Sunday, August 27, 2006

To my 2 faithful readers

I am taking a week off and going to the land of someplace else. I will not be posting until after Labor Day. In lieu of reading my fabulous posts, I would suggest visiting my ActBlue page and giving something to the worthy candidates I have selected. With the elections a little over two months away, they need anything you can give them.

And if you haven't done so, go get registered to vote before it's too late.

Remember, all Real Americans vote.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Oh those naughty Canadians

Lakehead University is poking fun at U.S. President George W. Bush and his Ivy League alma mater in an edgy new guerrilla marketing campaign intended to lure students to its Thunder Bay campus.

Dubbed "Yale Shmale," the $100,000 promotion features an image of Bush — Yale University, Class of 1968 — on posters that will be plastered on construction sites and other outdoor locations across the Greater Toronto Area.

"Graduating from an Ivy League university doesn't necessarily mean you're smart," reads the second of two posters set for release, "Choosing Lakehead does."....

.....Officials with Yale did not return phone calls.

A White House spokesperson refused comment.

How do you squeeze a Republican Stooge?

In an aside tucked into a hagiographic article on noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman, the NY Times has his mouthpiece's respin of noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman's demurral of support for Democratic candidates.
[On Saturday, a Lieberman campaign aide called to offer a clarification for this article. The aide, Dan Gerstein, said that the senator had endorsed all the Democratic candidates for the House and still hoped they would win.

[Mr. Gerstein said, however, that in light of their endorsement of Mr. Lamont, the senator did not expect the Democrats to ask him to campaign with them this fall.]
Seems to me that the Democratic candidates for Congress should very publicly ask for noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman to campaign with them. Somebody has to tell him it is time to fish or cut bait.

“only little people pay taxes.”

Editorial from the New York Times:
Strange Priorities

In coming weeks, the Internal Revenue Service plans to start siccing private debt collectors on people with up to $25,000 in unpaid income taxes — and laying off nearly half of the auditors who examine estate tax returns of the wealthiest taxpayers.

Concern for appearances should, on its own, impel the agency to scuttle its plans. A perception of unfairness is bad for the tax system, and this pair of policies virtually screams “only little people pay taxes.” But appearances are not the only reason to rethink these initiatives.

Private tax collection costs more than it would cost to give the I.R.S. the resources to pursue the debts. Federal budgeting oddities only make it seem less costly. Private collection also raises serious concerns about fraud and privacy. Mark Everson, the I.R.S. commissioner, should fight hard for the resources the agency needs to do the job it clearly does best. Instead, he supports private collection, allowing the administration and Congress to indulge the fiction that they are saving money.

The rationale for laying off estate tax auditors is also unconvincing. To allay suspicions the cutbacks are a way to shield wealthy heirs from taxes, two Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, John Lewis of Georgia and Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, sent a letter recently to Mr. Everson, asking for facts and figures to justify the job cuts.

Mr. Everson responded with a “trust me” letter. He said that the I.R.S. could enforce the law with a smaller staff because the number of estate tax returns was expected to decline. The filing threshold for estates is set to rise from $2 million today to $3.5 million in 2009, resulting in fewer filings for relatively small estates. However, the figures he provided indicate the cutbacks will reduce audit coverage, in part because significant estate auditing resources are already focused on large fortunes that will be taxable even after the law is fully in effect.

Mr. Everson also said it would be better to do more auditing of big-dollar income tax returns. But he did not supply the data that Congress and the public need to vet that assertion. What is required is the number of hours auditors spend on various types of audits and the additional tax they collect for their efforts. If Mr. Everson cares about public confidence in his decisions and in the tax system itself, he should provide the information without delay.
Shades of Leona Helmsley.

9/11, heckuva job,9/11,heckuva job

Frank Rich is wise to Our Dear Embattled Leader's plans for the upcoming anniversaries of his two greatest failures. Rest assured that ODEL and his evil minions will put as much lipstick as they possibly can on these two pigs.
Mr. Bush’s press-conference disavowalof his habitual efforts to connect 9/11 to Saddam will be rolled back by the White House soon enough. When the fifth anniversary of 9/11 arrives in two weeks, you can bet that the president will once again invoke the Qaeda attacks to justify the Iraq war, especially now that we are adding troops (through the involuntary call-up of reservists) rather than subtracting any. The new propaganda strategy will be right out of Lewis Carroll: If we leave the country that had nothing to do with 9/11, then 9/11 will happen again.
How do you pretty up this picture? As an opening act, Mr. Bush met on Wednesday with Rockey Vaccarella, a Katrina survivor who with much publicity drove a “replica” of a FEMA trailer from New Orleans to Washington to seek an audience with the president. No Cindy Sheehan bum’s rush for him. Mr. Bush granted his wish and paraded him before the press. That was enough to distract the visitor from his professed message to dramatize the unfinished job on the Gulf. Instead Mr. Vaccarella effusively thanked the president for “the millions of FEMA trailers” complete with air-conditioning and TV. “You know, I wish you had another four years, man,” he said. “If we had this president for another four years, I think we’d be great.”

The CNN White House correspondent, Ed Henry, loved it. “Hollywood couldn’t have scripted this any better, a gritty guy named Rockey slugging it out, trying to realize his dream and getting that dream realized against all odds,” he said. He didn’t ask how this particular Rockey, a fast-food manager who lost everything a year ago, financed this mission or so effortlessly pulled it off. It was up to bloggers and Democrats to report shortly thereafter that Mr. Vaccarella had run as a Republican candidate for the St. Bernard Parish commission in 1999. It was up to Iris Hageney of Gretna, La., to complain on the Times-Picayune Web site that the episode was “a huge embarrassment” that would encourage Americans to “forget the numerous people who still don’t have trailers or at least one with electricity or water.”

That is certainly the White House game plan as it looks toward the president’s two-day return to the scene of the crime. Just as it brought huge generators to floodlight Mr. Bush’s prime-time recovery speech in Jackson Square a year ago — and then yanked the plug as soon as he was done — so it will stop at little to bathe this anniversary in the rosiest possible glow.
The press will probably buy this but will America be buying another poke full of pigs from this crew again? Time will tell, but we truly hope not.

Our Dear Embattled Leader - like a turd sliding down a pipe

And the latest poll from Newsweek has the numbers as they get steadily lower.
Bush’s approval rating has taken a slight dip since the last NEWSWEEK Poll in mid-August. While 38 percent of respondents approved and 55 percent disapproved of his job performance back then, now 36 percent approve and 56 percent disapprove. That approval figure nearly matches the president’s all-time low of 35 percent in May.

Some potential factors contributing to that slippage: his handling of the economy (with 37 percent approving and 58 percent disapproving) and the situation in Iraq (31 percent vs. 63 percent). Both of these results also approach all-time lows. The only semblance of a silver lining remains his handling of terrorism and homeland security, with 49 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving. But unfortunately for Bush, his approval rating on that issue edged downward as well, from 55 percent in mid-August.
America is learning, but it can be a slow process.

Quote of the Day

"We're not asking for a lot. At this point, we're just looking for basic services: power, gas, water. Sewer that doesn't back up into your house would be nice too,"
Jeb Bruneau, president of the neighborhood association in the Lakeview area of New Orleans commenting on the bureaucratic delays in federal funding of repair projects.

But you know that Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure, Bechtel National, CH2M Hill Inc. and Fluor Enterprises Inc. didn't have to wait for their money.

Running away from the war and Our Dear Embattled Leader

The LA Times has a rundown of the Republicans leading the pack in their efforts to put distance between themselves and ODEL and his Glorious Little War.
Since U.S. forces attacked in 2003, Rep. Christopher Shays, a moderate Republican from Connecticut's liberal 4th District, has been a stalwart defender of the Iraq war.

"I've been carrying the bucket when it comes to the war," Shays said in September.

But facing an antiwar Democratic opponent in a tough midterm election race, Shays is starting to express reservations.

In a telephone interview Friday after he returned from his 14th trip to Iraq, Shays said that he believed the U.S. should consider setting a timetable for the withdrawal of its troops, and that he planned to hold congressional hearings on the question next month....

....In Pennsylvania's 8th congressional district, freshman Michael G. Fitzpatrick, elected in 2004 with 55% of the vote, faces a challenge from Patrick Murphy, an Iraqi war vet with a Bronze Star and a plan for redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq within 12 months.

In a mailing to constituents in mid-August, Fitzpatrick urged an alternate course in Iraq while criticizing his opponent's plan. "American needs a better, smarter plan in Iraq," said the mailing. "Congressman Fitzpatrick says NO to both extremes: No to President Bush's 'stay the course' strategy … and no to Patrick Murphy's 'cut and run' approach."

In Minnesota's 1st District, conservative incumbent Gil Gutknecht has long supported the war. He made headlines recently when he returned from his first visit to Iraq, declared that Americans don't have "strategic control" of the streets of Baghdad and advocated a "limited troop withdrawal — to send the Iraqis a message."

