Friday, November 30, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Whatever you think of its policies, the current administration has been more secretive, more mistrustful of an inquisitive press, than any since the Nixon administration. It has treated freedom of information requests with contempt, asserted sweeping claims of executive privilege, even reclassified material that had been declassified. The administration has subsidised propaganda at home and abroad, refined the art of spin, discouraged dissent, and sought to limit traditional congressional oversight and court review. The war in Iraq alone is a case study of the administration's determination to dominate the flow of information - from the original cherry-picking of intelligence, to the deliberate refusal to hear senior military officers when they warned of the potential for chaos, to the continually inflated claims about the progress in building up an indigenous Iraqi army. . . .
Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, giving a lecture on journalism and begging the question, If you know all this, why wasn't and isn't the NYT in full push back mode?

Friday is Be Mean to Candidates Day

At the NY Times. First Paul Krugman slices and dices Obama's incomplete health care plan, then he gives him a wake up slap for using right wing clap-trap to attack the other Dem candidates.
I recently castigated Mr. Obama for adopting right-wing talking points about a Social Security “crisis.” Now he’s echoing right-wing talking points on health care.

What seems to have happened is that Mr. Obama’s caution, his reluctance to stake out a clearly partisan position, led him to propose a relatively weak, incomplete health care plan. Although he declared, in his speech announcing the plan, that “my plan begins by covering every American,” it didn’t — and he shied away from doing what was necessary to make his claim true.

Now, in the effort to defend his plan’s weakness, he’s attacking his Democratic opponents from the right — and in so doing giving aid and comfort to the enemies of reform.
Barrack needs a lot more seasoning to be president.

Ms. Rudi takes it on the chin in the article by Michael Cooper headlined "Citing Statistics, Giuliani Misses Time and Again" examining his use and gross misuse of statistics in his campaign.
Discussing his crime-fighting success as mayor, Mr. Giuliani told a television interviewer that New York was “the only city in America that has reduced crime every single year since 1994.” In New Hampshire this week, he told a public forum that when he became mayor in 1994, New York “had been averaging like 1,800, 1,900 murders for almost 30 years.” When a recent Republican debate turned to the question of fiscal responsibility, he boasted that “under me, spending went down by 7 percent.”

All of these statements are incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong. And while, to be sure, all candidates use misleading statistics from time to time, Mr. Giuliani has made statistics a central part of his candidacy as he campaigns on his record.
When you live by the stat, you die by the stat when you lie about the stat.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

In their usual despicable fashion

The various media elements, when first they reported the story, described the missing Emily Sander as a college student, which she was. Then they found that she had posed nude and the pictures were on the Intertubes. So when a body that may be her is found she has become:
Missing porn star apparently found dead
Nice job! I can't wait until you start selling the CD collection on the late nights.

The Vermont Glacier slowly advances

Sen. Pat Leahy rejected White House claims of executive privilege with the very simple ruling that as Our Dear Embattled Leader was, by his own admission, clueless about what was happening to his US Attorneys, there was nothing executive about the perpetrators actions.
The executive privilege claim ''is surprising in light of the significant and uncontroverted evidence that the president had no involvement in these firings,'' Leahy wrote in his ruling. ''The president's lack of involvement in these firings -- by his own account and that of many others -- calls into question any claim of executive privilege.''
Noted Republican dumass Arlen Spector made a fairly intelligent remark, not unremarkable since there was no vote pending today.
''It's a bad idea to have subpoenas issued and then not to act on them,'' said Specter, the panel's ranking Republican and a former chairman. ''If you cry wolf, you ought to follow up.''
And the White house response was delivered by Dana Perino, in a style that would make that little girl you didn't like in the 2nd grade proud. I am not posting her remarks because I am allergic to peroxide.

And so now we wait for the next step.

Henry Hyde

Dead at 83. Seriously dude, what took you so long?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

No doubt about it

If you want to be a Big Fucker, you have to have a Big Treasury. The Politico has discovered that the treasury of New York City just might qualify, we all know that Ms. Rudi qualifies.
As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.

The documents, obtained by Politico under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.

At the time, the mayor’s office refused to explain the accounting to city auditors, citing “security.”
Oh yeah, security. Like in the peasants would have been after his saggy ass with pitchforks and torches if they had known about it. By hiding it, Ms. Rudi could stay safe with his latest sweet patootie on the public's dime. No wonder he needs to be president, but Judy better be careful.

UPDATE: Ms. Rudi denies any wrong doing, he sees nothing wrong in what he did. And if any wrong was done, it was the cops that did it.

From the pen of Nick Anderson

MoDo does Condi

And shows that, if you have something of substance to work with, you don't need to be bitchy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Violence is down in Baghdad

From McClatchy:
Gunmen in Baghdad's Shaab neighborhood stormed into a house not far from an Iraqi police checkpoint and killed 11 members of an Iraqi journalist's family, witnesses and journalism organizations reported Monday.

Iraqi police and U.S. military officials said they had no record of the killings. But family members confirmed that the killings took place on Sunday in a neighborhood controlled by the Mahdi Army militia. The militia is loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr.

It was the third mass killing reported in Baghdad since Friday, underscoring the fragility of recent declines in violence. Car bombings on Friday and Sunday killed at least 22 people and injured 96 in the worst such attacks since September.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said that American troops killed three people, including a child, Monday when they fired on a vehicle that failed to stop at a roadblock north of Baghdad. The incident occurred after U.S. forces had attacked suspected al Qaida in Iraq members near the town of Bayji, killing four, a military statement said.
Yup, just about what you would expect in your average American county seat.

Isn't this preciouss

It seems that a couple of Republican good old Senators have decided to get all huffy about the lack of political progress in Iraq. Probably the White House decided for them , but they said it.
The stern warnings, coming from Sens. Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss Monday, are an indication that while GOP patience on the war has greatly increased this fall because of security gains made by the military, it isn't bottomless.

"I do expect them to deliver," Graham, R-S.C., said in a phone interview upon returning from a Thanksgiving trip to Iraq. "What would happen for me if there's no progress on reconciliation after the first of the year, I would be looking at ways to invest our money into groups that can deliver."

Chambliss, R-Ga., who traveled with Graham as part of a larger congressional delegation, said lawmakers might even call for al-Maliki's ouster if Baghdad didn't reach agreement on at least some of the major issues seen as key to tamping down sectarian violence.

"If we don't see positive results by the end of the year I think you'll probably see a strong message coming out of Congress calling for a change in administration," he said in a conference call with reporters.
No more bribe money for Maliki if he doesn't make Our Dear Leader look good. Might even have to replace him [Diem] with someone else [Big Minh]. But we will still leave the troops there to get shot at , that's all they are good for in a Republican world.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Doctors stop Cheney's heart

If you don't believe me, how about the AP?
Doctors administered an electrical shock to Vice President Dick Cheney's heart and restored it to a normal rhythm during a 2 1/2 hour hospital visit Monday. The procedure was described as a low-risk, standard practice. Cheney, 66, went home from George Washington University Hospital and was expected back at work on Tuesday.

Cheney, who has a history of heart problems, was discovered to have an irregular heartbeat around 7 a.m. when he was seen by doctors at the White House for a lingering cough from a cold. He remained at work throughout the day, joining President Bush in meetings with Mideast leaders.
Damn thing just won't stay still. And can you believe that Dickwahd doesn't have the clout to make the medicos take it out and throw it way?

From the pen of Mike Luckovich

Good news from the Republicans

Never thought you would see a headline like that, did you? First, from the highest office in the land we get this.
Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a history of heart problems, experienced an irregular heartbeat today and will be evaluated at George Washington University Hospital.
Before you get your expectations up, you have to remember that something that only runs once every three months is likely to have a few sputters when they fire up the test run.

Second, from from the Land of Winken, Blinken and Lott we get this tidbit.
Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, the No. 2 Republican leader in the Senate, announced Monday that he will resign before the end of the year.
Some say that he wants to go into lobbying before the new rules start. Some say that Larry Flynt had a "Hart to Hart" talk with Trent. My take is that he is accomodating Haley Barbour, so that Haley can appoint the head of the White Citizens Council to fill his term and stop bugging Haley to pass a pro lynching law.

