Daily Archives: July 13, 2004

LitBlog Update

# The latest entry at LumpenBlog, ‘Mickey Snaketail’, has Nefertiti Snorkjutt in Maui attempting to rescue Lola from the clutches of Bruce–who Lola rescued Nef from after Nef rescued Lola from… You know, this could go on forever. Cut to the chase: Bruce wins.

At last I have a chance to report on my search for the misogynist Bruce and the, well, intrepid Lola. Lola rescued me from Bruce’s clutches, only to be taken by him to Maui, where I tracked them to a popular nude beach called Baby Makena.I decided to perform what I believe the, well, gendarmes call a “stake-out.” I thought that I had come rather well-prepared to look inconspicuous, but on the very first day a presumptuous woman with nipples that point straight up walked past me and said, “Can you sweat through leather?” So I decided to sacrifice my last, well, what you might call shred of modesty and remove all of my clothes, save for the plastic strap holding my binoculars.

And if you can resist reading the rest of that, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

# At The Mermaid Tavern, the philosofairy encounters creatures in the shower drain and gets a best-selling book idea out of it. Would that it were that easy for me.

Early this morning, as she stepped into the sparkling freshness of her shower, the philosofairy came up with a surefire bestseller Book Concept.But before she tells you about this surefire bestseller Book Concept, you need to know something. The philosofairy is a lover of nature. She has immense respect for all creatures big and small, including those alligators that live in underground New York City sewers and that take their breakfast straight from the homeless person’s box. She is an advocate to the animals, and does not endorse harming any living thing (note: an exception would be made for Ashton Kutcher).

I won’t give it away but it includes references to hairy eight-legged things and The Da Vinci Code, not necessarily in that order.

# Emmett at Maine Line has written a rather unsettling post called ‘Father’s Day’. It was hard for me to read, not because it’s badly written–in fact it may be the best writing he’s done so far–but because it details the kind of horrific family nightmare we all dread: skeletons escaping from their closets. The day starts well and ends…badly. Here’s a piece of it from just before the shit hits the fan. After a decent day when ‘Nobody started a fight or picked on anybody else or went off and sulked in a corner or called anybody else vile names or gave them the finger’, they go in the house to play cribbage.

As [the game] went on dad kept getting up and leaving the room for a minute and then coming back, and he was doing this every couple minutes and I was starting to get worried, thinking he was out in the kitchen nipping off his stash on the sly. Which is just what he was doing, it turns out. Howie and me were just about to slam them with double when I put down a card that let dad hit 21 for extra points. “That was a bonehead move,” he says. I didn’t say anything but I must have looked it because Cyn jumped in and started telling a funny story about one time when she got Ma to play poker (which she didn’t know how to play) and this one hand she leaned over to Cyn and showed her her cards and whispered, “Is this any good?” and Cyn said, “Ma, you got a full house!” and Ma said, “Don’t be silly. We’ve had twice this many people over. There’s plenty of room.” Even Gary laughed at that one but then dad said, out of nowhere, “She was one stupid bitch, that woman. Don’t know why I put up with her all those years.”I froze.

What comes next is the recounting of a previous incident that left me a bit shaken, and a more or less predictable end to the day. I have never, thank god or whatever, been in that position but I know way too many people who have, and they didn’t handle it any better than Emmett. There is no good way to handle an alcoholic parent, and Emmett is honest enough to admit his wasn’t the best. If you have an alcoholic parent or are close to someone who does, read it. It won’t be easy but you’ll be glad you did. I think.

# Finally, there is a new story at Snake Tales, ‘belinda c and fergus the leprechaun plan an uprising’, the title of which pretty much says it all.

she was prepared for a rat. she was prepared for a kid swiping her tomatoes, dry, shriveled things that they were. she was even prepared for a burglar, though what he might have hoped to steal in a neighborhood like this would bear explaining. of all the things belinda c was not prepared for, at the top of the list was what she actually saw–a leprechaun perched on her chickenwire fence, munching on a lettuce leaf and talking to himself. or maybe that was singing.”shoo”, she said. “shoo. shoo.”

the leprechaun–if that’s what it was and what else could it have been?–looked up at her with mild amusement in his tiny hazel eyes. “i’m not a housefly,” he said. “or a timid field mouse with his racing shoes on at the slightest crack of twig. i’m not that easy to get rid of, if that’s what you’re hoping. why don’t you sit down in that old stuffed chair you threw out last year, and we’ll have a talk.”

