Friday, April 30, 2004

Still Proud?

Still waving that flag? Still supporting Dubya and the war? Maybe not after you look here. Don't look at work; wait till you get home. UPDATE: A friend and I have been talking about this. Our conclusion is that thousands of Americans will die in new terrorist outrages because of these photographs. These pictures are all over the middle east. Our soldiers are claiming that "mercenaries made them do this." We were only following orders, eh? Supposedly our soldiers are trained to know lawful from unlawful orders. Are they? UPDATE II: I have to give Fox credit. While other online sites were tippy-toeing around this, Fox had the pictures up front and center on their site. Fair and balanced for once!

Sock Puppet Testimony

Incredible as it may seem, evidently Cheney and the Sock Puppet claimed to the 9/11 commission yesterday that the intelligence they'd seen suggested an attack overseas. Good God, did bin Laden have to do a Wicked Witch and skywrite "Surrender Dubya" in the sky above New York?

In response to disclosures from the panel in recent weeks suggesting that the administration had been lax in dealing with the dire terrorist threats that reached the White House in 2001, Mr. Bush and his senior deputies have said they were aware of intelligence warnings but believed them to refer to threats overseas.

Commission and administration officials said that during the session with the panel Mr. Bush repeated his assertion that the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, intelligence briefing about domestic terrorist threats was mostly historical and did not recommend that the White House step up security in the United States.

Let's wander back, if we may, to that infamous August briefing that Dubya apparently slept through:

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate (Osama) Bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Laden implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America".

After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a ...(edited)... service.

An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told a ... (edited) ... service at the same time that Bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative's access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Laden's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US.

...

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a ... (edited)... service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman and other US-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Laden-related.

The CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the United Arab Emirates in May saying that a group of Bin Laden supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

So what the hell DOES it take? Lying bastards.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Woodward's Book

I'm reading Plan of Attack right now and one thing that strikes me is this; while a lot of people have commented on the fact that Bush looted $700 million from funds earmarked for Afghanistan to get his next bloodbath rolling, few have remarked that instead of fighting that war - finding Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar and smashing down the Taliban so firmly that they would never rise up again - Tommy Franks et al were frantically creating plan after plan after plan after plan for invading Iraq at the behest of President Caligula and Rum Dum. It's pretty obvious that Franks and much of his staff had no time for anything else. And we all know the result: quagmire in Iraq, quagmire in Afghanistan, bin Laden and Omar wandering around someplace planning new mischief. Well done! Mission accomplished!

Sock Puppet

Today's the big day President Dim appears before the 9/11 commission in the guise of a giant sock puppet with Cheney's hand up his butt moving his lips. Amazing that we put up with this Imperial President crap from the Naked Emperor.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

General Clark: "Exceptional Service"

Retired General Wesley Clark makes a welcome appearance in the NYT editorial pages discussing John Kerry's military records and the slimy chickenhawk Repug attack on same:

The evaluations were uniformly glowing. One commander wrote that Mr. Kerry ranked among "the top few" in three categories: initiative, cooperation and personal behavior. Another commander wrote, "In a combat environment often requiring independent, decisive action, Lt. j.g. Kerry was unsurpassed." The citation for Mr. Kerry's Bronze Star praises his "calmness, professionalism and great personal courage under fire."

In the United States military, there's no ideology — there are no labels, Republican or Democrat — when superiors evaluate a man or woman's service to country. Mr. Kerry's commander for a brief time, Grant Hibbard, now a Republican, gave Mr. Kerry top marks 36 years ago.

Now the standards are those of politics, not the military. Despite his positive evaluations, Mr. Hibbard recently questioned whether Mr. Kerry deserved one of his three Purple Hearts.

As I said a couple of days ago, it's amazing how these things change suddenly many years down the line....

Yet the Republican attack machine follows a pattern we've seen before, whether the target is Senator John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 or Senator Max Cleland in Georgia in 2002. The latest manifestation of these tactics is the controversy over Mr. Kerry's medals.

John Kerry was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for his service in Vietnam. In April 1971, as part of a protest against the war, he threw some ribbons over the fence of the United States Capitol.

Republicans have tried to use this event to question his patriotism and his truthfulness, claiming he has been inconsistent in saying whether he threw away his medals or ribbons. This is no more than a political smear. After risking his life in Vietnam to save others, John Kerry earned the right to speak out against a war he believed was wrong. Make no mistake: it is that bravery these Republicans are now attacking.

Although President Bush has not engaged personally in such accusations, he has done nothing to stop others from making them. I believe those who didn't serve, or didn't show up for service, should have the decency to respect those who did serve — often under the most dangerous conditions, with bravery and, yes, with undeniable patriotism.

Bush and the other chickenhawks, in other words, should shut the hell up. Amen, General.

Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post today makes much the same point:

When Kerry was fighting in Vietnam, and then fighting to change a disastrous policy at home, Bush had become the invisible man to his fellow aviators in the National Guard; Dick Cheney had, by his own admission, "other priorities" than the war and picked up four separate draft deferments, and junior exterminator Tom DeLay was risking life and limb in a daily battle against termites. Bush, in his own words, was "young and irresponsible," and Kerry all but reeked of responsibility. Bush was Prince Hal and Kerry King Henry and, when it comes to maturity of judgment, they remain so to this day.

And the Repugs preen that they're "strong on defense." Sure they are - as long as someone else's ass is on the line.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

M-113s

Someone on NPR this morning, I forget who, commented that there may be a dearth of armored Humvees in Iraq, but the US has a $&@!load of Vietnam-era M-113 armored personnel carriers sitting around gathering dust that might be sent to Iraq. This is a good idea; not ideal, but a decent short term solution, particularly if the M-113s are retrofitted with spaced armor to protect against RPGs. Another possible, longer term solution to the streetfighting problem is to convert obsolete main battle tanks - and we have lots of M-60s lying around - into expedient heavy personnel carriers the way the Israelis have done with obsolete Centurion and T-62 tanks. Someone in the Pentagon needs to get off their duff and get moving on this. Right now the situation is so bad that even a bandaid solution like old M-113s would likely be a big improvement.

Horror

Catastrophic head wounds are becoming common in the war in Iraq. Not that any chickenhawks will suffer, of course. This is necessary but hard reading:

"We're saving more people than should be saved, probably," Lt. Col. Robert Carroll said. "We're saving severely injured people. Legs. Eyes. Part of the brain."

Carroll, an eye surgeon from Waynesville, Mo., sat at his desk during a rare slow night last Wednesday and called up a digital photo on his laptop computer. The image was of a brain opened for surgery earlier that day, the skull neatly lifted away, most of the organ healthy and pink. But a thumb-sized section behind the ear was gray.

"See all that dark stuff? That's dead brain," he said. "That ain't gonna regenerate. And that's not uncommon. That's really not uncommon. We do craniotomies on average, lately, of one a day."

"We can save you," the surgeon said. "You might not be what you were."

Let me shout: IRAQ ISN'T WORTH THIS. We never should have been there in the first place.

Wal-Mart

Everyone should hate Wal-Mart and everything they represent, and refuse to shop there. Ezra has a post on the topic over at Pandagon:

Nothing wrong with economies of scale, particularly when they're better for workers, the problem lies in corporations who destroy better paying jobs and force an industry-wide, not to mention global, race to the bottom. It's this effect that makes Walmart so dangerous and drives me into any coalition, picket line or offensive Andy Stern wants to mount.

