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November 08, 2003
It's a little after nine, EST, as I'm writing this, and for the dozen or so of you who are going to see this in time, if you go outside right now, there's still time to catch some of the eclipse. It's very cool. Go.
November 07, 2003
Signs of the times
Conservatives like to say that there is no real stifling of dissent in this country, and anyone who says otherwise is just being a Chicken Little.
Sgt. Robert Ferriol would probably disagree:
I honorably served my country for eight years in the United States Marine Corps; providing honest intelligence analysis and collecting countless awards and promotions throughout my career. I was also a leader and mentor to scores of young men and women. In those eight years, I sacrificed more of myself for this country than most men and women ever will in their lifetime. But, thanks to the zeal and quick judgment of this individual, I am no longer serving our beloved country. His forecast was correct. Following his letter to DoD, I was brought up on charges of "Disloyal Statements" under Article 134 of the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). Not because anything I wrote was disloyal, but because of my political views and how they differ from Mr. Simpson and others like him. The unfortunate aspect of this is not my demise, but their inability to understand or accept the opinions of others as different from their own. Nonetheless, I was forced to retain an attorney and undergo weeks of scrutiny before being cleared of the charges. I was, however, never allowed to work in Intelligence again; forced to separate the Marine Corps over threats that I would not be allowed to reenlist. Never mind the fact that there is not one single negative mark on my entire eight years of service (the letter incident was considered "hush-hush" so not even that made it on my record), or the fact that every one of my superiors stood up for me during this time, praising my abilities and loyalty to this country. None of that mattered; only my "liberal beliefs."
As they say, read the whole thing.
November 06, 2003
Lessons of history
Eight years ago, the Smithsonian's plans for an Enola Gay exhibit were denounced by conservatives for insufficient patriotic correctness. Those plans were scrapped, and instead the plane which dropped the first atomic bomb was displayed with a lot of information about the restoration of old planes. There's a new exhibit in the works now, and it looks like the Smithsonian learned its lesson well.
In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight, in December the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) will open its new facility, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles International Airport. Over 200 aircraft and 135 space artifacts will be displayed. The centerpiece of the new exhibit will be the Enola Gay -- the B-29 super-fortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Fully restored, the Enola Gay will be displayed as a "magnificent technological achievement." Some scholars contend that, given its role in the 6 August 1945 attack, the B-29 has gained notoriety and has a symbolic meaning that extends beyond its significance as an example of the technological advances in aviation in the 1940s.
To say the least.
Action alert part two
A NewsMax Rush Limbaugh poll. I think you know what to do.
Hesiod suggests we flood the zone at 2 pm EST today.
A gentle reminder
Not to flog this to death, but if you want to order one of the signed books (details above), you'd be smart to do it sooner rather than later. Getting the books in from the warehouse, signed, and out the door is going to take time to coordinate. Stragglers are unlikely to receive their copies in time for the holidays.
This country puts up with a lot of crap from the South. I say this with affection, because I live in the South, but seriously. You don't get lectures like this from California, about how not everyone really, literally, is a dot com millionaire or a surf bum. You don't hear Olympia Snowe on TV saying that Republicans just don't get Maine and that if the party wants to win in 2004 they can't get thay-ah from hee-yah. It would be considered rather parochial, if anyone else did it, but we're expected to put up with it from the South because, well, I guess we're just used to it by now. But if Zell Miller actual wants the country to not treat the South like some weird backwater, if this is actually meant to be taken in some way seriously, and isn't just xenophobic pandering to his toothless constiuency, he might help the situation by refraining from making outbursts like this in response someone from another part of the country implying they might want to get votes from the people you represent for the party you represent. He's a little defensive about the racist connotations of the confederate flag, and that's understandable. But you've got to control yourself. Miller couldn't have presented a more embarrassing and retrograde view of the South if he'd showed up wearing Uncle Jesse's filthy overalls and blowing "Dixie Land" on a jug of moonshine.
On the lighter side, sort of
Seriously, you really want to follow that last link.
(Obligatory note for the trolls: this post does not constitute an endorsement of Gen. Clark.)
On a related note: Ginger's CIA adventure.
