Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Lieberman and Perle ≠ All American Jews And/Or Jewish Organizations

I spent a good chunk of time today fighting back the myth that American Jews and Jewish organizations are all marching in lockstep behind Bush and his foreign policy actions, including selling off the nation's ports to Dubai. From the comment WRT to the ports issue that set me off:

But seriously, the major Jewish organizations are all throwing in with the Republicans and I'm a bit skeptical if this can be used as a wedge issue.
Sorry, but Joe Lieberman isn't the only Jew out there. (Really, he's not. And neither is Richard Perle.) As regular readers of this blog know, Chuck Schumer has been against the deal from the beginning, and he's also spent much of the past few years pushing for better port security in general. And guess what? Schumer's Jewish. As for Iraq, Reform Judaism is the biggest branch of Judaism in America, and guess what? They're very vocally opposed to the Iraq war. The problem is that just as the GOP/Media Complex only thinks that right-wing Fundamentalist Christians are the only Christians, they also want us to think that Lieberman and Perle speak for all American Jews. They don't.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Lesson One: Don't Put Heritage Foundation Hacks In Charge Of ANYTHING

And here's why:

WASHINGTON - Poor prewar planning left the United States without enough skilled workers to efficiently rebuild Iraq's economy and public works, according to a report issued Monday. The study by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction provided a new explanation for the lagging reconstruction effort. Surveys by the Bush administration and congressional auditors have blamed insurgent attacks and the high cost of security. Thanks to inadequate planning, the report said, early occupation officials lacked enough reconstruction staffers who knew what they were doing.


Can We Start Calling Him A Failed President Now?

Say hello to Mister Thirty-Four Percent! Hell, if the GOP/Media Complex wasn't propping him up, he'd have crashed through the 20% floor by now. (Then again, if the GOP/Media Complex wasn't propping him up, he never would have made it to the White House in the first place.)


They Lie When They Don't Have To

From Scott McClellan in the February 22 press baffling:

From an interview posted in Whitehouse.gov: From Indian Express:

"Chaos is the plan" --Fisk

Dahr Jamail implies Mosque Bombing may have been a US hit: The most important question to ask regarding the bombings of the Golden Mosque in Samarra on the 22nd is: who benefits? Here is his thinking: 1. Recent revelations in Iraq have embarrassed the occupying nations and led to the lifting of extraterritoriality privileges for the British. 2. The new photos from Abu Ghraib are a coincident factor in public outrage, leading the head of the provincial council in Misan to threaten to withdraw from cooperation. 3. Basra has already with drawn cooperation and Kerbala may follow. 4. Although there has been sectarian violence following the demolition of Askariyah, there have actually been larger demonstrations of solidarity between Sunni and Shia. The western media have systematically edited out this. Example: "Shiite religious authority Ayatollah Hussein Ismail al-Sadr said...'Of course it is not Sunnis who did this work; it is the terrorists who are the enemies of the Shiites and Sunni, Muslims and non Muslims. They are the enemies of all religions; terrorism does not have a religion.'" And now the boggler: "...less than a year ago in Basra, two undercover British SAS soldiers were detained by Iraqi security forces whilst traveling in a car full of bombs and remote detonators. Jailed and accused by Muqtada al-Sadr and others of attempting to generate sectarian conflict by planting bombs in mosques, they were broken out of the Iraqi jail by the British military before they could be tried." Oh. So that's what that was all about. "Chaos is the plan" --Fisk (via the Chimp)

Amazing Things One Learns on C-Span

I generally think of The Independent Institute as one of the world's largest collection of nuts, but they had a pretty good show recently. Larry Korb, former NSA head Lt. General William C. Odom, and only one Heritage hack. Inter alia came this revelation: Ho Chi Minh was an "agent" of the OSSduring World War II --Gen. William Odom (on C-Span but no URL available) This is truly an amazing statement. It has long been known that the US worked with Ho Chi Minh against the Japanese, but if he was actually an agent, that's a new ball of wax. Agents are employees of the U.S. Government. When an agent does something, he represents you and me. Outside of the ranks of agents, there are a cloud of deniables, including NOCs, contractors, hangers-on, etc. Granted, the OSS was run much more loosely than its successor, so maybe Odom is using the term in the more generic sense. But I would guess that a bit of important historical truth just leaked out.

Ports And Airports

Schumer makes a good point:

FRIEDMAN: Gentlemen, how much of this is about an Arab-owned port operator? That is, we know there are many foreign countries, companies that operate ports -- Singapore, for instance -- in the United States. How much of this is about Arabs and Muslims operating one of our ports?

SCHUMER: Well, yeah, I would say this. To me, it's the nexus with terrorism that a country has. If this were a non-Arab country with a nexus of terrorism -- Chechnya, East Timor -- I'd have the same concerns. And it does bring up -- Tom, you do bring up a greater concern. We sort of backed into the idea that port security can be run by other countries, and that's something that should be studied. We've never really studied it. After all, we do have a law prohibiting airports, another security pressure point, that can't be owned by foreign countries. So I think that whatever happens in this United Arab Emirates deal, if we get more focus on port security, which some of us have been trying to do in the Congress for years, some good will come out of this.

If foreign countries can't own our airports, it stands to reason that they shouldn't be running our seaports. It's called common sense.


The Dangers Of Reflexive Cynicism

It's all well and good to have a healthy attitude of skepticism towards things. But it's bad when it becomes an unthinkingly reflexive cynicism. Reflexive cynicism seems to me to be a moral figleaf used to excuse inaction on an issue. Hate Bush, but don't have the energy/time/gumption to do anything about him? Then hide behind various figleaves, such as Diebold, in order to find ways to salve their consciences over their inaction. (While Diebold is a problem, too many people are using as an excuse not to work to elect Democrats -- even though Diebold is not the invincible juggernaut people want to think it is; it's getting its butt kicked in California, for one thing.) Which is why it's so saddening/maddening to see the largely uninformed and reflexively unthinking cynicism engendered by this diary over at Daily Kos -- a cynicism that is all but immortal despite the diarist's repeated efforts (of which this is one) to debunk it.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Wasn't "Killing His Own People" One Of PNAC's Pretexts For Toppling Saddam?

We find out from the Information Clearinghouse and the UK Independent that, according to John Pace, the outgoing UN human rights chief for Iraq, that:

...up to three-quarters of the corpses stacked in the city's mortuary show evidence of gunshot wounds to the head or injuries caused by drill-bits or burning cigarettes. Much of the killing, he said, was carried out by Shia Muslim groups under the control of the Ministry of the Interior. Much of the statistical information provided to Mr Pace and his team comes from the Baghdad Medico-Legal Institute, which is located next to the city's mortuary. He said figures show that last July the morgue alone received 1,100 bodies, about 900 of which bore evidence of torture or summary execution. The pattern prevailed throughout the year until December, when the number dropped to 780 bodies, about 400 of which had gunshot or torture wounds. "It's being done by anyone who wishes to wipe out anybody else for various reasons," said Mr Pace, who worked for the UN for more than 40 years in countries ranging from Liberia to Chile. "But the bulk are attributed to the agents of the Ministry of the Interior." Coupled with the suicide bombings and attacks on Shia holy places carried out by Sunnis, some of whom are followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qa'ida's leader in Iraq, the activities of the death squads are pushing Iraq ever closer to a sectarian civil war. Mr Pace said the Ministry of the Interior was "acting as a rogue element within the government". It is controlled by the main Shia party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri); the Interior Minister, Bayan Jabr, is a former leader of Sciri's Badr Brigade militia, which is one of the main groups accused of carrying out sectarian killings. Another is the Mehdi Army of the young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who is part of the Shia coalition seeking to form a government after winning the mid-December election. Many of the 110,000 policemen and police commandos under the ministry's control are suspected of being former members of the Badr Brigade. Not only counter-insurgency units such as the Wolf Brigade, the Scorpions and the Tigers, but the commandos and even the highway patrol police have been accused of acting as death squads.
According to Dr. Faiq Amin, who in 2004 was the director of the Medico-Legal Institute (goodness knows if he's still there), the morgue was designed to hold 60 corpses. Also, Dr. Faiq said -- back in 2004, when the morgue was "only" getting 600 dead bodies a month -- that the number of dead people dropped off at his morgue was three to four times greater than when Saddam Hussein was in power. He can't vouch for the rest of Iraq -- before the invasion, his morgue was able to communicate and share data with the other morgues in Iraq, but that hasn't been possible in over three years now -- but he suspects that similar ratios exist elsewhere. He also points out that he's probably seeing only a small fraction of the persons being killed in Baghdad. The real toll is likely in the thousands per month. Now, why was it that Bush and his neocon PNAC buddies said they wanted to overthrow Saddam? (Besides the WMD that didn't exist, for one.) Something about his human-rights record and killing his own people, right?


Whistleblower in Presidential Election Theft Declares Against Squeezably Soft Tom Feeney

Squeezably soft because he's so d--n rotten. (Image from Bradblog.com) The best campaign slogan so far this season belongs to Clint Curtis, who is carrying the standard ": Should Mr. Feeney be declared the winner of the District 24 seat, I believe he will have to serve out his term from a prison cell."

