Tuesday, May 31, 2005


The quality of justice, strained

Today the Arthur Andersen firm is let off the hook for all of the crimes it committed in the course of helping Enron to commit perhaps the largest swindle in history. Does anyone-- anyone-- think this would have been the same result if it had been Joe's Bookkeeping Services?

They'd Rather Talk About Clinton Than Gannon...

...or Iraq. Or their own immorality. Or pretty much anything. The Clintons are Big Media's Emmanuel Goldstein: The scapegoat/hate object/distraction they haul out whenever things get too sticky for Bush and the GOP.

Monday, May 30, 2005


An amazing American

Today, for the first time in decades, I heard a man speak He appropriately defined Bushco's invasion of Iraq as what Associate United States Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson called the supreme crime against humanity. When a congressman walked out of his talk, he said "As the congressman walks out, I want to say that I am not impressed by the US claim of self-defense against Iraq." His memories of the terrible things he witnessed 60 years ago brought him to tears as newly as if they were before him today. I have not heard such a compelling voice since that of Martin Luther King calling us to be drum majors for justice.

More good news from the front

Two pieces, actually. First, powerful evidence that the British are better at colonialism than the US: The chief of police in Basra admitted yesterday that he had effectively lost control of three-quarters of his officers and that sectarian militias had infiltrated the force and were using their posts to assassinate opponents. Speaking to the Guardian, General Hassan al-Sade said half of his 13,750-strong force was secretly working for political parties in Iraq's second city and that some officers were involved in ambushes. And second, that they're putting their colonial brilliance to great effect in opening a new front in the war on Terra: A bizarre revolutionary army supported by British politicians who want more "regime change" in the Middle East, has been accused of torture and brainwashing. Evidence obtained by the Guardian backs a report by Human Rights Watch. This makes detailed accusations of abuse, including deaths under interrogation, against the "People's Mujahideen" of Iran (MKO). The Mujahideen are a 4000-strong anti-Iranian dissident army, currently under US protection in a camp in Iraq. They have a vociferous public relations campaign in Britain and the backing of some Washington neo-conservatives. ... There is a growing right-wing campaign in parts of Washington and London for regime change, citing Iran's nuclear ambitions. But leftwing UK figures have also joined the campaign to legitimise the Mujahideen, whom they see as freedom fighters. ...However, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, calls them a "a nasty terrorist organisation" and British officials are barred from contact. Beam me up, Scotty.

Movie Review Time!

I finally saw Revenge of the Sith today. This is the film that has the rightwingers' panties in a wad, because some French folk at Cannes saw it and think it's a full frontal assault on George W. Bush. This bothers them so much that the stupider ones are trying to attack it right back in a rather stupid way -- but more on that in a second. First, the film itself. I'm rather irritated at it -- I could forgive the schlockier parts of it if Lucas was better at storytelling, but he wants to be taken seriously -- he waves Joseph Campbell's approval like a talisman, the way Jerry Lewis literally runs around yelling "The French love me!" to anyone who'll stand still for it. That said, McDiarmaid as Palpatine did a beautiful job with the script he had (there's one scene he has with Christensen, in which he's telling Anakin-Christensen the story of a great Sith lord, that is most effective), as did McGregor, who comes off as dashing as Lucas' script permits. But Christensen and Portman cannot, unlike the Macs, spin gold from straw. Christensen in particular was a letdown -- his brow ridge did all his acting for him. (Was that a prosthesis? I sure hope so.) The few times he seemed to show any sort of non-woodenness was in some of the early action scenes with McGregor, where they were hemi-demi-semi-cracking jokes with each other. All through it, I kept thinking of Harlan Ellison's proposed script -- which never was made, more's the pity -- for Isaac Asimov's I, Robot. Ellison liked Asimov's story, and knew that he could write an excellent film treatment of it that surpassed the original. And he was right -- which even Asimov himself admitted, and Asimov hated other people messing with his stuff. More to the point, Ellison could have done a similar job for this film, much as Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan did for The Empire Strikes Back. Sith was an OK film. Ellison could have made it a great one. Back to the stupid people: Did anyone see new NYT columnist John Tierney's reaction to the rumor that this film was a shot at Bush (which I think it was, slightly)? He decides -- and other rightwingers have agreed -- that the Sith and not the Jedi are the real heroes! I shit thee not. Note that Tierney, in making his case for Vader-as-hero, chooses to leave out little things like murdering scores of Jedi children. But what the heck! I doubt Tierney was much bothered by Abu Ghraib, either.


Army General Demoted, Discharged As Punishment For Speaking Out On Iraq

From the Baltimore Sun (via TruthOut):

John Riggs spent 39 years in the Army, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery during the Vietnam War and working his way up to become a three-star general entrusted with creating a high-tech Army for the 21st century. But on a spring day last year, Riggs was told by senior Army officials that he would be retired at a reduced rank, losing one of his stars because of infractions considered so minor that they were not placed in his official record. He was given 24 hours to leave the Army. He had no parade in review, no rousing martial music, no speeches or official proclamations praising his decades in uniform, the trappings that normally herald a high-level military retirement. Instead, Riggs went to a basement room at Fort Myer, Va., and signed some mandatory forms. Then a young sergeant mechanically presented him with a flag and a form letter of thanks from President Bush. "That's the coldest way in the world to leave," Riggs, 58, said in a drawl that betrays his rural roots in southeast Missouri. "It's like being buried and no one attends your funeral." So what cost Riggs his star? His Pentagon superiors said he allowed outside contractors to perform work they were not supposed to do, creating "an adverse command climate." But some of the general's supporters believe the motivation behind his demotion was politics. Riggs was blunt and outspoken on a number of issues and publicly contradicted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld by arguing that the Army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed more troops. "They all went bat s- - when that happened," recalled retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner, a one-time Pentagon adviser who ran reconstruction efforts in Iraq in the spring of 2003. "The military part of [the defense secretary's office] has been politicized. If [officers] disagree, they are ostracized and their reputations are ruined." Little-Used Punishment A senior officer's loss of a star is a punishment seldom used, and then usually for the most serious offenses, such as dereliction of duty or command failures, adultery or misuse of government funds or equipment. Over the past several decades, generals and admirals faced with far more serious official findings - scandals at the Navy's Tailhook Convention, the Air Force Academy and Abu Ghraib prison, for example - have continued in their careers or retired with no loss of rank.
Riggs follows fellow Army generals Thomas White and Eric Shinseki into the Nacht und Nebel set aside by BushCo for military officers who dared to dissent on Iraq. Don't expect to see this on TV any time soon.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


From the incomparable Steve Bell

(in the Guardian, of course)

Sometimes the headline says it all

RAF bombing raids tried to goad Saddam into war Even the braindead shoud be able to understand that this means the US and UK declared war on Saddam a full year before the official invasion. The lengthy dog and pony show as US forces were built up, pretending to offer Saddam mercy if he would onless confess to having non-existent WMDs, was actually a cock and bull show meant to distract the public.

Speaking of Congressman Conyers...

Just go, read, and sign his petition when you're done. (Yes, the link works; it's currently very busy -- which is a good thing.) John Conyers is a hero. But chances are that you already knew that.


Courage outsourced to Britain

Ah! This explains it. Democrats must have all relocated to Britain. That's why there are so few here. Thom Hartmann interviews George Galloway [George Galloway] ... Your president stole the presidency in Florida using his brother and his brother's close friends to cheat the people of the United States out of their freely elected president who was undoubtedly Al Gore. Even if you only counted the votes that actually made it through the hoops in order to be cast, the president was really Al Gore. And in Ohio, and I've read the stuff that Congressman Conyers is doing and I commend it, it's clear enough on the face of it that there was substantial fraud in that state and thus delivering the Electoral College vote for president Bush.

Oh, by the way...

... remember my bringing up that bad, bad, evil man, Fawaz Zureikat, who BushCo has been broadly hinting did some bad things and is connected to George Galloway? Well, he's apparently not bad enough to keep Donald Rumsfeld from doing business with him, even today (scroll down to #6):
Galloway ally sells US arms kit to Iraq 22 May 2005 The Jordanian businessman at the centre of claims that George Galloway secretly bought oil from Saddam Hussein has a major contract to sell US military technology in Iraq, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.
Note that this article dates from last week. Note that, if you're a resident of the US, this is likely the first time you're hearing about it -- but that you've likely seen the old film loop of Galloway shaking Saddam's hand (film taken during a visit to promote Galloway's charity work in Iraq) at least twice in the last three weeks. What does that tell you about the US media?

