Sunday, July 31, 2005

A Kool-Aid seminar

If you want to know how this country was deceived into supporting Our Dear Leaders Great Military Adventure, read this analysis from W Patrick Lang. It details the steps, dating back to 1991, in the neo-conmen conspiracy to have this war. It is long but worth every sentence.
What was the "problem"? The sincerely held beliefs of a small group of people who think they are the "bearers" of a uniquely correct view of the world, sought to dominate the foreign policy of the United States in the Bush 43 administration, and succeeded in doing so through a practice of excluding all who disagreed with them. Those they could not drive from government they bullied and undermined until they, too, had drunk from the vat.

What was the result? The war in Iraq. It is not anything like over yet, and the body count is still mounting. As of March 2004, there were 554 American soldiers dead, several thousand wounded, and more than 15,000 Iraqis dead (the Pentagon is not publicizing the number). The recent PBS special on Frontline concerning Iraq mentioned that senior military officers had said of General Franks, "He had drunk the Kool-Aid." Many intelligence officers have told the author that they too drank the Kool-Aid and as a result consider themselves to be among the "walking dead," waiting only for retirement and praying for an early release that will allow them to go away and try to forget their dishonor and the damage they have done to the intelligence services and therefore to the republic.

What we have now is a highly corrupted system of intelligence and policymaking, one twisted to serve specific group goals, ends and beliefs held to the point of religious faith. Is this different from the situation in previous administrations? Yes. The intelligence community (the information collection and analysis functions, not "James Bond" covert action, which should properly be in other parts of the government) is assigned the task of describing reality. The policy staffs and politicals in the government have the task of creating a new reality, more to their taste. Nevertheless, it is "understood" by the government professionals, as opposed to the zealots, that a certain restraint must be observed by the policy crowd in dealing with the intelligence people. Without objective facts, decisions are based on subjective drivel. Wars result from such drivel. We are in the midst of one at present.
Many thanks to The Mahablog for pointing the way to this.

This scares me

From the front page of the WaPo comes this story on the frightening lack of defenses against the possible H5N1 bird flu pandemic.
Public health officials preparing to battle what they view as an inevitable influenza pandemic say the world lacks the medical weapons to fight the disease effectively, and will not have them anytime soon.

Public health specialists and manufacturers are working frantically to develop vaccines, drugs, strategies for quarantining and treating the ill, and plans for international cooperation, but these efforts will take years. Meanwhile, the most dangerous strain of influenza to appear in decades -- the H5N1 "bird flu" in Asia -- is showing up in new populations of birds, and occasionally people, almost by the month, global health officials say.

If the virus were to start spreading in the next year, the world would have only a relative handful of doses of an experimental vaccine to defend against a disease that, history shows, could potentially kill millions. If the vaccine proved effective and every flu vaccine factory in the world started making it, the first doses would not be ready for four months. By then, the pathogen would probably be on every continent.

Theoretically, antiviral drugs could slow an outbreak and buy time. The problem is only one licensed drug, oseltamivir, appears to work against bird flu. At the moment, there is not enough stockpiled for widespread use. Nor is there a plan to deploy the small amount that exists in ways that would have the best chance of slowing the disease.

The public, conditioned to believe in the power of modern medicine, has heard little of how poorly prepared the world is to confront a flu pandemic, which is an epidemic that strikes several continents simultaneously and infects a substantial portion of the population.
Some folks may ask why this is a problem, don't we have flu outbreaks each year?
Pandemic influenza is not an unusually bad version of the flu that appears each winter. Those outbreaks are caused by flu viruses that have been circulating for decades and change slightly year to year.

Pandemics are caused by strains of virus that are highly contagious and to which people have no immunity. Such strains are rare. They arise from the chance scrambling and recombination of an animal flu virus and a human one, resulting in a strain whose molecular identity is wholly new.

In the 20th century, pandemics occurred in 1918, 1957 and 1968. Although the 19th-century record is less certain, there appear to have been four flu pandemics -- in 1833, 1836, 1847 and 1889. On a purely statistical basis, the nearly 40 years since the last one suggests the time may be ripe.
My father, who was born in 1910, lived through the Spanish flu pandemic and combat in WWII. Of the two, he said that the flu scared him the most. In combat you had the means to fight back. There was no way to fight the flu, you just waited to see who would get it next.

Coin-Gate, another Republican stonewall.

From the Toledo Blade, who else.
Ohio's most important political leader has become its most muted on the ethical problems tarnishing his administration and his legacy.

Gov. Bob Taft offers language - part political speak and part Orwell - when he takes credit for an ongoing ethics investigation into numerous free golf games he took over the years but at the same time is unwilling to offer details or even give a general outline of the subject.

"I initiated this process," he repeats over and over at his public events when questioned by reporters. "I am respecting the process."

The governor promises a full accounting of the free golf he is required to report on disclosure forms but did not - where he played and with whom. But he does not give a deadline.
So the governor won't speak. What is he trying to hide?

In Iraq, lest we forget.

The results reported today on CNN.
A bodyguard of Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi was killed Sunday and three others wounded in an attack on their convoy south of Baghdad, a Baghdad emergency police official said.

The official said Chalabi was not in the convoy.
Earlier Sunday, a remotely detonated car bomb targeted an Iraqi police patrol, killing five people and wounding 10, including two Iraqi policemen, according to a Hilla police spokesman.

The bomb detonated on a road between the towns of Haswa and Wahawil, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of Baghdad.

Meanwhile in southwest Baghdad, four U.S. soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb, a spokeswoman for the 3rd Infantry Division told CNN Sunday.

The blast also damaged a vehicle when it went off near the international airport Saturday night.

The U.S. military death toll in the war is 1,791.
And before you think the dying was all one sided.
Military officials said 11 insurgents were killed early Sunday after they attacked Marines with mortar fire. The insurgents were occupying a local schoolhouse about a mile southeast of Haditha, the military said.

The building was rigged with explosives and fortified with at least three machine guns in the windows. It was also being used as a weapons cache site, coalition forces said.

After the attack, coalition aircraft and tanks fired on the building, killing the insurgents. There were no civilian casualties, and the school building was unoccupied, as school was not in session.

When the Chickenhawks won't fight, find some poor people.

Jim Brooke, crack North Asia correspondent for the NY Times files this story on one of the Army's most productive recruiting areas.
From Pago Pago in American Samoa to Yap in Micronesia, 4,000 miles to the west, Army recruiters are scouring the Pacific, looking for high school graduates to enlist at a time when the Iraq war is turning off many candidates in the States.

The Army has found fertile ground in the poverty pockets of the Pacific. The per capita income is $8,000 in American Samoa, $12,500 in the Northern Marianas and $21,000 in Guam, all United States territories. In the Marshalls and Micronesia, former trust territories, per capita incomes are about $2,000.

The Army minimum signing bonus is $5,000. Starting pay for a private first class is $17,472. Education benefits can be as much as $70,000.

"You can't beat recruiting here in the Marianas, in Micronesia," said First Sgt. Olympio Magofna, who grew up on Saipan and oversees Pacific recruiting for the Army from his base in Guam. "In the states, they are really hurting," he said. "But over here, I can afford go play golf every other day."

Here, where "America starts its day," the Army recruiting station in Guam has 4 of the Army's top 12 "producers." While small in real terms, enlistments from Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa are the nation's highest per capita. Saipan, with a population of about 60,000 American citizens and green card holders, has 245 soldiers in Iraq.

[American Samoa, population of 67,000, has lost six soldiers in Iraq, most recently Staff Sgt. Frank F. Tiai of Pago Pago on July 17. Guam has lost three. Saipan has lost one.]
I am not in any way impugning the patriotism of these people, but when Army pay and bonuses look like an NFL contrct, it's not hard to see why so many enlist. Can you imagine how much one would have to offer the doughy pantloads of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders to get a similar result?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

This is terribly, terribly wrong

From The Raw Story comes this:
Marsha Walker’s son survived a suicide bomb in Iraq.

Her daughter spent a year in Kuwait last year, and her father is a former Marine reservist. She’s part of a military family; she and her sister went into criminal justice because their father dissuaded them from a military career. Marsha is a Blue Star mother, meaning a mother whose son is serving overseas.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when an email exchange with her local Blue Star chapter concluded with an expletive: “fuckoff.”
When you read the whole story, note the semi literate correspondent remained anonymous. The whole thing is despicable and sadly in line with what we have come to expect from those who worship Our Dear Leader.

From Capitol Hill Blue

The Rant by Doug Thompson unloads both barrels at the Republiwhores. I agree totally with his final thought.
Traitors to their country? Damn right. When you sell your vote to the highest bidder, disregard the Constitution because it gets in the way of your political agenda and send men and women to die in a war based on false information you have given up your right to be called an American.

Like so many corrupted by power, the rabid right-wing sold out this country a long time ago and I, and a growing number of other Americans, see them for what they are – the true enemies of the United States of America.