The war on Iran: Who among them can raise the dead?

Edward Luttwak is not a bad guy. But he is definitely nuts in thinking that an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities could work out. Many commentators argue that a preemptive air attack against Iran's nuclear installations is unfeasible. It would not be swift or surgical, they say, because it would require thousands of strike and defense-suppression sorties. And it is likely to fail even then because some facilities might be too well hidden or too strongly protected. There may well be other, perfectly valid reasons to oppose an attack on Iran's nuclear sites. But let's not pretend that such an attack has no chance of success. In fact, the odds are rather good....The bombing of Iran's nuclear installations may still be a bad idea for other reasons, but not because it would require a huge air offensive. On the contrary, it could all be done in a single night. Assuming one defines success as massive contamination of civilian areas with nuclear material and a few thousand immediate deaths, followed by an uprising throughout the Arab and Muslim world, I guess it's a cakewalk. Of course, the Middle East being the Middle East, Luttwak is not alone in his insanity. If the United States launches an attack on Iran, the Islamic republic will retaliate with a military strike on Israel's main nuclear facility, an advisor to Iran's Revolutionary Guard said. The advisor, Dr. Abasi, said Tehran would respond to an American attack with strikes on the Dimona nuclear reactor and other strategic Israeli sites such as the port city of Haifa and the Zakhariya area. Haifa is also home to a large concentration of chemical factories and oil refineries. Zakhariya, located in the Jerusalem hills is - according to foreign reports - home to Israel's Jericho missile base. I actually suspect they are both spreading manure. The US probably hopes to damage Iran's nuclear program by covert action, while Iran more likely would retaliate against Gulf shipping. These are politically lower-cost profile than the arrogant frontal attacks each side is bragging it can do. But low-profile or high-profile, I see no outcome that would not lead to wider conflict and ultimately a US/Israeli defeat... and Iran reduced to helplessness. All of these people who see life as something cheap, these people who boast "Bring 'em on!", thinking-- so godlessly-- that they can kill without consequence... who among them can raise the dead?

From Conspiracy Theory to News in ca. 72 hours

You heard it here first...well, maybe second, because my observations were sparked by some excellent commentary on Juan Cole's Informed Comment. The demolition of the Askariyah Dome in Samarra was a professional job (from Agence France Presse): The bombing of a revered Shiite shrine which sparked a wave of violence in Iraq was the work of specialists, Construction Minister Jassem Mohammed Jaafar said Friday, adding that the placing of the explosives must have taken at least 12 hours. "According to initial reports, the bombing was technically well conceived and could only have been carried out by specialists," the minister told Iraqia state television. Jaafar, who toured the devastated thousand-year-old shrine on Thursday a day after the bombing which brought down its golden dome, said "holes were dug into the mausoleum's four main pillars and packed with explosives." "Then the charges were connected together and linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to a detonator which was triggered at a distance," the minister added. To drill into the pillars would have taken at least four hours per pillar, he also estimated. He's wrong on the latter. I would guess a skilled team could be in and out in two hours. But it would mean they had very nice equipment. See for example: a quarrier's description While Elberton does not specify the drill size, you can get some very nice and moderately portable drills at Atlascopco. 25 kW is a lot of power, but there are chemical alternatives that have the virtue of being nice and quiet. In the thread below, an anonymous commenter asks the very good question of why I think the CIA (considering what Chairman Goss has done to the Agency, more likely Special Forces, but not to cut the pie before it's even half-baked) must be considered a suspect. The reason is that, as Robert Fisk so brilliantly captured it, "Chaos is the plan [for Iraq]." That's correct: one of the most knowledgeable observers says that Bush's definition of success in Iraq is a monstrous civil war. If he can suck the entire Arab world into a debilitating sectarian war, the US will be the last man standing. Of course, that's also Al Qaida's plan. And some Sunnis probably wouldn't be averse. It's hard to know who got to Askariyah first. There are numerous new attacks on Shiite shrines. These latest copycat attacks are more likely Sunnis. Notice the very different MO: frontal assault with lots of dead vs. SF tactics.

UAE Ports Deal: Was Lieberman Bought Off?

I've been wondering why Joe Lieberman is backing Bush on the UAE ports deal when practically every other Northeastern politician, Democrat and Republican, strongly opposes the deal. (Especially since the UAE not only is buds with the Taliban, but -- just like Iran, Bush's Pariah State Flavor Of The Month -- refuses to recognize the right of Israel to exist.) It looks like the presence of big wads of pork-barrel cash for Connecticut might have been a factor.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


The Old Man, The Birdshot, And The E-Mails

TalkLeft has this posted today:

At today's hearing in the Scooter Libby case, Patrick Fitzgerald told the defense the White House recently had turned over to his office 250 e-mails from Dick Cheney's office. Is Cheney in trouble? Jason Leopold reports:
The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration's prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said. Sources close to the probe said the White House "discovered" the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife's undercover status to reporters.
They were "found" two weeks ago? And turned over to Fitz last week? Two weeks ago was when Cheney, who may or may not have been drunk, but certainly was drinking, shot a seventy-eight-year-old man, Harry Whittington, in the face, neck and chest with birdshot, some of which actually penetrated to his heart and caused Whittington to have a "mild" heart attack. (Oh, and then Cheney tried to hush it up, hoping the media wouldn't hear about it.) One week ago was when it became obvious to all but the most deluded that this scandal was going to leave a lasting and negative mark on BushCo. Did Karl Rove decide that now was his big chance to remove his biggest competitor for Bush's ear? To quote Peggy Noonan, it would be irresponsible not to speculate.

Friday, February 24, 2006


The Chinese puzzle

People get exercised, as they should, about torture by Americans of Iraqis, Afghans, and others swept up in this increasingly disproportionate "war on terror." It is our country and those who abuse its laws defame us and expose us to danger. And yet, we need to keep in mind that the rest of the world is not necessarily prettier. The human rights situation in China seems to me to be getting noticeably worse. One bright spot is that oppression of Christians does seem to be declining. Of course, the government has gone up against Falun Gong. But the maltreatment of political activists has gone way up. Some examples: At least eight prominent Chinese human rights activists have vanished after they joined one of the first overt attempts to coordinate a nationwide protest ... Among those still missing is Hu Jia, who played a leading role in exposing the contaminated blood scandal that infected tens - and possibly hundreds - of thousands of people with HIV in Henan province. ... A similar fate has befallen Qi Zhiyong, a pro-democracy activist whose legs were amputated after he was shot during the 1989 protests.... Yu Zhijian - a former teacher who threw paint on a vast portrait of Mao Zedong in central Beijing during the 1989 demonstrations, has been charged with subversion. ...Solitary confinement and other forms of psychological torture had taken such a toll that he was unable to recognise his mother.... The authorities have been struggling to control a wave of unrest. The Ministry of Public Security reported 87,000 protests, riots or other "mass incidents" last year, up 6.6% from 2004. Almost all protests have been confined to specific local issues - usually disputes over land - but security officials fear that malcontents are becoming more organised. These dissidents are the people who can save China from the huge environmental and social problems that are piling up. If they are destroyed, so is China's future. The Chinese government fears that rapid democratization could undercut economic progress which, after all, makes democracy possible. But the reverse is also true. Democracies must have truthtellers. Otherwise, like America over the last quarter century, they become increasingly corrupt, the economy grinds down, and the key components of democracy-- a genuinely free press, honest elections, rising education, and so on-- are no longer affordable.

Another Dot Connected

UAE Gave $1 Million to Bush Library What a coinnnnncidence.


The UAE Will Not Take Control of Six U.S. Ports

If the deal goes through, that UAE government-owned company will take control of 21 U.S. ports. For me, it's not "the UAE" part that's the problem. It's the "anybody outside the United States" part. For that matter, it's the "private profit-making corporation controlling what should be a government responsibility" part. Seems to me Grover Norquist's buddies are tired of waiting for the government to shrink to bathtub-size, so they've decided to drown it in the harbor.


Friday Cat Blogging

Tiger at the Detroit Zoo

For the sake of this tiger and all the other residents of the Detroit Zoo: If you live within traveling distance of Detroit, or are ever likely to visit Detroit, or like zoos, or believe that there ought to be more to a city than grim subsistence, help keep the Detroit Zoo open by writing to the Detroit City Council (via this form) to tell them how important it is to stop bickering and agree on a plan to replace the funding eliminated from the city's budget.


Krugman On The UAE Deal

Courtesy of TruthOut. Short version: Bush has sown the racist and jingoistic wind. He shouldn't be so surprised now that he's harvesting the inevitable whirlwind.


Run This Guy In 2008....

...I'd vote for him.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Libby's Lawyers Pound on the Table

There's an old lawyer's saying: If the law is against you, pound on the facts. If the facts are against you, pound on the law. And if both the law and the facts are against you, pound on the table. Looks to me like Lewis I. Libby's lawyers are pounding on the table.

