Wednesday, August 31, 2005


I reported earlier this afternoon that the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC) is currently being used as a morgue for New Orleans' dead: that's only partially true; the PMAC is actually a massive
triage, and only part of that is about storing bodies. The pictures I've taken just can't do justice to how big this event is. Probably the best way to describe it is that this triage operation is as big as what one would expect to be needed for a hurricane like Katrina. Along those same lines, the enormous human effort I've seen today has been, at times, as uplifting as the images of the hurricane's devastation I've seen on television have been depressing. At times. At other times, it was hard not to just stop and say "Oh my god; this is so terrible."

I've got more pictures, but before I get to them I want to mention the picture I didn't get. The stadium where the LSU Tigers play football is just across the street from the PMAC. It's nickname is "Death Valley." One of the greatest visual ironies I've ever encountered was seeing a huge sign in the stadium that says "Welcome to Death Valley" while I was walking toward the PMAC. Don't get me wrong: it's not like everybody running around the triage area was having to look at such an ominous phrase--really, you had to be at just the right angle to see it, which is why I was unable to get a shot of it. Still, the irony is incredible. You can't write stuff like this.

Now, onto the pictures.

This is where I park my car, right off campus.

The sign says "Special Needs Shelter." This next pic is of yet another of the scores of ambulances surrounding the PMAC.

A couple of tired medical technicians take a smoke break.

Volunteers organize donations coming in from Salvation Army trucks.

More donations.

Strapped to a gurney.

Wheelchair bound.

All of the above pictures I took on the way to our evening rehearsal, around 5:45 or so. The stuff below I took on the way home from around 9:30 to 10:30 or so. As I neared the PMAC, I encountered a media van and took a picture--you know, I felt clever to be photographing the real news people. As soon as I took it, one of the producer guys said, "hey, come on over here and take a look inside," which I did. They were really friendly, fellow Texans from
WOAI TV in San Antonio.

Here's that first shot.

Inside the van.

Another shot inside the van.

WOAI sends in a live report.

Then I moved on.

A National Guard medic makes a call on his cell phone.

No matter where you go, cops love to hang out.

At this point I need to observe that, despite my continual cop-bashing here at Real Art, I am thankful that we have police, and as far as I can tell, Louisiana's finest are performing their jobs remarkably well. They have my utmost respect. Here are a few more cop shots:

Traffic chaos.

A mobile command unit for the Federal Witness Protection Program in Atlanta.

A police chopper comes in for a landing.

Police chopper on the makeshift landing pad at the track and field stadium adjacent to the PMAC, which is in the background.

Well, that's all for now. Tomorrow I'm going to try to write my own personal Book of Exodus, detailing my and Becky's flight from the hurricane zone. Tonight, I'm going to get some sleep.



I walked by the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC) on my way home from rehearsal. My camera was still in my backpack from our trip to Tyler:



Well, after rushing off to Tyler and back again I'm exhausted. I also had to sit down and review my lines for Arms and the Man a little while ago because life goes on: we've got eight hours of catch-up rehearsal tomorrow, even though all LSU classes have been canceled until after Labor Day because campus is now a
triage for the high volume of injuries out of the Big Easy--a media call has gone out for all Baton Rouge medical professionals to report to the Tigers' field house, just down the street from where we live. Consequently, I'm going to hold off for a couple of days on relating the details of our Star Wars like exodus from the hurricane zone.

In the meantime, here's some local coverage from WAFB TV in Baton Rouge. I tried to get something from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, but they haven't posted since the levee broke, which is ominous, indeed. Really, you may very well have already read this, because it's just a wire report, but I wanted to get some local flavor, and Baton Rouge's paper kind of sucks--however, TV news here has been wall-to-wall, so I want to give them a nod of the hat.

Blanco: Everyone in New Orleans Needs to Get Out

With conditions in the hurricane-ravaged city of New Orleans rapidly deteriorating, Governor Kathleen Blanco said Tuesday afternoon that people now huddled in the Superdome and other rescue centers need to be evacuated. She called the situation heartbreaking.

Because of two levees that broke Tuesday, the governor says the city is rapidly filling with water and the prospect of having power is a long time off. She also said the storm severed a major water main, leaving the city without drinkable water.

Blanco says that at midnight, all the boat operators trying to rescue people from rooftops were told to take a break, but they refused.

here for the rest.

New Orleans' Angel of Death: the levee breaks

I have to admit being freaked out by all this. I cannot explain how much I love New Orleans and what that place means to me--to some small extent, it's why I came to LSU. I will tell you one thing about our time on the road. In Tyler, the motel we found was full of evacuees from the Crescent City. I spoke with an older woman who told me that she had lost everything and that she was pretty sure that a couple of family members had drowned. What can you say to that? My simple statement, "that's terrible; I'm so sorry," seemed trite, especially because I then broke off the conversation because Becky and I had to check out to leave for our home in Baton Rouge. This is terrible, but it really is beyond my ability to truly articulate. It's horrible.

I managed to find a couple of blogs written by New Orleans residents who seem to be posting throughout the tragedy. I don't think they're actually there right now, but they seem to have some extra insight. Go check out on tender hooks and Looka!, and be sure to drop a comment in support.

UPDATE: Here's how these guys are posting in spite of the storm carnage; they're expatriates. The on tender hooks guy is in Lafayette, and the Looka! guy is in California. However, they've got what appear to be very close connections with the Big Easy, and are writing about Katrina's effects in a rather personal way. Very much worth checking out.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005


We have returned to virtually no damage and functional electric power!!! We haven't spent a single moment outside of air conditioning this whole time. Weird. When Alicia hit Houston back in '83, we were without power for over three weeks. I'll post about our rather pointless evacuation later tonight.

New Orleans looks bad.


Sunday, August 28, 2005


Mood Music.

From the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Kat could be big one in Big Easy

As Hurricane Katrina moved toward southeastern Louisiana and appeared to put New Orleans in her crosshairs Saturday, Mayor Ray Nagin urged residents in this sub-sea-level city to remain calm but take the powerful storm "very seriously."

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a test. This is the real deal," Nagin, flanked by Gov. Kathleen Blanco and other state and local leaders, said during an early afternoon news conference at City Hall. Workers boarded up windows at City Hall later in the day.

Click here for the rest.

Again from the Advocate:

Extended power outages expected in EBR

Parish officials warned the public Sunday that Hurricane Katrina will likely cause an extended period of power outages – something like that endured after 1992’s Hurricane Andrew.

