Sid's Fishbowl
A proud member of the reality-based community (aquatic division)
Friday, December 31, 2004

So $350 million is better than $35 million, which in turn is better than $15 million. If Bush delivers, that is. Exactly a year ago, a devastating earthquake in Iran killed 30,000 people. The Bush Administration promised a billion dollars in aid. How much got to the victims? Not much:
People in Bam ruefully complained yesterday that while US$1 billion of aid was promised in the wake of their quake last year that killed 30,000 people, only US$17 million was ultimately paid.
And then there's the $18 billion promised to rebuild Iraq, of which almost nothing has actually been spent.

So we'll see. As Dear Leader himself said, judge him on actions, not words.

And anyway, Americans have short attention spans, a limited capacity for factual analysis, and a completely distorted view of America's place in the world. At Under The Same Sun, Zeynep points to a recent poll:
[M]ost Americans believe the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries. The true number is actually under quarter of 1 percent. And that number hides the fact that most of this "aid" goes to bolstering regimes that we need for our imperial network, like Israel and Columbia. I find this a very telling example of the success of the propaganda system.
No wonder Americans are pissed off. They think Iraq attacked the U.S. on 9/11, that Fox News is fair and balanced, and that we're spending 100 times the amount on foreign aid that we really are.

Happy new year.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Sorry I haven't been around much lately. I've been cramming for Roger Ailes' Year in Review Quiz. What? You haven't taken it? What are you waiting for?
It's been an Annus Horribilis with the election of Anus Incompetentus and his Vice Consul, Biggus Dickus. So let's flip a single-digit farewell to 2004 with a year-end quiz.

Please use a Number 2 pencil, and show your work.
I'm relieved to say I aced it. I can now proceed to drink heavily until midnight tomorrow in a determined effort to forget this year.

See you in '05.

Monday, December 27, 2004

John Walkenbach comments on Tsunami Aid:
I saw this Reuters story: U.S. to Pledge $15 Million for Tsunami Aid.
The United States expects to provide an initial $15 million in aid for victims of the devastating tsunami in Asia and has already released $400,000, the assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development said Monday.
$15 million is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but let's put it in perspective...

Let's assume that the U.S. will spend $200 billion for the war in Iraq (a conservative estimate). Further assume that this money will be spread out over a 2-year period. This works out to about $11.4 million per hour.

So when it's put in these terms, the U.S. has pledged (so far) the equivalent of about 79 minutes of war costs.
I'm ashamed.

This tsunami is the equivalent of TEN 9/11s so far, and when all the bodies are counted it might turn out to be ten times larger than that. On September 11, Bush told Rudy Giuliani he had a blank check. That's the same commitment we should be giving to the rest of the world. But we're not.

Like I said. Ashamed.

Phil Carter says Iraq is a mess because "There was no Phase IV plan". Actually, it's an Army historian who says that.
Tom Ricks, the Washington Post's military correspondent, has dug up an important history report to corrborate what we already know about the lack of planning for post-war Iraq. U.S. Army Maj. Isaiah Wilson III, who served as an official historian for the major combat phase of the war, and then chief planner for the 101st Airborne Division from July 2003 to March 2004, says quite bluntly that the U.S. failed to plan for post-war Iraq, and thus planned to fail.
This is followed by a long excerpt from the WaPo story and a link to the actual report, which is worth reading.

Oh, and before you believe the predictable White House response that they did too have a plan, note the gist of Maj. Wilson's criticism:
"While there may have been 'plans' at the national level, and even within various agencies within the war zone, none of these 'plans' operationalized the problem beyond regime collapse" -- that is, laid out how U.S. forces would be moved and structured, Wilson writes in an essay that has been delivered at several academic conferences but not published. "There was no adequate operational plan for stability operations and support operations."
In other words, hope and tough talk is not a plan.

I'll tell you, if I were a member of the military and I read this, I would be outrageously pissed off at the clowns in the White House and the Pentagon who cooked up this horror show and so far have killed countless thousands of people, in uniform and not in uniform.

Instead, I'm just a citizen, and I'm only righteously pissed off and saddened.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Yes, yes, Time Magazine put George W. Bush on the cover. But before you Republicans (as if there are actually any of you reading this) get all a-flutter about the great honor bestowed on your hero, let me remind you:

Richard Milhous Nixon was Time's Man of the Year in 1971, and he shared the "honor" with Henry Kissinger in 1972. Less than two years later, Nixon was walking around his estate in San Clemente thanking his lucky stars that Gerald Ford gave him a full pardon.