Retired National Guardsman Tim Walz, who is seeking to unseat Gutknecht, wants to move U.S. troops to Kuwait so a regional security force can take over in Iraq....

....In North Carolina, Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., a staunch conservative whose district includes the Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune, originally supported the war. In 2005, he said there had been little reason to go to war and called on Bush to apologize for misinforming Congress. His opponent, Craig Weber, is also an antiwar candidate.
But Our Dear Embattled Leader doesn't have to worry. If they are re-elected, they will come right back and snuggle up close to ODEL, just like before.

Doin' what comes naturally

Which is pretty scary when the Natural Man is Don Rumsfeld himself. As reported by the AP:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Saturday praised the work of an Army brigade whose one-year tour in Iraq was extended just as they prepared to return home, and said he saw no reason for the soldiers or their families to be angry at him....

.....Asked why reporters would not be permitted to cover the event, Rumsfeld at first replied, "I don't have any idea. I haven't addressed the subject." Later he said he makes it a practice to make all family meetings private.....

.....The brigade's tour was extended by up to 120 days, bringing them close to a Christmas return date. Rumsfeld said he would make no promises that the full brigade would be back home by the holidays.

"I'd love to be Santa Claus. I'm not," he said in an interview with reporters during a flight to Fairbanks.

If it turned out that by December, U.S. commanders in Iraq felt they needed an unscheduled infusion of troops, "our first choice obviously would be to have them be someone other than the people we just extended," Rumsfeld said. "But I'm not going to get into the promises business. That isn't my style."
But he did promise to send someone with a flag and a tape recording of taps for the funerals.


By Don Davis

In the latest New York Times/CBS Poll, John Mark Karr, the current “suspect” in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, has drawn much higher favorability ratings than President Bush.

The vast majority of respondents, polled over the last three days of wall-to-wall JonBenet coverage, stated they didn’t actually believe that Karr was guilty. However, they expressed a strong preference for someone who takes the blame for something they didn’t do, as opposed to Bush, who refuses to accept responsibility for things he did personally screw up.

A majority of respondents also believed that while the sexual abuse and killing of a child is the ultimate criminal act, so is starting an unnecessary war in which scores of thousands die, including children and soldiers who are not even old enough to legally drink.

However, Karr and Bush finished in a dead heat on the question of which individual is more likely to hold firm to his core beliefs, with 98% of respondents stating that Karr is not likely to change his stance as a pedophile, and that Bush is not likely to change his stance as an idiot.

The two men also polled evenly on which was more obsessed and fixated on their respective targets: JonBenet Ramsey in the case of Karr, and Saddam Hussein in the case of Bush.

Also, while most respondents refuse to believe that there was any connection between Karr and Iraq, an overwhelming majority stated that there were conclusive ties between the JonBenet coverage knocking Iraq off the news, and Bush’s microscopic “bounce” in the polls.

Finally, by a margin of two-to-one, those polled were in favor of calling the President by his full name — George Walker Bush — to reflect the media propensity to use three names for assassins and serial killers.

For the record, this post is satire, as difficult as that may be to believe.

If only we had sent cluster bombs

Once again the US is squawking in protest about the misuse of technology sent to erstwhile allies. This time the technology in question is the nuclear reactor given to the Shah of Iran by US!
In the heart of Tehran sits one of Iran's most important nuclear facilities, a dome-shaped building where scientists have conducted secret experiments that could help the country build atomic bombs. It was provided to the Iranians by the United States.

The Tehran Research Reactor represents a little-known aspect of the international uproar over the country's alleged weapons program. Not only did the U.S. provide the reactor in the 1960s as part of a Cold War strategy, America also supplied the weapons-grade uranium needed to power the facility--fuel that remains in Iran and could be used to help make nuclear arms.

As the U.S. and other countries wrestle with Iran's refusal this week to curb its nuclear capabilities, an examination of the Tehran facility sheds light on the degree to which the United States has been complicit in Iran developing those capabilities.

Though the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, has found no proof Iran is building a bomb, the agency says the country has repeatedly concealed its nuclear activities from inspectors. And some of these activities have taken place in the U.S.-supplied reactor, IAEA records show, including experiments with uranium, a key material in the production of nuclear weapons.
So Iran can make a bomb but no one has yet shown why we should be any more worried about Iran than say, Pakistan or India or even Israel. Perhaps we would know better if Big Dick and TurdBlossom has not blown the cover of our CIA agent, and her network, working on just that problem.

Thanks guys.

Another reason to dump the Republicans

In a report issued by the Democrats because of the Republican attitude of "see no evil", losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars are indentified in the no-bid contracts following Katrina.
The government awarded 70 percent of its contracts for Hurricane Katrina work without full competition, wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the process, says a House study released Thursday by Democrats.

The report, a comprehensive overview of government audits on Katrina contracting, found that out of $10.6 billion in contracts awarded after the storm last year, more than $7.4 billion were handed out with limited or no competitive bidding.

In addition, 19 contracts worth $8.75 billion were found to have wasted taxpayer money at least in part, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the report. It cited numerous instances of double-billing by contractors and cases of trailers meant as emergency housing sitting empty in Arkansas....

....The report came as House Democrats announced a new six-member "truth squad" they said would highlight the problems before the November congressional elections.

"It is apparent that taxpayers and the residents of the Gulf Coast are paying a steep price for the failure to stop waste, fraud and abuse in federal contracting," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee and a member of the new panel.

He said the new panel, made up of six House Democrats, was needed because the Republican-controlled Congress has resisted probing such allegations against the Bush administration.
Much of this was already known, but this report brings all the previous reports together to illustrate the full extent of the Republican policy of "no bid is good bidness".

The full report can be found here.

Remember in November.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Republican stand-up comedy

“Our country can’t afford to let Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha and Barney Frank reverse the progress we’ve made,”
Fat Denny Hastert in performance at Club K Street

Noted Republican Stooge still hasn't switched his party

That being noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman. He is inching his way slowly toward the Dark Side but relly doesn't have the balls to make the jump. On Thursday he campaigned with Republican candidates for Governor and Congress and today he turned his back on the Democratic candidates.
[noted Republican Stooge] Lieberman -- who after losing an Aug. 8 Democratic primary to Ned Lamont has launched a third-party bid to hold onto his seat in the Nov. 7 general election -- was asked whether he still endorses Diane Farrell, Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy, three Democrats looking to unseat endangered Republican incumbents Chris Shays, Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson.

I’m a non-combatant,” [noted Republican Stooge] Lieberman declared. “I am not going to be involved in other campaigns. I think it’s better if I just focus on my own race.”
It would be better if he dropped out of the race, but that would mean he was still a Democrat and not a noted Republican Stooge.

Good God news

The Pew Research people have released a poll on religion and politics and folks who go to church are getting wise to the Republican fraud.
A new poll shows that fewer Americans view the Republican Party as “friendly to religion” than a year ago, with the decline particularly steep among Catholics and white evangelical Protestants — constituencies at the core of the Republicans’ conservative Christian voting bloc.

The survey found that the proportion of Americans who say the Republican Party is friendly to religion fell 8 percentage points in the last year, to 47 percent from 55 percent. Among Catholics and white evangelical Protestants, the decline was 14 percentage points.
A positive sign, but there still are a lot of people who think that God will make America a better place so they don't have to.

Bushoviks to investigate Israeli use of cluster bombs

Because when we give fancy weapons tech to our allies, they have to follow the directions on the label. It seems that this was not the case in Lebanon, again. The NY Times has the story along with a pretty good appraisal of the consequences for Israel.
Several current and former officials said that they doubted the investigation would lead to sanctions against Israel but that the decision to proceed with it might be intended to help the Bush administration ease criticism from Arab governments and commentators over its support of Israel’s military operations. The investigation has not been publicly announced; the State Department confirmed it in response to questions.
So like all things associated with Our Dear Embattled Leader, it will be all talk and no walk. But at least they will put on a show for the wogs.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday 'toons

Some Republicans just can't get enough of that good ol' war stuff.

The NY Times has a report on the complaints of some Republicans that the intelligence community is not find enough data to support their push for war. We already know the the Big Dick is stovepiping all the data he can get, but no one in their right mind will believe what he presents. The real intelligence community knows that they don't have the sources they should to give an accurate assessment of Iran and they are erring on the side of the angels, no doubt to the fury of the war mongers.
Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.

Some policy makers have accused intelligence agencies of playing down Iran’s role in Hezbollah’s recent attacks against Israel and overestimating the time it would take for Iran to build a nuclear weapon.

The complaints, expressed privately in recent weeks, surfaced in a Congressional report about Iran released Wednesday. They echo the tensions that divided the administration and the Central Intelligence Agency during the prelude to the war in Iraq.

