Monday, July 12, 2004

Them

A graphic accompanying a news item on a local news program this evening caught my eye. The story was about - what else - terrorism and the New York Lieutenant Governor being in Rochester to talk about a "tough new anti-terrorism law." Unfortunately the graphic wasn't reproduced on their web site with the story.

It consisted of the word "TERRORISM" in large, capital type in front of a pair of eyes set in an ominously dark face peeking out from amongst the white folds of what could only be a vaguely "Arab" headdress.

I'm not sure what to say about the easy assumption that such a graphic should include such a person. But I think it says something very sad about where our newly begun endless War on Terror. Readers?

The Terrorists Have Won

We might as well bring our soldiers home; pack up their rifles and artillery pieces, send back the ships and aircraft. Lock the borders. And will the last democrat (small 'd') out please turn off the lights?

U.S. counterterrorism officials are looking at an emergency proposal on the legal steps needed to postpone the presidential election in case of such an attack, Newsweek reported on Sunday.
It's been on all the news sites, newspapers, and TV news shows. But it's reported in the same tone of voice as Brittney's latest marriage instead of with the outrage it deserves.

Elections were held through out the Civil War without disruption. Not a single election was delayed or cancelled during either of the two World Wars. And yet Emperor Shrubby feels that just the threat of a terrorist attack is reason to plan on how to completely subborn our entire democracy so that he can ensure his re-election.

I'm not sure what the constitutional requirements are in such a situation; I'm not even sure there are any provisions for such a case. My guess is that aWol will have one of his White House lawyers draw up a "non-binding" legal opinion that states in case of a terrorist attack, the pResident can have himself crowned as Caesar.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Bush Broke the Army

Or "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul."

From this morning's NYT:

In what some military experts see as another sign of how the Army's commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan have strained it, the service for the first time will soon begin aggressively recruiting thousands of sailors and airmen who are otherwise scheduled to leave the Navy and Air Force because of cutbacks.

Bush is a Traitor

Bush has pressured Pakistan to kill or capture bin Laden or other High Value Targets (HVT) during the first three days of the Democratic National Convention.

There hasn't been this pressure until now? So it's been okay that bin Laden and his lieutenants have been traipsing around free so long as Bush gets to steal the spotlight during the Democratic Convention? If that is not treasonous behavior, I can't imagine what would qualify.

Pushing Musharraf to go after Al Qaeda in the tribal areas may be a good idea despite the risks. But, if that is the case, it was a good idea in 2002 and 2003. Why the switch now? Top Pakistanis think they know: This year, the president's reelection is at stake.
Details originating with an article in The New Republic here and more here and here.

Bush Was AWOL

In case you thought that this subject had disappeared down the memory hole, think again. Seems that there were some very interesting and some very specific - um - "glitches" that caused several months of Bush's military records to be destroyed while they were trying to back up some outdated micro-fiches.

The destroyed records cover three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Mr. Bush's claims of service in Alabama are in question.
Amazing! Just those three months were destroyed!

My service records - all 10 years of them - fit on two micro-fiche films. I wonder how just a couple of months of records were destroyed in the middle of a much smaller set? How is that possible?

And why wasn't this amazing, almost miraculous, destruction mentioned when "all" of Bush's records were released before?

Link to Daily Kos via Atrios.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

PWB

The newest acronym in the growing lexicon of bigoted harassment driven by the politicized fear and loathing created by 9/11 and the never-ending War on Terror: PWB is Photographing While Brown.

Read this.

It's long; several good sized pages - with photographs. But it is worth your time.

You will be outraged.

Thanks to Scooter for the link.

Sleight of Hand?

John Kerry finally picks a VP and before the polls can show the usual "bounce," Tom Ridge is on the tube - again - warning - again - of credible, but - again - unspecified threats of terrorist attacks in the US. These attacks, he claims, without providing proof, are intended to disrupt our "democratic processes." In an interesting and frightening twist on the situation, he states that the two upcoming conventions are to be designated as "national security events."

So, is this yet another instance of politically timed terror alerts or the real thing? Who can say any longer; Ridge - again - refused to raise the Terrorist Alert Level. And just what is a "national security event?" What will that mean for people who want to attend the conventions? Most importantly, what will that mean for those who want to protest one or the other convention - especially the Republican Convention in NYC? Instead of across the street or around the block, does this mean that the "free speech zones" will be in the next state?

By doing only what has so far been announced, doesn't that indicate that the terrorists have already affected our democratic processes?

About Damn Time!



Oh, and Kenny-boy, the cuffs look really good on you. But I hear the latest fashion craze for psychopathic, ex-robber baron CEOs are shackles and stripes. I'm really looking forward to you parading those down the runway on your next perp-walk.

Great Barrier (Reef)

I wonder what connection the Australian Prime Minister or Defense Minister has to Hughes Space Systems or Boeing? Are there subcontractors to the aerospace industry in Australia that have contributed to their election campaigns?

What else would explain this:

Australia and the United States have signed a pact to develop a controversial missile defense shield. President Bush made the project a priority after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in 2001. But critics have questioned its cost, viability, and Australia's need for such a system.

Australia's government says it need a way to protect its shores from ballistic missiles, even though at the moment the remote continent faces no threat from long-range weapons.
But then the lack of need - or, for that matter, the lack of proven technology - hasn't stopped BushCo. from pursuing this chimera either.

With militaries stretched thin already, school budgets going unfunded around the country and AIDS apparently spiraling out of control in so much of the world, is this really the best use of resources right now? Given the lack of need and the complete failure of current technology in every test, other than those rigged to provide a success, can there be any other purpose behind this tragic program other than to repay those who've been so generous with their share holders' money to conservative governments?

Sovereignty and Insurgency

BushCo. predicted that calm would return to the Fertile Crescent once the Iraqi people were responsible for their own governance. Like every single prediction they've ever made, this one never came true.