Jay Grymes of the state Office of Climatology said Katrina is a lot like 1969’s Hurricane Camille, which devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast – except Katrina is larger. Officials urged people who don’t have a reason to travel to stay off the streets from 7 p.m. this evening until the storm passes, which will likely be about sunset on Monday.

Basically, the parish will be shut down Monday and Tuesday, said parish Chief Administrative Officer Walter Monsour during a meeting of emergency response officials Sunday morning.

Residents are urged to be prepared to live without electrical power for a week or possibly longer in some cases.

Click here for the rest.

Consequently, expect Real Art to go dark for maybe a week or more. My Dad has strongly urged us to get out even though nobody else is: as a former phone linesman, he knows, so we're going. See you later.



Never Enough

Another aspect of how our lifestyle tends to erode our culture is that people are trying extremely hard to keep up -- not only with their neighbors, but also just the two jobs they have.

There's an amazing outbreak of amphetamines across the country that you've probably heard of. It's rampant across the country now. Everybody talks about marijuana being the problem. That's not the problem -- it's individuals who are essentially hijacking their pleasure centers, trying to stay awake.

Those types of erosions will, within a generation or two, have a massive effect upon what I consider to be the crucible of the culture: the stable family and community structures, which enable people to grow up and learn how it is to behave in a normal, balanced civil society. When you begin to get large numbers of people who are addicted to amphetamines or to material goods, this fragments families.

And once the family is fragmented and the community is fragmented, the next generation grows up with no real awareness of what it is that they need to do in order to be happy. So you get onto this strange treadmill situation -- it's even a slippery slope really -- where they fall into something without even realizing it's a genuine addiction.

here for the rest.

This is from an interview with an author of a book about rampant American consumerism, and the above excerpt illustrates but one of the many problems associated with it. Consumer debt, social alienation, anxiety, obesity, and depression are a few more. We've got to face the fact that the accumlation of things is simply not a desirable goal: getting off of the parental teat years ago and realizing that I was poor was probably one of the best things that's ever happened to me--once I could no longer afford them, I realized that I didn't really care about all the crap I had been buying at the mall for years on my folks' credit card. Happiness is about family, community, and friends, and you just can't buy stuff like that.

Investigating Pat Robertson

Despite his apology, Pat Robertson should still be investigated -- and potentially prosecuted -- for calling for the murder of a democratically elected head of state. Under Title 18 of US Code Section 1116, "whoever kills or attempts to kill a foreign official, official guest, or internationally protected person shall be punished." Section 878 of the same title makes it a crime to "knowingly and willingly threaten" to commit the above crime.

The US government is also obligated under international law to prevent and punish acts of terrorism against foreign heads of state, if those acts are conceived of or planned on US territory. The 1973 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons makes it a crime to commit a "murder, kidnapping, or other attack upon on the liberty of an internationally protected person;" [including] a "threat to commit any such attack."

here for the rest.

That's good enough for me. Lock the murderous bastard up and throw away the key. Any moral American would agree.


Friday, August 26, 2005

'Redneck Woman' to keep tobacco under wraps

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Tennessee's attorney general had asked Gretchen Wilson not to pull out a can of smokeless tobacco during performances of her new song Skoal Ring because it glamorized tobacco use. A warning letter said the routine might violate the 1998 tobacco settlement, which forbids tobacco ads targeting young people.

Attorney General Paul Summers said the singer's representative apologized today and said Wilson would not use the Skoal can in concert again. It was not used at a Cincinnati concert Thursday night, his office said.

here for the rest.

It's possible that the reason I care at all about this is that I worked in Baytown for six years, and, well, redneck chicks have their appeal and all that. Putting aside any subconscious motivations I might have in blogging about the very hot trailer park diva Gretchen Wilson, however, still leaves a pretty weird story about a government official harassing an artist. Wilson, the story says, "has no relationship with" Skoal, and can in no way be understood to be advertising their "dip." How is it possible, then, for Tennessee's AG to imply a threat of legal action against Wilson? It's fairly easy to dismiss this as an example of anti-tobacco hysteria, which, as far as hysteria goes, is not unreasonable given the plant's massive death toll. However, the fact that the government has essentially bullied an artist into doing its bidding on dubious pretenses is quite disturbing.

"Redneck Woman" Gretchen Wilson







Leaderless on the left

From the
London Guardian courtesy of BuzzFlash:

But unlike the Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in his swift boat, Sheehan will not be blown off course quite so easily. The public mood in America is shifting consistently and decisively against the war and Bush's handling of it. Gallup has commissioned eight polls asking whether it was worth going to war since the beginning of the year: every time at least half have said no. For the first time, most people believe the invasion of Iraq has made the US more vulnerable to further attacks. The number of those who want all the troops withdrawn remains a minority at 33% - but that is double what it was two years ago, and still growing.

The reason Sheehan has become such a lightning rod is because that mood has found only inadequate and inconsistent expression in Congress. It has been left to her to articulate an escalating political demand that is in desperate need of political representation. This marks not only a profound dislocation between the political class and political culture but a short circuit in the democratic process. The mainstream has effectively been marginalised.

here for the rest.

I'll tell you why Congress is so out of touch.

From Merriam-Webster Online:

republic : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law

pure democracy : democracy in which the power is exercised directly by the people rather than through representatives

In the United States, we have something of a combination of these two systems of government, a "democratic republic." That is, the US is a republic, but the "body of citizens entitled to vote" is much larger than, say, the citizen elites who voted in the Roman republic or in the Renaissance Netherlands. In other words, the representatives in America are supposed to govern on behalf of average, ordinary citizens, not simply for blocks of societal wealth and power. That's what makes America a "democratic republic." It's kind of like pure democracy, but it's actually a republic. Supposedly.

What has happened is that, by multiple means, including campaign financing, media ownership, lobbying, and plain old bribery, America's wealthy elites have usurped the system, transforming our "democratic republic" into a simple republic. Our Congressional representatives no longer represent average ordinary citizens: they represent the powerful and wealthy, just as in ancient Rome. Obviously, US elites haven't quite yet decided that the Iraq adventure is a huge waste of life and money. Consequently, US policy is to "stay the course."


Thursday, August 25, 2005

My Private Idaho

From the New York Times courtesy of

For political reasons, the president has a history of silence on America's war dead. But he finally mentioned them on Monday because it became politically useful to use them as a rationale for war - now that all the other rationales have gone up in smoke.

