Meanwhile, the New York Times all but states that the government is lying about how Bhutto died in order to deflect blame for lax security.
So that's why Musharraf's government is lying? Honestly, I never saw it that way since, whether it was by gunshot, bomb blast, or anything short of a massive heart attack, I knew the Pakiistan government was responsible in some way, shape, or form. The assassination took place in Rawalpindi -- a city less than 10 miles to the south of Islamabad, and the seat of military power in Pakistan. The first thing I read about Rawalpindi, in 2003 after the assassination attempts against Musharraf, is that "even a bird would not remain undetected or unchallenged" in a city with such a military clampdown on it. So to bicker over how Bhutto died is a moot point -- a point that everyone seems to have missed -- given the fact that it happened in Rawalpindi, which instantly makes the government responsible. Period.
But Musharraf's government is learning a lesson on how not to lie in the digital media age where everyone has a video camera in their pockets, and news broadcast in one nation can spread like a virus through the Internet. Fifteen, maybe even ten years ago, government's could participate in the kind of coverup tried by Musharraf's administration and succeed in duping most people, but not anymore. Truth trumps all.
And the truth came out in this video of a UK's Channel 4 news broadcast, which clearly shows the gunman shooting and Bhutto being shot. (Did I mention that it's not a pretty video?) Additionally -- and maybe most importantly -- it shows a lack of security and police around Bhutto's vehicle. The gunman fired at pracitically point blank range.
Dawn, Pakistan's leading English daily paper, published photographs of the gunman and suicide bomber before Channel 4's video came out. After looking at the photos, Dawn proclaims: "The fact that an armed assassin managed to get just a couple of metres away from Ms Bhutto clearly gives the lie to the government claim that she had received a VIP security cover."
So, what does Musharraf have to say now? I imagine he'll speak via actions. After his government's lies being exposed for the frauds they are, and realizing this will play against him in the elections, he'll probably attempt to postpone those elections. I'm sure we'll know what his response is soon.
Strange, but true. The Miami Herald is outsourcing advertising and production design work for the (drum rolls please) community news section. What better way to get a sense of the community than from New Delhi.
"I suspect that our Democratic colleagues would get that question more often in a Democratic audience than we get in a Republican audience," he said. "Maybe more Democrats are concerned about their health care than Republicans, maybe because Republicans have health care or maybe Republicans generally like the idea of private solutions."
Rudy Giuliani, showing the true meaning ofcompassionate conservatism.
John Deady is the co-chair of state Veterans for Rudy. He channels his inner caveman to explain why he supports Rudy Giuliani.
"He's got I believe the knowledge and the judgement to attack one of the most difficult problems in current history and that is the rise of the Muslims, and make no mistake about it, this hasn't happened for a thousand years. These people are very dedicated and they're also very very smart in their own way. We need to keep the feet to the fire and keep pressing these people until we defeat or chase them back to their caves or in other words get rid of them."
I'm not surprised by the quote. Deady is exactly the kind of xenophobic person Giuliani is attempting to appeal to. Giuliani's appeal his he will be utterly ruthless. Giuliani bogusly brags about using "enhanced techniques" and believes torture "depends on who does it." Nevermind that New York City first responders say Giuliani did a horrible job handling 9-11. Only a man of Giuliani's judgement would place the emergency command center in the World Trade Center. Giuliani's handling of the health threat from the dust was his worst offense.
At the same time, the administration warned companies working on the pile that they would face penalties or be fired if work slowed. And according to public hearing transcripts and unpublished administration records, officials also on some occasions gave flawed public representations of the nature of the health threat, even as they privately worried about exposure to lawsuits by sickened workers.
“The city ran a generally slipshod, haphazard, uncoordinated, unfocused response to environmental concerns,” said David Newman, an industrial hygienist with the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, a labor group.
Competence and protecting citizens doesn't register in the cavemen minds of Giuliani supporters. They want some good old fashioned torture and bloodshed. Whether the victims are innocent or guilty is secondary. God will sort them out.
Pakistani authorities can determine that Benzir Bhutto died from hitting her head without performing an autopsy. Nevermind the gunshot wounds inflicted upon Bhutto. It gives pause when the government quickly blames Al Qaeda.