To me, this means one of two things. Either they were tragically wrong, witness the continuing violence, or the Iraqis really don't have sovereignty yet. Hmmmm... Your thoughts?

UPDATE: Added links to some of the latest stories.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Mommas Don't Let Your Babies...

Grow Up to be Conservatives.

From the Orange County Weekly, via Hairy Fish Nuts. Such a nice young man:

Like all incoming high school seniors, Tim Bueler has big plans after graduation. The 17-year-old student at Rancho Cotate High School near San Francisco is acclaimed in conservative circles for starting the High School Conservative Clubs of America, an organization that is just what its name states. But instead of taking the next logical step and entering politics, Bueler plans to do what so many conservatives merely dream about: kill Muslims.

A Winning Combination?

Everyone and their brother will analyze this to death - and because of my crazy weekend, that went right through Tuesday (and which I may blog about later...), I'm way behind. But I do think that Edwards was the right choice for Kerry who's got the political chops but lacks the easy charm and grace that Edwards brings to the ticket. Yes, the Rethugs will try to paint him as too young (!?), too inexperienced, and, that Republican bug-bear, a trial lawyer.

I will say one thing, in the upcoming VP Debates, Edwards will easily reveal Cheney to be the nasty, up-tight, political back-stabber that he is.

Monday, July 05, 2004

"Changing America, Just Not For The Better"

An interesting Maureen Dowd piece in this morning's New York Times. I'm not always a fan of MoDo - she tends to be a little too non-discriminating when it comes to her scorn. But this morning, I think she really made some great points.

Their disgust with the 60's spurs oxymoronic - and moronic - behavior, as anti-big-government types conjure up audacious social engineering schemes to turn back the clock.

The day after his re-election to the House in 1994, the future speaker, Newt Gingrich, jubilantly told me he intended to bury any remnants of the "Great Society, counterculture, McGovernik" legacy represented by the morally lax Clintons and return America to a more black-and-white view of right and wrong.

[snip]

W., who had tuned out during the 60's, preferring frat parties to war moratoriums and civil rights marches, and George Jones to "psychedelic" Beatles albums, was on board with his regents' retro concerns, like Star Wars and Saddam, and outdated cold-war assumptions, like the idea that terrorists could thrive only if sponsored by a state.
And finally, this:

The president did end up changing America's image in the world. Just not for the better.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Land of the Free

And so we are; "The Land of the Free." Despite all the difficulties we've found ourselves in these past several years, we remain free. Certainly freer than any other society in recorded history.

Unfortunately, I would argue that we are not as free as we were 3 years ago. Yet - we remain free to change ourselves, to change our government if we are displeased with its performance.

I hope that all of you who drop by my little corner of the world, to read what could only be written in a truly free society, have a great holiday weekend. I hope, too, that you will take a few moments from family and friends, from the barbecue and from the frosty beverages to remember just what it is that we are celebrating, and why it's worth the celebration.

Happy Fourth of July. Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 02, 2004

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together



The situation in Iraq almost seems like something out of a very bad A-Team episode (isn't that sort of redundant?). From the NYT this afternoon:

This morning, about 3,000 Shiites rallied here calling for the execution of Mr. Hussein, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency. And in the Sunni stronghold of Samarra, north of here, hundreds [of Sunnis] demonstrated against what some marchers called the "ridiculous" trial of Mr. Hussein, and pledged support for the ex-president, the news agency reported.
And of course there's the security situation, so much improved since the Iraqification began.

In the heart of the capital this morning, insurgents in a bus used a homemade launcher to fire rockets next to a mosque in Firdos Square, where in April 2003 a towering statue of Mr. Hussein was pulled down by American troops as they took the city. One of the launchings misfired and destroyed the bus, according to Iraqi police and private security officials.

[snip]

At the same time, explosions also struck outside the Baghdad Hotel, hundreds of feet north of the square. The police said that rockets had been fired at the building, which is popular with foreigners. Police officials said three security guards were injured.
Where's Murdoch when you really need him?

Moore Support

More from the NYT's top opinion writers on the service to country performed by Michael Moore and F9/11. Paul Krugman writes:

"Fahrenheit 9/11" is a tendentious, flawed movie, but it tells essential truths about leaders who exploited a national tragedy for political gain, and the ordinary Americans who paid the price.
Make sure to read the whole thing.

NEWS ALERT: Irony Not Dead!

The headline: Bush Marks 40th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act

The irony: "The work of equality is not done, because the evil of bigotry is not finally defeated," Mr. Bush said.

This from the man elected after his brother's goons purged the voter rolls of minorities, attempted to keep minorities from the polls and staged a fake riot to stop a vote recount. This from the man who wholeheartedly supports a constitutional amendment to make an entire group of citizens second-class. This from a man whose party has a rather less than convincing record on hate-crimes laws, equal education and equal rights for women and minorities.

According to the article in the NYT, aWol was able to say the above with a straight face. Amazing.

Who Are You Calling "Elite?"

Barbara Ehrenreich punctures the Rights favorite epithet in yesterday's New York Times. She uses the wingers' - ah - "distaste" for Michael Moore to illustrate just how they have, once again, succeeded in framing the discussion in ways that benefit them.

Beyond that, the idea of a liberal elite nourishes the right's perpetual delusion that it is a tiny band of patriots bravely battling an evil power structure. Note how richly the E-word embellishes the screeds of Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and their co-ideologues, as in books subtitled "Rescuing American from the Media Elite," "How Elites from Hollywood, Politics and the U.N. Are Subverting America," and so on. Republican right-wingers may control the White House, both houses of Congress and a good chunk of the Supreme Court, but they still enjoy portraying themselves as Davids up against a cosmopolitan-swilling, corgi-owning Goliath.
I'm not sure who stole the idea from whom, but you'll recognize this same technique in the religious rights' appeals that believers are being overrun by hordes of agnostics, atheists and wiccans. The fact that Americans profess to be more religious now than at any time in history seems not to penetrate their propaganda organs, nor does it really matter; it provides them with a rallying cry and a chance to raise more money.