Think W. will serve a full term? Even Nixon didn't have to face charges that he committed War Crimes.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Democrats want to count ballots. Republicans don't. It's as simple as that. Take Washington State:
Harry Korrell, a lawyer for the Republican Party, countered that state law does not grant King County the right to add new ballots to the recount seven weeks after the election.

"A recount is limited to a retabulation of the ballots that were already determined to be valid," Korrell said.

When Korrell argued that counting those votes would cause irreparable harm, the justices questioned who would be hurt.

"You're looking at it from the point of view of the winner or the loser shouldn't we be looking at it from the point of view of the voter?" asked Justice Susan Owens.
At least they're consistent. In Florida, Ohio, and now Washington... "Don't count the votes" is the Republican motto.

A portrait of President Bush using monkeys to form his image that was banished from a New York art show last week amid charges of censorship was projected on a giant billboard in Manhattan on Tuesday.

"Bush Monkeys," a small acrylic on canvas by Chris Savido, created the stir last week at the Chelsea Market public space, leading the market's managers to close down the 60-piece show.

Animal Magazine, a quarterly arts publication that had organized the month-long show, said anonymous donors had paid for the picture to be posted on a giant digital billboard over the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, used by thousands of commuters traveling between Manhattan and New Jersey.

The original picture will be auctioned on eBay, with part of the proceeds donated to parents of U.S. soldiers wishing to supply their sons and daughters with body armor in Iraq.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld came under fire from soldiers in Kuwait earlier this month who complained that they had to use scrap metal to armor their vehicles.

"Many of my friends are over in Iraq," Savido said in a statement.

The painting offers a likeness of Bush but the image is made up of monkeys swimming in a marsh. It was originally priced at $3,500 in the show's catalog.

Organizers expect more than 400,000 drivers to see the billboard each day for the next month.
Warms my heart.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

From Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA, comes this news of the latest blithering from the biggest Wingnut in the U.S. Senate (and that's saying something).

Inhofe says Clinton's cuts made Iraq mess:
U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe said Thursday that cutbacks during the Clinton administration resulted in the lack of armor and other material faced by U.S. troops in Iraq.

"Eight years of Bill Clinton decimated the military to almost half of what it was in 1990," he said during a stop in Muskogee.

The Oklahoma Republican, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that in 1991, U.S. armed forces were armed with "a Reagan military," and had more funding and ordinance.

However under Clinton, projects were cut and "modernization stopped."
Inhofe, you will recall, was the U.S. Senator who was more outraged by the outrage over Abu Ghraib than by what actually went on there.

Thanks to Scats at American Coprophagia for the link, and for turning me onto a blog that has more cool Pynchon references than mine.

Update: I just remembered... It was Dick Cheney that was really responsible for most of these cuts. As The Daily Misleader noted in June, shortly after Ronald Reagan died, then Secretary of Defense Cheney testified about his plans for military cuts on February 1, 1990:
[Cheney] bragged to Congress that as Defense Secretary he "cut almost $65 billion out of the five-year defense program" and that subsequent proposals would "take another $167 billion out." He highlighted, "we're recommending base closures," "we're talking about force structure cuts" and "we've got a military construction freeze"
A RAND report covering the same era notes these details:
Defense Secretary Richard Cheney’s review of past drawdowns in late 1989 and early 1990 animated a concern about avoiding the cautionary lessons of history. Secretary Cheney sought a very different outcome for the post–Cold War force than those that had characterized the years after World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, which had been handled in a rushed and somewhat haphazard fashion. ...

The Bush administration’s new defense strategy was first announced by President [George H. W.] Bush in his address to the Aspen Institute on August 2, 1990, the day Iraq invaded Kuwait.9 In this address, President Bush announced the replacement of the Cold War strategy—deterrence of Soviet aggression and coercion against America and its allies across the conflict spectrum—with a new strategy based on regional threats.

The president also detailed the implications of this change for U.S. military forces: a 25 percent reduction in active forces and a need to reshape those forces for the post–Cold War era.

Ho ho ho.

The Daily Wingnut ... er, World Net Daily, reports with breathless outrage on the Bush White House's Christ-less Christmas:
What's virtually missing from the White House commemoration of Christmas this year?


The little baby in the manger.

The reason for the season.

While President Bush was re-elected last month in an election victory many attributed to an outpouring of support by evangelical Christians impressed with his candid outspokenness about his faith, some Americans notice the White House website lacks even a single mention of Jesus, whose birth is celebrated by hundreds of millions worldwide Dec. 25.

