Wednesday, August 31, 2005

How are we doing?

From the AP:
Americans are pouring in millions of dollars in donations for disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, rescue organizations said Wednesday.

The Red Cross said it had so far raised $21 million, a figure comparable to the response for tsunami victims following the devastation in Asia earlier this year. Nearly $15 million of that has come from individual donations through its Web site, with the rest representing corporate contributions.

"The outpouring of support has been amazing," said Kara Bunte, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, which has set up hundreds of shelters for hurricane victims.

"People are now starting to see the images on TV and want to help," she said.

Catholic Charities USA, based in Alexandria, Va., said it has received hundreds of calls in the last few days from volunteers asking how they can help. The group has raised $15,000 through its Web site, but will be stepping up collection efforts at churches in the coming days.

"The response is right up there with the calls we had after 9-11," said spokeswoman Shelley Borysiewicz. "The American public is quite generous and they will rise to the occasion."


On the Net:

Red Cross: 1-800-HELP-NOW or https://

Catholic Charities: 1-800-919-9338 or

From the Manchester Union-Leader

AS THE EXTENT of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation became clearer on Tuesday — millions without power, tens of thousands homeless, a death toll unknowable because rescue crews can’t reach some regions — President Bush carried on with his plans to speak in San Diego, as if nothing important had happened the day before.

Katrina already is measured as one of the worst storms in American history. And yet, President Bush decided that his plans to commemorate the 60th anniversary of VJ Day with a speech were more pressing than responding to the carnage.

A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource to rescue the stranded, find and bury the dead, and keep the survivors fed, clothed, sheltered and free of disease.
A better leader would have been in Washington before the storm hit instead of having AF1 fly low over New Orleans today so that Fauxs' cameras could get a good shot. I wonder if anybody else in the city noticed?

And from Newsweek:
Beyond the poll numbers, the Bush administration faces some immediate, urgent challenges—and serious questions about its response to the disaster. For all the president’s statements ahead of the hurricane, the region seemed woefully unprepared for the flooding of New Orleans—a catastrophe that has long been predicted by experts and politicians alike. There seems to have been no contingency planning for a total evacuation of the city, including the final refuges of the city’s Superdome and its hospitals. There were no supplies of food and water ready offshore—on Navy ships for instance—in the event of such flooding, even though government officials knew there were thousands of people stranded inside the sweltering and powerless city.

Then there’s the speed of the Bush administration’s response to such disasters. Just one week ago the White House declared that a major disaster existed in Louisiana, specifically most of the areas (such as Jefferson Parish) that are now under water. Was the White House psychic about the disaster ahead? Not exactly. In fact the major disaster referred to Tropical Storm Cindy, which struck the state a full seven weeks earlier. That announcement triggered federal aid for the stricken areas, where the clean-up had been on hold for almost two months while the White House chewed things over.

Now, faced with a far bigger and deadlier disaster, the Bush administration faces at least two difficult questions: Was it ready to deal with the long-predicted flooding of New Orleans? And is it ready to deal with the long-predicted terrorist attack that might some day strike another of our big cities?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Our Dear Embattled Leader and His Amazing Foresight

Attytood, using his Nexis, has a good summary of ODEL's clever plan to shortchange levee construction and improvment in Louisiana to fun His Own Private War.
In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to this Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness:

The $750 million Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection project is another major Corps project, which remains about 20% incomplete due to lack of funds, said Al Naomi, project manager. That project consists of building up levees and protection for pumping stations on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Jefferson parishes.

The Lake Pontchartrain project is slated to receive $3.9 million in the president's 2005 budget. Naomi said about $20 million is needed.

"The longer we wait without funding, the more we sink," he said. "I've got at least six levee construction contracts that need to be done to raise the levee protection back to where it should be (because of settling). Right now I owe my contractors about $5 million. And we're going to have to pay them interest."

That June, with the 2004 hurricane seasion starting, the Corps' Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for. From the June 18, 2004 Times-Picayune:

"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don’t get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can’t stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem that we have isn’t that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can’t raise them."
The norm has been for Our Dear Embattled Leader to be promoted and rewarded when he fails miserably. From the White House, where can he go next?

Monday, August 29, 2005

Bunny's been demoted

For the heinous crime of doing her job. When you think about it, if your job involves being rightfully critical of Army-Halliburton contracts in an administration that has shown continuing hostility to people who perform their jobs with competence, it is a miracle that she has lasted this long.
A top Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq was demoted Saturday for what the Army called poor job performance.

The official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, has worked in military procurement for 20 years and for the past several years had been the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that has managed much of the reconstruction work in Iraq.

The demotion removes her from the elite Senior Executive Service and reassigns her to a lesser job in the corps' civil works division.
And in a memorandum dated June 3, 2005, as the demotion was being arranged, the commander of the corps, Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, said the administrative record "clearly demonstrates that Ms. Greenhouse's removal from the S.E.S. is based on her performance and not in retaliation for any disclosures of alleged improprieties that she may have made."
And the moon is made of green cheese.
Known as a stickler for the rules on competition, Ms. Greenhouse initially received stellar performance ratings, Mr. Kohn said. But her reviews became negative at roughly the time she began objecting to decisions she saw as improperly favoring Kellogg Brown & Root, he said.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Veterans For Peace have a petition to impeach Our Dear Embattled Leader

Go here to sign on.

Juan Cole today

Juan Cole examines Andrew Sullivans use of the word "tantalizing" in his comments about Iraq.
Andrew Sullivan, who does not have Luke Baker's experience on the ground in Iraq, bizarrely believes that the carbombings, bodies floating in the river, assassinations, ethnic militias, poisoned watermelons, bomb-scarred ice cream shops, shuttered video and liquor stores, and Swiss cheese architecture of Iraq present a "tantalizing" prospect of "success."

It should be remembered where the word "tantalizing" came from. Odysseus describes a scene in Hades in Homer's Odyssey:

'"I also saw the awful agonies that Tantalus has to bear. The old man was standing in a pool of water which nearly reached his chin, and his thirst drove him to unceasing efforts; but he could never get a drop to drink. For whenever he stooped in his eagerness to lap the water, it disappeared. The pool was swallowed up, and all he saw at his feet was the dark earth, which some mysterious power had parched. Trees spread their foliage high over the pool and dangle fruits above his head—pear-trees and pomegranates, apple-trees with their glossy burden, sweet figs and luxuriant olives. But whenever the old man tried to grasp them in his hands, the wind would toss them up towards the shadowy clouds." '

The American Right playing Tantalus, and Iraq as their punishment in Hades, is a more appropriate comparison than Mr. Sullivan perhaps realized. Tantalus was notorious for ever wanting more, for wanting to be god-like, just as the Bushies think that they are manufacturers of reality and the rest of wretched humanity is clay in their divine hands. It should also be remembered that some say Tantalus was punished by the gods for having invited them to a banquet and having served them food into which the remains of his son, whom he had killed, had been ground up. The warmongers' sacrifice of Americans' children for their aggressive policies is a similar sin.
And the balance of the post gives more detail on why "TantaBush" will stay thirsty in Iraq.

Opposite sides of the New York Times.

Todays editorial page has columns by Frank Rich and David Brooks positing different views of Our Dear Embattled Leaders' Own Personal Quagmire. Please read them and think about what the mean.

The Vietnamization of Bush's Vacation. by FRANK RICH

Winning in Iraq. by DAVID BROOKS

Zal takes a swing at Scalia.

In an attempt to drum up support for the Iraqi constitution, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad puts forth an arguement in direct opposition to Justices Scalia, Roberts and the Federalist Society and the concept of "Originalism" in constitutional law.
"Not everyone loves every article of this document, not everyone is totally satisfied, but there is enough in this constitution that meets the basic needs of all communities and for Iraq to move forward," the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

But reflecting the turmoil in Iraq over the document's drafting, Khalilzad was already talking about the need for changes.

"Our own constitution, as you know, had to change in order to remain relevant, and this will be the case with Iraq as well," he said. "Constitutions are not just one-time documents. To be relevant they will have to adapt."
Amb. Zal wants the Iraqis to be able to do what the aforementioned folks and Our Dear Embattled Leader and the Bushoviks would like to see eliminated from our legal system. It would seem that different parts of the administration are at odds with each other. Or is it just the usual opportunism of our current "Gang of Idiots"? You dear reader will have to decide.

23 days and counting

Our Dear Leader has not come out to meet Cindy Sheehan.

From Eugene Robinson of the WaPo:
I'm talking about the Vietnam Analogy, which Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel loosed last Sunday. "We are locked into a bogged down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam," Hagel said on ABC's "This Week." "The longer we stay, the more problems we are going to have."