There are a lot of good reader comments too. Check it out and join in.

Wow!

Three identical posts!!! Blogger goes nuts. Oh well.

Chickenhawks Crap on Kerry

E.J. Dionne goes to town this morning in the Washington Post revealing the sheer idiocy of Repug attacks on Senator John Kerry's military record:

Funny, isn't it? When Bill Clinton was running against Republican war veterans in 1992 and 1996, the most important thing to GOP propagandists and politicians was that Clinton didn't fight in Vietnam. Now that Republican candidates who didn't fight in Vietnam face a Democrat who did -- and was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts while he was there -- the Republican machine wants to change the subject.

Thus the shameful display on the floor of the House of Representatives last week as one Republican after another declared that what mattered was not Kerry's service but that he decided afterward that the Vietnam War was a terrible mistake for our country.

The fact that there are people who still don't realize that Vietnam was a terrible mistake is scary enough (and they're usually identical with enthusiastic backers of the New Quagmire). Senator John McCain is one Republican who isn't bashing Kerry, and has previous personal experience with Repug chickenhawk attacks:

It seems to be a habit. When Bush faces a Vietnam War hero in an election, a Vietnam veteran perfectly happy to trash his opponent always turns up. In the case of Ted Sampley, the same guy who did Bush's dirty work in going after Sen. John McCain in the 2000 Republican primaries is doing the job against Kerry this year. Sampley dared compare McCain, who spent five years as a Vietnam POW, with "the Manchurian Candidate." Now, Sampley says that Kerry "is not truthful and is not worthy of the support of U.S. veterans. . . . To us, he is 'Hanoi John.' " Is that where Sam Johnson got his line?

One person who is outraged by the attacks on Kerry is McCain. When I reached the Arizona Republican, I found him deeply troubled over the reopening of wounds from the Vietnam era, "the most divisive time since our Civil War." He called Sampley "one of the most despicable characters I've ever met." McCain said he hoped that in the midst of a war in Iraq, politicians "will confront the challenges facing us now, including the conflict we're presently engaged in, rather than refighting the one we were engaged in more than 30 years ago."

McCain recalled that he had worked with Kerry on "POW/MIA issues and the normalization of relations with Vietnam" and wanted to stand up for his war comrade because "you have to do what's right." Speaking of Kerry, McCain said: "He's my friend. He'll continue to be my friend. I know his service was honorable. If that hurts me politically or with my party, that's a very small price to pay."

Thank you, Senator McCain, for that rare display of civility from the Republican side of the aisle.

Chickenhawks Crap on Kerry

E.J. Dionne goes to town this morning in the Washington Post revealing the sheer idiocy of Repug attacks on Senator John Kerry's military record:

Funny, isn't it? When Bill Clinton was running against Republican war veterans in 1992 and 1996, the most important thing to GOP propagandists and politicians was that Clinton didn't fight in Vietnam. Now that Republican candidates who didn't fight in Vietnam face a Democrat who did -- and was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts while he was there -- the Republican machine wants to change the subject.

Thus the shameful display on the floor of the House of Representatives last week as one Republican after another declared that what mattered was not Kerry's service but that he decided afterward that the Vietnam War was a terrible mistake for our country.

The fact that there are people who still don't realize that Vietnam was a terrible mistake is scary enough (and they're usually identical with enthusiastic backers of the New Quagmire). Senator John McCain is one Republican who isn't bashing Kerry, and has previous personal experience with Repug chickenhawk attacks:

It seems to be a habit. When Bush faces a Vietnam War hero in an election, a Vietnam veteran perfectly happy to trash his opponent always turns up. In the case of Ted Sampley, the same guy who did Bush's dirty work in going after Sen. John McCain in the 2000 Republican primaries is doing the job against Kerry this year. Sampley dared compare McCain, who spent five years as a Vietnam POW, with "the Manchurian Candidate." Now, Sampley says that Kerry "is not truthful and is not worthy of the support of U.S. veterans. . . . To us, he is 'Hanoi John.' " Is that where Sam Johnson got his line?

One person who is outraged by the attacks on Kerry is McCain. When I reached the Arizona Republican, I found him deeply troubled over the reopening of wounds from the Vietnam era, "the most divisive time since our Civil War." He called Sampley "one of the most despicable characters I've ever met." McCain said he hoped that in the midst of a war in Iraq, politicians "will confront the challenges facing us now, including the conflict we're presently engaged in, rather than refighting the one we were engaged in more than 30 years ago."

McCain recalled that he had worked with Kerry on "POW/MIA issues and the normalization of relations with Vietnam" and wanted to stand up for his war comrade because "you have to do what's right." Speaking of Kerry, McCain said: "He's my friend. He'll continue to be my friend. I know his service was honorable. If that hurts me politically or with my party, that's a very small price to pay."

Thank you, Senator McCain, for that rare display of civility from the Republican side of the aisle.

Chickenhawks Crap on Kerry

E.J. Dionne goes to town this morning in the Washington Post revealing the sheer idiocy of Repug attacks on Senator John Kerry's military record:

Funny, isn't it? When Bill Clinton was running against Republican war veterans in 1992 and 1996, the most important thing to GOP propagandists and politicians was that Clinton didn't fight in Vietnam. Now that Republican candidates who didn't fight in Vietnam face a Democrat who did -- and was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts while he was there -- the Republican machine wants to change the subject.

Thus the shameful display on the floor of the House of Representatives last week as one Republican after another declared that what mattered was not Kerry's service but that he decided afterward that the Vietnam War was a terrible mistake for our country.

The fact that there are people who still don't realize that Vietnam was a terrible mistake is scary enough (and they're usually identical with enthusiastic backers of the New Quagmire). Senator John McCain is one Republican who isn't bashing Kerry, and has previous personal experience with Repug chickenhawk attacks:

It seems to be a habit. When Bush faces a Vietnam War hero in an election, a Vietnam veteran perfectly happy to trash his opponent always turns up. In the case of Ted Sampley, the same guy who did Bush's dirty work in going after Sen. John McCain in the 2000 Republican primaries is doing the job against Kerry this year. Sampley dared compare McCain, who spent five years as a Vietnam POW, with "the Manchurian Candidate." Now, Sampley says that Kerry "is not truthful and is not worthy of the support of U.S. veterans. . . . To us, he is 'Hanoi John.' " Is that where Sam Johnson got his line?

One person who is outraged by the attacks on Kerry is McCain. When I reached the Arizona Republican, I found him deeply troubled over the reopening of wounds from the Vietnam era, "the most divisive time since our Civil War." He called Sampley "one of the most despicable characters I've ever met." McCain said he hoped that in the midst of a war in Iraq, politicians "will confront the challenges facing us now, including the conflict we're presently engaged in, rather than refighting the one we were engaged in more than 30 years ago."

McCain recalled that he had worked with Kerry on "POW/MIA issues and the normalization of relations with Vietnam" and wanted to stand up for his war comrade because "you have to do what's right." Speaking of Kerry, McCain said: "He's my friend. He'll continue to be my friend. I know his service was honorable. If that hurts me politically or with my party, that's a very small price to pay."

Thank you, Senator McCain, for that rare display of civility from the Republican side of the aisle.