Lawyers for Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide asked a federal judge Thursday to dismiss his indictment on grounds that the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case lacked authority. In a court filing, lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby said his indictment violated the Constitution because Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was not appointed by the president with the consent of the Senate. The defense attorneys also said Fitzgerald's appointment violated federal law because his investigation was not supervised by the attorney general. They said only Congress can approve such an arrangement.
This sudden concern for scrupulous observance of the most minute details of the law, from the gang that brought us the Iraq War, electronic surveillance that circumvented the FISA court, and the handover our of seaports to one of three countries in the world that recognized the Taliban government— What would you call it? Hypocritical? Shameless? Or an admission that there's no way Libby's going to beat the rap? Firedoglake says that a motion by the defendants' lawyers to dismiss is standard procedure in any case. But if they have to stretch this far to claim grounds for dismissal, it definitely makes the defense look weak.

Conspiracy theory of the day

There's a very interesting quote on Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog. A reader writes in to say the following: They told B. how the demolition [in Samarra] was carried out. You see, it was nothing like a hipshot sneaking up bombing by night. It was meticulous, skilful piece of work, taking a lot of time, the guards knowing all about what was going on. At least that´s what they told him today. An article in the Hindustani Times (via Wikipedia; thanks to reader InPlainView) says Sources have said that four men wearing a military uniform and three men in black, entered the mosque early Wednesday and detonated two bombs, one of which collapsed the dome and damaged a large part of the northern wall of the shrine. A London Times article says the military uniforms were of the Iraqi Special Forces. Apparently no one was killed. How did the assailants overwhelm the guards with no gunplay? Now, if you look at the photo of the the bombing, it does look like a very professional job, one involving large amounts of explosives carefully placed to bring the structure down on itself. The first photo shows the damage is centered on the dome, with the damage symmetrical. The undamaged minaret is splashed with masonry. The distribution of rubble inside the dome (photo 7) appears to be symmetric, although this may be consequent to cleanup. The exterior (photo 4) shows the reinforcing mesh ripped away probably from the face nearest the minaret. I can't believe a Shiite would do this, which means I don't think Iran would do it. While Al Qaida is always a possible suspect, why would the guards (presumably Shiites) let the bombers in? Presumably they knew and trusted them. CIA, anyone?

American Jews And The GOP

I noted a few weeks back that contrary to what the GOP/Media Complex would have us believe, American Jews are not only not fans of Bush's Iraq War, they oppose it in greater numbers than does the general US population. Today, I'm addressing another big GOP/Media Complex myth: The idea that Jews are joining the Republican Party en masse. This article from the Forward -- America's most influential Jewish publication -- debunks that myth rather nicely. Simply put, American Jews have no desire to embrace a party that embraces people like Pat Robertson (and people who make Robertson look like Mahatma Gandhi). By the way, speaking of Robertson, check out this petition: America to Bush: Stop Propping Up Robertson With Our Tax Dollars!


Treaty Port Lying, Part Duh!

The exciting sequel to Charles' post of yesterday! Get this: Donald Rumsfeld says that he and Bush had no idea that the UAE ports deal happened until after the fact. But Rumsfeld sits on the board that approved the deal -- unanimously. Tip o' the pin to Atrios for pointing this out.


Dole-ing it out

Best line (so far) today, from John Aravosis's America Blog As if this deal to sell off control of US ports to the United Arab Emirates couldn't become any sleazier, we now have former Republican Senator Bob Dole being hired as a lobbyist to influence - who? - HIS OWN WIFE. In what I hope will be a lifetime-singular defense of Bob Dole, John never met my wife, who regularly sailed through brick walls without so much as mussing her hair. As her husband, I was a rare, if tenuous contact point with reality. (All this said with genuine affection). But somehow I don't think that's the deal here. When the lobbyist and the lobby-ee share a bank account, that's bribery.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


The Treaty Ports: Lying BassAckward

People have missed the best angle on the Dubai/ports story. Check into what are called Treaty Ports. Anyway, I've figured it out. Bushco is traveling backward in time. Consider: 1. Wednesday, Bush had no idea there was a deal with Dubai 2. Tuesday, Bush was determined to fight to the death to defend the deal with Dubai. 3. Prior to Tuesday, Bush had a secret deal with Dubai. I'm sure that on Thursday we will learn that Bush is unaware of the existence of the United Arab Emirates and on Friday that he denies being aware that the United States has any ports. And next week, he'll turn into an embryo.

That AWFUL Liberal Media!

Here they are, slandering Dick Cheney by claiming that Cheney's Secret Service detail said he was "drunk as a skunk" when he shot Harry Whittington in the face eleven days ago! Those despicable liberals! How dare they! Um, except that it's not the "liberal" media saying this. It's actually Capitol Hill Blue, a conservative DC-based website, that's making these accusations. As Emily Litella used to say: Never mind!


Like chickens guarding the fox's house

Meanwhile, while the Treasury heads toward "empty" and Iraq toward open civil war, Reuters reports that: Health-care spending is outpacing the growth of the American economy and will consume 20 percent of U.S. gross domestic product by 2015, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said on Wednesday. If you have to write the checks, you know this is serious business. It's not just an aging of the population. It's health care premiums jumping by 20% a year (far more than HHS is admitting to) even as service heads to the basement and Medicare D turns into a looting spree. A lot of small businesses are about at the point of saying "deal me out," even as the Chamber is still spouting manure about socialized medicine. Remember the bad old days when the threat to the health care system was that the nasty old Clintons were gonna make sure that everyone had access to it? I'm tempted to take the Lord's name in vain when I reflect on how stupid the Republican rank and file is. They're like chickens guarding the fox's house.

It's Always Pathetic When Orrin Hatch Tries Finessing A Lie

Remember my post yesterday on how Orrin Hatch was trying to prep the nation for the national rollout of the GOP effort to revive the Saddam=Osama lie? Well, guess what: Even in Utah, where Republicans are worshiped as gods, that dog just won't hunt. Poor Borin' Orrin has had to, ah, finesse his recent statements, after having his buttocks flayed by people who are more honorable than he is.

Sen. Orrin Hatch backpedaled Tuesday from a recent claim he made asserting that deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was supporting al-Qaida, and that "Nobody with brains" would deny the connection. The assertion was striking not so much for its audacious tone, but because it contradicted the findings of multiple intelligence reviews, including the 9-11 Commission's report and a review by the Senate Intelligence Committee, on which Hatch sits.
Um, yeah.


Dear Media

1) It's not an "Arab company", it's a company controlled by a foreign power. No sane human wants their country's ports to be controlled by another country, no matter how friendly. It's simple common sense. 2) The country in question has ties to the Taliban and to the 9/11 hijackers. You remember them, right? 3) Bush and John Snow have financial interests in the deal. So please, stop buying into the BushCo bilge that "the deal's critics are all racists". Thank you. Love, Phoenix Woman

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Oh Gosh. What A Surprise.

Report Details Bias at Voting Polls

Unfair tactics and confusing rules still make it tough for many minorities to cast election ballots, and the barriers are so common that the federal safeguards for voters must be renewed, a detailed new report from a civil rights group says. [...] The 125-page report was to be released at a Washington, D.C. news conference on Tuesday. Among its findings: _Polling places and voting hours in minority neighborhoods are routinely changed shortly before elections. _Election officials were found to have illegally purged voter lists and refused to translate election materials for citizens who are not fluent in English. [...] Although barriers to minority voters are more subtle today, the report says, they are not gone — and they are no longer concentrated in the South. "This is kind of the untold story, the story doesn't grab national headlines," Lee said. "But if you look at what's happening in community after community, you see that when the numbers in minority communities reach a certain point and when they start to be interested in voting and politics, there's often resistance — and that resistance takes forms that violate the law."
I recall that after the 2000 "election", the president of a local NAACP chapter told me that they had received complaints from all over the country. People were being referred to this office by offices in other regions because those offices couldn't keep up with the reports. Recall what I said a few posts below about Republicans' idea of "election reform" making it harder for people to vote. But only certain people, people that we might call "identifiable Democrats".

Looks Like the Republicans Took a Poll

When the Republicans start saying the same things the Democrats have been saying, you know Dubya didn't just step in it, he sunk in it up to his neck. House Speaker asks moratorium on Dubai port deal Frist Calls for Halt to U.S. Ports Deal


History Declares The End of Fukuyama

Some jokes write themselves: NEOCONSERVATISM has failed the United States and needs to be replaced by a more realistic foreign policy agenda, according to one of its prime architects. Francis Fukuyama, who wrote the best-selling book The End of History and was a member of the neoconservative project, now says that, both as a political symbol and a body of thought, it has "evolved into something I can no longer support". He says it should be discarded on to history's pile of discredited ideologies. (via ICH)

Gov. Rendell Does the Right Thing

He vetoed the 21st-century poll tax.