The criticisms reflect the views of some officials inside the White House and the Pentagon who advocated going to war with Iraq and now are pressing for confronting Iran directly over its nuclear program and ties to terrorism, say officials with knowledge of the debate.

The dissonance is surfacing just as the intelligence agencies are overhauling their procedures to prevent a repeat of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate — the faulty assessment that in part set the United States on the path to war with Iraq.
Consider this. The US has no problem with Pakistan & India having and increasing their nuclear stockpiles. What is so frightening to the desktop commandos about Iran? If they did have something, what could they do that would not soon turn Iran into a plain of green glowing glass? And could they really be anymore dangerous that Dr A Q Khan of our dear ally Pakistan? Everyone needs to wake up and smell the reality before Our Dear Embattled Leader totally screws the pooch.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Always ask a local for the straight skinny

Or when a local such as Saad Eddin Ibrahim from Cairo writes in the Washington Post, be smart enough to read it and understand what he is saying.
President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may be quite right about a new Middle East being born. In fact, their policies in support of the actions of their closest regional ally, Israel, have helped midwife the newborn. But it will not be exactly the baby they have longed for. For one thing, it will be neither secular nor friendly to the United States. For another, it is going to be a rough birth.

What is happening in the broader Middle East and North Africa can be seen as a boomerang effect that has been playing out slowly since the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001. In the immediate aftermath of those attacks, there was worldwide sympathy for the United States and support for its declared "war on terrorism," including the invasion of Afghanistan. Then the cynical exploitation of this universal goodwill by so-called neoconservatives to advance hegemonic designs was confirmed by the war in Iraq. The Bush administration's dishonest statements about "weapons of mass destruction" diminished whatever credibility the United States might have had as liberator, while disastrous mismanagement of Iraqi affairs after the invasion led to the squandering of a conventional military victory. The country slid into bloody sectarian violence, while official Washington stonewalled and refused to admit mistakes. No wonder the world has progressively turned against America.
There is much more to this piece, but if you are a real American the first two paragraphs should make you mad as hell.

Lou Dobbs is asking to be Freeped

For putting up poles like this.
Who do you believe is to blame for the fact that Osama bin Laden has not been captured?

The Bush administration
The Clinton administration
All of the above
None of the above
So go get him here.

Quote of the Day

"There is little doubt that Iran has been the chief beneficiary of the war on terror in the Middle East....

....The United States, with coalition support, has eliminated two of Iran's regional rival governments -- the Taliban in Afghanistan in November 2001 and Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq in April 2003 -- but has failed to replace either with coherent and stable political structures."
London's Royal Institute for International Affairs report on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Ned answers noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman

And the New York Times actually covers it! Even if they failed to fully present the context of noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman's appearence on the radio show of famed Republican hate monger Glenn Beck, they did manage to present Ned's response in a complete fashion.
Ned Lamont, who defeated Mr. Lieberman in the Democratic primary in part by stoking antiwar sentiment, said that Mr. Lieberman’s comments put him “way outside the mainstream, not just of Democrats, but of the public at large.”

Mr. Lamont has said he would back a plan for a firm timeline of troop withdrawal from Iraq, a position supported by several other Democrats in the Senate.

“Nobody is talking about isolationism,” Mr. Lamont said, responding in a telephone interview to Mr. Lieberman’s remarks. “The problem is that the Bush administration and Senator Lieberman think that you can fight this like a conventional war, and that’s where they are wrong. We have to deal with homeland security, port security, to really protect ourselves.”....

.... Mr. Lamont said that Mr. Lieberman was using overcharged rhetoric and said that he “fundamentally disagreed” with the senator.

“The invasion of Iraq has had one big winner and that’s Iran,” Mr. Lamont said. “It’s an enemy that is not going away, but that has nothing to do with the war in Iraq. The war in Iraq has been a distraction and made us weaker.”
Maybe someday the NYT will call bullshit on the lies of noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman.

Hezbollah gits thar the fustest with the mostest

And that is giving the Bush relief efforts, never the most vigorous after a disaster, the heebie-jeebies. Clever Republican law making denies the use of any assistance from a designated terrorist group like Hezbollah. That is a real problem in Lebanon, when they are everywhere. This may not be a problem for long when you have situations like this.
“We are going to turn this city into a model city,” Mr. Bazzi said, his arm clutching a trademark Hezbollah two-way radio. “There will be streets organized in grids, parks in every neighborhood and apartment blocks.”

Bint Jbail, the main Hezbollah stronghold in southern Lebanon, saw some of the worst bombing and fighting during the monthlong war, in which Hezbollah, which is integrated with the general population, was Israel’s target. But Mr. Bazzi intends to complete the reconstruction without using a single cent from the Lebanese government, much less the United States or the West.

Instead, Mr. Bazzi is counting on Construction Jihad. Just a day after the fighting stopped, Construction Jihad enlisted the volunteer services of 1,700 engineers, electricians, plumbers, architects and geologists who have cleared streets, dug ditches and built temporary bridges.

While the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has just begun organizing committees to study the reconstruction of the country, Construction Jihad has all but completed surveys of southern Lebanese towns.

“We were victorious over Israel,” said Mr. Bazzi. “Now we have to rise to the occasion that follows.”
Israel, with the encouragement of Our Dear Embattled Leader, seems to have given a huge boost to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Far from weakening the Hezb, they have cemented its position in the south and probably throughout Lebanon and the region.

Heckuva job, Bushie!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tom Toles Tuesday

Republicans mounting new attack on wounded veterans

There is no other way to describe what is being pushed in this new appropriations bill. USA Today has the details and you should have the outrage.
Congress appears ready to slash funding for the research and treatment of brain injuries caused by bomb blasts, an injury that military scientists describe as a signature wound of the Iraq war.

House and Senate versions of the 2007 Defense appropriation bill contain $7 million for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center — half of what the center received last fiscal year.

Proponents of increased funding say they are shocked to see cuts in the treatment of bomb blast injuries in the midst of a war.

"I find it basically unpardonable that Congress is not going to provide funds to take care of our soldiers and sailors who put their lives on the line for their country," says Martin Foil, a member of the center's board of directors. "It blows my imagination."

The Brain Injury Center, devoted to treating and understanding war-related brain injuries, has received more money each year of the war — from $6.5 million in fiscal 2001 to $14 million last year. Spokespersons for the appropriations committees in both chambers say cuts were due to a tight budget this year.

"Honestly, they would have loved to have funded it, but there were just so many priorities," says Jenny Manley, spokeswoman for the Senate Appropriations Committee. "They didn't have any flexibility in such a tight fiscal year."
Remember two important points. The Republican assholes cutting the funds are the same ones voting to keep our troops in harms way in a war that has seen huge increases in brain injuries. And second, these are the same Republican assholes who have been giving people like Paris Hilton huge tax cuts and want to give her more tax cuts. But they can't find the money for wounded troops.

Remember in November.

Bad polls! Bad, bad polls!

And shame on the pollsters for giving aid and comfort to Americas enemies. The latest from CNN doesn't look good for Our Dear Embattled Leader.
Just 35 percent of 1,033 adults polled say they favor the war in Iraq; 61 percent say they oppose it -- the highest opposition noted in any CNN poll since the conflict began more than three years ago.

Despite the rising opposition to the war, President Bush said the U.S. will not withdraw from Iraq while he is president....

....A bare majority (51 percent) say they see Bush as a strong leader, but on most other attributes he gets negative marks.

Most Americans (54 percent) don't consider him honest, most (54 percent) don't think he shares their values and most (58 percent) say he does not inspire confidence.

Bush's stand on the issues is also problematic, with more than half (57 percent) of Americans saying they disagree with him on the issues they care about.
Looks like ODEL is gonna have to cut a few more farts to cover the stink of his numbers.

Our Dear Embattled Leader has a another draft

Only he doesn't have the stones to call it one. CNN has the details on the failure of Operation Yellow Elephant to increase enlistment rates.
President Bush has authorized the U.S. Marine Corps to recall 2,500 troops to active duty because there are not enough volunteers returning for duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, Marine commanders announced Tuesday.

The recall was authorized last month, and will begin in spring 2007 to fill positions for upcoming rotations, Marine officials said. The Marine Corps is currently picking volunteers from the Marine Individual Ready Reserve, the officials said.

Marine Col. Guy A. Stratton, head of the manpower mobilization section, told The Associated Press that there is a shortfall of about 1,200 Marines needed to fill positions in upcoming unit deployments.

"Since this is going to be a long war, we thought it was judicious and prudent at this time to be able to use a relatively small portion of those Marines to help us augment our units," Stratton said, according to the AP.

Tours for recalled Marines could last 12 to 18 months, according to Marine officials.
Ou sont les "College Republicans" d'antin? They would be just the right age to enlist.

Think Dan or Wolf would be interested in this?