The official White House site proclaims this as the "Season of Merriment and Melody" – not the birth of the Savior of the world.
Of course, I think the explanation is simple: sibling rivalry. I mean, Dear Leader does see Himself as the Chosen Son, right? Why should big brother Jesus get all the attention?

(Props to First Draft for the pointer.)

Francis Volpe should get the Medal of Freedom for this column:
Dear Editor:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say that there are bad people who want to make Christmas go away. They say it must be true because they heard about it on Bill O'Reilly's show. Please tell me the truth, will Christmas come this year?

--Virginia O'Hanlon


Don't worry, Virginia. Christmas is in no danger of disappearing.

I can understand the consternation you and your friends must feel at the notion that this beloved holiday might cease to be. At your age, it is important to believe what adults say, so it pains me to tell you that some adults are abusing their position of trust on this matter.

I'd like to say that the host of Fox News Channel's 'O'Reilly Factor' really believes that Christmas is in danger of being rubbed out by, pick any three, atheists, liberals, Christian-haters, Kwanzaa celebrants, Islamofascists, secular humanists, leftist documentary filmmakers, communistic billionaires, gay decorators who are sick of all the red and green, and Jews who didn't vote for George W. Bush.

But he doesn't, really. And neither do Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, John Leo, Cal Thomas or those radical clerics Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. By exaggerating the significance of a few odd stories from around the country, and throwing in untrue interpretations of others, they are exacerbating the skepticism of a skeptical age.

They are doing this to encourage their followers to think the worst of fellow Americans who have done nothing to them except to hold different opinions on a handful of political issues. If this is how they celebrate a holiday founded on peace and brotherhood, Virginia, you might want to hide in the basement when these guys party down for Guy Fawkes Day.
It gets better. Go and read.

Oh, and Happy Festivus, everyone! Especially The Farmer, who pointed me to this excellent piece.

Andrew Tobias, who knows a thing or two about money, has a most excellent crib sheet on Social Security, in which he explains why it's not going broke, and why privatizing a portion of the safety net isn't necessary and wouldn't work. Excellent reading. Pass it on.

Then read Mark Cuban's essay on the same subject, in which he says of Bush's desire to provatize Social Security: "I personally couldnt think of anything more threatening to our future, or more likely to cause economic calamity of the highest order."

Don't forget to read the comments, in which various wingnuts and poor deluded souls make the Republican case. It's going to be an uphill battle.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Once again, the New York Times buries the lead.

Guard Reports Serious Drop in Enlistment:
In the latest signs of strains on the military from the war in Iraq, the Army National Guard announced on Thursday that it had fallen 30 percent below its recruiting goals in the last two months and would offer new incentives, including enlistment bonuses of up to $15,000.

In addition, the head of the National Guard Bureau, Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, said on Thursday that he needed $20 billion to replace arms and equipment destroyed in Iraq and Afghanistan or left there for other Army and Air Guard units to use, so that returning reservists will have enough equipment to deal with emergencies at home.

The sharp decline in recruiting is significant because National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers now make up nearly 40 percent of the 148,000 troops in Iraq, and are a vital source for filling the ranks, particularly those who perform essential support tasks, like truck drivers and military police.


General Blum's remarks come just a few days after the chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, told The Dallas Morning News that the Army Reserve recruiting was in a "precipitous decline" that if unchecked could inspire renewed debate over the draft. General Helmly told the newspaper that he personally opposed reviving the draft.

For the first two months of the fiscal year 2005, which started Oct. 1, the Army Reserve has also stumbled, falling 315 recruits short of its goal of 3,170 soldiers, a drop of 10 percent.

In November, the Guard recruited 2,902 enlistees, about 26 percent below its target of 3,925 recruits. In October and November combined, the Guard recruited 5,448 enlistees, nearly 30 percent below its goal of 7,600. At full strength, the Guard has 350,000 soldiers.

In the 2004 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, the Guard missed its overall recruiting target of 56,000 soldiers by more than 5,000, the first time it had missed its yearly goal since 1994. The active-duty branches of the armed services all met their recruiting goals last year.
Either we cut and run from Iraq, leaving the Middle East in chaos, or we have a draft. It's that simple, and the hard decisions will have to be made next year.

God forbid the National Guard should need to be deployed in this country anytime soon.