Saturday, May 28, 2005


How The US Press Corps Operates

Get a load of Ron Fournier's slanted opening paragraph of his hit piece on that craaaazy guy, Howard Dean:

Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean, who famously refused to prejudge Osama bin Laden's guilt, is standing by his judgment that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay may deserve jail time for allegations of corruption.
Oh, how awful! Dean supports those evil smelly brownskinned terrorists! At least, that's what Ron Fournier would have you believe. But is that really what Dean actually said and did RE: Osama? Before I end the suspense on that count, here's something you should know: Modern journalism is based on the concept of the "pyramid lead". The idea is that since most of your readers will be skimming the headlines and maybe the first paragraph or two of any given story, you put the key facts right up front. But nowadays, the key facts in certain stories, if they get mentioned at all, tend to be shoved way down into the article -- where they get missed by most folks. This is called "burying the lede." Burying the lede is done for two main reasons: For honest journalists working under an increasingly totalitarian and corrupt conservative-corporate media régime, it's how they smuggle facts onto the printed page. But for dishonest ones, it's a way to censor information while claiming to provide it. Here's how: Ever write to a reporter complaining that Story X didn't get covered or mentioned? And did that reporter write back saying that "We certainly did mention it -- here, we mentioned it once in this article here", and you went to look at the article and found out the story was mentioned in the twenty-fourth paragraph of a twenty-five paragraph article, that itself was printed on Page A14, well away from the front of the paper? That's what I'm talking about. But anyway, back to Howard and Osama. Wanna know what Howard did, that Fournier wanted to put in such a horrible light? Here's the fifth paragraph of the story:
As a Democratic presidential candidate in December 2003, Dean refused to say whether bin Laden should be tried in the United States and put to death for terrorism. "I still have this old-fashioned notion that even with people like Osama, who is very likely to be found guilty, we should do our best not to, in positions of executive power, not to prejudge jury trials," Dean said in 2003.
There you go. By the way: Even Hitler's minions got jury trials. That's what Nuremberg was all about. And when the WTC was first attacked, Bill Clinton used the power of the law, not the military, to bring the perps to justice. Bush used the military option, and Osama's still free.


More On That Galloway Guy (And On Pompous Americans And Whispered Rumors)

From Richard Ingrams of The Guardian last Sunday:

When George Galloway wrote his autobiography the publishers asked me for a quote to put on the cover which hopefully would help to boost sales. My submission ran as follows: 'George Galloway is awful - but I like him!' For some reason, however, it failed to find favour and was not used. Yet it seemed to be the response of many people last week who up till then had failed to warm to the newly-elected member for Bethnal Green and Bow. Whatever their doubts and misgivings, they could not conceal their delight in the way the MP had flown to Washington and berated a group of smug-looking senators sitting in judgment on him. Journalists like myself will also have relished his description of our own Bush-supporting hack, Mr Christopher Hitchens, described, accurately, by the MP as a 'drink-sodden former Trotskyite popinjay'. The general satisfaction here perhaps had less to do with whether or not people supported the invasion of Iraq and more simply to do with seeing pompous Americans made to look foolish. Because when it comes to pomposity there is nothing to beat a pompous American, and if anything their journalists are even more pompous than their politicians. Thus it was noted that Galloway's telling remark that, contrary to what was alleged, he had met Saddam Hussein no more often than Donald Rumsfeld (who had actually sold him weapons), this was not reported the following day in two of America's most prestigious papers, the Washington Post and the New York Times. Why ever not? The only possible explanation would be that they considered it disrespectful towards a distinguished American statesman.
Another explanation would be that they are perfumed cowards who either work for BushCo and/or live in fear of it. But it's considered shockingly indiscreet nowadays to even mention this. But wait! There's more (this time from a separate Guardian piece):
The culture clash between Mr Galloway's bruising style and the soporific gentility of senate proceedings could hardly have been more pronounced, and drew audible gasps and laughs of disbelief from the audience. "I met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him," Mr Galloway went on. "The difference is that Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns, and to give him maps the better to target those guns."
Again, while the US press loved to show pics of Galloway shaking Saddam's hand during Galloway's trips on behalf of his charity work for Iraqi children, they don't like to show the pics of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand during Rummy's trips to sell Saddam weapons. (Which is why that part of Galloway's testimony never made it into the "prestige" US papers.) By the way, you all may have heard, as the allegations against Galloway have been debunked one by one, that there are still some whispered attempts to imply that Galloway's connections to Fawaz Zureikat, one of his partners in his Iraqi charity work, are somehow "proof" of... well, they won't quite come out and say it, whatever it is, but they KNOW that it must somehow be wrong, because they KNOW that Fawaz Zureikat is a bad, bad man. They KNOW it. And because Galloway associates with him, then Galloway must be bad, too. Whisper, whisper, whisper. Well, as Attaturk pointed out last week over at Eschaton, if Zureikat's such a bad guy, then why is the US allowing him to do business in post-Saddam Iraq as well as in America? Sometimes, where there's smoke, there's fire. But many times -- as was the case with the bogus "Clinton scandals" -- the smoke was pouring out of a well-oiled, well-financed smoke machine and the otherwise-well-meaning people who got caught in its fumes.

Friday, May 27, 2005



And now for something completely different: Kitten War! Meow!


Judith Miller Wasn't The Only One Pimping Chalabi's Fantasies

This old CJR article from last summer reminds me of the key role played by people like Jim Hoagland in pushing the INC/Chalabi wet dream of invading Iraq.


Another GOP smear evaporates on contact with reality

Via Atrios Aide to Hillary Clinton Acquitted The former national finance director for Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign was acquitted Friday of lying to the government about a lavish 2000 Hollywood fundraising gala. It must take something special to throw out false accusations of the Clintons, day after day, year after year, have virtually every one actually proven false and keep at it. Let's hear it for those hard working professional liars in the Republican Party!

Career Fear

Robert Parry has a very good article explaining why he thinks the media self-censors. It has a lot of important history, showing how the pressure to "fix the intelligence," whether at the CIA or at the New York Times, goes back to the Cold War. Through bureaucratic bullying and purges, the neoconservatives eventually silenced CIA analysts who were reporting evidence of Soviet decline. Instead, a "politicized" CIA analytical division adopted worst-case scenarios about Soviet capabilities and intentions, estimates that supported the Reagan administration's costly arms buildup and covert wars in the Third World. ... The second important target in these Neocon Wars was the U.S. national press corps. The strategy here was twofold: to build an ideologically conservative news media and to put consistent pressure on mainstream journalists who generated information that undercut the conservative message. The so-called "controversializing" of troublesome mainstream journalists was aided and abetted by the fact that many senior news executives and publishers were either openly or quietly sympathetic to the neocons' hard-line foreign policy agenda. ... As the years wore on, the survivors of this bureaucratic Darwinism -- who had avoided the Right's wrath both in the worlds of journalism and intelligence analysis -- rose to senior positions in their respective fields. The ethos shifted from truth-telling to career-protection. This rings true to me whereas other common explanations, such as advertiser pressure, do not.

Speaking Of Torture Apologists...

... Media Matters catches The New Republic(an) quietly CYAing for Marty Peretz.


Randy Andy Gets A Few Things Right

Andrew Sullivan, the HIV-Positive Barebacking Tory Moralist and Tax Dodger, shocks the hell out of me by actually getting something right RE: the Koran story:

SURPRISE! FBI documents provide countless claims by inmates that desecration or abuse of the Koran was deployed as an interrogation technique at Guantanamo. For good measure, we even have a toilet story. At this point: Did you really believe otherwise? Yes, these reports are from inmates; and, yes, those inmates are obviously biased, even trained to lie. But the sheer scope and scale of the protests, the credible accounts of hunger-strikes in Afghanistan and Gitmo, and the reference, cited below, of interrogators conceding that they too had heard of such techniques, seems to me to resolve the question. The U.S. has deliberately and consciously had a policy of using religious faith as a lever in interrogation of terror suspects. Is this "torture"? It is certainly part of psychological abuse. It is also beyond stupid. Do you really think that throwing the Koran around is likely to prompt an Islamist fanatic to tell you what he knows? Did anyone ask what the broader consequences might be of such techniques - in polarizing Muslim opinion against the U.S., in providing every left-wing hack rhetorical weapons against the United States, in handing the Islamists a propaganda victory that makes all our effort to spread democracy in that region that much harder? Still, we can be grateful for Scott McClellan for one thing: he dared the press to provide substantiation for the Newsweek claim. We've now got it. Will administration defenders finally concede we have a problem?
And here's another goodie from him:
APOLOGIST UPDATE: John Cole wonders what the apologists for detainee abuse will have to say now. He forgot one option: complete silence. Only the true apparatchiks are spinning this one.
And finally, Sullivan points out this little tidbit:
Remember also that at Gitmo, none of the interrogators was an amateur. They cannot pull the Lynndie England defense. Someone somewhere thought this was a good idea. Who?
Yeah, who?