Hagel is hardly the first person to use the Analogy, but coming from such a prominent Republican - one who happens to be both a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a possible presidential candidate in 2008 - Hagel's words serve as an incantation. Hagel has put the Analogy in play, and that's nothing but bad news for George W. Bush and his policy in Iraq.

Which is a good thing, since the president's policy amounts to the belief that if he concentrates really hard - and stays in shape by regularly doing the Tour de Crawford on his mountain bike - he'll be able to summon a miracle.

John McCain sucks!

And this feature article in the Texas Observer by Lou Dubose gives a great rundown on who and when he sucked.
On September 29, 2004, Arizona Senator John McCain made a promise to six Indian tribes defrauded in an $82-million lobby billing scandal perpetrated by two close associates of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay: “To the aggrieved tribes and Native Americans generally, I say rest assured that this committee’s investigation is far from over. Together we will get to the bottom of this.”

At the time, McCain probably meant what he said. But if he is to be a viable candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, he may have to slow down the investigation he began a year ago. Because at “the bottom” of the inquiry McCain directs from the chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is a second scandal that extends beyond the $82 million Mike Scanlon and Jack Abramoff took from the six tribes they were working for. Abramoff and Scanlon did more than enrich themselves. They enriched the Republican Party. The two Washington political operatives moved millions out of the accounts of the Indian tribes and into the accounts of Republican campaigns and advocacy groups whose support McCain will need for a presidential run in 2008. The personal contributions they made, such as the $500,000 check Scanlon wrote to the Republican National Governors Association in 2002, were derived from illicit billings of Indian clients.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

In a perfect world.

Everything that Our Dear Embattled Leader says would make perfect sense and comfort people. Charlie Reese, in the Memphis Flyer, shows us why this just isn't so.
This refusal to admit mistakes and to be held accountable is what gives the Bush administration the eerie atmosphere of being totally disconnected from reality. Whatever Bush says or does is always correct and successful, no matter how copious the evidence to the contrary. Members of the administration just don't talk about the weapons or the ties to al-Qaeda anymore. You must be mistaken, they say. We went to war because we love the Iraqi people so much, we wanted them to have a democratic government.

Excuse me. You want me to believe that you love a people - who for 13 years we bombed and impoverished with sanctions - so much that you will gladly spend 2,000 American lives to relieve them of a dictator the U.S. once supported? This is insane.
Oh, no. Our Dear Embattled Leader would never be insane. He would merely be on vacation, until they can balance his "meds" again.

Billmon looks for the why of Pat Robertson

We all know what everybodys favorite God-stapo leader said the other day about the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. Now Billmon has a post over at the Whiskey Bar that tries to winkle out Pats real reason for what he said.
Personally, I've known Pat was either a demented psychopath or a world-class con artist ever since he first emerged on the national scene back in the early 1980s. I remember seeing some old footage of Robertson hopping down the aisle of his "church" on one foot in some kind of a faith-healing trace, and thinking to myself: Nobody does something like that unless they're authentically ripped on the Holy Spirit, or they expect to make some nice coin out of it.

I always assumed it was the latter (a business associate who traveled with Robertson claims he never saw him reading the Bible -- just Investor's Business Daily and the Wall Street Journal.) But then I happened to catch Robertson on the tube giving a speech during the 1988 Republican convention, and I realized he was both a con man and a nut case -- with no clear dividing line between them.

Janis Karpinski speaks out about Abu Ghraib

Read it all at
"It was a memorandum signed by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, authorizing a short list, maybe 6 or 8 techniques: use of dogs; stress positions; loud music; deprivation of food; keeping the lights on, those kinds of things," Karpinski said. "And then a handwritten message over to the side that appeared to be the same handwriting as the signature, and that signature was Secretary Rumsfeld's. And it said, 'Make sure this happens' with two exclamation points. And that was the only thing they had. Everything else had been confiscated."
Your tax dollars at work.

You gotta love MoDo when she is on a roll.

When the title of her column is "Bike-Deep in the Big Muddy" you know something good will follow. She does not disappoint.
According to, "jump the couch" has now become slang for "a defining moment when you know someone has gone off the deep end. Inspired by Tom Cruise's recent behavior on 'Oprah.' Also see 'jump the shark.' "

The former stateside National Guardsman who was sometimes M.I.A. jumped the shark by landing on that "Mission Accomplished" carrier. (With Tom Cruise cockiness.)

Then, as president, he jumped the couch by pedaling through the guns of August - the growing carnage and chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He did do a few minutes of work this month, calling a Shiite leader in Baghdad a few days ago to lobby him to reach a consensus with the Sunnis, so Iraq doesn't crack apart. But the Shiites and Kurds ignored the president and skewered the Sunnis.

Iraq, it turns out, is the one branch of American government that the Republicans don't control.
And slowly, one piece at a time, Americans are seeing the other side of this "Potemkin president".

Coin-Gate, Methinks Gov. Bob doth protest too much.

From the ever excellent Toledo Blade we find that Tom Noe is ticked off at Gov. Bobs disavowals of knowledge of the coin funds. And the evidence is on Toms' side.
At a 2004 roast of Tom Noe, Gov. Bob Taft talked about rare coins and giving money to the Toledo-area coin dealer, but he did not make a direct reference to the $50 million rare-coin investment that now, a year later, has enveloped his administration in scandal.

Mr. Noe's penchant for fine wine was so well-known it was an opening joke in Mr. Taft's roast of him, a speech delivered with razzes about golf, Mr. Noe's waistline, his status as a college dropout, and his "100-room mansion in the Florida Keys."

The August, 2004, speech includes oblique references to rare coins and money but not a direct reference to the state's failed investments with Mr. Noe, something the governor insists he did not know about until it was reported in The Blade on April 3, 2005.


William Wilkinson, lawyer for Mr. Noe, said the governor knew about the coin investment from a May, 2001, conversation he had with Mr. Noe. Mr. Wilkinson allowed that Mr. Taft might have forgotten.

The lawyer said yesterday that the statements in the roast "were consistent with the proposition that he knew."

"I think there is a limit to how much that is going on around you that you can be oblivious to," he said.

Mr. Wilkinson also said that the governor's recent statement that Mr. Noe worked hard to "conceal" the investment's existence was illogical because the coin fund was part of the public record. He said Mr. Noe was "angry" about the statement and wanted a retraction from the governor. Mr. Taft won't comment on the issue.

"He seems to think piling on Tom Noe is good sport," Mr. Wilkinson said.
It is always a mistake to piss off your partners in crime.

And do read this article about the coming together of Ohio liberals and conservatives to remove Gov. Bob from office.

22 days and counting

Our Dear Leader has not come out to meet Cindy Sheehan.

From the AP:
This one-stoplight town of 700 residents near President Bush's ranch braced for thousands of visitors Saturday, most in a cross-country caravan for a pro-Bush rally and others to support Cindy Sheehan's anti-war demonstration.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Tom Toles

Gives us all something to think about the next time we fill up.

21 days and counting

Our Dear Leader has not come out to meet Cindy Sheehan.

From the AP:
A day after she returned to the helm of a protest against President Bush's policy in Iraq, Cindy Sheehan expressed satisfaction Thursday about the peace movement she helped invigorate.

"When I left, it thrived, and it grew, and it's because I'm not alone," said the 48-year-old mother of Casey Sheehan, who was killed last year while serving in Iraq. "I'm not the only one who wants answers to these questions."

Wesley Clark speaks and Our Dear Leader should listen.

But he won't. A thanks and a tip of the fire hat to The Daily Kos for showing the way to this column by Gen Clark on what should be (have been) done about Iraq.
From the outset of the U.S. post-invasion efforts, we needed a three-pronged strategy: diplomatic, political and military. Iraq sits geographically on the fault line between Shiite and Sunni Islam; for the mission to succeed we will have to be the catalyst for regional cooperation, not regional conflict.

Unfortunately, the administration didn't see the need for a diplomatic track, and its scattershot diplomacy in the region -- threats, grandiose pronouncements and truncated communications -- has been ill-advised and counterproductive. The U.S. diplomatic failure has magnified the difficulties facing the political and military elements of strategy by contributing to the increasing infiltration of jihadists and the surprising resiliency of the insurgency.

On the political track, aiming for a legitimate, democratic Iraqi government was essential, but the United States was far too slow in mobilizing Iraqi political action. A wasted first year encouraged a rise in sectarian militias and the emergence of strong fractionating forces. Months went by without a U.S. ambassador in Iraq, and today political development among the Iraqis is hampered by the lack not only of security but also of a stable infrastructure program that can reliably deliver gas, electricity and jobs.

