Texas police handcuffed and jailed a 97-year-old woman with an unpaid traffic ticket. The mother of a judge and a former schoolteacher somehow managed to avoid a beating.
Her other son, a doctor, told AP: "Our real beef with this is that no real judgment was displayed or actually carried out in this incident."
For us Yankees, it looks like plain ol' Texas justice, intelligence and compassion.
IS AL-QAEDA PRO CHOICE?
That's the logical leap Bush adviser Karen Hughes seems to make in this "Daily Show" segment, thankfully buffered by John Stewart's satire.
DIGITAL DAILY AFFIRMATIONS
"I Believe In You," an online art exhibit by a British artist, expands on the idea of "Daily Affirmations With Stuart Smalley" by allowing users to send themselves positive text messages throughout the day.
Currently, there's no option for, "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me."
GEEK OR FREAK?
This great little quiz, Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer? is brought to you by Malevole.com.
Don't worry. Bill Gates's secret is safe here.
OUR SAUDI BUDDIES
Two stories today struck a disconcerting chord in highlighting some of the trouble with Bush's allegiance to Saudi Arabia.
The first highlights the incestuous relationship between the Bush family and Saudi royalty. The Associated Press story says:
[Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan] has been a guest at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas. Last year, he presented the first family with a C.M. Russell painting, a gift worth $1 million that will be stored in the National Archives, along with other presents from well-wishers destined for a Bush presidential library.
Bush called on his father in April 2002 to smooth over rockiness in U.S.-Saudi relations after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which were carried out by 19 terrorists — 15 of them Saudis. After meeting in Texas with the president, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah took a nearly two-hour private train ride with the elder Bush and got a private tour of the Bush presidential library.
Next, a New York Times story describes the rise of anti-American fervor and recaps an increasingly ideological nation.
Saudi Arabia has a troubled history with preaching jihad, which was officially sanctioned against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980's. The ruling Saud family thought it could rid itself of the radical fringe, but instead their sponsorship now haunts them. Afghanistan became the training camp for elements now trying to overthrow them. ...
"Oh God, avenge America, oh God, avenge its allies," the prayer leader at Prince Sultan bin Abdel Aziz mosque in a northern Riyadh neighborhood said last Friday. "Oh God, order your soldiers to show them torture, oh God divide them, oh God avenge them for what they are corrupting in Iraq." ...
"Young people are wearing T-shirts with bin Laden's picture on them just the way people used to wear pictures of Che Guevara," said Tufful al-Oqbi, a student at King Saud University. "It's simply because he is the only one resisting. Even if we reject his methods, it's because there is no other way, because this is the only way."
There are no easy answers, only more quagmire.
Most news outlets, such as The Associated Press and the BBC, are reporting that the Pentagon throwing a hissy fit over publication of photos of flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq at Dover Air Force Base.
The real outrage here is how the government is getting away with censoring the media, and how the media plays along. We would have never seen these images if not for The Memory Hole (whose servers appears to be overloaded at the moment).
Fox News Channel -- an oxymoron, if I ever heard one -- was easily the guiltiest party.
The New York Times writes:
Among the national television news organizations, only the Fox News Channel had no plans to use any of the photos or explore the issue of why they had been barred from use in the news media, a channel spokesman said.
Do we live in the U.S. or North Korea?
THE CHICKEN LISTENS
When you type a command into the space provided, the Subservient Chicken follows your every command, whether it's "moonwalk" or "throw stuff."
Thanks to Burger King for funding this oddity, and to Michelle H. for pointing it out.
Kwame Jackson, runner-up of TV's reality business show "The Apprentice," comes up with what could very likely be the quote of the week, as he answers a question of whether fellow contestant and teammate Omorosa Manigault-Stallworth lied to him.
He tells AP: "There's no 'think' about it. It's 100 percent on the tape. There's no need to think about it. It's like watching Rodney King get beat: How did the bruise happen?"
Um, he fell?
A SAUDI AFFAIR
Bob Woodward, haking his new book, "Plan of Attack," told "60 Minutes" on Sunday that Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan, struck a deal with Resident Bush to reduce oil prices in anticipation of the presidential election in November.