Ayman al-Zawahiri of Al Qaeda claimed responsibility. But the Pakistani government is hardly running a CSI-style investigation. The other problem is their credibility has been shot a long time ago. The Pakistani people believe that the military was behind the assassination.
AlJazeera reports that Benazir Bhutto was shot in the chest and neck. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. Tas noted there was coflicting reports of how Bhutto died.
President Bush called the assassination "cowardly" andurged Pakistan to follow through with their election. President Pervez Musharraf is considering postponing the election. Professor Joe Elder warns that Pakistan will take a step back if elections are delayed.
"The fact that the election could be delayed and a major candidate has been killed makes it very difficult to go ahead with establishing the impression that Pakistan has at last returned to a democratic process," said Joe Elder, professor of sociology and a specialist on Pakistan at the University of Wisconsin. "This is a very serious blow to the democratic process in Pakistan."
Musharraf comes out the winner in this. Democratic reform is a threat to his power. Musharraf took power in a military coup and named himself President. He recently declared marshall law and arrested political opponents. It is doubtful he is shedding tears over Bhutto's death.
The assassination may make Bhutto a martyr. That would be damaging to Musharraf and the United States. For too long America has invested in Musharraf and gotten nothing in return. Musharraf signed a peace treaty with the Taliban. The whole purpose of the United States backing Musharraf was for his government to disrupt Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. The Bush administration should have pulled financial aid the moment Pakistan (temporarily) stopped fighting terrorism.
Anti-American sentiment will be strong in a post Musharraf government. Musharraf is hated by his people and the United States has backed him. Hardly a way to win the hearts and minds of the Pakistani people.
The question is who is responsible for Bhutto's death? The assassin blew himself up. Law enforcement can not question a dead man. The Pakistan government is corrupt and incompetent. Foreign pressure and assistance is the only way to insure a proper investigation.
Update: Scott Stanzel gives a horrible press briefing. He tells the press corp that it is to Pakistan if they want to postpone elections. Stanzel says it is up to Pakistan how they investigate Bhutto's assassination. Stanzel gives the impression that the White House has no idea how to handle the situation.
Stanzel is asked how aid money to Pakistan has been wasted. Stanzel defends Pakistan. At what point does the White House start putting the pressure on Musharraf.
Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistani Prime Minister, and political enemy of President Musharraf because of her wishes to be the harbinger of democray in Pakistan, was assassinated today. As anyone who follows Pakistan can tell you, this is bad.
Before continuing with this post, let me note that I have only seen headlines and heard radio reports about her assassination at this point -- I have yet to read an article. But given two key facts that I've already gleaned -- this was done by a suicide attacker at close range and in the city of Rawalpindi -- my instincts scream to me that there's a strong possiibility that the Pakistani military had some involvement in this.
We had to write a paper on an international situation for my world politics class last semester, and I choose to research power struggles in Pakistan. It's a topic I've followed for a while. Rawalpindi came up in my paper since, in 2003, it's where two failed assassination attempts on Musharraf's life were executed. So here's what I had to say about the city a month ago:
It is bad enough that the normal amount of security that President Musharraf employs failed to stop [the assassination attempts] from happening, but his security situation looks more desperate when you take into account that the December, 2003 assassination attempts took place Rawalpindi, a city which is the seat of military power in Pakistan. Being located less than ten miles to the south of Islamabad, the city is home to a Pakistan Army corps that can hold sway in any potential coup, so leaders of Pakistan always appoint a general they can trust to run the Rawalpindi Corps (also known as “10 Corps” and “X Corps”). Case in point, one of the last commanders of the Rawalpindi Corps was General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani –- the man President Musharraf just picked to replace himself as the Chief of Staff for Pakistan's Army.
Attesting to the military power of the Rawalpindi, Gopalapuram Parthasarathy, formerly an envoy to Islamabad from India, said the assassination attempts “took place in the most heavily militarized portion of any town in Pakistan”; and he added, “it is inconceivable that such a thing could be done without certain sections within the army conniving or assisting, or both” (Hindustan Times).
