Although a registered Republican (which

Although a registered Republican (which in the state of West Virginia is like being a vegetarian at a pig roast), I am in large part a….Quickian??

Andy Kashdan’s take on Bush’s

Andy Kashdan’s take on Bush’s 2 trillion 2003 budget:

I don’t know if that’s inflation-adjusted, but I know it’s big.

Yeah. Those thrifty fiscal conservatives. In the words of the late Sen. Everett Dirksen:

“A million here, a million there, pretty soon we’re talking real money.”

Mike Moran, in a long

Mike Moran, in a long piece in MSNBC asks Are We Winning Yet?

Among other things, he references the the 3,200 civilian deaths reported by Marc Herold (who actually has the number at over 3,500), and states :

The Pentagon is wisely (and somewhat cynically) [Editor’s note: Those damn cynical buildings again.] mum on the number of civilians killed by the Anglo-American air raids. But conservative estimates by an American bomb assessment expert, Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire, suggests that at least 3,200 civilians had died as result of the air raids by mid-December. That is not 3,200 Taliban fighters – their casualties appear to have been much higher. Rather, these were 3,200 men, women and children who, like their fellow human beings in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, had nothing to do with the politics of the conflict. What weight does this deserve in American calculations? Certainly, it cannot be ignored.

Perhaps someone should let Mr Moran note that the Pentagon works with hard numbers, not specious reports from unreliable sources (regardless of how many times they may have been repeated in the form of the same AP or Reuters report which appeared in 8 different papers or on Al-Jazeera). I am against civilian casualties (I am also against animal cruelty, heart attacks, and Barry Manilow comeback tours), but the reasons the more respectable media sources (and the cynical building known as the Pentagon) ignore these reports are because they are imprecise, prone to grotesque over-exaggeration, and although he may poo-poo it all he wants, they are not ‘independently corroborated.’ It is hard to be taken seriously when your counting relies on reports that state:

11 October: Two US jets were said to have bombed the mountain village of Karam. The death toll was estimated at between 100 and 160.


13 October: Bombs fell on the Qila Meer Abas neighbourhood, two kilometres south of Kabul airport. Four civilians were reportedly killed.

Reportedly killed? The last time I checked, death was a binary construct, in that you are are, or are not dead. You can not be reportedly dead. It is like being pregnant. You either is, or you isn’t. (A good argument could be made, however, that while physically alive, Alan Dershowitz is brain dead- but I do not think the good Dr. Herold is looking into this).

18 October: Some 47 civilians were said to have been killed when a central market place, Sarai Shamali, near Kandahar, was bombed.

And I have been said to have stunning good looks, a sparkling personality, and a way with women. I think I said it Saturday night after two bottles of damn fine red wine.

Again, not to ignore civilian casualties, of which I am sure there have been some, but excuse me if I refuse to listen to inflated numbers from someone with an ax to grind.

But why stop there. When you are going to be wrong, you might as well go all out. Mr. Moran also states, under a section called FLARE- UPS AND FAILURES, somoething that casual observers of the Middle East might be interested in.

Then there is Israel and the Palestinian Authority, two states led by two men uniquely ill-suited to the subtle challenges of the post-Sept. 11 world.

A.) I was unaware of Palestinian statehood.

B.) Arafat was and is a terrorist. Nothing else matters.

Mark Steyn on Enron. When

Mark Steyn on Enron. When he is on, he is just on.

On Friday on CNN, in the corner of the screen where of late “AMERICA FIGHTS BACK” has been emblazoned, there loomed instead the dread suffix: “ENRONGATE.” The New York Times has lapsed into its lethal passive voice: “Questions were being raised …”

The only “question” really being “raised” is: How can we pin this on Bush?

Short answer: You can’t.

Enron is a sleazefest with significant fiduciary issues for company officers, for their document-shredding auditors at Arthur Andersen and for the Accounting Lobby — Big Ledgers — in general. But, for those who want to turn a business scandal into a Beltway one, Ken Lay is supposedly not just the latest “unacceptable face of capitalism” but the unacceptable face of Bush capitalism — of a particular Texan energy-industry backslapping wildcatting business culture. The argument is that Lay has been writing cheques to Dubya’s political campaigns since he first ran for dogcatcher, and that in return he’s been rewarded with “access.” Thus the headline in Friday’s Washington Post: “Enron Asked For Help From Cabinet Officials. CEO Sought Intervention Before Bankruptcy.”

Hmm. I must fish out The Washington Post of November 23rd, 1963: “President Makes Visit To Dallas. JFK Well-Received By Most Texans.” The real news in the story is not Lay’s phone calls but the officials’ response: When Dubya’s buddy tried to call in his chits, the Bush guys were unmoved. The headline should have read: “Cabinet Officials Declined To Help Enron. CEO Told, ‘Awfully Sorry To Hear About All These Problems, Ken. Look, I Gotta Run, But Let’s Get Together And Do Lunch Sometime Next Year.’ “

and then this beauty:

In other words, if this is “another Whitewater,” it’s a bipartisan one: In Monica terms, it’s as if, in between oral sex with the president, she was squeezing in bondage sessions with Newt Gingrich and rounding out the day lap dancing with Strom Thurmond.