Quote of the Day

"'What exactly would it take for the president to conclude Musharraf has crossed the line? Suspend the constitution? Impose emergency law? Beat and jail his political opponents and human rights activists? He's already done all that. If the president sees Musharraf as a democrat, he must be wearing the same glasses he had on when he looked in Vladimir Putin's soul.'"
Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a presidential candidate,revealing the secret of Our Dear Embattled Leader's Glorious World Diplomatcracy

Monday Music Blogging

You can't say Cool without Fever

-Peggy Lee

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Quote of the Day

“National Republicans are in disarray, forcing them to recruit inexperienced and unprepared self-funders,”
Doug Thornell, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, explaining why the Republican Party is asking candidates to pay for their own campaigns.

Some things explain themselves

In the NY Times Elizabeth Bumiller starts off her puff piece on Condi Rice with this priceless quote.
Condoleezza Rice and President Bush are often described as opposites, but their closest advisers say they are remarkably alike.
Which would explain how McClatchy was able to begin their story on Condi like this.
Condoleezza Rice became secretary of state almost three years ago with strong support from President Bush, glamorous reviews in the news media and high hopes from America's diplomats.

Since then, Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf has ignored her pleas and imposed emergency rule, throwing a key counterterrorism ally into turmoil. In Russia, the country Rice prides herself on knowing best, she and Bush appear to have badly misread President Vladimir Putin, who's restored autocratic rule and his country's rivalry with America. Her drive for Middle East democracy has stalled in Lebanon and elsewhere, and other big issues, including the environment and relations with East Asia, have been relegated to the back burner.

In her own State Department, Rice's concept of "transformational diplomacy" is largely forgotten, a fanfare about better public diplomacy has faded and morale is sinking. Rice is under fire for her handling of staffing in Iraq, and the $740 million U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is riddled with problems and has yet to open.
It is amazing how much Condi and Dear Leader have in common.

If at first you don't succeed, just call it a success.

This has been SOP with domestic policy for Our Dear Embattled Leader and his Bumbling Bushoviks since 2001. Now, in a daring burst of creativity, they are applying this procedure to Iraq. Frustrated by lack of political success, ODEL and the BB boys are planning to claim what few political advances are occurring in Baghdad as great achievements of their policy aims.
With American military successes outpacing political gains in Iraq, the Bush administration has lowered its expectation of quickly achieving major steps toward unifying the country, including passage of a long-stymied plan to share oil revenues and holding regional elections.

Instead, administration officials say they are focusing their immediate efforts on several more limited but achievable goals in the hope of convincing Iraqis, foreign governments and Americans that progress is being made toward the political breakthroughs that the military campaign of the past 10 months was supposed to promote.

The short-term American targets include passage of a $48 billion Iraqi budget, something the Iraqis say they are on their way to doing anyway; renewing the United Nations mandate that authorizes an American presence in the country, which the Iraqis have done repeatedly before; and passing legislation to allow thousands of Baath Party members from Saddam Hussein’s era to rejoin the government. A senior Bush administration official described that goal as largely symbolic since rehirings have been quietly taking place already.
So the Iraqis are doing something on their own and Li'l Georgie is declaring another carrier moment for his wondrous and still undetermined war aims. Allegedly 3800+ Americans have died for the as yet undisclosed war aims of this administration. If Li'l Georgie and his minions is going to dumb down those aims to what ever he can call a success because it happened, then it has become obvious. George W Bush is declaring that those Americans have died in vain.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Break

Heading off to spend time with family and friends for a few days. Won't be blogging until I get back. I wish you all a Happy and Filling Thanksgiving.
Travel safely.

Selling refrigerators to the Inuit

Used to be the ultimate example of a great salesman. Nowadays, the Inuit are finding refrigerators are coming in handy. The ultimate example will have to move south, to Phoenix perhaps.
The city of Phoenix in Arizona sits in the middle of a desert that for the past 11 years has been suffering a punishing drought. Temperatures in the city rose above 43C (110F) for a record 30 days this year and water levels in the rivers that supply its 1.5 million people with drinking water are at near-record lows.

A perfect spot then to build what is described as a "year-round watersports paradise", in which visitors will be able to revel in whatever watery pastime takes their fancy.

Scuba diving? No problem. White water rafting? Step this way to the largest man-made white water channel in the world. Surfing your thing? Then come barrel under perfect 12ft waves.

The businessmen behind Waveyard say they plan to recreate the seascape of Indonesia or Hawaii in an area that has just eight inches of rainfall a year.
For sheer stupidity, this idea ranks right up there with thinking Republicans can run a government somewhere besides into the ground. But someone has got a plan for making lots of money and has actually convinced people that it will benefit them. In the end, a few hustlers will pocket a lot of money and the rest will probably end up with less jobs and water than they have now, and a monument to foolishness in their backyard.

Tuesday Toon

From the pen of Ann Telnaes

Pro rated bonuses

You all know what pro-rating is about. It where your 50,000 mile tires wear out after 30,000 miles and after fighting your dealer tooth and nail because he thinks you abused your tires by driving on them, he credits you, if you are lucky, 2/5ths the cost less depreciation, tax and any fees he can get away with rather than honor the warranty. The US Army is now presenting itself as the injured consumer regarding signing bonuses used to maintain enlistments. Their position is that a soldier signs on for the full term and if he gets damaged and loses enough parts of himself that he can not finish the term of his enlistment, well he better be ready to repay that part of the bonus he didn't yet earn.
Fox was seriously injured when a roadside bomb blew up his vehicle. He was knocked unconscious. His back was injured and lost all vision in his right eye.

A few months later Fox was sent home. His injuries prohibited him from fulfilling three months of his commitment. A few days ago, he received a letter from the military demanding nearly $3,000 of his signing bonus back.

"I tried to do my best and serve my country. I was unfortunately hurt in the process. Now they're telling me they want their money back," he explained....

"I'd do it all over again... because I'm proud of the discipline that I learned. I'm proud to have done something for my country," he said.

But Fox feels like he's already given enough. He'll never be able to pursue his dream of being a police officer because of his wounds and he can't believe he's being asked to return part of his $10,000 signing bonus.
Next time you hear about someone spitting on returning veterans, remember it was the Republicans who did it. Chickenshit bastards would probably have given his mother a bill at his funeral if he had died.

Cute little squirrels, my ass!

The little boogers are just testing us to see what our weaknesses are and when they are ready, we will all be in deep trouble. Witness the results of a pair of suicide squirrel scout commandos.
Brian Elwood, a spokesman for Xcel Energy, said a squirrel came in contact with an overhead transformer and knocked out service to 177 customers Monday. Power was fully restored in just under an hour, and repair crews found the remains of the ''unfortunate squirrel,'' he said.

By coincidence, another squirrel got into a substation 40 miles away in Ironwood, Mich., Monday morning and caused a temporary outage that affected about 1,400 customers in Ironwood and two nearby communities, Elwood said.
Remember this when next you put out seeds for them. Your neighborhood may be next on their list.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why some people shouldn't have guns

From the Buffalo News:
Michael Mardino, no age given, was hurt after a shotgun that was in the back seat of a vehicle he was riding in accidentally went off. The incident occurred Sunday morning on the Thruway near Exit 59.

State Police said Mardino was reaching back to move a tote bag that apparently had became caught in the trigger. The gun accidentally discharged, hitting Mardino in the arm, just below the elbow.
Let's see, not just failure to unload his shotgun, but keeping a round in the chamber and the gun cocked and not having the safety on in a moving vehicle. That's one bright lad.

Another church, another sex scandal

I am trying mightily to figure out what it is with churches and sex of the scandalous kind. This time it was lying with his brothers wife and just plain lying.
The 80-year-old leader of a suburban Atlanta megachurch is at the center of a sex scandal of biblical dimensions: He slept with his brother's wife and fathered a child by her.

Members of Archbishop Earl Paulk's family stood at the pulpit of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church a few Sundays ago and revealed the secret exposed by a recent court-ordered paternity test.

In truth, this is not the first - or even the second - sex scandal to engulf Paulk and the independent, charismatic church. But this time, he could be in trouble with the law for lying under oath about the affair.

The living proof of that lie is 34-year-old D.E. Paulk, who for years was known publicly as Earl Paulk's nephew.
There are many good and decent church men and women out there, but the bad ones are growing in number. I've known three myself. The tribulations of others does bring Pastafarianism into a good light.

Every day, in every way.....