Meanwhile, on the military track, security on the ground remains poor at best. U.S. armed forces still haven't received resources, restructuring and guidance adequate for the magnitude of the task. Only in June, over two years into the mission of training Iraqi forces, did the president announce such "new steps" as partnering with Iraqi units, establishing "transition teams" to work with Iraqi units and training Iraqi ministries to conduct antiterrorist operations. But there is nothing new about any of this; it is the same nation-building doctrine that we used in Vietnam. Where are the thousands of trained linguists? Where are the flexible, well-resourced, military-led infrastructure development programs to win "hearts and minds?" Where are the smart operations and adequate numbers of forces -- U.S., coalition or Iraqi -- to strengthen control over the borders?

With each passing month the difficulties are compounded and the chances for a successful outcome are reduced. Urgent modification of the strategy is required before it is too late to do anything other than simply withdraw our forces.
He says what most of us knew but could not articulate so well.

Friday Night Airplane Blogging

Lacking the large industrial base of the US or USSR, the German sought to keep parity with cutting edge technology. One example is the Dornier Do 355 "Arrow". With two engines in a push-pull layout it was able to achieve the fastest speed of any propeller driven aircraft of WWII. Other novel elements were the ejection seat and explosive bolts on the tail section to allow a safe bailout for the pilot. With two 20mm cannon on the nose and two 30mm cannon in the wings, it would have been a formidable foe if it had come earlier in the war and in sufficient quantity. When the factory was overrun by US troops in April 1945, only 13 had been completed with another 85 in various stages of construction. Today, only one still exists in the National Aeronautics and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

TurdBlossom and the Elusive Why

The LA Times has an excellent article examining the timeline, and the lies and distortions, of TurdBlossoms' treason.
At the White House, there wasn't much interest in responding to critics like Wilson that Fourth of July weekend. The communications staff faced more pressing concerns — the president's imminent trip to Africa, growing questions about the war and declining ratings in public opinion polls.

Wilson's accusations were based on an investigation he undertook for the CIA. But he was seen inside the White House as a "showboater" whose stature didn't warrant a high-level administration response. "Let him spout off solo on a holiday weekend," one White House official recalled saying. "Few will listen."

In fact, millions were riveted that Sunday as Wilson — on NBC's "Meet the Press" and in the pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post — accused the administration of ignoring intelligence that didn't support its rationale for war.

Underestimating the impact of Wilson's allegations was one in a series of misjudgments by White House officials.
If you have just awoken from a 20 year coma or if the summer has fogged your memory, this is a very good refresher.

The God-stapo wants the head of Frist

For the crime of disagreeing with them on stem cell research, a godless group of pseudo christians has launched a series of TV ads attacking Billy "The Cat Killer" Frist.
An evangelical group has begun a weeklong advertising campaign in Iowa criticizing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for backing expanded embryonic stem cell research.

"We know Iowa is a way to get everybody's attention," said Gary Cass, head of the Florida-based Center for Reclaiming America. "Our hope is Senator Frist will hear from Iowans and they are kind of a bellwether state in the heartland."

Iowa is a critical state in the presidential nominating process and Frist is considered a potential candidate for the Republican nomination in 2008.
It is a pleasure to see them attack one of their own.

20 days and counting

Cindy Sheehan and Our Dear Leader are both back in Crawford.

Our Dear Leader has not come out to meet Cindy Sheehan.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A troll snuck onto the NYT Editorial Board.

I can't believe it came from the NYT, but here it is, in full.
It took President Bush a long time to break his summer vacation and acknowledge the pain that the families of fallen soldiers are feeling as the death toll in Iraq continues to climb. When he did, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Utah this week, he said exactly the wrong thing. In an address that repeatedly invoked Sept. 11 - the day that terrorists who had no discernable connection whatsoever to Iraq attacked targets on American soil - Mr. Bush offered a new reason for staying the course: to keep faith with the men and women who have already died in the war.

"We owe them something," Mr. Bush said. "We will finish the task that they gave their lives for." It was, as the mother of one fallen National Guardsman said, an argument that "makes no sense." No one wants young men and women to die just because others have already made the ultimate sacrifice. The families of the dead do not want that, any more than they want to see more soldiers die because politicians cannot bear to admit that they sent American forces to war by mistake.

Most Americans believed that their country had invaded Iraq to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, but we know now that those weapons did not exist. If we had all known then what we know now, the invasion would have been stopped by a popular outcry, no matter what other motives the president and his advisers may have had.

It is also very clear, although the president has done his level best to muddy the picture, that Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11. Mr. Bush's insistence on making that link, over and over, is irresponsible. In fact, it was the American-led invasion that turned Iraq into a haven for Islamist extremists.

When Mr. Bush articulated his "comprehensive strategy" for responding to the threat of terrorism, he listed three aims: "protecting this homeland, taking the fight to the enemy and advancing freedom." The invasion of Iraq flunks the first two tests. But it did free the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator and may still provide an opportunity to inspire the rest of the Arab world with an example of democracy and religious toleration.

Right now, however, the Iraqi Assembly is dickering over a constitution draft that would not accomplish any of the American goals. It would fail to protect the rights of Iraq's Sunni Arab minority and the rights of women, and it would enshrine Islam as a main source of law. It could well lead to a fracturing of Iraq into an all but independent, and oil-rich, Kurdish homeland in the north and an oil-rich Shiite theocracy in the south, while the oil-poor center was left to the disaffected Sunnis, the terrorists and the American troops. It's an outcome that would make the violent religious extremists very happy.

Preventing that kind of tragic last chapter is the only rational argument for continuing the American presence in Iraq. The president's strange declaration yesterday that the draft constitution would protect the rights of women and minorities, and his continuing attempts to clog the debate with misleading explanations, suggest his own lack of commitment to the only rationale for keeping American troops in Iraq - or, perhaps, his lack of faith in the likely outcome.

Baghdad follies

From the NY Times comes this story of armed conflict between Shi'ite factions in the capital.
Fighting broke out in Baghdad and the holy city of Najaf on Wednesday between rival Shi'ite militias, raising fears of a renewed uprising by radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army against the U.S.-backed government.

At least eight people were killed and dozens wounded, health officials said, in street battles in Najaf involving pro-government Badr Organization fighters and supporters of Sadr, who has joined Sunni Arabs in denouncing a constitution the Shi'ite-led government is preparing to force through parliament.

The head of the Badr Organization denied it was involved.
Nope, it wasn't us. They just looked like us.

This comes on top of the usual violence in this poor, benighted city.
Hours earlier, in the capital, dozens of insurgents ambushed police in the Sunni stronghold of Hay al-Jamia in Baghdad. At least six police vehicles were set ablaze as a group of about 40 guerrillas, some with faces masked, fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons in a brazen assault on a police checkpoint and on reinforcements who arrived to help.

``It was raining bullets,'' said a police official, who said a dozen police vehicles had been sent in to try to evacuate those under attack, but had failed against the onslaught of gunfire.

Police said 10 civilians and three policemen died. A police source said 43 people were wounded.
For this, Our Dear Leader says more Americans must die to validate those already killed, while he continues to enjoy his vacation.

P.S. MoDo hits the mark again

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Because every Real American should know about this

I am posting this link to the WaPo story. It will not be the last, by any means.
A former worker for a Halliburton Co. subsidiary faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $1.25 million after pleading guilty late last week to taking kickbacks in Iraq in a scheme that defrauded the U.S. government, court records show.

It marks the second case this year of a Halliburton worker facing criminal charges in connection with the company's work in Iraq.
Just in case you forgot what the first guy did.
In March, a former KBR manager named Jeff Alex Mazon was charged in an indictment with defrauding the U.S. government of nearly $4 million by inflating the price of fuel tankers for military operations. He is accused of taking $1 million from a subcontractor. In that case, too, federal prosecutors began to investigate after an internal KBR investigation uncovered evidence of wrongdoing.
If the little guys are getting $1.25MM and $5 MM, just imagine how much "Oily Dick" Cheney is getting.

Coin-Gate has Bob Taft in denial.

The Toledo Blade in todays article outlines the efforts of "Governor Prison Stripes" to distance himself from Tom Noe and the Missing Millions.
In Gov. Bob Taft’s first public appearance since his criminal conviction on ethics violations, he refused yesterday to answer questions about his relationship with Tom Noe or recant statements he made last week that the Republican fund-raiser “ worked hard to conceal” his $50 million state-funded rare coin venture.