We know Fox wouldn't want to touch it because they are too old. HRH has a diary at Kos with a list of Good Looking Dead Women that you won't see on CNN or MSNBC any time soon.

You should go here and pay your respects to those who served.

Monday, August 21, 2006

From the pen of Bill Schorr

The Big Fool says to push on.

At his press conference today, Our Dear Embattled Leader added nothing new to the national knowledge and did drag out a few of his favorite old chestnuts.
We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president.
"Leaving before the job is done would be a disaster."
As usual he failed to tell anyone what the job is, was or will be.

One new wrinkle in the coverage of the event occured. The NY Times actually fact checked one of his statements. Here it is in all its glory.
When a questioner noted that Mr. Bush was born in Connecticut, the president said, “I may be the only person, the only presidential candidate who never carried the state in which he was born.”

But a quick check of political reference books turned up others: Senator George S. McGovern, who failed to carry his native South Dakota in 1972 as he was buried in a landslide by President Richard M. Nixon; Adlai E. Stevenson, usually associated with Illinois but born in Los Angeles, who failed to carry California (or Illinois) against Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 or 1956; Alfred M. Landon, the Pennsylvania-born governor of Kansas who failed to carry Pennsylvania (or Kansas) against President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936; Gov. Alfred E. Smith, who lost his native New York to Herbert Hoover in 1928; James M. Cox, who was born in Ohio but lost to another Ohioan, Warren G. Harding, in 1920, and Abraham Lincoln, who failed to carry Kentucky in 1860 and 1864..
Boy! We sure is lucky to have the NYT on the job!

The preznit who would be king

According to Paul Krugman, Our Dear Embattled Leader acts like a king in more ways than the man on the street would normally think of.
It’s an awful idea. Privatizing tax collection will cost far more than hiring additional I.R.S. agents, raise less revenue and pose obvious risks of abuse. But what’s really amazing is the extent to which this plan is a retreat from modern principles of government. I used to say that conservatives want to take us back to the 1920’s, but the Bush administration seemingly wants to go back to the 16th century.

And privatized tax collection is only part of the great march backward.

In the bad old days, government was a haphazard affair. There was no bureaucracy to collect taxes, so the king subcontracted the job to private “tax farmers,” who often engaged in extortion. There was no regular army, so the king hired mercenaries, who tended to wander off and pillage the nearest village. There was no regular system of administration, so the king assigned the task to favored courtiers, who tended to be corrupt, incompetent or both.

Modern governments solved these problems by creating a professional revenue department to collect taxes, a professional officer corps to enforce military discipline, and a professional civil service. But President Bush apparently doesn’t like these innovations, preferring to govern as if he were King Louis XII.

So the tax farmers are coming back, and the mercenaries already have. There are about 20,000 armed “security contractors” in Iraq, and they have been assigned critical tasks, from guarding top officials to training the Iraqi Army.

Like the mercenaries of old, today’s corporate mercenaries have discipline problems. “They shoot people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath,” declared a U.S. officer last year.
I guess ODEL really did study history at Yale. Too bad he didn't prefer a more advanced era.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Chuck Hagel is right, it's just like Viet Nam

Reading the piece by Michael Gordon in the Sunday Times magazine brought back memories of similar articles written about the South Vietnamese Army so many years ago.
By reputation, Colonel Mujeed is said to be a decisive and experienced officer, which is all to the good, as his forces are approaching a critical phase. The Iraqi Army is scheduled to assume the entire responsibility for securing Falluja this fall, though a Marine unit will be poised to rush in if there is major trouble. The Iraqi colonel said he needed more troops to carry out the mission but expressed no apprehension about doing so.

“I think they will take it over, struggle with it a bit and then grow into it,” Major Richardson said. “That is the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is they take it over, heavy, heavy violence breaks out and essentially the people don’t have any confidence in the army. I don’t see that happening because there are some pretty strong battalion commanders, Mujeed being one of them.” The Iraqi troops “are brave soldiers,” Richardson added. “They can operate. They can shoot. They can communicate, but they can’t sustain themselves. That is the next level. From pay to Humvee tires, they’ve got to be able to sustain themselves.”

One of Mujeed’s bravest performances may have come that day at the soap factory, when Iraq’s new defense minister, Abdul Qader Mohammed Jassim; its new interior minister, Jawad al-Bolani; and Gen. George Casey, the senior American commander, arrived for a visit. Pointing to the list of 70 casualties his battalion suffered in an earlier fight for Ramadi, the Iraqi colonel recounted the familiar litany of problems — the failure to pay soldiers according to their new ranks, the difficulty in getting the Ministry of Defense to approve promotions, the higher pay provided to the local police — and in this case the failure to provide any salaries at all to 34 recruits who graduated from boot camp in April. Because of combat losses and a dearth of recruits, the battalion had less than half of the 759 troops it was authorized.

The Iraqi defense minister insisted that he was only now learning of such problems and promised to take corrective action. Later, I asked Mujeed if he thought anything would come of his appeal. “Sure, he is going to work on it, but he won’t get results soon,” he said. “It is going to take a while.”
As the French say so well; plus ca change, plus ca meme.

The more it changes, the more it is the same.

Matt Taibbi nails noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman

In the Rolling Stone, Matt has a profile piece on noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman that is accurate to the last detail.
No one has played the role of that "winner" more enthusiastically, or more often, than Joe Lieberman. He is everything a Washington insider loves in a politician. He is pompous, pious and available. Routinely one of the very top recipients of campaign donations from the insurance, pharmaceutical and finance sectors, and a man whose wife, Hadassah, is a pharmaceutical-industry lobbyist for Hill and Knowlton, Lieberman has quietly become one of the greatest allies corporate America has in Washington.

For example, Lieberman, who as chairman of the DLC in the mid to late Nineties presided over an organization heavily subsidized by companies such as AIG and Aetna (the latter of which also contributes lavishly to his campaigns), sponsored a bill that limited auto insurance suits by permitting the offering of lower rates to consumers who forfeited their right to sue. He has fought for similar anti-lawsuit laws for tobacco, for HMOs, for pharmaceutical companies. Victor Schwartz, general counsel for the American Tort Reform Association, once bragged that "if it were not for Lieberman, there would never have been a Biomaterials Access Act"—a 1998 law that protected companies like Dow Chemical and DuPont (also big DLC contributors) from lawsuits filed for the production of defective medical implants. Yes, that's right: Joe Lieberman fought for the principle of manufacturing faulty fake tits with impunity.
This was written before the primary, but you can bet your last dollar that noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman hasn't changed a single spot since then.

Non Sequitur

Click on image to enlarge

Seems like a good idea

All the more so when you are trying to piss off the people who sit on most of the crude you need.
The Air Force will begin testing an alternative fuel program next month that it hopes will help wean the U.S. military away from its dependence on foreign oil.

A flight test involving a B-52 bomber is scheduled for the end of September at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to determine if synthetic fuel will provide the Air Force with a substitute for conventional jet fuel.

If successful, the B-52 flight will pave the way for the additional testing of combat aircraft, ships and ground vehicles, all part of a Pentagon effort known as the Assured Fuels Initiative that began in 2001.

The program's goal is to provide the U.S. military with cleaner fuels based on secure domestic sources such as coal and natural gas.

"Our goal is by 2025 to have 70 percent of our aviation fuel coming from coal-based sources," said Michael A. Aimone, the Air Force's assistant deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations and mission support.

The Air Force consumes more than 3 billion gallons of fuel a year, more than half of all fuel used by all federal agencies, including the other military services.
At $20/gal. it ain't cheap, yet.

US Army running out of options

As it tries to maintain troop levels in Iraq and elsewhere. Yesterday we learned about the grandmother who enlisted with her daughter and now this, from the AP.
Although troops are allowed to leave active duty after a few years of service, they generally still have time left on their contract with the military that is known as "inactive ready reserve" status, or IRR. During that time, they have to let their service know their current address, but they don't train, draw a paycheck or associate in any other way with the military.

But with active duty units already completing multiple tours in Iraq, the Pentagon has employed the rarely used tactic of calling people back from IRR status, a policy sometimes referred to as a "backdoor draft."

According to the U.S. Army Reserve, approximately 14,000 soldiers on IRR status have been called to active duty since March 2003 and about 7,300 have been deployed to Iraq. The Marine Corps has mobilized 4,717 Marines who were classified as inactive ready reserve since Sept. 11, and 1,094 have been deployed to Iraq, according to the Marine Forces Reserve.
And the Big Fool says to stay the course.

Our Dear Embattled Leader wants the Iraqis to thank him

For this?
Curling through the desert, wind rattling its marshes, the Tigris once brought so much life to this city, where spices and silks were loaded on wooden boats bound for Basra and beyond. Shiites lived with Sunnis, Christians and Jews, but today, as in other times, unity splinters in bloodshed.