So who really comprises the "elite" in this country?

It's true that there are plenty of working-class people - though far from a majority - who will vote for Bush and the white-tie crowd that he has affectionately referred to as his "base." But it would be redundant to speak of a "conservative elite" when the ranks of our corporate rulers are packed tight with the kind of Republicans who routinely avoid the humiliating discomforts of first class for travel by private jet.
Thanks to Island Dave at Current Events Monitor - new to my blogroll - for pointing to this editorial.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Drumbeat for War?

Perhaps I was too quick to celebrate in my last post. Today's Wall Street Journal Opinion Pages, ever the mouthpiece for BushCo. has an interesting, unsigned editorial on actions and statements by Iranian officials. Read the following carefully - I've copied the entire editorial - something I wouldn't normally do, because it is so frightening (all emphasis is mine):

What's Iran Up To?

That's what U.S. authorities wondered as they expelled two security guards at the Iranian mission to the United Nations last weekend, after the mission was warned repeatedly against permitting its employees to videotape the Statue of Liberty, the subway, bridges and other New York landmarks.

For a dismaying answer, consider the statement made two weeks ago in Tehran by one Hassan Abassi, head of the Revolutionary Guards' Center for Doctrinaire Affairs of National Security Outside Iran's Borders. (Quite the job description.) "We will map 29 sensitive sites in the United States and give the information to all international terror organizations," the New York Sun quotes Mr. Abassi as saying.

In a June 17 report, Memri -- the Middle East Media Research Institute -- reports a nearly identical statement by Mr. Abassi about compiling a target list of "29 sensitive sites." And also: "We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization."

That strategy would certainly explain its all-out sprint to develop nuclear weapons, which Iran could possess in about a year unless the West acts to stop it. Also relevant is Tehran's recent announcement that it has allocated $1 billion to resume developing long-range missile systems that can reach targets in Europe and the U.S. Then there's the 9/11 Commission's disclosure last month of Iran-al Qaeda links.

All of which suggests that maybe it's time for U.S. policy to more forcefully and directly support democrats in Iran who want to liberate their country from this terror-sponsoring regime.
Here we go again...

Death of a Doctrine?

I heard an interesting commentary on NPR the other day by Daniel Schorr. It seemed to wrap up all the bad things that have happened since BushCo. began espousing his doctrine of Pre-emptive Warfare. Schorr enumerated all of the disasters and missteps we've come to know so well; no WMD, no "imminent" threat, insufficient troops, poor planning, estranged allies, prisoner abuse and increased terrorism.

And then he made a connection that I hadn't really thought of before. And it may be the one unassailably good thing to come from this mal-administration. The mess made by the first application of the doctrine of pre-emption has almost certainly guaranteed that it can never be used again.

BushCo. and his neo-conservative knuckleheads pulled a fast one on many of us under cover of 9/11. But the absolute mess created by this misadventure has awakened the public and the press; creating suspicion and cynicism about their ultimate aims and the means to get there. It won't be so easy to convince Congress or the American people to let loose the reigns on Executive Power again.

It's not too early - I believe - to toast the death of the Bush Doctrine.

Salud!

Wall Crawlin' Web Slinger Wows 'Em

I saw Spiderman 2 last night and I'm still all spun up and wrung out.



You can read the professional reviews (here and here, for example), but I just have one thing to say: Wow.

Sam Raimi and his cast have spun a wonderful movie that explores the agonies and the angst of the super-hero/alter-ego split like never before. The latest installment of the likely trio of movies about the Wall Crawler has heart to go along with its action. The effects are incredible but serve the story rather than the other way around. With all the exposition taken care of in the first movie, the characters are fully fleshed out and the chemistry between Tobey McGuire and Kirsten Dunst is better than ever.

If you're a fan of the comic books, you'll absolutely love how true to the characters the movie has remained - including the latest villain, "Doc Ock." You'll also continue to be amazed at how the effects team was able to capture the moves and static poses we all know so well from the comics. If you're new to the stories the characters are more three dimensional than you'd expect from a comic book. But Stan Lee wrote them with more depth than super-heroes, supporting characters and villains ever had.

I highly recommend this movie; as an homage to the Web Slinger it is perfect; as a summer movie it is highly satisfying and, incredibly, as a sequel it's better than the original.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

If

Amazing that one of the most powerful words in the English language has only two letters.

If the proper planning had been done for nation building in Iraq we might not be stuck in what is surely a quagmire. If the proper number of troops had been committed to the war and post-war effort security would likely not be a problem for Iraqis and foreigners working to rebuild. If neoconservative ideology were not the driving factor in BushCo. actions, we might not have started an unprovoked war. And of course, if Katherine Harris, Jeb Bush and the SCOTUS had done their jobs, there might not be a Bush administration right now.

Today's if: If it had been the Bush Plan instead of the Marshall Plan Germany would still be a third-world backwater struggling to emerge from post-World War II destruction.

From today's NYT:

In the initial months of the American occupation, the hard-earned lessons of earlier nation-building campaigns by the United States and the United Nations in places like Bosnia, Afghanistan and East Timor were ignored by Pentagon planners, who tried to rush ahead with showcase infrastructure projects before securing public safety and a sense of participation, critics say.
If only Bush and his neocon wingnuts had learned the lessons of history, perhaps things might be a little better for us all.

Excuse Me, Your Geek is Showing...

Tonight my daughter and I are going to see Spider Man 2. All the reviews I've heard or read have said that this is going to be even better than the first, which would be incredible. The trailers and commercials have been mind-blowing.

I'm so psyched!