"We owe them something," he told veterans in Salt Lake City (even though his administration tried to shortchange the veterans agency by $1.5 billion). "We will finish the task that they gave their lives for."

What twisted logic: with no W.M.D., no link to 9/11 and no democracy, now we have to keep killing people and have our kids killed because so many of our kids have been killed already? Talk about a vicious circle: the killing keeps justifying itself.

here for the rest.

Generally, I detest the way the New York Times' token female pundit stylistically emphasizes her fluffy status as a woman-among-men: that is, she's knows she's a token, and seems to play that role to the hilt. Sometimes, however, among the meaningless critiques of politicians' clothing and hair, she manages to make some good points. In this particular essay, she starts out in typical form, meditating on the President's vacation, but by the column's end she's Lady Macbeth, going for Bush's jugular. I do wish she'd drop the bullshit Melanie Wilkes routine more often because this is a good piece, much more worthy of Scarlet O'Hara. Indeed, I think Dowd has a bit of Molly Ivins deep inside her.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005


From the Houston Chronicle:

Pat Robertson ignites war of words

During Monday's broadcast of Robertson's show, The 700 Club , on the Christian Broadcasting Network, the 75-year-old host painted Chavez as a menace intent on spreading communism throughout the hemisphere.

Rather than waging a war, Robertson said, it would be cheaper and easier to assassinate the Venezuelan leader.

"I don't know about this doctrine of assassination. But if (Chavez) thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said.

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job," he said.

here for the rest.

Communism? Communism?!? Robertson wants us to assassinate a democratically elected leader in order to stop him from spreading communism??? That's almost funny: not even the Red Chinese are communist anymore--indeed, nobody's communist anymore, except for maybe Chavez's buddy Castro, but Cuba is something of a joke as far as global influence is concerned. Forgive me for pounding away at the obvious, but there is simply no such thing as a communist threat in the 21st century.

Robertson's clearly a total loon, but that doesn't make his decree any less serious.

Democracy Now, a whole bunch of context:

The Cannon of Christianity

AMY GOODMAN: I just wanted to end by asking about this comment of the Venezuelan Ambassador to the United States being concerned in if and when Hugo Chavez comes to New York for the United Nations General Assembly meetings in September, as so many heads of state do from around the world, what this means for him. Will Pat Robertson be detained during that time because he presents a danger to a foreign president?

MICHAEL RATNER: You know, this is – you know this is – we should not underestimate the seriousness of what Robertson did. I mean, what we have here is a man with millions of adherents around the world, in this country, possibly in Venezuela and other places. And when that person says it's good to take somebody out, it's good to assassinate him, what is he saying to his adherents except go for this guy? So, when Robertson – when Chavez is in Venezuela, there may be some guys there, when he comes to the U.S., obviously, this is the heart and core of Robertson's support, and is that statement, are his strong statements about what this guy represents going to cause somebody to do something? So, they have cause – they have asked for real protection, if and when Chavez comes here.

CHRIS HEDGES: And I think we have to remember that the radical fringe of this movement is violent, that those who attack abortion clinics, those who embrace this creed and are members of militia movements are people who not only believe in the use of violence but practice the use of violence. So, what you have potentially is the incitement of these fringe groups within the movements who are happy and willing to use force.

here to read, watch, or listen to the rest of the report.

Despite Robertson's obvious insanity, he wields a great deal of influence. His death sentence against Chavez is no joke. But, wait! Robertson claims that he never actually said anything about assassinating Chavez. No, wait, scratch that. Robertson apologizes for his fatwa. I mean...oh, just read this bit from the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Robertson apologizes for assassination remark

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson apologized today for calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, only hours after he denied saying Chavez should be killed.

"Is it right to call for assassination?" Robertson said. "No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him."


Today, he initially denied having called for Chavez to be killed and said The Associated Press had misinterpreted his remarks.

"I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out,'" Robertson said on his show. "'Take him out' could be a number of things including kidnapping."

Click here for the rest.

Well, actually, he did say "assassination," and made it completely clear that he wanted Chavez dead. I guess that's why he finally issued an apology. Ha! Still, despite the great fun it is seeing Robertson humiliate himself, this is no lauging matter.

Robertson is coming at the Venezuela issue from a decidedly fundamentalist point of view, seeing Chavez's leftist populism as an atheist threat to "Christian America," but that view reflects the much more sane, albeit evil, position of the wealthy elite. That is, it's pretty routine for the world financial establishment to punish third world nations that attempt to use what little wealth they have for much needed social reform by pulling out their capital. In other words, all international investment comes with strings attached: third world nations are to be run for the benefit of the global corporate elite alone; citizens be damned.

Oil-rich Venezuela is something of a wild card in this game. They can afford to tell foreign investors to go to hell, and build more schools and hospitals if they are so inclined. That might be okay because it's only one country out of hundreds, except for the fact that they set the wrong example for other third world nations. That's why the elites hate Chavez; that's why the US so quickly supported the failed coup there a couple of years back. That's the real threat, not communism.

Of course, Robertson isn't worried about that so much as he is working his own fundamentalist riff on the Chavez threat. But that doesn't really matter in this era of the pervasive conservative echo chamber: lots of Americans, fundamentalist and secular alike, probably agree with Robertson. And he just gave the true psychos among them the proverbial license to kill.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Two from Brit Reporter Robert Fisk

ZNet, two essays by longtime British Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk.

What Does Democracy Really Mean In The
Middle East? Whatever The West Decides

In the weird, space-ship isolation of Saddam’s old republican palace, the Kurds and the Shia have been tearing Iraq apart, refusing to sign up for a constitution lest it fail to give them the federations - and the oil wealth - they want. They miss their deadline - though I found no one in "real" Baghdad, no one outside the Green Zone bunker, who seemed to care.

And that evening, I turn on my television to hear President Bush praise the "courage" of the constitution negotiators whose deadline Bush himself had promised would be met.

Courage? So it’s courageous, is it, to sit in a time capsule, sealed off from your people by miles of concrete walls, and argue about the future of a nation which is in anarchy. Then Condoleezza Rice steps forward to tell us this is all part of the "road to democracy" in the Middle East.

here for the rest.