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Something Wicked This Way Comes. Civil Liberties in Danger

Congressman John Conyers interview Alexandrovna: When you say “we’re moving into a different kind of country under different kind of laws,” what exactly are we moving toward? Conyers: There is a dictatorial flavor that comes into this matter. This chipping away from what we thought that we had and what was in stone: the Civil Rights Act; the Voting Rights Act; the ability of states to process their own judicial cases without federal intervention, all of these things mean we’re not where we were. We’re slipping back and what we’re slipping back into in the cumulative sense is something a little bit scary.

Don't Expect To See This On US TV Any Time Soon

This is a big story -- in Russia. If this guy had a "D" after his name, you can bet your bottom dollar he'd have been forced to resign from Congress by now after a Gary-Condit-style GOP/Media Axis firestorm. But it's all OK if you're a Republican.

American Lawmaker Banks On Ivanovo

The Commercial Bank of Ivanovo, a small bank even by local standards, is tucked away in the corner of a residential building on the outskirts of town. [Rep. Charles] Taylor [R-NC], the multimillionaire Republican congressman who owns a majority stake in the bank, smiles down benevolently from photographs on a wall in the chairman's office.


"I'd put him in the top 10 congressmen for unethical, scandalous behavior," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a Democratic-leaning research group that has tracked Taylor's business in Russia and North Carolina. "But he's not in the top 10 for attention paid for it. Taylor deserves a little more scrutiny."


U.S. congressmen are permitted to have outside business interests as long as they keep them separate from their public service. For example, members of Congress are not to use their official position for personal gain or to vote on the House floor if they have a personal stake in the outcome. Taylor's purchase of a tiny bank in Ivanovo might have raised fewer eyebrows if not for past legal troubles at Blue Ridge Savings Bank. In 2001, one of Taylor's friends and campaign contributors, Charles "Chig" Cagle, pleaded guilty in a U.S. district court in North Carolina to charges of bank fraud and money laundering after taking out $1.3 million in loans from Blue Ridge. By law, the bank could not lend more than $500,000 to an individual. But Cagle, the owner of a large car dealership, forged the signatures of family members and made fraudulent applications, the court found. Hayes Martin, then president of Blue Ridge, also pleaded guilty for his part in overseeing the loans. Cagle's lawyer, Tom Jones, was found guilty of assisting Cagle in preparing fraudulent documents. In testimony given to the FBI and submitted as evidence in the Jones case, Martin said Taylor, through Financial Guaranty, made a series of loans to Russian companies in the 1990s with interest rates from 30 percent to 60 percent, according to an FBI summary of the testimony provided by Jones' lawyer. For example, Financial Guaranty agreed to loan Ivanovo businessman Sergei Zvonov $100,000 to help finance the construction of a 61-unit apartment building. The loan carried a 60 percent interest rate and stipulated an additional $10,000 payment, according to a copy of the agreement, which was dated Aug. 21, 1995, and signed by Taylor.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


FBI: Korans Flushed Down Gitmo Toilets

I was wondering why Scott "Mouth of Sauron" McClellan had suddenly decided to back away from attacking the Newsweek story -- and even admitted that it really wasn't the cause of the Afghani riots. Now I know why:

Gitmo Guards Accused of Mistreating Koran Newly Released FBI Documents Detail Allegations By Dan Eggen Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, May 25, 2005; 4:26 PM Numerous detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba told FBI interrogators that guards had mistreated copies of the Koran, including one who said in 2002 that guards "flushed a Koran in the toilet," according to new FBI documents released today.
I never, ever thought I'd say this, but here goes: Sounds like somebody in the White House owes Michael Isikoff a big fat apology. At the very least.


Three easy pieces

All via truthout.org Ray McGovern Bolton’s confirmation hearings provide an eerie flashback to the challenge that Robert Gates encountered in 1991 during his Senate hearings in late 1991, after President George H. W. Bush nominated him to be CIA director. The parallels are striking. The nomination of Gates, who as head of CIA analysis had earned a reputation among the analysts for cooking intelligence to the recipe of high policy and promoting those who cooperated, brought a revolt among the most experienced intelligence professionals. ...After Gates was confirmed, many bright analysts who scored high on integrity quit rather than take part in cooking "intelligence-to-go." In contrast, those inspired by Gates’ example and his meteoric career followed suit and saw their careers flourish. This explains why, in Sept. 2002 when the White House asked Tenet and his senior managers to prepare a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) parroting what Vice President Dick Cheney had been saying about the weapons-of-mass-destruction threat from Iraq, these malleable careerists caved in... George Voinovich, quoted in the NYT "In these dangerous times, we cannot afford to put at risk our nation's ability to successfully wage and win the war on terror with a controversial and ineffective ambassador to the United Nations," Mr. Voinovich wrote. He urged colleagues to "put aside our partisan agenda and let our consciences and our shared commitment to our nation's best interests guide us." This is an era in which hollow men (and women, Condi) are exalted and the best and most decent are forced to resign in shame.

The Mythical "Social Security Deal"

Much of a muchness is being made in certain quarters about a Business Week article by Howard Gleckman and how it "proves" that the Democrats are going to cave on Social Security. But if you actually read the article in question, it looks to be mostly Republicans fantasizing out loud while Gleckman dutifully transcribes their orations. Not a single Democrat was quoted on the record and by name as backing any sort of Social Security compromise. Period. And in the article's fantasy world, Gleckman couldn't totally avoid having to make even a slight nod to reality: He states that the chances of such a deal are at "less than 50-50" for this year. That being said, it wouldn't hurt to go writing/calling your Democratic Congresscritters to tell them that not only is a compromise on Social Security morally wrong, it's politically stupid as well.


McClellan Caught Lying About Newsweek Story

Thanks to Kos diarist Louise, who saved this information for posterity. Hmmm. I wonder if this will make the evening TV news shows? Probably not.


Detroit Free Press on the Conyers Media Bias Forum

It's actually a pretty good article. Here's some excerpts:

Conyers' congressional panel says media drifting toward tabloid coverage May 24, 2005, 5:38 PM WASHINGTON (AP) -- The American media has drifted toward tabloid journalism and has been cowtailed by the Bush administration over its coverage of events such as the war in Iraq, a congressional panel organized by Michigan Rep. John Conyers said Tuesday. "The vast majority of the mainstream media is not only unwilling to accurately report on the failings of the administration, but the few who do have fallen victim to scapegoating and retribution," said Conyers, a Democrat. "We have turned from breaking stories like Watergate and the Iran-Contra scandal to celebrity journalism." .... Randi Rhodes, a talk show host based in Florida, said ratings for top cable television news outlets have declined because viewers are turned off by coverage. "People have decided the news has been canceled and so they do not watch. Nor do they trust the news to report the most important stories of the day," Rhodes said.
By the way, John Conyers, in addition to being a frequent Kos diarist, has a very good blog which is worth perusing. I've got him in my sidebar. He's not afraid of dealing directly with us peons, unlike most of his colleagues.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Conyers statement at TODAY'S media bias forum (Watch C-Span for rebroadcast)

Rep. Conyers Says Independent Press Under Assault Urges Media To Challenge Authority At Congressional Forum Washington, DC; Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, delivered the following statement today at a Congressional forum examining media bias and the future of a free press: "There are few institutions in our nation today that are capable of operating as a check on the abuses of one party rule - one is the filibuster; another is an independent judiciary; a third is a free and unbiased press. All three of these institutions are under assault today. Last night the Republicans came within an inch of obliterating more than two centuries of precedent supporting the minority's right of debate. The triggering of the 'nuclear option' may have been delayed for the time being; but the message has been clearly delivered by the Majority - in the future, you exercise your rights at your own peril. Anyone who witnessed the shameful Terri Schiavo debate knows that the Judiciary is under attack in this country. With Tom DeLay threatening to 'hold judges accountable' and Senator Cornyn rationalizing violence against what he calls unaccountable judges, there can be little doubt the Congressional Majority can and will use their authority to discipline judges who stand in the way of their extreme right wing agenda. As for freedom of the press - the subject of today's forum - all you need to do is turn on the television, open up the paper, or listen to the radio to appreciate the extent our so-called fourth estate has fallen. The vast majority of the mainstream media is not only unwilling to accurately report on the failings of the Administration, but the few who do have fallen victim to scapegoating and retribution. We have turned from breaking stories like Watergate and the Iran-Contra scandal to celebrity journalism. As the Congressional Research Report I am releasing today proves, major events that shape our democracy and impact our lives routinely receive scant and belated coverage, while the most trivial matters that were once the last stories on Inside Edition or A Current Affair now dominate the airwaves. In the lead up to the Iraq war, every minor leak supporting the Administration's contention that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction was trumpeted on page one. Stories challenging these assertions and discussing the final reports of weapons inspectors concluding there were no such weapons, however, were banished to a few paragraphs in the middle of dailies. Such incidents have become the rule, not the exception, during the Bush Administration, particularly after 9/11 and in the face of a massive consolidation in media ownership. Can you imagine the media uproar ten years ago if the Clinton White House had given a fake journalist operating under a fake name unlimited access to the White House? Does anyone think for a minute that the Washington Times would have ignored stories about paid propaganda coming out of the Clinton Education Department, or if a Democratic Secretary of State had turned tens of thousands of Republicans away at the polls in a critical swing state? Would most of the major papers have buried stories detailing secret agreements to invade Iraq, billions of dollars in missing reconstruction funds, or fantasy war stories spun by the Defense Department if a Democrat were responsible? Consider what Bob Novak or Bill O'Reilly would have said if Mike McCurry had browbeaten them about their use of anonymous sources, or the Secretary of Defense had warned the press to 'be careful what you say' as Donald Rumsfeld had done. You know the answer as well as I do. There are a few alternative sources willing to speak truth to power. I first learned about the now infamous Downing Street Memo on Daily Kos. Bradblog, Raw Story and Air America have been at the forefront of our ongoing national election scandal. But these voices are too few and too diffuse to overcome the blatant biases of our cable channels and the negligence and neglect of our major newspapers. Thomas Jefferson wrote 'our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.' Let me remind those in the media, by failing to exercise your rights and duties to challenge authority, you risk losing not only your integrity, but the nation's trust and respect. And to those in the Administration who would blame the press for their misdeeds and the media for their failings, I would ask you to be careful what you say. You cannot preach democracy abroad if you don't respect the constitution and freedom of the press in our own country." Thanks to Bradblog