(I tried to find the Dallas Morning News story with the quote from General Helmly, but their search engine completely sucks. Thanks, NY Times, for the link. Not.)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

So says David Brock.

And you know what? He's right!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Kos points to the rumblings of a change in the primary calendar for 2008:
The DNC has formed a commission that will determine the 2008 primary schedule. On the committee are a bunch of NH and IA officials who will seek to preserve the failed and unfair status quo. However, the committee also has a couple of Michigan DNC members who oppose the current calendar, and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, who is pushing hard for a new calendar.
The late spring date for Pennsylvania's presidential primary effectively eliminates the fifth-biggest electoral state from the nominating process, Gov. Rendell said yesterday in announcing the formation of a task force to study the timing of the primary and other election issues.

Rendell, reviving a proposal that has cropped up often over the years but has failed to gain any traction, said he would like to move the state's presidential primary from late April to late January or early February.

Iowa's and New Hampshire's decisive role in nominating our candidate needs to end.
Yeah, I agree. But why in God's name do we have primaries nearly 10 months before the election? Is there any other civilized country on earth that subjects its people and its leaders to this much farce for so long? The primaries should begin in April. Do the primaries in three rounds, with elections on three dates in April, May, and June. Have the conventions in late August and the election in its traditional spot. Six months is more than enough to decide on the right President.

Moving primaries earlier is stupid, stupid, stupid.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I am outraged. Outraged, I tell you, at the latest desecration of our airwaves!

Please, read this and do your patriotic duty.

No, seriously. Do this. It's payback time.

Leavitt to serve as HHS chief:
Michael Leavitt, President Bush's choice to be secretary of Health and Human Services, may have to cut billions of dollars from the government's mammoth health programs for the elderly, poor and disabled to pare the budget deficit.

The Medicare and Medicaid programs, consuming nearly $500 billion a year and growing quickly, could be vulnerable in the context of last year's $413 billion budget deficit, the ongoing war in Iraq, costly domestic-security commitments and administration plans to revamp Social Security without raising taxes.
Yes, God forbid we should have a tax increase to take care of the elderly, the poor, and the disabled. Especially when there's an urgent need to fix a program that isn't broken and won't even begin to have problems until 2042.

There's a special place in hell set aside for the people pushing this shameless bullshit.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Bernie Kerik's Brilliant Career:
Bernie Kerik, 49, didn’t take the usual path to a Cabinet post. Like his new boss, he was something of a late bloomer. The year the nominee for head of Homeland Security dropped out of high school, 1972, Harvard grad Tom Ridge was finishing up his law degree after earning a Bronze Star in Vietnam.

In 1975, when Kerik conceived a child in Korea with a woman he never married, Donald Rumsfeld was Gerald Ford’s chief of staff. Meanwhile, Condoleezza Rice was receiving a master’s degree from Notre Dame at age 21. In 1993, when Kerik became Rudy Giuliani’s driver, Colin Powell was finishing up his job as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Kerik received his mail-order bachelor’s degree from Empire State College in 2002, the same year the city’s Conflicts of Interest board fined him $2,500 for having police officers do research on his prostitute mother for his best-seller, The Lost Son. Kerik was 46; at that age, W. was running the Texas Rangers.
As Mrs. Sid noted this morning, Bush no doubt looked deep into Kerik's soul, just like he did with Vlad Putin, and decided to appoint the crooked bastard anyway.

Bernie Kerik and I are almost exactly the same age. If I had fucked up as many things as he has, I don't know that I'd be able to look at myself in the mirror. It must be convenient to go through life without a conscience.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

From two proud members of the resistance:


(With apologies to Country Joe)

Well come on, all of you big strong men,
Uncle Sam's telling lies again,
Figured out that to fight a war
All you have to do is send the poor.
While Georgie and his buddies laugh and feast
They'll send you to the Middle East.

And it's one, two, three, what were you voting for?
Oil profits and endless war?
Did you think there was something more?
And it’s five, six, seven, let the theme reverberate:
“Muslims, gays, and liberal states,
Whoopee! We got lots to hate.”

Come conservatives throughout the land,
Now’s the time to take a stand,
Get it into liberal weenies’ heads
That the only good Iraqi is one who’s dead.
Raze their cities, destroy their lives
And convert ‘em all to Jesus Christ.

And it’s one, two, three, who were you voting for?
One deserter and a chickenhawk?
Who else could win Iraq?
And it’s five, six, seven, let the theme reverberate:
“Muslims, gays, and liberal states,
Whoopee! We got lots to hate.”