Gov. Ed Rendell says he will veto a bill that would require voters to show identification at the polls because he believes it would disenfranchise some of the state's most vulnerable residents. [...] Current law requires identification only from people voting in a polling place for the first time. Democrats generally opposed the change, claiming it would lead to countless voter challenges and create long lines that would discourage voting; Republicans argued it would fight voter fraud by ensuring a person could cast only one ballot in an election. [...] Rendell, citing a letter from the League of Women Voters, said there is no compelling evidence that any Pennsylvania election has been affected by ineligible people posing as registered voters. It's unlikely that supporters will be able to muster enough votes to override the veto, said Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader David J. Brightbill.
Isn't it interesting that the Republican idea of "election reform" is to make it harder for eligible voters to cast their votes?

Reviving The Saddam=Osama Lie

Orrin Hatch is out embarrassing himself public again. It's part of a multipronged strategy to push the Saddam=Osama lie in order to help out Bush and the GOP prior to the November midterms. Part One is being road-tested in Minnesota and involves the use of bogus TV ads. Hatch's swill is the rollout of Part Two: Taking the Lie National.


Free Money For Religious Extremists, Courtesy Of Bush And The GOP!

Hey, you! Hate gays? Hate women? Hate anyone who isn't a Christian White Hetero Male? Have I got a deal for you! Just form a church and you, too, can get on board the Bush Administration's $500 million faith-based gravy train for religious extremists! That's right -- taxpayer dollars will fund your efforts to demonize that nice gay couple down the street. Don't delay! Operators are standing by!


GOP Hates Rule Of Law

The Republicans have told their talk-radio and blogger buddies to push the lie that any discussion of crimes committed by Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo or anywhere else "to fight the war on terror" is somehow bad. As usual, the Bush/GOP response when caught doing something wrong is not to admit guilt, but to attack the people who caught them. Whatever happened to the rule of law in this country? Bush and his tame conservative media friends claim that it will be bad for us if news about the atrocities we've committed gets out to the Muslim world. But the Muslim world not only knows about it, they've been living it for over three years now. They know more about it than do most Americans -- especially about certain things such as the fact that most of the persons jailed at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other US-run or US-sponsored torture sites are innocent of anything having to do with terrorism, and so are being tortured for no good reason. Here's some national media contact info: National: letters@nytimes.com, letters@latimes.com, editor@usatoday.com, letters@washpost.com; National Public Radio: 1-800-989-TALK (8255); MSNBC: 1-888-MSNBC-USA.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Kill The Beast! Spill Its Blood!

Hard on the heels of Paul Hackett's dropping out after his precinct captains county chairs (thanks, Ohio 2nd) told him the fake war-crimes smear was keeping away the big institutional donors, we find Hackett's campaign being posthumously accused of -- GASP! -- Bad Things. The Bad Things are apparently a) researching Sherrod Brown's voting record, and b) talking to somebody at a newspaper about it. How dare they! Looking up facts and then talking to reporters about what they found! Why couldn't they have stuck to honorable tactics, like falsely accusing their opponent of war crimes? Meanwhile, the guy with the best chance of taking down DeWine is out of the race, and the guy that Ted Strickland preferred over Hackett, and who Strickland convinced to forsake his safe Congressional seat to crowd out Hackett, is now nine points behind DeWine after having been essentially neck-and-neck with him for most of the past few months. Way to go, Ted! You got Hackett retired, now you're going to retire Brown, too. [UPDATE: It looks like fake war-crimes accusations aren't enough for the Hackett-haters. At least two of them are now over at DailyKos (here and here) promoting accusations that Hackett is a racist. The "evidence"? Hackett's suddenly refusing, the weekend before pulled out of the Senate race, to attend scheduled fundraisers, including a few at black churches:

On the weekend before he bowed out, aides say, he stunned his staff by refusing at the last minute to attend certain events - including appearances at several black churches - that had apparently been put on his schedule over his objections.
Of course, none of the Hackett-haters want to consider the idea that Hackett, three days before pulling out, was wondering whether he should keep up a campaign that had been strangled in its crib and was being undermined by smears and lies. And none of them will mention that Hackett was never known, before that fateful weekend, to willfully and inexplicably skip fundraisers. But why let that interfere with a good smear?]

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Truth rises from its well

((I couldn't find my copy of The Proud Tower, with it's brilliant cartoon of Zola under the title "Truth rises from its well, so you'll have to settle from this one, from Beitler collection) LA Times editors: That the United States Senate has a body called the Intelligence Committee is an irony George Orwell would have truly appreciated. In a world without Doublespeak, the panel, chaired by GOP Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, would be known by a more appropriate name - the Senate Coverup Committee.


...is a good (and addictive!) way to get people to understand logic at a nonverbal level. That's why the Sudoku craze sweeping the nation is a Good Thing. In order to encourage it, here's a link to an online Sudoku page. Please pass it on, especially to your conservative friends. Maybe if they suddenly developed logical skills, it might help them to back away from their Bush-worship. [UPDATE: Yeah, yeah, a lot will resist 'cuz it's Japanese. This is where you tell them that Sudoku was actually invented by an American, who called it Number Place.]

Saturday, February 18, 2006


National Propaganda Radio

It's getting ridiculous when the only information that one doesn't need hip waders to go through comes from the financial press, the British left press, and radical radio. Particularly enraging is the notion that the US Government would use public broadcasting to systematically mislead the taxpayers who pay their salaries. This is what the Soviet Union was rightly criticized for! Is the Voice of America using NPR as propaganda distribution point? That's what Flashpoints is alleging. Emilia Shaw simultaneously serves as a reporter for VOA and sends out the same reports on Haiti. The reports she puts out are anti-Preval/pro-neoDuvalierist. Here's a nice, neutral question to Shaw. NPR's Steve Inskeep:"Was Preval the only person who had thousands of supporters he could turn out into the streets to cause mayhem?" Shaw: "You know... yes." Preval was the one candidate out of 33 on the ballot who somewhere between 50-70% of the population braved violence, long lines, and intimidation to vote for. So, where does the US Dept. of State end and public radio begin? Why is a broadcast that would be called illegal propaganda if the VOA did it permissible when NPR hosts it? Lawyer Brian Concannon predicts that the USG will use the cloud it created over the election to undermine Preval's legitimacy, and that it will use sanctions to strangle the Preval government. Preval would be wise to order the UN to leave and cut all diplomatic ties to the US. Even more shocking: The BBC may also be using VOA reporters. Here are the URLs Concannon's site (URL now fixed) Haiti Action Flashpoints

GOP Mouthpiece: Senate caused Bush lawlessness

It's a rotten start to a day to have to agree with George Will, even in part. But we did know ahead of time that Bush, far more than most other presidents, was prone to drunk driving in the ethical sense. A functional Congress would have kept the keys to the liquor cabinet. Here's the part that one can agree with. Will calls it a "monarchical doctrine" that: "whenever the nation is at war, the other two branches of government have a radically diminished pertinence to governance, and the president determines what that pertinence shall be. and so he rightly points out that the Congress has the power, if it chooses to exercise it to keep any monarchical tendencies in check. The problem, of course, is that Will generally approves of monarchy. However, the hypocrisy in an Administrative nominally committed to Constitutional funadamentalism finding the power to actually break a law in the course of conducting mass violence is too much: [T]he argument that the AUMF [so-called war resolution] contained a completely unexpressed congressional intent to empower the president to disregard the FISA regime is risible coming from this administration. It famously opposes those who discover unstated meanings in the Constitution's text and do not strictly construe the language of statutes. Unless, of course, those statutes are the Clear Air/Water Acts, the Voting Rights Act, FOIA, and other legislation not passed by Republicans. But Will's solution is hypocrisy more than I can bear. Will's solution is to legalize the crimes after the fact. The drunk has stolen, he's killed, he's burned down our home. So take away the keys to the liquor cabinet: Immediately after Sept. 11, the president rightly did what he thought the emergency required, and rightly thought that the 1978 law was inadequate to new threats posed by a new kind of enemy using new technologies of communication. Arguably he should have begun surveillance of domestic-to-domestic calls - the kind the Sept. 11 terrorists made. But 53 months later, Congress should make all necessary actions lawful by authorizing the president to take those actions, with suitable supervision. Mari Maseng, you made the right decision. Take it elsewhere, buster.

What's Missing from This Story?

The Associated Press reports:

Republican Fundraisers Off to Fast Start The Republican National Committee raised $13.7 million in January, getting off to a fast start for this midterm election year. That was the most raised in any one month since the 2004 election year, GOP officials said. The RNC, which has been outraising the Democratic National Committee by a 2-1 margin, reported Friday that it had nearly $39 million cash on hand at the end of January.
The story, which the headline tells us is all about Republican fundraising, drags in Democratic fundraising for the purposes of telling us the Republicans are raising more than the Democrats. Uh, dog bites man. It misleads by omitting the man-bites-dog detail that 2-1 is a significant decrease in the fundraising advantage. What liberal media?