Damned furriners takin' Amurikan jobs

This LA Times story has a new twist on the influx of foreign workers displacing Americans, in Iraq!
For hire: more than 1,000 U.S.-trained former soldiers and police officers from Colombia. Combat-hardened, experienced in fighting insurgents and ready for duty in Iraq.

This eye-popping advertisement recently appeared on an Iraq jobs website, posted by an American entrepreneur who hopes to supply security forces for U.S. contractors in Iraq and elsewhere.

If hired, the Colombians would join a swelling population of heavily armed private military forces working in Iraq and other global hot spots. They also would join a growing corps of workers from the developing world who are seeking higher wages in dangerous jobs, what some critics say is a troubling result of efforts by the U.S. to "outsource" its operations in Iraq and other countries.

In a telephone interview from Colombia, the entrepreneur, Jeffrey Shippy, said he saw a booming global demand for his "private army," and a lucrative business opportunity in recruiting Colombians.

Shippy, who formerly worked for DynCorp International, a major U.S. security contractor, said the Colombians were willing to work for $2,500 to $5,000 a month, compared with perhaps $10,000 or more for Americans.
If they are willing to risk their lives for less money than us, what could be wrong with that?
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, worries that U.S. government contractors are hiring thousands of impoverished former military personnel, with no public scrutiny, little accountability and large hidden costs to taxpayers.

The United States has spent more than $4 billion since 2000 on Plan Colombia, a counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics program that includes training and support for the Colombian police and military. Last month, Congress moved toward approval of an additional $734.5 million in aid to the Andean region in 2006, most of it for Colombia.

"We're training foreign nationals … who then take that training and market it to private companies, who pay them three or four times as much as we're paying soldiers," Schakowsky said.

"American taxpayers are paying for the training of those Colombian soldiers," she said. "When they leave to take more lucrative jobs, perhaps with an American military contractor … they take that training with them. So then we're paying to train that person's replacement. And then we're paying the bill to the private military contractors."


Security accounts for as much as 25% of reconstruction costs in Iraq, eating a substantial portion of an $18.4-billion rebuilding package funded by the U.S.

Fijians, Ukrainians, South Africans, Nepalese and Serbs reportedly are on the job in Iraq. Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution, author of a book on the private military industry, said veterans of Latin American conflicts, including Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans, also had turned up.

"What we've done in Iraq is assemble a true 'coalition of the billing,' " Singer said, playing off President Bush's description of the U.S.-led alliance of nations with a troop presence in Iraq as a "coalition of the willing."
Still, it's not as bad as it seems. Them are probably good Republican contributors doing the hiring. See, there is a silver lining after all.

Duke Cunningham sure was a helpful guy.

Since his career as a generous congressmoop fell apart, we are beginning to see the full extent of his generosity.
Integrated Actuarial Services of Ormond Beach, Fla., says the Rancho Santa Fe Republican, acting in his role as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, pressed the IRS to pursue an auditing project that led to a contract benefiting the San Diego group.

The group, which includes two residents of Cunningham's district, incorporated in 1999 as First Auditors for the express purpose of pursuing the IRS auditing contract. None of them had an accounting background, and First Auditors had no other projects or clients.

IAS, the Florida company, claims that First Auditors acted as little more than a shell company and used a Washington lobbyist and Cunningham's help to win the contract. IAS also claims that First Auditors improperly pocketed most of the money the IRS paid out in connection with the auditing contract, despite having almost no responsibilities under it.

First Auditors denies any wrongdoing but is resisting an audit of how it spent the roughly $3.5 million it received from the IRS before the agency decided not to renew the program earlier this year.

The cancellation came against the backdrop of IAS complaints to the IRS that First Auditors was not making payments to IAS. The software company had developed the specialized actuarial software needed to complete the contract and, acting as a subcontractor, was doing all of the work, including training, updates and support.
They did no work and paid no bills, now that's a profitable business model.

Billmon gives a reasoned analysis

Of how your various congressmoops do "bidness"in DC.
I've been trying to think of something that I could compare to the scene on the floor of our Chamber of People's Deputies in the wee hours Wednesday morning, as the bidding for the votes needed to pass CAFTA went into hyperdrive. But it's not easy:

The last-minute negotiations for Republican votes resembled the wheeling and dealing on a car lot. Republicans who were opposed or undecided were courted during hurried meetings in Capitol hallways, on the House floor and at the White House. GOP leaders told their rank and file that if they wanted anything, now was the time to ask, lawmakers said . . .

And ask they did: for highway "demonstration projects," energy "research" grants (more on that later) "technical" corrections to last year's tax bill (i.e. special interest loopholes), industrial revenue bond authorizations, earmarked military appropriations -- in other words, the mob down the entire menu at Denny Hastert's House o' Pork. And then they ate the menu.

And what did our Porker in Chief have to say about that?

"I am proud that the House of Representatives has acted to advance America's economic and national security interests."

Arbustso Boy sounds like Harry Potter's stepmother -- praising her bloated biological son Duddy for his ability to pack away the chow.
Venality has long been a staple of power in Washington, but seldom has it been so blatant. Why you could probably ask your congressmoop what his or her particular price was and get an accurate answer. After all, it's not his money. It's yours and your childrens and their childrens and their childrens, if they have any left by then.

Coin-Gate the scandal that keeps on giving.

From The Toledo Blade we learn of the first convictions in the Ohio Republicans slowly unraveling story of malfeasance.
Two former aides to Gov. Bob Taft — former Chief of Staff Brian Hicks and his former executive assistant, Cherie Carroll — were convicted and fined by a judge yesterday for taking gifts from coin dealer Tom Noe — a political climber who golfed with the governor and sought audiences with President Bush.

Mr. Noe, over the 1980s and 1990s, worked hard to painstakingly chisel a powerful image — one for the governor’s staff to revere and for power brokers to admire as he spread hundreds of thousands of dollars across the state to Republican candidates.

Along that vein, he treated lobbyists and Mr. Taft’s staff to expensive meals and invited them on vacations. They helped him gain seats on some of the most influential boards in Ohio.

He wanted to be a Bush pioneer and succeeded, raising more than $100,000 for the President’s re-election.

That marble image has now faded, and his legacy may be singlehandedly dismantling the decade-long GOP grip on state politics: The scene yesterday morning, in a Franklin County courtroom, may have been an early act in that political drama.
The complete article has the details and pictures of the pair looking less than contrite. But that is probably because they still don't believe they did anything wrong. Let us pray that they are the beginning of the avalanche.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Why I Blog

You Are 40% Weird

Normal enough to know that you're weird...
But too damn weird to do anything about it!

How Weird Are You?

Bad Tux speaks for many of us

Under the title of I didn't leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me Bad Tux the Snarky Penguin describes how a once great political party turned its back on real American.
When a Republican Senator Santorum talks about man-on-dog sex and insists there is no right to privacy but that there is a right to unreasonable -- to unreasonable search and seizure...

When a Republican Vice President tells a Senator, "Go fuck yourself"...

When a President extends the middle finger to the press...

When the President's top henchman says that Democrats are all traitors...

Once upon the time, the Republican Party was the party of decorum and conservative thought, small government and balanced budgets. The Democrats were goons who fixed elections via corrupt politicos, slandered fine upstanding men as crazed lunatics, spent other people's money like water, and otherwise behaved like a bunch of crooks from a Batman comic. No longer. Today's Republicans are a course, crass bunch that the late Barry Goldwater would have been repulsed by, whose big government agenda has led to the largest increase in domestic spending since LBJ's "Great Society" programs, whose borrow-and-spend fiscal policy has led to the largest fiscal deficits in this nation's history, whose henchmen traitorously expose CIA secret agents for political gain, who like Democrat Woodrow Wilson believe in foreign wars of aggression in order to "make the world safe for democracy" (which curiously seems to be more about making the world safe for funneling billions of dollars of taxpayer money to Vice President Halliburton's pocketbook)...
Your Faithful Fireman must confess that he too was once a card carrying Republican. And I felt the same way when I left them.

What is the sound of one man Frist-flopping?

The NY Times started the day with this story. It seems that when you want to be president, anything is possible.
"While human embryonic stem cell research is still at a very early stage, the limitations put in place in 2001 will, over time, slow our ability to bring potential new treatments for certain diseases," Mr. Frist says, according to a text of the speech provided by his office Thursday evening. "Therefore, I believe the president's policy should be modified."

Mr. Frist's move will undoubtedly change the political landscape in the debate over embryonic stem cell research, one of the thorniest moral issues to come before Congress. The chief House sponsor of the bill, Representative Michael N. Castle, Republican of Delaware, said, "His support is of huge significance."