The failed investment is at the center of a scandal that has gripped the governor’s administration for the past five months, with 13 separate investigations launched to determine how millions went missing from the fund, and to investigate Mr. Noe’s gifts to the governor and top aides and charges that the former area coin dealer illegally laundered money to President Bush’s re-election campaign.
This effort has drawn a sharp rebuke from Mr Noes attorney.
Mr. Noe’s attorney, William Wilkinson, as he did last week, said last night that the governor must correct his statement about the coin dealer’s “concealment” or his client will “help people to understand that it was incorrect.”

“The governor is, to my knowledge, the only person on the planet that has even suggested that Tom Noe concealed his association with the coin funds,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “I have been in contact with each of the 13 government agencies involved and nobody has ever raised such an implausible question.”
Let the Games begin!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Coin-Gate and Bob Taft - Perfect together.

Now that Bob Taft has been convicted of four charges, let's let the Toledo Blade bring us up to date.
The list of Mr. Taft's undisclosed golfing partners included dozens of businessmen who had lucrative state contracts or faced state regulation as well as campaign contributors, who, along with members of their companies, gave more than $230,000 to the governor's campaigns, a Blade investigation showed.

The governor's golfing partners also included lobbyists who have represented dozens of companies seeking state money, deregulation, or policy change.

Last week, Mr. Taft pleaded no contest to four first-degree misdemeanor ethics violations for failing to disclose dozens of gifts on his state-mandated financial disclosure forms. A judge ordered him to pay a $4,000 fine and issue a written apology to all Ohioans.
Yessirree Bob! $4K and an written apology should stop this behavior in its tracks.

But wait, you say. Aren't these merely innocent golf outings with a few chums?
The report lists several sections of relevant ethics laws, including the prohibition on public officials accepting anything of value "that is of such a character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence upon the public official or employee with respect to that person's duties."

Later in the report, in a section that lists those who paid for Mr. Taft's golf outings that he did not include on his ethics form, the Ethics Commission states: "Some of these individual sources, as well as persons who were present during the events, were persons doing, seeking to do business with, regulated by, or otherwise interested in matters before the state of Ohio."
Chum,as in fishing, is a good word to use.

Robert Fisk reports from Baghdad

And when he reports, he wears his heart on his sleeve. But don't let that fool you, he is accurate and professional in his reporting.
In a traffic jam, a boy walks past my car, trying to sell a magazine. Saddam’s face - yet again - is on the cover. The ex-dictator’s seedy, bewhiskered features are on the front pages, again and again, to remind the people of Baghdad how fortunate they are to be rid of the dictator. Saddam to go on trial next month, in two months’ time, before the end of the year.

Six deadlines for the ghastly old man’s trial have come and gone - like so many other deadlines in Iraq - but the people are still supposed to be fascinated and appalled at Saddam’s picture. You may sweat at home in powerless houses; you may have no fresh food because your freezer is hot; you may have to queue for hours to buy petrol; you may have to suffer constant death threats and armed robbery and your city may suffer 1,100 violent deaths in July alone (all true) but, just to take your mind off things, remember that Saddam is going on trial.

I have not met anyone in Iraq - save for those who lost their loved ones to his thugs - who cares any more about Saddam. He is yesterday’s man, a thing of the past. To conjure up this monster again is an insult to the people of Baghdad - who have more fears, more anxieties and greater mourning to endure than any offer of bread and circuses by the Americans can assuage.

Until Cindy Sheehan returns, we will post this.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday Night Airplane Blogging

Many consider the Supermarine Spitfire to be the most elegant plane design of WWII. Its elliptical wing and slim fuselage gave a delicate appearence that covered a rugged and adaptable airframe. It was one of the most modified aircraft of all times. The Merlin engine provided great speed and altitude performance that allowed the Spit to be used in almost any role, including a seagoing version that remained in service until 1967. Sadly, the designer R.J.Mitchell died of cancer shortly after its first flight and never saw the full potential of his brilliant design realized. One can only imagine that he knew full well what it could do. Over 22,000 were built.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Billmon explains the AIPAC spy case

And in doing so raises some serious questions about National Security.
On the face of it, it's hard to grasp the legal logic for giving USG-01, USG-02 and DoD employees A and B a pass from prosecution (I kept waiting for the indictment to mention Little Cats C, D and E, but apparently the U.S. Attorney's Office doesn't read Dr. Seuss.) In Satterfield's case, for example, the indictment clearly states he leaked classified information -- including secret stuff about Al Qaeda -- to Rosen, who then passed it along to the Israelis. This is cited as one of the overt acts backing up the conspiracy charge against the AIPAC lobbyist.

But if Rosen committed a crime by promptly passing that information along to the Israelis, what about Satterfield, the guy who gave it to him? Or what about USGO-1? According to the indictment, Rosen was overheard in 1999 boasting that USGO-1 had given him "code-word protected intelligence." Such codes are normally used to protect what the spooks call SCI -- or "sensitive compartmentalized information" -- the highest possible level of classification.

According to the indictment, this particular SCI consisted of "national defense information concerning terrorist activities in Central Asia," which I'm guessing was code worded to prevent the disclosure of intelligence sources and methods (the most common use of the SCI designation). That ain't chicken feed -- nor is it the kind of harmless "policy-related" leaking that AIPAC and its media apologists have tried to portray in their spin on the scandal.
This is the same sort of stuff that got Jonathan Pollard a life sentence wthout parole, as this article details.

Our Dear Leader sure has a strange concept of National Security, what with this and Iraq and his beloved TurdBlossom.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

12 days and counting

Our Dear Leader has not come out to meet Cindy Sheehan.

Cindy Sheehan and friends have a new campground.
Anti-war demonstrators led by the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq will move their campsite closer to President Bush's Texas ranch.

The new site, offered by a sympathetic landowner, is a mile from Bush's Crawford home. The move comes after the president's neighbors complained about sanitation and traffic problems.
Three cheers for Fred Mattlage and his brother and sister.

Damn! MoDo is good.

The president's pedaling as fast as he can, but he's going nowhere.

Stolen from Daily Kos

Because it is so good.

Quotes from when Clinton committed troops to Bosnia:

"You can support the troops but not the president."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years."
--Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
--Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99

"[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
--Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."
--Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W Bush

"I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning . . I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area."
--Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
--Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

Funny thing is, we won that war without a single killed in action.

Coin-Gate strikes again.

Just read that Bob Taft has been charged with 4 first class misdemeanors. Not good for a sitting governor, even if he is a lame duck. Still, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Let's all wish success to the prosecutors.

UPDATE: An excellent rundown of the situation here at Hypothetically Speaking

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

11 days and counting

Our Dear Leader has not come out to meet Cindy Sheehan.
A pickup truck tore through rows of white crosses last night near President Bush's ranch, where a woman has been protesting the Iraq war.

The crosses stretched along the road at the Crawford, Texas, camp, bore the names of fallen U-S soldiers.
The fine specimen of Texican manhood who did this is apparently a local real estate agent who believes in country music and law'norder. Who knew a memorial to dead American soldiers was breakin'the law?

Like shooting farm raised pheasants

I have not taken any potshots at the ever contemptable Michelle Malkin for the simple reason that it is much too easy. Just like those poor dumb ringnecks that your state Fish & Game people release just before the season opens. They come walking up to any human, thinking they are the guy with todays meal. I have my pride. But I will provide a link to The Talent Show which has an excellent debate between Michelle and the Malkin. Enjoy it, it is one of the most intelligent conversations that little ringneck ever had.

Monday, August 15, 2005

10 days and counting

Our Dear Leader has not come out to meet Cindy Sheehan.
As the war continues in Iraq, the number of U.S. troops who lost their lives, continue to grow. Since, August 2, when the President left for a vacation on his Texas ranch, 38 troops have died in Iraq. While President Bush continues to highlight progress and possible exit strategy talks, some families of fallen troops want answers and want the war to stop.

One women, Cindy Sheehan is a Gold Star Mother, a mother who lost a son in military service. She‘s camped out near the President‘s ranch, demanding a meeting with him to ask him to bring home those troops who did not meet her son‘s fate.
She is still there, waiting to tax his beautiful mind.

Attaturk once again says it with pictures.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

9 days and counting

Since Cindy Sheehan came to Crawford to speak with Our Dear Leader. ODL, in the full majesty of his wisdom, has so far avoided Ms. Sheehan.
In addition to the two-hour bike ride, Bush's Saturday schedule included an evening Little League Baseball playoff game, a lunch meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a nap, some fishing and some reading. "I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy," he said when asked about bike riding while a grieving mom wanted to speak with him. "And part of my being is to be outside exercising."
God forbid!, that folks see him talking to a woman who lost her son in his own private war when he could be fishing.

