Observations on the world today.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

I Smell a Publicity Stunt 

My Way News
Ray Bradbury is demanding an apology from filmmaker Michael Moore for lifting the title from his classic science-fiction novel "Fahrenheit 451" without permission and wants the new documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" to be renamed.

"He didn't ask my permission," Bradbury, 83, told The Associated Press on Friday. "That's not his novel, that's not his title, so he shouldn't have done it."
Did Bradbury get permission from the Fahrenheit estate before he used it?

And it's not his title, it's a parody of his title, and parody is protected.

And it's ironically hypocritical of Bradbury considering that "Fahrenheit 451" was a great book about the freakin' dangers of censorship in a free society!

Besides, Bradbury knows as well as you and I that he is going to sell a ton of books because of this.
Bradbury's book was made into a 1966 movie directed by Francois Truffaut. A new edition of the book is scheduled for release in eight weeks, Bradbury said, and plans are in the works for a new film version, to be directed by Frank Darabont.
Moore knows all about publicity stunts. I'm sure he's proud.



An Interesting Factoid I Somehow Missed 

Yahoo! News - US Lacks Votes for Immunity from War Crimes Court

This is a story about how the US might be susceptible to war crimes charges unless they can find a way reinstate a UN resolution which is about to expire. But this is the line in the story that caught my attention:
The resolution was first approved in 2002 after the United States vetoed a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, and threatened to oppose others, one by one.
This is the administration that says that they liberated Iraq on humanitarian grounds. But before they would do that, they blackmailed the UN into giving them carte blanche to commit war crimes, and the blackmail target of choice was humanitarianism.




Friday, June 18, 2004

American Hostage Beheaded  

Yahoo! News - Terror Group Beheads U.S. Hostage Johnson

I am sure that I speak for all Americans when I say that we deplore this act of barbarism. It was inexcusable and indefensible.

The Saudi government and the Islamic community have also expressed their shock and regret over this incident. I wish that I could say that I speak for all Americans when I say that we do not hold either all Arabs nor all Muslims responsible for this action. Unfortunately, I know that this is not true. There are those wrongheaded among we Americans who feel that the only appropriate response to such an act is to retaliate in kind.

So on behalf of those of us in America who do not feel that an eye for an eye will do any good unless it is against specifically those individuals responsible for this murder, I apologize in advance to our Arab brethren for those whose blood lust for Muslims and Arabs compels them to rant on these pages or elsewhere in the blogosphere, on message boards, Internet chat rooms or other media.



Putin on the Ritz 

Story via Kos:

Yahoo! News - Putin Says Russia Gave Bush Intel on Iraq
Russia gave the Bush administration intelligence after the September 11 attacks that suggested Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was preparing attacks in the United States, President Vladimir Putin said Friday.

Putin said he couldn't comment on how critical the Russians' information was in the U.S. decision to invade Iraq.

In Washington, a U.S. official said Putin's information did not add to what the United States already knew about Saddam's intentions.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said the Russian tip did not specify a time or a place where an attack might take place.

The former KGB guy says he told Bush's people that Hussein had plans to attack the US, and this is the first time we hear about it?

Last week at the G8 conference we had Putin telling us that the democrats were as bad as Bush and comparing Iraq to Yugoslavia; now this? Is this the new Glasnost with Putin and Bush playing some kind of bizarre parodies of Gorbachev and Reagan? If so, may it end soon, because it smells to high heaven. We all remember the way Bush sold the Iraq war, and it was a strategy dependent on convincing us that Iraq posed a threat to us. Since the war, they have backpedaled vigorously using every semantical and syntactical rationale they could find to cloak themselves in plausible deniability that they had ever said Iraq posed that urgent threat. Surely, if they had had even the smallest indication that Iraq actually was a threat, they'd have showcased it by now.

So the question is, what exactly did Russia have? Did they pick up a September 12, 2001 phone conversation where Hussein told a lackey, "I wish we'd thought of that?" And what deal did Bush strike with Putin at G8 to suddenly get him to lend this assistance in an election year?

None of this makes any sense. Do they really think Putin can serve Bush this election on a cracker? 'Cause I, for one, ain't bitin'.

UPDATE: Ezra agrees with me ... AGAIN!




Thursday, June 17, 2004

Who's Not Presidential Now? 

The Fighting Styles of George W

Remember when they used this image of Howard Dean to say that he wasn't fit to be president?

Well, if that image says our guy weren't fit to be preznit, exactly what does this image say?



