politics' "Open Secrets"web site. Follow the money. Choose your state, & see where the candidates' campaign contributions come from:

3. Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington: search by Congressional candidates' names to see news reports of questionable ethical behavior at the lower right of this page:

Here's their list of the 20 most corrupt members of Congress & a few "honorable mentions:"
The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress
Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN)
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA)
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL)
Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL)
Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA)
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA)
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV)
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO)
Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA)
Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)
Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY)
Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA)
Dishonorable Mentions
Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT)
Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL)
Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ)
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA)
Rep. Don Sherwood (R-PA)

4. Here's a website that enables you to choose the issues & how you'd vote on them, & compare that with the way an incumbent has voted. It's a fairly new site, requires a fair amount of time to study up & fill out how you'd vote, & the result only tells you that your rep voted for or against your positions x % of the time--it doesn't get granular in terms of the specific issues on which you diverge, or why s/he voted that way.

The descriptions of the bills aren't detailed, either--although you can go to a separate government site to read the bills in their entirety--but still, it's hard to know what legitimate beefs your rep may have had with it & why s/he voted for or against. Increasingly cynical "poison pill" ploys (the GOP bill to raise the minimum wage only if the richest of the rich got a free pass on estate taxes comes to mind) skew the results, in my opinion. For instance, if my rep voted against such a bill under the circumstances, I'd have to agree with his vote.

Still--it's a great idea. Just needs a little refinement.