Digby spots a new trend

This time he sees the Republicans supporting Our Dear Leader by following that ancient maxim "When life hands you road apples, you make road apple soup".
I've been thinking for a while that we might be seeing the beginning of a new trend in American politics --- the anti-military right. Rush is calling marines "pukes," veterans are being called cowards and fakers, disabled vets are mocked for not having the right wounds or getting them in the right way, GOP hags are wearing cute little "purple heart" bandaids on their cheeks. People are selling busts of the president using his lack of combat experience as a selling point saying outright that physical courage is no longer particularly worthy of conservative approbation. Being a veteran buys you no credibility and no respect in today's Real Murika.
Just the thing for a preznit who hasn't got the balls to talk to a Gold Star Mother.

Newt has a lesson for Our Dear Leader

CNN has this story from Iowa. The lesson learned by Newt Gingrich is one he should pass on to Our Dear Leader.
The two men, who have both been mentioned as possible candidates for president in 2008, teamed up for the Governor's Charity Steer Show at the Iowa State Fair to show Black Gold, a huge black steer.

It wasn't as easy as the steer's 13-year-old owner made it look, though.

While leading Black Gold into the pavilion, the politicians and the animal had a difference of opinion on direction.

Vilsack tried to push the steer one way, but his 225-pound body had little effect.

Gingrich got a good bump from the steer and decided the smartest thing to do was stand clear and wave to the crowd.

"I figure when the steer wants to go somewhere, you get out of the way," Gingrich said.
It is time for Georgie to realize that "the steer" wants to get out of Iraq.

Frank Rich says it so much better here.

Republicans are good with money. Coin-Gate for example.

Just don't ask what the definition of "good"is. The Toledo Blade examines the financial statements of Tom Noes rare coin fund. What they show is a goverment agency doling out funds for purposes other than a profitable return.
If publicly traded, Tom Noe's Capital Coin Fund Limited would have been downgraded by Wall Street in 2001, and investors might have cashed in their coins.

Instead of fleeing, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation upgraded its position that year and gave the politically connected Republican coin dealer another $25 million.

End-of-year financial statements released by the state last week show the coin fund was not the investment darling bureau representatives claimed and had falling profits that would strike fear in the stoutest Wall Street heart - an 18 percent decline from the end of 1999 to the end of 2001.

But the bureau enlarged its stake with Mr. Noe, who with his wife, Bernadette, gave $200,000 over the years to GOP candidates, committees, and parties. They socialized with Gov. Bob Taft and Attorney General Jim Petro, among other top state officials.

The financial statements and a slew of internal bureau memos and letters expose a state investment machine that favored the Noes over financial reality. The documents also show a desire by bureau brass to help Mr. Noe survive a critical bureau audit of his first coin fund, even helping him write a letter that would answer the audit's charges.

Bushoviks lower expectations as casualties rise

In the WaPo today, we learn that, after all their glorious promises, the Bushoviks are now telling us not to expect very much of anything in Iraq.
The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground,"
No! Really?

But don't worry. Our Dear Leader says we can validate the 1800+ killed so far by getting more killed.
Killings of members of the Iraqi security force have tripled since January. Iraq's ministry of health estimates that bombings and other attacks have killed 4,000 civilians in Baghdad since Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari's interim government took office April 28.

Last week was the fourth-worst week of the whole war for U.S. military deaths in combat, and August already is the worst month for deaths of members of the National Guard and Reserve.
And just today in Bushsylvania we have these numbers to add to the total.
the U.S. military said three soldiers were killed and one other wounded in a roadside bombing late Saturday near Tuz Khormato, 95 miles north of Baghdad.

One soldier on a patrol was killed Sunday and three others wounded in a blast east of Rutbah, 250 miles west of Baghdad, the military said. In another roadside bombing, one soldier was killed Saturday and another wounded in western Baghdad.

On Friday a U.S. commander said the number of roadside bomb attacks against American convoys in Iraq had doubled in the past year to about 30 per week. Dozens of bombings, usually detonated by remote control, target U.S. and Iraqi patrols each day.

The military said in a brief statement from Baghdad that one soldier was found dead Friday of a gunshot wound. The military said an investigation was underway and did not say where the soldier was found or if an attack was suspected in the soldier's death.

The beheaded body of an unidentified woman was found in the violent southern neighborhood of Dora, police 1st Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said. Two bodies, including one that was beheaded, were found in eastern Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, police and hospital officials said.

A roadside bomb along a highway killed one civilian Sunday and injured another in Mahmoudiya, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Baghdad, police Capt. Saad al-Samaraei said.

Shootings, a mortar attack and a bombing also wounded another 10 people across the capital, police said, and a senior Iraqi Central Bank official, Haseeb Kadum, was kidnapped outside his home.

Elsewhere, a police officer was killed and two others injured in a drive-by shooting in Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, police Col. Farhad Talabani said. Gunmen also killed one border guard and injured three others near the northeast town of Khanaqin close to the Iranian border, police said.
I guess there is one expectation that won't be lowered.

If you have any doubts of this, a must read is Dexter Filkins NYT article from Baghdad.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

There are still true conservatives out there

Thanks to Bad Attitudes for pointing us to this column from Paul C Roberts on Human Events Online. Mr. Roberts was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page from 1978 to 1980, and from 1981 to 1982, he was assistant secretary of the treasury for economic policy. He is very put out by the current state of affairs in our country.
Conservatives and Republicans used to be people who thought it was America's business to avoid wars and to govern well at home. It was Democrats who involved us in wars -- World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam all started under Democratic presidents.

Governing well at home meant being suspicious of government power, not giving government carte blanche with Orwellian legislation called "the Patriot Act." I can remember when conservatives and Republicans would have gone berserk if Democrats had identified patriotism with the police state legislation called "the Patriot Act."
Now pay close attention to what really bothers him.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced that the commission will approve Westinghouse's sale of two nuclear reactors to China.

Conservatives and Republicans think this is a good idea. Vice President Cheney has lobbied in behalf of the sale. It is good for private business. It means $2.4 billion in revenues for Westinghouse Electric Company.

Iran will never again be a world power, even if it has a few nukes. Persia was a power in ancient times, not today. If we don't bother Iran, Iran won't bother us.

China is a different matter. China already is a world power. China holds enough U.S. government debt to have the dollar and U.S. interest rates in its hand. Last month in an official briefing, a top Chinese general, Zhu Chenghu, said that if the United States messes around with China or tries to interfere with China's reunification with Taiwan, China will nuke the United States: "If the Americans are determined to interfere, then we will be determined to respond. We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all the cities east of Xian. Of course, the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese."

VP Cheney and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission want to make sure China has what it takes to do the job.
Anything for profit. Want me to eat my kids? No Problem!

All you ever wanted to know about Congress

And how it works, but were afraid to ask. Mostly because you knew someone would tell you. The Rolling Stone followed Bernie Saunders I-VT around as Congress prepared to pass bills prior to adjournment. Here is your chance to find out how your congressmoop "earns" his or her money.

It's not rocket science.

Coin-Gate, Will Bob Taft be Ohio's first convicted governor?

From the Toledo Blade comes this piece on the possibilities ahead for beleaguered Gov. Bob Taft.
Gov. Bob Taft’s longtime executive assistant, Jean Booze, is in charge of filling out the governor’s annual financial disclosure statements that have become the centerpiece of an investigation into the state’s top executive for possible ethics violations.

But when the governor talks about “errors and omissions” in failing to disclose golf outings on those forms filed with the Ohio Ethics Commission, he is not talking about Ms. Booze, Taft spokesman Orest Holubec told The Blade.

“The governor signs the report and is responsible for what is in the reports,” Mr. Holubec said yesterday.

A day after the Ohio Ethics Commission indicated it would forward its investigation of Mr. Taft to prosecutors for possible criminal charges, Democrats raised the specter of Mr. Taft becoming the first governor in Ohio history to be convicted of a crime while in office.
It appears that Gov Bob thinks the law applys to other people, even when he signed it into law.
Since 2001, public officials also have been barred from accepting free golf outings with anyone doing business with their agency.


Last week, in response to public records requests, the governor’s office released documents showing Mr. Taft had accepted about 25 invitations to play golf since taking office in 1999. The records did not indicate who paid for the outings, which included a round at Toledo’s exclusive Inverness Club with former Toledo-area coin dealer Tom Noe in 2001.
The Taft name has long been respected among Republicans, and the public in general, for integrity in public service. Is Gov. Bob the new face of Republican integrity?

Once upon a time, America could produce anything.

The NY Times has another article about the inability of military procurement to provide promptly items needed by the troops. This time it is improved body armor.
For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks by insurgents.