The stem cell bill has passed the House but is stalled in the Senate, where competing measures are also under consideration. Because Mr. Frist's colleagues look to him for advice on medical matters, his support for the bill could break the Senate logjam. It could also give undecided Republicans political license to back the legislation, which is already close to having the votes it needs to pass the Senate.

The move could also have implications for Mr. Frist's political future. The senator is widely considered a potential candidate for the presidency in 2008, and supporting an expansion of the policy will put him at odds not only with the White House but also with Christian conservatives, whose support he will need in the race for the Republican nomination. But the decision could also help him win support among centrists.

"I am pro-life," Mr. Frist says in the speech, arguing that he can reconcile his support for the science with his own Christian faith. "I believe human life begins at conception."

But at the same time, he says, "I also believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported."
If he really was a follower of Christ, he wouldn't be a Republican.

Who knew Germans were civilized?

From Yahoo we learn about this soon to be popular aspect of the World Cup.
A German company is looking to cash in on an expected boom in the sex trade during next year's soccer World Cup with a 60-room brothel a walk away from Berlin's Olympic Stadium, German media reported on Friday.

Named after the virgin huntress of Greek mythology, the "Artemis" complex is due to open for business in September with whirlpool, sauna, cinema, buffet restaurant and a staff of 100 prostitutes, mass circulation daily Bild reported.

"This is no flash rip-off joint where clients are taken for a ride," a spokesman for the Artemis GmbH investment company behind the project, told the newspaper.

Prostitution is legal in Germany in designated areas. Dortmund, one of 11 other cities to host World Cup matches, has said it will install drive-in wooden "sex garages" in time for the tournament in a bid to keep the trade off the streets.
This is one way to keep the excitable soccer crowds in line.

Friday Night Airplane Blogging

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was the other great US heavy bomber of WWII. With its 4 turbo charged P&W engines and Davis air foil wing it was able to carry more bombs longer distances than its older partner the B-17. Its longer range also made it very effective on patrol against U-Boats in the North Atlantic. The 18,000 built made it the most numerous type built by the US. Variants of it served in all theaters of the war in many capacities. Sadly, of those 18,000, only 3 are in flying condition today.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

More on TurdBlossoms treason.

It's not just TurdBlossom and Scooter, according to this NYT article, another as yet unnamed WH person was also telling tales out of school.
In the same week in July 2003 in which Bush administration officials told a syndicated columnist and a Time magazine reporter that a C.I.A. officer had initiated her husband's mission to Niger, an administration official provided a Washington Post reporter with a similar account.

The first two episodes, involving the columnist Robert D. Novak and the reporter Matthew Cooper, have become the subjects of intense scrutiny in recent weeks. But little attention has been paid to what The Post reporter, Walter Pincus, has recently described as a separate exchange on July 12, 2003.

In that exchange, Mr. Pincus says, "an administration official, who was talking to me confidentially about a matter involving alleged Iraqi nuclear activities, veered off the precise matter we were discussing and told me that the White House had not paid attention" to the trip to Niger by Joseph C. Wilson IV "because it was a boondoggle arranged by his wife, an analyst with the agency who was working on weapons of mass destruction."
And who is this paragon of Republican virtue?
Mr. Pincus has said he will not identify his source until the source does so. But his account and those provided by other reporters sought out by Mr. Fitzgerald in connection with the case provide a fresh window into the cast of individuals other than Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby who discussed Ms. Wilson with reporters.


Mr. Pincus wrote in the Nieman Reports article that he had agreed to answer questions from Mr. Fitzgerald last fall about his July 12, 2003, conversation only after "it turned out that my source, whom I still cannot identify publicly, had in fact disclosed to the prosecutor that he was my source, and he talked to the prosecutor about our conversation.
Nice going Pincus. Somebody was willing to use you like a rest room condom to commit a crime and you still want to protect him?

Who knew Skippy could write songs?

Now, thanks to his post here, all of Blogtopia (y!sctp) can see the genius of the Barry Manilow of the Blogs! In truth musical comedy is not easy for a bush kangaroo so hop on over to his place and give him his due.

"What are you trying to hide?"

The Rude Pundit as usual hits the target again. This time we can all joyously join in.
Here's the campaign, in all its glorious simplicity: "What are you trying to hide?"

Notice the beauty of the message there - the implication that something is being hidden, that something sinister is going on, the way it puts the onus of proof on the ones doing the hiding. And it works in a scoundrel's menu of current situations:

On treatment of "detainees" in the war on the struggle on terror of extremists in the whole entire big damn Earth: Dick Cheney and Justice Department have gone nigh on nutzoid at the prospect of an amendment to a Senate defense bill that says, simply, the Army field manual applies to interrogations and, oh, by they way, don't fuckin' torture people. Now that the whole defense bill has been shit-canned by Bill Frist over this, it is the time to ask Cheney and the administration: "Oh, you don't want any rules or oversight? What are you trying to hide?"

On John Roberts's documents while in the Solicitor General's office: The Democrats' call for the release of more of Roberts's records than the dribble the Bush adminstration has pissed out has been met with Bolton-confirmation-like stonewalling and derision from Republicans, like John Cornyn, who said, "They don't have anything on him now, but they're still digging and hoping." The proper response on this from Democrats oughta sound like a throwdown for a streetfight: "So, like, if there's nothing to get on Roberts, why not release the documents? What are you trying to hide?"

The "What are you trying to hide" message is so clear. Look at how it's worked on the Plame inquiry, how much doubt it's sowed in the administration, doubt that can easily be spread to other issues. Yes, it's a double edged sword because it seems to accept things like the Patriot Act. But it can also be subversive to the spread of secrecy and the invasion of privacy. In an ideal America, government should be open to the sunshine and air, and citizens' lives should be private. But the Bush administration has reversed this foundational principle.

So let's at least put things on an even keel, no? You want us all to be open books? Then swing open the doors, unlock the file cabinets, and let some light into those dark corners from which the Bush administration governs.
Read the whole thing and try it yourself.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The WaPO connects some more dots in TurdBlossoms Great Adventure.

On the front page the Washington Post has a story of how the White House regained its "innocence" in the STU-Niger Yellowcake fiasco.
The special prosecutor in the CIA leak probe has interviewed a wider range of administration officials than was previously known, part of an effort to determine whether anyone broke laws during a White House effort two years ago to discredit allegations that President Bush used faulty intelligence to justify the Iraq war, according to several officials familiar with the case.

Prosecutors have questioned former CIA director George J. Tenet and deputy director John E. McLaughlin, former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, State Department officials, and even a stranger who approached columnist Robert D. Novak on the street.

In doing so, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked not only about how CIA operative Valerie Plame's name was leaked but also how the administration went about shifting responsibility from the White House to the CIA for having included 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium from Africa
I do hope Fitzgerald has found TurdBlossoms blue dress.

The State of Ohio supports online gambling

Thanks in no small part to Tom Noe. In the Toledo Blade today they have the story.
Tom Noe used state money to try to pump up an online gambling company in which he and other prominent Republicans were investors, records show.

Mr. Noe invested at least $100,000 of the state’s rare-coin money into financially troubled Games Inc., which has plummeted in value in the last year as its CEO Roger Ach II, a politically connected Cincinnati businessman, sought public contracts.

Mr. Noe is among several prominent Republicans who have invested in Games Inc.

Brian Hicks, former chief of staff to Gov. Bob Taft; Bob Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party; former Senate President Stanley Aronoff, and Lucas County Republicans Patrick Kriner and Sally Perz all own shares in the company, records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission show.
What a wonderful idea, using state monies to support your investments. Still, most investors want some return on their investment. And it appears that some investors may have done so.
Mr. Ach has contributed $29,040 to state candidates and parties, and $16,000 to candidates for federal office, mostly Republicans. He has tried for years to get a contract from Ohio to allow people to buy lottery tickets online.
Also read about one of the first indictments in this whole sordid affair.
A Columbus prosecutor said yesterday he will file criminal charges against Brian Hicks, the former chief of staff for Gov. Bob Taft, for not reporting stays at coin dealer Tom Noe’s Florida Keys vacation home at below market rates.

Chief Columbus City Prosecutor Stephen McIntosh said his office is racing a judicial clock and has only until Friday to file the charges because of a two-year statute of limitations. Mr. Hicks left the governor’s office July 31, 2003.

The prosecutor said other former and current staffers from the governor’s office are also being investigated for a similar allegations of accepting gifts without reporting them on financial disclosure forms, as required by state law.
As the old saying goes, "A journey of a thousand convictions begins with a single indictment."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Republicans shit on an honorable soldier - again.

Once again a soldier who served his country honorably, instead of wandering off in a beer and coke induced haze, is the target of Republicans smears of his courage and service.
Given Mr. Minamyer’s recent habit of indirectly questioning Paul Hackett’s service in Iraq this site must ask the question does Eric Minamyer speak for the Schmidt campaign?