These assassination attempts could not have been launched, nevermind come close to being successful, without help from members of Pakistan's military and intelligence apparatuses being sympathetic to Islamic extremists. It is not surprising that some “low-ranking air force and army officers” were later arrested for their complicity in the assassination attempts (McGirk). Even though the sum of sympathizes could be tiny, assassination attempts like these show the massive power they wield that could potentially change the government of Pakistan. Such a government installed by Islamic extremist sympathizers would have an enormous negative effect on Middle Eastern and Central Asian affairs.
This might be the most important story of the year, and I'll be keeping a close eye on developments. But if I were to place a bet in assigning blame for this tragedy, my implications would go straight to the top. I know such accusations have to be proven, but Bhutto's assassination could have Musharraf's dirty fingerprints all over it. Let's just say that I wouldn't be surprised if he was involved.
Around 10:15 thiis morning, BBC World Service reported on the security situation wiith Bhutto rallies. The BBC said that the Bhutto campaign complained about not getting extra police and "jammers" from the Pakistani government; but the government did warn the Bhutto campaign of terrorist threats towards her rallies.
The "jammers" portion of that report is most important. The BBC referred to electronic jamming equipment that delays bombs from going off. The United States provided this jamming technology to President Musharraf in 2003 (as noted in the book, "The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism," on page 77). And the jamming equipment saved Musharraf's life -- in Rawalpindi -- during the first assassination attempt in him in December, 2003; it delayed a bomb planted under a bridge that Musharraf's limo was passing over.
So if Musharraf's government had such jamming equipment since 2003, and the saved Musharraf's life in Rawalpindi, why wasn't such equipment provided to Bhutto when she visited Rawalpindi?
[Update - 10:45] Over at Newshoggers, Shamanic notes that a sniper opened fire on a rally for Nawaz Shariif, also in Rawalpindi. This attack took place before the suicide bombing of Bhutto. Dawn, Pakistan's leading English daily, reports that these attacks left four dead.
[Update - 10:50] The question of jamming equipment may be elementary at this point. BBC World Service just reported that Bhutto was shot in the neck before a suicide bomber blew himself up. At this point, I'm not sure how many people were involved in the attacks or what the direct cause of Bhutto's death was.
Rehman Malik, Bhutto's security adviser, said she was shot in the neck and chest by the attacker, who then blew himself up.
Though, as noted in the next paragraph, some people question this story:
But Javed Iqbal Cheema, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told state-run Pakistan Television that Bhutto died when a suicide bomber struck her vehicle. At least 20 others were killed in the blast, an Associated Press reporter at the scene saw.
Malik also discusses the jammers that Musharraf's government neglected to provide for Bhutto:
"We repeatedly informed the government to provide her proper security and appropriate equipment including jammers, but they paid no heed to our requests," Malik said.
Like I said before, the questiion of whether or not jammers would have helped might be elementary at this point -- if Bhutto was shot in the neck before the explosion, as reported by BBC World Service, then there's not much a jammer could have done about that. But the fact that Musharraf's government dragged their feet on Bhutto's security requests should be telling.
Bhutto's supporters got the message from Musharraf's government, apparently. The Independent article details their reaction after the attack:
As news of her death spread, supporters at the hospital in Rawalpindi smashed glass doors and stoned cars. Many chanted slogans against Musharraf, accusing him of complicity in her killing.
Angry supporters also took to the streets in the northwestern city of Peshawar as well as other areas, chanting slogans against Musharraf. In Rawalpindi, the site of the attack, Bhutto's supporters burned election posters from the ruling party and attacked police, who fled from the scene.
In Karachi, shop owners quickly closed their businesses as supporters from Bhutto's party burned tires on the roads. [...]
Some at the hospital began chanting, "Killer, Killer, Musharraf," referring to Musharraf, Bhutto's main political opponent. A few began stoning cars outside.
[Update 11:40] Last update for now as the mundanity normal life interludes: I must run to the laundrymat to wash clothes so I have something to wear at work tonight. (My boss hates it when I go in naked.) There wiill be no shortage of coverage about this story today from any news blog or service that you goto. Your best bets are The Newshoggers (for more "op/ed" type coverage -- much like you see here), Raw Story (which has a great run down of headlines on the frontpage), and TPM.