Friday, February 17, 2006


Friday Cat Blogging


Oh, the Irony

From a Los Angeles Times report (courtesy of Truthout) about why the "Niger uranium rumors" would not die no matter how often the intelligence agencies debunked them:

The story refused to die for several reasons, including a strong appetite in the Pentagon and the White House for information that supported a case for war, and a widely recognized phenomenon in the intelligence field in which bad information, when repeated by multiple sources, appears to be corroborated.
This phenomenon desperately needs to be widely recognized in the news media. Just think of the way the Echo Chamber "corroborated" all the phony stories about Gore, no matter how often they were debunked; and more recently, the assertion that the Abramoff Affair is a bipartisan scandal.

Don't Tex With Messes

Maybe Whittington should be buried in New Orleans. You can't follow the Lone Star State without knowing your Politex (There are quotations within quotations that I haven't bothered to re-format; emphases added. Read the story) In 1999 then-Gov. Bush got him to chair the Funeral Service Commission, a regulatory State agency. At the time, Bush was embroiled in a whistle-blower lawsuit that contended that Bush and Robert Waltrip, the owner of SCI, the largest funeral corporation in Texas, were in cahoots. Waltrip, a Houston-based CEO, had previously donated (at least) $45,000 to the Bush campaigns for governor and $100,000 to Daddy Bush for his Presidential Library. Here's how Romero describes it:"The Texas funeral industry was then riddled by claims of irregularities, some surrounding Service Corporation International, of Houston, a large chain of funeral homes headed by an ardent supporter of the Bush family. Under Whittington, the commission reluctantly settled a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by a former state regulator who maintained that she had been fired for investigating the company.... The Austin Chronicle's Robert Bryce calls it a "whistleblower lawsuit" which "alleges that Bush and other politicos worked to thwart an investigation by the Texas Funeral Service Commission (TFSC) into improperly licensed embalmers working out of SCI funeral homes in Dallas." Bush managed to stay out of court until Whittington worked out an undisclosed out of court settlement that cost the State of Texas $155,000 and Waltrip's SCI $55,000, as reported in the Dallas Morning News...We know where all the Bush Funeralgate players are today, right? Waltrip? Of course:"The Federal Emergency Management Agency has hired Kenyon International to set up a mobile morgue for handling bodies in Baton Rouge, Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. " Appalachia cousins aren't this incestuous.

Don't Talk About The Permanent Bases (or PNAC)

Tom Englehardt has the latest on this.


Good on You, Senator Hagel!

Chuck Hagel made an apt observation about Dick Cheney shooting a member of his hunting party:

"If he'd been in the military, he would have learned gun safety."
Why can't Democrats learn to talk like that? Or at least get quoted by the news media when they do?

Has the Secret Service Become the Bush Regime's Goon Squad?

There's one detail about Cheney's shooting of Harry Whittington that particularly bothers me, in part because it seems to have gotten no attention: When the police arrived at Katharine Armstrong's ranch to investigate the report of a shooting, they were refused entrance by the Secret Service. Yes, really. Officers of the nation's elite law-enforcment agency prevented enforcement of the law. If the so-called liberal media bothered to mention this little detail at all, it was buried deep, as in this Associated Press report about how the incident was just fodder for jokes, really. Shouldn't we be worried about the Secret Service having been so thoroughly subverted by the Bush regime?


Ann Coulter: Slanderer and Libeler

Ted Rall's lawyer has advised him that he has a case against Ann Coulter for her statement to the Conservative Political Action Committee:

"Iran is soliciting cartoons on the Holocaust. So far, only Ted Rall, Garry Trudeau, and the NY Times have made submissions."
Now he has even more of a case. She's repeated the accusation in her column, which makes it not just slander but also libel. Coulter will claim, as she always does, that it was a "joke". But accusing someone of being a Holocaust denier is no joking matter. As Rall explains in his blog,
Insults, vitriol and snotty comments are all part of free speech. Deliberately misrepresenting a person's opinions in order to shut them up is not. What we're witnessing here is no less than a return to the tactics of Senator Joe McCarthy during the 1950s "Red Scare"—which shouldn't be surprising considering that Ann Coulter wrote an entire book whose thesis was that McCarthy was a great guy who ought to be loved and respected.
It's long past time Ann Coulter experienced some consequences for her smear campaign against anybody who doesn't share her authoritarian beliefs. Ted Rall will be acting for all of us if he files a lawsuit against her. That's if, not when, because lawsuits cost money. A lot of money. And liberal cartoonists just don't make that much money. But if everybody who agrees with Rall's decision to defend himself against slander and libel would pledge a few bucks toward paying for the lawsuit, Ann Coulter will finally get a little bit of what bullies like her deserve. You can make your pledge by sending email to chet@rall.com. Do it today.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


This post intentionally left blank

After Brad DeLong was so kind as to quote me as saying that I was preparing a post detailing the dishonesty contained in Washington Post Executive Editor Brady's complaint about rude posts, I have been embarrassed to find myself procrastinating. It's in progress. I keep hoping and praying that Brady will do something like moon the Pope, simplifying the process of explaining what a twit he is with a visual. Hey, they say God hears all prayers.

Down the Democratic rabbit hole

Just when you think the Congressional Democrats cannot get any smaller, they take another swig from the bottle. For those who may have forgotten, Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney lost her seat in the 2002 primary because she dared to say that we needed a Commission to investigate 9/11 (here). It's abundantly obvious, at least to me (see also Stephen Zunes), that this was done by a combination of Democratic betrayal and Republican votes. The Atlanta Journal Constitution put together a completely implausible counter-theory, claiming that there was no Democratic betrayal. So what are we to make of this: AMY GOODMAN: I have just a quick question that might sound off topic, though perhaps it's right on topic, and that is, you are a long-time Congress member from Georgia, you lost your seat for a term and then came back; where do you stand, in terms of seniority, since you’ve returned? REP. CYNTHIA McKINNEY: Thank you for asking that question. There were three former members, who were in my returning class, sworn in in 1995. There was Dan Lundgren from California, who had been out for 16 years. When he came back, the Republican leadership gave him back his seniority as if he had not missed one day. There was Bob Inglis from South Carolina, who had been out for two years. When he came back, the Republican leadership gave him his seniority as if he had not missed one day. The Democratic leadership, Nancy Pelosi, refused to give me back my seniority, even though I asked for it, and so I returned as a returning freshman. I don't doubt that Cong. McKinney is a total pain to work with. For many American Jews, her association with Louis Farrakhan and her championing of Palestinian sovereignty, are very irritating. The fact that she attended, informally, the Katrina hearings that Democrats boycotted probably raised many hackles. Unfortunately, she is one of a very small handful of Congress members who defy leadership to speak their minds. Republicans can think of her as the Ron Paul of the left. All that said and done, to revoke her seniority simply adds evidence to the belief that the Democratic Party betrayed her in 2002 for the worst possible reason: for doing her job in calling for an investigation of 9/11. And investigation that, in retrospect, was an important marker in getting people on the record and under oath... I mean, except for Bluto and Dubya. The interview :is mostly about Katrina and is worth reading: FEMA is saying that it will take them two years to produce maps that will tell people where they can and cannot live in the effected regions. That means that the 300,000 people who are no longer in New Orleans can't come back until FEMA tells them where they can rebuild. This means that people are going to be in limbo for the two years.

Busy little bees

By poet Isaac Watts HOW doth the little busy bee Improve each shining hour, And gather honey all the day From every opening flower! ... (image from www.thefeltsource.com) In books, or work, or healthful play, Let my first years be passed, That I may give for every day Some good account at last. From Salon's Mark Benjamin, quoting CID Special Agent James E. Seigmund: "A review of all the computer media submitted to this office revealed a total of 1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse, 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse, 660 images of adult pornography, 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees, 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts, 20 images of a soldier with a Swastika drawn between his eyes, 37 images of Military Working dogs being used in abuse of detainees and 125 images of questionable acts."...Based on time signatures of the digital cameras used, all the photographs and videos were taken between Oct. 18, 2003, and Dec. 30, 2003. Ten weeks. Over 2500 shameful acts caught on tape from one prison containing only ca. 6,000 prisoners. Very busy little little bees, indeed, if less than half a dozen members of the prison staff have even been charged. Meanwhile, DemocracyNow producer Jeremy Scahill discovers that on CNN the Abu Ghraib scandal is not-- NOT-- about abusing prisoners. It's about inappropriate photography! Read it and see if you can believe that things like this are said on "the most trusted name in news," by CNN correspondent Barbara Starr: "Let's start by reminding everybody that under U.S. military law and practice, the only photographs that can be taken are official photographs for documentation purposes about the status of prisoners when they are in military detention. That's it. Anything else is not acceptable. And of course, that is what the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal is all about." ... "As we look at a couple of the photographs, let's remind people why these are so inappropriate. Under U.S. military law and practice and procedure, you simply cannot take photographs -- as we're going to show you some of them right now. You cannot take photographs of people in detention, in humiliating positions, positions that are abusive in any way, shape or form. The only pictures that are ever allowed of people in U.S. military detention would be pictures for documentation purposes. And, clearly, these pictures are not that. That is the whole issue that has been at the root of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, that it was abusive, the practices in which soldiers engaged in." ... "But the Pentagon certainly is not happy that these pictures, these additional pictures, which had not been distributed publicly in the past, Pentagon not happy that they are out. And the reason is, the Pentagon had filed a lawsuit trying to prevent their publication in the United States out of concern, they say, that it would spark violence in the Arab world to see these photographs, and it would put U.S. military forces at risk." For any officer of the US military, sworn to serve the Constitution and its commitment to the rule of law, one would think the whitewash effort underway might spark violence in the Pentagon. (with apologies to The Felt Source, Isaac Watts, and the Iraqi people)