I understand that Hackett did not participate in combat at all. It is still dangerous over there as I can personally attest. Let’s just not act as though we led marines in combat if we did not, okay…

I have asked the question time and again, what role did he actually play?

Given all the opportunities he has had to say “I served in combat” one fair conclusion is that he did not.
Keep in mind that Minameyer was a Navy lawyer who probably spent his days in Iraq behind the blast walls of the Green Zone. A far cry from the remnants of Fallaujah where Hackett was stationed. The Republicans always did favor those that David Hackworth called The Perfumed Princes. Favored men in peacetime who were useless in times of war.

How "Karl" TurdBlossom Rove keeps busy.

When he is not sticking it to the American people it would appear that TurdBlossom has a long time Texican squeeze to catch the overflow. This post at Radar Online has details about our favorite traitors moral compass.
For years, political insiders in the Lone Star State have whispered about Rove’s close friendship with lobbyist Karen Johnson, a never-married, forty-something GOP loyalist from Austin, Texas. The two first became close when Johnson sat on the board of then-Governor George W. Bush’s Business Council over a decade ago. Their friendship reportedly deepened after Bush appointed Johnson—a little-known spokesperson for the Texas Good Roads Association—to a seat on his Transportation Department transition team in 2000. The plum appointment enabled Johnson’s lobbying firm, Infrastructure Solutions, to snare such high-paying clients as Aetna and the City of Laredo. Sources say Johnson now frequently travels between Washington D.C. and Austin, where she frequently appears at Rove’s side at parties and unofficial functions.
One would think the redoubtable Mrs R would be with him. You have to believe that TurdBlossom could afford a sitter for his teenage son.
Although there is no evidence that their relationship is anything but professional, the close association between the married White House aide and the comely lobbyist has long raised eyebrows in conservative Texas circles. Asked about the pair, a prominent political journalist who has written extensively about Rove says, “I’ve heard the stories, but I would never write about Karl and Karen. If you want to keep your job as a reporter in Texas, you make believe you don’t see them together.”
In all my years of observing the human scene, I have seen that those who make the loudest denunciations of moral terpitude have often drunk from the same cup.

Monday, July 25, 2005

E L Doctorow writes about Our Dear Leader

Over at Colorado Veterans For America. Read it.
How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that, rather than controlling terrorism, his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice.

He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.

Wilson lawyer speaks

In USA Today. A terrible newspaper but it does reach a lot of people. The column has nothing new but it does keep the true story out there.
The purported justification for the "double super secret" leak by the White House was to allege that Valerie was responsible for Joe's trip. Even if true, and it is not true, the allegation makes no sense. There would have been nothing untoward about a CIA expert on WMD arranging an unpaid trip for her husband, an expert on Iraq and Niger, to examine whether there was an Iraq-Niger uranium connection.

The more important point is that the CIA has denied that Valerie was responsible for the trip, a fact Novak has acknowledged. As recently reported in The New York Times, Valerie wanted to set the record straight about how Joe's trip came about and her peripheral role in the arrangements, but the agency will not permit any public comment from her. What a shame that in addition to the personal harm she has suffered, Valerie cannot address the bum rap again being circulated by Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and his allies now doing the bidding for the no-comment-mode White House.
Poor little Ken Mehlman. He has to support the outing of Valerie Plame while he hides in the closet.

Kill them all,Let God sort them out.

The lovely title of this post was first seen by me during the Viet Nam war. It was a stupid idea then, it is a stupid idea now. Unfortunately this LA Times article shows that some folks feel that they have to live by that idea.
Three men in an unmarked sedan pulled up near the headquarters of the national police major crimes unit. The two passengers, wearing traditional Arab dishdasha gowns, stepped from the car.

At the same moment, a U.S. military convoy emerged from an underpass. Apparently believing the men were staging an ambush, the Americans fired, killing one passenger and wounding the other. The sedan's driver was hit in the head by two bullet fragments.

The soldiers drove on without stopping.

This kind of shooting is far from rare in Baghdad, but the driver of the car was no ordinary casualty. He was Iraqi police Brig. Gen. Majeed Farraji, chief of the major crimes unit. His passengers were unarmed hitchhikers whom he was dropping off on his way to work.

"The reason they shot us is just because the Americans are reckless," the general said from his hospital bed hours after the July 6 shooting, his head wrapped in a white bandage. "Nobody punishes them or blames them."


The continued shooting of civilians is fueling a growing dislike of the United States and undermining efforts to convince the public that American soldiers are here to help. The victims have included doctors, journalists, a professor — the kind of people the U.S. is counting on to help build an open and democratic society.

"Of course the shootings will increase support for the opposition," said Farraji, 49, who was named a police general with U.S. approval. "The hatred of the Americans has increased. I myself hate them."
I guess that's where all the flowers have gone.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Republican Culture of Life

According to the NY Times, the Brazil government has decided to forego US AIDS aid rather than give in to moralistic demands placed on recipients of that aid.
For years now, they have been distributing condoms to the prostitutes who work the streets, part of the Brazilian government's larger effort to hold AIDS in check.

Until recently, the condom campaign of the group called Fio da Alma had been partly financed through the United States Agency for International Development. But no longer: rather than comply with an American demand that all foreign recipients of AIDS assistance must explicitly condemn prostitution, Brazil has decided to forgo up to $40 million in American support.

"Our feeling was that the manner in which the Usaid funds were consigned would bring harm to our program from the point of view of its scientific credibility, its ethical values and its social commitment," Pedro Chequer, director of the Brazilian government's AIDS program, said in an interview in Brasilía. "We must remain faithful to the established principles of the scientific method and not allow theological beliefs and dogma to interfere."

Experts here and abroad say the disagreement over how to deal with prostitution is symptomatic of a larger conflict between Brazil and the United States over AIDS policy. Brazil, which spends more than $400 million annually on what is regarded as the most successful AIDS program in the developing world, is taking a pragmatic approach in combating the global epidemic, the experts say, while the United States, increasingly, is not.

"It's not as if you're choosing between two neutral policy programs," said Chris Beyrer of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Brazil has good data to show that their approach works, and to ask them to change that, even if they get the additional money, to one for which there is no evidence, just because of moral squeamishness in the United States, is an extraordinary position to take."
This controversy is fairly simple. The US Congress has said that if you want our money you must take our morality with it. This makes the conservatives happy and if people die because of it, well, that is the Lords will. And if it weakens one of the most effective AIDS program in the world, who cares.
"The Brazilian program very early on attempted to recognize that this is a pandemic that could travel through the population if there weren't programs to provide education and give special attention to vulnerable groups," said Mark Schneider, who was the Agency for International Development's director for Latin America in the Clinton administration and has worked at the Pan-American Health Organization.

"They attempted to take out the stigma and practice safe sex so as to prevent the epidemic from expanding, and in that way they were well ahead of other countries, particularly in the developing world."

But the Brazilian approach is anathema to many conservatives in the United States because it makes use of methods seen as morally objectionable. Brazil not only operates a needle and syringe exchange program for drug addicts but also rejects the Bush administration's emphasis on abstinence, being faithful and the controlled use of condoms, the so-called ABC approach, in favor of a pragmatism that recognizes that sexual desire can sometimes overwhelm reason.

"Obviously abstinence is the safest way to avoid AIDS," Dr. Chequer said. "But it's not viable in an operational sense unless you are proposing that mankind be castrated or genetically altered, and then you would end up with something that is not human but something else altogether."
Like a neo-con pseudo christian?

"Nobody in America is asked to sacrifice, except us,"

The title quote from an anonymous US military officer is part of the NY Times report on the lack of any call for sacrifice by the homefront in the "War On Terra".
The Bush administration's rallying call that America is a nation at war is increasingly ringing hollow to men and women in uniform, who argue in frustration that America is not a nation at war, but a nation with only its military at war.

From bases in Iraq and across the United States to the Pentagon and the military's war colleges, officers and enlisted personnel quietly raise a question for political leaders: if America is truly on a war footing, why is so little sacrifice asked of the nation at large?

There is no serious talk of a draft to share the burden of fighting across the broad citizenry, and neither Republicans nor Democrats are pressing for a tax increase to force Americans to cover the $5 billion a month in costs from Iraq, Afghanistan and new counterterrorism missions.

There are not even concerted efforts like the savings-bond drives or gasoline rationing that helped to unite the country behind its fighting forces in wars past.
Why pay more taxes when we can borrow the money from the Chinese? And don't you dare ask me to give up my SUV or my triple latte half decaf.
Charles Moskos, a professor emeritus at Northwestern University specializing in military sociology, said: "My terminology for it is 'patriotism lite,' and that's what we're experiencing now in both political parties. The political leaders are afraid to ask the public for any real sacrifice, which doesn't speak too highly of the citizenry."

What would Jesus do?

Thanks to this article in the LA Times we know what the Redemptorists won't do
Single and unemployed, Stephanie Collopy asked a Portland judge this month to order her son's father to increase her child support and to add their chronically ill boy to his health insurance plan.