Yet More Right-Wing Dismay Over Frist's Cave-In

Courtesy of Kos: Crooks & Liars documents the dismay from the other side:

Confirmthem.com: This deal is a load of cr@! It is not compromise, but capitulation. And I say that as somebody who did agree that a certain form of compromise was acceptable. But this comrpomise treats a couple of nominees, Saad and Myers, as pawns. It makes them not people, but expendable objects. And that is unconscionable. Here's some comment: A complete f**'en outrage. Not another dime, I've had it. Scared Monkeys puts it succinctly: Compromise reached! Republicans screwed! The Buzz Blog: Sellouts! Power Line's John Hinderaker: What a hideous deal. Malkin: My two cents: Ditto to all of the above. The GOP parade of pusillanimity marches on. With this pathetic cave-in, the Republicans have sealed their fate as a Majority in Name Only.
There'll be more outrage from their side, since quite frankly, they lost. Obviously we didn't get everything we wanted, but they lost the ability to have carte blanche on the next supreme court justice. And also from Kos, here's what a sane former GOP moderate person has to say about this:
A recent convert's perspective (4.00 / 10) ...I'm a former GOP moderate who "Migrated" during the Schiavo outrage. Allow me to offer my perspective. I always considered myself a "Libertarian" Republican/ Constitutional Fundamentalist, rather than a theocrat. I don't think that my viewpoint was unique, particularly among the more educated/secular Republicans (the poor, South is NOT the "traditional" Republican base (as you well know- I'm not trying to talk down to you)). Schiavo terrified me because it demonstrated how seperate the "Libertarian-Friendly" Republican rhetoric is from the reality of their practical politics. The "Nuclear Option" is another example of the lengths that the party will go to in order to promote its own adgenda over the traditional rule of law and the protections instilled for minorities (a concern to those of us in the "My Rights Stop at the End of My Fist Camp). I think that the "deal" upsets the Theocrats too because, rather than viewing themselves as "Republicans" I think Dobson et. als. smugly believe that they have "bought" the Republican party, and that the Republican Party ought to be able to get them everything they want and deliver it with a smile. Like pouting toddlers, they are going to be FURIOUS that they didn't get this lollipop and looking for someone to blame. As others have pointed out, this leave NO ONE in the GOP happy. The Republicans who "crossed party lines" will upset their Theocrat base (if they have one- I've only skimmed the list, but it looked more likely to break "Libertarian" than "Theocrat" to me) but they've also taken a lot of ammo away from potential Dem challengers in the future. It's the Republicans who weren't part of the deal who are going to bleed. by lexlawgirl on Mon May 23rd, 2005 at 19:03:34 PDT


Fed Speak, markets listen

Reading FOMC minutes is enough to grow mold on one's eyeballs, but here it is: * growth of economic activity had unexpectedly moderated during the first quarter * Gains [in industrial production] were restrained by a decline in manufacturing output, particularly for motor vehicles and parts * Measures of consumer confidence declined in the early months of the year * Economic indicators for major foreign industrial countries suggested some slowing of growth late in the quarter after a pickup earlier in the year. [Translation: the world economy isn't doing so well either.] * The growth of M2 continued to be restrained by increases in its opportunity cost resulting from rising short-term interest rates. [Translation: Money is being moved from cash + time deposits into fixed assets/long-term investments.] * participants noted that far-dated futures prices for oil remained quite elevated [Translation: The Fed thinks cheap oil is our birthright.] * Fiscal policy was expected to provide a more moderate impetus to growth this year and next [Translation: Congress will cut spending.] * rising energy prices seemed to have spurred an increase in core measures of inflation [Translation: rising gas prices affect business as well as consumers.] Here's the nut paragraph: "In these circumstances, the Committee believed that policy accommodation could be removed at a pace that would likely be measured but noted that it would respond to changes in economic prospects as needed to fulfill its obligation to maintain price stability." [Translation: expect a quarter point rise in rates, maybe two.] Lo and behold: "In the Committee's discussion of monetary policy for the intermeeting period, all members favored raising the target federal funds rate 25 basis points to 3 percent at this meeting." These people could learn how to write.

Meet Spencer Bachus

As you may have heard, Congresscritter Spencer Bachus (R-AL), who apparently doesn't have enough to keep him gainfully occupied, has decided that because Bill Maher once again spoke the truth, he needs to be kicked off the air again. Here's what Representative Bachus does when he's not busy trying to score grandstanding points with his constituency by attacking famous Jewish New Yorkers: -- According to the Financial Times, he makes extremely bad banking legislation. (To be fair, he also has co-sponsored what looks at first glance to be an eminently fair, moral and worthy bill intended to provide debt relief to the world's poorest nations. But on the other hand, he voted for the 2005 Debt Peonage Bankruptcy Bill, which considering he's the recipient of a ton of banking-industry money, isn't surprising.) -- He's a good buddy of, erm, "embattled", fellow Congresscritter Tom DeLay (R-TX), who is in deep hot water right now over a variety of ethics issues. In fact, Bachus contributes so much money to Tom DeLay's legal defense fund that he has to use creative methods to keep from breaking the law. -- According to his voting record, he likes the unborn better than the born (especially if the folks already out of the womb are gay), invading oil-rich Muslim countries better than defending European Muslims from persecution, giving tax breaks to the rich over allowing victims of malpractice to get just compensation, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Maybe we should contact the Congressman and tell him that he wouldn't need to grandstand to get votes if he actually did the people's business once in a while.

Monday, May 23, 2005


More Wingnut Depression Over Frist's Failure To Trigger The Nuclear Option

Remember, Frist was told by Dobson and Robertson that if he compromised on this, he could forget about their help for his presidential run in 2008. Guess what? He was forced to compromise. And his old buddy Trent Lott made him do it. The comments in bold in the last post are a result. And it's not just Free Republic, either. Check out Dobson's response. And here's a link to the reactions of other right-wing bloggers and tastemakers. They are all pissed beyond belief that a compromise was reached. Since Frist is Bush's catspaw in the Senate -- the whole reason Karl Rove went along with dumping Trent Lott as Senator Majority Leader in the wake of the Thurmond controversy was because Rove wanted the far-more-docile Frist in that job -- this is also a loss for Bush. They were planning to just push through all of the nominees AND totally take out the filibuster. That didn't happen. Considering that the Republicans have a 55-45 edge in the Senate, this is a very good deal for the Democrats indeed.