"Certainly over the summer or as we get closer to the election they could increase production several million barrels a day and the price would drop significantly," Woodward said.
Of course, Saudi Arabia's top foreign policy adviser denies this in an Associated Press story.
No word on whether the official quoted is a personal friend of the former President Bush and his family, but keep in mind the denial comes from a nation that brought you 15 of the 19 hijackers who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
POTTERY BARN PEEVED
Apparently, Pottery Barn didn't take kindly to Bob Woodward coining a rule after the housewares retail giant in his new book, "Plan of Attack."
Woodward quotes Secretary of State Colin Powell warning the Bush administration against rushing into war with Iraq: "You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations and problems. You'll own it all." In his book, Woodward continues, "Privately, Powell and [Deputy Secretary of State Richard] Armitage called this the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it."
The retailer's spokesperson "complained bitterly" to the New York Daily News's Lloyd Grove:
"This is certainly not our policy in any of our 174 Pottery Barn retail outlets in North America. In fact, there is no policy regarding this whatsoever. ... If someone breaks a wine glass, for instance, our managers just mark it down as 'out of stock.' The customer isn't asked to pay for it."
The spokesperson probably never heard of the idea that there's no such thing as bad publicity. It might've been just as easy to give Powell a complimentary shopping spree, or publicize a gift of wine glass for him to break at will and free of charge.
SEE NO EVIL
The ever-complacent media does Bush's handiwork by adhering the so-called ban on photographing the return of dead soldiers at Dover Air Force Base. Although administrations shift their "strategery" in providing reasons for the PRIOR RESTRAINT OF THE PRESS, it remains politically expedient to hide from view news that does not paint leaders in flattering light.
Bush lies, they die.
The BBC and the Guardian would probably challenge the ban on constitutional grounds, except they could conceivably be labeled enemy combatants.
DOES BUSH MAKE MISTAKES?
Reaching a new level of "moronity," Bush stammers and makes a weak attempt at a joke when asked what he sees as his biggest mistake.
In its new TV ad, the Democratic National Committee provides a few suggestions: "Bring 'em on."
'THE WAR PRESIDENT'
MichaelMoore.com displays a sobering portrait of Bush comprised of portraits of soldiers killed in Iraq.
How many is too many?
Our troops home now.
ASK AUNTIE PINKO
Dumbya would do well to write in to Ask Auntie Pinko, a feature at Democratic Underground. But now that I look closely, he may actually be writing in under the pseudonym of "Connie R."
Michael Tomasky at the American Prospect takes on Bush's attempt at spin on the Iraq situation.
For a group of people who have spent a lot of time over the last 25 years or so lecturing the rest of us about "personal responsibility," Republicans sure don't seem to have any passion for displaying any of their own.
It's incredible that President Bush could go before reporters -- as he just did-- and assert that the August 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing said "nothing about an attack on America." In the narrowest possible sense, arguably true; the briefing said nothing about a specific attack on a specific place on a specific date. But it clearly said quite a lot about the potential for future attacks, and Bush danced around this (which is a distinct advantage of taking about four questions).
The fact that he tried not to answer questions wasn't so remarkable; all politicians try not to answer questions. But what was disturbing was his manner. We saw the usual mental confusion and frighteningly long pauses as his mind scoured its grim landscape for an appropriate word. But the main thing we saw was an appalling nonchalance about the most tragic day in the history of this country. We didn't have information, Bush said; it was all about vague intentions, and we couldn't act on intentions.
Ponder, by the way, the audacity of that: We were pushed into war over Saddam Hussein's supposed intentions, at least as they were described to us by the administration. Those intentions, which weren't even true, were worth 600-plus American lives. Osama bin Laden's intentions, which were quite real, were vague, ignorable, and not worth the attention of serious people.
HACK THE VOTE
Wired magazine tracks some of the work of Bev Harris, a voting activist who has been sounding the alarm about the vulnerability of electronic voting systems and the astounding lack of attention paid to safeguards of Democracy's foundation.
The piece details some of the ex-felons, hackers, embezzlers and Republicans connected to the firms that will run voting machines in almost every state this coming election. It also includes this doozy:
Harris documented 56 cases in which software flaws were implicated in miscounts and wrote an account of them (PDF) on her website. "I didn't finish (finding cases)," she said. "I just got tired of writing." ...