From the AP:
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives as American soldiers were handing out toys to children northeast of Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least three children and three of the troops, U.S. and Iraqi authorities said.

Seven children were wounded in the attack in Baqubah, where U.S. soldiers wrested control from al-Qaida in Iraq last summer.

The attack, along with a series of other blasts in the capital and to the north, underlined the uncertainty of security in Iraq even as the American military said overall violence is down 55 percent since a troop buildup began this year.

Police said the attack occurred as U.S. soldiers were handing out toys, sports equipment and other treats in a playground near Baqubah, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Few details were available, but the U.S. military said it was a “suicide vest attack” and that three American soldiers were killed.

In all, at least 29 people were killed Sunday, including the three soldiers.

The deadliest attack was a parked car bomb targeting a convoy carrying Salman al-Mukhtar, an adviser to the Iraqi finance minister. Al-Mukhtar escaped injury, but the blast in the predominantly Shiite district of Karradah in central Baghdad killed at least 10 people and wounded 21, including two of the official’s bodyguards, according to police and hospital officials.
Probably more like "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

R.I.P. Dick Wilson

Please don't squeeze the clouds up there Mr Whipple.

It's called "Sovereignty"

And it looks like the Iraqs have decided to give theirs a little exercise. Nothing too strenuous at this point.
Iraqi soldiers detained two American security guards along with several other foreigners traveling Monday in a private security convoy after they opened fire in Baghdad, wounding one woman, an Iraqi military spokesman said.

"We have given orders to our security forces to immediately intervene in case they see any violations by security companies. The members of this security company wounded an innocent woman and they tried to escape the scene, but Iraq forces arrested them," al-Moussawi told The Associated Press.
Where this will end up is unknown, but if the homies are starting to feel their oats, it could make things difficult for a lot of cowboys.

Monday Music Blogging

To remind you what to bring for Thanksgiving dinner, besides your own sweet self.

Emmylou Harris - Two more bottles of wine

Taser, the new 9mm

Another person has died after being tasered by law enforcement, this case in Maryland comes just one week after a man died in Vancouver after being tasered. The Taser has been sold as a non-lethal alternative for law enforcement but it sure looks like that position need to be rethought, and quickly before the bodies pile up.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"Depleted Uranium", sounds safe doesn't it?

Not really. It remains a producer of alpha radiation for longer than we will be around. And as dust it is easily drawn into your body. And when the plant that manufactured items from DU for the government was in your neighborhood for 30 years, you could have a problem.

Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.

Coleridge was writing about the great salt sea, but McClatchy is writing about the everyday water supplies for the Iraqi populace.
The water tankers arrive twice a week in this parched village surrounded by fallow fields stretching into the horizon. The town's wells still pump out a flow, but few villagers dare drink from it unless in desperation.

At the gate of Kayria Fayhan's home, 250 gallons of the trucked-in cargo fill a metal tank for cooking and drinking, sometimes for washing up if itching from the groundwater becomes unbearable.

Even the "clean" water from the tanker is a gamble on some weeks. "They say the water is clean, but sometimes the water is green," Fayhan said. "Sometimes, there's rust floating in it."

Despite the fact that Iraq and U.S. officials have made water projects among their top priorities, the percentage of Iraqis without access to decent water supplies has risen from 50 percent to 70 percent since the start of the U.S.-led war, according to an analysis by Oxfam International last summer. The portion of Iraqis lacking decent sanitation was even worse -- 80 percent.
Our Dear Embattled Leader from whom all blessings flow.

SCHIP kids

Just so you remember what a glorious legacy George W Bush and his Republican stooges in Congress are leaving in their wake.
Experts say these unorthodox and sometimes desperate responses have become routine in school districts across the country as health care grows more unaffordable for working parents.

The number of uninsured children age 18 and younger grew by 710,000 to a total of 9.4 million in 2006, according to new research by the Urban Institute. Seventy percent of these newly uninsured children came from families earning more than twice the federal poverty level — that's $41,300 for a family of four.

More than 3 million of these uninsured youngsters would get full health insurance under legislation Congress passed to renew and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years. About 6.6 million children are now covered under the program.

But after watching President Bush twice veto the legislation, citing cost and programmatic concerns, many school officials say the president has misplaced priorities.
Is our kids learning? Not on Li'l Georgie's watch. It's Every Child Left Behind because no president wants the youth of his country being smarter than him.

They're not looking under the couch cushions yet

But the Army and Marines have been scouring their personnel records for soldiers who have not yet had a turn in the sandbox.
Soldiers who haven’t been downrange yet had better hone their warrior skills because the Army wants to see more combat patches in the ranks.

The Army has targeted 37,000 active-duty soldiers who have yet to serve a combat tour after more than six years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
No more cushy stateside jobs for these folk.
“Everybody wants to go downrange and be part of this because they know the importance of this war,” Cody said, adding, “At the same time, there’s a demand to make sure we have the right noncommissioned officer leaders and officer leaders at our training bases that are training up these young men and women to go to these units.”

The need to get combat vets into training bases forced HRC to look deeper into the ranks for soldiers who could deploy and have not.
Gee, Sarge, you look really cool in digital camo!

The other side of health care in America

What do the uninsured in the country do when they need healthcare? In too many places absolutely nothing. When you live hand to mouth you can't afford it and in rural areas, you can't afford the time and gas to get to it. If you get lucky, RAM gets to you.
The group, most often referred to as RAM, has sent health expeditions to countries like Guyana, India, Tanzania and Haiti, but increasingly its work is in the United States, where 47 million people — more than 15 percent of the population — live without health insurance. Residents of remote rural areas are less likely than their urban and suburban counterparts to have health insurance and more likely to be in fair or poor health. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly half of all adults in rural America are living with at least one chronic condition. Other research has found that in these areas, where hospitals and primary-care providers are in short supply, rates of arthritis, hypertension, heart ailments, diabetes and major depression are higher than in urban areas.

And so each summer, shortly after the Virginia-Kentucky District Fair and Horse Show wraps up at the fairgrounds, members of Virginia Lions Clubs start bleaching the premises, readying them for RAM’s volunteers, who, working in animal stalls and beneath makeshift tents, provide everything from teeth cleaning and free eyeglasses to radiology and minor surgery.
A third world clinic operating in a first world country. Doesn't that just make you swell with pride for this great country of ours?

Qoute of the Day

“Musharraf thinks that Bush has certain weaknesses that can be manipulated. I would say that President Musharraf doesn’t think highly of President Bush, but his interests force him to do business with the U.S. president.”
Kamran Bokhari, an analyst for Stratfor, a private intelligence company, belaboring the obvious.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Candidates health and wealth

The NY Times editorial today calls for full disclosure of the state of any presidential candidates medical and fiscal state, not just for the general election but for the primaries, too. This makes sense as we all need to know who has bought our presidential wannabes as well as how soon we can expect a state funeral. The Times also mentions one fact that seems all too appropriate.
What is known right now is that three of the current candidates have been treated for cancer — Mr. Giuliani, Senator John McCain and former Senator Fred Thompson. Voters have a right to know about all of the candidates’ health before they decide who should take on the grueling burdens of the White House.
The Times, naturally, is talking of cancers of the body and not the cancer of the soul required of all current Republican candidates.

The teflon gown of Ms Rudi

Frank Rich gives the teflon garb of notorious Republican criminal coddler and front runner Rudi Giuliani a shot today. Not directly, mind you but in musing about the possibility of Judith Regan shredding his lovely gown of many colors, Frank gives us another rundown of the disreputable career of Mayor 911. The possibility of any of this sticking during the primary season is probably slim, as the Republican base is quite comfortable with rank criminality in their politicos. We can only hope the efforts of Frank and others such as Wayne Barrett may reach the voting public before Ms. Rudi's image becomes gospel. As Frank says,
The Giuliani story, by contrast, is relatively virgin territory. And with the filing of a lawsuit by a vengeful eyewitness who was fired from her job, it may just have gained its own reincarnation of Linda Tripp.

Just unbelievable

If you are a badly wounded soldier, you will most likely get excellent medical care in a military facility but you better watch out when the VA comes to assess your disability after discharge.

Consider Garrett Anderson
Garrett Anderson with the Illinois National Guard, for example, has been fighting the VA since October 15, 2005. Shrapnel tore through his head and body after a roadside bomb blew up the truck he was driving. He lost his right arm.