Theme Park Death

He grasped my arm and looked into my face. "Mr Robert," he said, "do you realise I was kidnapped?" Every day now, I come across Iraqi acquaintances - or friends who have cousins or fathers or sons - who have been kidnapped. Often they are released. Sometimes they are murdered and I go to their families to express those condolences which are especially painful for me - because I am a Westerner, arriving to say how sorry I am to relatives who blame the West for the anarchy that killed their loved ones. This time my friend survived, just.

Another good friend, a university professor, visits me for coffee the next day. The absence of identities in this report tells you all you need to know about the terror which embraces Baghdad. "I was invigilating the last exams of term in the linguistics department and I saw a mature student cheating. I walked up to him and said I believed he was cribbing. He said he wasn’t. I told him I would take his papers away and he leant towards me and made it clear I would be murdered if I prevented him completing his exams. I went to the head of department. I thought he would discipline this man and take away his papers. But he talked to him and then said that he could continue the exam. My own head of department failed me completely." My professor friend loves English literature, but he has new problems.

here for the rest.

We all know it's bad over there. What we don't know is that it's absolutely awful, far worse than Saddam Hussein's tyranny ever was. In addition to the insurgency, power and food disruptions, and straight-up abuse of civilians by US soldiers, plain old fashioned crime is completely out of control, and Iraqis live in a constant state of terror--there's absolutely nothing the United States can do to make life in Iraq any better, that is, when it's not intentionally making life worse. I've been hearing a lot lately about people wanting to hear Bush's plans for withdrawal. Here's mine: get out right now and beg the UN to take over. Offer them anything they want. Give them complete control. Pay for the whole thing. There's really no other choice. We can't do it by ourselves and we can't do it with help. If Iraq is ever to become a peaceful place in the future, the US simply will not be a part of it.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Corruption in the Republic


Almost four in ten Americans find politics and government "too complicated to understand," and a similar number believed their families "had no say in what federal government does." They're right, of course, but it's nobody's fault but their own.

So who cares if politicians hand out hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare to the boys down at the club while one in five American children lives in poverty? Nobody in America is paying attention anyway, even as the vultures continue to circle overhead. It is a mainstay of our political culture -- and the greatest victory that powerful corporate interests have ever achieved -- that we consider government as something apart from ourselves, and that we are powerless to change it.

And if you think the prescription is to elect more Democrats, as so many progressives do, the last week of business in the House should dissuade you of the perception. Forty-one Democratic members voted for President Bush's energy bill, about which the Washington Post carried the following headlines during the last week of July: "Energy Bill Raises Fears About Pollution, Fraud," "Energy Deal Has Tax Breaks for Companies," "Energy Tax Breaks Total $14.5 Billion" and "Bill Wouldn't Wean U.S. Off Oil Imports, Analysts Say."

here for the rest.

Okay, I agree that the dissolution of American democracy is ultimately the fault of its citizens, but there are mitigating circumstances. That is, the forces of corruption have been trying as hard as they can, marshalling vast resources, in order to lull Americans into their current Wizard of Oz style poppy sleep-trance. The structural model for public schools, originally adopted in order to create a compliant workforce, teaches children to do as they're told and to not question authority. The rise of the mass media has hit the nation with a double whammy of lulling entertainment and brainwashing propaganda known as advertising, both of which condition people to focus on their own personal circumstances without considering the bigger picture. Wealthy elites and massive corporations use always present loopholes to virtually buy politicians, doing an end run around the electorate. And the mainstream news media...well, they lie and distort all the time, and increasingly focus on celebrity scandals and missing white women. It's our fault, yes, but 21st century Americans have to deal with obstacles so sophisticated that they make good old fashioned tyrants look like school yard bullies. It is our fault for allowing this to happen, but how the hell could we have stopped it? How will we end it? Somehow, scolding people for not being more politically involved just doesn't seem to cut it.


Why a booming economy feels flat

From the Christian Science Monitor courtesy of

Despite continued strong economic growth, this expansion is clouded with enough complications and uncertainties that, for many, it doesn't feel like good times.

The reason? A boom in corporate profits has not yet created a job market that makes workers feel secure, economists say. Hiring hasn't skyrocketed. Worse, wages are stagnant. This paycheck squeeze may prove more worrisome than soaring oil prices and concerns over a housing bubble. Some experts worry that wage stagnation may prove more permanent this time, because of an increasingly global market for labor.


Second, wage growth has been lackluster, despite strong gains in worker productivity.

Normally, as employees are able to produce more in each hour of work, the result is greater cash flow that can be divvied up between workers and owners or investors. In the long run, rising productivity means rising wages and living standards.

But in the short run, "most of the gains in the economy have gone into profits rather than wages," says Mr. Behravesh.

here for the rest.

This is bad news for most Americans, but it's good news for most business owners. Why? Stagnant wages mean lower operating costs, which is good for the bottom line, and that's the reason this news is so disturbing. Generally, as the article observes, a higher gross domestic product, that is, more economic activity, translates into higher wages as businesses expand, competing with other businesses to attract more employees, in order to take advantage of good economic times. That's been true enough throughout the 20th century. However, business would greatly prefer to have the best of both worlds, a better economy without having to pay higher wages: it now appears that they've found their holy grail. The weakness of labor as a political force combined with heavy "outsourcing" of both white and blue collar jobs to third world countries has created a situation where business can have its cake and eat it, too. Consequently, the economy has recovered, but only if you're already wealthy. If you're not with the "in crowd," you're still pretty nervous.

The long and short of this is that the conventional wisdom that a rising tide raises all the boats is no longer operative, and it may very well be structural, that is, permanent. Business wants this situation because it's good for business, and has been working diligently for decades to create it. Now that they've got it, they're not likely to give it up easily; with most of Congress in their pockets, it's even less likely. Unfortunately, while good for American business, it's obviously not good for most American citizens, and stands to get worse. As I've said before, what's good for Wall Street is not good for Main Street. The sooner that idea makes it into mainstream discourse, the better.


Sunday, August 21, 2005


From Mother Jones:

Which brings us to the last "phenomenon," the teachings of the bible. This evidence is inherently unscientific in that it has nothing to do with phenomena. There are no data or empirical observations that could in principle come into conflict with the claim of biblical truth.

And this is the scary part of the evolution-creationism debate. It is not about a particular set of ideas, with each one being tested for validity; it is about whether we should discount the scientific method on which modern society rests. It is about whether we should abandon skepticism, use of evidence, and the willingness to modify one's ideas in light of evidence.