Burma

In his new book Why Courage Matters John McCain writes movingly of his admiration for Aung San Suu Kyi, the imprisoned leader of the democracy movement in Burma and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. In the Washington Post today, Senator McCain joins forces with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to urge the US and other nations to do all they can to promote the downfall of the vicious Burmese junta:

The legitimacy, authority and commitment of Burma's democratic leaders to govern their country is not in doubt. But the international commitment to Burma's democratic transformation remains uncertain. The Western democracies and Burma's neighbors should immediately take three steps to bolster Burma's legitimate democratic leaders.

First, Congress should promptly renew, and the president sign into law, the ban on Burma's imports enacted into law last July. These sanctions, which are set to expire after a review period beginning Friday, are supported by Burma's National League for Democracy. The restrictions have made it more difficult for the Burmese military to tap financial assets abroad, travel or accumulate revenue through trade. The European Union, whose member democracies care deeply about protecting human rights, and whose trade and assistance programs give it critical leverage in Southeast Asia, is set to announce a new Common Position on Burma on Thursday. As part of this new policy, the EU should also initiate targeted sanctions against the regime.

Second, the EU and the United States, with support from Asian nations, should urge the junta to implement immediately the provisions of the U.N. Commission for Human Rights and the U.N. General Assembly resolutions -- including democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The United States and the EU should also formally place the issue on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council, and work urgently toward a resolution threatening credible sanctions against the Burmese regime unless it initiates meaningful progress toward democracy.

Third, China, Thailand, India and other Asian nations uncomfortable with a tougher response to the junta's crimes must understand that diplomatic obfuscation and obstruction on Burma will profoundly affect their broader bilateral relationships with the Western democracies. Thailand in particular should consider this point when it convenes its planned international conference to discuss what it optimistically calls "Burma's progress toward democracy."

Beyond these steps, the United States, Europe and Asian countries must demand the unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and her fellow political prisoners, but make clear that the releases, while necessary, are insufficient. In addition, they should continue calls for a political settlement that reflects the results of the free and fair elections held in 1990. This settlement must include a central, determinative role for the National League for Democracy.

Our attention is necessarily on the mideast at the moment, but that's no reason to let this important cause slide.

Monday, April 26, 2004

As Chris Rock Says...

..."I'm not afraid of al Queda, I'm afraid of al Cracker." David Neiwert once again keeps track of our own local loonies:

Both of those concerns, it seems, have coalesced in the arrest last week of an Illinois man named Michael J. Breit for plotting the deaths of government officials:

Police came upon Breit after an anonymous caller reported a gunshot going off in his apartment Sunday night.

When officers arrived, Breit told them, "I screwed up."

He explained he accidentally shot off his AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle in his home, blowing a hole through his door frame.

Breit agreed to a search of his house and car, according to the complaint.

The search turned up several hundred rounds of ammunition, components for pipe bombs, shotguns, more than 700 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, a cannon fuse and a recipe for dynamite.

The search also turned up a list of federal officials, political and public figures with the word "marked," next to the names. Breit told agents it meant "marked to die," because the people were liberal, opposed to gun rights or opposed to the current government.

Police also found a note that reads: "I will die for my cause, for it is just. I won't put my hands up and surrender -- I will not rest till I purge these United States from the treasonist (sic) parasites."



Charming! And you likely won't see jack about this anywhere in your local paper.

Iraq Photos

Russ Kick of The Memory Hole explains how photographs of the Columbia crew got mingled in with his FOIA request for photos of Iraq war dead:

Among the 361 Dover casket photos are a minority of images showing coffins of the Columbia astronauts. I didn't realize this at the time that I posted them, mainly because when the Air Force asked for clarification during the process, I specifically told them that I wasn't requesting photos of the Columbia astronauts, only military personnel killed overseas.

(Not that I have anything against astronauts. One of the tricks for writing successful Freedom of Information Act requests is to make your request as narrow as possible. I was afraid that including the astronauts in the request would give the Air Force another excuse not to release the photos. As in: "Well, since you want the astronaut photos, we're going to have to clear that with more federal agencies.....") I've since been told by a reporter that NASA released the astronaut casket photos at the time and has never objected to their use. Quite a marked difference from the battlefield dead, who are swept under the rug by the Pentagon.

Indeed.

Max Hastings: Europe Must Rearm

Max Hastings, distinguished military historian and newspaperman, points out that Europe's anti-Bush posturing badly needs to have teeth in it:

...the most likely outcome of the forthcoming presidential election is still a Bush victory. There is no reason to suppose this president will behave any differently in a second term. Unlike Clinton, the cynic and adulterer, Bush is a true believer. We are learning the hard way that, in power, true believers can be far more frightening and dangerous than cynics.

Many people in this country are in a mood to say that Britain's path is obvious: we must get our troops out of Iraq as swiftly as possible, then forswear any further military adventures under this administration's auspices. Yet, regrettably, neither of these options is convincing. First, if there is one course more dishonourable than invading Iraq without a plausible policy for its future, it would be to abandon it to anarchy. Somehow, and in the face of daily US follies, the attempt must continue to create an indigenous government before we quit.

Can't we say at least that we will join no more Texan roundups? In the short term, mercifully, it is unlikely that Bush will invite Britain to join another war party. But the world is full of uncertainties. If Saudi Arabia suddenly collapsed into anarchy, could the west stand by and do nothing? Maybe yes. But it would be recklessly irresponsible for Britain explicitly to rule out participation in any military operation with the US.

Let us take it, however, that henceforward any sensible British government will be prejudiced against armed neo-con nonsense. Any tenant of Downing Street should be proofed against delusions about our ability to influence Washington. The Bush administration wears ear defenders when the British are in town.

Yet even the French and Germans recognise that no responsible nation can simply turn its back on the US. The strange part is that America's critics refuse to take the obvious step further: to recognise that Europe could only afford entirely to distance itself from US policy if it possessed the military means to manage its own security.

What Europe needs, and I agree with this wholeheartedly, is the military punch to tell us to go to hell. Perhaps then we will wake up from our imperialist dreams, but not until someone else has the power to stand up and firmly say NO.

Stupid in Texas

We stole Texas from Mexico. Can we please, please give it back?

This is the home of Britton Stein, who describes George W. Bush as "a man, a man's man, a manly man," and Al Gore as "a ranting and raving little whiny baby."

Forty-nine years old, Stein is a husband, a father, a landscaper and a Republican. He lives in a house that has six guns in the closets and 21 crosses in the main hallway. His wife cuts his hair with electric clippers. His three daughters aren't embarrassed when he kisses them on their cheeks. He loves his family, hamburgers and his dog. He believes in God, prays daily and goes to church weekly. He has a jumbo smoker in his back yard and a 40-foot tree he has climbed to hang Christmas lights. He has a pickup truck that he has filled with water for the Fourth of July parade, driving splashing kids around a community where Boy Scouts plant American flags in the yards. His truck is a Chevy. His beer is Bud Light. His savior is Jesus Christ. His neighbors include Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), the House majority leader, who says of Sugar Land, "I think it is America."

No, that isn't America. It isn't even Nazi Germany. It's loony land.

Some people get their information from the TV networks or the paper. Stein starts with the Drudge Report Web site, where he scans the headlines and clicks on one that says, "Rallying Cry For Dems: Vote Bush Out of Rove's Office." "This is the kind of stuff that pisses me off," he says. "They don't give Bush the respect he deserves. Not only because he's president, but because he's a helluva good man."

Next he goes to a Web site called WorldNetDaily.com. He clicks on an article that says, "Poll: Bush's Approval Sinking," but dismisses it as untrustworthy when he sees the poll was done by CBS. "Of course I have a suspicion of CBS," he says. "Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw -- they don't have any credibility with me."