The VA initially rejected his claim, saying his severe shrapnel wounds were "not service connected."
No doubt it was the Shrapnel Fairy that took his arm from under his pillow.

But even if there was even the slightest Dick Cheneian 1% justification for what the VA did to Ty Ziegel, you would have to have a heart and soul as blackened and shriveled as Dick Cheney himself to do it.
He lost part of his skull in the blast and part of his brain was damaged. Half of his left arm was amputated and some of the fingers were blown off his right hand.

Once he got out of the hospital, he was unable to hold a job. He anticipated receiving a monthly VA disability check sufficient to cover his small-town lifestyle in Washington, Illinois.

Instead, he got a check for far less than expected. After pressing for answers, Ziegel finally received a letter from the VA that rated his injuries: 80 percent for facial disfigurement, 60 percent for left arm amputation, a mere 10 percent for head trauma and nothing for his left lobe brain injury, right eye blindness and jaw fracture.

Remember the stories of these two, and others, the next time George W Bush vetos a Veterans Bill.

Rosa hits the bullseye!

I am late in getting to Rosa Brooks' Thursday column this week, but that doesn't diminish the accuracy of her thoughts on the disaster that has been Our Dear Embattled Leader's embrace of Mushy the Dictator. Her conclusion should be increasingly clear to anyone not addicted to the Busheviks Kool-Aid.
Today, Pakistan is in crisis once more. Musharraf has managed to alienate secular democrats and radical Islamists alike. Thousands of opposition activists are now in prison, two-thirds of Pakistan's senior judges are under house arrest, and Musharraf has suspended the constitution.

As Musharraf clings to power, we continue to lose traction in the battle against extremism in Pakistan. A recent opinion poll found that most Pakistanis are so alienated that they give Osama bin Laden higher approval ratings than they give to Musharraf -- or to you, George.

Osama thanks you.

And what are you doing about all this?

Nothing! You're not calling on Musharraf to step down and hold elections, you're not threatening to pull the plug on any U.S. military aid, you're not opening up links to the grass-roots democratic opposition. Which means there's little chance that we'll get what we say we want -- and what most Pakistanis want: a moderate, democratic Pakistani government.

Instead, our policies will continue to inspire and strengthen Islamic extremism.

Look, George, I'm not saying you consciously meant for things to turn out this way. But as Freud said, there's no such thing as an accident.

Bush lies again

In his weekly, weakly Saturday radio address, Our Dear Embattled Leader lied again, this time about the vote og his beloved excess funding bill for Iraq.
"For months, Congress has delayed action on supplemental war funding because some in Congress want to make a political statement about the war," he said, criticizing Democrats for leaving for their Thanksgiving break without approving the war funds.

A bill passed this week by the House of Representatives would have given Bush about a quarter of the $196 billion he wants for the wars while setting a goal that all U.S. combat soldiers withdraw from Iraq by December 15, 2008.

Republicans stopped the measure in the Senate.
Let me repeat that last part, just in case Li'l Georgie wanders by this blog.
Republicans stopped the measure in the Senate.
As most of the country has figured out by now, it ain't the Democrats that hate the troops, it is the Republicans!

Quote of the Day

"It's a strawman to say that a country like Canada could not be responsible for safe drugs to be brought into our country. Many of them are manufactured in Canada, as you know."
John McCain, suffering a brain cramp and speaking truth in calling for reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada.

George W Bush aids terrorists

Congress requested an audit of USAID funding and the results aren't as good as they should be. The agency is not checking its recipients as well as we would expect, given all the bloviation about Homeland Security, yada, yada.
The agency that distributes billions of dollars in American foreign aid cannot "reasonably ensure" that its money does not wind up in terrorist hands, an internal audit has concluded.

The United States Agency for International Development funded groups with ties to terrorism on at least two occasions, the agency's inspector general found in an audit. That included approving $180,000 for a Bosnian group whose president was on a "watch list" that barred him from entering the United States, and $1 million for an aid "partner" who later pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his involvement with a disciple of Osama bin Laden.
It is uncertain when Dick Cheney will order bombing of the White House and Crawford TX despite evidence of elements of the 10th Mountain Division massing outside of Kennebunkport.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The captain got screwed and so did the public.

And the prick will get off scot free because he is in the private sector.
Eric Barton, a former manager in Iraq for EOD Technology, was accused by the Army Suspension and Debarment Office of helping his company win convoy security work last year while having an affair with Air Force Capt. Sherrie Remington, a contracting officer, according to records released to USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.

Remington gave Barton information about previous security contracts and awarded his company seven contracts between January and March of 2006, according to the records from the Army Suspension and Debarment Office.

Remington gave two contracts to EODT without asking for other bids, and approved three other contracts for the Tennessee-based company even though other firms had lower bids, the records show. In contracting files, Remington said the lower-priced competitors were either too busy with other work or had problems delivering on past contracts.
And the taxpayers overpaid and the captain, well he better have been fantastic in bed because her military career is fucked.

An honest headline from

Under this headline
Senate GOP Blocks $50B War Funding Package
the online edition states clearly what happened in the Senate today. Using procedural trick, the Republicans were able to prevent the Senate from funding the troops in Iraq and then had the gall to try and pass their own spoof funding bill. Both lost according to the rules of the Senate but make no mistake, just as the headline says, The Republicans are blocking the funding. It is the Republicans who hate America and our troops.

EJ does a cost analysis

And by doing so, Mr Dionne shows the folly of Our Dear Embattled Leader's 'legendary' fiscal skills.
Consider only this number: Interest costs on Iraq-related debt will be more than $23 billion for fiscal 2008. That sum is almost exactly the amount separating Bush and Congress on spending levels for the entire budget now being debated.
Bur Li'l Georgie likes his guns and has no use for butter.

Li'l Georgie is warming up his Relevence Pen again

Because the Senate is preparing to vote on a FISA bill that does not give amnesty to the telco accomplices of the Bushoviks.
Reflecting the deep divisions within Congress over granting legal immunity to telephone companies for cooperating with the Bush administration’s program of wiretapping without warrants, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a new domestic surveillance law on Thursday that sidestepped the issue.

By a 10 to 9 vote, the committee approved an overhaul of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that dropped a key provision for immunity for telecommunications companies that another committee had already approved. The Senate leadership will have to decide how to deal with the immunity question on the Senate floor.

On Thursday night, the House voted 227 to 189, generally along party lines, to approve its own version of the FISA bill, which also does not include immunity.
There is still the possibility of "compromising" amnesty back into the bill so as not to offend Our Dear Embattled Leader and his toe tapping minions.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Putting food on your family, Iraqi style

It seems the Shia variety of Islam has a way for widows to survive the death of their husbands in a war torn country.
On a spring day in 2004, he again set off for Baghdad. He never returned. His body was found on the side of a road. He was shot to death, his truck torched and destroyed. At 23, Abdulrasool was a widow.

"I lost my husband, father of my two boys and my only support in this world," she said.

Alone to raise her family, she fell into despair. Her way out was to remarry, again and again and again. She betrothed herself to men who provided dowries and a sense of security and comfort, if only fleetingly.

"It has become a way of life to me," she said.

These temporary marriages — called mutaa or "pleasure" marriages — are said to be on the rise in Iraq, where the ravages of war have made widows of thousands of women.
Our Dear Embattled Leader brings them death, destruction and shame, too.

Will Dear Leader pardon Jack?

A whole lot of Jack, Daniels that is, brown gold, Tennessee T. It seems that, thanks to a malefactor of great evil, up to 10,000 bottles may be condemned to an ignominious end, down the drain.
Officials seized 2,400 bottles late last month during warehouse raids in Nashville and Lynchburg, the southern Tennessee town where the whiskey is distilled.

Authorities are still determining how much of the liquor will be disposed of, and how much can be sold at auction.

Tennessee law requires officials to destroy whiskey that cannot be sold legally in the state, such as bottles designed for sale overseas and those with broken seals.
This has some people very upset as this quote indicates
"Jack never did anything wrong, and the whiskey itself is innocent."
As for myself, I believe that the whiskey deserves presidential intervention easily as much as Scooter, if not more.