"They've maxed out on the troops. You've got guys who are over there on their fourth or fifth tours. It's ridiculous," says Jeanette Knowles, 40, of Mountain Home, Idaho, whose brother, Jeff, served a tour in Iraq with the Oregon National Guard.
It is ridicious. Bush isn't about to ask Americans to sacrifice by enlisting or starting a draft. Personal sacrifice is a concept that is alien to him.
The bad news continues for Congressional Republicans. The DCCC raised $4.1 million in November. The NRCC tallied up $2.7 million during the same period. The bigger problem the NRCC only has $2.3 million on hand. The DCCC has $30.7 million in the bank. The numbers are not better for Republican Senate candidates.
On the Senate side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ended November with $25.5 million banked, more than double the cash on hand of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, with about $10.4 million.
It is easy to figure out the fundraising woes. The Republican leadership is too stupid to split from Bush. The party now is having trouble fundraising and is in danger of losing more seats. The House Republican leadership is so out of touch with the American people that it's making Democrats' job easier.
Who can forget John Boehner declaring that "Rumsfeld is the best thing that’s happened to the Pentagon in 25 years." That is the statement of a man utterly unserious about military matters. Hear are other things Boehner said in his interview with George Stephanopoulos.
"...if we were to pull out before we win, we will embolden every terrorist in every corner of the world."
"...instead of fighting them in Iraq, we’ll be fighting them on every street in America."
"Let’s not take the problems in Iraq, the tough fight that we’re in there..."
Boehner is RNC talking points and nothing more. This is the best the House Republicans can do for leadership. In 2006, Boehner contends that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and it was only a metter of time before they were found. Most conservatives have been up the Saddam WMD myth long ago.
Voting against SCHIP and and for the increasingly unpopular Bush administration torture policy is not going to aid House Republicans when Democrats have stronger presidential candidates. Someone explain to me how Boehner plans to win back the majority by aligning himself with Bush and raising less money than Democrats?
Mitt Romney said on Meet the Press that he saw his father march with Martin Luther King. George Romney never marched with Martin Luther King.
Susan Englander, assistant edi tor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University, who is editing the King papers from that era, told the Globe yesterday: "I researched this question, and indeed it is untrue that George Romney marched with Martin Luther King."
The Mittster corrected the statement.
"If you look at the literature, if you look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes being aware of in the sense I've described," Romney told reporters in Iowa. "It's a figure of speech and very familiar, and it's very common. And I saw my dad march with Martin Luther King. I did not see it with my own eyes, but I saw him in the sense of being aware of his participation in that great effort."
It gets better. The Mittster, in 1978, said he and Pops marched with Martin Luther King.
"My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit."
"Six years later and with time running out on this administration, the Bush legacy is clear: one for three. Contrary to current public opinion, Bush will have succeeded on Iraq, failed on Iran and fought North Korea to a draw."
The Bush administration has refused to allow the federal government to negotiate prices with prescription drug companies. The result is increased cost to taxpayers. Envision Pharmaceutical Services buys drugs in huge quantities like Wal-Mart. They get pharmaceutical companies to cut costs. This allowed the Florida state government to offer to discount program.
Under the Florida Discount Drug Card program, that same person would pay $95 for a 30-day supply of Prevacid. Envision would receive $1.50 of that amount, Kise said.
Lowest price applies. On occasion, pharmacies may offer a lower price than that offered under the new drug card program. In such a case, the customer would pay the lower price, according to a news release from Crist's office.
The Florida program will offer drug coverage for people 60 or older without a current plan. Under 60 people qualify if they are 300 percent below the poverty line. I find that too steep. Families also qualify.
All in all, this is a solid program. Four million Floridians will qualify. People will save up to 42 percent on drugs. More people will be able to afford mecdicine and the state will save money, since no taxes are used.
The St. Petersburg Times has a comparison between the Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Costco plans. Costco easily wins out.