On 9/11 the country changed
And some of us became quite deranged.
With fears abounding from out and in
We launched a crusade to battle sin.
We all see something’s going wrong,
It’s about the time to drop a bomb.

And it’s one, two, three, what were you voting for?
Don’t you see or don’t you give a damn
‘Bout the lessons of Vietnam?
And it’s five, six, seven, let the theme reverberate:
“Muslims, gays, and liberal states,
Whoopee! We got lots to hate.”

-- Motherlode and Silmarill, 12/10/04

Congrats to the New York Times, for their coverage of the Bernie Kerik debacle. In a lengthy story, Elisabeth Bumiller and Eric Lipton spend nine paragraphs - NINE FRICKIN' PARAGRAPHS - discussing Bernie's nanny. Then they get to this, um, minor note:
Mr. Kerik's housekeeper situation was only the latest question to be revealed about the nominee. A series of critical news reports about questionable actions had begun to surface about Mr. Kerik, threatening to turn his Senate confirmation into a lengthy embarrassment for the administration. The reports looked at Mr. Kerik's use of city personnel while in office, potential conflicts between his business life and the role of the Homeland Security Department, and events growing out of his personal financial difficulties several years ago.
Let's see... Corruption, conflicts of interest, an inability to manage his own personal financial affairs that was so profound he had to declare bankruptcy (surely good preparation for managing a Federal agency with a multi-billion-dollar budget).

But it was all about the nanny. And about the embarrassing confirmation process. Not about competence, judgment, or, y'know, homeland security.

Special bonus award for inability to detect irony:

Ninth graf:
Mr. Kerik's withdrawal was the first major blunder in the administration's process of assembling its second-term cabinet, but not a new experience for Mr. Bush's team. Four years ago, when Mr. Bush nominated Linda Chavez as labor secretary, it was discovered after the initial vetting process that she had given shelter to, and employed, an illegal immigrant. At the time, Mr. Bush's aides were outraged and promised to change their methods for reviewing potential nominees, but on Saturday several officials said that because Mr. Bush wanted to make his decisions speedily, their initial review had been quick.
Four grafs later:
"I am confident that President Bush will move swiftly to find a replacement for Bernie Kerik," Senator [Susan] Collins ... a Maine Republican and the chairwoman of the Government Affairs Committee ... said in a statement on Saturday.
Anyone but Joe Lieberman. Please.

Get Fuzzy

Friday, December 10, 2004

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Attn SecDef: Your pants are on fire.
Armor Holdings Inc., the sole supplier of protective plates for the Humvee military vehicles used in Iraq, said it could increase output by as much as 22 percent per month with no investment and is awaiting an order from the Army.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday the Army was working as fast as it can and supply is dictated by "a matter of physics, not a matter of money."

Jacksonville, Florida-based Armor Holdings last month told the Army it could add armor to as many as 550 of the trucks a month, up from 450 vehicles now, Robert Mecredy, president of the company's aerospace and defense group said in a telephone interview today.

"We're prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month," Mecredy said in the interview. "I've told the customer that and I stand ready to do that."
The right side of the blogosphere is claiming that the soldiers cheered Rumsfeld. That's bullshit, according to people who watched the broadcast. And now Matt Drudge[*] is trying to claim that this was all a put-up job by a reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Of course, since that reporter is being forced to drive around with those soldiers in non-armored Humvees, can you blame him?

[*]I don't link to Drudge. But don't worry, the story will appear elsewhere soon enough.

Juan Cole says Donald Rumsfeld is a lying sack of shit. Well, not exactly in those words, but that was my take-away. And I don't think I'm stretching the point too much.

I won't even try to summarize or excerpt Professor Cole's piece. Just read it. And then pass it on.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Dave Leip's Atlas has the still-unofficial number. Bush's vote total is now at 50.75%, less than 2.5% more than John Kerry. In the planet I inhabit, that's a squeaker, not a mandate.

Make sure all your Republican-sympathizing friends know this number: 50.75% and still falling as the votes continue to be counted.

Update: It's now down to 50.74%. Look in the second column under the "popular vote" heading.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Move over, Tom DeLay. This is how real campaign corruption works.
Federal records show that Rep. Richard Pombo used campaign funds to pay his wife and brother a total of $255,916 over the past two years -- or 25 cents for every dollar the Tracy Republican raised for his re-election effort.

Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission also show Pombo's campaign paid the congressman's wife, Annette, an additional $39,938 from 2001 to 2002. His brother Randall received $169,299 during the same period, bringing the total payments to the family since 2001 to $465,153.