*AHEM* Back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Another Reason Bush Must Go

As if you really needed another reason...

Via Atrios, I found an interesting post on Better Angels. Basically, Biblio, the blogger there, lays out the evidence that far-right wingnuts are teaming up with our old friends in the Christian Right to push for BushCo.'s next excellent adventure. Not satisfied with the mess he's made in the Middle East, these whack-jobs have their eyes on a bigger prize. Here's the headline:

Christians and Neocons Join Forces to Drag Us Into War with North Korea
Go read the whole thing. And when you stop shaking, resolve to get as many friends as you can to the voting booth this November.

Read 'em and Weep

I've said often that the Wall Street Journal is schizophrenic. The news is covered wonderfully in its pages, while the OPED section corrals the most reactionary and conservative bits into one place. I slog through it every day to gain some perspective on current conservative thought. Sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious; the letters provide me with plenty of opportunity to laugh out loud or to shake my head.

Today's edition contained a letter (subscription) that after I first read it made me think that I must have mis-read it. But no, this was really the first paragraph:

Daniel Henninger's June 28 column Wonderland "Evil Or Just Politics?" seeks to examine the spectrum of plausible excuses for the inexcusable. Whether it is supporting senseless abortion, beheadings or terrorism perpetuated by people who claim their behavior rooted in a fanatical and limited belief in God, it can only be summed up by one word. Evil.
Did you catch it? Did it make you do a double take?

In reverse order, the writer conflated the following items: terrorism, beheadings and abortion.

In that short paragraph, this person summarily places anyone who's had to make the difficult, personal, medical decision to have an abortion (and truthfully, anyone who has thought about it or approves of it) in the same moral category with terrorists and fundamentalist thugs. And make no mistake about it, these people would make the punishment for all three the same if they could.

The final two sentences of the letter illustrate the absolute break with reality faced by the writer and his like minded cohort:

President Bush and Prime Minister Blair understand this important history regarding humanity and are providing a marvelous example of authentic leadership to a cynical world desperately in need of it. The overall policies that the U.S. are engaged in from abortion to Iraq under the leadership of President Bush seem to be a set of responsible, coherent, strategic policies consistent with a nation that champions human rights while seeking the defeat of global terrorism.

Monday, June 28, 2004

God of the Sky, Ruler of the Titans

While we scurry about on our little speck of rock, pretending to be about important matters, a small, robotic explorer is approaching the most beautiful, sublime planet in our solar system. Cassini/Huygens will fire its engines and insert itself into Saturn orbit on July 1. As it approaches it sends back data that amaze and surprise and photos that boggle the mind.

Dictionaries in Short Supply?

Can someone please give the talking heads at ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, MSNBC a dictionary?

They all keep saying that Iraq was given sovereignty this morning. And yet no such thing happened. It's true that Paul Bremmer gave a letter to al Yawer saying so. It's true that Bremmer then left Iraq with all the alacrity of a rat from a sinking ship. But we all know that what the new Iraqi government has been left with is nothing like sovereignty;

n. government free from external control.
via WordNet.
But just for fun, wouldn't it be great if they actually tried to act as though they did? What would happen if al Yawer ordered all American military personnel out? What would happen if he sent his security forces - if any of them are working these days - to claim true custody of Saddam Hussein?

Farce might be too mild a word.

Skulking Away in the Night

The security situation in Iraq is in such great shape that Paul Bremmer had to hand over "sovereignty" to the new Iraqi government two days early and then skulk away in the night.

We've done such a wonderful job there, haven't we? Makes you proud to have BushCo. in the White House.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Transition, Sovereignty and Security

This doesn't sound like a country with a security situation stable enough for the US to transition power to a sovereign Iraqi government to me:

Insurgents launched coordinated attacks against police and government buildings across Iraq Thursday, less than a week before the handover of sovereignty. Sixty-nine people including three American soldiers were killed, and more than 270 people were wounded, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.

The large number of attacks, mostly directed at Iraqi security services, was a clear sign of just how powerful the insurgency in Iraq remains -- and could be the start of a new push to torpedo the June 30 transfer of sovereignty to an interim transitional government.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Reverse Jujitsu

Wanda, from Words on a Page, left an interesting comment to a post on Dancing With Myself. In particular, this sentence, about the importance of not just not voting for Bush (or for Nader), but voting for Kerry, really caught my eye:

This is a case where [their] mantra works in reverse. You are either against them or [you're] with them.

Perspective

An interesting word, perspective. As a sometimes artist and photographer, it has interesting shadings of meanings. As a relatively recent student of politics, I find that those shadings can be instructive. With a long-time interest in perspective, in its many meanings, I have clearly seen that Bush and his neoconservative cabal are lacking in perspective on many things; lacking in historical perspective, lacking in military perspective. Their seeming willful ignorance on many issues is puzzling and dangerous.

I've suspected that they lack any serious or deep perspective on why things have gone so deadly wrong in their Middle East adventures. While ideology drives their actions, some true perspectives on the history, religions and peoples of the are would serve them well and temper their actions.

What made me think of this was a wonderful Op-Ed piece in the New York Times today by Youssef M. Ibrahim, a former Middle East correspondent for the NYT.

It would be a mistake, however, to consider the Shiites a problem solved. Rather, Bush administration strategists should undertake an in-depth analysis of the entire Shiite phenomenon, which since the Iranian revolution that brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power in Iran in 1979 has repeatedly upset America's plans in the Persian Gulf. It is vital that Washington understand that it cannot consider the Shiites of Iraq to be an independent, national body. Shiism, forged during more than 1,500 years of persecution at the hands of the Islamic world's Sunnis, is a phenomenon that transcends borders and domestic politics.
This paragraph alone is probably more background that ever given to Bush during one of his Readers-Digest Presidential Daily Briefings. The lack of perspective on a religio-political phenomenon that stretches so far into history and which colors events in an area they've chosen to involve themselves speaks volumes to why things have gone so badly.