The Big Valley Girl Meets L'il Abner in The Matrix
I like to have a little fun with mash-ups in the actual cartoon as well as the post titles. What does The Big Valley have to do with any of this? Absolutely nothing, except some curious Barney will stumble here wanting to know what Zencomix has to say about The Big Valley. Yup, that ought to drive traffic up! Maybe not as much as say..."Britney's sister's shaved pussy meets L'il Abner In The Matrix", but that's a cartoon for another day.
A prize that will be less sought than the Razzies.
Josh Marshall announced the first nominees of the Golden Dukes. The award was named after Duke Cunningham. The nominees are picked from different categories of corruption. Alberto Gonzales and Larry Craig received several nominations. Pushing Rope sends a healtfelt congratulations to all the nominees because we feel the candidates are getting the attention they deserve. Good job!
Just for Hussey: Christoper Hitchens on why Huckabee sucks.
The whole thing started out when I mention, in the comments, to Joe Bardi that no one cares what Hitchens thinks about anything these days.
I'm wondering what Creative Loafing is trying to do with the Short List. I have been linked in the SL posts and it doesn't generated a great deal of traffic for my site. My guess is most Political Whore readers don't bother to click the links. (Or no one cares what I have to say.)
Ben Eason wants Creative Loafing to make more revenue off the internet. Tampa CL seems too understaffed to attend to their blogs full-time. They are stuck on the print edition (with all those wonderful ads offering GFE companionship.) Nick Denton's Wonkette and The Washington Monthly found Ana Marie Cox and Kevin Drum from the blogosphere. Both had established audiences and were well-respected. Cox was an ex-freelance journalist and Drum a former CEO. Both have written on the internet since the 90s.
Creative Loafing isn't going to get or afford a Cox or Drum. What they can do is provide more punditry. If people want links they will go to Metafilter. CL needs to update their blogs more often, that is one of the reasons The Buzz is so successful. CL does not have the staff to compete with the St. Petersburg Times. They can find their niche covering topics not touched by the local newspapers.
The CL blogs need to find their own voice and what I say won't matter much to them. David Warner should ask himself does Hitchens links pay for the bandwidth cost?
Proof that the Bush administration doesn't care about the allegations of rape and sexual harassment against Iraq contractor Kellogg Brown and Root, the Justice Department did not send a representitive to the House Judiciary Committee hearings.
"I'm embarrassed that the Department of Justice can't even come forward," said the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers, D-Mich.
"This is an absolute disgrace," said Conyers. "The least we could do is have people from the Department of Justice and the Defense over here talking about how we're going to straighten out the system right away."
Jamie Leigh Jones testified in front of the committee and reports widespread abuse from KBR employees.
"The problem goes way beyond just me. Through the Jamie Leigh Foundation, numerous other people have contacted me who have been assaulted and raped, then retaliated against for reporting those attacks," Jones said.
Congressman Ted Poe testified before the committee. Poe testified that Jones is not the only victim.
"Since Jamie has gone public with her experience, my office has heard from 3 other women. Of course, my office will furnish the names of these women to the Judiciary Committee if needed."
The reason Halliburton is named in the lawsuit is because the company will not let Jones take the men who attacked her to court. Jones signed an arbitration agreement, Halliburton can not allow her case to be heard in a public court. Halliburton would rather be sued and face negative publicity than have the case go public.
Harry Reid pulled the FISA bill at the last moment. Reid denies Christopher Dodd and the blogosphere had anything to do with his decision.
"He blinked," Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said of Reid. "It's clear that this was not going to be easy. On the one hand he wanted to rush this process and think he could strong-arm everybody to giving up their rights as senators. They threw sand in the gears."
There is no other logical reason. The Senate voted 76 to 10 to vote on the bill. It would have passed easily with bipartisan support.
Jeb Bush crony Patricia Levesque is attempting to revive Florida's voucher program. The program would have to be approved by 17 members of the Tax and Budget Reform Commission. The proposal will then need enough signatures to a constitutional ballot. 60 percent voter approval is needed to override the Florida Supreme Court ruling.