Nuclear Option Averted: Freepers, Fundies In Deep Mourning

I know that a lot of folks on the progressive side are really upset that this wasn't brought to a big test, and that the price of the likely confirmation of three of Bush's rejected judges is too high a price to pay. But remember this: The Wingies WANTED the Nuclear Option. They really, really wanted it. Any compromise on this is a total and abject betrayal, as far as they are concerned. They told Bill Frist that he could forget about his 2008 presidential plans if he allowed any sort of compromise to go through. Guess what? He did. He had to -- the public was on the side of the Democrats on this issue. Go over and check out FreeRepublic.com -- they are INTENSELY upset over not getting their Nuclear Option! Or better yet, go to this Kos diary, wherein a Kossack has gathered up some Freepers' reactions:

-- I just left the GoP. I'm done with them. Cowards. -- We've been snookered again. Picture Lucy whipping the football out from under Charlie Brown for about the millionth time. -- Who would have ever thought that the GOP Senators would have folded to Democratic Demands? I am Shocked! The last time I was this surprised was this morning when the sun came up. -- The GOP is now dead to me. Bill Frist....ah why even bother.. -- NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -- Bill Frist cannot control the RINO's in the Senate. The Democrats win again. -- What the HELL is this???????? We don't need a deal!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am furious. I will NOT SEND ANY MORE MONEY TO THE REPUBS. We didn't NEED a deal and we don't WANT a deal!!! -- I mailed my change of registration in this morning. Welcome to the growing ranks of the unaffiliated. -- This is a sad day for the Republican party, and the conservative movement in this country! The Dems will likely gain in Congress in 2006 because of this kind of cowardice. What's the matter with you folks in Arizona????? Is McCain the best you can do?? -- It seems like Frist wouldn't have to votes to stop a potential filibuster on a SCOTUS nominee. -- Underneath the chestnut tree; The Republicans sold you, and the GOP sold me. -- Not another frigging dime or a minute of my time, I stay home in 06' or vote libertarian. Unfreakin believable -- If this is true it is truly an outrage. The only deal is the one the crats got. Everything they wanted. We got nothing. Only thing to do now is support a third party that can hopefully pick up 10-15% of the vote and use it as leverage to bargain. -- Republican moderate - horse sugar! What a bunch of stupid little pricks. -- Go to the National Republican Senatorial Committee to voice your outrage. Below is my letter: The “Republican” senators I helped get into the majority have compromised on President Bush’s judicial nominations. I will tell every Republican I know not to contribute one thin dime to the NRSC ever again. We in the grassroots worked our tails off for this majority and McCain et al., have betrayed us, our president and his future Supreme Court nominees. I hope you realize that the NRSC will starve for funds for the foreseeable future. The 55-Senator GOP majority wasn’t worth our effort. The RINOs made a disgusting mistake taking us for granted.
You have no idea how hard Dobson and Company have been pushing Frist for weeks not to even THINK of cutting a deal over this issue. Hell, they've been attacking Trent-Friggin-LOTT over this -- and seriously pissing him off in the process! In fact, I see Trent Lott's fine hand in this arrangement. He's a loyal Republican, all right -- but he's also a believer in the idea that the Senate should not be an adjunct of the Executive Branch. Remember, Karl Rove gleefully went along with forcing Lott out of his Majority Leader job over the Thurmond flap because it meant that Rove could then move a BushCo puppet, Bill Frist, into the job. Lott, I suspect, has been waiting patiently for the right time to remind Rove that he's not Augustus Caesar. This is apparently it.


Karzai and Myers: Newsweek article had nothing to do with riots

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN yesterday, Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai said what General Richard Myers had said on May 12, nearly two weeks earlier: that the Newsweek article, while it was unfortunate, did NOT, repeat, did NOT, cause the rioting and deaths in his country. Here's General Myers' comments from May 12:

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff says a report from Afghanistan suggests that rioting in Jalalabad on May 11 was not necessarily connected to press reports that the Quran might have been desecrated in the presence of Muslim prisoners held in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Air Force General Richard Myers told reporters at the Pentagon May 12 that he has been told that the Jalalabad, Afghanistan, rioting was related more to the ongoing political reconciliation process in Afghanistan than anything else. According to initial reports, the situation in Jalalabad began on May 10 with peaceful student protests reacting to a report in Newsweek magazine that U.S. military interrogators questioning Muslim detainees at the Guantanamo detention center “had placed Quran s on toilets, and in at least one case flushed a holy book.” By the following day the protests in the city had turned violent with reports of several individuals killed, dozens wounded, and widespread looting of government, diplomatic and nongovernmental assets. However, Myers said an after-action report provided by U.S. Army Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, commander of the Combined Forces in Afghanistan, indicated that the political violence was not, in fact, connected to the magazine report.
And here's Karzai's comments (the direct CNN transcript link is here):
BLITZER: How much damage to the U.S. image was done by that "Newsweek" story, that has since been fully retracted, alleging that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay flushed a Koran down the toilet? KARZAI: It was a very unfortunate story. First of all, a very serious matter: a matter of people's beliefs and feelings. It is reported in a column, in a gossip column. That's very -- well, I don't know what to say about that. That's just not good. We were angry about that. It's a rumor. Let's be wise. Let's be assistive. Let's check if it's true or not true, and then react, and react reasonably. What happened in Afghanistan a week ago was really not something done by the Afghan people. It was actually the violence -- the trouble was directed at the strategic partnership that Afghanistan is talking with the United States. It was directed at the peace process that we have of inviting back the thousands of the Taliban to come back to their country. It was actually against the elections in Afghanistan. So we know what was going on there.
But of course, this won't stop the Bushistas and their right-wing media allies in the blogosphere and beyond from repeating the lie against Newsweek.


Speaking of Grover Norquist....

...he's one of the persons tangled up with Tom DeLay in the Abramoff Indian-Gaming Scandals:

While Mr. Abramoff has been under scrutiny for more than a year, Mr. Norquist has attracted unwelcome attention in recent weeks. A Congressional committee investigating whether Mr. Abramoff defrauded Indian tribes has subpoenaed records from Mr. Norquist's group, Americans for Tax Reform, after he refused for six months to turn them over voluntarily. The Justice Department is reviewing records of an advocacy group Mr. Norquist started with Gale A. Norton, now secretary of the interior, after reports that Mr. Abramoff instructed Indian tribes to give it $250,000. And Mr. Norquist's name appears over and over in newly disclosed documents outlining Mr. Abramoff's work in the Northern Mariana Islands, an American protectorate in the Pacific, which Democrats are agitating to investigate.
But of course, in keeping with the fine neo-Stalinist neo-Confederate tradition of blaming everyone but himself for his problems, Norquist says he's the poor widdle victim of evil beings like -- get this -- John McCain:
In interviews, Mr. Norquist dismissed any suggestion of wrongdoing on his part and said that the only reason he is "getting dragged into this" is because Senator John McCain, the head of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which is investigating Mr. Abramoff, holds a grudge against Mr. Norquist for campaigning for President Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries.
Grover's trying the old NeoCon Two-Step blaming his problems on his enemies while at the same time trying to put some daylight between himself and his most famous and helpful friends:
With Mr. DeLay's eager backing and Mr. Abramoff's help, Mr. Norquist engineered a shift in the city's lobbying corps by making it clear to K Street firms and trade associations that if they wanted access on Capitol Hill, they had to hire and donate to more Republicans. [PW butts in: Make that ONLY Republicans.] As Mr. Abramoff's problems touched Mr. DeLay - the majority leader may face an ethics inquiry over trips arranged by Mr. Abramoff - Mr. Norquist was their most vocal defender. But in recent weeks he has distanced himself from the two men whose success has been so intertwined with his own. At a gala dinner this month to support Mr. DeLay, Mr. Norquist declined a seat on the dais, despite being listed as a host. He slipped out after a predinner reception, he said later, for a dinner party at his home. Mr. Abramoff attended his wedding on April 2, yet Mr. Norquist described him as simply a "friend," someone he has lunch or dinner with a few times a year. "I knew him when we were in college," he said. "But there's no business or financial relationship." Mr. Norquist later elaborated: "I haven't seen that much of him recently, and I don't - and it's mostly because - I'm not shunning him or anything. It's just, I'm busy, he's busy, he's in a different world. He took the path I didn't take, which was to go make money as a consultant, and I decided to build A.T.R." But Mr. Abramoff's lobbying billing records for one client, recently released under a Freedom of Information Act request, show that Mr. Abramoff billed for consulting with Mr. Norquist.
Pass the popcorn!

The Pendulum Swings Left

Actually, the pendulum has been swinging left for some time, it's just that only now -- and only with the prodding of lefty bloggers and outfits like AirAmerica and Media Matters -- are the US media people starting to acknowledge this. Even so, don't expect to find tidbits like this one on the evening news any time soon:

Some House Republicans are angry that they were not warned about a GOP-commissioned survey in which their constituents were polled on the issue of human embryonic stem cell research in an effort by other Republican lawmakers to boost support for federal legislation that would expand government funding for such research, the... Washington Times reports (Fagan/Dinan, Washington Times, 5/19). According to the survey of 1,300 registered voters in 13 Republican-controlled House districts, 66% of individuals surveyed said they support embryonic stem cell research and 27% said they oppose such research. The survey was sponsored in part by the Republican Main Street Partnership and conducted by the Winston Group, which conducts surveys for the Republican leadership in the House and Senate (CQ HealthBeat, 5/1). The results of the survey, which was commissioned by Rep. Michael Castle (R-Del.) and other supporters of embryonic stem cell research, then were used to boost support for a federal bill that would expand federal funding for such research (Washington Times, 5/19).
Dear Terri Schiavo, whereever you may be: Thank you for inadvertently bringing the poison of the religio-racist corporate right to the surface. Their decision to attack your husband has led a lot of Americans to take a hard look at persons who were and are capable of telling horrific lies about you and other people and things.