The few minutes it would take to read this article are time well spent; for us and for Bush.

Shortage Affects Liberal Bloggers

If you're a progressive blogger and wondered why you've had a hard time with posting lately, I may have found the reason. Rivka, at Respectful of Otters has discovered a serious shortage of a key ingredient in good, liberal blog entries...

Best check it out, and perhaps contact your investment broker.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Up to My Eyeballs...

Really busy today - and probably for the rest of the week. I'll post when I can, but no promises. Drop by and leave a comment, but go visit some of the great folks in my blogroll at left; especially those fine folks in the Liberal Coalition.

Thanks for your continued support!

Monday, June 21, 2004

GITMO: More BushCo. Lies

"The worst of a very bad lot," VP Dick "The Dick" Cheney has called them. We've been told that they are not necessarily subject to the Geneva Conventions or the Conventions on Torture because 1) they are not on US territory (absolutely specious) and 2) because they are a fount of actionable intelligence that could prevent more attacks on US soil.

In light of every other deception from this maladministration, it shouldn't be surprising, but it was:

But as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the legal status of the 595 men imprisoned here, an examination by The New York Times has found that government and military officials have repeatedly exaggerated both the danger the detainees posed and the intelligence they have provided.

In interviews, dozens of high-level military, intelligence and law-enforcement officials in the United States, Europe and the Middle East said that contrary to the repeated assertions of senior administration officials, none of the detainees at the United States Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay ranked as leaders or senior operatives of Al Qaeda. They said only a relative handful — some put the number at about a dozen, others more than two dozen — were sworn Qaeda members or other militants able to elucidate the organization's inner workings.
Haven't we had enough of the constant deceptions of these bastards? Where are the calls from Congress for impeachment? How do we fire these idiots?

Abu Ghraib Development

An interesting turn of events in the latest court martial for three Military Police who abused prisoners in abu Ghraib. The military judge has ruled that as part of their defense, their lawyers could examine top commanders in Iraq at the time. The New York Times has this:

The judge granted the defense request to interview top officials in the chain of command, including Gen. John P. Abizaid, the commander of American forces in the Middle East, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the ground commander in Iraq, and others.

The pre-trial hearings also indicated that the defense lawyers would try to show that the highest levels of the government created an atmosphere in which any technique was acceptable to get information from detainees.
In a related, rather confusing ruling, the judge said that the defense did not have the right to review Justice Department and Defense Department memoranda relating to treatment of prisoners and the application of the Geneva Conventions.

Sometimes It Just Writes Itself

The Christian Coalition has decided to try to ride the coattails of "gay marriage" back into a position of power within the Republican hemisphere. It's the same lunacy we've been hearing from other christo-fascists lately, so there's nothing really new about their goals. However, when I clicked through to this article in the Wall Street Journal (subscription), I couldn't help noticing the byline:

LOONEYVILLE, W.VA.--The Christian Coalition has fallen far from its glory days as a pro-Republican fighting force in the 1990s. But now Pastor J. Allen Fine has a new political weapon.

"Gay marriage is societal suicide," says Mr. Fine, a religious broadcaster who was recently installed as state director of the coalition's West Virginia chapter. "We were asked on our radio program, 'Is sodomy still a sin?' It brought in so many calls and the dish of the fax machine overflowed."
You couldn't make up a more apt town name for these right-wingnuts.

A Complete and Total Failure

Via the indispensable (and fellow Liberal Coalition Member)Corrente, I found this first of three articles in the Washington Post on the failures of BushCo. in Iraq. Xan thinks that the Pulitzer Committee can just stop working and award the prize this year to the author, Rajiv Chandrasekaran. I don't know about Pulitzers, but I do know a damning indictment. And this is definitely one. This is just the lead paragraph:

The American occupation of Iraq will formally end this month having failed to fulfill many of its goals and stated promises intended to transform the country into a stable democracy, according to a detailed examination drawing upon interviews with senior U.S. and Iraqi officials and internal documents of the occupation authority.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Paul Johnson

I'm too disgusted to write about this...

Disgusted at a world that could spawn people who would behead an innocent man and claim to be doing so in the name of their god. Disgusted at a world that could spawn people who would take an entire nation to war with lies and deception; and probably in the name of his god as well. Disgusted with humans who would do such things to each other.

A New Front in the War on Terror?

In the case of Iraq, it was enough for Bush to invade that al Qaeda members had, at some unspecified and uncorroborated time, visited there. Now we have irrefutable proof that al Qaeda is: operating in Saudi Arabia; receiving major funding from the citizens and members of the Saudi government; and - while operating unmolested inside of Saudi Arabia - able to kill American civilians. So, when will we be invading our erstwhile allies?

Where are Bush's puppetmasters and talking heads calling for an invasion to depose the House of Saud? Where are the banners on CNN and MSGOP proclaiming the "Drumbeat for War?" Where are the FOX News wingnuts screaming for war? Where are our friends the chickenhawks?

Oh, aren't the Bush Family and the House of Saud close friends?

Nevermind...

This is Who We Are?

Rod, at Proof Through the Night, has written one of the best posts I've read lately; bar none. He has synthesized much of the bad news we've had lately about the actions of the BushCo. regime and what they mean in terms of "who we are" as a nation. Titled "The Fall of the American Republic," his post is a damning indictment of the lawlessness, secrecy and hubris of Bush and his handlers.

It is impossible to argue with his penultimate paragraph:

I have said many times that, while I do not believe that September 11 "changed everything" (for example, it certainly did not change what is right and what is wrong), it clearly changed one thing: It changed a strong, confident, imperfect but essentially just nation into a small, frightened, cowardly one. Again: This is who we are.
His final paragraph, which I won't reveal here, took my breath away. Rod's conclusion is - well, I haven't quite come to grips with it yet. I hope that he's wrong, and fear that he's right. I hope that our democratic institutions and habits are so ingrained that we can recover from this administration with all of them intact. I fear that they have been so subverted that it may not be possible.