Next he goes through a site called FreeRepublic.com, which calls itself "the premier conservative news forum," and then moves on to a site called sftt.org. "Soldiers for the Truth," he says, scrolling through another list of articles and watching a video of what the site says is a U.S. Apache helicopter targeting and obliterating three Iraqis. "Another guy moving right there," one voice on the video says, all business. "Good. Fire. Hit him," another voice says.

"It's amazing, the military, the men and women who are serving us," Stein says. "You think about the sacrifices, the idea of spending Christmas in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in West Africa, in these hellholes. In the civilian world, they get some injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, and they want to go sue their employers, and these guys . . . I'm so proud of them. I'm so glad they're on our side."

And I'm so glad that my chickenhawk Republican ass isn't over there.

It's long, and it's a portrait of the freaky half of America. Read it. It's scary. I don't want to live in a country like this. Neither should you.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Bumper Sticker Seen Today

"Remember: Pillage BEFORE You Burn."

VDH Went Nuts

All I can conclude from his post 9/11 writings is that Victor Davis Hanson - a respected classicist and military historian - went completely insane after the terrorist attacks and has not recovered and in fact shows no signs of recovery. Anyone with half a frigging brain - and Hanson is brilliant - wouldn't write the kind of mindless bullshit that Hanson has been spewing in the National Review. Jesse over at Pandagon comments:

....Hanson manages to argue against positions that are a mix of reality and his own selective editing, and look like a million bucks doing it, if you buy into everything that he says.

Exactly, and he does so so well that the righties eat up the shit he's been spewing since 9/11. It's a hell of a thing to watch the destruction of a great career, but Hanson is demolishing any iota of respectability he once had by writing the kind of garbage he's written lately. An example:

The great flaw in the reconstruction of Iraq, we were told, was this nebulous word "security." Apparently that meant the inability of the United States to guarantee safety to civilian contractors and everyday Iraqis from insurrectionists who killed and bombed and then melted away into an apparently friendly mosque, police uniform, or civilian population. But then recently the resistance emerged in the light of day, confident that it could take control of the country. Instead, the terrorists were taken up on their foolish offer of conflict — and soundly defeated, and at times even decimated in the light of day.

Hanson wrote this heap of swill last week. Reading what he's written, you'd think that the insurrectionists, having been, in VDH's words, "soundly defeated," have scuttled off into their holes allowing Iraq to march into the Glorious Democratic Future led by Ahmed Chalabi. Well, guess what. Things are still going down the shithole in Iraq, American soldiers are still coming home in flag-covered metal boxes, and yes, we are unable to guarantee the security of the civilian contractors, many of whom - GE and Seimans being the most recent - are getting the hell out of Dodge.

More from Victor Davis Loony:

What a weird war we are in. The president of the United States gives a press conference to steel our will and endures mostly inane cross examination — at the very time the New York Times best-seller list has five of its top ten books alleging that he is a near criminal. Various disgruntled, passed-over or fired employees (Clarke and O'Neill), buffoonish provocateurs (Franken), and conspiracists (Phillips and Unger) all assure us in their pulp of everything from Bush family ties with Nazis to a First Family perennially plotting to get Americans killed for nothing other than cheap oil.

Mostly inane? Jesus Christ. Guess what, VDH - there were genuine Bush family ties with the Nazis. Yes, Bush is a criminal. And yes, I am horrified that you have become an ass-kissing moron.

One day VDH will wake up with his career in ruins and his books in the trash heap. Too bad.

Bushworld

One of the creepiest features of modern Amerika is the alternate universe Republicans appear to inhabit. Maureen Dowd captures the flavor of the madness in the NYT this morning:

In Bushworld, there's no irony that so many who did so much to avoid the Vietnam draft have now strained the military so much that lawmakers are talking about bringing back the draft.

In Bushworld, we're making progress in the war on terror by fighting a war that creates terrorists.

In Bushworld, you don't need to bother asking your vice president and top Defense Department officials whether you should go to war in Iraq, because they've already maneuvered you into going to war.

In Bushworld, it's perfectly natural for the president and vice president to appear before the 9/11 commission like the Olsen twins.

Yep. It's a creepy place. My boss has a fridge magnet in his office that reads I SEE DUMB PEOPLE. So do I.

Movie Inspires Gag Order at NASA

Afraid that movie goers might blame President Stupid and Bunker Boy for their continuing rape of the environment after they see the somewhat-over-the-top climatic disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow, NASA has issued a politically-inspired gag order forbidding anyone at the shattered, smoking ruins of the space agency to comment on, gasp, a movie:

In "The Day After Tomorrow," a $125 million disaster film set to open on May 28, global warming from accumulating smokestack and tailpipe gases disrupts warm ocean currents and sets off an instant ice age.

Few climate experts think such a prospect is likely, especially in the near future. But the prospect that moviegoers will be alarmed enough to blame the Bush administration for inattention to climate change has stirred alarm at the space agency, scientists there say.

"No one from NASA is to do interviews or otherwise comment on anything having to do with" the film, said the April 1 message, which was sent by Goddard's top press officer. "Any news media wanting to discuss science fiction vs. science fact about climate change will need to seek comment from individuals or organizations not associated with NASA."

Copies of the message, and the one from NASA headquarters to which it referred, were provided to The New York Times by a senior NASA scientist who said he resented attempts to muzzle climate researchers.

NASA's new, post-Columbia motto; WE'RE SKARED!!!!

"It's just another attempt to play down anything that might lead to the conclusion that something must be done" about global warming, one federal climate scientist said. He, like half a dozen government employees interviewed on this subject, said he could speak only on condition of anonymity because of standing orders not to talk to the news media.

Along with its direct criticisms of a Bush-like administration, the movie also could draw attention to a proposed Bush budget cut.

The lead character, played by Dennis Quaid, is a paleoclimatologist, an investigator of past climate shifts, for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. President Bush has proposed sharp cuts to the agency's paleoclimatology program, which began under the first Bush administration.

Insert monkey hooting here. The Repugs, and the Repugs ruining NASA, believe that if you jam your head into the ground, everything will be OK.

Meanwhile, in the real, non-Repug, world:

Using satellites and an innovative robotic underwater probe designed at the University of Washington, Peter Rhines and his UW colleagues have found changes in the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean that some say could trigger a new ice age.



Saturday, April 24, 2004

Isn't it Odd?

...that the Bushies cry and whine about people seeing the caskets of our dead soldiers coming home from overseas using the false claim of "family privacy," yet were happily willing to use a photograph of a dead person being removed under the flag from the wreckage of Ground Zero? Idiots, poltroons, and hypocrites.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Pat Tillman Killed in Action

Former NFL star Pat Tillman, who joined the Army in the wake of 9/11 to serve his country rather than make millions playing football, was killed in action in Afghanistan today. A brave and a good man.

Tillman joined the Army with his younger brother Kevin in May 2002, but Pat Tillman denied requests for media coverage of his enlistment, basic training and ultimate deployments. According to Army officials at the time, Tillman wanted no special treatment, wanted no special attention, but wanted to be considered just one of the soldiers doing his duty for his country.