The river's bridges have turned into escape routes for families fleeing sectarian death squads. Some head one way, others go the opposite direction, and many fear that if full-scale civil war erupts, the Tigris will act as a green line, separating Sunni-dominated west Baghdad from the Shiite-controlled east.

The shoes of Akram Mustafa tell the story of a dividing city; the orange dust from the clay tennis courts is fading on them. One of his country's top-ranked tennis players, Mustafa seldom plays these days. Getting to his club along the Tigris would mean crossing from his eastern neighborhood of Sadr City into streets guarded by Sunnis.

"I haven't been out of Sadr City in five or six months," Mustafa said. "Each day we stand in the same place talking the same talk to the same people. We have nothing."

Travel west across the river to the Sunni neighborhood of Amiriya and listen to Fatima Omar: "I have a best friend who's leaving the country in six or seven weeks, and I can't go visit her because she lives in a Shiite neighborhood."

With each explosion, with each firefight, Omar's geography shrinks.

"We are prisoners of the city," she said....

....Baghdad has become a sinister parlor game of unmasking affiliations with subtle and not so subtle questions: Where does your family come from, north or south? Who is your uncle? What tribe do you belong to? It is a place where death squads call the family of someone they've kidnapped and ask: Is he a Shiite, or a Sunni? A wrong answer can mean a trip to the morgue to identify a body streaked with acid burns and drill holes.
So much to be thankful for.

Efficient outsourcing or Republican cronyism

You decide which. To help you, the NY Times has this report on the latest IRS effort to collect what is due.
If you owe back taxes to the federal government, the next call asking you to pay may come not from an Internal Revenue Service officer, but from a private debt collector.

Within two weeks, the I.R.S. will turn over data on 12,500 taxpayers — each of whom owes $25,000 or less in back taxes — to three collection agencies. Larger debtors will continue to be pursued by I.R.S. officers.

The move, an initiative of the Bush administration, represents the first step in a broader plan to outsource the collection of smaller tax debts to private companies over time. Although I.R.S. officials acknowledge that this will be much more expensive than doing it internally, they say that Congress has forced their hand by refusing to let them hire more revenue officers, who could pull in a lot of easy-to-collect money.

The private debt collection program is expected to bring in $1.4 billion over 10 years, with the collection agencies keeping about $330 million of that, or 22 to 24 cents on the dollar.

By hiring more revenue officers, the I.R.S. could collect more than $9 billion each year and spend only $296 million — or about three cents on the dollar — to do so, Charles O. Rossotti, the computer systems entrepreneur who was commissioner from 1997 to 2002, told Congress four years ago.
Private enterprise is so much more effective, isn't it. And no need to fear abuses, the IRS will be hiring only the best of the best.
One of the three companies selected by the I.R.S. is a law firm in Austin, Tex., where a former partner, Juan Peña, admitted in 2002 that he paid bribes to win a collection contract from the city of San Antonio. He went to jail for the crime.

Last month the same law firm, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, was again in the news. One of its competitors, Municipal Services Bureau, also of Austin, sued Brownsville, Tex., charging that the city improperly gave the Linebarger firm a collections contract that it suggested was influenced by campaign contributions to two city commissioners.

Joe Householder, a spokesman for Linebarger, which specializes in delinquent tax collections, said it had resolved the issues raised by the Peña case in 2002 and that it believed it had acted properly in Brownsville. The mayor of Brownsville, Eddie Treviño Jr., said that the contract vote had been unanimous and scoffed at the accusations of misconduct.
So it seems like a good deal, right? Well consider this.
Privatizing government services is often promoted as a way to cut costs. But the government would probably net $1.1 billion from private debt collectors over 10 years, compared with the $87 billion that could be reaped if the agency hired more revenue officers, as Mr. Rossotti had recommended.
Them Republicans sure is good bidness men.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Hokum on Homeland Security

New York Times editorial:

Ever since British intelligence did such a masterly job in rounding up terrorists intent on blowing up airliners, the Bush administration has relentlessly tried to divert attention from the disintegration in Iraq and focus instead on its supposed prowess in protecting our country against terrorist attacks. That ploy ought not to wash. While the administration has been pouring its energies and money into Iraq, it has fallen far behind on steps needed to protect the homeland.

You would not know that from listening to the president or other top officials in recent days. In a tour of the National Counterterrorism Center in Virginia last week, President Bush declared that “America is safer than it has been” and assured Americans that “we’re doing everything in our power to protect you.”

If only that were so. The sad truth is that while some important steps have been taken to harden our defenses against terrorist attacks, gaping holes remain in our security net.

For starters, consider aviation, where billions have been spent to improve airline and airport security, with only middling results. The likelihood that terrorists will be able to hijack passenger jets as they did on 9/11 has been greatly reduced by hardening cockpit doors, arming pilots on some routes and placing many more air marshals on flights. The screening of all passengers, their carry-on bags and their checked luggage has also made it much harder to smuggle standard bombs or metallic weapons aboard.

But there is still no system to detect liquid explosives, a shocking deficiency more than a decade after terrorists were caught preparing to use such explosives to bring down a dozen airliners over the Pacific Ocean. The installation of “puffer” machines to detect trace explosives is lagging, and a program to integrate explosive-detection machines into the automated baggage conveyor systems at airports will not be finished, at the current pace of spending, for another 18 years.

Very little of the commercial air cargo that is carried aboard planes is screened or inspected, mostly because neither the shippers nor the airlines want to disrupt this lucrative flow of business. There is still no unified watch list to alert airlines to potentially dangerous passengers, and a prescreening program that would match airline passengers against terrorist watch lists remains stuck in development. All this in the industry that has received the most lavish attention since 9/11.

Even worse gaps remain in other areas. Port security relies primarily on certifying that cargo shipments are safe before they are loaded on freighters headed for this country. Only a small percentage of containers are screened once they hit our shores, raising the fearsome possibility that a nuclear or biological weapon might be smuggled in and detonated here.

Programs to keep dangerous nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union out of the hands of terrorists through greater security are moving so slowly that it will take another 14 years to complete the job. This is reckless beyond belief when nuclear terrorism is the most frightening prospect of all.

On the industrial front, the nation’s chemical plants, perhaps the most lethal and vulnerable of all our manufacturing complexes, remain dangerously underdefended, mostly because the government has been unwilling to compel private industry to take action. A new tamper-proof identification card for workers in the far-flung transportation industry has yet to be issued.

The leaders of the 9/11 commission issued a final report last December analyzing how well the administration and Congress had done in carrying out the commission’s 41 recommendations. They awarded only one A minus (for disrupting terrorist financing), a batch of B’s and C’s, and a dozen D’s in such critical areas as reforming intelligence oversight, assessing infrastructure vulnerabilities and sharing information among government agencies. A failure to share intelligence allowed the 9/11 terrorists to succeed despite advance hints of their presence and intentions.

The commission awarded five failing grades, the most serious of them for Washington’s failure to allocate homeland security funds based on risk. Even after moderate tinkering with the formulas this year, greedy legislators from states that face little danger continue to siphon off funds that would be better used to protect New York, Washington and other large cities likely to hold the greatest attraction for terrorists.

Almost everyone agrees that the administration has taken some important steps toward greater security, but as the leaders of the 9/11 commission recently commented, it has not made the issue a top priority. The long, costly, chaotic occupation of Iraq, though touted as a front line of the war on terror, has actually sapped energy, resources and top-level attention that would be better applied to the real threat, a terrorist attack on the homeland.

With any other president, this would be satire.

Why America needs Hezbollah

Ted Rall

NEW YORK--Surrender, already. For America's sake, let the terrorists win!

Hours after a ceasefire halted a five-week war between Israel and Iranian-backed Islamic militias in Lebanon, reported the New York Times, "hundreds of Hezbollah members spread over dozens of villages across southern Lebanon began cleaning, organizing and surveying damage. Men on bulldozers were busy cutting lanes through giant piles of rubble. Roads blocked with the remnants of buildings are now, just a day after a ceasefire began, fully passable." Who cares if Hezbollah is a State Department-designated terrorist organization? Unlike our worthless government, it gets things done!

The citizens of New Orleans desperately need Hezbollah's can-do terrorist spirit. Outside the French Quarter tourist zone, writes Jed Horne in The New Republic, what was until 2005 our nation's most charming city and cultural center remains "a disaster zone, an area five times the size of Manhattan."

One year after the routine matter of a Gulf Coast hurricane, half the city's population remains refugees--screwed over by a government that hasn't lifted a finger to pretend that it cares. Horne describes "Vast swaths of a city emptied as if by a neutron bomb, with only the fecal brown floodline up under the eaves to suggest what went so very wrong--that, and the ghostly dried brine still coating the dead lawns and landscaping."

Read the rest here.

Quote of the Day

Israel’s politicians will now face the wrath of voters who are rightly outraged over the fiasco in Lebanon and Hezbullah’s crowing victory. Heads will surely roll.