Fun facts about vouchers: past voucher money went to a school co-founded by Sami Al-Arian. Many Christian schools under the program teached that all non-Christians go to hell.
The voucher program, under Bush, was run incompetently. Students in the Opportunity Scholarships program scored an an F on the FCAT. Florida's poor national education ratings are prove that Jeb's big education ideas have been a failure.
The House Judiciary Committee hearing "Enforcement of Federal Criminal Law to Protect Americans Working for U.S. Contractors in Iraq" will start tomorrow at 10:15 AM. Jamie Leigh Jones will testify.
In related news: former KBR employee Linda Lindsey says she experienced sexual harassment.
In a sworn affidavit for the Jones case, Lindsey said: “I saw rampant sexual harassment and discrimination.” […]
Her affidavit also said: “When anyone would report an incident of abuse or harassment, they would be threatened with a transfer to a more dangerous location.”
A few thoughts: so many women are coming out and telling their horror stories of at the hands of Kellogg Brown and Root. The more KBR denies there is a problem the deeper the hole they dig. This isn't a vast liberal conspiracy. There is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Jones's lawyer, Todd Kelly, told CNN that KBR has not released the evidence from the rape kit. My understanding is they are not sharing the evidence with Kelly. The plaintiff and defense are suppose to share evidence. Kelly will have to subpoena the contents of the rape kit, which may be useless by now.
Before this is all over, KBR is going to pay millions out to former female employees. By then, KBR will just want the controversy and legal problems to go away.
The question is why is the Bush administration hellbent on protecting contractors such as KBR and Blackwater. These contractors aren't proving that privatization works or helping the PR effort for the war. The White House is hurting themselves by enabling these contractors. Stupidity and blind callousness are the only logical reasons for the Bushies behavior.
Mitt Romney discusses with Tim Russert why he is against the morning after pill and turning over Roe vs Wade. Romney wants to turn abortion laws back to the states. The man is hameless in his pandering. Romney has flip-flopped on abortion so many times.
The weakness of the anti-abortion position is they refuse to prosecute women getting illegal abortions. Anti-abortion advocates failed make abortion illegal in South Dakota. The movement understands that arresting woman would deep six their slim support.
Romney is forced to explain how he could be a member of a church that didn't allow blacks to join the Preisthood until 1978. Romney defends himself by dicussing his parents civil rights record. The Mittster lacks his own accomplishments in standing up for minorities.
"Then I don't remember anything at all after that. I woke up naked, I was bruised. And then when I sat on the toilet, that's when I realized my inner thighs were very bruised and I was bleeding pretty bad. And then I knew I had been raped."
The Justice Department told Jones's lawyer her case is closed because they dis not have jurisdiction.
HA! I am finished shopping! Did all but one of my gifts via web-shopping and even did some of the parents shopping that way. Then took Friday off and marathon shopped Friday and Saturday. Only two left for them and they can manage that themselves. Thank goodness. It”s insane out there. Seriously. People are freaking nuts. I thought I was going to lose it yesterday and beat the crap out of some rude son of a bitch…but, I was good, and withheld.
So, the holiday party I organized for all my clients, etc. was a glowing success. I am so glad that is over. Even my bosses were impressed. Next year? Casino Royale in a tent on the lawn….it will be soooo cool! BTW, the jazz band I hired for the party was HOT!
Robert Dowling is (basically) leaving eBay for smashingly greener pastures. I can’t release what has happened, but it’s BIG, exclusive, and exciting. I am so damned happy for him, and seriously proud of his achievements. Unfortunately, for you and me, access to his paintings through this venue is finished as of December 31, so, if you want an original, you better hotfoot it over there and bid like there is no tomorrow (since there isn’t) and because all you will see on eBay from now on will be prints and Giclee reproductions (not that there is anything wrong with that). It may be all I can afford from now on anyway. Check Rob’s website for the big announcement, coming soon.