Keep Diggin' That Hole 

Yahoo! News - Bush Disputes al Qaida-Saddam Conclusion
President Bush (news - web sites) on Thursday disputed the Sept. 11 commission's finding that there was no "collaborative relationship" between Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) and the al-Qaida terrorist network responsible for the attacks.

"There was a relationship between Iraq (news - web sites) and al-Qaida," Bush insisted following a meeting with his Cabinet at the White House.

"This administration never said that the 9-11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaida," he said.

"We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, for example, Iraqi intelligence agents met with (Osama) bin Laden, the head of al-Qaida in the Sudan."
The president then slipped into his tin-foil hat and resumed work on his letter to Santa.



Take the Surveys 

WXII12.com - News - Reagan's Family Criticizes Use Of Reagan In Anti-Kerry Ad

Mentioning Sibel 

Sibel Edmonds has been getting a lot of press attention lately. The item that most people probably saw was this Paul Krugman essay on John Ashcroft's abuses of office. But the article doesn't really mention her except to recap her story:
Perhaps most telling is the way Mr. Ashcroft responds to criticism of his performance. His first move is always to withhold the evidence. Then he tries to change the subject by making a dramatic announcement of a terrorist threat.

For an example of how Mr. Ashcroft shuts down public examination, consider the case of Sibel Edmonds, a former F.B.I. translator who says that the agency's language division is riddled with incompetence and corruption, and that the bureau missed critical terrorist warnings. In 2002 she gave closed-door Congressional testimony; Senator Charles Grassley described her as "very credible . . . because people within the F.B.I. have corroborated a lot of her story."

But the Justice Department has invoked the rarely used "state secrets privilege" to prevent Ms. Edmonds from providing evidence. And last month the department retroactively classified two-year-old testimony by F.B.I. officials, which was presumably what Mr. Grassley referred to.
However, Miss Edmonds is also using her whistle-blower celebrity to call out others like herself, and she has enlisted the aid of an icon in the world of whistle-blowing.
Two government whistleblowers on Monday called on federal workers to come forward if they have information that could help investigations of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The request was made by Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator who alleges that the government knew more details about the 9/11 plot than it has admitted, and Daniel Ellsberg, a former Marine who leaked the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War to the media in 1971.
Also, it seems that Miss Edmonds' testimony will be the topic once again as the Commission wraps it's testimony:
-- Kyle Hence and John Judge, co-founders of 9/11 CitizensWatch will speak to Defense Department and other preparations and exercises simulating plane attacks before and on September 11, CIA and Pakistani intelligence support for the growth and origins of Al Qaeda, including support for the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, and recent revelations by whistleblower Sibel Edmonds concerning FBI foreknowledge of specific warnings of the plot and alleged cover-up of incompetence and corruption on a larger scale.
But, in all of the recent press being paid Miss Edmonds, still no major news sources are saying her name or telling why what she has testied to is significant. And also, it seems that some in the media don't even get what it is that she has said. Take this article for example:
The last time that Amy Goodman had Sibel Edmonds on her show Democracy Now! it was a friendly (and extended) chat between the two women in DN's curmudgeonly firehouse studio. Goodman and many others have consistently identified Edmonds as a 911 "whistle-blower." Edmonds is a former FBI translator who claims to have seen documents warning that al Qaeda would attack the World Trade Center using hijacked airplanes. Notice that her position directly corresponds with the Bush Regime's official story that they were merely negligent over the events of 911. It is the sign of a very dark era that a person whose story is actually repeating the propaganda of the state is widely being given the stature of a legitimate whistle-blower like Daniel Ellsberg.
What the hell is he talking about? The president has stated, on numerous occassions, that had he had specific intelligence telling him that hijacked planes would be used to target sites in New York and Washington, he would have acted. Sibel Edmonds says that they did have that information, and Ashcroft gagged her for it.



Cheney Called Him What Again? 

The New York Times > Washington > Prison Abuse: Rumsfeld Issued an Order to Hide Detainee in Iraq
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, acting at the request of George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, ordered military officials in Iraq last November to hold a man suspected of being a senior Iraqi terrorist at a high-level detention center there but not list him on the prison's rolls, senior Pentagon and intelligence officials said Wednesday.

This prisoner and other "ghost detainees" were hidden largely to prevent the International Committee of the Red Cross from monitoring their treatment, and to avoid disclosing their location to an enemy, officials said.
Holy hell!

Can we get him to resign in disgrace NOW? No wonder Tenet quit last week.



Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Good Poll 

PollingReport.com - Public Opinion Online

Put me in column A. Please please please keep that asshole on the ticket.




Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Doin' the Hussein Shuffle 

Yahoo! News - Bush Noncommittal on Saddam Handover
President Bush said Tuesday the United States will turn over former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to the new Iraqi interim government but declined to set a timetable, saying "appropriate security" must first be in place.
Dude, you already set the timetable. June 30th.

I swear if I didn't know better I'd think maybe Bush doesn't really want Hussein to stand trial. If I wasn't so loyal an American, I'd think maybe the administration was trying to give Hussein a technicality to walk on. If I wasn't so sure that my government was 100% above board, I'd think that maybe Hussein had secrets that this administration wanted him to keep for himself rather than exposing them in an international trial.

If I wasn't such a good American that is.



Boortz's Brainfart 

boortz.com: Nealz Nuze Today's Nuze

The International Committee of the Red Cross (which is separate from the American Red Cross,) has completely lost its mind. Last night, a spokeswoman said that Saddam Hussein must be released from custody or charged by June 30 if the coalition is to conform to international law. Release Saddam? Let him walk? Are these people nuts? That is an interesting date, don't you think? The International Red Cross is demanding Saddam's release on the very day that sovereignty is being handed back to the Iraqi government. Mere coincidence, I'm sure.

Screw international law. Isn't it interesting how these international organizations have all this selective outrage over the war in Iraq, only because it involves the United States? If Saddam were being held by, say, the Saudi government, would they be so upset? Doubt it.
Umm, Mr. Boortz, you're a moron. The Red Cross is not calling for the release of Hussein. They are calling for US compliance with the law. You remember compliance, don't you. It's what you war-mongers used as your justification for your illegal invasion, overthrow and occupation in Iraq. You said Hussein was not in compliance with International law (UN Resolution 1441) and said that it meant we had to kick some Iraqi ass.

The Red Cross is actually concerned that by not charging Hussein, his lawyers might have a legal loophole with which to get him off.
None of the officials were advocating Mr. Hussein's release, and they said they wanted him to stand trial. But they also said that since the United States insists that the occupation will formally end on June 30, when limited powers will be handed to the interim Iraqi government, the Geneva Convention requires that the Americans bring charges against their prisoners of war or release them.

"We're not making any ultimatums or calls for release," Antonella Notari, chief spokeswoman of the International Committee of the Red Cross, told The Associated Press in Geneva on Monday. "What we're saying is: 'Saddam Hussein, as far as we understand today, is a P.O.W., prisoner of war, protected by the third Geneva Convention as all prisoners of war are.'

"In theory, when a war ends and when an occupation ends, the detaining force has to release prisoners of war or civilian detainees if there are no reasons for holding them."

But she added that a prisoner of war who is suspected of committing criminal acts should be prosecuted and tried rather than simply released.
Luckily, however, cooler heads than yours, Mr. Boortz have prevailed in Washington.
Iraq's interim prime minister said Monday that the United States would hand over former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and all other detainees to Iraq's new government over the next two weeks, as the transfer of administrative power is effected.


Monday, June 14, 2004

They Got Letter 

Russo Marsh & Rogers

Turnabout is fair play. Russo, Marsh, & Rogers is the PR firm to which this website, calling for people to prevent theaters from running Michael Moore's new movie, was registered until they modified the entry.

Russo Marsh + Rogers, Inc.
770 L Street, #950
Sacramento, CA 95814

Telephone: (916) 441-3734
Fax: (916) 441-6057

Sal Russo: srusso@rmrwest.com

Ron Rogers: rrogers@rmrwest.com

Teri Smith O'Rourke: torourke@rmrwest.com

Joe Wierzbicki : jwierzbicki@rmrwest.com

Kelley Afghari: kafghari@rmrwest.com

Douglas Lorenz : dlorenz@rmrwest.com

Corey Sparks : csparks@rmrwest.com

Contact these "Domestic Enemies" and tell them what you think.
I sent the following email:
So, just who do you people think you are trying to deny me the right to see a movie - any movie - that I as an adult in a free society choose to see?

You may disagree with Michael Moore's message. You may even think the movie is somehow treasonous. So what? Am I not intelligent enough to make that determination myself?

I've seen all three of Mr. Moore's previous movies. Sometimes he is a little heavy handed and one sided, but he is always honest. If he is caught in a mistake, he corrects it. So if there are mistakes in Farenheit 9/11, I'm confident that Mr. Moore did not realize it at the time. Besides, I doubt that there are any mistakes. And again, I am adult enough to see a movie as a movie and not be brainwashed into turning into a mindless zombie liberal automoton.