It seems that our education system has produced a citizenry that would be as comfortable if their children debated how many angels could dance on the head of pin in science class rather than whether continental drift is a plausible theory.

The foundation of modern civilization in the United States appears to under attack, with a majority out of touch not simply with contemporary science but with the method of knowing that undergirds science.

here for the rest.

I've written numerous times about how the public school system is far less about learning and knowledge than it is about indoctrinating America's children into the elites' preferred culture of obedience and authority, so it's no surprise to me that so many Americans are not hostile to the idea of teaching "intelligent design" in biology classes right alongside the theory of evolution. The bottom line is that a vast segment of the population is educationally ill equipped as far as being able to distinguish fact from opinion--the easily believed lies supporting the US invasion of Iraq are a ready example, but there are about a billion other examples as well.

I remember the times evolution came up as a topic of conversation with my high school students. Generally, the position I advocated was that science is one way of understanding reality, and the Bible is another: without trashing the Bible's validity, I pointed out that, while they don't have to agree with everything they are taught, students do have to understand science, and using religion-based arguments to dismiss evolution in class is entirely missing the point of studying biology. So, too, with the evolution "debate" taking place nationally. Teaching "intelligent design" in a science class goes waaay outside of what science actually is. That is, it blurs the distinction between these two philosophies of reality, religion and science. "Intelligent design" makes much more sense in a general philosophy or comparitive religions class, but absolutely not in a science class; "intelligent design" is just not science, and pretending that it is does a disservice to the entire country and every individual in it. Indeed, it muddies the waters of reality itself, and that's kind of creepy.


Hunter S. Thompson's ashes
shot from cannon in final farewell

From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

As the ashes erupted from a tower, red, white, blue and green fireworks lit up the sky over Thompson's mountain home in Woody Creek near Aspen, Colorado.

The 15-story tower was modeled after Thompson's personal logo: a clenched fist rising from the hilt of a dagger. It was built between his home and a tree-covered canyon wall, not far from a tent filled with merrymakers.

The private celebration included actors Bill Murray and Johnny Depp, rock bands, blow-up dolls and plenty of liquor.

here for the rest.

Sounds like a party the good Doctor would have enjoyed. I'm especially happy to note the use of blow-up dolls, which always make for a memorable celebration. Here's what I wrote about him when he died last February. Here's a link to the first of a six strip Doonesbury series from last March showing how Duke deals with Thompson's death.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.


What They Did Last Fall

From the New York Times courtesy of
Working For Change:

But both reports show that votes were suppressed by long lines at polling places - lines caused by inadequate numbers of voting machines - and that these lines occurred disproportionately in areas likely to vote Democratic. Both reports also point to problems involving voters who were improperly forced to cast provisional votes, many of which were discarded.

The Conyers report goes further, highlighting the blatant partisanship of election officials. In particular, the behavior of Ohio's secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell - who supervised the election while serving as co-chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio - makes Ms. Harris's actions in 2000 seem mild by comparison.

And then there are the election night stories. Warren County locked down its administration building and barred public observers from the vote-counting, citing an F.B.I. warning of a terrorist threat. But the F.B.I. later denied issuing any such warning. Miami County reported that voter turnout was an improbable 98.55 percent of registered voters. And so on.

here for the rest.

Krugman, like many moderates, isn't ready to say that the GOP stole the election in Ohio. Hell, for that matter, I don't really know myself--the only reason I'm willing to take the leap of faith is because I'm certain that they stole Florida in 2000; it's nice to know, at least, that Krugman agrees with me on that one. What Krugman does say about Ohio in '04 is that the Republicans tried as hard as they could to steal it, and that this seems to be business as usual for both parties. It just seems that the Republicans are better at it these days--indeed, it's been quite a while since JFK's father sent Frank Sinatra to the mob bosses in Chicago to rig the voting in Illinois back in 1960; the Dems haven't been quite as competent as that for many years. At any rate, if politics are this dirty, there's now one more reason, in addition to the ever present corrupting influence of corporate cash, among others, to believe that US democracy is a sham.


Saturday, August 20, 2005


From the Houston Chronicle:

Leaders of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps of Texas had earlier said volunteers observing Houston's day laborers in October would carry nothing but video cameras.

But leaders now say those involved in the operations targeting local illegal immigrants will be allowed to carry arms as long as they comply with all federal and state laws.

In fact, those who have a concealed-weapons permit are being offered a discount on joining the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. An Arizona-based organization, the Minutemen started out by patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border in April to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing, but the group has announced it will conduct a variety of operations here this fall.

here for the rest.

This can come to no good end. Illegal immigration is a problem, indeed, and it won't stop being a problem until the government cracks down on the businesses that employ them, thereby ending a primary motivation to cross the border. Funny thing is, the feds purposefully turn a blind eye to the practice of employing illegals because they work for so darned cheap! In other words, Mexicans trying to find a better life in the United States aren't the problem: the problem is oppressive labor practices tacitly approved by our business dominated government. The elites want illegal immigration because it enables business to bypass labor law, keeping illegal workers in near slave-like conditions. Of course, the Minutemen are too fucking stupid to understand all that. In fact, the Minutemen are so fucking stupid that they're racists. So now H-Town has a bunch of stupid fucking racists running around with guns hunting Mexicans who just want jobs.

Man, this country...


Friday, August 19, 2005



In a textbook example of whitewashing, if today's America knows Helen Keller (1880-1968) at all, it's the easy-to-digest image portrayed in the 1962 film, "The Miracle Worker." Brave deaf and blind girl "overcomes" all obstacles to inspire everyone she meets. "The Helen Keller with whom most people are familiar is a stereotypical sexless paragon who was able to overcome deaf-blindness and work tirelessly to promote charities and organizations associated with other blind and deaf-blind individuals," writes Sally Rosenthal in Ragged Edge.

But, in 1909, Helen Keller became a socialist. Soon after, she emerged as a vocal supporter of the working class and traveled the nation to voice her opposition to war. "How can our rulers claim they are fighting to make the world safe for democracy," she asked, "while here in the U.S. Negroes may be massacred and their property burned?"

here for the rest.