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

Support for Mushy getting mushy

What took them so long?
“They don’t want to encourage another military coup, but they are also beginning to understand that Musharraf has become part of the problem,” said one former official with knowledge of the debates inside the Bush administration.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

One man's war

On this Veterans Day, many stories are being printed in many newspapers, many veterans are joining together to share stories and catch up with each other. The News-Observer has one man's story of his time and what went down.
On this night in his dream, like every night, Stephens will keep a promise -- to his soldiers and, in particular, to the mother of a blue-eyed gunner named Danny.

Nearly four years ago, in January 2004, the N.C. National Guard platoon sergeant stood in an Army classroom facing that mother and the families of the 40 men he was about to lead into war.

He stood 6-foot-4 and infantry-lean, and in the confident voice familiar to his men, he made a promise: I'll bring your sons home.

He had wanted it to be true.

Even then, Stephens knew he was lying....

....Stephens, 40, would be anointed a hero, praised by the Pentagon and the media, earning one of the nation's highest honors for a day of valor that left him weeping under a desert night, his uniform soaked in another man's blood, his lessons about sacrifice and heroism only beginning.

In the years after his deployment to Iraq, Stephens would see how a single firefight would change his soldiers, change himself and fundamentally alter the life of one Jacksonville mother. He would come home from war to find he had become a different man, one seeking help from an Army that didn't know how to give it. He would try to fulfill a promise he had no right to make and shoulder the wounds of a grieving woman and a platoon of haunted men.
Part 2 of 4

Part 3 of 4

Part 4 of 4

And neither his story nor Danny's need be told except for the actions of a group of greedy, stupid, no make that evil, men who had and still have no idea of how wrong they were. And every day more mother's sons are broken and killed for their evil. And they don't give a damn.

3 for 17

Even if you can believe that 3 of the 17 deaths in the Blackwater Massacre were righteous, .176 is a piss poor batting average for an outfit that says they are the best. The FBI, however, having finished its investigation has concluded that 3 of the deaths could be justified under the rules in place at the time. That still leaves 14 bodies outside the rules. The best you can say about this is in this paragraph from the NYT.
A separate military review of the Sept. 16 shootings concluded that all of the killings were unjustified and potentially criminal. One of the military investigators said the F.B.I. was being generous to Blackwater in characterizing any of the killings as justifiable.
The FBI has a long history of being generous, just ask Whitey Bulger.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

All quiet as long as the pazuza's flow

But who knows what happens when the dollars dry up.
The town is run by deals among its anointed leaders, nearly all of them former Sunni Muslim insurgents. None was elected. No one pays any mind to what might be happening in Iraq’s Shiite-dominated parliament in Baghdad. In fact, residents assume that the elected central government will never help them.

Instead, the insurgents-turned-leaders depend on an influx of money from the U.S. or from the provincial government to keep Islamic extremists from dominating the town again. So far, the U.S. military has spent $1 million, the cost of one of the military’s newest armored vehicles, on reconstruction projects and salaries for residents to secure the town and its surrounding area — 30,000 people in all. If the U.S. plan works, the next million will come from the Shiite-led provincial government.

U.S. officials acknowledge that their approach is tenuous, but one that so far has produced a big drop in violence. No U.S. soldier has been attacked since June, and they can now walk in town with some assurance of safety.
And if there were any Bushoviks who knew shit from shinola, this would have been done from Day 1. It would probably have saved a lot of lives and cost a lot less.

Tuesday Toon

Froomkin linked to this, Alternate Brain posted it and the ever excellent Oliphant nailed it!

Mukasey won't say it

And your Army won't allow it. After all the debate, with the attendent smoke and mirrors, about waterboarding and torture, the US Army felt it was necessary to issue a statement of its position on the matter.
“The U.S. Army strictly prohibits the use of waterboarding during intelligence investigations by any of its members. It is specifically prohibited by Field Manual 2-22.3 and is not a sanctioned interrogation technique in any training manual or any instructions to soldiers in the field,” the statement says.
Now that wasn't so hard, was it?

Fox News, Fairly Unbalanced

And possibly guilty of some real crime here. It is not all that clear yet since all the actors here embrace bullshit as their best friend.
Judith Regan, the book publisher who was fired by the News Corporation last year, asserts in a lawsuit filed today that a senior executive at the media conglomerate encouraged her to mislead federal investigators about her relationship with Bernard B. Kerik during his bid to become homeland security secretary in late 2004.

The lawsuit asserts that the News Corporation executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik’s mentor, who had appointed him New York City police commissioner and had recommended him for the federal post.
I'm no lawyer, don't even play one in home movies, but it seems to me that encouraging someone to perjure themselves to federal investigators is a serious crime, unless you're Dick Cheney. But what else can you call this?
"Defendants were well aware that Regan had a personal relationship with Kerik," the complaint says. "In fact, a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik."
She asked for a settlement, Fox wouldn't go for it and she goes public. And hopefully the US Attorney in NYC has some integrity left.

He signed one and vetoed the other.

Our Dear Embattled Leader had two spending bills on his desk He signed the one that gave the Pentagon $40 Billion more than he asked for but vetoed the one that gave education, health and labor programs $10 billion more than he asked for because, get this,
Bush called it a matter of setting priorities in a time of war.

"The majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far it's acting like a teenager with a new credit card,"
Actually it is spending like a Congress that threw out a bunch of Republicans and started showing some adult responsibility, but what would Georgie know about that.

Remember when..

Screwing up like Maj. Gen. George Weightman did at Walter Reed Hospital would get you put out to pasture? Not any more.
The Walter Reed Army Medical Center commander who was fired this year following revelations of substandard conditions for patients has been named the new commanding general at Fort Detrick.

According to an Army news release, Maj. Gen. George Weightman will also take command of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, which is headquartered at Fort Detrick.
Management by failure.

Monday, November 12, 2007

They ain't Baptists, they's Christians!

String 'em up!

Anybody got any string?

Apologies for the old Stan Freberg joke but it seems appropriate here. There is a church in North Carolina that's about to be tossed out of the NC Coven of Southern Baptists for welcoming all people to their worship, including (gasp!) homosexuals.
When N.C. Baptists meet this week for their annual session, they will likely kick out a Charlotte church that has said it welcomes homosexuals as they are -- a violation of controversial rules passed at last year's state convention.

If all goes as expected, the 4,000-plus attendees at the Baptist State Convention will vote Tuesday morning to cast out Myers Park Baptist -- but only after short speeches from two of the church's leaders. One -- Nancy Walker, secretary to the church's board of deacons -- is a lesbian.

"It's important for our particular witness to be made," said the Rev. Stephen Shoemaker, Myers Park's senior minister and the other scheduled speaker Tuesday. "We think the local (Baptist) church ought to be free to interpret Scripture itself ... And we believe in the spirit of Christ, who allowed all to come to the table."

This isn't in the Manual

From the Marine Corps Times:
A Marine captain, in what he described as the “C-Y-A part” of his briefing, ordered dozens of men in his company to get their story straight in case investigators asked questions about a 2006 firefight that might have left Iraqi women and children dead in the crossfire.

“Earlier up on the roof, there was like five women and little girls, OK? We f---ed that area up,” Capt. Shane Cote, 35, told his Marines, after a day that included at least nine firefights in 14 hours. “If we did any collateral damage, there will be people here asking. Your answer, for the sake of yourselves — and me — better be you were f---ing shooting at muzzle flashes.”

His Marines grunted out their affirmatives, “ooh-rahs” all around. They got it.

One of them even got it on tape.

A secret recording of the briefing (Warning: Explicit language), obtained by Marine Corps Times, was made by a sergeant who believes the captain was ordering his men to lie about the shooting.

Does Tom Tancredo know about this?

Ceerwan Aziz / The Associated Press
In a Veterans Day ceremony north of Baghdad on Sunday, 178 service members became U.S. citizens.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff administered the Oath of Allegiance at Sustainer Theater on Logistical Support Area Anaconda, the Army announced in a press release Monday.

“I can’t think of people who are more deserving of citizenship than those who are fighting to defend the country even before they are citizens. They understand that freedoms don’t come free and they are willing to make sacrifices even before they reap the benefits of citizenship,” Chertoff said in the release
Nor can he see the irony of his administering the oath to a group of people whose boots he isn't good enough to lick.