The most famous example of election flipping occurred in the hotly contested 2000 presidential election in Florida when the tabulation system for Diebold's optical-scan system subtracted votes from Al Gore's total. While hanging chads distracted the nation, a few people noticed that in a Volusia County precinct where only 412 people voted, a Diebold system actually deleted votes for Gore, giving him minus 16,022 votes. Bush received 2,813 votes. Some news media had already called the win (PDF, see page 20) for Bush when someone noticed the numbers.
Need more evidence? Check out Harris's site, Black Box Voting: Ballot - Tampering in the 21st Century.
LIFE ON THE RANCH
Amid a struggling economy and near-record unemployment rates, one of the deadlies weeks for U.S. troops in Iraq and crucial Sept. 11 commission testimony, Bush's tendency to go on vacation appears, at best, to be startling, and at worst, a slap in the face at actually leading -- what he claims to do so well.
None of this does anything to dispel the notion he's out to lunch.
In a story titled "Powell Calls U.S. Casualties 'Disquieting'," the Washington Post buries this tidbit:
This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency.
If he loves that ranch so much, perhaps he should just stay there come November.
BUSH: GONE FISHIN'
Astoundingly, "Resident" Bush found time to go bass fishing with a camera crew for the Outdoor Life Network.
Never mind that this week alone the Sept. 11 commission heard some of its most crucial testimony from Condi Rice, some 50 U.S. soldiers in Iraq have been killed, another American was captured and threatened with mutilation, three Japanese nationals were kidnapped and the military's prediction that it would find Osama bin Laden within the next year.
The producer of the TV show, writes the Associated Press, said he believed that events in Iraq had forced Bush to cancel the Saturday shoot. "He alluded to it. He said, 'I've been busy, all these crises,'" Martin recalled.
Still, Bush apparently went bicycling on Saturday.
New York Times columnist Bob Herbert nails it when he writes about Bush's out-to-lunch attitude on the entire Sept. 11 commission and his role in Washington, D.C.
Herbert writes: Condi Rice was in Washington trying to pass her oral exam before the 9/11 commission yesterday, and the president was on vacation in Texas. As usual, they were in close agreement, this time on the fact that neither they nor anyone else in this remarkably aloof and arrogant administration is responsible for the tragic mess unfolding in Iraq, and its implications for the worldwide war on terror.
The president called Ms. Rice from his pickup truck on the ranch to tell her she had done a great job before the panel.
It doesn't get more surreal than that.
Mr. President, there's a war on. You might consider hopping a plane to Washington.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, likewise, is AWOL on the issue.
THE LADY IS A CHUMP
Driving into Manhattan this morning, I was shocked to see the cover of the New York Post sporting a photo of CondoSLEAZa Rice and a headline that blared, "THE LADY IS A CHAMP."
The tabloid writes that Rice "generally won praise from a politically mixed Post panel of six New Yorkers," then manages to quote just one "independent" who said, "I think she did very well."
Pushed toward the bottom of the story are the following paragraphs, likely from its sourced wire services:
Former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey, a commission member, slammed Rice for her statement that Bush was waiting to strike bin Laden because he was tired of "swatting at flies" and wanted a more comprehensive approach.
"We only swatted a fly once, on the 20th of August 1998. We didn't swat any flies afterwards. How the hell could he be tired?" said Kerrey, referring to the missile strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan ordered by Clinton in 1998.
Rice responded, "It was simply a figure of speech."
Perhaps it's similar to the way the Aug. 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing titled "'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" was only a figure of speech.
SCALIA & FREE SPEECH
Extreme right-wing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had his henchmen force reporters to erase recordings of a speech he gave at a Mississippi high school.
The Associated Press writes:
Scalia, who was appointed to the bench by President Reagan in 1986, told students that the Constitution's true meaning must always be protected.
"The Constitution of the United States is extraordinary and amazing. People just don't revere it like they used to," Scalia told a full auditorium of high school students, officials, and religious leaders.