Americans, by contrast, will not draw the same conclusions about their inept political leadership that better-informed Israelis certainly will. George Bush, the war’s leading flag-waver, has received no rebuke from the US media or voters for his latest military debacle. Nor will he from the clapping seals in Congress and the Senate.
Eric Margolis, contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada

Where are the Bush twins?

According to the AP, the US Army is taking grandmothers (and their daughters) to fill its ranks. In the meantime, the Bush twins, and other members of their family, are living the life of the privileged ruling class.

First they take junkies and petty criminals, now the are down to grandmothers. I guess this is a new Republican security initiative. I'm feeling safer by the minute.

You are being screwed

Unless you are one of the folks at the top who are taking all the benefits of the US economic growth. Bob Kuttner shows us how Wal-Mart is just a symptom of the corporate assault on middle America.
The America of a generation ago had multiple institutions for enabling worker incomes to rise with their rising productivity. More industries were regulated. The federal minimum wage was equal to about half the average wage; today, it is below one - third. The federal government actually enforced workers' right to organize a union. Nearly half of US workers were covered by decent, federally guaranteed pensions, instead of funny-money worker-savings plans. Wall Street was more tightly regulated, and corporate executives were not able to grab such an outlandish share of the total pie. Taxation was progressive, and ordinary workers paid much lower rates. We did not trade with countries that had something close to slave labor, like the Chinese factory system.

Since the mid-1970s, under three Republican presidents and too- often-feeble Democratic ones, this social compact was blown up. Since the early 1970s, real incomes for the top 1 percent have doubled, while earnings for most Americans have stagnated. Middle-class Americans have stayed even only thanks to a second wage-earner -- an average increase of more than 500 annual work hours per household. This is a disguised loss in living standards, cutting into leisure and parenting time, and incurring child-care and transportation costs....

....The system is now essentially rigged so that workers' productivity can rise, but workers' incomes can't. A study prepared last month for Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee and released by Representative Barney Frank of Newton showed that since 2002 annual productivity growth has averaged more than 3 percent, while real wage increases have been under half of 1 percent. Corporate profits, meanwhile, have risen from 8.5 percent to 14.4 percent of national income.
Have you got your piece of the pie yet?

I didn't think so.

Matt Bai doesn't get it

But he does get a chance to flak for erstwhile Democrat and noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman. In his piece in the Sunday NY Times magazine, he takes the usual swipes at liberals and bloggers and the makes his play to present Ned Lamont as a one trick pony.
If history were to repeat itself, this outpouring of new liberal passion would portend trouble for the party's establishment candidates in 2008 (especially one possible candidate whose last name happens to be Clinton). But there is at least one crucial difference between insurgents of the 1970's and today. When Bell ran for the Senate in 1978, he was so obsessed with his plan to slash taxes that he went to the extraordinary length of bringing in Arthur Laffer, the renowned conservative economist, to draw his famous Laffer Curve at a news conference in Trenton. By contrast, Lamont's signature proposal as a primary candidate - and the only one anyone cared to hear, really - seemed to be the hard-to-dispute notion that he is not, in fact, Joe Lieberman. He offered platitudes about universal health care and good jobs and about bringing the troops home but nothing that might define him as anything other than what he is: an acceptable alternative.
But he neglects to sy that Ned Lamont is the product of the democratic electoral process and not the quintessential Beltway Boy a/k/a noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman.

The unasked question

What are the Republican successes on National Security? Via Buzzflash we get the answer to the question. There are none. And a look at the destructive consequences of their miserable failures.
Bush and Republicans have not succeeded in a single national security-related endeavor. Indeed, everything they've done has made America less safe. That other nations maintain a healthy fear of our military might is vital to national security but, too, just as important is that world leaders respect American diplomacy and our leadership. Today, few nations take seriously our threat of force because they know we are bogged down in Iraq. Both North Korea and Iran have made a hobby of thumbing their noses at Bush's threats of force. And it would require a determined Sherlock Holmes-like detective to discover many global leaders who respect either America's diplomatic efforts, or our leadership.

That the United States has lost all respect within the international community cannot be denied. It is humiliating enough that a ranking member of the British government called the President of the United States 'crap', but it is all the more embarrassing and telling when the Chinese envoy tells the United States to 'shut up'.

'''It's better for the U.S. to shut up,' Sha said. 'Keep quiet. It's much, much better.'''

"It is better for the U.S. to shut up"? The President of the United States is "crap"? In what parallel universe do the people of America view the sum total of Bush and Republican national security failures and hear world leaders uttering such disrespectful remarks and still, they arrive at the conclusion that Republicans are strong on national security? For the love of all things good and merciful, on whose watch did 9/11 occur? When it comes to the myth that Republicans are "strong" on national security, what will it take for the American people to realize they've been sold a bill of goods?
Can we, as a nation, afford to see how much worse they can do?

Friday, August 18, 2006

At least he doesn't have a gambling problem

The NY Times does a report on the Republican suppoprt for their new defacto candidate, noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman.
Facing Senator Joseph I. Lieberman’s independent candidacy, Republican officials at the state and national level have made the extraordinary decision to abandon their official candidate, and some are actively working to help Mr. Lieberman win in November.

Despite Mr. Lieberman’s position that he will continue to caucus with Democrats if re-elected, all three Republican Congressional candidates in Connecticut have praised Mr. Lieberman and have not endorsed the party’s nominee, Alan Schlesinger. An independent group with Republican ties is raising money for Mr. Lieberman, who has been a strong supporter of President Bush on the Iraq war.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, while saying he would support the Republican nominee, is not planning to campaign for him, and even allowed two of his aides to consult with the Lieberman camp before the Aug. 8 Democratic primary. And Newt Gingrich, the Republican who once served as House speaker, has endorsed Mr. Lieberman’s candidacy.
And they make no bones about why they are supporting him.
“It would be far better for Republicans if Joe Lieberman won than Lamont,” Mr. Fleischer continued. “There are enough liberals for Republicans to point to — from Russ Feingold to Hillary Clinton to Nancy Pelosi — that we don’t need another one to make our case. But what kind of message would it send if a strong defense, pro-Iraq senator won in this environment? It would prove you can be for what George W. Bush is doing in Iraq and still win, even in the Northeast.”
To hell with Connecticut, a vote for Republican Stooge Lieberman is a vote for Our Dear Embattled Leader

Don't you dare say civil war

It would disturb Our Dear Embattled Leader and his flying monkeys. That is why the NY Times had this headline today,"7 Killed as Full-Scale Sectarian Fighting Rages in Baghdad" while the article went on to describe 15 more Iraqis and one US soldier killed elsewhere.

What is the difference between Full-Scale Sectarian Fighting and civil war?

Quote of the Day

“There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution,”
Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Stay the course - Get another soldier killed

The NY Times has a report on the increasing number of attacks on American soldiers to go along with the increasing number of attacks on Iraqis.
The number of roadside bombs planted in Iraq rose in July to the highest monthly total of the war, offering more evidence that the anti-American insurgency has continued to strengthen despite the killing of the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Along with a sharp increase in sectarian attacks, the number of daily strikes against American and Iraqi security forces has doubled since January. The deadliest means of attack, roadside bombs, made up much of that increase. In July, of 2,625 explosive devices, 1,666 exploded and 959 were discovered before they went off. In January, 1,454 bombs exploded or were found.

The bomb statistics — compiled by American military authorities in Baghdad and made available at the request of The New York Times — are part of a growing body of data and intelligence analysis about the violence in Iraq that has produced somber public assessments from military commanders, administration officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“The insurgency has gotten worse by almost all measures, with insurgent attacks at historically high levels,” said a senior Defense Department official who agreed to discuss the issue only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution. “The insurgency has more public support and is demonstrably more capable in numbers of people active and in its ability to direct violence than at any point in time.”
When will these people wake up and listen to Our Dear Embattled Leader when he tells us things are getting better in Iraq?

"Damned" activist judges do it again

This just in from the AP. A judge has ruled that Our Dear Embattled Leader can not wiretap without a warrant and has ordered the NSA to stop.
A federal judge ruled Thursday that the government's warrantless surveillance program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate end to it.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit became the first judge to strike down the National Security Agency's program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy, as well as the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.

"Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution," Taylor wrote in her 43-page opinion.
That is very clear and direct. Our very own Department of (Bushovik) Justice is appealing the ruling.

How they do that

Bob Herbert devotes his column to exposing the Republican concept of "justice". It's simple, it;s direct and like all things Bushovik, it's ineffective. But we know that doesn't stop Our Dear Embattled Leader and his minions.
Like everyone else, Mr. Higazy fled the hotel after the planes hit the towers. He left behind his passport and other personal items. When he returned to collect his belongings three months later, he was arrested by the F.B.I. A hotel security guard claimed to have found an aviation radio, which could be used to communicate with airborne pilots, in the safe in Mr. Higazy’s room.