Hyperbole? Perhaps; maybe it's just the thoughtful mood his post has put me in. Maybe.

WSJ in Wonderland

Nobody who regularly reads the Wall Street Journal can escape noticing how disconnected its news reporting has become from its Opinion Pages. I've often wondered if the reporters ever speak to the people who write the editorials or to the opinion columnists. I think they actually work in separate buildings.

A prime example of this is today's "Wonderland" piece by Daniel Henninger, titled "'Under God' Is the Firm Link To U.S. Security." The WSJ is of course by paid subscription only, but I thought under fair use laws I would post the entire piece here for you to read (pdf).

His concluding paragraph is the crowning achievement of insipid, right-wing, religiously fired nationalism (in the worst meaning possible of that word):

This innocuous little Pledge and its two words, "under God," has become for school children the last link joining national purpose to God -- a union that is this country's best, proven hope for ensuring national strength. When that link is finally broken, the U.S. will start to become, well, France -- smart, sophisticated, agnostic and save for nuclear bombs, inexorably weak. That is one test case I'd as soon not try.

The Puppet Master

Many of us on the left have jokingly - and sometimes seriously - characterized Bush as a "sock puppet," and various other administration officials (mostly Cheney) as pulling the strings. It seems that - once again - we have been proved prophetic, in this case by the 9-11 Commission. Again from today's Wall Street Journal (subscription):

The commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks gave new details yesterday on the "shootdown" order passed from the White House to the military on the morning of the terrorist attacks, raising questions about whether Vice President Cheney issued the command without first getting the approval of President Bush.
I guess that clears things up for anyone who still had any doubt who was pulling aWol's strings during this whole crisis. It also does away with the mystery of why Bush didn't leap into action on 9-11 and continued reading at that school in Sarasota, Florida. He knew the President would take care of things...

But of course, nothing is that simple. Not that the fighters scrambled, eventually, to intercept the highjacked airliners would have ever caught up to them before the terrorists on board completed their mission, but even if they had, and if they'd have had the time to shoot them down, they wouldn't have been able to.

The commission also disclosed that the unprecedented order directing the military to open fire on hijacked airliners never was passed to fighter pilots who had scrambled aloft in response to the crisis.
Now, why is it that we're supposed to trust the competence of this misfit band of neo-con knuckleheads?

Turning Over Stones

Where will the latest troubles at Halliburton subsidiary KBR lead? From this morning's Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Halliburton Co. cut ties to Albert J. "Jack" Stanley, a consultant and former chairman of its Kellogg Brown & Root unit, saying Mr. Stanley's actions had violated "codes of business conduct."

The Houston-based defense and oil contractor said it had terminated the relationship because of "receipt... of improper personal benefits." The company said the concerns developed after a previously disclosed internal investigation into work on a Nigerian natural gas facility.

The Securities and Exchange Commission late last week opened a formal investigation into more than $100 million in payments made by a KBR subsidiary, TSKJ, in the Nigerian project, $5 million of which are believed to have ended up in an account controlled by Mr. Stanley, who recently retired.
Of great interest in all of these ongoing investigations into Dick "The Dick" Cheney's old company is what happens when the questions get really uncomfortable for those indicted. These rich, powerful and arrogant people never go down without taking someone higher up with them. How wide will the investigations go? Especially since the Nigerian bribery scandal occurred while Cheney was still in the head office...

Thursday, June 17, 2004

This Won't Hurt Much - Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink

Via Eric Alterman at Altercation, I found this article by Monty Python alum Terry Jones. Terry explores some of the ramifications of the "Torture Memos" as they relate to child rearing and... well, here's a sample:

For some time now, I've been trying to find out where my son goes after choir practice. He simply refuses to tell me. He says it's no business of mine where he goes after choir practice and it's a free country.

Now it may be a free country, but if people start going just anywhere they like after choir practice, goodness knows whether we'll have a country left to be free. I mean, he might be going to anarchist meetings or Islamic study groups. How do I know?

The thing is, if people don't say where they're going after choir practice, this country is at risk. So I have been applying a certain amount of pressure on my son to tell me where he's going. To begin with I simply put a bag over his head and chained him to a radiator. But did that persuade him? Does the Pope eat kosher?
Go read the rest...

Boycott Virginia

At AMERICAblog, recently added to my blogroll (whose tagline is "Because a great nation deserves the truth"), in a supportive post, I found this excerpt from the Seattle Post-Inelligencer:

Gay activists are urging a boycott of Virginia because of a new ban on civil unions and other marriage-like arrangements for same-sex couples.

VirginiaisforHaters.org, a Web site created by two Seattle men, urges people not to buy products or services from Virginia-based companies and suggests tourists visit states that are friendlier to gays. The name is a play on the state's tourism motto, 'Virginia is for Lovers.'
Drop in on AMERICAblog - there are lots of great posts and comments to browse through. Click through to VirginiaisforHaters.org, read the background to the boycott, then do what you can to support them.

The Doctor Won't See You Now

A new report from the private group Families USA, reported on MSNBC, is fuel for the impending firestorm in healthcare. Over the two years of 2001 and 2002, almost 82 million Americans were without health insurance for at least part of that time - most for more than nine months.

The problem reaches deep into the middle-class, affects African-Americans and Hispanics disproportionately and is most pronounced among people younger than 25, according to the group’s analysis of census data.
The state with the highest number of uninsured?

The study, which was being released Wednesday, found that 8.5 million Texas residents, or 43.4 percent of the non-elderly population there, did not have health insurance — the highest rate in the country.