He said he spends most of his time thinking about the Constitution, calling it "a brilliant piece of work."
Amazingly, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was nimbly able to dodge most of the questions lobbed her way in front of the Sept. 11 commission. Rice hedges on so many of her responses with phrases like "I don't remember" or "don't recall" that amounts to little more than flying under the perjury radar.
The New York Times writes:
She added that the administration was aware that there were issues inside the United States, "but I don't remember the Al Qaeda cells as being something that we were told we needed to do something about."
Mr. Ben-Veniste persisted, asking, "Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice" that the presidential daily briefing on Aug. 6 "warned against possible attacks in this country?"
He ended the question by asking her to give the name of the memo, to which she replied: "I believe the title was `Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.' "
Ms. Rice insisted, however, that the memo did not warn of attacks inside America. "It was historical information based on old reporting," she said. "There was no new threat information, and it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States."
Thanks to Josh K. for pointing out this story and quote, as well as for asking: "How can you say that a memo with a title like that is historical information?"
But what happens next? My guess is that the GOP will stonewall anything from changing in order to secure Dumbya's re-election, they'll blame everyone else -- Clarke, Clinton, Gore, Hillary, Nader, Spongebob and Patrick -- and repeat their lies so often and so loudly that the complacent media will simply replay them endlessly that by the time any measure of truth emerges, it will sound like the crazy notion that Saddam Hussein didn't have anything to do with Sept. 11, 2001.
THE GAY 'DISEASE'
Spanish-language TV network Univision, known for its marathon variety shows and scantily-clad onscreen hosts, recently aired a program in which homosexuality was discussed as a "disease" and the result of molestation.
Quotes from the program include such winners as, "Would it be that all [homosexuals] have been abused, hence their sexual preference?" Someone also said, "Let's stop our relatives from touching/abusing our own children so they do not end up like this."
Gay-rights group GLAAD, of course, takes offense to all of this. Univision has yet to respond to them.
No one mentions the prominence of Liberace-styled astrologist Walter Mercado, who is known for his lavish robes, gaudy jewelry and beehive/pompadour hair do.
BUSH VS. BUSH
It's always seemed like a joke when Dumbya goes on campaign events that make it appear he cares about factory workers, elderly people or minority schoolchildren -- as if any of them could ever see the inside of his many $1,000-a-plate fundraising dinners.
But finally, the House Appropriations Committee has produced this informative chart comparing Bush's lies to reality.
Isn't this what news organizations are supposed to do?
[Thanks to Andy H. for pointing out this link!]
'HELLBOY' VS. 'PASSION'
Just weeks after Mel Gibson's Christian gorefest, "The Passion of the Christ," topped the box office, the comic book action-movie adaptation of "Hellboy" is now ahead of the pack.
But are they the same audiences?
BUSH-BLAIR SECRET PACT
A secret agreement between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair made war in Iraq a foregone conclusion just nine days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
The new information comes from Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British ambassador to the United states.
The Observer, citing a forthcoming 25,000-word Vanity Fair article, writes:
According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.' Regime change was already US policy.
Of course, none of this is really surprising in spirit, since the current administration comprises those neoconservative folks from Project for a New American Century, which advocated the overthrow of Saddam Hussein during the Clinton administration.
NADER, THE SHILL
Unless Republican businessmen, an oil executive and a former GOP speechwriter have suddenly developed a conscience about consumer safety, the environment and the purity of politics, why would one suppose they contributed to Ralph Nader's campaign?
The Dallas Morning News writes:
Nearly 10 percent of the Nader contributors who have given him at least $250 each have a history of supporting the Republican president, national GOP candidates or the party, according to computer-assisted review of financial records by The Dallas Morning News.
Among the new crop of Nader donors: actor and former Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein, Florida frozen-food magnate Jeno Paulucci and Pennsylvania oil company executive Terrence Jacobs. All have strong ties to the GOP.
Democrats have warned that Mr. Nader's entry in the race could help Mr. Bush by drawing votes from John Kerry. Some analysts say Mr. Nader's third-party candidacy four years ago siphoned off Democratic voters and cost Vice President Al Gore the White House.
Perhaps the real lesson they're learning from Iraq is the old Arab saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."