Already, one claim by the right-wing that Mr. Moore was lying has been disproved. It was reported that he did not have video of Nick Berg before his beheading. This report came from people who obviously had not even seen the movie. When it came out that he in fact did have an interview with Berg, the right was forced to recant.

So I am forced to wonder what other truth this movie contains that you and your conservative fascist ilk are afraid for me to see. I look forward to learning when the film finally comes to my local cineplex. AND DON'T YOU TRY AND STOP ME!


God's Cowards 

Yahoo! News - Supreme Court Preserves 'God' in Pledge
The Supreme Court preserved the phrase "one nation, under God," in the Pledge of Allegiance, ruling Monday that a California atheist could not challenge the patriotic oath but sidestepping the broader question of separation of church and state.

At least for now, the decision — which came on Flag Day — leaves untouched the practice in which millions of schoolchildren around the country begin the day by reciting the pledge.

The court said atheist Michael Newdow could not sue to ban the pledge from his daughter's school and others because he did not have legal authority to speak for her.
So the issue itself was less significant than why it was brought?

I have a daughter who is eleven. She lives with her mother, but spends a lot of time with me. Does this decision mean that if my daughter was being beaten at school that I could not sue to protect her because I am not the custodial parent? That's what it seems to mean. Newdow had no right to sue to protect his daughter from proselytizing teachers because he is not the custodial parent. Bullshit.

This was just another political decision by activist right-wing judges.

If this is the decision they were going to make, then the case should never have come before the court. The only reason that this case was heard was that the court knew that they could avoid making a decision based on this artificial technicality. And having heard a case on the pledge, they could stave off any such future cases indefinitely.

UPDATE: Ezra agrees with me completely!



Compare and Contrast 

Compare this:

HoustonChronicle.com - National mourning helps Bush politically for now
A week of national mourning for Ronald Reagan has helped President Bush politically by shunting Democrat John Kerry to the sidelines and driving bad news from Baghdad off the front pages.
"I don't think it hurts to remind people of a time when Reagan provided leadership that made people feel good about the country again -- that is a good atmosphere for Republicans," a Republican Party strategist said.
"It never hurts to change the subject after you've had a couple of bad weeks," California Republican consultant Dan Schnur said.
"This has real potential for the president, but he has to be very careful," Schnur said. "If he is too heavy-handed, voters will back away."
The front page of Bush's campaign Web site was taken over this week by a tribute to Reagan, including links to some of his most famous speeches and to words of praise for Reagan from Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
"If this happened at the end of October, it would matter," he said. "But in the first week of June? Nah."
To this:

deseretnews.com | Wellstone tribute turns political
Republicans quickly criticized the partisan tone of the memorial. "I was frankly stunned. It was over the top," said Sarah Janecek, a Republican consultant.
And this:

WCCO: Reality Check: Wellstone Tribute One Year Later
Some believe the backlash affected Democrats nationwide, helping elect a Republican Senate, and strengthening a Republican House.

One poll reports that 68 percent of American voters knew about the memorial service, which was broadcast on C-Span. 49-per cent said it made them less likely to vote Democrat, including a surprising 67 percent of Independents.

The man who took Wellstone's place believes it helped create a Republican majority.

"It was what it was," said Senator Norm Coleman. "Not just in Minnesota but across the country. I have more folks coming up to me and saying you election was responsible for us winning control, picking up seats in the House and Senate, but it wasn't me. People watch something and they made a judgment."
And this:

GOP demands equal time; Wellstone aide apologizes; Ventura upset
The state GOP asked for equal air time to match the 3 1/2 hours the memorial was on TV Tuesday night. And the University of Minnesota official who gave the campaign the go-ahead to use Williams Arena said she wouldn't have done so if she had known it would have "political overtones." Even the DFL candidate for governor, Roger Moe, criticized it as "unfortunate."

"I deeply regret if anyone took offense or was taken by surprise by some of the content of one of the addresses last night," Wellstone campaign manager Jeff Blodgett said. "It certainly was not an orchestrated or scripted event as some have suggested."
Yeah, not like the Reagan funeral.

Holy cow, I heard criticism of Kerry (a Roman Catholic) for crossing himself after saying a prayer in from of the casket, for crying out loud! They said he was grandstanding!

Look, Reagan was a politician. Politics was bound to come up. And it is perfectly reasonable for the republicans to be thinking about how this affects them politically. But come on. Do you honestly think that had the Wellstone tribute not been so successfully used by them to vilify the democrats that the GOP would have been half as reserved as they were? I don't. And in addition, I don't think the left would have criticized them for taking some political gain had they not been so over the top in their criticism of the Wellstone event.