Bush Thinks Smart People are Idiots

...as Avedon Carol points out over at The Sideshow. Analysing a particularly egregious quote from Bob Woodward (How deep a man is President George W. Bush? "He's not an intellectual. He is not what I guess would be called a deep thinker," says Woodward. "He chastised me at one point because I said people were concerned about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. And he said, 'Well you travel in elite circles.' I think he feels there is an intellectual world and he's indicated he's not a part of it ... the fancy pants intellectual world. What he calls the elite."), she comments dryly:

People who are concerned that the claimed WMD never materialized are "fancy pants intellectuals". That's now about - what? - two-thirds of the country?
It seems to me that a reasonably astute politician could make some hay out of a statement that dismisses most of the country as airy-fairy intellectuals because they have questions - concerns - about the fact that our leadership (our intelligence?) on something as big as this turned out to be completely wrong.
...
Tell me, please. Is it that Bush is a brilliantly cynical man who knows how to adroitly evade even the most obvious questions by dismissing them as airy-fairy intellectualism, or is it that he's just so thick that he doesn't realize these are obvious questions of the sort that ordinary, not-terribly-intellectual types of people might have?

Unfortunately, Bush (or Karl Rove) realizes that Amerika has a long, nasty history of anti-intellectualism, and it works to Dubya's favor to appear to be a "man of the people," drinking beer (at least before he dried himself up), choking on pretzels, and watching stock car racing. So far it's worked, and John Kerry probably won't be able to make hay with it at all unless he wants to risk an anti-intellectual backlash of the sort that worked against Al Gore. Instead you'll see a lot of John Kerry, a very intelligent, well-educated, well-read man, trying to look like a man of the people; drinking beer, choking on pretzels, and showing up at stock car races. God help us.

Does Incompetence Pay Off for Dubya?

Joshua Micah (Talking Points Memo) Marshall has a great opinion piece in the NYT this morning that suggests that Bush's own mindless incompetence works in his favor:

If Americans decide that Iraq is a disaster, why do they not see him as the cause of the problem? Why has support for the president bounced back (up four points in one poll) even as approval of his handling of Iraq has fallen (down three points in the same poll)?

The pattern may not hold, and voters tend to react differently to the outbreak of a crisis than to sustained bad news. Still, there is a theory that might explain these apparently contradictory poll results. In wars abroad, Americans don't want their presidents to fail.

Of course the Miserable Failure deserves to fail in this case, and Josh concludes it will catch up with him:

The danger for President Bush is clear: the public's patience is not unlimited, and eventual failure in Iraq will almost certainly sink his candidacy. (Sometimes the conventional wisdom is actually right.)

If only it's soon enough for November.

Lunatics and Cretins on the March in Pennsylvania

It's hard to consider Republican Senator Arlen Specter a moderate, but he looks pretty normal compared to the right wing maniac running against him in Tuesday's primary, Rep. Patrick Toomey, and in particular the lunatics supporting Toomey's attempt to unseat him:

Mr. Toomey's campaign plans to tap into a statewide network of anti-abortion groups and evangelical churches to energize his supporters. James C. Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, will kick off that effort by speaking at a rally for Mr. Toomey in Lancaster on Friday night. Dr. Dobson has endorsed Mr. Toomey, but his organization does not take sides in political campaigns.

Dr. Dobson's appearance underscores the primary's importance to conservatives nationwide who view Mr. Specter as an obstacle to their agenda in Washington. Dr. Dobson rarely appears on behalf of candidates, but in this race he has sent a letter to Mr. Toomey's supporters and allowed his voice to be used on radio campaign advertisements.

"We see this time as the climax of the civil war of values that's been raging for 35 years," Dr. Dobson said in an interview. "This is the Gettysburg. This is the D-Day, the Stalingrad. We must oppose those who have done so much to create the mess that we're in."

Stalingrad? Jesus, what are these idiots smoking?

In the meantime, Democrats are watching the race with interest. Unlike the brainless west and the bigoted south, a Toomey run for the Senate may be pretty easy to beat into a paste if they have a decent candidate. That, and the fact that Republican moderates might finally realize they no longer belong in the party, may be a good outcome if Specter is defeated.

Pictures They Don't Want You to See

A web site managed to extract 361 pictures of war dead coming back from Stupid's war draped with the stripey rag, and the Pentagon is crying about it. Too bad.

The Web site, the Memory Hole (www.thememoryhole.org), had filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year, seeking any pictures of coffins arriving from Iraq at the Dover base in Delaware, the destination for most of the bodies. The Pentagon yesterday labeled the Air Force Air Mobility Command's decision to grant the request a mistake, but news organizations quickly used a selection of the 361 images taken by Defense Department photographers.

The release of the photographs came one day after a contractor working for the Pentagon fired a woman who had taken photographs of coffins being loaded onto a transport plane in Kuwait. Her husband, a co-worker, was also fired after the pictures appeared in The Seattle Times on Sunday. The contractor, Maytag Aircraft, said the woman, Tami Silicio of Seattle, and her husband, David Landry, had "violated Department of Defense and company policies."

The firing underscored the strictness with which the Pentagon and the Bush administration have pursued a policy of forbidding news organizations to showing images of the homecomings of the war dead at military bases. They have argued that the policy was put in place during the first war in Iraq, and that it is simply an effort to protect the sensitivities of military families.

Executives at news organizations, many of whom have protested the policy, said last night that they had not known that the Defense Department itself was taking photographs of the coffins arriving home, a fact that came to light only when Russ Kick, the operator of The Memory Hole, filed his request.

"We were not aware at all that these photos were being taken," said Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times.

Bitten in the ass again, boys. When will they ever learn? UPDATE: Keith Cowing points out that a number of these photos are in fact of the remains of the Columbia crew. Oops!

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Good Bits

Slate has kindly excerpted the "good bits" from Bob Woodward's new book for the benefit of those of us who haven't read it. And some of them are very, very good. Here's Karl "I'm a lunatic" Rove behaving like one of those idiots from Albania who are still crying about the battle of Kosovo five hundred years down the line:

Page 250: Karl Rove, a Norwegian-American, is obsessed with the "historical duplicity" of the Swedes, who seized Norway back in 1814. This nationalism manifests itself as hatred for Swedish weapons inspector Hans Blix.

Insert monkey hooting noises here. There's a great deal of various forms of treason; this is good:

Page 269-70: Bush informs Powell of his decision to go to war after he informs Prince Bandar. After conferring with the president, Powell is "semidespondent."

Yep, just go ahead and tell the al Queda-funding Saudis before you tell your own Secretary of State. Can you say "moron?"

Bush's hilarious sense of humor:

Page 244: Woodward meets Bush at a White House Christmas party in 2002. Though it's months before the prez would declare war on Iraq, Bush suggests that a sequel to Woodward's previous best seller, Bush at War, should be in the works. "Maybe it will be called More Bush at War," Bush says.

To her credit, Laura Bush added, "Let's hope not."
Condi Oil Tanker:

Page 23: "She is not married and has no immediate family; it seemed she was on call for the president 24 hours a day in her West Wing office. ... Tending to the president and his priorities was her primary goal."

Yes, they're bloody lunatics:

Page 336: A CIA report suggests that Saddam, whose army can barely muster working tanks or planes, has red-and-white submarines patrolling the Tigris River. The agency immediately discards the report.

Red and white submarines?!! *&$^$#)(!!!!

Read it; it'll tide you over till you get the book.

While Dubya was Invisibly Serving...

While President Caligula was serving pretty well invisibly in the Air National Guard, John F. Kerry was off getting shot at. His newly released military records demonstrate courage and efficiency.