Sitting on the witness stand in a white button-down shirt, gray slacks and blue blazer with a small gold cross on the lapel, Arturo Uribe — the 12-year-old boy's father — had an unusual defense: He is a Roman Catholic priest.

Uribe, who was a seminarian when he fathered the boy during a consensual affair with Collopy, had taken a vow of poverty and therefore had no money to support his son, he told the court. Now pastor of the 4,000-family St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Whittier, Uribe had never seen the boy, who was born in 1993.

And as for health insurance, Uribe said his plan — tailored for priests, nuns and brothers — didn't provide for children.

Uribe's legal argument worked.


Canon, or church, law didn't help Collopy either. It is silent on financial support for children fathered by priests. Still, several Catholic scholars said religious orders, such as the Redemptorists, should be guided by higher standards when it comes to providing for children. The Redemptorists are an order of missionaries, priests and brothers whose "special mission," according to its website, is "preaching the word of God to the poor."

Father John J. Coughlin, a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School and canon law expert, said it was "customary" for religious orders to provide financial support for the children of its members.

"Given the special needs" of Collopy's child, who has chronic asthma and allergies, "it would seem that the Redemptorists have a moral obligation to contribute to the child's support … in accord with the order's ability to provide that financial support," Coughlin said.

Officials with the Redemptorists' Denver Province could not be reached for comment.
Read the whole story, it gets worse.

Tom Toles today.

From the Washington Post

He forgot the pardon, I guess he ran out of panels.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


By now everybody has probably heard this as reported here on MSNBC.
Police identified the man who was chased down in a subway and shot to death by plainclothes officers as a Brazilian and said Saturday they no longer believed he was tied to the recent terror bombings.


Police expressed regret for the death of the man at the Stockwell subway station, identified Saturday as Jean Charles de Menezes, 27. Witnesses said he was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him about five times in the head and torso.
Or as that brilliant specimen of humanity John Gibson of Faux New so glibly puts it."Five in the noggin is fine."

Somebody has begun an unauthorized bio of ODL.

The AP is reporting the results of the Faux Faulkner competition.
A scathing parody that likens President Bush to the "idiot" in William Faulkner's novel "The Sound and the Fury" has won this year's Faulkner write-alike contest - and touched off a literary spat.


The story portrays President Bush in the role of Benjy, the mentally challenged son - or, as Faulkner himself said, the "idiot" - in his 1929 novel about the wreckage of a Southern family.
Here is an excerpt from the winning entry.
Down the hall, under the chandelier, I could see them talking. They were walking toward me and Dick s face was white, and he stopped and gave a piece of paper to Rummy, and Rummy looked at the piece of paper and shook his head. He gave the paper back to Dick and Dick shook his head. They disappeared and then they were standing right next to me.

“Georgie s going to walk down to the Oval Office with me,” Dick said.

“I just hope you got him all good and ready this time,” Rummy said.

“Hush now,” Dick said. “This aint no laughing matter. He know lot more than folks think.” Dick patted me on the back good and hard. “Come on now, Georgie,” Dick said. “Never mind you, Rummy.”

We walked down steps to the office. There were paintings of old people on the walls and the room was round like a circle and Condi was sitting on my desk. Her legs were crossed.

“Did you get him ready for the press conference?” Dick said.

“Dont you worry about him. He ll be ready,” Condi said. Condi stood up from the desk. Her legs were long and she smelled like the Xeroxed copies of the information packets they give me each day.

“Hello Georgie,” Condi said. “Did you come to see Condi?” Condi rubbed my hair and it tickled.

“Dont go messing up his hair,” Dick said. “Hes got a press conference in a few minutes.”

Condi wiped some spit on her hand and patted down my hair. Her hand was soft and she smelled like Xerox copies coming right out of the machine. “He looks just fine,” Condi said.
You can find the full story here in the fiction section, along with other years winners.

Uncle Dick wants it too,

And when Uncle Dick "DICK" Cheney wants something for his whiny little nephew George, he gets it. And what Dick "Dick" Cheney wants is for Congress to stop trying to interfere with Our Dear Leaders right to torture anybody ODL says is a bad man.
The Bush administration in recent days has been lobbying to block legislation supported by Republican senators that would bar the U.S. military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees, from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, and from using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual.

Vice President Cheney met Thursday evening with three senior Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to press the administration's case that legislation on these matters would usurp the president's authority and -- in the words of a White House official -- interfere with his ability "to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack."
Actually, the greatest danger to Our Dear Leaders ability "to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack." is his pervasive incompetence.

But, you ask, what is it that has "Dick"s knickers in a twist?
One McCain amendment would set uniform standards for interrogating anyone detained by the Defense Department and would limit interrogation techniques to those listed in the Army field manual on interrogation, now being revised. Any changes to procedures would require the defense secretary to appear before Congress.

It would further require that all foreign nationals in the custody or effective control of the U.S. military must be registered with the International Committee of the Red Cross -- a provision specifically meant to block the holding of "ghost detainees" in Iraq, in Afghanistan or elsewhere. The provision would not apply to detainees in CIA custody at nonmilitary facilities.

Military investigations into the abuse in 2003 of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad disclosed that dozens were held without being registered at numerous prisons; the administration has said it needed to do so to conduct interrogations in isolation and to hide the identity of prisoners from other terrorists.

Another McCain amendment prohibits the "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" of anyone in the custody of the U.S. government. This provision, modeled after wording in the U.N. Convention Against Torture -- which the United States has already ratified -- is meant to overturn an administration position that the convention does not apply to foreigners outside the United States.
Boy Howdy! You better believe that would let Osama and his boys just waltz right in whenever they please if it passes.

The latest "Last Throes

"From the New York Times we get todays assessment of the progress in Iraq.
Despite months of assurances that their forces were on the wane, the guerrillas and terrorists battling the American-backed enterprise here appear to be growing more violent, more resilient and more sophisticated than ever.

A string of recent attacks, including the execution of moderate Sunni leaders and the kidnapping of foreign diplomats, has brought home for many Iraqis that the democratic process that has been unfolding since the Americans restored Iraqi sovereignty in June 2004 has failed to isolate the insurgents and, indeed, has become the target itself.

After concentrating their efforts for two and a half years on driving out the 138,000-plus American troops, the insurgents appear to be shifting their focus to the political and sectarian polarization of the country - apparently hoping to ignite a civil war - and to the isolation of the Iraqi government abroad.

And the insurgents are choosing their targets with greater precision, and executing and dramatizing their attacks with more sophistication than they have in the past.
Truly a sign of the last gasp of the evildoers.
American commanders say the number of attacks against American and Iraqi forces has held steady over the last year, averaging about 65 a day.

But the Americans concede the growing sophistication of insurgent attacks and the insurgents' ability to replenish their ranks as fast as they are killed.

"We are capturing or killing a lot of insurgents," said a senior Army intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make his assessments public. "But they're being replaced quicker than we can interdict their operations. There is always another insurgent ready to step up and take charge."
Well, Our Dear Leader did say "Bring them on". And they did as he asked. Perhaps he should try telling them to go home now, nothing to see here.

Just in case you did not notice the parallells to Viet Nam

The London Telegraph has this story about the ugly presence of drug use by troops in Iraq.
Aware of the debilitating effect drugs had on the morale and effectiveness of GIs in the Vietnam War, the authorities are attempting to stifle a repeat in Iraq.

Aside from random urine tests and barrack room searches, commanders have asked their troops to inform on colleagues.
That always worked in the past.
Since the overthrow of Saddam's regime the borders that have been so porous for insurgents have been equally open for heroin and hash smugglers from Afghanistan and Iran providing a cheap market for troops. With colleagues being killed or wounded on a daily basis, some US soldiers have turned to drugs to escape the horrors of fighting insurgents.
And so it begins.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Coin-Gate: Ohio AG states the obvious, Noe stole millions.

In todays Toledo Blade the top story is the Ohio Attorney General declaring that Tom Noe stole millions from the Bureau of Workers Compensation with his coin fund, described as a Ponzi scheme.
Tom Noe stole millions of dollars from the state and used a “Ponzi” scheme to fabricate profits within the state’s $50 million rare-coin investment, Ohio’s attorney general said yesterday.

“There was an absolute theft of funds going on,” Attorney General Jim Petro said.....

The attorney general said the theft began on March 31, 1998, the day Mr. Noe received the first of two $25 million payments from the workers’ compensation bureau, and continued until late May — more than eight weeks after The Blade first reported on April 3 that there were problems with the state’s investment.

“On Day One, Tom Noe took $1.375 million and put it in his personal or his business account,” Mr. Petro said. Records show that Mr. Noe immediately began using the state’s money for his personal use, the attorney general said.

A week later, Mr. Noe and his wife, Bernadette, made $4,500 in contributions to then-Secretary of State Bob Taft’s campaign for governor.