Blogging the Congress

Last night (or early this morning, depending on where you are), Atrios posted this:

Free idea for anyone who has the resources to run with it. Something that's missing is a bloglike shadow of CSpan, essentially explaining what's going on in the House/Senate at any given moment. Sure it isn't exciting most of the time, but often when it *is* exciting the viewing public isn't really sure why. And, inbetween interesting moments, it'd be the perfect place for more gossipy stuff. A really on the ball "what the fuck is going on now" blog focused primarily on what was going on in real time in the House and the Senate would really fill a niche. Hotline/etc... do a bit of this but really not enough of it. There are many days when I flip to, say, Cspan's Senate coverage and know there's some really important context I'm missing which probably isn't that complicated and simply requires a reasonably seasoned Congresswatcher to explain it to me.
Bob Geiger and his friends are doing this for the Senate, but we need someone to do it for the House as well. Maybe some of the Kossacks might be interested? Or some of our blogging Congresscritters?


I'd Heard About This From A Texas Friend

Apparently the scuttlebutt among the Texas legal cognoscenti is that Cheney could get hauled up on charges before a grand jury if Whittington succumbs to the gunshot wounds inflicted by Five Deferments Dick. Something that the Republicans wanting to blow this off would do well to remember.


Haiti: Preval Declared The Winner

Just heard on NPR this morning (and it's now been confirmed by the UK paper The Independent) that the very popular Rene Preval has finally been declared the winner of Haiti's presidential election. This is a welcome development, especially after seeing this. The American news media still try to avoid mentioning that Preval is one of Aristide's protégés -- unless, that is, they're doing a hatchet job on Preval -- as they're still trying to pretend that Aristide was thrown out of office by a "popular revolt" instead of a Bush-backed group of thugs and businessmen.

____________________ Added by Charles: The Electoral Council used a technicality (is a 50% plus one majority based on all ballots or only on marked ballots?) to install Rene Preval to the office he almost certainly won by a landslide. This is not a genuinely good outcome. The election is under a cloud. The fact that the decision is arbitrary will be used to undercut Preval. There is excellent reason to believe that somewhere between 10-20% of Preval's votes were destroyed, but I suspect he will find it vanishingly difficult to investigate the circumstances under which that happened. Yet the Haitian people have provided an inspiration to Americans. Lavalas party leadership has been in jail or in hiding. UN troops have been shooting up Lavalas strongholds on the ironic pretext that they are "violent." Meanwhile, poverty grinds down the Haitian spirit every hour of every day. Preval prevailed by the non-violent, mass resistance of a whole people. This is a testament to the human spirit and its longing to live free. Can we Americans, who have suffered so little and kept silent about great wrongs for so long, claim that we love freedom even half as much as the Haitian people?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Haiti staggers toward chaos

These are the elections we were told just a few days ago were fraud free On Tuesday night, local TV showed what appeared to be hundreds of charred votes at a rubbish dump in the capital. Many of the ballots appeared to be marked in favour of Mr Preval, prompting protests from his supporters at the scene. Crowds later marched through the streets of the city, chanting Mr Preval's name and denouncing the alleged fraud. According to a UN spokesman, the ballots could have come from any of nine polling stations ransacked on election day. But the best is yet to come: [UN] Spokesman David Wimhurst said the ballots may have been placed at the dump to suggest fraud had taken place.... As Jon Stewart would say, "The ransacking of polling places was, on the other hand...eh... simply normal electoral practice in Haiti."

We're Torturing Kids In Front Of Their Parents

I wonder why James Dobson isn't all upset about this:

According to the respected Austrian paper Der Standard, Zabar's son was hosed down with ice water and locked into a cell block with another prisoner notorious for raping fellow inmates. At this point, it is not known whether the minor was actually raped. Apparently the tactic backfired, as General Zabar [PW notes: One of Saddam's generals] was "so devastated that he was incapable of giving further testimony".  
But of course they're brown Mohammedans, so they don't count, right? And of course that's not the worst of what we're done. Not even close. [UPDATE: And worse has just been uncovered.] To add on to a set of lyrics by Bartcop: And I'm proud to be an American Where we torture kids to death We make them curse their heathen god As they choke on their last breath And they can't stand up to face the noose 'cause we've broken both their legs Just makes me want to stand and shout: "God bless the USA!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Should Ted Rall Sue Ann Coulter?

Wait, wait, before you say "YES!" you should know what it's about. Coulter slandered Rall.

Republican columnist Ann Coulter spoke earlier today to the Conservative Political Action Committee, where the audience included 1000 right-wingers including Vice President Dick Cheney. There, among other things, she is reported to have said the following: "Iran is soliciting cartoons on the Holocaust. So far, only Ted Rall, Garry Trudeau, and the NY Times have made submissions." She lied. I have not submitted anything to any Iranian publication. I have no intention of doing so. And I have said that in public, repeatedly. Obviously, in making such a statement, Coulter crossed the line into outright libel [sic]--she intentionally stated a mistruth intended to harm my reputation.
Rall polled his readers, who told him 3-to-1 that of course he should sue. He's still soliciting pledges to help pay the cost of filing the lawsuit, and presumably the legal fees for the lawsuit if his attorney determines that a case would be legally feasible. The email address for making a pledge is chet @ rall.com. You know what to do.

Dear Ed...

I contributed to Paul Hackett. I told Sherrod Brown that I felt the Ohio Democratic Party had failed after a brilliant era under John Glenn and Howard Metzenbaum, felt Brown was part of that failure, and would not contribute to him. I won't. I deplore any Democrat from outside of Ohio telling Ohioans what to do. But Paul Hackett and Ed Schultz should calm down. Ed Schultz should calm down a lot, unless he wants to hear this show played for the next 25 years in GOP ads. The Democratic leadership in Washington is a defeated army. They need to be withdrawn from the field and replaced. They are losers and they aren't treating Paul Hackett right. But the adults among New Democrats need to calmly walk by them and up to the front. Finally, Paul should have run for Congress. It's a huge jump to the Senate, enormously difficult, very demanding, incredibly expensive. I am sorry he let himself be talked into running for Senate, because any political pro would have told him he didn't stand a chance; not that that stopped me from supporting him. The pros who had him withdraw could not see the forest for the trees. But let's behave like adults. He has a bright future. He just has to wait a little bit longer. There are plenty of great Democrats running. I just sent generous contributions to five veterans. More money for them. Less money for Sherrod. ___________________ Update: Paul Hackett appeared on the Ed Schultz show and showed just what a thoroughbred he is. Why is he leaving the race? Couldn't raise enough money in time for the primary season. What does he think about Henry Waxman and Chuck Schumer mixing in a primary? That's politics as usual. Were smears against him and his service in Iraq circulated? He had heard second-hand accounts, but didn't know anything beyond the fact that his service was purely honorable. How did he feel about having to withdraw? It sucks, but that's life. What matters is the team, and if his withdrawal will help defeat DeWine, then it will have been well worth it. Maybe it was just the comparison of a calm and thoughtful Paul Hackett with a ranting Ed Schultz. But Major Paul Hackett just averted what could have been a Democratic debacle and turned it into a triumph.

Serious As A Heart Attack

Remember that "light peppering" Cheney gave his old buddy with the "pellet gun"? Well, looks like some of the "pellets" have lodged in the guy's heart, giving him a heart attack. So much for conservative attempts to pretend that this was just a minor incident. This isn't quite the worst-case scenario for Mr. Whittington, but it's not far from it.


Harvard Study: 'No Child Left Behind' Goes Easier on White Districts

Gosh. What a surprise. According to Reuters,

Political compromises forged between some states and the federal government have allowed schools in some predominantly white districts to dodge penalties faced by regions with larger ethnic minority populations, the study said. Bush's 2001 No Child Left Behind Act was meant to introduce national standards to an education system where only two-thirds of teenagers graduate from high school, a proportion that slides to 50 percent for black Americans and Hispanics. But instead of uniform standards, the policy has allowed various states to negotiate treaties and bargains to reduce the number of schools and districts identified as failing, said the study by Harvard University's Civil Rights Project.
In other words, a law supposedly intended to apply uniform standards throughout the country is being used (misused, one might say) to create different standards for different districts, depending on their demographics. A law crafted by Busheviks increases the disadvantages of poverty. Who could have expected that?