While it is not unheard of for members of Congress to hire relatives, experts say the amount of money involved in Pombo's case is eye-opening. For example, retiring Rep. Scott McInnis of Colorado made national news this year for paying his wife $39,000 to work as a campaign staffer.

"Spending 25 percent of what you raise on two staffers, especially when they happen to be relatives, raises some serious questions," said Larry Noble of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks federal campaign financing.

Pombo spokeswoman Nicole Philbin declined to comment on the congressman's payroll. "Everything you see is public record. It's all disclosed," she said.
Well, OK, then. As long as it's all disclosed.

I know this part of the world very well, having grown up about 20 miles away. Tracy used to be fertile ground for various moonbats and wingnuts. When I was a kid it had more John Birch Society members and Nazis than anywhere within a thousand miles. These days, however, it's a bedroom suburb populated by Silicon Valley worker bees who are willing to commute 90 minutes or more each way and don't mind stifling summer heat and killer winter fog, all so they can afford their own house.

This scumbag deserves to be recalled. I want to hear the Republicans who defend him. I especially want to hear from the big money donors who gave to his campaign and now discover that his wife and brother got nearly half a million dollars of their campaign contributions. This should be entertaining.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Once again, Digby says what needs to be said: "...the agenda of all fundamentalist movements in the world is virtually identical, regardless of religion or culture." Christian fundamentalists? Islamic fundamentalists? They're indistinguishable in their goals and methods. This is a very short excerpt from a long, fascinating post, which I strongly encourage you to read:

in order to pave the way for change, liberals have to first be aware of the sacred symbols and rhetoric of traditionalism and then attempt to harness those symbols to advance our cause. I think there is some truth in that.

The Bible is one, of course, but so are the "sacred" texts of our nation, those that outline the rules and beliefs of our territory and tribe. Those symbols and totems are powerful mojo for the other side if we don't lay claim to them. They mean more than just surface martial nationalistic nonsense --- indeed, if this thesis is true, they may be more powerful than Christian fundamentalism. At the very least, liberals should embrace the symbols like the flag and the constitution and all the apple pie traditions with the knowledge that if we don't, a more pernicious force will. It's about the power of deeply held territorial impulses. Christianity and Islam are only a couple of thousand years old. As the author says, the [fundamentalists] have "severely understated the authority for their position." Perhaps we should stake that authority for our side in service of our ideals.

I can think of a few ways we might do this. The first that comes to mind is to pit fundamentalism against territory. If this retreat to fundamentalism is really a default to primitive biology, then we can frame this as America vs the fundamentalists. And lucky for us, it's easy to do and will confuse the shit out of the right. We have a built in boogie man fundamentalist named Osama on whom we can pin all this ANTI-AMERICAN fundamentalist dogma while subtly drawing the obvious parallels between him and the homegrown variety.

We start by having the womens' groups decrying the Islamic FUNDAMENTALIST view of womens rights. These FUNDAMENTALISTS want to roll back the clock and make women answer to men. In AMERICA we don't believe in that. Then we have the Human Rights Campaign loudly criticizing the Islamic FUNDAMENTALISTS for it's treatment of gays. In AMERICA we believe that all people have inalienable rights. The ACLU puts out a statement about the lack of civil liberties in Islamic FUNDAMENTALIST theocracies. In AMERICA we believe in the Bill of Rights, not the word of unelected mullahs.

You got a problem with that Jerry? Pat? Karl????
Screw the war on terror. There's no such thing. Fundamentalists are the same around the world. The Christian fundamentalists want to crush freedom here, and the Islamic fundamentalists want to crush it there. So start calling out the similarities.

By the way, keep an eye out for an excellent BBC documentary called The Power of Nightmares. It's a three-part mini-series that makes a similar argument in absolutely compelling fashion. Kuro5hin has a good description and some excellent links to follow, including some BitTorrent feeds that may still be working. (Thanks to Stumax for the pointer.)

(Thanks to Jerome at MyDD for the pointer and some very good commentary.)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Roger Ailes thinks Bernie Kerik will do a fine and dandy job as our new Director of Fatherland Security:

So those embarassing patdowns by airport security will be replaced by forced sodomy and execution of the unarmed. But only for certain passengers.
Interesting that Bernie went AWOL after serving only three months of his six-month term as director of training for the Iraqi Police Force. Now, that's a qualified that Dubya can appreciate.