“That’s impossible,” said Mr. Higazy.

It’s a fact, said the F.B.I.

Mr. Higazy was handcuffed, strip-searched and thrown into prison — as a material witness. No one knew what to charge him with. They just knew they wanted to hold him.

Mr. Higazy was all but overwhelmed with fear. “I didn’t sleep that first night,” he told me. “I was shivering, and it wasn’t from the cold.”

Like an accused witch in Salem, Mr. Higazy was dangerously close to being sacrificed on the altar of hysteria. He kept telling authorities he knew nothing about the radio. But the assumption was that he was lying.
All told, it is a very good reason to throw the Republicans out of Congress in November.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ben Sargent today

Republican Stooge gets his very own "Swift Boat" crew.

Noted Republican Stooge Joe Lieberman has gotten a dedicated, and Republican funded, crew of Swift Boaters called Vets for Freedom. This comes at a time when Our Dear Embattled Leader refrains from saying any word of support for the current official Republican candidate. Curious, the world watches and wonders when will ODEL and Republican Stooge Lieberman finally come out of the closet?

Our Dear Embattled Leader is pouting

About the lack of love shown for his kind and benevolent treatment of the Iraqis. And the NY Times has the report.
President Bush made clear in a private meeting this week that he was concerned about the lack of progress in Iraq and frustrated that the new Iraqi government — and the Iraqi people — had not shown greater public support for the American mission, participants in the meeting said Tuesday.

Those who attended a Monday lunch at the Pentagon that included the president’s war cabinet and several outside experts said Mr. Bush carefully avoided expressing a clear personal view of the new prime minister of Iraq, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

But in what participants described as a telling line of questioning, Mr. Bush did ask each of the academic experts for their assessment of the prime minister’s effectiveness.

“I sensed a frustration with the lack of progress on the bigger picture of Iraq generally — that we continue to lose a lot of lives, it continues to sap our budget,” said one person who attended the meeting. “The president wants the people in Iraq to get more on board to bring success.”....

....More generally, the participants said, the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd. “I do think he was frustrated about why 10,000 Shiites would go into the streets and demonstrate against the United States,” said another person who attended.
And we get the sense that ODEL will never figure that one out. And how many more have to die while the poor miserable fool scratches his head.

Why do they like Hezbollah?

Very simple. The Hezb reach out to people and help them during times of crisis, like returning to Southern Lebanon and finding you home is a pile of dust and debris.
A major reason — in addition to its hard-won reputation as the only Arab force that fought Israel to a standstill — is that it is already dominating the efforts to rebuild with a torrent of money from oil-rich Iran.

Nehme Y. Tohme, a member of Parliament from the anti-Syrian reform bloc and the country’s minister for the displaced, said he had been told by Hezbollah officials that when the shooting stopped, Iran would provide Hezbollah with an “unlimited budget” for reconstruction.

In his victory speech on Monday night, Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, offered money for “decent and suitable furniture” and a year’s rent on a house to any Lebanese who lost his home in the month-long war.

“Completing the victory,” he said, “can come with reconstruction.”
Compare this to Our Dear Embattled Leader's "rapid" and sort of continuing response to the Gulf Coast. Call Hezbollah anything you like, but don't call them stupid. Save that for Our Dear Embattled Leader.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sy Hersh has another eye-opener in the New Yorker

It is long and chock full of facts, and worth every minute it takes to finish. And there is this quote:
"Israel began with Cheney. It wanted to be sure that it had his support and the support of his office and the Middle East desk of the National Security Council." After that, "persuading Bush was never a problem, and Condi Rice was on board,"
Just in case you thought Our Dear Embattled Leader and his "office wife" knew what they were doing. With a "Big Dick" in charge, it is no surprise that our foreign policy is so fucked!

$6 Million was the tip of the iceberg.

The NY Times today has a report of more funding diverted from security research.
Despite knowing for years that liquid explosives posed a threat to airline safety, security agencies have made little progress in deploying technology that could help defend against such attacks, security experts say.

Since September 2001, the federal government has hired tens of thousands of government screeners and upgraded its metal detectors and X-ray machines. But most of the equipment is still oriented toward preventing a metallic gun or other easily identifiable weapon from being carried aboard; it cannot distinguish shampoo from an explosive.

Cathleen A. Berrick, director of the Government Accountability Office’s homeland security and justice division, told a Senate committee in February 2005 that the Transportation Security Administration, part of the federal Department of Homeland Security, redirected more than half of the $110 million it had for research and development in 2003 to pay for the personnel costs of screeners, delaying research in areas including detecting liquid explosives. It has continued to redirect some research and development money, she said today.
Three years later and the research budget is still a piggy bank for other needs. Them Republicans sure is good on security. No indication yet that it was redirected to Halliburton.

George Allen gets a blast from the WaPo

From the editorial writers no less!
"MY FRIENDS, we're going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas," Sen. George F. Allen told a rally of Republican supporters in Southwest Virginia last week. "And it's important that we motivate and inspire people for something." Whereupon Mr. Allen turned his attention to a young campaign aide working for his Democratic opponent -- a University of Virginia student from Fairfax County who was apparently the only person of color present -- and proceeded to ridicule him.

Let's consider which positive, constructive or inspirational ideas Mr. Allen had in mind when he chose to mock S.R. Sidarth of Dunn Loring, who was recording the event with a video camera on behalf of James Webb, the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat Mr. Allen holds. The idea that holding up minorities to public scorn in front of an all-white crowd will elicit chortles and guffaws? (It did.) The idea that a candidate for public office can say "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia!" to an American of Indian descent and really mean nothing offensive by it? (So insisted Mr. Allen's aides.) Or perhaps the idea that bullying your opponents and calling them strange names -- Mr. Allen twice referred to Mr. Sidarth as "Macaca" -- is within the bounds of decency on the campaign trail?

We have no inkling as to what Mr. Allen meant by "Macaca," though we rather doubt his campaign's imaginative explanation that it was somehow an allusion to Mr. Sidarth's hairstyle, a mullet. Mr. Allen said last night that no slur was intended, though he failed to explain what, exactly, he did have in mind. Macaca is the genus for macaques, a type of monkey found mainly in Asia. Mr. Allen, who as a young man had a fondness for Confederate flags and later staunchly opposed a state holiday in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has surely learned too much about racial sensitivities in public life to misspeak so offensively.

Mr. Sidarth, who is 20, is a senior at U-Va.; he graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax after compiling an excellent academic record. He is thinking of applying to law school. He may be forgiven if his week-long foray on the campaign trail with Mr. Allen has left him with a bitter taste. "I think he was doing it because he could, and I was the person of color there and it was useful for him in inciting his audience," Mr. Sidarth told us. "I'm disgusted he would use my race in a political context."

We don't blame him for feeling that way. But really, by mocking Mr. Sidarth, Sen. George F. Allen demeaned only himself.
If George's mama was a pied noir there can be little doubt he knew what he was saying. Now we will see how large George's base is in Virginia.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A CBS Fast Fact

The arrests in Britain have not helped President Bush's popularity so far, the CBS poll finds. His job approval remains exactly at 36 percent, where it was a month ago.
Remember boys and girls, Facts are good and Republicans are bad.

See how they run

For election and away from Our Dear Embattled Leader, except when they have a winning issue like calling Connecticut voters "Al-Qaeda types". The Washington Post has a report on a number of the closer races in the Northeast.
When it comes to President Bush and the Republican Congress, Rep. Jim Gerlach says voters in his suburban Philadelphia district are in a "sour mood."

That's why when it comes to his reelection, the two-term incumbent says "the name of the game" is to convince those same voters that he can be independent of his own party. He has turned his standard line about Bush -- "When I think he's wrong, I let him know" -- into a virtual campaign slogan, repeated in interviews and TV ads.

"It is a combination of things, from the war in Iraq to gas prices to what they are experiencing in their local areas," Gerlach said of the surly electorate whose decision he will know on Nov. 7.

The Iraq war and Bush's low approval ratings have created trouble for Republicans in all regions. But nowhere is the GOP brand more scuffed than in the Northeast, where this year's circumstances are combining with long-term trends to endanger numerous incumbents.
These seats are an important part of returning Congress to American control. That's why I urge you all to go to ActBlue and support one of the many worthy Americans running for election in November. The link is at the top of the sidebar.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

M Kane Jeeves ponders weighty issues

On Our Dear Embattled Leader and Republican Stooge Lieberman. After much worthy thought, which can not be condensed, his conclusion is to the point.
Job? Dubya? Next time you swap spit? Rent a motel room. Do it in darkness. Believe me, we don’t want to watch.

You two deserve each other.

We don’t.
This does not relieve you of your duty to read the entire piece. Go and enjoy.