In the three months after the $1.375 million transfer of state funds, Mr. Noe made thousands of dollars in political contributions, including an additional $2,500 to Mr. Taft, $2,000 to then-Gov. George Voinovich’s Senate campaign, and $500 to Mr. Petro’s campaign for re-election to the state auditor post he held before becoming attorney general.
So the campaign contributions would probably explain the federal investigation as well.
When asked if he believed the state’s money had been used for campaign contributions, Mr. Petro said: “I don’t see that. I mean, clearly, Tom Noe personally contributed to campaigns and the source of his funds could very well be public money.”

But Mr. Petro connected the dots on Mr. Noe’s personal purchases, saying the Noes used “public money” to acquire millions of dollars worth of homes, cars, and boats.
So the Attorney General "didn't see that". And this guy is running for governor of Ohio. Just imagine what he won't be able to see in that office.

Friday Night Airplane Blogging.

The P-39 Airacobra was a small fast fighter from the Bell Aircraft Co of Buffalo, NY. This picture gives a good look at its most unusual feature.The Allison engine was mounted behind the pilot and used a drive shaft passing under the pilot to the propeller. This allowed the mounting of the 37mm cannon thru the propeller hub. Due to service changes, this plane never performed as well in air-to-air combat as it should have. However, the cannon made it an excellent ground support and tank busting aircraft. For this reason it was well received by the Soviet AirForce, who took delivery of more than 5000 of the planes. If you look carefully, you can also see the car like door on the side of the cockpit. No sliding canopy for this little warrior.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Coin-Gate, still alive, still kicking.

From the Toledo Blade we get this story about the detail of this great scandal.
Millions of dollars in coins and cash exchanged hands among managers of Tom Noe’s $50 million rare-coin venture in the days leading up to his admission that up to $13 million was missing from the state-funded operation, documents released yesterday show.

Nearly 15,000 pages of coin-fund transaction records provide evidence that there were hundreds of trades among the people charged with managing the state’s rare-coin investment throughout its seven-year existence.

The documents also show Mr. Noe authorized millions of dollars in loans from the state’s Capital Coin funds — including $285,000 to himself — while using state money to foot the bill for legal work to fight public records requests to release coin-fund documents.
And the beat goes on.

Our Dear Leader did not know his words were lies.

And the moon is made of green cheese. Michael at AmericaBlog has a clear and present analysis of the State Dept memo and in passing shreds "Karl"TurdBlossom Roves'flimsy talking points.
Bush tries to insert it into a speech anyway -- this inflammatory claim that a foreign power is trying to obtain nuclear weapons-grade material that he HAS ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT. The CIA strenuously objects and gets the claim removed. But then Bush goes ahead and makes the claim anyway in his State of the Union address and the American people believe he speaks the truth. Meanwhile, the Downing Street Memo -- minutes of a meeting with the top leaders of the UK -- made crystal clear that our closest ally believed Bush was going to war no matter what and was lying, ie. fixing the evidence to justify it.

Joseph Wilson ultimately comes forward after the war was launched and says simply there was no evidence to back up those 16 words. He is attacked and mocked and smeared. His WIFE is attacked. And national security is endangered, all to smack down the fact that Bush's central evidence in going to war -- the attempt to buy uranium in Niger and the "tubes" -- didn't hold water AND BUSH KNEW IT.

If you don't want to call Bush a liar, if you want to pretend that maybe he didn't know about the State Dept.'s objections (who listens to Colin Powell anyway?) and maybe he didn't know about the first or second or even third investigation into this rumour, the simple fact remains that President Bush took this nation to war and made the most serious claim against a foreign power that he could and did it during the solemn occasion of the State of the Union address on the eve of war and HE HAD NO PROOF TO BACK IT UP.
America is just a chew toy for these spawn of the Devil.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Our Dear Leader does love his soldier boys and girls.

But sadly that does not keep their morale up. However, thanks to the clever deployment of mental health specialists, suicides among troops are down. Still there are areas that need to be addressed.
National Guard and Reserve soldiers who serve in transportation and support units suffered more than others from depression, anxiety and other indications of acute psychological stress, the report said. These soldiers have often been targets of the insurgents' lethal ambushes and roadside bombs, although the report said they had significantly fewer actual combat experiences than soldiers assigned to combat units.

The report recommended that the Army reconsider whether National Guard and Reserve support troops are getting adequate training in combat skills. Even though they do less fighting than combat troops, they might be better suited to cope with wartime stress if they had more confidence in their combat skills, it said.

Only 55 percent of National Guard support soldiers said they have "real confidence" in their unit's ability to perform its mission, compared with 63 percent of active-duty Army support soldiers. And only 28 percent of the Guard troops rated their level of training as high, compared with 50 percent of their active-duty counterparts.
And what concerned them the most?
The thing that bothered soldiers the most, the latest assessment said, was the length of their required stay in Iraq. At the start of the war, most were deployed for six months, but now they go for 12 months.

Asked about this, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a
Pentagon news conference that the Army's 12-month requirement is linked in part to its effort to complete a fundamental reorganization of fighting units.

"I've tried to get the Army to look at the length of tours and I think at some point down the road they will," he said.
I just knew Uncle Rummy would be looking out for them.

11 former CIA agents write to Congress

Josh Marshall has a copy of the letter here. It should be the marching orders for all Real Americans.
Our friends and colleagues have difficult jobs gathering the intelligence, which helps, for example, to prevent terrorist attacks against Americans at home and abroad. They sometimes face great personal risk and must spend long hours away from family and friends. They serve because they love this country and are committed to protecting it from threats from abroad and to defending the principles of liberty and freedom. They do not expect public acknowledgement for their work, but they do expect and deserve their government’s protection of their covert status.
More than expect and deserve, they require that of anyone who actually works for the United States. Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames are two who failed that requirement and "Karl"TurdBlossom Rove is cut from the same cloth.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Remember this tonight and tomorrow.

Even as Our Dear Leader nominates someone to be a Justice on the Supreme Court, "Karl"TurdBlossom Rove is still a free man. What TurdBlossom did was no more nor less than what the Rosenbergs did. And his reward should be the same as theirs.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Our Dear Leader loves his soldiers

And to prove it he is planning to make room for them in Veterans Homes by throwing out all the older veterans currently living in the homes. The Seattle PI has a story on the situation in the state of Washington.
The Bush administration was unprepared to meet the needs of military veterans returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. One scheme they've come up with to make up the cost of health care and other services for this new cadre of U.S. veterans is to shortchange some of this country's most vulnerable older veterans.

Sweeping new eligibility standards proposed by the Department of Veterans Affairs would cut federal funding to thousands of old soldiers now living in state veterans homes.

A roughly 50-50 state-federal match now funds housing and care in these homes, which are essentially long-term nursing care facilities. The Bush administration proposes paying its share of the support only for veterans injured or disabled while on active duty, those with severe disabilities, those in need of care after a hospital stay and those requiring hospice or respite care.

Those standards would render 85 percent -- 85 percent! -- of the veterans in Washington's three veterans homes ineligible to stay there, according to Alfie Alvarado, assistant director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. At that rate, she says, the state's veterans homes would "not be able to operate."
The Bushoviks still believe they can do anything.


Kos posts his thoughts on the morality behind the small problems of "Karl"TurdBlossom Rove. Read it and weep for your country.
It is quite instructive and shocking, even with this administration, that the outing of a CIA agent, her front company, and god knows how many other agents and operations, is met with a collective shrug from wingnut circles. While a blow job gave them the vapors, a genuine breach of national security gives them no pause, gives them no reason to abandon "the architect". Political power trumps everything -- even the safety of our nation.....

Right-thinking people -- even Republicans -- should look at these unfolding events with horror. I would certainly feel betrayed and angry if a Democratic administration thusly endangered national security and undermined our non-proliferation efforts. I wouldn't make apologies for it. I wouldn't rationalize it, attempt to distract with irrelevant, tangential points. I would demand accountability.

But to modern-day Republicans and their apologists, they can do no wrong. No Republican's action is worthy of scorn or censure. They are perfect. Flawless. Immune to error. Godlike.

How someone could be reduced to that level is beyond me. Republicans have now sent notice that they place allegiance to party and power above their allegiance to the United States of America. To them, the elephant flies above the Stars and Stripes.
My parents taught me that NOTHING flies higher than the Stars and Stripes. But that was back when Republicans were Americans too.

Scarborough, "The Pillsbury JoeBoy" gets it.

Well most of it anyway. Check out this idea on Joe's blog.
But there is nothing funny about the Republican's treatment of the Rove affair.

Assuming Rove leaked a CIA agent's identity to Time Magazine, GOP leaders should be lining up to condemn the White House Wizard's actions.

Why? Because they would have shredded a Democratic administration for outing an undercover CIA agent during a time of war.