They Call Them "Fees" Because "Revenue Enhancement" Was Already Taken

It's fun watching Minnesota's Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty -- also known as David Strom's cabana boy -- put himself through all sorts of contortions on the tax issue. See, when he was running the Minnesota Legislature, Pawlenty rammed through a bunch of tax breaks that, just like Bush's tax cuts on the Federal level, were of the most benefit to the very rich. He later got himself elected Governor on a no-tax-and-no-gambling platform, and worked to cut the taxes for the very rich even more. Well, you can see what this all meant. Even with huge cutbacks in everything from the Minnesota state university system to road work to public libraries, the drop in revenue has been so huge that the state is swimming in red ink even as the service cutbacks have trashed our once-envied quality of life. Now, Pawlenty has been backed up against a wall. The Democrats in the state legislature, who he thought he had whipped, have now come roaring back, emboldened by their big gains last November. A number of Pawlenty's biggest conservative Republican allies lost their seats to Democrats, a fact which has also enabled the moderate Republicans (aka those who don't want the state to become South Dakota or Mississippi) in the legislature to unite more frequently with the Democrats to try to save their fair state from falling into a Grover Norquist dream-vision of third-world poverty for the masses and unimaginable tax-free wealth for the fortunate few at the top. The most recent effort of the Democrats and the GOP mods is a bill that would undo some of Pawlenty's giveaways over the years to Minnesota's richest citizens -- 44,000 people out of a population of over six million. At the same time, Pawlenty's owners, such as the aforementioned David Strom over at the Minnesota (Rich) Taxpayers' League, are constantly reminding him that he works for them and not us. (Need I say that they are strongly against undoing the tax breaks for Minnesota's richest .8%?) So what does Pawlenty do? First of all, Mr. Anti-Gambling is trying to muscle in on the Native-American casino action by setting up a state casino in the Twin Cities. He figured that a) it's an easy way to increase the state's revenues, and b) his base hates Indians anyway and especially hates the idea of their hard-earned betting money going to people who aren't white. But he's running into surprisingly stiff opposition, much of it from the members of his own party who took his initial anti-gambling pledge seriously. Second of all, he's stolen a page from Ronald "Revenue Enhancement" Reagan and gone fee-crazy. Scads of activities that used to be free for the general public now have fees attached. These act as extremely regressive taxes, since the people who pay most of the fees are those who have the least money to start with. A $50 fee is nothing to someone like PowerLine conservablogger, .8 percent club member, and Faegre & Benson lawyer John "Hindrocket" Hinderaker. But they're sizable chunks of change to the rest of us. Pawlenty's been able to get away with the fee scam for a while now. But in his call for a new 75-cent-per-pack "fee" on cigarettes -- which would thrown on top of the taxes that already exist for cigarettes -- he just overplayed his hand. It's now clear to everyone that "fees" are taxes that hurt the little people. And even David Strom, who would rather see Minnesota turn into a northern version of Mississippi rather than undo any of the recent tax cuts, is not shying away from pointing out that these fees are most certainly taxes. Suddenly, Pawlenty's looking very vulnerable. And if the Democrats can find a strong candidate, 2006 should be the year that Pawlenty and Strom are toppled.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Two US Views on George Galloway

Here's Scott Ritter's take. And here's Bryan Zepp Jamieson's. As you read both of them, you'll see why the SCLM, with a few exceptions, have done their best to avoid lingering on the utter shellacking Galloway gave Norm Coleman last week.


Back to Square One: Afghan Civil War Looming

DEFENCE chiefs are planning to rush thousands of British troops to Afghanistan in a bid to stop the country sliding towards civil war, Scotland on Sunday can reveal. Ministers have been warned they face a "complete strategic failure" of the effort to rebuild Afghanistan and that 5,500 extra troops will be needed within months if the situation continues to deteriorate. An explosive cocktail of feuding tribal warlords, insurgents, the remnants of the Taliban, and under-performing Afghan institutions has left the fledgling democracy on the verge of disintegration, according to analysts and senior officers. ... Defence analysts say UK forces are already so over-stretched that any operation to restore order in Afghanistan can only succeed if substantial numbers of troops are redeployed from Iraq, itself in the grip of insurgency. Brian Brady in The Scotsman

A Wedding to Cry At

In the neverending saga of Republican family values, Mary Kay LeTourneau married the boy that she raped when he was a child. Ms Letourneau was arrested in 1997 when pregnant with the couple's first child and admitted second-degree child rape. She was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years' jail, most of it suspended. She had to serve the full term after she was caught having sex with Mr Fualaau. She was released last August after having given birth to the couple's second daughter in jail. From the BBC When one sees the sort of corrupt, licentious lives that Republicans lead, it's no wonder they think that the country's moral values are going to Hell.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Worst of Times

The best? Why, Krugman, of course:

Here's what I think will happen if and when China changes its currency policy, and those cheap loans are no longer available. U.S. interest rates will rise; the housing bubble will probably burst; construction employment and consumer spending will both fall; falling home prices may lead to a wave of bankruptcies. And we'll suddenly wonder why anyone thought financing the budget deficit was easy. In other words, we've developed an addiction to Chinese dollar purchases, and will suffer painful withdrawal symptoms when they come to an end.
The worst? Well, it used to be David Brooks. But John Tierney, scarily enough, makes David Brooks look good:
[Anakin-soon-to-be-Vader] says he could never betray the Jedi because they're his family, but then the chancellor puts the family question in perspective: "Learn to know the dark side of the Force, Anakin, and you will be able to save your wife from certain death." Anakin promptly recognizes the limits of altruism, just as Adam Smith did in the 18th century.
Note that while Krugman's column is grounded in fact, Tierney's column is grounded in pop-culture psychobabble that would embarrass Thomas Friedman. 'Nuff said.


Why We Need John Conyers' 05/24/05 Forum On Media Bias, Reason #8456904856

As Atrios and his friends at Media Matters point out, the Washington Post is so eager to print CPB head Tomlinson's lies that they're willing to contradict their own past reporting! This is why I'm so glad that Congressman Conyers is holding this forum next Tuesday.

Friday, May 20, 2005


Bushco truth deflection dealt setback as reality bites: Bagram abuse went to top

A leaked report on a military investigation into two killings of detainees at a US prison in Afghanistan has produced new evidence of connivance of senior officers in systematic prisoner abuse. The investigation shows the military intelligence officers in charge of the detention centre at Bagram airport were redeployed to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003, while still under investigation for the deaths of two detainees months earlier. The Guardian's Julian Borger, who else?

Army recruiters lie to put teens in harm's way

Kudos to Channel 5, Cincinnati for breaking this story Wagner: "But as Target 5 discovered, those military pitches can turn from fact to fiction in a matter of seconds. Target 5 sent four young men, with hidden cameras, into every Tri-state armed forces recruiting center. The conversations began with talk of job security." Recruiter: "We guarantee you a job." Wagner: "Signing bonuses." Recruiter: "Up to $20,000." Wagner: "And cash for college." Recruiter: "Up to $70,000 for college." Wagner: "But when the questions turn to safety, some Tri-state recruiters make Iraq sound more like a trip to Tahiti than a journey to war." Recruiter: "You have more chance of dying here in the United States at, what is it, 36-percent die, kill rate here in the United States, people here just dying left and right, you have more chance of dying over here than you do over there." Wagner: "The U.S. does not have a 36-percent kill rate. If that were true, more than 100 million people, one-third of the U.S. population, would be killed each year."

John Dean suggests that Plame case developments may indicate White House perjury

Take it away, John...

Afghans Die Gruesome Deaths At Hands Of US Torturers Interrogators

From the New York Times via TruthOut:

Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him. The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days. Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face. "Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!" At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling. "Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying. Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.
Mr. Dilawar wasn't the only Afghan who was tortured to death by US personnel. He very likely wasn't the only innocent man to die at their hands, either. But of course Newsweek's Rove-forced apology on the Koran story means this will never see the evening news.


The Family Values Party Strikes Again!

The following is not, repeat, not, an Onion headline:

Mary Carey to dine with President Bush By: Chip Baker Posted: 1:15 pm PDT 5-18-2005 LOS ANGELES - Porn star and former gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey will be joining her boss, Kick Ass Pictures president Mark Kulkis, in attending a dinner with President Bush in Washington, D.C. on June 14. Kulkis was invited to attend the event by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which is organizing the event. Over a two-day course of NRCC events preceding the dinner, Carey and Kulkis will be attending a meeting with presidential advisor Karl Rove, giving their recommendations on important national issues. "I'm hoping to run as Lieutenant Governor of California next year," Carey said. "Since Arnold {Schwarzenegger} is a Republican, I thought this dinner would be a great networking opportunity for me."
Go read the whole thing. It's hilarious.