Other states where more than 35 percent of people younger than 65 were uninsured were: New Mexico, 42.4 percent; California, 37.1 percent; Nevada, 36.8 percent; Louisiana, 36.2 percent; Arizona, 35.7 percent; Mississippi, 35.1 percent, and Oklahoma, 35 percent.
There are so many countries with single-payer health care systems, most of them work very well, so that we have a broad array of systems and components to choose from. We are the richest country in the world, and in history. There is no reason that we could not ensure that every citizen's health is taken care of.

It's been shown that on a system wide basis, a single-payer system is less expensive because of economies of scale and because of reduced redundancies in administration. Businesses would reap immediate and huge savings from not having to subsidize insurance for their employees. Society would reap huge benefits in not having large swaths of the population with no regular access to preventive health care as emergency, follow up and long term care of chronic illnesses are much more expensive.

The economic questions are all answered, in some form, around the world. The ethical question has only one answer. The only question remaining to be answered is "why not?"

The answer you'll get to that question from those opposed to universal coverage is ugly and exposes the worst in Americans.

Backwards Planning

There's a concept I learned in the Army, used when writing Operations Orders. "Backwards Planning" involves starting with the end point of the mission and planning backwards from there. The primary purpose is to ensure that you apportion what time you have as required, so that you leave the staging position in time to be where you are supposed to be at the specified time. But it can also be used to ensure that you do the things you need to do to arrive at the end point with everything you need, having done everything necessary for the end state to happen.

I thought about backwards planning this morning when I heard the news of the latest car bombing in Baghdad that killed nearly three dozen Iraqis; most of them waiting to sign up for the new Iraqi Army.

Every new story says that the SUV that exploded was filled with explosives and artillery shells. Likely most of these came from ammunition dumps that remained unsecured after the US invasion and the routing of the old Iraqi Army. There weren't enough troops on the ground to secure all the ammo dumps, there weren't even enough to secure the more dangerous chemical and radioactive stocks.

So it all disappeared. Only to show up later. To kill our soldiers, to kill innocent Iraqis.

Because the planning for the occupation was shoddy, at best.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Where is the Line?

A question for my late night and early morning readers:

At what point does a church cross the line in advocating for a particular candidate and become liable to lose its tax exempt status? Or is there a point? I'm not going to give you choices and I'm not interested in what the law literally says; I'm hoping to start a true discussion. In comments to my post below on Bush asking the Pope to interfere in the upcoming elections, there are those who say it's almost impossible to cross that line without actually uttering the words "vote for [fill in the blank]." I have my own opinion on the subject, but am very much interested in what you all think.

The comments are all yours...

"O, What a Tangled Web We Weave..."

If you know the rest of that line, then you'll know the relevance of this photo to today's events.



This Garden Orb Weaver spider, about 1/2 inches across, had spun its web across the outside of my in-laws' front window.

Bush; Domestic Abuser

Is America a "battered spouse" in its relationship with the current adminstration? Tresy, at Corrente, thinks so. Certainly they treat the country, and all of us, like an abuser treats their battered partner; with incessant lies, spiteful disrespect and a demand for instant and unquestioning obedience. After you read this post, you might see the analogy as well. Particularly telling is this paragraph:

The real horror show will come this November, if, having lived through everything that's gone before, we turn around and ratify it. There will then be no excuse. There will be no one in the world who will sympathize with us. Our self-abasement will be complete. We will have effectively told our abusers that we won't fight back, that we deserve it. And you can bet on it, they will not miss that message.

Sometimes it Just Writes Itself

Headline for story at CNN's site:

Bush: Afghanistan is a victory over terrorism

UPDATE: For the real story, see: here, here, here, and here.

No Kidding!

No story yet, but the headline on CNN's site reads:

BREAKING NEWS: Commission reports "no credible evidence" that al Qaeda and Iraq cooperated in 9/11 attacks on United States. Details soon.

UPDATE: Here, where you'll read this:

The findings come in the wake of statements Monday by Vice President Cheney that Iraq had "long-established ties" with al Qaeda, and comments by President Bush yesterday backing up that assertion.
Aren't these two lies (and the resultant death and destruction) more harmful to the nation and the world than a lie about a little consensual sex on the side?

Where are the calls for impeachment?

CIA WMD CYA

CIA Redacts Large Portions of WMD Report. Via CNN:

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating prewar Iraq intelligence expressed displeasure Tuesday with CIA efforts to keep large parts of the committee's report secret.

[snip]

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, an expert on Senate rules and procedures, said the committee may decide to overrule the CIA and publicly release the bulk of the report by the end of the week.

Sovereignty Hot Potato

Not that July 1 will be materially different in Iraq than June 29; if Saddam is handed over to the Iraqi government he will be secured by US forces, the Army and Marines will not disappear from the streets and those that remain will not answer to any Iraqi, the Coalition Provisional Authority - the name will probably change - will not abandon the Green Zone, pack their bags and leave. Iraqi sovereignty will be that in name only after June 30 even though BushCo. clings to that date like a lifeline.

But even if it were real sovereignty, I wonder if anyone in the new Iraqi government would really want it? With insurgents killing anyone they can find with connections to the American occupation, there could be no bigger targets than members of the new government. In fact they have already been targeted. Is this new government going to willfully accept the mantle of "sovereign?"

So the new government will have to act a lot like the current CPA. Holed up in a new version of the Green Zone, unable to move freely around the country they supposedly control. They will command security forces that have yet to be trained and who appear to chose which orders to obey and when. They will inherit a country without any form of functioning infrastructure; from sewage to electricity, from roads to a civil aviation authority.

In fact the new government is going to be a lot like the current Interim Governing Council: powerless.