Quote of the Day

"The Iraq war has diverted our focus and more than $300 billion in resources from the war on terrorism and has created a rallying cry for international terrorists. This latest plot demonstrates the need for the Bush administration and the Congress to change course in Iraq and ensure that we are taking all the steps necessary to protect Americans at home and across the world.''
Sen. Harry Reid D-Nev

With thanks to Oliver Willis

Gwynne Dyer is not being cynical.

The Smirking Chimp has Mr. Dyer's reasoned take on the airline security measures following this weeks stunning revelation (pushed forward to accomodate the US) of a group of plotters in the UK.
Well done, lads — but if you have them all locked up, why are you closing the airports and bringing in all these draconian security measures now? A couple of months ago, when you first uncovered this plot but didn't know all the "main players", I could understand such drastic precautions, but why now?

Maybe it was those explosive "liquid chemicals" they were planning to smuggle aboard the planes. After all, it's only 160 years since nitroglycerine was invented. It's a mere 11 years since al-Qaeda associate Ramzi Yousef plotted to blow up 12 airliners flying across the Pacific at the same time with nitro carried aboard in contact lens solution bottles. Who could have foreseen this? Quick! Bring in new security measures!

They really aren't that stupid. They have been checking liquids that people want to carry aboard flights at airport security checkpoints for years. There would be no need for drastic new security measures, even if the alleged British terrorist ring were still on the loose.

This is all hype, designed to frighten the British and American publics into supporting the wars of their deeply unpopular governments (and the war of their Israeli ally as well).

Or am I being too cynical? Maybe they're just stupid. I really don't know any more.
No Mr. Dyer, you are most assuredly not being cynical with that crew in charge.

Funday Sunnies

And in Iraq today

From the AP:
Car bombs and a rocket barrage struck a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad late Sunday, killing at least 47 people and wounding 148, Iraqi police and the defense Ministry said.

The attack in the Zafraniyah neighborhood of southern Baghdad began about 7:15 p.m. with two car bombs and a barrage of an estimated nine rockets, Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Saddoun Abu al-Ula said.

He said the barrage heavily damaged three buildings, including a multistory apartment house that collapsed. Al-Ula said the rockets appeared to have been fired from Dora, one of the mostly Sunni districts targeted by U.S. troops in a new security crackdown against sectarian violence in the capital.
Business as usual in Our Dear Embattled Leader's greatest achievement.

Lamont speaks out.

And he hits the nail on the head. In an interview with the AP released today, Ned gives anaccurate read on the lies put forth by "Big Dick" Cheney and the Republican Stooge Lieberman.
''My God, here we have a terrorist threat against hearth and home and the very first thing that comes out of their mind is how can we turn this to partisan advantage. I find that offensive,'' Lamont said in an interview Sunday with The Associated Press....

....Lamont said Lieberman's swipe at his candidacy ''sounded an awful lot'' like Cheney.

''It surprised me,'' he said. ''It seemed almost orchestrated. It's sort of demeaning to the people of Connecticut. ... I thought the senator and the vice president were both wrong to use that attack (strategy) on the voters of Connecticut.''
Sadly, Ned will have to get used to this sort of crap. Slime and lies are just abpout all Republican Stooge Lieberman's new friends are good for, and Republican Stooge Lieberman appears to be a quick student.

Both sides agree to ceasefire in Lebanon - sort of.

As reported in the Washington Post, both Israel and Hezbollah have agreed with caveats that allow them to continue fighting, if it suits their purposes.
The Israeli cabinet voted Sunday to accept a U.N. -- declared cease-fire, even as the fiercest ground fighting of the war continued in southern Lebanon and Israel launched new airstrikes on southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah and the Lebanese government had accepted the cease-fire with reservations Saturday night. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said at a news conference after the Sunday vote that Israeli forces would not withdraw from southern Lebanon until both an international force and the Lebanese army took control of the area.,,,

....The Hezbollah leader, Hasan Nasrallah, said in a televised announcement Saturday that his militia forces would abide by the U.N. cease-fire but only after the timing of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon is worked out and Israeli troops stop attacking on Lebanese soil. Once Israeli military operations cease, Hezbollah fighters will "adhere to it without hesitation," he said.
So the Israelis will stay in Lebanon until the peacekeepers are in place (and 'defend' themselves until then). Hezbollah will stop fighting when they have a timetable for Israeli withdrawal. And the Lebanese Army and the peacekeepers will, no doubt, just walk into the fray and separate them like two sqabbling children. That should work just fine.

And in the meantime, the IAF keeps blowing up everything they see.

Even Jonathan Chiat wants Republican Stooge Lieberman to quit

And he says so in the LA Times today.
THE LONGER Sen. Joe Lieberman's reelection campaign in Connecticut goes on, the harder it gets to detect any rationale for his candidacy that's persuasive to anybody who isn't Joe Lieberman.

When he announced earlier this summer that he would run as an independent if he lost the Democratic primary, his stated reason was that turnout was likely to be tiny. Instead, turnout was heavy. But Lieberman says he's running as an independent anyway.

Lieberman says his antiwar opponent, Ned Lamont, relied on the support of Al Sharpton, demagogic bloggers and other unsavory characters. This is perfectly true. But Lieberman is just as happy to accept the good wishes of odious figures such as Sean Hannity and Karl Rove.
Aside from the cheap shot at bloggers, JC pretty much gets it right. He does fail to mention the good wishes of Republican Stooge Lieberman's "kissing cousin", Our Dear Embattled Leader himself.

Another Republican tax scam

This time it is Rep. Gary Miller, R-Diamond Bar who is cheating big time on his taxes. Unlike the Republican Oil Company giveaway and the Paris Hilton tax cut, this is his personal fund raiser, much like Fat Denny Hasterts land deal.The LA Times has the straight skinny on his patently transparent scheme.
When U.S. Rep. Gary Miller (R-Diamond Bar) sold 165 acres to the city of Monrovia in 2002, he made a profit of more than $10 million, according to a financial disclosure form he filed in Congress. Ordinarily, he would have had to pay state and federal taxes of up to 31% on that profit.

Instead, Miller told the Internal Revenue Service and the state that Monrovia had forced him to sell the property under threat of eminent domain. That allowed him to shelter the profits from capital gains taxes for more than two years before he had to reinvest the money.

But there is a problem with Miller's claim: Monrovia officials say that Miller sold the land willingly and that they didn't threaten to force him to sell.

Miller, whose 42nd Congressional District includes chunks of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, claimed the same exemption in two subsequent Fontana property transactions, allowing him to continue sheltering his profits from the Monrovia sale. And in each of those cases, the purchasers say eminent domain, which allows a government agency to force a sale if it's in the public interest, was neither used nor threatened.
And the funds used for the first sale were prohibited by law from being used in a forced sale. This is a classic tax cheat and would probably have been discovered and prosecuted by a non politicized IRS. But in the Bushovik world, everything is political. Sadly, he does not appear to be activly opposed in this election cycle.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

How Republicans keep you safe

And a tip of the hat to Skippy for the heads up. In the LA Times there was this op-ed about Bushovik airline security.
During the mid-1990s, the U.S. took into custody two Kuwaiti men who had devised the technical plan for Operation Bojinka — the name for a plan to blow up a large number of jumbo jets over the Pacific. In a test, the perpetrators in 1994 blew up an unsuspecting Japanese businessman in his seat on a Philippine domestic flight by wiring a device using a watch and liquid explosive disguised in a contact-lens case. This proved to the terrorists that they could get explosives aboard undetected.

Thanks to Philippine intelligence, the U.S. eventually arrested the two terrorists, Abdul Hakim Murad and Ramzi Ahmed Yousef. The two told the CIA about Bin Laden's plans to knock down big buildings using planes and blow up airliners using small chemical bombs. That was in 1995. (Yousef was later convicted in the U.S. for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.)

Thursday, the British arrested 24 people, including one airport employee. Nine of those were allegedly set to board flights carrying mini-bombs disguised as everyday liquids. The liquids were to have been mixed together on board and turned into bombs. Authorities said the terrorist cell was believed to have as many as 50 members.

A few hours later, the Bush administration put on a dog-and-pony show, with elevated alert levels and the Department of Homeland Security barring liquids on U.S. flights. The Transportation Security Administration mentioned nothing about screening the 600,000 employees who work in U.S. airports or the airport contractors who service the planes. How hard would it be for one of them to substitute an explosive in a cola can or water bottle, or even in the liquids used to clean the planes?

It was business as usual for the TSA: Give passengers and the public the illusion of security but not the reality. One TSA official — disgusted with the agency's standard practice of putting on a strong show of security at the passenger screening checkpoints while ignoring yawning holes in security elsewhere in the civil aviation system — has referred to it as "just more eye candy … feel-good stuff."
Our Dear Embattled Leader, keeping you safe since 9/11 or whenever that Anthrax guy stopped sending his letters or something.

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