One small protest for Oklahoma

The AP reported on a protest against Our Dear Leader's Glorious Little War. No more than 18 people and anybody who stopped to listen, but an interesting group.
Two Oklahoma men whose sons were killed in Iraq criticized U.S. involvement in the war during a small protest Monday at the state Capitol.

Warren Henthorn of Choctaw and John Scripsick of Wayne praised veterans of all wars for their service.

But they said the Iraq war should never have happened and it is past time to end the United States’ participation....

....Also speaking out against the war was Dr. Katherine Scheirman of Oklahoma City, who retired as an Air Force colonel in 2006. She was chief of medical operations at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, which has treated most of the soldiers injured in Iraq.

She said veterans who served in Iraq have shown courage, as have those who are speaking out against the war.

“It doesn’t take courage to be like Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly or Richard Cheney and talk tough and warmonger when you haven’t put yourself or a member of your family on the line,” Scheirman said, referring to radio and television personalities and the vice president.
Apparently the AP thought she was referring to a pair of nutless, gutless cowards and a flesh eating zombie and needed to clarify.

Iraq is only 3rd?

Thanks to TPM Muckraker for pointing us to the report of Transparency International on their Corruption Perception 2007 index. Iraq, the land of disappearing $Billions and weapons and people, only came in third behind Somalia and Myanmar. The United States, on the other hand, came in at # 20! Thankfully we are still better than Belgium, but we can't hold a candle to Denmark at #1.

Quote of the Day

"The fact of the matter is, we all want to bribe a politician. We all thought it'd take a Mercedes or a Porsche. Nobody knew you could buy a politician for the cost of a used riding lawn mower."
Mr. Whitekeys, an Anchorage entertainer, commenting on the Republican corruption scandal unfolding in Alaska.

All is not as it appears

A simple statement that well describes the actual state of Sunni recruitment against al-Qaeda in Iraq. The US Army has not yet organized all those who have signed for their $300 a month plus training & equipment. The Iraqi government deeply mistrusts anything Sunni. And despite having "eaten the king's salt", their loyalty may be as temporary as a Republican's promise.
Iraqi officials are concerned about the past behavior of many of the men now working with the Americans, citing problems arising from the infiltration of the police by Shiite militias. "We ended up with a police force that is not loyal to the government and to the country," said Sami al-Askiri, a Shiite legislator and Maliki adviser. "If we copy this and do it with Sunnis, we will just create another problem."

"We have to take the Sunnis inside the police and the army. They are part of the Iraqi society, but we have to check them, we have to check all their backgrounds," Askiri said. "If we do this the wrong way, we will end up with another militia inside the police force, but a Sunni one, not a Shiite one."
The strength of the program will be severely tested as it expands into areas populated by Sunni and Shia. Perhaps the reduced violence is only a lull as various factions reorganize and re-equip for the next effort, with our help.

Monday Music Blogging

I posted this tune for any and all the damned Bushoviks who may read this blog, legally or not.

Ride on, Yusuf.

No wonder Dickwahd likes waterboarding

If, as the Guardian exposes in this article, the interrogators in Iraq, despite the increased pressure to do so, can not find any legitimate connection to Iran then Mr Cheney's minions can just bring out the bucket and board and get the answers they want to hear.
US military officials are putting huge pressure on interrogators who question Iraqi insurgents to find incriminating evidence pointing to Iran, it was claimed last night.

Micah Brose, a privately contracted interrogator working for American forces in Iraq, near the Iranian border, told The Observer that information on Iran is 'gold'. The claim comes after Washington imposed sanctions on Iran last month, citing both its nuclear ambitions and its Revolutionary Guards' alleged support of Shia insurgents in Iraq. Last week the US military freed nine Iranians held in Iraq, including two it had accused of links to the Revolutionary Guards' Qods Force.

Brose, 30, who extracts information from detainees in Iraq, said: 'They push a lot for us to establish a link with Iran. They have pre-categories for us to go through, and by the sheer volume of categories there's clearly a lot more for Iran than there is for other stuff. Of all the recent requests I've had, I'd say 60 to 70 per cent are about Iran.

'It feels a lot like, if you get something and Iran's not involved, it's a let down.' He added: 'I've had people say to me, "They're really pushing the Iran thing. It's like, shit, you know." '
So instead of trying to get information about the local bad guys, they are looking over the horizon to find support for the latest Cheney/Addington wet dream. But so far they are still looking for legit info.
He denied ever being asked to fabricate evidence, adding: 'We're not asked to manufacture information, we're asked to find it. But if a detainee wants to tell me what I want to hear so he can get out of jail... you know what I'm saying.'
So maybe Dickwahd won't need the water after all. But he might just do it for fun.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

New security, same as the old security.

Business as usual in Iraq, if you are a merc. From the NY Times.
An Iraqi taxi driver was shot and killed on Saturday by a guard with DynCorp International, a private security company hired to protect American diplomats here, when a DynCorp convoy rolled past a knot of traffic on an exit ramp in Baghdad, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said Sunday.

Three witnesses said the taxi had posed no threat to the convoy, and one of them, an Iraqi Army sergeant who inspected the car afterward, said it contained no weapons or explosive devices.

“They just killed a man and drove away,” Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said in his office on Sunday afternoon. He added later, “We have opened an investigation, and we have contacted the company and told them about our accusations, and we are still waiting for their response.”
And the response will probably be a long time coming. What do these Iraqis think they are, a sovereign nation or something?

The story of one Republican's corruption

The scandal of Don Young, R-AK, has been out in public for some time, but McClatchy has thoughtfully put together a detailed look at the prince of political whores.
As chairman of the House transportation committee, Alaska Congressman Don Young flew at least three times to upstate New York aboard a sleek jet owned by Robert Congel, an ambitious shopping mall developer seeking federal highway dollars.

With Young’s help, Congel got millions of dollars to boost his dream of building the largest mall in North America. The veteran Republican congressman got something, too: more than $33,000 in political donations from Congel, his family and his associates.

For Young, the Congel story was hardly unusual. Time after time, Young approved millions of dollars for highway projects for people who in turn fattened his campaign coffers.

With money pouring in from transportation interests, Young amassed $6.5 million in political contributions from 2001 to 2005. Facing weak political opposition at home, he didn’t need much for his campaign. Instead, Young tapped his campaign fund to travel the country, often lavishly and in corporate jets, to meet with more developers and view their proposed highway projects.
Sure, this guy is so dirty he gives corruption a bad name, bu at least he didn't have no $100,000 in his freezer. Of course, being from Alaska, this may be a moot point.

The world has winners and losers

And David Ignatius finally has a column that is a winner because he writes about a winner instead of listening to Beltway losers.
Efraim Halevy, the former head of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, titled his memoirs "Man in the Shadows." But now that he's out in the sunlight, the 72-year-old retired spy chief has some surprisingly contrarian things to say about Iran and Syria. The gist of his message is that rather than constantly ratcheting up the rhetoric of confrontation, the United States and Israel should be looking for ways to establish a creative dialogue with these adversaries.

Halevy is a legendary figure in Israel because of his nearly 40 years of service as an intelligence officer, culminating in his years as Mossad's director from 1998 to 2003. He managed Israel's secret relationship with Jordan for more than a decade, and he became so close to King Hussein that the two personally negotiated the 1994 agreement paving the way for a peace treaty. So when Halevy talks about the utility of secret diplomacy, he knows whereof he speaks.
He is a wise man who knows of what he speaks, but his words were never written in PNAC and thus may be safely ignored.

Thanks to BooMan for the heads-up

Big Brother is here, but have no fear

Government and their corporate buddies will make sure that it is safeguarded from unofficial view.
Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people's private communications and financial information.
Aha! The old "trust us, we're the government" defense. Now I can sleep peacefully tonight, knowing that my data is safely in the hands of the people who outed Valerie Plame and her network. And when I wake up I am going to buy that bridge in Brooklyn and retire to my flying pig farm on the money I make from it.

By God! I love this man

John Edwards with an intro by Nancy Pelosi

Penny wise and pound foolish

From Bloomberg News by way of the Boston Globe comes the story of greed creating a newer and bigger problem. The recently enacted Bankruptcy Bill, passed to keep credit card debt from being discharged is turning around and biting the banks that pushed for it.
Washington Mutual Inc. got what it wanted in 2005: a revised bankruptcy code that no longer lets people walk away from credit card bills.