I first read about Keller when I was in the third grade, seven or eight years after her death. Her struggle against her disabilities was engaging enough to keep me away from the television and playground while glued to her biography. But I didn't learn about the really fascinating aspects of her life until I read Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States back in the late 90s. It strikes me as amazing that, if Keller is an important enough figure to be a part of every public school history curriculum in the United States, her influential adult career as a left-wing political activist is not mentioned at all!!! It is impossible that such an omission is simply some sort of an oversight; it is too consistent, too across-the-board, too cut-and-dry. There's only one explanation of the historical eradication of Keller's leftism: it is deliberate political censorship, performed by numerous individuals over the years, acting individually. Keller's values would be disruptive to the unjust American social structure, and therefore inappropriate for school.

What might this tell us about how public school handles history in general?



Paz and Frankie



The Wal-Mart Thought Police


As you have probably heard, the "everyday low prices" at these concrete boxes of utopian consumption have tremendous costs for our environment, our workers, our wages, our communities, and the public coffers. But they also come at the expense of free speech and artistic expression, as the corporation targets items that often include progressive criticism of conservative values.

Based in Bentonville, AR, the brand behemoth has become the self-appointed culture police by screening the music, books and magazines that many Americans will be able to access -- in a number of communities, Wal-Mart is the only convenient store in the area stocking culture products.

here for the rest.

This was the issue that first got me hating Wal-Mart back in the mid 90s. Since then, much more has come to light about how and why the vast retail chain sucks the big one, like their crappy pay rates, sexist employment practices, and lack of health insurance for most employees, but the censorship issue coupled with their advancement of conservative philosophy is still what gets under my skin the most. Of course, Wal-Mart is a private entity, and legally is entitled to sell or not sell whatever products it likes, but that doesn't change the fact that their behind-the-scenes manipulation of people's perceptions of reality is a major factor in the so-called "culture wars." As the article observes, the retailer is the biggest CD seller in the world: in many locations, Wal-Mart is the only place to buy books, movies, and music. Because their corporate version of "family values" is often the only version available, their power to affect American understanding of important issues becomes almost as strong as the mass media's, and easily as rightwardly skewed as Fox News.

My, oh my, how Wal-Mart sucks.


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Kissinger Compares Iraq to Vietnam

the Progressive:

It is apparent now to everyone: A majority of the American public sees the Iraq war as a dreadful mistake. Remember the outrage at the suggestion that Iraq might become a quagmire? Yesterday Henry Kissinger drew a parallel between Iraq and Vietnam, acknowledging the public's reluctance to "stay the course" with the President in what looks like a hopeless situation

"If a radical government emerges in Baghdad or if any part of Iraq becomes what Afghanistan used to be, a training ground for terrorists, then this will be a catastrophe for the Islamic world and for Europe, much as they may -- reluctant as they may be to admit it -- and eventually for us," Kissinger told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

here for the rest.

During the waning days of the Johnson administration, Kissinger made sure that the South Vietnamese rejected a peace plan sponsored by the White House that had a good chance of ending the war--indeed, the treaty the Nixon administration finally used to pull out our troops was almost identical to the one Kissinger scuttled. The idea was to make sure that the unpopular war dragged on, increasing Nixon's chances of winning, which he did easily after Johnson dropped out.

During his campaign, Nixon offered voters "peace with honor," which actually meant "victory." In other words, Nixon and Kissinger wanted to fight a war that Johnson's advisors had already decided America couldn't win because they thought were smarter and would succeed where the pansy Democrats failed. Of course, they were wrong, but Kissinger will never admit it. To this day he believes the reason we lost in Vietnam is because the public wouldn't support doing what it would take to win. In other words, he doesn't think we lost; he thinks we quit. Now it sounds like he thinks we're about to quit again. My bet is that his weird strategic brain has developed a special power--Kissinger is psychically sensitive, no doubt, to American disgust with immoral and illegal wars.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Mood music.

From CNN courtesy of

Scientists in Australia's tropical north are collecting blood from crocodiles in the hope of developing a powerful antibiotic for humans, after tests showed that the reptile's immune system kills the HIV virus.

The crocodile's immune system is much more powerful than that of humans, preventing life-threatening infections after savage territorial fights which often leave the animals with gaping wounds and missing limbs.

"They tear limbs off each other and despite the fact that they live in this environment with all these microbes, they heal up very rapidly and normally almost always without infection," said U.S. scientist Mark Merchant, who has been taking crocodile blood samples in the Northern Territory.

here for the rest.

Well, I've heard about possible HIV cures before, and it always comes to nothing. But, then, scientists have been trying to figure out this Gordian Knot of a virus for a couple of decades now, so why not crocodile blood? Here's hoping there's something to it. Not only would a cure save millions of lives worldwide, it would also go a long way toward removing the sex=sin=death moral meme that the religious right has effectively used to virtually destroy the very serious conversation about sexual health this nation was having before AIDS hit the scene.

Of course, a possible downside is that any crocodile blood cure might inadvertantly turn humans into mindless lizard creatures who want to slash us all to death, which is exactly what happened to Peter Parker's professor friend Dr. Connors.

Okay, I'm just kidding. And maybe giving away the plot to the next movie.



Apparently. From
the Daily Kos:

Late Monday night, a man, now confirmed by the media as Larry Northern, age 46, decided to run over the over crosses at Camp Casey that serve as a memorial to the soldiers who have died in the war in Iraq.

According to TexasLady at DemocraticUnderground as well as Ernest Hancock from Air America affilliate KXXT, the man was soon caught and arrested by the Crawford police. Hancock stated on Air America Radio's "Mike Malloy" program, "He had some crosses in the undercarriage of his pickup truck, and he's been arrested".

here for the rest.

If I understand this correctly, this guy is a conservative who disapproves of Cindy Sheehan's anti-war vigil outside Bush's vacation ranch in Texas, and his protest of her protest was to desecrate a row of small monuments to fallen American soldiers. Now, I understand all the nuances at play here, how a war supporter would think that Sheehan is crassly capitalizing on her son's and other soldiers' deaths in order to advance a political position that, from a pro-war point of view, is bogus. I understand how this guy's perspective paints Sheehan's anti-war memorial as nothing but an insult to the soldiers who it ostensibly honors. I get it--after all, I used to be conservative, myself; I think I have some insight. But how could this guy completely miss the fact that the image he sent out to America is of a frothing, war-lusting, lunatic mowing down little crosses for dead American soldiers? Some conservatives really are nuts.

photo courtesy of Democratic Underground


CINDY SHEEHAN: It's about accountablility

Seattle area journalist David Neiwert on Sheehan's mainstream media critics. From

I mean, just how is it that the nation isn't really aware of the contents of the August 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing? How is it that, nearly a year after both the 9/11 Commission Report and the Duelfer Report, most Americans still believe Iraq was connected to 9/11? How did it happen that a guy who certifiably skipped out on his military commitment was able to run a campaign that slandered his war-hero opponent's record? How is it that the Downing Street Memo is still just a rumor for most Americans?