In the meantime, I have a seriously large hankering for this dark and moody bit of melodrama Rob has ensorcelled me with, entitled: Before I Say Goodbye
This 30” x 40” oil & acyclic canvas is full of mystery and change and brooding. I love it. It appeals to me on that level automatically. Happpy shit makes me want to puke. Change, mystery, longing, depth, brooding, power, darkness, … all these things and more, do it for me. I always want to know, to see, what’s on the other side of that. The whimsy in these paintings also get to me. Sometimes, seeminly innocent, that change instanteously to “other.” A varying background of breasts in profile, nipples extended. The softening foregorund with buried and unrevealed mysteries. The puzzle and that house, always imminently on the edge of demise. The longing of the woman, and the watching of many eyes. The blackness, and purity of the sky, that very mysterious and deep, deep sky…. I want it.
Another Dowling original up for auction is Trying to Find My Way Home, bring back the baby boy of more recent painting this past year. Who this child is, is a puzzle. However, this particular painting reminds me of the first painting I ever purchased from Rob, over three years ago. In that painting, you see a very lonely and angst-rideen setting of a figure in the background, walking along the rise of land, and fenceline, forelorn, and seemingly deep in thought, lost, but, metaphorically rather than literally. This paintings setting is more literal, I think. Yet, metaphorically challenging as to who the child is or will become. I think we know, Rob. I think I know. I also know how far you have come, from that painting to this one. No more guessing… for now.
Dec. 14, 2007 | WASHINGTON — The CIA held Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah in several different cells when he was incarcerated in its network of secret prisons known as “black sites.” But the small cells were all pretty similar, maybe 7 feet wide and 10 feet long. He was sometimes naked, and sometimes handcuffed for weeks at a time. In one cell his ankle was chained to a bolt in the floor. There was a small toilet. In another cell there was just a bucket. Video cameras recorded his every move. The lights always stayed on — there was no day or night. A speaker blasted him with continuous white noise, or rap music, 24 hours a day.
The guards wore black masks and black clothes. They would not utter a word as they extracted Bashmilah from his cell for interrogation — one of his few interactions with other human beings during his entire 19 months of imprisonment. Nobody told him where he was, or if he would ever be freed.
It was enough to drive anyone crazy. Bashmilah finally tried to slash his wrists with a small piece of metal, smearing the words “I am innocent” in blood on the walls of his cell. But the CIA patched him up.
So Bashmilah stopped eating. But after his weight dropped to 90 pounds, he was dragged into an interrogation room, where they rammed a tube down his nose and into his stomach. Liquid was pumped in. The CIA would not let him die…..(more)
THE SHOW THAT DARE NOT SPEAK IT'S NAME: You can go have a listen toRipley and Scooter go commando, yabbering last weekend. I missed it due to short notice, so I’m having a listen now. They are so very amusing…. “hello?” (Personally, I’d just listen to hear “The Voice.”)
Well, I gotta go. The Parents have things for me to do, put up the damned infernal tree, write the freakin Xima letter and print the damned thing for them, wrap all those freakin’ gifts to others, pack and mail the blasted things (didn’t I tell them to buy and ship online?????) and who knows what else. The horrendous baking has yet to begin.
Being an educated American who's interested in politics and keeps up on current events, I thought I knew who all the presidential candidates were -- no matter how obscure. Hell, I even knew that John Cox has been in the race since March. But Alan Keyes? Alan M-Fing Keyes? Where the hell did he come from? And where did his beard go? And did he lose like 50 pounds or something? Keyes may be many things, but he's not a master campaigner if, by this week, he's only caught the attention of Americans like myself.
So when did Keyes start his quixotic run for president? Technically September, though he start pushing out feelers a month earlier, as TPM notes with a little irony: "Apparently there's a spontaneous grassroots movement to draft Alan Keyes into the GOP primary race -- oddly enough, the movement has emerged on Keyes' own website."
In the Keyes press release that TPM linked to, Keyes stipulates his conditions for undertaking another run at the White House: "Keyes — who in 2000 drew 14 percent in the Iowa Caucus and averaged 16 percent in his best ten states during the presidential primaries — says he is open to the possibility of running, if enough support exists at the grassroots for his candidacy." The aforementioned John Cox placed 11 in the Iowa Straw Poll, and Keyes..? Keyes didn't even have a place on the poll, since Cox came in dead last. So I guess Keyes sort of flip-flopped on his position about running for president.