The largest US savings and loan didn't count on a housing recession. The new bankruptcy laws are helping drive foreclosures to a record as homeowners default on mortgages and struggle to pay credit card debts that might have been wiped out under the old code, said Jay Westbrook, a professor of business law at the University of Texas Law School in Austin and a former adviser to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"Be careful what you wish for," Westbrook said. "They wanted to make sure that people kept paying their credit cards, and what they're getting is more foreclosures."

Washington Mutual, Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Citigroup Inc. spent $25 million in 2004 and 2005 lobbying for a legislative agenda that included changes in bankruptcy laws to protect credit card profits, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan Washington group that tracks political donations.

The banks are still paying for that decision. The surge in foreclosures has cut the value of securities backed by mortgages and led to more than $40 billion of writedowns for US financial institutions. It also reached to the top echelons of the financial services industry.
So people are now paying their credit cards and falling behind on their mortgage debt. Modern corporate thinking in all its glory.

What's sauce for the shareholder doesn't touch the CEO

An op-ed in the Washington Post, William S. Lerach pretty much says what anybody who has invested in a large corporation that stumbled or fell has said too many times. How come the SOB's who fucked up get to go down in a gold plated elevator while the shareholders get the shaft?
But what about accountability for Wall Street CEOs who line their pockets while making stupid decisions that rob shareholders and pensioners of billions of dollars? Recently, corporate boards have been fundamentally misinterpreting the phrase "the buck stops here" -- and handing the bucks over to their miserably performing bosses....

....The real frustration is that there's so little that can be done. Shareholders supposedly have access to the courts for a remedy, but they won't get far. A stockholder suit filed more than two years ago challenging the Morgan Stanley payoffs languishes in court. The CEO-and-director club knows that pro-business judges in the corporate haven of Delaware and elsewhere in the legal system will protect them. Shareholder suits against Time Warner's Levin got nothing back from him.

The government -- forget it. The SEC, and even Congress, appear to be getting ready to cut back shareholder rights and court access even more. And the Justice Department is busy defending waterboarding and targeting Democratic activists. Why do you think corporate bigwigs behave so badly so often?
Why, indeed! You can say that, with options and stock grants, they keep themselves in Fat City without having to pay for it. Or that most boards aren't going to be too hard on their best buddies. Or that politicians are too desperate for the mothers milk of their campaign money, q.v. Cheesy Chuck Schumer. But the simple fact is that all us small people have no protection when those who are supposed to look after our interests, ignore them in favor of their own self interest.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's a good thing we didn't give the Iraqi police F-16's

Or they would have disappeared like the 190,000 weapons the Bushoviks lost in Iraq. You remember, all those guns doled out by Gen Petraeus? The New York Times did some investigative reporting over there and unlike their reporting in DC, they figured out what was going on.
As the insurgency in Iraq escalated in the spring of 2004, American officials entrusted an Iraqi businessman with issuing weapons to Iraqi police cadets training to help quell the violence.

By all accounts, the businessman, Kassim al-Saffar, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, did well at distributing the Pentagon-supplied weapons from the Baghdad Police Academy armory he managed for a military contractor. But, co-workers say, he also turned the armory into his own private arms bazaar with the seeming approval of some American officials and executives, selling AK-47 assault rifles, Glock pistols and heavy machine guns to anyone with cash in hand — Iraqi militias, South African security guards and even American contractors.

“This was the craziest thing in the world,” said John Tisdale, a retired Air Force master sergeant who managed an adjacent warehouse. “They were taking weapons away by the truckload.”

Activities at that armory and other warehouses help explain how the American military lost track of some 190,000 pistols and automatic rifles supplied by the United States to Iraq’s security forces in 2004 and 2005, as auditors discovered in the past year.
Another fine example of privatization. And the details that follow only get worse.

"Abdicate and Capitulate"

That is the apt title of the lead editorial in the NY Times today. Those of a more earthy nature might call it "Rip them a new one" as that is what the writers do through most of it. As usual, they get all wishy-washy at the end, but what comes before is worth the read.

Frank Rich is feeling down today

Apparently he is depressed by Our Dear Embattled Leader's Glorious Republican War on the Constitution.
In the six years of compromising our principles since 9/11, our democracy has so steadily been defined down that it now can resemble the supposedly aspiring democracies we’ve propped up in places like Islamabad. Time has taken its toll. We’ve become inured to democracy-lite. That’s why a Mukasey can be elevated to power with bipartisan support and we barely shrug.

This is a signal difference from the Vietnam era, and not necessarily for the better. During that unpopular war, disaffected Americans took to the streets and sometimes broke laws in an angry assault on American governmental institutions. The Bush years have brought an even more effective assault on those institutions from within. While the public has not erupted in riots, the executive branch has subverted the rule of law in often secretive increments. The results amount to a quiet coup, ultimately more insidious than a blatant putsch like General Musharraf’s.

More Machiavellian still, Mr. Bush has constantly told the world he’s championing democracy even as he strangles it. Mr. Bush repeated the word “freedom” 27 times in roughly 20 minutes at his 2005 inauguration, and even presided over a “Celebration of Freedom” concert on the Ellipse hosted by Ryan Seacrest. It was an Orwellian exercise in branding, nothing more. The sole point was to give cover to our habitual practice of cozying up to despots (especially those who control the oil spigots) and to our own government’s embrace of warrantless wiretapping and torture, among other policies that invert our values.
We got our work cut out for us if we want our country back, but I'm still breathing so I still got hope.

Portrait of a Warlord

Iraqi style. The Guardian gives us a look at one of our new Sunni allies.
A former intelligence officer and a pious Sunni, Hajji Abu Abed has the aura of a mafia don. And for Abu Abed, like a don, connections are everything. His office is decorated with pictures of him hugging US officers, including the senior commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and a Captain Cosper.

On Abu Abed's desk stands a glass box containing a black suede cavalry hat and a letter proclaiming him an honorary US cavalryman. In a silver frame is a picture of him with a female interpreter in military uniform.

As the Hajji settled into his office, a long line of men formed at the door. From a small purse tucked into his belt he dispensed handfuls of Iraqi dinars to his followers as they filed through. He is the only figure of authority many of them have seen for several years.

One old man asked him for an electricity generator; another, carrying a large file, asked him about a US construction contract that he was promised. Two young boys were seated next to him. One had brought him a leather ammunition belt, and the other handed him the keys to a new pick-up truck Abu Abed had ordered.

The Americans pay him $400 (£200) a month for each fighter he provides, he said, and he had 600 registered. His men are awed by his courage, his piety and his neurotic rages.
The mark of a true leader, his neurotic rages.
Abu Abed walked into the scuffle. The detained man was not the target. Someone had overheard him saying Abu Abed's men were "worse than al-Qaida" after Bakr's men raided the house.

Furious at the insult, Abu Abed aimed his gun at the brother. "Al-Qaida is better than us, huh? Did you forget when the bodies were piled in the streets?"

Some neighbours intervened, and the man was released. His brother grabbed him by the arm and pushed him inside.

Abu Abed, shaking his head and waving his gun, walked back to his car, murmuring "Al-Qaida, better than us..."

He stopped in mid-stride and turned to charge with his men back into the house. They pushed the gate open and ran inside firing their weapons in the air. In the dark kitchen, they grabbed the man again, pushed him to the floor and kicked him. The women were screaming and crying. One of them pulled away her headscarf and wailed, holding on to the man's ripped shirt as Abu Abed and the gunmen dragged him out, kicking and slapping him. Other fighters fired their Kalashnikovs in the air. The man was shoved into a car, as was his brother.

Abu Abed, screaming and pointing his gun, charged at the crowd. "Qaida is better than me? I will show you!"

He held his gun high and quoted al-Hajjaj, a 7th-century ruler of Iraq, in a hoarse voice: "Oh, people of Iraq, I had come to you with two swords, one is for mercy which I have left back in the desert, and this one" - he pointed his gun at the crowd -"is the sword of oppression, which I kept in my hand."
But hey, he's not al-Qaeda so what's not to love about this guy?

A picture is worth a 1000 words, or more

From the pen of Tom Toles

George W Bush is a Methodist

So why did the bishops of the church adopt this resolution?
The Bishops of the United Methodist Church approved a resolution calling on Bush, Congress and leaders of the other coalition partners to begin the “immediate safe and full withdrawal” of all troops, declare that there will be no permanent military bases in Iraq, increase support for veterans of all wars and initiate a reconstruction plan to address the humanitarian, social and educational needs of the Iraqi people.