The cost of war
From Time magazine:
For several seconds after the rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) drilled through the back of their armored M113 "battle taxi," the soldiers inside, mainlining adrenaline, continued firing. Then they started screaming. "It blew my leg clean off," says Private First Class Tristan Wyatt, who was standing at the rear of the armored personnel carrier (APC), unloading an M-240 machine gun at a dozen or more Iraqis who had ambushed them minutes before. He was the first to be hit. The RPG then passed through Sergeant Erick Castro's hip, spinning him violently to the floor. His left leg was still attached — but barely. "I picked up my leg and put it on the bench," he says, "and lay down next to it." Finally, the RPG shredded Sergeant Mike Meinen's right leg. "It was pretty much torn off," he says. "There was just some meat and tendons holding it on."
To my mind, the most poignant and heartbreaking part of the story comes near the end:
The three wounded soldiers are united not only in their good humor but also their unequivocal support for the war. Wyatt doesn't much care for those who think Bush fudged the intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. "That makes you feel like you fought for nothing or you fought for a liar," he says. "They're telling me I went out there and I got my leg blown off for a liar, and I know that's just not true."
It's good news Thursday
The EPA is dropping investigations into 50 power plants for past violations of the Clean Air Act, at the recommendation of Dick "Evil Personified" Cheney. Meanwhile, Jerry Falwell and Lou Sheldon win an incremental battle in their war on women's rights. And it's possible that these men and women could still be alive today (though Josh Marshall wants to know who's spinning who on that one.)
It would be soul-crushingly depressing, if I weren't such a sunny and optimistic person.
Those Diebold memos
They're floating around the internet, and Diebold doesn't like it one bit. Perhaps they are champions of intellectual property rights, simply doing their best to defend their copyright--or perhaps they don't want voters to see that democracy is being entrusted to a people who say things like this:
* I need some answers! Our department is being audited by the County. I have been waiting for someone to give me an explanation as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16022 [votes] when it was uploaded. Will someone please explain this so that I have the information to give the auditor instead of standing here "looking dumb"
It is a disgusting possibility that members of the Senate would actually try to politicize intelligence, especially at a time of war, even apparently reaching conclusions before investigations have been performed ...
Do as they say, not as they do
Turns out that some of the staunchest defenders of the Bush administration's "everything's going great" propaganda are, well, afraid to visit the place.
The Defense Department invited 21 people to travel to Iraq from November 2 to 7 and told us that they would limit the delegation to 17. Of the original 21 invitees, only three of us accepted. Those who turned down the invitation included Fred Barnes, Jackson Diehl, William Safire and George Will. After they extended more invitations, eventually 10 people accepted.
Via Kos (to whom, incidentally, heartfelt congratulations on the new arrival are due).
November 05, 2003
Your government at work
From the NY Times:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 — The Senate gave its final approval on Monday to President Bush's request for $87.5 billion to occupy and rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, completing Congressional action on the largest emergency spending bill ever sought by a president.
This way, Republicans can deny supporting the bill if public opinion really turns sour--but Democrats (with the commendable exception of Byrd) can deny opposing it, in the unlikely event that everything goes swimmingly. I guess the only real surprise here is that they don't use this dodge more often.
And it wasn't Democratic critics who forced a Republican-run Senate to cast an unrecorded vote on the occupation. It was Republicans, who voted for the funding but who lack all confidence in the president's chosen course.
Be that as it may, I would have liked to have seen a few more Democrats following Byrd's example...
November 04, 2003
Signed books, continued
Okay, that didn't take long--a lot of you are interested in this, so I'm going to go ahead and start taking orders. Details are here.
I'm only able to do this because my publisher is helping out--I'll be going into the city once a week for the next month or so to sign the books, but they'll be physically ordering them from the warehouse and mailing them out. As a result, if you want to be sure to get your book or books in time for Christmas, you must get your order in by Dec. 12, and honestly, I wouldn't even recommend waiting that long. (Same deal for signed prints--if you want to be sure to get them in time for Christmas, order early.)