Of course, we'll never know for sure. But in my opinion, if there is one good thing to come out of the Wellstone backlash, it is that it ruined a good chance for the right to take some political benefit out of the Gipper's death.



Italian Food For Thought 

Success for Bush in Italy - The Washington Times: Editorials/OP-ED - June 14, 2004
President Bush had a successful trip to Italy earlier this month, but no one in America would know it based on the news coverage.
This is a strange criticism coming from a news source. Oh, wait. It's not a news source. It's the Washington Times.
Headlines all focused on the same two themes: Pope John Paul II scolded the president about prison abuse in Iraq, and Italian mobs thronged the streets to protest Mr. Bush. Neither story accurately portrays what were positive meetings at the Vatican and with Italian government officials.
Hmm, something else is missing from this story.

Oh, yeah. They also failed to report that the EU was having votes this week, and Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was counting on Bush's visit to give his party a boost. But the attempt failed.
In Italy, Berlusconi's Forza Italia got 22.3 percent, behind the opposition's 30.8 percent, with 5 percent of the vote counted.

Berlusconi also suffered losses in local elections. Exit polls indicated Forza Italia lost control of the regional government of the island of Sardinia. Renato Soru, founder Tiscali SpA, Europe's third-largest Internet provider, was running for the center-left coalition and clinched between 48 percent and 52 percent of the vote, Nexus said. The Forza Italia candidate won between 38.5 percent and 42.5 percent.
Part of this was due to economic concerns, but not all.
Exit polls from France, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary pointed to setbacks for ruling parties there, turning the European Union's first elections since it expanded to 25 nations last month into a continent-wide repudiation of a 9.1 percent jobless rate and the role of some countries in Iraq.
It just doesn't pay to be a friend of Bush.



And Brush Away The Bluetail Fly! 

Yahoo! News - Powell: Terrorism Report a 'Big Mistake':
A State Department report that incorrectly showed a decline last year in terrorism worldwide was a "big mistake," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday. "Very embarrassing. I am not a happy camper over this. We were wrong," the secretary told NBC's "Meet the Press."
So once again they trot the black guy out to make their apologies for them? What the hell?

Come on, Colin. Quit already.



Sunday, June 13, 2004

Sing Hallelujah! 

Retired Officials Say Bush Must Go
A group of 26 former senior diplomats and military officials, several appointed to key positions by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, plans to issue a joint statement this week arguing that President George W. Bush has damaged America's national security and should be defeated in November.

The group, which calls itself Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, will explicitly condemn Bush's foreign policy, according to several of those who signed the document.

"It is clear that the statement calls for the defeat of the administration," said William C. Harrop, the ambassador to Israel under President Bush's father and one of the group's principal organizers.

Those signing the document, which will be released in Washington on Wednesday, include 20 former U.S. ambassadors, appointed by presidents of both parties, to countries including Israel, the former Soviet Union and Saudi Arabia.

Others are senior State Department officials from the Carter, Reagan and Clinton administrations and former military leaders, including retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, the former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East under President Bush's father. Hoar is a prominent critic of the war in Iraq.
Come on! Get happy! We're waitin' for the judgement day!



He Flips! 

The New York Times > National > U.S. to Drop Benefit Cuts Linked to Drug Discounts
The Bush administration said Saturday that it would rescind a federal policy that threatened to cut food stamp benefits for several million low-income elderly and disabled people who save money on their medicines by using the new Medicare drug discount cards.

The administration's reversal came two days before President Bush was scheduled to visit Missouri to promote use of the cards, which have received a tepid reaction from many Medicare beneficiaries.

In interviews this week, state officials across the country said low-income people who used the cards could find their food stamp benefits reduced as a result. The cuts, they said, were a direct result of federal regulations and a policy statement issued by the Agriculture Department on March 10.

The purpose of the discount cards is to reduce out-of-pocket drug costs. But when a person's drug expenses go down, state officials said, the food stamp program assumes that the person has more money available to spend on other needs, including food. So the person may receive a smaller food stamp allotment, they said.
So first Bush is opposed to extending both food stamps and medicare benefits to the elderly, and then he's for it.

Actually, this is the right thing to do, but come on .. look at the timing. Even so, I give the administration credit for acknowledging their error, even if technically they didn't actually acknowledge anything. But it's still a flip-flop by the Bush definition of flip-floppery. So nyeh!



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