And Keyes lack of support continues, unless you count the 2% he received in a Des Moines Register poll. I found three MySpace pages for Keyes, none with over 400 friends (the "official" Keyes MySpace page has 36 friends -- how lonely.) As for his website, there aren't many people on there if his forums are in any way indicative of the traffic he receives. His forums pages lists how many people are online. Obviously, this number varies every few minutes, but I haven't seen it peek over a hundred since I discovered his forums site a few hours ago. The super majority of those visitors are listed as "guests," not registered users. I know something about those guests -- most of them, I'm willing to bet, are spam bots. Judging from my experience administraing the domain of my former blog, loadedmouth.com, I can tell you that most of the time my site had at least a hundred "guests" online, but they weren't actual people. I know this because I had to manage thousands of spam comments flooding in each week from these "guests." So if 100 guests equaled five actual users online at loadedmouth.com (which it often did), the same equation works for Keyes's website, too. Which means that hardly anybody is reading it -- "hardly" in terms of the interest that a presidential candidate needs to generate, at least.*
As for his ballot access, I was surprised to learn that Keyes is on the ballot in 13 states. In four states, he bought his way onto the ballot; in other states, I assume he got signatures. Like iin Tennessee, where a candidate needs 275 signatures to get on the ballot; and Washington state, where is bar is set a bit higher at 1000 signatures. So, still, we're not talking any real popular support here.
So, thus far, that's the history of Keyes 2008 presidential campaign -- and I doubt there will be much more to add beyond this. After learning all of this, the question I've had since seeing Keyes in the debate still begs: what the hell was he doing there?
* - There's a possibility that my estimates on the people viewing Keyes website are wrong, If so, and if the number of "guests" are taken at face value as actual people, it's still not many people.
"An activist judge, with one stroke of a pen, can shut down a fundamental human institution," he said. "We're here for the long run. ... We're doing this to protect this institution literally for centuries to come in Florida."
John Stemberger, on why is was behind a drive to not allow gays and lesbians to marry.
Stemberger's statement is utter dishonest on so many levels. Judges haven't "shut down" hetrosexual couples from the right to marry. Stemberger ambulance-chasing attorney that moonlights for the Florida Family Policy (which has ties to James Dobson.) This isn't about protecting marriage. This is the Christian Right imposing their intolance on others.
In other news: Crist attempts to distance himself from Florida4Marriage.
"I'm just a live and let live kind of guy," the governor said.
That is why the NonDecider is listed as an endorser on Florida4Marriage's web site. Crist was against gay marriage before it became "not an issue that moves me." Charlie, you can't pander to all of the people all of the time.
The latest Rasmussen poll shows Mike Huckabee leading Republican contenders in Florida. It is not surprising, I said before that Rudy Giuliani is on a downward spiral. Factor in Giuliani's Florida scandal with Seisint and we aren't not looking at a candidate that screams frontrunner.
There is now a Facebook group to support Jamie Leigh Jones. 2,000,000 Facebook users joined the Facebook group supporting Stephen Colbert's bogus campaign. I like to see that many join for greater cause.
Fred Thompson comes out in support of the Florida ballot amendment banning gay marriage.
I applaud the work of Florida Coalition to Protect Marriage. Their efforts will give the people of Florida a voice on this very important subject. I strongly believe in the time honored principle of marriage being a union between one man and one woman, the foundation of any civilized society. Florida’s Marriage Amendment will have my support in 2008. As President, I will appoint judges who apply the law, not make it up from the bench. We should not be held subject to judicially created social policy, and I will use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to defend the institution of marriage.
Thompson is going into pander overdrive after saying the state and federal government should not have intervened in the Terri Schiavo medical case. If Thompson really wants to win he should avoid flip flopping, firing campaign staff and pretending he actually gives a shit if he wins.
The good news is 60 percent approval is difficult. Civil rights groups and lefty activists can mount a good campaign to defeat the ballot amendment. Opposition to the gay marriage ban helped Democratic turnout for Jim Webb. It's time the Left used wedge issues against the GOP. Republicans certainly aren't going to run on the economy.