Free Republic responds to Cheney shooting of friend

Know your opponent. This is how they responsed. With... jokes like this "Breaking!Poll: 90% would rather hunt with Dick Cheney than ride with Ted Kennedy. The difference between VP Cheney and Teddy. At least Teddy has one confirmed kill. Jesse Jackson claims it was racist, no black lawyers were shot. PETA should be happy. At least he didn't beat a rare swimming attack bunny over the head with an oar like Jimma Carter. Vince Foster couldn't be reached for comment. 40 posted on 02/13/2006 7:58:19 AM PST by Made in USA and this I'm jealous. Texas gets a lawyer hunting season and the rest of the country doesn't! 20 posted on 02/13/2006 8:19:38 PM PST by Valin With excuses like like this "...This is a simple case of hunting rules by the lawyer not being implemented and Dick was totally innocent...." 41 posted on 02/13/2006 8:00:29 AM PST by Made in USA or this "Most quail hunters around here shrug their shoulders and wonder what all the fuss about? Happens all the time, they'll tell you...." 11 posted on 02/14/2006 4:29:39 AM PST by Racehorse (Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.) or this "...It's my guess the Vietnamese guy Kerry shot IN THE BACK and was on the receiving end of a heavy-duty rifle sure wished it hadn't happened, either...." 27 posted on 02/14/2006 4:46:11 AM PST by Maria S" And with tender sentiments toward opponents like this "....Frankly, it would be a riot if a MSM reporter was hit by birdshot. 10 posted on 02/14/2006 4:27:20 AM PST by Lumper20 or this "...If Cheney shot one of those idiots from the White House press gaggle, I'd still be smiling. 'Damn sir, that's one ugly bird. No wait...that's Helen Thomas.' 16 posted on 02/14/2006 4:31:24 AM PST by Callahan or this ...When the Clintons shoot *their* lawyer, he *stays* dead. posted on 02/13/2006 5:18:11 PM PST by Made in USA" For the record, Vince Foster committed suicide because he took these people (genetically-speaking, anyway) seriously.

Monday, February 13, 2006


The Veep That Couldn't Shoot Straight

CBS News reported this evening that Whittington was still in the ICU while doctors tried to determine just how much, if any, of the shot could be safely removed. They may have to leave most of it in place. And we know the shot pattern from this report, fetched by The Smoking Gun. That's consistent with a shot from ten to fifteen yards away. Whittington's lucky his carotid wasn't popped. Ironically, this incident -- and BushCo's bizarre attempts to deal with it (first by ignoring it, then by releasing some strange CYA excuses for it) -- have probably angered more of Bush's base (that part of which that hunts and fishes regularly, and fires guns outside of the context of video game usage) than anything else Bush or Cheney could have done. Kill 100,000 people just to install a few military bases? Yawn. Demonstrate that you don't know the first thing about gun safety? Grab the pitchforks!


Republicans And Magical Thinking: Economics Edition

This does a nice job of showing why the Laffer Curve is a joke.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Burr and Cheney

Josh Marshall's been following the bizarre incident wherein Dick Cheney accidently shot a hunting buddy and Bush Pioneer yesterday at a Texas ranch -- and didn't 'fess up to it until after the ranch's owner had gone to the local media to explain why one of her guests wound up in the hospital with buckshot wounds all over his face, neck and chest. (Luckily, it sounds like the victim will be OK, but gunshot wounds, especially to the face, are no laughing matter.) Check it out, here and here. In a side note, Josh also notes that Cheney now joins Aaron Burr as one of two vice presidents to shoot someone while in office. Which is fascinating, because Howard Dean was on Face the Nation Sunday morning, several hours before the news of the hunting accident hit, talking about Cheney's role in TreasonGate (aka the outing of CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame) -- and Dean compared Cheney to Aaron Burr, and not in a complimentary way. (For more on Aaron Burr, and on his trial for treason, go here.)


Election Theft 2006

AP is reporting that Rene Preval's total has fallen juuuust under the 50% needed to prevent a runoff election. Haiti is nearing the explosion point where even troops will not hold the lid on. Here's the interesting thing: About 125,000 ballots - or 7.5 percent of the votes cast - have been declared invalid because of irregularities, raising suspicion among Preval supporters that polling officials are trying to steal the election. Another 4 percent of the ballots were blank but were still added into the total, making it harder Preval to obtain the 50 percent plus one vote needed. Here's the math: Exit polls: Preval 63% Less spoiled votes: -7.5% Less bizarre blank ballots: -4% _______ 50.5% So.... how did they steal the extra 1%?

Battle plan for destroying the healthcare system

If you love insurance companies, you'll love the new Bush healthcare plan. According to Froma Harrop, the basic changes Bush is proposing are: 1. Eliminate company expensing of employee healthcare 2. Allow people to establish accounts to cover medical expenses, paying no taxes on the income deposited or on any money made. 3. Require people to buy Medical Savings Accounts for catastrophic coverage. The predictable effects are that: 1. The Treasury will lose another $156 billion in revenues over 10 years. That's enough to provide coverage for millions of people. 2. Almost all of that money will be a tax break to the wealthy. 3. Small businesses, and perhaps some larger ones, will drop coverage. Harrop predicts that over a million poor/middle class people will lose all coverage and points out the parallel to how the shift from pensions to 401(k)s shifted costs and risks from employers to employees. 4. GOP contributors like Golden Rule will make out like bandits I think there's another predictable effect, namely that the healthcare system will collapse as healthcare costs spiral out of control. But of course by then, the Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Showwill have struck its tents and moved on.

Markets don't lie

I tend to think that Paul Craig Roberts has a case of Jerusalem Syndrome and am more than a bit dismayed that his pronouncements get such ready acceptance on the left side of the aisle. But when it comes to money stuff, I am inclined to listen a little harder: Job growth over the last five years is the weakest on record. The US economy came up more than 7 million jobs short of keeping up with population growth.... Over the past five years the US economy experienced a net job loss in goods producing activities. The entire job growth was in service-providing activities...US manufacturing lost 2.9 million jobs... Worst hit were the high tech end. Tobacco and booze did OK, but Semiconductors and electronic components lost 37% of its workforce. The workforce in computers and electronic products declined 30%. Electrical equipment and appliances lost 25% of its employees.... [E]ngineering enrollments are shrinking. There are no jobs for graduates. ...There are several hundred thousand American engineers who are unemployed and have been for years. ...Offshore outsourcing and offshore production have left the US awash with unemployment among the highly educated. This is the point which has been guiding my view of investment: The economics profession has failed America. It touts a meaningless number while joblessness soars. Lazy journalists at the New York Times simply rewrite the Bush administration's press releases. On February 10 the Commerce Department released a record US trade deficit in goods and services for 2005--$726 billion. The US deficit in Advanced Technology Products reached a new high. Offshore production for home markets and jobs outsourcing has made the US highly dependent on foreign provided goods and services, while simultaneously reducing the export capability of the US economy. It is possible that there might be no exchange rate at which the US can balance its trade. Reluctantly, I agree. Bushco has been lying about everything else. Why not about employment statistics, or other basic economic facts? To summarize Roberts, a bet against the dollar and against the US consumer economy seems like a sure thing. Since the US consumer economy has been the engine for international growth, a world recession seems likely. But because they haven't run such massive deficits, they can print money to re-start their economies. I think that's what we are seeing in the explosion of foreign stock markets, oil, gold, and other hard assets. The worst is yet to come.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Pepperdine Dean Ken Starr sent fraudulent letters

This is taking the parable of the dishonest steward too far. Lawyers for a death row inmate, including former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr, sent fake letters from jurors asking California’s governor to spare the man’s life, prosecutors said Friday. Granting that Jesus might cut some slack for a guy who's evidently opposed to carrying out the death penalty, Starr's the Dean of a Law School. Or at least, Pepperdine calls itself a school. To grasp the full irony, consider that Starr is the man who put together the prosecution of our last lawfully elected president for fibbing in a civil suit about heavy petting out of wedlock. Starr made a big show of having lily white hands, of being a super-Christian, a veritable Joe Friday of the disciples. Now he's is discovered to be forging letters to enable a man who a jury has duly sentenced to death to escape the law. Exactly what are students supposed to think? ("Attaboy!"s to Attaturk for finding this, and an A to Atrios for posting it.)

Uncle Sam, racketeer

It was Marine Major General Smedley Butler who called our government a mafia for its constant interventions in the Caribbean basin. Another theft of democracy may be happening. The exit polls predicted a 63% win for Rene Preval, the Fanmi Lavalas (pro-Aristide) candidate. Rene Preval Indeed, his margin in early tallies was 65%. But with half the votes counted, he has seen his margin plunge to 50.2% in the latest with half the votes counted. It would be very surprising if the Lavalas strongholds-- which were strangely plagued with long lines due to late openings of polling places and a very low ratio of polling places to voters (Cite Soleil had no polling places at all!)-- were counted first. Granted, the rural districts are also likely to report late. But with the terror that they suffered in the aftermath of the coup, I can't believe they'd vote for the US-backed candidate, Charles Henry Baker or neo-Duvalierist (Haitian Mafia) candidate Leslie Managat. Bother were predicted to get about 10% of the vote. There are many things an American can take pride in. Our country's Haitian policy is not one of them. The fact that the US State Department is swearing that the election is free of fraud is a very strong hint that they are committing it.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Friday Cat Blogging - Olympic Games Edition

Synchronized Sleeping


And the reason to make war on Iran would be...?