Imagine Bill Clinton's top political advisor leaking a CIA agent's identity because of the actions of the agent's spouse. Republicans, including yours truly, would have been demanding that official's resignation at once.

But with one of their own in the White House, Republicans are instead focusing their attacks on former ambassador Joe Wilson.

Though Wilson is an easy target for writing a book filled with lies with the ironic title "The Politics of Truth," do Republicans suggest that a CIA agent can be called out during a time of war because of their spouse's misdeeds?

If so, it is a frightening new world for undercover agents who are paid to protect our country.
I would merely point out to the Pillsbury JoeBoy that if he can call for a Democrats resignation, in theory, then it is not a silly suggestion for John Kerry. As they say, "What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."

Is TurdBlossom guilty?

MSNBC has the poll here.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Some business models go beyond "All for me"

Read about Costco and the truly decent man who runs it.
Combining high quality with stunningly low prices, the shirts appeal to upscale customers - and epitomize why some retail analysts say Mr. Sinegal just might be America's shrewdest merchant since Sam Walton.

But not everyone is happy with Costco's business strategy. Some Wall Street analysts assert that Mr. Sinegal is overly generous not only to Costco's customers but to its workers as well.

Costco's average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam's Club. And Costco's health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish. One analyst, Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco "it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder."

Mr. Sinegal begs to differ. He rejects Wall Street's assumption that to succeed in discount retailing, companies must pay poorly and skimp on benefits, or must ratchet up prices to meet Wall Street's profit demands.

Good wages and benefits are why Costco has extremely low rates of turnover and theft by employees, he said. And Costco's customers, who are more affluent than other warehouse store shoppers, stay loyal because they like that low prices do not come at the workers' expense. "This is not altruistic," he said. "This is good business."
And when he puts his money where his mouth is.
Despite Costco's impressive record, Mr. Sinegal's salary is just $350,000, although he also received a $200,000 bonus last year. That puts him at less than 10 percent of many other chief executives, though Costco ranks 29th in revenue among all American companies.

"I've been very well rewarded," said Mr. Sinegal, who is worth more than $150 million thanks to his Costco stock holdings. "I just think that if you're going to try to run an organization that's very cost-conscious, then you can't have those disparities. Having an individual who is making 100 or 200 or 300 times more than the average person working on the floor is wrong."
And what of the employees?
This knack for seeing things in a new way also explains Costco's approach to retaining employees as well as shoppers. Besides paying considerably more than competitors, for example, Costco contributes generously to its workers' 401(k) plans, starting with 3 percent of salary the second year and rising to 9 percent after 25 years.

ITS insurance plans absorb most dental expenses, and part-time workers are eligible for health insurance after just six months on the job, compared with two years at Wal-Mart. Eighty-five percent of Costco's workers have health insurance, compared with less than half at Wal-Mart and Target.

Costco also has not shut out unions, as some of its rivals have. The Teamsters union, for example, represents 14,000 of Costco's 113,000 employees. "They gave us the best agreement of any retailer in the country," said Rome Aloise, the union's chief negotiator with Costco. The contract guarantees employees at least 25 hours of work a week, he said, and requires that at least half of a store's workers be full time.

Workers seem enthusiastic. Beth Wagner, 36, used to manage a Rite Aid drugstore, where she made $24,000 a year and paid nearly $4,000 a year for health coverage. She quit five years ago to work at Costco, taking a cut in pay. She started at $10.50 an hour - $22,000 a year - but now makes $18 an hour as a receiving clerk. With annual bonuses, her income is about $40,000.

"I want to retire here," she said. "I love it here."
Gentle reader, if you have a Costco in your area I say Screw Sams Club, Throw your BJ out the window, go to Costco. Sure, they are a business. But they are a business that rewards everyone who is part of their success.

Cooper says it was TurdBlossom & Scooter.

From the AP comes the news that Matt Cooper in an article in this weeks Time, reinforced by his appearence on Meat The Press, says it was "Karl"TurdBlossom Rove and Dick "Dick" Cheneys chief of staff Scooter Libby who told him about Valerie Plame.
The vice president's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, was a source along with the president's chief political adviser for a Time story that identified a CIA officer, the magazine reporter said Sunday, further countering White House claims that neither aide was involved in the leak.
Á point of interest, they were not the only ones out there talking to reporters.
Libby and Rove were among the unidentified government officials who provided information for a Time story about Wilson, Cooper told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Cooper also said there may have been other government officials who were sources for his article. Time posted "A War on Wilson?" on its Web site on July 17, 2003.

The reporter refused to elaborate about other sources. He said that he has given all information to the grand jury in Washington where he was questioned for 2 1/2 hours on Wednesday.

In his first-person account, Cooper said Rove ended their telephone conversation with the words, "I've already said too much."
Yes indeedy, way too much for ODL. But not nearly enough for real Americans.

UPDATE:Juan Cole has a telling quote from Meat The Press that was missing from the AP report.
Did Rove say that she worked at the `agency' on `WMD'?"--weapons of mass destruction. "Yes. When he said things would be declassified soon, was that itself impermissible? I don't know."
As Mr Cole makes clear.
We may also conclude that Karl Rove knew that he was discussing classified information with Mr. Cooper. Why otherwise promise that the information would be declassified?

Is Our Dear Leader Osamas best recruiter?

From the Boston Globe we learn that both the Saudis and the Israelis have studied the backgrounds and motivations of the foreigners going to fight in Iraq. Their findings may surprise you.
''The terrorists know that the outcome [in Iraq] will leave them emboldened or defeated," Bush said in his nationally televised address on the war at Fort Bragg in North Carolina last month. ''So they are waging a campaign of murder and destruction." The US military is fighting the terrorists in Iraq, he repeated this month, ''so we do not have to face them here at home."

However, interrogations of nearly 300 Saudis captured while trying to sneak into Iraq and case studies of more than three dozen others who blew themselves up in suicide attacks show that most were heeding the calls from clerics and activists to drive infidels out of Arab land, according to a study by Saudi investigator Nawaf Obaid, a US-trained analyst who was commissioned by the Saudi government and given access to Saudi officials and intelligence.

A separate Israeli analysis of 154 foreign fighters compiled by a leading terrorism researcher found that despite the presence of some senior Al Qaeda operatives who are organizing the volunteers, ''the vast majority of [non-Iraqi] Arabs killed in Iraq have never taken part in any terrorist activity prior to their arrival in Iraq."

''Only a few were involved in past Islamic insurgencies in Afghanistan, Bosnia, or Chechnya," the Israeli study says. Out of the 154 fighters analyzed, only a handful had past associations with terrorism, including six who had fathers who fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, said the report, compiled by the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel.

American intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, and terrorism specialists paint a similar portrait of the suicide bombers wreaking havoc in Iraq: Prior to the Iraq war, they were not Islamic extremists seeking to attack the United States, as Al Qaeda did four years ago, but are part of a new generation of terrorists responding to calls to defend their fellow Muslims from ''crusaders" and ''infidels."

''The president is right that Iraq is a main front in the war on terrorism, but this is a front we created," said Peter Bergen, a terrorism specialist at the nonpartisan New America Foundation, a Washington think tank......

Obaid said in an interview from London that his Saudi study found that ''the largest group is young kids who saw the images [of the war] on TV and are reading the stuff on the Internet. Or they see the name of a cousin on the list or a guy who belongs to their tribe, and they feel a responsibility to go."

Other fighters, who are coming to Iraq from across the Middle East and North Africa, are older, in their late 20s or 30s, and have families, according to the two investigations. ''The vast majority of them had nothing to do with Al Qaeda before Sept. 11th and have nothing to do with Al Qaeda today," said Reuven Paz, author of the Israeli study. ''I am not sure the American public is really aware of the enormous influence of the war in Iraq, not just on Islamists but the entire Arab world."
Thank you Our Dear Leader, I feel safer by the minute.

How low can you go?

One-fourth of Sasamori's body was burned. Her fingers were scorched to the bone, and she had as many as 30 operations to repair the damage. Three years ago, she underwent surgery for intestinal cancer. Doctors now suspect she has thyroid cancer.

Sasamori was one of 25 "Hiroshima Maidens" brought to the United States for reconstructive surgery in 1955 by American editor and author Norman Cousins, who she describes as her adoptive father. She eventually settled in the U.S. and became a nurse.

Sasamori, who now lives in Marina del Rey, Calif., said she is not angry with Americans for how World War II ended, but hates war itself and is saddened by the actions of those who made the bomb.

But she was upset about a $125-per-ticket event at the National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque on Friday.

Participants were given a secret identity at the door of the museum, a gimmick meant to recall the top-secret project to develop the bomb. Guests were treated to food, a cash bar, a 1940s fashion show, slides of the Trinity test and a panel discussion by historians and test participants. On Saturday, they were taken to the test site in southern New Mexico for a tour.