Fergus has a favor to ask that involves pixies, a city construction project, and–he promises solemnly–no dragons at all. (They all moved to Cleveland.)


(cross-posted at LitBlogs)

It’s ‘Blame the CIA’ Week

The report of the 9/11 Commision dumps most of the blame for faulty intelligence into the lap of the CIA as if everything that we now know about the interference of Cheney and Doug Feith’s two–count ’em: TWO–Amateur Night end-runs to stovepipe raw data nobody in either the OSP or C-TEC was capable of evaluating, didn’t exist. Yet the report itself shows instance after instance when CIA analysts’ doubts were simply erased as their work went up the chain of command, most infamously with regard to the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate in which words like ‘maybe’ he had WMD’s and ‘possibly’ he might ‘someday’ have a nuclear capability were removed to turn their doubts into assertions and finally definite statements.

This is the old corporate practice of taking the reports and projections of the sales and development depts and removing any ‘negativity’ until finally they say exactly what upper-level management has decided the stockholders and Wall Street want to hear even if the reports no longer bear any relation to the company’s real position as a result. CEO’s and CFO’s make the decisions about the future direction of the corporation and the rest of the company is expected to fall into line and support those decisions in its reports–the exact bass-ackwards process that led to Iraq: ‘We’ve already decided what we’re going to do; you’re job is to prop up that decision: support it, explain it, defend it, find us the excuses for it.’ As Tom Engelhardt points out, the BA’s ex-corporate honchos were out on the road selling their decision to the stockholders (us) months before the decision had supposedly been made.

Remember, long before that NIE was produced, top administration figures were already out on the national and international hustings selling their wares and their prospective war with their own “intelligence” right at the tips of their tongues. As Dick Cheney, for instance, said in August 2002 speech to the VFW, “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction”; while the President addressed the UN General Assembly thusly in September of that year, “Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons,” and so on, ad nauseam. And keep in mind, they already had their own outfit, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith’s Office of Special Plans (OSP), set up in the Pentagon in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, to create a perfect storm of intelligence exactly to the administration’s liking.

Furthermore, the Commission’s conclusion that they ‘did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure [CIA] analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities’ manages to ignore testimony to the contrary in their own report. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggests that the reason for this incongruity is the limitation on the Commission’s mandate.

Although the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report is properly critical of the intelligence produced on Iraq, it does not tell the whole story.Since weapons of mass destruction have not been found in Iraq, it is clear that the intelligence case for military action was not supported by the facts. Because the White House was not a subject of the investigation, many critical questions remain: How were the misperceptions about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq’s link to terrorism created? By whom? And why?

It is one thing to have bad intelligence, it quite another to mischaracterize that intelligence. Congress must investigate whether the intelligence on Iraq was misused or manipulated. (emphasis added)

But that doesn’t really explain their mysterious disregard of much of the evidence; C-TEC was in the WH, working out of Cheney’s office, but the OSP was in the Pentagon, which was NOT off the table for them. And where is the usual background brief? Normally such a report would include a history of events leading up to those under investigation, and any legitimate history would have had to include the systematic denigration of the CIA by the neocon stalwarts, Gingrich acolytes, and PNAC alumni who riddle Bush’s security establishment, their enthrallment with Laurie Mylroie’s crackpot Saddam theories, and their open-mouthed, wide-eyed acceptance of the untested assertions of Chalabi’s ‘defectors’–who the CIA is on record as warning were unreliable. A background brief would have–as it’s supposed to–provided a context within which to evaluate not just the intelligence analyses themselves but the atmosphere in which they were made and the expectations they were supposed to fulfill.