I'll tell you how: Because the traditional media have completely fallen down on the job. The public isn't getting this information because guys like Robert Jamieson and his editors have decided they have, um, "other priorities."

Sure. While the threat of terrorism was building both at home and abroad in the late 1990s, these are the same folks who thought it worth the public's while to devote most of our attention to prurient allegations regarding the president's private life. Some priorities.

The song and dance continues: Michael Jackson. Scott and Laci Peterson. Robert Blake. Terri Schiavo. An endless circus of freak shows, bread and circus for the masses. Let's not be bothered by the inescapable reality that the United States invaded another nation under false pretenses, and almost certainly in violation of international law. Oh, and don't look over there at those photos from Abu Ghraib, either, or the reports out of Gitmo.

here for the rest.

In short, not a single mass media reporter has any right whatsoever to negatively criticize this woman. They bear almost as much responsibility for the quagmire in Iraq as Congress and the White House, perhaps more, because without their enabling propaganda in support of the invasion, the American public probably wouldn't have swallowed all the lies. Indeed, the press' responsibility was to debunk the lies, not spread them. This wasn't a journalistic failure: it was an assault on the nation itself, perhaps on the entire world. These guys are sick in the head.


Examiner testifies detainee's muscles falling apart

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

An Afghan detainee who was beaten in military custody and later died had injuries so bad that the muscles on his legs were falling apart, an Air Force medical examiner testified today in the trial of a soldier accused in the beating.


The defense has said Brand was ill-trained for the situation and was simply following orders. Prosecutors say Brand was never taught or ordered to abuse prisoners.

No officers in charge of training soldiers involved in the abuse cases or those who oversaw operations at Bagram airfield in Afghanistan have been charged.

Click here for the rest.

From Guantanamo to Iraq to Afghanistan, US torture goes all the way around the world, and it's increasingly clear that there are far more than "a few bad apples" involved. If we are to buy the rationale that all these instances are simply the actions of rogue soldiers, what does that say about the military as a whole? Why can't they control their guards, prisons, and holding facilities? Why are torture techniques used in one place so similar to those used elsewhere? Obviously, as I have been saying for months, torture is Pentagon policy, not aberration. When it's already been well established that Bush's former counsel, current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, has written briefs on the subject of avoiding the legal consequences of torture, and that the CIA is flying detainees to other nations for even harsher "interrogation," there can be no doubt that the White House wants to torture US prisoners, and has been lying to the American public about it from the get-go. There's no way to understate this: our country is being run by deeply immoral men.


Monday, August 15, 2005

DeLay won't be indicted

From the Daily Kos:

A source close to the investigataion says it won't happen, and the reason is a technicality. Earle's jursidiction on election law violations extends only to the Travis County borders, and DeLay's home base is outside of Houston. DeLay would have to be investigated and indicted by the Fort Bend County DA. And given that he is a Republican, it ain't gonna happen.

Click here for the rest.

Well, that sucks. It's not surprising, but it sucks. Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee still seems to be deadlocked on dealing with DeLay, so I don't expect much there, either. The good thing is that we can, according to Kos, "expect an avalanche of indictments" of DeLay associates soon. Hopefully, such a stink will turn into enough Democratic votes in Sugarland to unseat the slimy Lizard King in November of '06. Maybe it will even set a fire under the collective GOP rump of the Ethics Committee such that they will feel forced to do something about their dear leader.

Look, I'm trying to be optimistic, okay?


Terror's Greatest Recruitment Tool

The Nation's Naomi Klein on the cyclical pattern of Islamic terrorism's history:

A movement for an Islamic state was transformed into a violent ideology that would lay the intellectual groundwork for Al Qaeda. In other words, so-called Islamist terrorism was "home grown" in the West long before the July 7 attacks--from its inception it was the quintessentially modern progeny of Colorado's casual racism and Cairo's concentration camps.

Why is it worth digging up this history now? Because the twin sparks that ignited Qutb's world-changing rage are currently being doused with gasoline: Arabs and Muslims are being debased in torture chambers around the world and their deaths are being discounted in simultaneous colonial wars, at the same time that graphic digital evidence of these losses and humiliations is available to anyone with a computer. And once again, this lethal cocktail of racism and torture is burning through the veins of angry young men. As Qutb's past and Osman's present reveal, it's not our tolerance for multiculturalism that fuels terrorism; it's our tolerance for the barbarism committed in our name.

Click here for the rest.

I didn't realize that the intellectual father of radical Islam had briefly lived in the United States and was heavily influenced by its racism and cavalier attitudes about the oppression of the Palestinians: amazingly, the same forces that helped birth what right-wingers call "Islamofascism" are still helping to inspire Muslims to become "Islamofascists" today, only on a much grander scale. If the injustice of torture and oppression are not persuasive enough to make Americans insist that US policy in the Middle East is wrongheaded, then perhaps the simple argument that such policy is counterproductive might do the trick. If only mainstream discourse on the issue didn't marginalize that thought.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Being a Protestant Fundamentalist


When I hear Jim Wallis (God's Peoples) call himself an evangelical, I have to laugh. I know what he means: Christianity inherently is evangelical, but he is no fundamentalist. Wallis tries to convince his ignorant, liberal, secular audience that his kind of "evangelism" can challenge the "bad" kind. Not a chance. I wish it were so. I tried to make the transfer when I was nineteen years old. I fell in love with a fellow Oklahoman my age who was an atheist. Fortunately, for me, he did everything he could to free me of my fundamentalism, which took about six months. It was like what I have read about cult de-programming. He had read the Bible (he was raised Christian in a liberal family) and could argue me down mostly using arguments from science, particularly evolution and astronomy. Scientific knowledge became more majestic to me than the Book of Revelation and the Rapture. It is no wonder that fundamentalists insist on getting evolution out of the schools. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported that forty percent of biology teachers in the public schools avoid teaching evolution, not all because of their beliefs, rather to avoid harassment from fundamentalist groups and parents.

here for the rest.

Great essay. Check it out.