Piggybacking on Charles' Japan Post...

I was particularly struck (oowwww!) by this paragraph from the Guardian article Charles cited yesterday:

During Japan's crisis, western - mainly American - witch doctors advised that the only solution was to abandon Japanese customs like lifetime employment and adopt more Anglo-Saxon practices such as shareholder value. The age-old western habit of believing that its arrangements - of the neo-liberal variety, in this instance - are always best proved as strong as ever: it is in our genes. The fact that the US was at the time in the early stages of its own bubble might have suggested a little humility was in order. In the event, Japan largely ignored the advice and has emerged from its long, post-bubble recession looking remarkably like it did before the crisis.
Shorter version: An economy that's based on caring about everyone is healthier, more efficient, and more resilient than one that's based on screwing your employees into the ground just so you can have a second yacht.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


British may re-engage Hamas, Hizbullah

The British rethink has been forced by the success of Hamas in municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza on May 5, where it took control of 30 of the 84 municipal councils. It could take about 30% of the seats in the parliamentary elections, tentatively scheduled for July 17, and, in theory, join the Palestinian Authority. The popularity of Hamas, a hardline Islamist group, is partly because it is seen as free of corruption, in contrast with the ruling Fatah organisation. Hizbullah is to contest the Lebanese election, scheduled for May 29. It is closely linked with Iran, and fought Israel in southern Lebanon, forcing its army to pull out in 2000.] Ewen McAskill, The Guardian

The resurgence of Japan

Even a casual observer who cannot understand Japanese will almost immediately notice the differences: the absence of antisocial behaviour, the courtesy displayed by the Japanese towards each other, the extraordinary efficiency and orderliness that characterise the stuff of everyday life, from public transport to shopping. For those of a more statistical persuasion, it is reflected in what are, by western standards, extremely low crime rates. Not least, it finds expression in the success of Japanese companies. This has wrongly been attributed to an organisational system, namely just-in-time production, which, it was believed, could be imitated and applied with equal effect elsewhere. But the roots of the success of a company such as Toyota lie much deeper: in the social relations that typify Japanese society and that allow a very different kind of participation by the workforce in comparison with the west. As a result, non-Japanese companies have found it extremely difficult to copy these ideas with anything like the same degree of success. From The Guardian

Free-Market Socialism!

If conservatism is about standing on one's own two feet without being propped up by outside sources, and if conservatism is such a popular philosophy, then why is it that: -- National Review Online needs to run fundraising drives? -- FOX News' ratings are now in freefall? Even better, in April 2005, FNC's weekday primetime demo average decreased 25% compared to the year-ago, while CNN increased 27%. -- Center-left Air America and Democracy Radio have gone from zero to nearly 150 stations in a little over a year, and will be profitable in less time than it took FOX News to turn a profit. What was that about the Invisible Hand again, Rush?


StarTribune Newsroom: Carrying Coleman's Water?

One of the ironic things is how the Minneapolis StarTribune is considered by wingnuts to be a firebreathingly liberal paper when D.J. Tice, the editor of the politics portion of its newsroom, is actually quite Republican and conservative. (There are those of us who still remember his frequent and unabashedly right-wing editorials that he wrote while with the late and lamented Twin Cities Reader.) Even if the current editorial staff writes up some lovely liberal pieces, Tice has a great deal of say in what stories get written up -- and how they get written up. This, perhaps, helps explain the bizarrely pro-Coleman stance shown in Kevin Diaz' piece on the Coleman-Galloway showdown -- especially as Coleman is no fan of the Strib. (As could be predicted, the editorial comment on Coleman-Galloway scheduled for tomorrow's paper is actually better, and contains more pertinent facts, than the Diaz piece.) As the following StarTribune reader says:

The exchange between MP George Galloway and Sen. Norm Coleman was widely viewed by anyone with an Internet connection or C-Span. There is no getting around the fact that Galloway made Coleman look like a complete fool. Yet the Star Tribune didn't tell this story. Its story read more like a press release for the senator.
Write to Anders Gyllenhaal, the Strib's big kahuna (andersg AT startribune DOT com), and tell him that he will never get the right-wingers off his back no matter how much he or his reporters kowtow to them. In fact, right-wingers see compromise as weakness -- period. They attack you harder if they think it'll make you cave even more.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Hit him again, George

(From Bartcop)

Are we being misled on Uzbekhistan?

People who reason that the US supports President Karimov, and will therefore turn a blind eye to his alleged excesses, do not understand the thrust of current American policy, which is to try to support and control all sides in any political equation. As in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan under former President Akayev, Uzbekistan is home to scores of western-backed NGOs that agitate politically for the opposition. For instance, Freedom House - a notorious CIA front and the main architect of the orange revolution in Ukraine - has an office in Tashkent. John Laughland in The Guardian (where else?)

A nominee for wanker of the day. The envelope please...

Jon Friedman of CBSMarketWatch writes I suspect that [Newsweek] will regain much of its journalistic credibility -- eventually. But at this point, the wounds are too fresh and run too deep for its executives to harbor any realistic hope of achieving a quick fix. The mess started when Newsweek published a story in its May 9 issue saying that American military representatives at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba had desecrated the sacred Quran in front of Muslim detainees. Not long afterward, rioting broke out in Afghanistan, and Newsweek was blamed. At least 15 people were killed and dozens were injured. While other miscues by the American media over the years have proved embarrassing to their organizations and the journalism profession as a whole, this was the rare case in which a story carried such clear fatal consequences. ... Ever since, Newsweek's top editors and reporters have been more conspicuous on the air than Jane Fonda. ... Taking responsibility for the mistake was essential for Newsweek, which has been one of the most decorated magazines around, to rebuild its credibility in the U.S. America is a forgiving nation. Once someone admits an honest mistake, we are frequently inclined to accept it and move on. What the public -- and, especially, the media -- won't tolerate is any appearance of a cover-up. Famous people from President Nixon to Martha Stewart (now there's a pairing for the ages, eh?) have found this out, the hard way. ... While [some Republican monkey who wrote to Friedman's] anger is genuine and well articulated, eventually I think that most fair-minded people will be willing to forgive Newsweek. They'll conclude that Newsweek's gaffe occurred as a result of extreme journalistic sloppiness (and the foolishness of trusting an unreliable and unnamed source of information).The wild card is the polarization of America itself these days. For what it's worth, the emails I've received from readers about this story comes in two forms: right-wingers blaming Newsweek for inflaming anti-American feelings around the world and left-wingers insisting the magazine will be proven correct (sounding, ironically, like the right-wingers who used to swear to me that we WOULD someday find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, even though every shred of evidence suggested the opposite).... Wank, wank, wank! Do your blood pressure a favor. Tell Mr. Friedman what you think of him.

Bushco's multimillion dollar payoff to Florida

Report Faults FEMA on Aid Homeland Security Audit Finds Millions in Poorly Documented Payouts By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY The federal government gave $31 million in disaster relief for Hurricane Frances to 12,000 Florida residents who were not directly hit by the hurricane last fall and may not have deserved any money, government auditors say in a report to be released Wednesday...So far, 14 people have been indicted for making false claims. The storm hit in September, not long at all before the election. November 3, 2004 FYI Charles Mahtesian is the editor of the Almanac of American Politics. This article is adapted from his "Political World" column in the Nov. 1 issue of Government Executive. How FEMA delivered Florida for Bush By Charles Mahtesian Now that President Bush has won Florida in his 2004 re-election bid, he may want to draft a letter of appreciation to Michael Brown, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Seldom has any federal agency had the opportunity to so directly and uniquely alter the course of a presidential election, and seldom has any agency delivered for a president as FEMA did in Florida this fall. ... In 1992, the last time a major hurricane pummeled Florida in the homestretch of a presidential election, FEMA was caught with its pants down. Its response to Hurricane Andrew was disorganized and chaotic, leaving thousands without shelter and water. Cleanup and resupply efforts were snarled in red tape. After watching the messy relief efforts unfold, lawmakers questioned whether FEMA was a Cold War relic that ought to be abolished.... By the end of September, three hurricanes later, the agency had processed 646,984 registrations for assistance with the help of phone lines operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fifty-five shelters, 31 disaster recovery centers and six medical teams were in operation across the state. Federal and state assistance to households reached more than $361 million, nearly 300,000 housing inspections were completed, and roughly 150,000 waterproof tarps were provided for homeowners, according to FEMA figures. ... So, nearly 10% of the assistance was given to people who were not hit by the hurricane in a crucial state a few weeks before an election. One of the things Mahtesian forgets is the reason FEMA performed so miserably in 1992 was that it had become a dumping ground for Bush I cronies. But in any event, it's hard not to see the disaster assistance as vote buying.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