The Commission’s evidence doesn’t support its conclusion that the WH is devoid of responsibility for the debacle, and dumping the blame on the CIA alone simply isn’t credible.

Mark Fiore’s new cartoon: Election, Inc ‘Let’s Jus…

Mark Fiore’s new cartoon: Election, Inc ‘Let’s Just Trust the Computer’

Bush Sells Off Our Natural Resources to Timber Industry

Timber industry lobbyist and agri-business legal mouthpiece Ann Veneman also happens to be the Agriculture Secretary. Veneman, who never saw a check to corporate greed she could support or a corporate proposal to appropriate publicly-owned resources that she couldn’t, is going to turn 60 million acres of previously protected land over to the the timber industry.

The Bush administration said yesterday it plans to overturn a Clinton-era rule that made nearly 60 million acres of national forest off-limits to road-building and logging, setting aside one of the most sweeping land preservation measures in decades.Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman proposed replacing the Clinton rule with a policy that would allow governors to petition the federal government if they wished to keep certain areas roadless. She said this approach would encourage cooperation between state and federal officials and end the litigation that has dogged Clinton’s “roadless” rule since its inception.

The litigation of which she speaks, making it sound as if it’s those nasty, tree-hugging. prosperity-hating, anti-American, spotted-owl-loving, snail-darter-protecting environmentalists again, actually turns out to have been the work of a timber industry that is incapable of taking ‘No’ for an answer.

Western states and timber companies had challenged the roadless rule in six courts after Clinton put it in place before leaving office in January 2001. The regulation prohibited development in areas spanning more than 5,000 acres, accounting for nearly a third of the national forests. Twelve Western states are home to 97 percent of all roadless areas, some of which provide drinking water to local communities as well as wildlife habitat.The Bush administration had left the roadless prohibitions on the books but had not actively defended them in court, arguing that the rule was flawed because it did not take the needs of state and local communities into account.

As always, we must translate for the Post. ‘The needs of state and local communities’ means ‘the greed of the state and local corporations who own the political process’; ‘taking into account’ means ‘kissing their asses and doing whatever they tell us to do’. It’s simple once you get the hang of it; if you want to know what they really mean, simply reverse everything they say. Up is Down, Black is White, Day is Night, Greed is Efficiency, Public is Private, and Yours is Theirs.

Timber organizations hailed yesterday’s announcement, saying the Clinton administration had excluded them from the process when it drafted the rule.

Poor babies. So Veneman, who felt sorry for them I guess, made it up to them by letting them write this one. How thoughtful of her. How sweet of her. How obedient to her slave masters of her. The WaPo did finally get around to quoting somebody who was less than thrilled with this sale.

“It’s another case of the Bush administration having happy talk on the environment, but it’s basically rape and pillage,” said Earthjustice attorney Doug Honnold, who has defended the rule in Idaho, Wyoming and D.C. courts.

If there were any honesty in govt (a forlorn hope if ever there was one), ‘Rape and Pillage’ would be the Bush/Cheney ’04 campaign slogan. It’s the translation into real English of ‘Peace and Prosperity’.

Fight the Death of the Assault Weapons Ban

Tom Mauser, the father of one of the kids killed in Columbine, is generating an online petition to try to force the Bush Administration to support extending the assault weapons ban. Here’s what his email said:

My name is Tom Mauser and my son Daniel was killed at Columbine High School. If we don’t stand up to President Bush and the NRA right now, the assault weapons ban will expire and AK47s and Uzis will be back on our streets.Five years ago my 15-year-old son Daniel Mauser was one of 13 people killed at Columbine High School by two students. One of them used an illegal assault weapon.

The national Assault Weapons Ban automatically expires at the end of the summer. Congress must renew this ban or military-style assault weapons will be back on the street and available for sale in our neighborhoods. We cannot let this happen. We have to put pressure on Congress to ACT NOW.

Please take a moment to sign his petition. This man lost a son to the NRA’s gun fetish. That’s too high a price to pay. Please help.