"Many people are dead. Those people's souls aren't happy. Why are you celebrating?" Sasamori said. "You are making a weapon to kill us. So, I feel that's not appropriate to celebrate."
The AP story did not say how many of these good people laughed when they heard what she said.

Is this Our Dear Leaders "Big Enchilada"?

Frank Rich, in todays NY Times, looks beyond the unraveling story of "Karl"TurdBlossom Rove to see what else is unraveling. Here is what he sees.
This case is not about Joseph Wilson. He is, in Alfred Hitchcock's parlance, a MacGuffin, which, to quote the Oxford English Dictionary, is "a particular event, object, factor, etc., initially presented as being of great significance to the story, but often having little actual importance for the plot as it develops." Mr. Wilson, his mission to Niger to check out Saddam's supposed attempts to secure uranium that might be used in nuclear weapons and even his wife's outing have as much to do with the real story here as Janet Leigh's theft of office cash has to do with the mayhem that ensues at the Bates Motel in "Psycho."

This case is about Iraq, not Niger. The real victims are the American people, not the Wilsons. The real culprit - the big enchilada, to borrow a 1973 John Ehrlichman phrase from the Nixon tapes - is not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped-up grounds and in so doing diverted finite resources, human and otherwise, from fighting the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. That's why the stakes are so high: this scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-conceived war, not the unmasking of a C.I.A. operative who posed for Vanity Fair.....

Once we were locked into the war, and no W.M.D.'s could be found, the original plot line was dropped with an alacrity that recalled the "Never mind!" with which Gilda Radner's Emily Litella used to end her misinformed Weekend Update commentaries on "Saturday Night Live." The administration began its dog-ate-my-homework cover-up, asserting that the various warning signs about the uranium claims were lost "in the bowels" of the bureaucracy or that it was all the C.I.A.'s fault or that it didn't matter anyway, because there were new, retroactive rationales to justify the war. But the administration knows how guilty it is. That's why it has so quickly trashed any insider who contradicts its story line about how we got to Iraq, starting with the former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill and the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke......

But by overreacting in panic to his single Op-Ed piece of two years ago, the White House has opened a Pandora's box it can't slam shut. Seasoned audiences of presidential scandal know that there's only one certainty ahead: the timing of a Karl Rove resignation. As always in this genre, the knight takes the fall at exactly that moment when it's essential to protect the king.
I disagree with one point. The knights piece is represented by a horses head. For TurdBlossom that is the wrong end of the horse.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Our Dear Leaders first war continues.

UPDATE: Reuters is now reporting the death toll at 98.

From the Associated Press by way of Yahoo we learn how well ODLs March To Freedom is going.
A suicide attacker detonated explosives strapped to his body Saturday at a gas station near a Shiite mosque south of Baghdad, triggering a huge explosion in a fuel tanker and killing at least 54 people, police said.

Eighty-two people were injured.

Police and witnesses said the fuel tanker was moving slowly toward the pumps when an attacker ran to it and detonated his explosives. The station is located in the center of town near a cluster of houses, many of which caught fire, the witnesses said.

Gasoline stations in Iraq typically include a number of small businesses selling tea, soft drinks and snacks and often are crowded with people.
No Pizza Huts or Burger Kings were injured by the blast.

Show me the way to the next Whisky Bar

Billmon has an excellent series of posts on "Karl"TurdBlossom Rove and his treason. Read, learn and understand.

The Toledo Blade gets it!

The Toledo Blade takes time from its wonderful documenting of CoinGate to discuss a TurdBlossom. Unlike so many others, they cut right to the chase.
1. In the very beginning Mr. Bush said that it was unlikely that the leaker would ever be found. There is every reason to believe that he would then have taken steps to make that true.

2. It is now clear that presidential adviser Karl Rove did discuss Valerie Plame with reporters, no matter how those discussions are now being described or construed. Mr. Bush said he would fire anyone in the White House who did that.

3. The concept of nailing someone (Valerie Plame, the CIA agent) for what her spouse may have done is unforgivably retrograde in 2005. (Ms. Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, is the former ambassador who said that President Bush's State of the Union claim that Iraq had bought uranium was false.)

4. "Outing" a CIA agent is clearly a national security affair. The Bush Administration allegedly regards national security very seriously. Mr. Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, was head of the CIA in 1976-77, so there is reason to believe the current president takes the CIA seriously.
These folks should be at the head of the line for a Pulitzer.

UPDATE:So does The Palm Beach Post.
I'm certainly happy that George W. Bush and Karl Rove are not Democrats. If they were, just imagine the mess this country would be in right now, even worse than the mess it is in.

First, there would be cries of "treason" directed at Mr. Rove from the Republican ranks. Some of the more overheated members of Congress would demand that he be taken immediately out back of the Capitol and shot by a firing squad.After all, he revealed the identity of a covert CIA agent, did he not?

As for his alibi that he never mentioned the name of agent Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak, the Republicans would laugh out loud. What he did tell Mr. Novak was that "the wife" of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson worked for the secret agency. Mr. Wilson had been openly critical of some of President Bush's falsehoods that led us into war in Iraq, and this was the White House's way of getting even.

Names never are mentioned at police lineups, either. The witnesses just point a finger or say the number a certain suspect is holding.

Can you envision the reaction to Mr. Rove's cop-out if he, Mr. Bush and even Mr. Novak happened to be Democrats?

"This could have cost that woman her life," the Republicans would cry, and they would be right.

Republican "talking points" might mention that all Ms. Plame's contacts in the Middle East also were in grave danger now. The right-wingers would scream that our efforts to win the trust of the Arab people had been undermined by Mr. Rove's act of vindictiveness. And only the president's mother would believe he knew nothing about this outing of a secret agent.

We would be smack dab in the middle of a constitutional crisis right now, as bad as, if not worse than, Watergate.

But that would happen only if the president, Mr. Rove and Mr. Novak — their journalistic shill — were Democrats.
It's OK if you are a Republican.

How they do business in Ohio.

The Columbus Dispatch has an interesting story about Diebold business ethics in Ohio.
A contractor who represents Diebold Election Systems arrived at the office of Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matthew Damschroder with an open checkbook on the same day the county was opening bids for voter-registration software.

Pasquale "Pat" Gallina arrived unannounced, Damschroder said.

"I’m here to give you $10,000," the elections director recalls Gallina saying. "Who do I make it payable to?"

"Well, you’re certainly not going to make it out to me," Damschroder says he told Gallina. "But I’m sure the Franklin County Republican Party would appreciate a donation."
But this is the small stuff, it gets better.
In May, he said, Gallina called him and bragged about a $50,000 check he had written to Blackwell’s "political interests."

"Isn’t it great that Diebold and the county are going to do business?" he says Gallina asked him.

Damschroder said Gallina went on to tell him that he had met with Norm Cummings, a Blackwell campaign consultant, in Washington, D.C., to work out a deal: Diebold would cut the price of its electronic voting machines to $2,700 each if the company had a guarantee that it would receive all of the state’s business.

"Then Gallina tells me that he then wrote a check for $50,000 to Blackwell’s political interests."
I guess this is how a free market economy works.

A letter from Reps. Conyers and Frank

The following letter was sent to the Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service requesting a clarification of a legal issue.
July 14, 2005

Ms. Elizabeth Bazan
Mr. Charles Doyle
American Law Division
Congressional Research Service
The Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, D.C. 20540

Dear Ms. Bazan and Mr. Doyle,

We write to request your opinion as to whether or not very high- ranking members of the President's staff are subject to the Congressional impeachment process. The Constitution in its discussion of impeachment does not spell out with any specificity which federal officials are impeachable. We believe that the rationale for impeachment clearly applies to high-ranking officials who wield presidential authority in many cases with even more impact than some cabinet officers. And we do not see any Constitutional language that would exclude such officials from the impeachment process. But because this appears to be a question of first impression, and because of the grave importance of this matter, we write to ask your opinion as to whether or not it is Constitutionally permissible to initiate impeachment proceedings against the President's Deputy Chief of Staff, or other similarly highly placed officials.

Rep. Barney Frank
Rep. John Conyers
A favorable response would still require a sufficient number of real americans being found among the Republican ranks. What are the odds of that?

What they said before.

From AmericaBlog we get this reminder of what Novak said before "Karl"TurdBlossom Rove said he was told the name by the press.
Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."
A leopard does not change its spots and TurdBlossom has always been veracity challenged.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Friday Night Airplane Blogging

The Northrup P-61 "Black Widow"was the US Air Corps first purpose built night fighter. With the twin engine, twin boom construction, it was similar to the P-38 but considerably larger. It carried a crew of three, radar in its nose and 4 20 mm guns in a lower turret and 4 .50 cal machine guns in the top turret. With its two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines it had a maximum speed of over 400 mph. Though it came late to the war, it performed effectivly in the various roles assigned to it.

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