I think I feel a draft coming on
During the buildup to war, I got quite a bit of email from self-described young conservatives, telling me how wrong I was about the whole thing. I wonder what tune they will be singing when the ongoing quagmire and the need for young bodies necessitates the return of conscription, and deferments are not quite as easy to come by as they used to be.
The community draft boards that became notorious for sending reluctant young men off to Vietnam have languished since the early 1970s, their membership ebbing and their purpose all but lost when the draft was ended. But a few weeks ago, on an obscure federal Web site devoted to the war on terrorism, the Bush administration quietly began a public campaign to bring the draft boards back to life.
Since I didn't get much of a book tour this time out, I've been trying to figure out a way I can make at least a few more signed books available to those of you who care about that sort of thing. The sticking point, as always, is time--I just don't have a lot of it to spare these days. But with a little help from my friends, I may be able to offer signed books for awhile over the holiday season. This will be a Paypal-only deal--I won't be set up to handle money orders, checks, etc. I'll post more details as soon as I have them.
Update: to make this work, we'd probably need to charge $25 postpaid. That's for a personalized copy of the book, inscribed however you want, and probably with a small drawing of a penguin as well. Before I go to the trouble of setting this up, though, I want to get a quick head count (which is why I'm bumping this post to the top of the page)--how many people would even be interested in this? Email me and let me know: tomtomorrow-at-ix-dot-netcom-dot-com.
I'll be returning to my old stomping grounds the weekend of Nov. 14. The Cartoon Art Museum will sponsor an event that Friday evening, the usual multimedia dog-and-pony-with-booksigning-after sort of thing (reservations are recommended), and then on Saturday evening I'll be at Modern Times bookstore in the Mission. There's a couple radio things in there as well, including Sedge Thomson's West Coast Live (though sadly KQED's Forum show had no room for me, because lord knows, radio booking schedules are set in stone, except, um, when they're not).
The trip is co-sponsored by Salon.com and St. Martin's (and big thanks to all involved, especially Max at Salon who's been working on this for a couple of months now).
November 03, 2003
When a news organization corrects an error--or when the White House tries to rewrite history?
I don't know if the writer has a point vis-a-vis the specific CPI report he's critiquing, but I do have a problem with this bit:
If the corruption argument is true, then the size of campaign contributions should be strongly and positively correlated with the size of government contracts.
Well, yes--if the size of the campaign contribution were the only factor, if longstanding personal ties and even personal gain were not also potentially involved.
Which they are, as any politically aware adult American should reasonably be expected to understand. Rumsfeld goes way back with Bechtel, and Cheney is still receiving "deferred compensation" from Halliburton. And those companies are the top two on the reconstruction contract list.
But hell. I'm just a simple uneducated cartoonist.
I haven't seen CBS's Reagan movie, of course, but neither have any of the conservatives who are so up in arms about it. Conservatives usually view anything less than utter obsequiousness as evidence of media bias, and I suspect that's what's going on here. At any rate, John Dingell also hopes that the movie will be "fair and balanced."
"As someone who served with President Reagan, and in the interest of historical accuracy, please allow me to share with you some of my recollections of the Reagan years that I hope will make it into the final cut of the mini-series: $640 Pentagon toilets seats; ketchup as a vegetable; union busting; firing striking air traffic controllers; Iran-Contra; selling arms to terrorist nations; trading arms for hostages; retreating from terrorists in Beirut; lying to Congress; financing an illegal war in Nicaragua; visiting Bitburg cemetery; a cozy relationship with Saddam Hussein; shredding documents; Ed Meese; Fawn Hall; Oliver North; James Watt; apartheid apologia; the savings and loan scandal; voodoo economics; record budget deficits; double digit unemployment; farm bankruptcies; trade deficits; astrologers in the White House; Star Wars; and influence peddling."
Try to keep some of that in mind when the old man finally shuffles off this mortal coil and we are innundated with gauzy remembrances--especially those of you who are too young to remember those miserable years firsthand.
Ghosts and goblins and voting machines
By the way, if you’re under the impression that the cartoon exaggerates the dangers of touch screen voting in any way, if you think I'm veering into tinfoil hat territory, you need to read this right away. (Update: working link.)
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