John Pilger has added details to what Scott Ritter reported a year or so ago: While the Pentagon has no plans to occupy all of Iran, it has in its sights a strip of land that runs along the border with Iraq. This is Khuzestan, home to 90 per cent of Iran's oil. "The first step taken by an invading force," reported Beirut's Daily Star, "would be to occupy Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan Province, securing the sensitive Straits of Hormuz and cutting off the Iranian military's oil supply." On 28 January the Iranian government said that it had evidence of British undercover attacks in Khuzestan, including bombings, over the past year. This is why I keep asking whether we are already at war with Iran. If those are Brits engaged in covert war, they aren't there freelancing. Granted, at this stage it's an allegation, not a fact, And this is the bit of history that our media and their right-wing scriptwriters won't say out loud: For more than half a century, Britain and the US have menaced Iran. In 1953, the CIA and MI6 overthrew the democratic government of Muhammed Mossadeq, an inspired nationalist who believed that Iranian oil belonged to Iran. They installed the venal shah and, through a monstrous creation called Savak, built one of the most vicious police states of the modern era. The Islamic revolution in 1979 was inevitable and very nasty, yet it was not monolithic and, through popular pressure and movement from within the elite, Iran has begun to open to the outside world - in spite of having sustained an invasion by Saddam Hussein, who was encouraged and backed by the US and Britain. In other words, the Iranians may have gone nuts, but if so, we were the chauffeur.

And so the reason for invading Haiti was...?

These aren't final returns, and there's plenty of time for Diebold to reverse the results, but the BBC is reporting that Ex-Aristide ally leads Haiti poll Rene Preval is popular with the poor in Haiti Former president Rene Preval, a one-time ally of ousted leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has taken a strong early lead in Haiti's election. Initial results from around the Haitian capital show he has more than 60% of the votes, electoral officials say. So, apparently, we invaded Haiti to relieve them of the government they wanted and have just now restored.

Brown rolls over on Bushco

When the frat brothers roll over on you, you are in trouble. Lara Jakes Jordan of AP, on AOL: ''I find it a little disingenuous. For them to claim that we didn't have awareness of it is just baloney.'' and "The policies and decisions implemented by the DHS put FEMA on a path to failure." Meanwhile, if you want to read the National Weather Service's verdict and can endure PDF, click here. An unofficial storm tide (actual level of sea water) observation of 28 feet at the Hancock, Mississippi Emergency Operations Center suggests that the storm surge produced by Katrina was as high as about 27 feet at that location. This observation provides an indication of the magnitude of the event, and comparable surge heights could have occurred along other portions of the western and central Gulf coast of Mississippi. The surge appears to have penetrated at least six miles inland in many portions of coastal Mississippi and up to 12 miles inland along bays and rivers. Here's the potential dynamite in the report: Several of the levees and floodwalls were overtopped and/or breached at different times on the day of landfall, although the specific times and exact causes of failure remain uncertain as of this writing. The surge overtopped large sections of the levees during the morning of 29 August east of New Orleans, in Orleans Parish and St. Bernard Parish, and it also pushed water up the Intracoastal Waterway and into the Industrial Canal. ...Breaches along both the Industrial Canal east of downtown New Orleans and the 17th Street Canal northwest of downtown appear to have occurred during the early morning on 29 August, possibly even before the eye made initial landfall in Louisiana. This is why this is interesting. Elsewhere in New Orleans, flooding was gradual enough that people had time to escape. But the Ninth Ward was inundated. Oh, and notice why that school bus wasn't used to transport people out. I mean, assuming that the Gretna police wouldn't have shot the "looters" on any bus that tried to leave.

Chris Bowers On The 2006 House Races

The short version: We probably won't take back the House -- but we'll at least come close. (And with a little targeted effort and a bit more cash, we could take back the House.)


Bush Knew The Levees Had Failed -- And Did Nothing

The second he knew it was going to be a Cat 4/5 storm, he should have had trucks and C-130s loaded with sandbags and medical supplies converging on the city. But he did nothing. Contrary to the right-wing lies, neither he nor his flunky Chertoff had to wait for either the mayor or the governor to declare a state of emergency (even though both of them had the second they knew they were going to be hit by a Cat 4). The National Response Plan requires him to be proactive -- that is, to respond to avert damage BEFORE the storm hits.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Humor me

This is what Free Republic calls a "vanity post." Firedoglake asked whether former Deputy AG James Comey should testify. My answer: I'd love to see Comey testify. I'd love to see *anyone* testify. Snoop. Madonna. Queen Latifah. Benny Hinn. Anyone at all. So far, all we have seen is 1) an Attorney General immunized against lying by Arlen Specter, 2) a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling flack attack, and 3) the door behind which the Intelligence Committee very likely heard numerous lies which can't be prosecuted because they are classified lies. Oh. And 4) "congressional oversight" as a rampant opthalmic disorder. _________________________ As posters at FDL have pointed out, and as I mentioned in comments below, Comey went along with a lot of the wrongdoing at DoJ. Mark Felt ("Deep Throat") was a whistleblower in Watergate, but he wasn't a hero. He believed in official lawbreaking, and just thought Nixon had advanced the art too far. Comey will become a hero in my book the day he stands up and says, "The President and the Attorney General gave me illegal orders, and I obeyed them until at last I could stomach them no longer." Until then, I'd love to see someone-- anyone-- testify.

NSA, FBI, DIA, CIA readers, welcome!

That's my tongue-in-cheek way to introduce an article from The Christian Science Monitor about a spy program called "Advise". The US government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity. What's so nice about text-- it's easy for computers to read, a compact form of data, and lasting for easy reference-- is exactly what makes it so attractive to people with Orwellian aspirations. Voice, after all, has to be transcribed, which is the only thing that has so far prevented the massive invasion of privacy that Alberto Gonzales celebrates from turning into a routine tool for Big Brother. So far, it has only been used against a few "dangerous radicals," like Joan Baez and Martin Luther King. And let's not kid ourselves. This generation of intelligence agents may have scruples. But there's no guarantee about the next. People on the right should consider what they are, in effect, authorizing a President Hillary Clinton or a President Cindy Sheehan to do to them. ...ADVISE and related DHS technologies aim to do much more, according to Joseph Kielman, manager of the TVTA portfolio. The key is not merely to identify terrorists, or sift for key words, but to identify critical patterns in data that illumine their motives and intentions, he wrote in a presentation at a November conference in Richland, Wash. For example: Is a burst of Internet traffic between a few people the plotting of terrorists, or just bloggers arguing? ADVISE algorithms would try to determine that before flagging the data pattern for a human analyst's review. At least a few pieces of ADVISE are already operational.... Indeed, even data that look anonymous aren't necessarily so. For example: With name and Social Security number stripped from their files, 87 percent of Americans can be identified simply by knowing their date of birth, gender, and five-digit Zip code, according to research by Latanya Sweeney, a data-privacy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University. I think ADVISE is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, though perhaps penumbral. Recall that a central complaint of the Declaration of Independence was that King George had erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power. Consider how precisely those mirror the complaints against George Bush. As stated by former Majority Leader Daschle, George Bush has falsely claimed a general declaration of war as justification for his acts. Bush has created secret programs that have no civilian oversight. He has created numerous special access programs which have the effect of leaving many innocent people looking over their shoulders. The Fourth Amendment describes the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" It was written in a world where the King's officers simply couldn't be everywhere. They might overhear a seditious conversation in a pub, but they couldn't creep up to listen on every conversation on the back porch. Even sending people to listen in to conversations in pubs was considered harassment by our forebears, and we have never permitted it as a general investigative tool (although, of course, a police officer sitting in his neighborhood bar is not expected to close his ears, either). Blogs are America's back porch, where friends and neighbors chat. So, should we be fortunate enough to have any visitors from the intelligence agencies, please come to this back porch as friends and neighbors-- to talk, to listen, to teach, to learn. If you come to this or any blog as spies vacuuming up massive amounts of information, you are not serving the Constitution, but King George. [As to whether this is a Fourth Amendment issues, this is what The 'Lectric Law Library says: "Blanket searches are unreasonable, however 'evenhanded' they may be, in the traditional criminal law enforcement context. See, e.g., Ybarra v. Illinois, 444 U.S. 85, 91-2, 92 n.4 ('79) (invalidating a blanket patdown search of all patrons in a tavern, even though there was probable cause to search the bartender and the premises). The ill that the Fourth Amendment prevents is not merely the arbitrariness of police discretion to single out individuals for attention, but also the unwarranted domination and control of the citizenry through fear of baseless but 'evenhanded' general police searches."] So, yes, datamining blog posts is unconstitutional.

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