For the 3% of the

For the 3% of the population who buy Playboy AND read the articles, there is a very interesting interview with Gary Hart on terrorism in this month;s issue.

Another URL update: Sgt Stryker’s

Another URL update: Sgt Stryker’s site will be moving to shortly. Please update ASAP.

Aiiieeeee! Ken Layne’s site is

Aiiieeeee! Ken Layne’s site is down. Please tell me this is temporary.

More Enron links: Enron Chief

More Enron links:

Enron Chief Was Warned of Problems Last Summer

Andersen Fires Lead Enron Auditor

Details of Enron Sale Disclosed

Bush to Lay: What Was Your Name Again? Warning- This is by Scheer.

Chief Used Stock to Repay Enron Loan

Crony Capitalism, U.S.A.

Private Sector, Public Doubts

The androids’ nightmare

The Enron sleaze factor

David Letterman on the Pretzel

David Letterman on the Pretzel Incident:

“It’s no laughing matter,” Letterman said. “He had a cut on his forehead, his cheek was bruised, and this president is not even married to Hillary.”

Barbara Kingsolver sounds out with

Barbara Kingsolver sounds out with her usual idiocy in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, republished here at Common Dreams. Most of the piece is her defending her past indefensible remarks (she was taken out of context), but she manages to squeeze in a few new gems. I have taken it upon myself to use the now famous blog practice of inserting my coments (or myself) into her original text. Much snark follows:

It’s My Flag, Too
by Barbara Kingsolver

In the four months since September, we’ve moved from our first waves of dread and rage over a massacre to the slower task of facing what has been lost. The new year is a good time to assess how we’re doing. In a thousand ways we’ve honored our dead with honorable behavior toward each other, but in some quarters we’re still captive to fear. We hurt.

We? We? As my drill sergeant used to say, “What do you mean, WE? Do you have a mouse in your pocket?” Speak for yourself, you slimy sycophant for the fringe, but I am still good and pissed. And I am not afraid. I am angry. I will leave the fear to you and the rest of your ilk- it will give you something to do between writing smarmy op-eds and promulgating all the reasons the U.S. is such a horrid place to live.

In our frustration with the impossibility of making our world safe, some are drawn to easier targets, willing to have straw-enemies set up in our midst to be shot down, to relieve the popular anger.

I guess we should just give up then, as you have deemed world peace impossible. This will no doubt cause shock waves in the next Miss USA pageant, as the guests will now have to wish to end world hunger.

Religious and political intolerance still vibrate in the national aftershock. Friends still tell me of suffering anti-Muslim slurs in what was meant to be polite company.

Religious and political intolerance still do exist. I have no tolerance for, say, you. Friends still tell me of anti-Jewish suicide bombers in Israel, although the victims were killed too quickly to suffer the indignity of a racial slur.

… I’ve watched, amazed, as some ultra-conservative journalists

For example, anyone to the right of Ralph Nader

ignited an attack on my patriotism with a stunning prevarication that blazed like a grassfire through the Internet and countless newspapers including the Wall Street Journal.

Cry me a river. At least they were not racial or ethnic slurs.

From deliberate beginnings, it roared through the fertile ground of careless journalism, where laziness can do the same work as malice. Not one editor called to verify before publishing an inflammatory misquote. The crowd wants drama, it seems.

And drama you will give them. Excuse me, that would be melodrama. Need another tissue?

For the record, I do not believe the American flag stands for “intimidation, censorship, violence, bigotry, homophobia and shoving the Constitution through a paper shredder.”

A promising first step.

I believe the opposite, and said so in a Sept. 25 op-ed piece in The Chronicle, defending the flag from men who had waved it to justify death threats against U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and the murder of a Sikh man in Arizona.

Simultaneously tarring anyone who disagreed with your approach to the Afghanistan situation (which was bombing them with bread, or kindness, or something like that) as racist and jingoistic.

I asked if these monstrous men thought our flag stood for monstrous things (that’s the source of the infamous quote, snipped from its context), and answered that I do not — for me it’s an emblem of peace, generosity, courage and kindness.

Glad to see you are not against setting up and beating down your own straw men. Whoops, that was the un-PC version. I meant ‘straw-enemies.’ I do not recall all the ultra conservatives cheering the murder of the Sikh man in Arizona. I am also willing to be that most ultra-conservatives would be alittle tougher on the punishment side of the murderers who killed the Arizonan than you would be. I guess we could force them to read all of your articles. Or is that cruel and unusual punishment?

I warned that in hard times, some confuse a nationalistic intolerance for patriotism. And my intolerant detractors chose this warning, out of all I’ve written, to turn on its head and use to bash me as unpatriotic.

Some quick Kingsolver to english translations: some = strawman, intolerant detractors = anyone who disagrees with me.

Believe me, irony is not dead.

Neither are Osama or Mullah Omar, but we are working on that

Like millions of Americans, I’m devoted to my country and also to spiritual convictions that don’t allow me to celebrate violence as the best solution to any problem.