The records depict many instances of bravery in the face of enemy fire and describe a young officer who is smart, articulate and decisive. For example, George M. Elliot, his commander in early 1969, wrote, "In a combat environment often requiring independent, decisive action, Lt. j.g. Kerry was unsurpassed."

Mr. Elliot added, "His bearing and appearance are above reproach."

Even a commander who, 36 years after the fact, questioned a Purple Heart awarded to Mr. Kerry in 1968, recorded no reservations at the time. The officer, Grant W. Hibbard, a lieutenant commander during Mr. Kerry's five-month tour in Vietnam, told The Boston Globe last week that the wound for which Mr. Kerry won his first Purple Heart was no more than a small scratch.

But there was nothing negative about Mr. Kerry in an evaluation that Mr. Hibbard wrote two weeks after that incident.

Funny how these Repugs rethink things years later.

Mars Rovers

James Oberg has a great article on MSNBC.com about the Mars rovers. They've already outlasted expectations, and NASA is hoping they'll remain operational well into the summer.

Why?

Condi Oil Tanker is going to give a briefing on Iraq to Repug - and only Repug - congresscreatures today. Why?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Someone Screwed Up

Well, there wasn't supposed to be a tornado outbreak yesterday, but guess what....

Tuesday night’s storm, the first deadly twister of the season, collapsed the downtown Utica building that housed the Milestone Tap, where three bodies were found early Wednesday.

In all there were more than 40 tornado sightings in Illinois, Indiana and Oklahoma, according to cable TV’s Weather channel.

Dan McCarthy, what the heck were you thinking? More later. UPDATE: I heard a very good explanation from Dr. Greg Forbes on the Weather Channel for why this was a blown forecast. Meteorology is still an art as well as a science. Sadly the eight people killed in Utica were doing the right thing - they heeded the warning and took shelter, but unfortunately the old brick building they were in collapsed on them.

The Draft

There's talk of a draft, and the blogsphere has mixed feelings. I'm not really against a draft. I think military service would kick some responsibility and character into a generation that sorely lacks it. But a draft today must have one important feature: no exemptions. None. If you're handicapped, we'll find something for you to do. If you're a CO, ditto. And if you're a rich kid - you go get shot at.

The Lid Rips Off

And, as the lid continues to rip off the mideast, the money is, guess what, thanks to Dubya's election year duplicity, running out.

Since Congress approved an $87 billion defense request last year, the administration has steadfastly maintained that military forces in Iraq will be sufficiently funded until early next year. President Bush's budget request for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 included no money for Iraqi operations, and his budget director, Joshua B. Bolten, said no request would come until January at the earliest.

But military officials, defense contractors and members of Congress say that worsening U.S. military fortunes in Iraq have dramatically changed the equation and that more money will be needed soon. This comes as lawmakers, returning from their spring break, voice unease about the mounting violence in Iraq and what they say is the lack of a clearly enunciated strategy for victory.

What still amazes me is that while this continues to blow up in the face of President Caligula and what Colin Powell referred to as the "Gestapo government," millions of our incredibly obtuse countrymen and -women still support this stupid son of a bitch. What is it going to take?

New Crew Arrives

While the lid appears to be coming off of the mideast in a huge way, let's look at something more future-oriented and positive.... A Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked at the International Space Station today carrying new Commander cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and astronaut Michael Fincke, who will take over as the space station crew when current mission Commander Mike Foale and his partner cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri depart in little over a week. Accompanying the new crew is ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers from the Netherlands, who will conduct experiments for nine days and then return with Foale and Kaleri.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

They're Nuts, and They're in Charge

A few days ago I had the startling experience of listening to a co-worker ask another co-worker how her son, who is a Marine, was doing. The Marine mom - who is ex-military herself - said that he was fine, and the conversation eventually wandered off to how happy she is to be living in the "last days." Oh, wonderful....

There are a lot of people who agree with her, eager purchasers of the egregious "Left Behind" series and supporters of George W. Bush who, they seem to believe, is in on God's plan to bring on the apocalypse. George Monbiot takes a look at these home grown American loonies in The Guardian today:

To understand what is happening in the Middle East, you must first understand what is happening in Texas. To understand what is happening there, you should read the resolutions passed at the state's Republican party conventions last month. Take a look, for example, at the decisions made in Harris County, which covers much of Houston.
The delegates began by nodding through a few uncontroversial matters: homosexuality is contrary to the truths ordained by God; "any mechanism to process, license, record, register or monitor the ownership of guns" should be repealed; income tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax and corporation tax should be abolished; and immigrants should be deterred by electric fences. Thus fortified, they turned to the real issue: the affairs of a small state 7,000 miles away. It was then, according to a participant, that the "screaming and near fist fights" began.

I don't know what the original motion said, but apparently it was "watered down significantly" as a result of the shouting match. The motion they adopted stated that Israel has an undivided claim to Jerusalem and the West Bank, that Arab states should be "pressured" to absorb refugees from Palestine, and that Israel should do whatever it wishes in seeking to eliminate terrorism. Good to see that the extremists didn't prevail then.

But why should all this be of such pressing interest to the people of a state which is seldom celebrated for its fascination with foreign affairs? The explanation is slowly becoming familiar to us, but we still have some difficulty in taking it seriously.

In the United States, several million people have succumbed to an extraordinary delusion. In the 19th century, two immigrant preachers cobbled together a series of unrelated passages from the Bible to create what appears to be a consistent narrative: Jesus will return to Earth when certain preconditions have been met. The first of these was the establishment of a state of Israel. The next involves Israel's occupation of the rest of its "biblical lands" (most of the Middle East), and the rebuilding of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques. The legions of the antichrist will then be deployed against Israel, and their war will lead to a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. The Jews will either burn or convert to Christianity, and the Messiah will return to Earth.

What makes the story so appealing to Christian fundamentalists is that before the big battle begins, all "true believers" (ie those who believe what they believe) will be lifted out of their clothes and wafted up to heaven during an event called the Rapture. Not only do the worthy get to sit at the right hand of God, but they will be able to watch, from the best seats, their political and religious opponents being devoured by boils, sores, locusts and frogs, during the seven years of Tribulation which follow.

The true believers are now seeking to bring all this about. This means staging confrontations at the old temple site (in 2000, three US Christians were deported for trying to blow up the mosques there), sponsoring Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, demanding ever more US support for Israel, and seeking to provoke a final battle with the Muslim world/Axis of Evil/United Nations/ European Union/France or whoever the legions of the antichrist turn out to be.

Intelligent Christians find this all appalling. Unfortunately, intelligent Christians aren't in charge, the crazies are, the people who are the local equivalent of Wahabbism. There are numberless good reasons to vote against Bush. This is one of the best - unless you're really interested in living in the country that starts World War III on the off chance that it might provoke the return of Jesus.

Monday, April 19, 2004

WHAT a Surprise

Not surprising anyone, Dubya has appointed John "Death Squad" Negroponte to be his next proconsul in Iraq.

Regarding Negroponte’s new post, the president said there is “no doubt in my mind he can handle it, no doubt in my mind he will do a very good job, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Iraq will be free and democratic and peaceful.”

Heh. What mind? Let's read a little bit about Mr. Negroponte:

John Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985. As such he supported and carried out a US-sponsored policy of violations to human rights and international law. Among other things he supervised the creation of the El Aguacate air base, where the US trained Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980's. The base was used as a secret detention and torture center, in August 2001 excavations at the base discovered the first of the corpses of the 185 people, including two Americans, who are thought to have been killed and buried at this base.