It took me, personally, years of associating with outspoken atheists and free-thinkers for me to get over my own Christian fundamentalism. When I finally decided that I was no longer a Christian, I realized that it had really all been about my identity from the get-go, instead of actual belief: I had my feet in two worlds, the rational, fact-based world, and the mytho-psychotic fundamentalist world. Fortunately, good friends made me see that, and the hardest part of my "coming out" was declaring that I was no longer part of a group of people for whom I had genuine affection. Fundamentalism is one tough nut to crack, and I really do get the feeling that most liberals just don't understand it. They try to use reason, but showing fundamentalists the error of their ways will never be accomplished through public discourse. It's got to be face to face. If we ever want to get anywhere with fundamentalists, we're going to have to be friends with them. Scary, huh?



From the LA Times courtesy of
Crooks and Liars:

For example, a survey conducted for the American Tort Reform Assn. in 2003 found that by a ratio of 2 to 1, respondents believed that lawsuits were harming the economy and stifling job creation. In a survey released in June by Common Good, a conservative legal reform group, 83% of respondents said it was too easy to file invalid lawsuits, and 55% agreed with the statement that "many people use the justice system almost like a lottery — they start lawsuits to see if they can win millions."

Such fears, fanned by anecdotes like the Grazinski tale, have no empirical basis, said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a consumer group that opposes the agenda of the business groups. "The data tends not to support the allegation that there is an out-of-control crisis with the legal system," she said.

She and others point to surveys by the National Center for State Courts and the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics showing an apparent decline in personal injury suits and in the size of jury awards to successful plaintiffs.

But, hey, what about that McDonald's hot coffee case? Wasn't that clearly an example of a judicial system gone mad?

According to popular accounts of the lawsuit, Liebeck coaxed nearly $3 million from an Albuquerque jury in 1994 after being scalded by McDonald's coffee she spilled on herself while riding in a car. These are the story's best-known elements, but filling in the missing facts puts the case in a different light.

Trial testimony showed that at 180 to 190 degrees, McDonald's coffee was much hotter than that served by other restaurants or by people in their homes. The fast-food chain had received at least 700 complaints about hot coffee in the previous decade and had paid more than half a million dollars in settlements, according to trial testimony cited by the Wall Street Journal.

Liebeck's injuries were hardly minor. She suffered third-degree burns on her thighs and groin area, was hospitalized for a week and had to undergo painful skin grafts. Before filing a lawsuit, she wrote McDonald's requesting that it lower the temperature of its coffee and cover her uninsured medical bills and incidental costs of about $20,000. McDonald's offered $800.

here for the rest.

Becky and I saw Ralph Nader speak at the University of Houston back in 2000. When he started talking about "tort reform" and how it's based on bogus "evidence," he deftly demonstrated his point. He asked the audience, easily over 1,000 people which is enough for a statistical sample, to raise their hands if they had ever been sued or had sued somebody else. Surprisingly, absolutely no one raised a hand. Nader went on to observe that the "rash" of frivolous lawsuits we constantly hear about in the mainstream media is a complete fabrication. What it's really all about, he told us, is business trying to abolish citizens' only way to redress grievances against the powerful. At that point, my mind flashed back to a billboard I had seen many times on the way to Austin on F.M. 2920 near Tomball advertising what appeared to be a grassroots organization called "Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse." When we got home, I looked the group up and found out that it was actually an organization of businesses, not citizens. Of course, there will always be anecdotal evidence of weird lawsuits, but a few random cases here and there in no way amount to an epidemic. The statistical data clearly show that there is no rash of frivolous lawsuits: "tort reform" is about screwing over average ordinary people, and that's a fact.



I don't get the Fox News channel anymore since I downgraded my cable to "limited basic." But the always video-fabulous Crooks and Liars feeds me the most outrageous bits, so I'm still able to get a buzz from my O'Reilly outrage whenever I want. Indeed, it was an O'Reilly sub, John Gibson, who recently went past outrage into far flung absurdity.

It was a Cindy Sheehan hatchet job. You know, the media darling mother of an American soldier, who died during the invasion of Iraq, who is currently holding an anti-war vigil outside the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Since it has become obvious that the press is taking her seriously, the right wing has gone into overdrive in their frenzy to discredit her. Gibson's approach was to tie her to as many hot-button liberal words and names as he could, you know, the standard right wing traitor list: the Communist Party, MoveOn, Michael Moore, George Soros, Bill Clinton, rock throwing anarchists from the 1998 WTO protests in Seattle (accompanied by footage of black-masked weirdos running around the streets menacingly), that sort of thing. Gibson's guest consultant flatly stated that her supporters "want socialism," and believe that her image is much more appealing than that of an "eighth year Ph.D student in a nose ring and ponytail," because they don't want to show their "real face."

It was textbook right-wing propaganda, using buzz words and images that have worked for them in the past. The only weakness is that it was so over the top, but I'm sure that Fox's regular devotees didn't notice. In fact, I'm pretty sure that this segment was aimed at the faithful, lest the media deluge of stories about a grieving mother should make them faint of heart. At any rate, it's quite amusing. Check it out.


21 Administration Officials Involved In Plame Leak

Think Progress courtesy of Eschaton:

The cast of administration characters with known connections to the outing of an undercover CIA agent:

Karl Rove
I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby
Condoleezza Rice
Stephen Hadley
Andrew Card
Alberto Gonzales
Mary Matalin
Ari Fleischer
Susan Ralston
Israel Hernandez John Hannah
Scott McClellan
Dan Bartlett
Claire Buchan
Catherine Martin
Colin Powell
Karen Hughes
Adam Levine
Bob Joseph
Vice President Dick Cheney
President George W. Bush

Then it goes on to give quick factoids on each of the individuals involved, detailing exactly what their connections to the scandal are. Click
here for the rest.

By no means are all of these individuals guilty of leaking Plame's name. However, Rove and Libby had to get their information from somewhere, and if the leak was a planned event, there's quite a good chance that they weren't the only ones involved--this is probably a good pool of both potential conspirators and well-meaning dupes. What's fascinating is that this article does a good job of showing just how wide-ranging Fitzgerald's investigation has become, going much further than anybody could have possibly predicted two years ago. As I've said before, this investigation seems to have the potential to blow the whole lid off of not only the Bush administration's smear operations, but also the seemingly unstoppable lie machine that got us into the illegal and unwinnable quagmire in Iraq. I don't expect this to happen, but I am keeping my fingers crossed.