More Galloway, This Time With CNN

One thing for sure about George Galloway: He fears no man. Check this out from CNN:

ROTH: They say they talked to a senior Iraqi official, I believe, yesterday, saying that -- saying that you were on the take? GALLOWAY: Yes, although they wouldn't say who the official was, whether the official's in Abu Ghraib prison, like the rest of the prisoners of the United States, or whether he's received some inducement or other. We don't know, because they won't name him. And I think the era of secret evidence -- now that we know what we know about the secret evidence that led us into the war on Iraq -- is over. The public don't want to know about secret evidence that leaders can know that other people don't know. The bottom line is this: if I had ever bought or sold a drop of Iraqi oil, you'd know about it. The man [that] gave me the money would be in front of this camera now. He'd have been in front of that Senate now. There would have been evidence. "Show me the money," I challenged the Senate chairman. And he can't show me the money because no money ever, ever reached my hands. Our campaign against sanctions and war was funded by the king of the United Arab Emirates, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, two of the most important friends in the Middle East of the United States. ROTH: Are you -- are you worried about Paul Volcker's investigation, which is U.N.-approved? You praised [U.N. Secretary-General Kofi] Annan today and the U.N. effort to stop the war. But what of -- that report is also looking at businesses for journalists, companies. GALLOWAY: Sure. Now I have nothing to fear from that because I have never done any business with Iraq, none at all. Not so much as a drop of oil, not so much as a loaf of bread, not so much as a piece of cake. I've never bought or sold anything to or from Iraq. I did what I did for Iraq for the reasons I've been doing what I've been doing all my political life: because I believe in it. ROTH: George Galloway, minister of parliament. You took the oath. The committee says you face perjury if the charges are later proven. GALLOWAY: I'm afraid the liars are on other side of this argument.
Remember, Galloway's faced these accusations before -- and he's not only proved them false, but won over a million dollars in libel judgements. And Norm Coleman is a jerk and an idiot. I think I'll trust Mr. Galloway, thank you.


Today's Lesson: Be Liberal, Gain Readership!

Of the nation's twenty biggest daily papers, all but four have suffered circulation losses -- some that were fairly dramatic -- of late. But one paper has managed, despite (or perhaps because of) constant attacks by the right-wing (including filthy-rich conservabloggers whose even richer banker bosses cut off their bank's ads to the paper) to not only hold the line, but actually make some modest gains that turned out to be the biggest gains of any of the top twenty dailies. The paper? Why, the Minneapolis StarTribune. Yessir, the most famously liberal daily paper in America, and the one whose editorial staff has got more, not less, ferociously liberal over the past few years after its ownership changed. The lesson: Be liberal, gain readership!


Democrats, pay attention. This is what a leader looks and sounds like:

"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf. "Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice. "Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false. "I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein. "As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. ... "I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce. "You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do. "Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'. "Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise. "Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members of your committee today. "You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realise played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq. "There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster. ... "You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time. "And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period. "But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries. .... If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth. "Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer. "Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it. "Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government." In which George Galloway publicly demonstrates the 418 ways in which Norm Coleman is a complete fool I sure wish the Big Dog had some of Galloway's bite.

Dang it!

They didn't reschedule the Galloway-Idiot Boy Showdown for tomorrow, as I'd heard. Too late for the good stuff, but the C-Span video is here. And according to the Atriots, Gorgeous George Galloway is using the table on that puling twit otherwise known as my junior senator, Norm Coleman.

Monday, May 16, 2005


Boy, Is Norm Coleman Going To Regret He Ever Opened His Pie-Hole On This Issue

Seems that BushCo knew all about the money being stolen from the Oil-for-Food program -- and looked the other way:

A report released last night by Democratic staff on a Senate investigations committee presents documentary evidence that the Bush administration was made aware of illegal oil sales and kickbacks paid to the Saddam Hussein regime but did nothing to stop them. The scale of the shipments involved dwarfs those previously alleged by the Senate committee against UN staff and European politicians....In fact, the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil — more than the rest of the world put together.
I presume that Mr. Galloway has been informed of this in time for the scheduled ass-kicking, which was supposed to be Tuesday but has been moved to Wednesday is scheduled for Tuesday.


The Gold Standard

I'm told that the reason the Newsweek story was so important, even though scads of other stories reporting Koran desecration by US interrogators and others had been published over the years, was that the Newsweek story was verified by a Pentagon source -- who has now apparently decided to screw the magazine. Anyway, the gold standard is US military personnel (or any non-detainee -- apparently because Those Evil Dark-Skinned Heathens can't be trusted) caught talking about Korans being thrown into toilets. So here you go:

Newsweek Got Gitmo Right May 16, 2005 Contrary to White House spin, the allegations of religious desecration at Guantanamo published by Newsweek on May 9, 2005, are common among ex-prisoners and have been widely reported outside the United States. Several former detainees at the Guantanamo and Bagram prisons have reported instances of their handlers sitting or standing on the Koran, throwing or kicking it in toilets, and urinating on it. Prior to the Newsweek article, the New York Times reported a Guantanamo insider asserting that the commander of the facility was compelled by prisoner protests to address the problem and issue an apology. One such incident (during which the Koran was allegedly thrown in a pile and stepped on) prompted a hunger strike among Guantanamo detainees in March 2002. Regarding this, the New York Times in a May 1, 2005, article interviewed a former detainee, Nasser Nijer Naser al-Mutairi, who said the protest ended with a senior officer delivering an apology to the entire camp. And the Times reports: "A former interrogator at Guantanamo, in an interview with the Times, confirmed the accounts of the hunger strikes, including the public expression of regret over the treatment of the Korans." (Neil A. Lewis and Eric Schmitt, "Inquiry Finds Abuses at Guantanamo Bay," New York Times, May 1, 2005.)
Okay, reporters -- here's your gold standard. And it's only two weeks old. When will the mainstream press stop cowering in front of Bush like a bunch of incontinent Cocker spaniels?


Yes, Let's DO Talk About The Oil-for-Food Scandal!

... as in the Texas Puppeteer Oil-for-Food Scandal! Thanks to Hunter at DailyKos for posting this:

Panel says BayOil key in Saddam scheme
By David Ivanovich

WASHINGTON - Houston's BayOil (USA) was the "puppeteer" in a scheme to help Russian politicians profit illegally from the United Nations' oil-for-food program and pay kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime, Senate investigators say.

The Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations contends the trading firm, led by Houston's David Chalmers Jr., played a key role in helping Saddam curry favor with Russian leaders. At the time, Saddam was trying to win friends on the U.N. Security Council. "They are involved in Iraqi oil from soup to nuts," a Senate investigator said. [...] BayOil, hoping to get some Iraqi oil, contacted several Russian companies, Senate investigators say. Bulgarian-born Dionissiev, the investigators said, was "well-known to the Russian oil industry." In December 1998, BayOil signed an agreement to purchase Zhirinovsky's crude, the subcommittee said. Zhirinovsky informed Aziz of the deal, and he objected. The Iraqis were not doing business with American firms. So BayOil found a Russian agent, called Nafta Moscow or Nafta Moskva. To facilitate a transaction, Chalmers coached Zhirinovsky on the language he should use in a letter to BayOil, according to one of the panel's reports. Dionissiev, meanwhile, advised Nafta Moskva how to negotiate with the Iraqis. "BayOil is orchestrating this whole thing," one investigator said. Another dubbed the company "the puppeteer."

And just as David Bayless is a very good friend of the GOP, so is his employee, Ludmil Dionissiev -- and unlike Bayless, he hasn't tried to hedge his bets even once with any Democratic donations. Oh, and did I mention that BayOil's buddy Zhirinovsky is a freaking nutcase?
Mr Zhirinovsky is famous for acknowledging that he dreams of a day "when Russian soldiers can wash their boots in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean". He has also threatened to seize Alaska from the United States, to launch a nuclear strike on Japan, to flood Germany with radioactive waste, and to occupy the Baltic states. "You are standing in our way to the sea ports," he told an Estonian interviewer. Mr Zhirinovsky has been expelled from Bulgaria for insulting its president, and barred from entry to Germany. Iraq's Saddam Hussein figures high among his friends in the international community. Members of "Zhirinovsky's Falcons" - a uniformed group of LDPR supporters - went to Baghdad to show solidarity during the US-led assault on Iraq, Desert Storm.
Also indicted, as Kossack Davej reminds us, is Tongsun Park, aka Sun Myung Moon's best buddy. (You know Mr. Moon, right? Runs the right-wing's favorite newspaper? Been accused of running a cult?) HAHAHAHAHAHA.

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