During his ambassadorship, human rights violations in Honduras became systematic. The infamous Battalion 316, trained by the CIA and Argentine military, kidnaped, tortured and killed hundreds of people. Negroponte knew about these human rights violations and yet continued to collaborate with them, while lying to Congress.

Charming man. Charming. Perhaps Qusay's woodchipper is still lying around somewhere.

Impeach the Bastard

A number of bloggers are pointing out that Bob Woodward's claim that Bush shared his invasion info with the terrorist-supporting Saudis should be an impeachable offense (for example, Mark Kleiman here). Impeachable hell. We impeach presidents for getting illicit blow jobs. Bush and the bastards around him should be put up against a wall and shot for the murder of 700 American soldiers and uncountable numbers of Iraqis. UPDATE: The estimable Mark Kleiman puts the record straight: Sorry, I didn't make myself clear. Sharing intelligence with the Saudis seems to me like a great election issue, but it's hardly an impeachable offense. After all, FDR shared intelligence with Stalin.

The impeachable offense was spending money appropriated for Afghanistan to start preparations for the war in Iraq. That's a no-no.


I'm glad Mark corrected that, but at this point, heck, I'll take anything to get rid of Naked Emperor Man.

...Whose minions, of course, claim that there isn't an October Surprise planned:

"There was no secret deal," White House spokesman Dan Bartlett told CNN.

And a top Saudi official denied his country is taking any action to affect oil prices for political purposes.

"The allegation that the kingdom is manipulating the price of oil for political purposes or to affect elections is erroneous and has no basis in fact," Saudi Foreign Policy Adviser Adel al-Jubeir said in a statement.

And, if you believe this, I have some lovely swampfront property you should look at.

The Books Keep Coming

Bookstores have not been a particularly friendly place for the Bushites lately, what with tomes from Kevin Phillips, Richard Clarke, Ron Suskind et al telling the unpleasant truth about the Imperial Bushes and the current Naked Emperor. Now Bob Woodward, thoroughly bamboozled after 9/11 into writing a remarkably inane book about the conduct of the war on terror, realizes his error and has written the latest Book to Be Attacked:

About two weeks before deciding to invade Iraq, President Bush was told by CIA Director George Tenet there was a "slam dunk case" that dictator Saddam Hussein had unconventional weapons, according to a new book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward.

That declaration was "very important" in his decision making, according to "Plan of Attack," which is being excerpted this week in the Post.

Bush also made his decision to go to war without consulting Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld or Secretary of State Colin Powell, Woodward's book says.

Powell was not even told until after the Saudi ambassador was allowed to review top-secret war plans in an effort to enlist his country's support for the invasion, Woodward reports.

Cheney told Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan that once the war started, Saddam would be "toast," according to Woodward, who has written or co-written several best-selling books on Washington politics, including "All the President's Men" with Carl Bernstein.

Condi Oil Tanker has already, of course, leapt to the attack:

Powell and Cheney have such a hostile relationship that they barely speak, Woodward writes.

Rice disputed that characterization in an interview with "Fox News Sunday."

"I've had lunch on a number of occasions with Vice President Cheney and with Colin Powell, and they're more than on speaking terms. They're friendly," she said.

In the book, Woodward reports that on November 21, 2001 -- about three months after the September 11 attacks and shortly after the Taliban regime crumbled in Afghanistan -- Bush took Rumsfeld aside, ordered him to develop a war plan for Iraq and told him to keep it secret.

Eight months later, in late July 2002, the president approved spending $700 million for Iraq war planning, which was taken from a supplemental appropriation for the war in Afghanistan, according to Woodward.

Diverting money appropriated by Congress for one purpose to another use was legally questionable, the author told CBS.

Rice said she had not read Woodward's book and could not comment on the specific report.

She said on CBS's "Face The Nation" that it was possible money could have been transferred within the Defense Department or within U.S. Central Command, which was in charge of both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq.

She also said any resource shift did not affect the U.S. effort in Afghanistan.

"I will tell you that resources were not taken from Afghanistan. Whatever we needed to do in Afghanistan, we did in Afghanistan," she said.

"The secretary of defense manages the appropriation that he is given from Congress. ... I am quite certain [he] would propose to the president things that he believes are inside his purview to do with the allocation he gets from Congress."

Anyone believe her? No? Me neither.


Bring 'em On!

American proconsul L. Paul Bremer (the "L" should, if it does not already, stand for "lame") wants a showdown with those tiresome rebels in Iraq. Easy to say, since his tender pink butt will not be in the line of fire:

"They must be dealt with, and they will be dealt with," the administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, said, breaking a week of silence on the confrontation with Moktada al-Sadr, an anti-American Shiite cleric, in Najaf and Sunni Muslim insurgents in Falluja. Mr. Bremer spoke of the need to bring an early end to the standoffs, to return Iraq to the political path the United States has mapped out, starting with the formal return of sovereignty on June 30.

Mr. Bremer spoke on a weekend when at least 10 American marines and soldiers were killed. The deaths, announced Sunday, pushed American troop deaths in April to more than 90, higher than the 82 who were killed in November, the largest number until this month. Nearly 700 American soldiers have been killed since the invasion of Iraq began 13 months ago.

Unofficial counts based on tallies taken at hospitals and morgues have put Iraqi casualties so far in April, including insurgents and civilians, at about 1,000 killed.

There's no end to this. There was no reason to go in, no plan if things didn't go as rosily as expected, and now there is literally no way out.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Off to Florida

Back Monday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Being Dubya Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

Dubya's performance last night in his press conference was just as pathetic as I expected; pretty clearly he was on the verge of going into meltdown four or five times and he appears to have been surprised that the press this time decided to lay off the soft pitch and ask hard questions (and who picked that awful strobing tie he had on?!). Most remarkable, to me, was the fact that Bush was given no fewer than four opportunities to say "I'm sorry" or to admit that he and the Administration had made mistakes - and he couldn't do it. The sheer creepiness of this had to be seen to be believed, and I haven't seen mention in the press yet of this "feature" of the conference. It's up to us to keep it alive, apparently.

Opportunity One:

QUESTION: Mr. President, before the war, you and members of your administration made several claims about Iraq: that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators with sweets and flowers; that Iraqi oil revenue would pay for most of the reconstruction; and that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction but, as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, we know where they are.

How do you explain to Americans how you got that so wrong? And how do you answer your opponents who say that you took this nation to war on the basis of what have turned out to be a series of false premises?

ANSWER: Blah blah blah blah.

Opportunity Two:

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Mr. President. To move to the 9/11 commission, you yourself have acknowledged that Osama bin Laden was not a central focus of the administration in the months before September 11th. I was not on point, you told the journalist Bob Woodward. I didn’t feel that sense of urgency.

Two and a half years later, do you feel any sense of personal responsibility for September 11th?

ANSWER: Blah blah blah blah.

Opportunity Three:

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

Two weeks ago, a former counterterrorism official at the NSC, Richard Clarke, offered an unequivocal apology to the American people for failing them prior to 9/11. Do you believe the American people deserve a similar apology from you, and would you prepared to give them one?

ANSWER: Blah blah blah blah.

Opportunity Four:

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you’d made in your life, and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa.

You’ve looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have learned from it?