The 125 current and retired bishops now meeting in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina represent more than 11 million Methodists worldwide – including the current occupant of the White House, a member of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas.
The reason is very simple and basic.
In issuing the call, the bishops said their position is based on the denomination’s belief that “war is incompatible with the teachings and examples of Christ,” and on the call of Jesus Christ for “his followers to be peacemakers.”

“Every day that the war continues, more soldiers and innocent civilians are killed with no end in sight to the violence, bloodshed and carnage,” the bishops said in their resolution.
George should try Pat Robertson's church. Pat doesn't care how many people get killed as long as the collection plate is full.

What a strange idea

Has emerged from the head of Gail Collins.
Whenever you read that a candidate “values loyalty above all else” — run for the hills. Loyalty is a terribly important consideration if you’re choosing a pet, but not a cabinet member.

How about if this time we try for a president who would recruit gifted people who can accomplish great things, as opposed to a room full of dopes who will never write tell-all memoirs?
How can you build an empire if you don't rely on people who will pimp for you?

When you put an ivory tower professor in charge

And her responsibility includes a large bureaucracy, she better have good management skills or a deputy she can trust who does. People are beginning to notice that Condi has neither. She is a hell of a shopper but you can't buy management skills at Saks. The Washington Post has the details.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Soul of the New Republican

Rosa Brooks has looked into it and this is what she sees.
These days, you can forget that old-style GOP rhetoric about "values," "human dignity" and the "culture of life." Because the GOP has a new litmus test for its nominees: Will you or will you not protect U.S. officials who order the torture of prisoners?
So much more appealing than abortion.

Quote of the Day

You people are really nuts... There’s kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now — there’s better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn’t get a tip.”
Anita Esterday, Iowa waitress who knows more about what is important than most alleged journalists.

Thanks to the Carpetbagger Report for the heads up

Li'L Georgie finally earns something on his own

Eugene Robinson notices something about Our Dear Embattled Leader that hasn't occurred before now. And it is not just the fact that he is the turd in America's punchbowl.
According to Gallup, if you lump together the Americans who "strongly" approve of Bush as president with those who only "moderately" feel one way or the other about him, you end up with about half the population. That leaves a full 50 percent who "strongly disapprove" of Bush -- as high a level of intense repudiation as Gallup has ever recorded in its decades of polling.

Gallup has been asking the "strongly disapprove" question since the Lyndon Johnson administration. The only time the polling firm has measured such strong give-this-guy-the-hook sentiment was in February 1974, at the height of the Watergate scandal, when Nixon's "strongly disapprove" number was measured at 48 percent. Bush beats him by a nose, but the margin of error makes the contest for "Most Reviled President, Modern Era" a statistical tie.

The Gallup Poll found that among Bush's shrinking Republican base, he has unusually strong support. Independents, though, have joined Democrats in the Bush Derangement Syndrome clinic: They, too, "strongly disapprove" of the job the president is doing.

Bush didn't come by this distinction with help from family connections or the Supreme Court. No, he earned it.
Gene, sadly goes on to enumerate to results of ODEL finally succeeding on his own. The sad part about that list of the products of his success is that we, as citizens of this once proud country, own them and will do so for years to come.

Mukasey wins, Bush safe for next 2 years

So old Judge Waterboard gets to be AG and 7 alleged Democrats helped him. They included the usual suspects, Cheesy Chuck Schumer, DiFi, JoeLie and assorted usually unreliable outliers like Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu and some guy named Tom Crapper from Delaware. The secrets are safe

Thursday, November 08, 2007

They have so much money

That now they want to piss it away as fast as we have. Who are they, the Chinese who want their very own aircraft carriers.
"There's a feeling among the Chinese public that their nation is a great power, and great powers have aircraft carriers," said Andrew S. Erickson, a civilian scholar at the China Maritime Studies Institute of the Naval War College in Rhode Island. "We've seen grass-roots campaigns that say, 'Everyone contribute some money so we can have an aircraft carrier.' "

Top People's Liberation Army officers voiced interest in building aircraft carriers to visiting senior U.S. military commanders this year, peppering them with questions.

"We said to them, essentially, 'Knock yourselves out. It ain't as easy as it looks,' " Adm. Timothy J. Keating, the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said in July. "They acknowledged that and said, 'We reserve the right to develop aircraft carriers if we so choose.' They said to us there is no more prominent and visible signal of a nation's resolve and might than an aircraft carrier coming into a port."
So maybe we can rebalance our trade accounts by selling them a few Nimitz class units that are getting long in the tooth. At least until we build the last one that we can afford and the damn Republicans make us name it after Our Dear Leader.

See no reality, hear no reality...

Apparently in Long Beach CA only one kind of veteran is good enough to march in their parade.
Anti-war vets have been banned from marching in the 11th Veterans Day Parade in Long Beach.

A participation application filed by Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out was turned down because organizers want Saturday’s parade free from politics.

“They do not fit the spirit of the parade,
Good enough to put their lives on the line, but don't show yourselves back here in the world.

The Soul of the New Republican

The AP is reporting this:
Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the U.S., though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.

And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.
Because mustering out of the service is like a fetus being born. So long, thanks for all the fish and have fun, suckah!

The Reagan Library Potlatch

From Wikipedia we get the essence of the ancient ritual of potlatch
The Status of any given family is raised not by who has the most resources, but by who distributes the most resources.
From Time magazine we have a fine example of the Reagan family embracing that tradition.
An audit by the National Archives inspector general concluded that the library in Simi Valley was unable to properly account for more than 80,000 objects out of its collection of some 100,000 artifacts, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site Wednesday night.
No wonder Republicans accord Ronald Reagan such high status.

The General campaigns for Ms. Rudi

And as a loyal American I feel I can only do my part by helping that Great American, second only to Ms Rudi, herself, get the message out to the waiting world.

Report to HQ
and see what else he has.

Investigating Blackwater

Back in February, Blackwater murdered 3 Iraqi guards at the Iraqi Media Network. Yesterday the State Dept, cleared Blackwater of any wrong doing, after all they were just shooting Iraqis. The Washington Post examines the event and the investigation. It is a long article but all you really need to know is
"The embassy conducted a review of the circumstances surrounding the whole shooting incident and essentially what happened is, after going over all the reports, interviewing all the personnel that were involved in it, talking with people that were coming back in the motorcade, they concluded that the actions of the security team fell within the approved rules," the official said.

"To say Blackwater was the only source of information for this investigation is completely false," the security official added.
Left unsaid was the part about their being the only ones listened to.

Quote of the Day

It’s a mystery why even someone as loopy as Robertson would pass up the exhaustingly virtuous family man for a longtime hound dog like Rudy, who has been qualifying his liberal social positions but never really retracting them.
Gail Collins, wondering why Pat chose Rudi over Mitt

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A bad sign

On the McClatchy page, at the top since they re-did the layout of their page, is a bar with the hot topics lined up. They were HOME, IRAQ, WORLD, NATION, ELECTION 2008, ECONOMICS, JOE GALLOWAY, VETERANS or to put it simply, the important stuff. They have now added a button for IRAN. We can only pray that it won't be needed.

The Full Hypocrisy

Exposes so much more than the Full Monte, and Joe Galloway exposes the Full Hypocrisy of the Republicans in their push for the full Mukasey.
Did Bill Clinton have sex with that woman? Is Elvis Presley really dead? Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear do his ablutions in the woods? Is waterboarding torture?

The answer to all of these questions, put simply, is yes.

All of Judge Michael Mukasey’s artful dodging and word play to avoid acknowledging the obvious to the august members of Senate Judiciary Committee does nothing to change the fact.

When you hog-tie a human being, tilt him head down, stuff a rag in his mouth and over his nostrils and pour water onto the rag slowly and steadily to the point where his lungs fill with water and he's suffocating and drowning, that is torture.
And after reading his column this week, please join me in hoping that Joe can predict the future.
Waterboarding is torture. Decent people have acknowledged that for centuries. We sent Japanese war criminals to the gallows for using it. We sent a Texas sheriff to prison for using it. One day, an ex-president and those who helped him and those he ordered to torture fellow human beings may have to plea bargain for their lives and their freedom.

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