The ceramic plates in vests worn by most personnel cannot withstand certain munitions the insurgents use. But more than a year after military officials initiated an effort to replace the armor with thicker, more resistant plates, tens of thousands of soldiers are still without the stronger protection because of a string of delays in the Pentagon's procurement system.


Among the problems contributing to the delays in getting the stronger body armor, the Pentagon is relying on a cottage industry of small armor makers with limited production capacity. In addition, each company must independently come up with its own design for the plates, which then undergo military testing. Just four vendors have begun making the enhanced armor, according to military and industry officials. Two more companies are expected to receive contracts by next month, while 20 or more others have plates that are still being tested.

An important material that strengthens the ceramic plates also remains in short supply despite a federal initiative aimed at prodding private industry into meeting the growing demand, military officials said.

"Nobody is happy we haven't been able to do it faster," Maj. Gen. William D. Catto, head of the Marine Corps Systems Command, said Wednesday in the interview.

"If I had the capability, I'd like to see everybody that needs enhanced SAPI to have it and at the rate we have now, we're going to have months before we get the kind of aggregate numbers we want to have," General Catto said, referring to the thicker plates, known as the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert. "That's just a fact of life because of the raw materials paucity and the industrial base."
Good Republican CEO's have been shipping the American industrial base overseas as fast as they can. And now that chicken is coming home to roost.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I am shocked!

Knight-Ridder, which is still doing real news reporting, has this story on the "Pepsodent" arms deals in Iraq.
Iraqi investigators have uncovered widespread fraud and waste in more than $1 billion worth of weapons deals arranged by middlemen who reneged or took huge kickbacks on contracts to arm Iraq's fledgling military, according to a confidential report and interviews with U.S. and Iraqi officials.

The Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit, in a report reviewed by Knight Ridder, describes transactions suggesting that senior U.S.-appointed Iraqi officials in the Defense Ministry used three intermediary companies to hide the kickbacks they received from contracts involving unnecessary, overpriced or outdated equipment.

Knight Ridder reported last month that $300 million in defense funds had been lost. But the report indicates that the audit board uncovered a much larger scandal, with losses likely to exceed $500 million, that's roiling the ministry as it struggles to build up its armed forces.
You say you want some detail? How about this.
-Multimillion-dollar contracts were awarded to favored weapons suppliers without a bidding process and without the required approval from the prime minister's office. Investigators wrote that the chief procurer went "beyond his authority" in purchasing equipment.

-Senior Iraqi officials kept little or no record of major purchases, sometimes noting lucrative deals in "undated and unnumbered" memos. Nearly all purchases contained a clause - unusual in international contracting of this magnitude - that required the contract's full value to be paid up front in cash.

-Instead of buying directly from a foreign company or government, Iraqi arms procurers hired third-party companies to negotiate the contracts. When Iraqi leaders later complained about unfulfilled contracts, they discovered they had no recourse to demand a refund because the payments were made to Iraqi middlemen who vanished after receiving the millions. "The undertakings make no obligation ... toward the Iraqi Ministry of Defense," according to the report.

-The sole beneficiary on 43 of the 89 contracts was a former currency-exchange operator, Nair Mohamed al-Jumaili, whose name doesn't even appear on the contracts. At least $759 million in Iraqi money was deposited into his personal account at a bank in Baghdad, according to the report. Internal records incorrectly "indicated that the Ministry of Defense signed contracts with Poland, Arab countries, the United States and Europe, but we discovered that all contracts were signed and executed with Iraqi suppliers," the report said.
You folks all remember who is supplying the money, don't you?

PS. For those not old enough to remember,Pepsodent toothpaste had a slogan that went "you'll wonder where the yellow went when you brush with, etc." With these deals, you'll wonder where the money went.

Friday Night Airplane Blogging

The North American p-51 was the finest fighter in Europe, 'nuff said. Designed and prototype built in 120 days, the plane with its Allison engine was capable of outflying the Spitfire at lower altitudes. Its lack of high altiude performance caused the British to experiment with a Merlin engine in the airframe. With that race horse engine in place the P-51 became a super star. With its new high altitude performance and increased range it was able to escort bombers all the way to Berlin and kick ass all the way. This picture shows a B model with the early faired cockpit which gave way in the accompnying D and later models to a clear bubble canopy that greatly improved pilot vision. Over 14,000 were built and saw frontline service until 1953.

Patriotism stops at the t-shirt.

Atrios points us to this piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the difficulties of military recruiting.
Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the Marine Reserve to talk to his parents.

It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect's mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.

"I want you to know we support you," she gushed.

Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

"Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people," she told him.
I have to say that at times I have worn my heart on my sleeve but I draw the line at wearing our flag on your tits.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Attaturk has a way with pictures

Take a look see.

Bob Herbert speaks truth again.

From his column in the NY Times today.
The president is on vacation. He's down at the ranch riding his bicycle and clearing brush. The death toll for Americans has streaked past the 1,800 mark. The Iraqi dead are counted by the tens of thousands. But if Mr. Bush has experienced any regret about the carnage he set in motion when he launched the war, he's not showing it.

Writing about Vietnam in the foreword to David Halberstam's book "The Best and the Brightest," Senator John McCain said:

"It was a shameful thing to ask men to suffer and die, to persevere through god-awful afflictions and heartache, to endure the dehumanizing experiences that are unavoidable in combat, for a cause that the country wouldn't support over time and that our leaders so wrongly believed could be achieved at a smaller cost than our enemy was prepared to make us pay."

That point is no less relevant now. The administration is not willing to commit to an all-out effort to defeat the insurgents in Iraq, and is equally unwilling to reverse course and bring the troops home.
If that does not drive his point home try this.
Ask a thousand different suits in Washington why we're in Iraq and you'll get a thousand different answers. Ask how we plan to win the war, and you'll get a blank stare.
It is sad that no one inside the Beltway is paying attention.

The first shoe drops for Jack Abramoff.

CNN has this story from the AP about the first indictment for noted Reublican lobbyist, fund raiser and Friend Of Tom(DeLay).
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a key figure in investigations involving House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on fraud charges arising from a 2000 deal to buy casino boats.

The indictment, returned by a grand jury in Fort Lauderdale, charges that Abramoff and an associate, 36-year-old New York businessman Adam Kidan, used a fake wire transfer to defraud two lenders out of some $60 million to finance the deal for SunCruz Casinos.

Abramoff and Kidan are charged with five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. Each count carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In case you have forgotten, we say the first shoe because of this.
Abramoff is also under federal investigation in Washington by a grand jury investigating whether he and a lobbying partner overcharged Indian tribes by millions of dollars for their work.

DeLay, R-Texas, was not mentioned in any lawsuits involved in the SunCruz deal.

DeLay has asked the House Ethics Committee to review allegations that Abramoff or his clients paid some of DeLay's overseas travel expenses.

DeLay has denied knowing that the expenses were paid by Abramoff, whom he once described as "one of my closest and dearest friends."
May the gods be with us on this one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

MoDo is back

Maureen Dowd is writing in the NYT again and it is pleasing to our eyes. She touches a number of issues, but Cindy Sheehan is foremost. And she gets right to the heart of the problem.
It's amazing that the White House does not have the elementary shrewdness to have Mr. Bush simply walk down the driveway and hear the woman out, or invite her in for a cup of tea. But W., who has spent nearly 20 percent of his presidency at his ranch, is burrowed into his five-week vacation and two-hour daily workouts. He may be in great shape, but Iraq sure isn't.

It's hard to think of another president who lived in such meta-insulation. His rigidly controlled environment allows no chance encounters with anyone who disagrees. He never has to defend himself to anyone, and that is cognitively injurious. He's a populist who never meets people - an ordinary guy who clears brush, and brush is the only thing he talks to. Mr. Bush hails Texas as a place where he can return to his roots. But is he mixing it up there with anyone besides Vulcans, Pioneers and Rangers?
Read it all.

And when you are done, call or write your congressmoop and ask him or her to support Cindy Sheehan.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

All money looks the same in AMEX blue

The Toledo Blade today documents the passage of $10K from Tom Noe to Arnold and raises questions about whether it ever came back.
Tom Noe used his American Express credit card from Thomas Noe, Inc. — the same entity he’s accused of using as a vehicle to steal millions of dollars from Ohio’s rare-coin funds — to contribute $10,000 to California’s governor.

Transaction records released yesterday from the $50 million funds that Mr. Noe managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation included a credit-card statement for Thomas Noe, Inc., containing a pair of $5,000 charges from March 9, 2004, for “political contributions” to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

After initially refusing to return the contributions, Mr. Schwarzenegger in June decided to reverse course and not keep the money after all. His spokesman could not confirm that the money has been returned.
Conan would never keep ill gotten gains, and he was a barbarian. What would that make Arnie.?