Feeding the Troops - Or Not

KBR, subsidiary of our friends at Halliburton, are at it again. From today's Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Pentagon auditors told a House committee that contractor Kellogg Brown & Root billed the government for as many as 36% more meals than it has provided to troops in Iraq and Kuwait, adding to the dispute over how the Halliburton Co. unit previously billed for dining-hall services.
Our tax dollars, that are supposed to be used to serve hot meals to our soldiers, are going to line the pockets of Halliburton exectutives - including Dick "The Dick" Cheney, who continues to amass deferred compensation from his former company. These guys continue to plumb the depths of corporate greed and avarice. And BushCo. continues to feed them our tax dollars.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Support Release of Fahrenheit 911

A right-wingnut site called Move America Forward is asking its readers to call on the movie chains that plan to show Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 and complain. They have posted a page with contact information for executives for the major movie houses for that purpose.

I propose that we subvert their own resources: Please go to this page and pick one, two or all of the contacts listed there and e-mail them with support for their decision to screen this film.

Mention the First Amendment. Mention a couple of groups known for wanting to suppress dissenting views; Communists, Fascists, Dictators of all stripes. Throw in a few of your own. Then mention the fact that you can influence a group of people not to patronize their businesses; how many people read your blog? how many people do you speak to daily? Let them know there are consequences for backing down from these fascist tactics. Be polite, don't use any profanity. But be firm in your conviction.

Go. And please, pass this around - post it on your blog.

Bush's Tax Cuts Are Working!

Well, that is if you have over $1 million in assets (not including your house). In an article in this morning's Wall Street Journal (subscription), they state that the number of millionaires in the US jumped by over 17% in 2003.

However, even the WSJ sees problems:

...the gap between the very rich and the rest of the population probably won't close -- and could widen in coming years. While the ultra-wealthy are prospering, average real wages in the U.S. haven't kept pace. Real estate, which makes up a far bigger share of wealth for middle-class households, could take a hit with rising interest rates. President Bush's tax-cut programs disproportionately benefit those at the top of the wealth pyramid.
BushCo.: Taking care of those who take care of them. Screw everyone else.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Traitors?

What kind of simpering, liberal, soft-on-terrorism, America haters want to oust Bush in November?

Members of the group -- a mix of Republicans and Democrats -- have served in capitals from Moscow to Tel Aviv and Lima to Kinshasa. The list includes a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a former head of U.S. Central Command, a former CIA director and a decorated array of former ambassadors and assistant secretaries of state and defense.

[snip]

The group calls itself Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change.
Read the article - and the list of names and their former posts. This is going to be very damaging. Very damaging.

Cheney Caught in KBR Lie?

From today's Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Mr. Cheney has repeatedly denied any involvement in the choice of Halliburton, where he served as chief executive from 1995 until 2000, when he joined the Bush campaign. Kevin Kellems, Mr. Cheney's spokesman, said the office stood by its previous statements, and accused Mr. Waxman of trying to score political points. Various administration officials have said that the decision to pick Halliburton was made entirely by contracting officials within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

[snip]

But in a June 8 briefing to Mr. Waxman's staff, Pentagon official Michael Mobbs said it was an energy task force he headed within the U.S. Defense Department that decided to give the work to Halliburton without competition. The decision was then put before a high-level meeting of officials in the Bush administration that included Mr. [Scooter] Libby. Mr. Mobbs said none of the officials present at the meeting objected to the approach, according to the Waxman letter.

Mr. Waxman, the ranking minority member of the U.S. House of Representatives' Government Affairs Committee, also asked Mr. Cheney to clarify a March 2003 e-mail sent by an official at the Army Corps that indicates the Halliburton contract had been "coordinated" with the vice president's office. In the letter, Mr. Waxman asked Mr. Cheney to turn over any records on meetings or discussions his office may have had related to Halliburton's work in Iraq.
This is not the only "irregularity" in which KBR and the VP appear to be involved.

To quote Josh Marshall on another subject: "Always the VP, always the VP."

What Goes Around, Comes Around

How many bloggers - especially those of us on the left - predicted that BushCo.'s breaches of the Geneva Conventions and the Conventions on Torture would turn around and bite our soldiers and citizens on the ass? We didn't have to wait too long.

Like all of his past screw-ups, though, Bush never has to suffer the consequences. It's left for someone else. This time it's Paul M. Johnson Jr.

The kidnappers' statement threatened Mr. Johnson with violence like that suffered by Iraqi prisoners held by the American military at Abu Ghraib prison. It referred to him as a Christian "parasite," using an obscure Arabic word made popular by the former spokesman for Saddam Hussein's government.
Who will it be next?

The Gipper from the Grave: "Mr. Bush, Tear Down That Wall!"

From late Friday night on Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo comes word (via The National Catholic Reporter)that our very own George "Holier Than Thou" Bush is continuing his work to tear down the wall separating church and state. Not satisfied with "faith based charities" and stirring up the racist and homophobic fears of his conservative, born-again base, Bush has enlisted the Pope in his re-election campaign. From Friday's NYT:

In a column posted Friday evening on the paper's Web site, John L. Allen Jr., its correspondent in Rome and the dean of Vatican journalists, wrote that Mr. Bush had made the request in a June 4 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state. Citing an unnamed Vatican official, Mr. Allen wrote: "Bush said, 'Not all the American bishops are with me' on the cultural issues. The implication was that he hoped the Vatican would nudge them toward more explicit activism."

Mr. Allen wrote that others in the meeting confirmed that the president had pledged aggressive efforts "on the cultural front, especially the battle against gay marriage, and asked for the Vatican's help in encouraging the U.S. bishops to be more outspoken." Cardinal Sodano did not respond, Mr. Allen reported, citing the same unnamed people.
If the Federal Election Commission had the gonads to enforce election laws, the Catholic church would be on the precipice of losing its tax exempt status in the US. If Bush had the intelligence to read the Constitution (and SCOTUS Case Law) he'd know he was treading on very dangerous ground. If Congress had anyone to truly lead they would impeach Bush tomorrow.

If pigs had wings...