And we thank you for your devotion, but violence has been working pretty well so far in Afghanistan. Maybe we can try a love-in when we go to Iraq.

I’ve joined a legion of writers in recent months — Susan Sontag, Wendell Berry, Alice Walker, Molly Ivins, Arundhati Roy, Barry Lopez and many more — who are addressing the complex struggle of reconciling national and moral imperatives.

A veritable nit-wits Who’s Who. Ahhh. The complex issues. I was wondering when we would get to that. I have so many things to say, but James Lilek said it best:

“Charlie Manson’s plan of starting an apocalyptic race war by fusing Beatles lyrics and celebrity stabbings was complex, too.

“You know what? A big towering plate of spaghetti is complex, and you can solve it with a simple fork. Especially if you stab hard and turn it repeatedly.”

Extremists who won’t tolerate this kind of dialogue


have attacked us mightily in print, without quoting our actual words or ideas,

Consider yourself quoted AND attacked mightliy in print

but rather, declaring us un-American for fabricated reasons — in my case they invariably haul out that one misquote about the flag — and pronouncing direly that no one had better listen to us, they’d best play it safe and just hate us.

I think everyone should listen to you. Closely. That way your silly notions and bizarre political statements will not go unchecked.

A few citizens have obliged by sending me a brand of vitriol previously unthinkable to me, in my many years of receiving mail from strangers.

I did my best. Thank you.

But I hear in much greater numbers from readers who’ve read me — not just read about me — and who appreciate words expressing the complexities that have tormented them since our horrible September.

Those damned complexities. For example, right now I don’t know whether to snort at your folly or fart in your general direction. Complex indeed. I think I shall do both.

If anyone believes ambivalence about war needn’t be given a voice, because it’s such a miniscule component of the American conversation, they should see this mountain of supportive mail.

Please Babs. Scan both post cards and post them on the web for us. Make sure you use a color scanner so we can get the full effect of the crayon.

Thoughtful readers like these know enough to roll their eyes whenever anyone tries to claim sole custody of our flag and wield it as a blunt instrument.

Although truly thoughtful readers of yours might have a couple of better ideas for using blunt instruments around you.

They’ve responded to the assaults on writers of conscience by purchasing our books in record numbers; they’ve risen above fundamentalist thinking by reading voraciously about Islam and relevant political history.

Ahh, the ‘Islam is a peaceful religion chorus.’ I need to hear that ever day, particularly after I read the Arab newspapers and listen to their plans to OBLITERATE Israel.

Many Americans understand patriotism as a higher calling than gossip-mongering.

And at this very minute, they are bombing the living shit out of the miscreants in Afghanistan.

If anyone else still thinks patriotism demands resolute obedience to the majority, let’s go to Exhibit B. I have two American flags in my house. Both were gifts; one was handmade by a child, a few stars shy of regulation but nonetheless cherished. Each has its place where I can look up and remember: That’s mine. It protects and represents me only because of Ida B. Wells, Susan B. Anthony and countless other women who risked everything so I could be a full citizen.

I am woman. Hear me Bore!

Each of us who is female, nonwhite or without land would have been guaranteed in 1776 the same voting rights as a horse. We owe a precious debt to Americans before us who refused to believe patriotism just meant going with the crowd.

Although if they had met you, they may have changed their minds. At any rate, your Nader vote didn’t hurt the election anyway.

Our history is one of courageous flag-wavers who risked threats and public ridicule for an unpopular cause: ours. Now that flag is mine to carry on, defending freedom and justice for all.

Thanks, but the Marines beat you to it.

As we rebuild ourselves from the most terrible assault we’ve ever known, we raise our flags for what we love, declaring that heartlessness can’t steal heart.

But, can bad prose damage brain cells?

No insult can touch the fact that we care enough about our country to work for what’s best in us.

Don’t think I won’t try, though.

We’ve declared ourselves solidly behind New York and every victim of Sept. 11, vowing that an injury to one of us is an injury to all. If our hearts are in that pledge, we can take the next step and dedicate ourselves to a mindful protection of religious and political minorities in our midst.

And I will do eveything in my power to keep you a political minority.

There are as many ways to love America as there are Americans. Our country needs us all.

Unless you are a right-wing, ultra-conservative, jingoistic flag-waver who thinks dropping bread on terrorists is a bad idea. Then you can bugger off.

More Enron: Found this link

More Enron:

Found this link from the red-baiters at Front Page Magazine, and it provides 35 reasons why the Democrats are hypocrites regarding Enron.

The info is all from, so read with a grain of salt and do your own fact checking (like I need to tell this to the blogging community)….

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus. Jonathon

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus. Jonathon Alter was just on MSNBC claiming that this is not a political scandal, but a corporate scandal. And he then just as quickly said they(the Bush administration) are not off the hook yet, as “there are important questions which need to be answered.” None of those questions is “Who pays Jonathon Alter and why?”

Stay tuned for more vacillating by our favorite talking heads.

Even more Enron. Officials are

Even more Enron. Officials are looking for an insider to blab to help them do their homework.

More Enron- This time from

More Enron- This time from Victor Canto.

Waxman, Enron, and the National

Waxman, Enron, and the National Review’s take.