Well ain't that a coincidence

From the Billings Gazette we learn how Conrad Burns R-MT says thank you to Jack Abramoff and his clients.
The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan owns a ritzy casino resort that boasts 4,700 slots - the most gambling machines between Las Vegas and Michigan, according to the tribe's Web site. The resort business has allowed the tribe to make $70,000 annual payments to each of its members and to hire Jack Abramoff as its lobbyist.

Earmarking funds for Michigan

Abramoff and the Michigan tribe and other Abramoff tribal casino clients contributed more than $130,000 to a political action committee formed by U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., according to news reports in the Washington Post and Rollcall Report.

One thing the tribe wanted was millions of federal tax dollars to build a new school. Despite lobbying by Michigan's two U.S. senators, the U.S. Department of the Interior said the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe's proposal didn't meet requirements for federal funding. That program apparently was for tribes that didn't have lavish casinos or $70,000 per capita payments.

But after Burns became chairman of the Senate appropriations committee that controls federal spending on Indian affairs, the tribe got a $3 million school appropriation. The Washington Post reported that Burns pressured the Interior Department to put the Saginaw Chippewa project in the school program, even though it didn't meet requirements. That effort was unsuccessful; Burns earmarked $3 million for the Saginaw Chippewa school anyway.
And somehow the Super Bowl always gets involved.
Ties between Burns and Abramoff detailed in the Post report include the fact that his then-chief of staff, Will Brooke, and a Burns appropriations aide went to the 2001 Super Bowl on a private jet and visited a casino ship with Abramoff's business picking up the tab. Brooke later went to work for Abramoff and an Abramoff employee went to work in Burns' office, according to The Post.
But will we see a mea culpa from the good Senator?
According to the letter from Burns' attorney to the Senate Ethics Committee, Montana's junior senator didn't know that the Saginaw Chippewa gave him money until the Post reported it.

"Didn't know" is also Burns' defense on the Super Bowl trip. Burns said his staff members thought their trip was being funded by a tribal government, which would have made it acceptable under a loophole in Senate ethics rules that allows members of Congress and staff to accept gifts from sovereign nations. A trip financed by a lobbyist or business interest was against rules.
Shouldn't folks elect Senators who know what is going on?

Business as usual in Baghdad

The AP brings us the latest in what happened today. Pretty much the same as before, only the casualties are different.
A suicide car bomber struck a U.S. convoy waiting at an intersection Tuesday in Baghdad, killing seven people - including one American soldier - and wounding more than 90. More than a dozen others died in scattered attacks across the capital.

Also, a U.S. Marine assigned to the 2nd Marine Division was killed Monday by small-arms fire in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. The deaths brought the number of U.S. service members killed in Iraq this month to at least 32.


In other developments:

-U.S. troops Tuesday killed four insurgents trying to plant a roadside bomb in the city of Ramadi, police Lt. Mohammed al-Obeidi said.

-Violence targeting Iraqi police left 10 officers dead, including five policemen slain while sleeping in their car. Lt. Col. Ahmed Aboud said the men had spent the night on patrol and were waiting for replacements.

-Late Tuesday, gunmen killed an Iraqi Cabinet employee, Abbas Ibrahim Mohammed, in Baghdad. In addition, three civilians were killed in a mortar attack, police said.

-U.S. and Iraqi forces killed two insurgents and arrested 22 others in northern Iraq, the U.S. military said Tuesday. Soldiers from the U.S. Army's 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment killed the insurgents, found setting up a mortar tube Monday in Mosul.

-The mayor of Baghdad, Alaa al-Timimi, was fired and responsibility for managing the city transferred to the provincial governor, government spokesman Laith Kubba said. He refused to say why the provincial council sacked the mayor.

-The mayor of Samawah, a southern Shiite city gripped by riots over lack of municipal services, resigned under pressure. The decision came Monday during a visit by delegates sent by the prime minister, according to Sheik Mohannad al-Gharrawi.
Two politicians fired. They didn't learn that from Our Dear Leader.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Cindy Sheehan is distracting from the message

UPDATE: A good way to smear is to criminalize. From The Raw Story we get this peek at the Bushoviks plans.
A friend of the mother who lost her son in Iraq and is protesting outside President Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch, says she expects to be arrested Thursday, according to his post on the liberal blog Daily Kos.

"Cindy Sheehan phoned me from Texas a few minutes ago to say that she's been informed that beginning Thursday, she and her companions will be considered a threat to national security and will be arrested," friend David Swanson wrote.

"Coincidentally, Thursday is the day that Rice and Rumsfeld visit the ranch, and Friday is a fundraiser event for the haves and the have mores. Cindy said that she and others plan to be arrested," he adds.
Just in the nick of time. We wouldn't want Rummy to need his Rhino Runner to get into the Texas Kremlin.

In the NY Times today is a good look at the effect of Ms Sheehan on the media and hopefully the country.
But when she was blocked by the police a few miles from Mr. Bush's 1,600-acre spread on Saturday, the 48-year-old Ms. Sheehan of Vacaville, Calif., was transformed into a news media phenomenon, the new face of opposition to the Iraq conflict at a moment when public opinion is in flux and the politics of the war have grown more complicated for the president and the Republican Party.

Ms. Sheehan has vowed to camp out on the spot until Mr. Bush agrees to meet with her, even if it means spending all of August under a broiling sun by the dusty road. Early on Sunday afternoon, 25 hours after she was turned back as she approached Mr. Bush's ranch, Prairie Chapel, Ms. Sheehan stood red-faced from the heat at the makeshift campsite that she says will be her home until the president relents or leaves to go back to Washington. A reporter from The Associated Press had just finished interviewing her. CBS was taping a segment on her. She had already appeared on CNN, and was scheduled to appear live on ABC on Monday morning. Reporters from across the country were calling her cellphone.

"It's just snowballed," Ms. Sheehan said beside a small stand of trees and a patch of shade that contained a sleeping bag, some candles, a jar of nuts and a few other supplies. "We have opened up a debate in the country."

Seeking to head off exactly the situation that now seems to be unfolding, the administration sent two senior officials out from the ranch on Saturday afternoon to meet with her. But Ms. Sheehan said after talking to the officials - Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and Joe Hagin, a deputy White House chief of staff - that she would not back down in her demand to see the president.
But why is the MSM now so interested? Hasn't Ms Sheehan and others been out there saying this all along? The Times is kind enough to explain it to you.
Her success in drawing so much attention to her message - and leaving the White House in a face-off with an opponent who had to be treated very gently even as she aggressively attacked the president and his policies - seemed to stem from the confluence of several forces.

The deaths last week of 20 Marines from a single battalion has focused public attention on the unremitting pace of casualties in Iraq, providing her an opening to deliver her message that no more lives should be given to the war. At the same time, polls that show falling approval for Mr. Bush's handling of the war have left him open to challenge in a way that he was not when the nation appeared to be more strongly behind him.

It did not hurt her cause that she staged her protest, which she said was more or less spontaneous, at the doorstep of the White House press corps, which spends each August in Crawford with little to do, minimal access to Mr. Bush and his aides, and an eagerness for any new story.
The Republicans need to smear her extra good this time to get the MSM back on message.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

It's always time to Act Blue

To my two faithful readers, I direct your attention to the Act Blue contribution link to your right. There are two names there. The first, Eric Massa, is hoping to run against "Shotgun" Randy Kuhl in the NY 29th District. This district was previously represented by Amo Houghton, an honest and honorable moderate Republican. In '04 it fell into the hands of a drunken lout and toady of Toxic Tom DeLay named Randy Kuhl. Hopefully, with our contribution, we can recover this district for America.

The second is Louise Slaughter, an incumbent, who has stood up for America in words and deeds. In fact, so far this year she has shown that she has a bigger sack than most of the Democrat and all of the Republican congressmoops in New York state.

I hope gentle readers that you will share some love with these worthy folks.


Tom Toles today

Is this the answer to TurdBlossoms prayers?

In the latest Newsweek, Michael Isikoff has this new twist in The Passion of The TurdBlossom.
With Attorney General Alberto Gonzales recused, department officials say they are still trying to resolve whom Fitzgerald will now report to. Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum is "likely" to be named as acting deputy A.G., a DOJ official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter tells NEWSWEEK. But McCallum may be seen as having his own conflicts: he is an old friend of President Bush's and a member of his Skull and Bones class at Yale.
If he is a Bonesman, at least he is reliable. If you know what I mean.

In DC, doing your job well will get you fired.

Bunny Greenhouse is an honest, hard working woman who was charged with reviewing Army Corps of Engineers contracts. Read what happens to such people in the Bushovik Pentagon.
Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse is the Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting ("PARC" in the alphabet soup of military acronyms) in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Lest the title fool, she is responsible for awarding billions upon billions in taxpayers' money to private companies hired to resurrect war-torn Iraq and to feed, clothe, shelter and do the laundry of American troops stationed there.

She has rained a mighty storm upon herself for standing up, before members of Congress and live on C-SPAN to proclaim things are just not right in this staggeringly profitable business.

She has asked many questions: Why is Halliburton - a giant Texas firm that holds more than 50 percent of all rebuilding efforts in Iraq - getting billions in contracts without competitive bidding? Do the durations of those contracts make sense? Have there been violations of federal laws regulating how the government can spend its money?

Halliburton denies any wrongdoing. "These false allegations have been recycled in the media ad nauseam," the company said in response to a list of e-mailed questions from The Associated Press.

Now Bunny Greenhouse may lose her job - and her reputation, which she spent a lifetime building.

She is a black woman in a world of mostly white men; a 60-year-old workaholic who abides neither fools nor frauds. But she is out of her element in this fight, her former boss said.

"What Bunny is caught up in is politics of the highest damn order," said retired Gen. Joe Ballard, who hired Greenhouse and headed the Corps until 2000. "This is real hardball they're playing here. Bunny is a procurement officer, she's not a politician. She's not trained to do this."
This story has been around a while and deserves much more attention than it has received. What sort of person would put up with what she has endured?
Greenhouse is a registered independent. Her husband, Aloyisus Greenhouse, is retired after a long Army career as a senior procurement officer. They have three grown children.

Bunny grew up in the segregated South, where her parents taught her and her siblings to be proud and hardworking. Her brother is Elvin Hayes, the Hall of Fame basketball player. She followed her husband's military postings, moving and moving and then moving again. In each place she found her own way, and her own job.

Her husband watches what is happening to her and tries to bite his lip.

"Bunny has a lot of faith. She really believes that someone will stand up and say, 'This is wrong.' But I don't think a person exists like that in the Department of Defense."

But in her world, Bunny Greenhouse's faith still beams.

"I simply believe that we have callings and purposes in this life. I walk through this life for a purpose. I wake up every day for a purpose. And every day I say, 'Here I am. Send me.' "
God gave her the strength, now may he bless her with success, for all our sakes.

John Aravosis explains Our Dear Leaders reality

In his post on Radar Online, John from Americablog lays out the difference between facts and True Facts.See if you can name any other instances.
When asked this week about the Valerie Plame scandal engulfing top adviser Karl Rove and an ever growing number of White House staffers, President Bush told Knight Ridder to “wait and see what the true facts are.” It was an odd answer, given that we already have the facts. Rove’s own lawyer has publicly admitted his client was the leaker (or, at least, one of the leakers), and Bush promised last year that he’d fire any staffer responsible for the leak. So what additional facts is the president waiting for?

The solution to the conundrum is simple. For President Bush there are two kinds of facts: regular facts and, as he put it, “true” facts. Regular facts are the inconvenient stuff of naysayers, such as expert advisers, scientists, courts of law, or one’s own eyes. True facts, on the other hand, are a pure reflection of desire, a kind of wishing makes it so—like when Peter Pan exhorts us to clap our hands and let our belief in fairies save the dying Tinkerbell. (Except in Bushworld it’s Rove wearing the fairy wings.) Chalk it up to a poor grasp of reality, incredible hubris, or even outright deception, but true facts always trump the truth when Bush is in charge.
The image of TurdBlossom as a fairy is enough to give me nightmares.

What sort of people support Our Dear Leader

The LA Times has a profile of one such supporter who is up for Ambassador to the Netherlands and his company.
Those who know Roland E. Arnall describe him as a down-to-earth billionaire, one who is as comfortable pitching in at an animal shelter as he is commanding his business empire.


His fortune, an estimated $2 billion, was built refinancing homes for people unable to get traditional bank loans because of heavy debt, blemished credit or other issues. Ameriquest Mortgage Co., the company he founded more than 25 years ago, prides itself on helping these borrowers "achieve their homeownership dreams and meet their financial goals."

This same company, however, has been accused of a wide range of violations by federal and state authorities, community groups, angry customers and even former employees — including allegations that Ameriquest runs "boiler rooms" of loan agents who sock borrowers with hidden fees and higher-than-promised interest rates.

Lawsuits allege that Ameriquest agents have engaged in fraud, falsification of documents and bait-and-switch sales tactics to boost their commissions. Former Ameriquest agents have described a workplace that, despite an official policy of adhering to industry "best practices," richly rewards those who close deals by any means necessary.
But he was only the Chairman and principal owner.
Arnall is by at least one account highly knowledgeable about his firm's operations, but Ameriquest contends that any violations have been the work of rogue employees operating in defiance of company policy — and that Arnall and his top executives are committed to rooting out problems when they find them.

Critics, however, say that Arnall, as founder, chairman and principal owner of parent company Ameriquest Capital Corp., must share some blame for the run-ins with regulators, which date back nearly a decade.

"He may be a very compassionate person, but the head of a company must ultimately take responsibility for a pattern and practice like this, especially when it's repeated," said Robert Gnaizda, policy director at the Greenlining Institute in Berkeley, which lobbies on behalf of low-income communities.
Those dastardly rogue employees! How can they do this to a man who loves animals?

Obstruction of justice-The new Republican integrity?

We all know how cooperative the White House has been with various investigations such as TurdBlossoms treason and Abu Ghraib. Now the LA Times has a story that would indicate that this is merely "business as usual" for Our Dear Leader and his minions.
In Guam, an American territory in the Pacific, investigators were looking into Abramoff's secret arrangement with Superior Court officials to lobby against a court revision bill then pending in the U.S. Congress. The legislation, since approved, gave the Guam Supreme Court authority over the Superior Court.

In 2002, Abramoff was retained by the Superior Court in what was an unusual arrangement for a public agency. The Times reported in May that Abramoff was paid with a series of $9,000 checks funneled through a Laguna Beach lawyer to disguise the lobbyist's role working for the Guam court. No separate contract was authorized for Abramoff's work.
We all know Jack did a lot of profitable work in the Marianas. Now we see that it is dangerous to ones career to ask about it.
The transactions were the target of a grand jury subpoena issued Nov. 18, 2002, according to a copy obtained by The Times. The subpoena demanded that Anthony Sanchez, administrative director of the Guam Superior Court, release records involving the lobbying contract, including bills and payments.

A day later, the chief prosecutor, U.S. Atty. Frederick A. Black, who had launched the investigation, was demoted. A White House news release announced that Bush was replacing Black.

The timing caught some by surprise. Despite his officially temporary status, Black had held the acting U.S. attorney assignment for more than a decade.

The acting U.S. attorney was a controversial official in Guam. At the time he was removed, Black was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the administration of then-Gov. Carl Gutierrez. The inquiry produced numerous indictments, including some of the governor's political associates and top aides.

Black also arranged for a security review in the aftermath of Sept. 11 that was seen as a potential threat to loose immigration rules favored by local business leaders. In fact, the study ordered by Black eventually cited substantial security risks in Guam and the Northern Marianas.

Abramoff, who then represented the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, alerted his clients in a memo about the expected report and warned: "It will require some major action from the Hill and a press attack to get this back in the bottle."
Jack sort of got it bck in the bottle. The investigation, while still open, has gone nowhere. And why is that you may ask?
Black's successor, Leonardo Rapadas, was confirmed in May 2003 without any debate. Rapadas had been recommended by the Guam Republican Party for the job. Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist who had been under contract to the Gutierrez administration, said he carried that recommendation to top Bush aide Karl Rove in early 2003.

After taking office, Rapadas recused himself from the ongoing public corruption case involving Gutierrez. The new U.S. attorney was a cousin of "one of the main targets," according to a confidential memo to Justice Department officials.
Business as usual.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Billmons take on Our Dear Leaders radio address

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Like me, many across this great land are taking lengthy vacations this month, to escape the roasting hot weather made possible by my bold policy of global climate enhancement. However, it has been brought to my attention that a relatively small number of families are not enjoying the summer nearly as much as I am, because their fathers, mothers, brothers, sons and/or daughters have been wounded and/or killed in the War of Heroic Action against Terrorism for the Future of a United Christian Kulture -- or, as my NSC counterterrorism experts sometimes call it: WHATtheFUCK?
Read the rest if it here.

Sign up now for 5 weeks vacation

A petition that all can agree to, except Our Dear Leader of course. Imagine his chagrin if ordinary people were treated as if they were preznits.

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