ANSWER: Blah blah blah blah . (actually this was the worst of the four - he totally and absolutely fluffed this one)

I'm not exaggerating much. Go here and read the transcript if you missed it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Ashcroft

Meanwhile, our Attorney General will appear before the 9/11 commission today. According to Dan Eggen in the Washington Post this morning, they will ask him about his pre-9/11 priorities. That's fine.

They also need to ask him why he stopped flying commercial airlines in the summer of 2001.

Softballs or Hardballs?

This evening the press will have the opportunity to begin the bringing down of the Bush administration, if for once they ask our President-Appointee the hard, hard questions that must be asked and that he clearly lacks the intelligence to answer. I fear they will, as per usual, pitch him softballs. We shall see....

Monday, April 12, 2004

Which Famous Homosexual Are You?

Hey! I'm Mychal Judge! Damn, you can't get better than that. Check out the quiz!

Scalia: Nazi

A couple of days ago I opined that Justice Scalia's behavior is appropriate for the Third Reich but not the US. Today, Bob Herbert comments in the NYT:

Justice Scalia, the big shot, does not like reporters to turn tape recorders on when he's talking, whether that action is protected by the Constitution of the United States or not. He doesn't like it. And he doesn't permit it.

"Thirty-five minutes into the speech we were approached by a woman who identified herself as a deputy U.S. marshal," Ms. Konz told me in a telephone conversation on Friday. "She said that we should not be recording and that she needed to have our tapes."

In the U.S., this is a no-no. Justice Scalia and his colleagues on the court are responsible for guaranteeing such safeguards against tyranny as freedom of the press. In fact, the speech Mr. Scalia was giving at the very moment the marshal moved against the two reporters was about the importance of the Constitution.

Ms. Konz said neither she nor Ms. Grones wanted to comply with the marshal's demand.

"It was very distracting, very embarrassing," she said. "We were still trying to listen to what he was saying."

The marshal, Melanie Rube, insisted.

The A.P. reporter tried to explain that she had a digital recording device, so there was no tape to give up. Ms. Konz said the deputy seemed baffled by that.

Eventually both recordings were seized.

If this had been an old-time Hollywood movie, the Supreme Court justice would have turned a kindly face toward the marshal and said, in an avuncular tone: "No, no. We don't do that sort of thing in this country. Please return the recordings."

But this is the United States in the 21st century where the power brokers have gone mad. They've deluded themselves into thinking they're royalty, not public servants charged with protecting the rights and interests of the people. Both recordings were erased. Only then was the reporters' property returned.

When agents acting on behalf of a Supreme Court justice can just snatch and destroy information collected by reporters, we haven't just thumbed our nose at the Constitution, we've taken a very dangerous step in a very ugly direction. The depot at the end of that dark road is totalitarianism.

I called Jane Kirtley, a professor of media, ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, and asked her what was wrong with what the marshal did. She replied, "Everything."

Indeed. And Scalia, of course, is a conservative hero. We can tell a lot about people by understanding who their heroes are. Scalia is a fascist. Once this was a country that fought fascism. Now we're heading down that ugly path ourselves, apparently without complaint.

President Bush's Homer Simpson Defense

Dubya:

"The P.D.B. was no indication of a terrorist threat," Mr. Bush said. "There was not a time and place of an attack. It said Osama bin Laden had designs on America. Well, I knew that. What I wanted to know was, is there anything specifically going to take place in America that we needed to react to?"

PDB:

"FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."

If that's "no indication of a terrorist threat," I have some lovely swampfront property for you to look at.

Some Republicans have also questioned whether the White House did enough in response to the Aug. 6 report. "Should it have raised more of an alarm bell?" Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican who is often critical of the Bush administration, said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I think in hindsight, that's probably true."

But the only bell Bush was listening for that day in August was, as it has been throughout his wastrel life, the dismissal bell.

And Samuel Popkin, a professor of political science at the University of California in San Diego, said that Mr. Bush's first response on the subject would not do much to staunch what he, too, described as a significant threat to his re-election.

"Truman said, `The buck stops here,' " Mr. Popkin said. "Bush is saying, `The buck never got to me.' "

Doh!

Sunday, April 11, 2004

We Had No Idea - Really!

The long-rumored PDB for August 6, 2001 has been released, and it belies White House claims that the information was merely historical.

Although Bin Laden has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks.

Bin Laden associates surveilled our embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

Al-Qaeda members - including some who are US citizens - have resided in or travelled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks.

Two al-Qaeda members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a ... (edited)... service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman and other US-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York. (my emphasis)

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Laden-related.

The CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the United Arab Emirates in May saying that a group of Bin Laden supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

Certainly there is historical background in the PDB, but to suggest after hearing that "The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Laden-related" in addition to the passage I highlighted above that there's nothing threatening here is just bullshit, and there's no gentler word to use.

Full text of the briefing here.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Primeval Wackiness!

Noticed this over at The Sideshow; scientifically accurate toys based on the Burgess Shale fossils!! No more cheesy plastic dinosaurs from China, these are pretty darn cool. But hey, where's hallucigenia? Come on, guys!

More about the real fossils here.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Our Wal-Mart Army

Barbara Ehrenreich (if you haven't read her book Nickle and Dimed it's necessary reading) reveals how President aWol supports our troops in this month's Progressive:


Here's one way our President proposes to "support our troops": According to his 2005 budget, the extra pay our soldiers receive for serving in combat zones--about $150 a month--will no longer count against their food stamp eligibility. This budget provision, if approved, should bring true peace of mind to our men and women on the front lines. From now on, they can dodge bullets in Iraq with the happy assurance that their loved ones will not starve as a result of their bravery.

Military families on food stamps? It's not an urban myth. About 25,000 families of servicemen and women are eligible, and this may be an underestimate, since the most recent Defense Department report on the financial condition of the armed forces--from 1999--found that 40 percent of lower-ranking soldiers face "substantial financial difficulties." Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, reports hearing from constituents that the Army now includes applications for food stamps in its orientation packet for new recruits.

The poverty of the mightiest military machine on Earth is no secret to the many charities that have sprung up to help families on U.S. military bases, like the church-based Feed the Children, which delivers free food and personal items to families at twelve bases. Before 9/11, trucks bearing free food from a variety of food pantries used to be able to drive right on to the bases. Now they have to stop outside the gates, making the spectacle of military poverty visible to any passerby.

Market forces ensure that a volunteer army will necessarily be an army of the poor. The trouble is, enlistment does not do a whole lot to brighten one's economic outlook. Frontline battle troops, most of whom have been in the military for about a year, earn less than $16,000 a year--which puts them at about the level of theater ushers and Wal-Mart clerks. Even second lieutenants, at a starting salary of $26,000 a year, earn less than pest control workers and shoe repairers. So when the Bush Administration, in its frenzied rush to transfer more wealth to the already wealthy, hurts the working poor, you can count the troops among them. The 2003 Bush tax cut for the rich, for example, failed to extend a child tax credit to nearly 200,000 military personnel.

Amazing.

It will suffice to point out what a peculiar historical anomaly Bush's warfare state represents. Ever since the introduction of mass armies in Europe in the seventeenth century, governments have generally understood that to underpay and underfeed one's troops is to risk having the guns pointed in the opposite direction from that which the officers are recommending.

Memo to be Declassified

Once again the Adminstration has decided to cave in to overwhelming public demand and the infamous August 2001 briefing - you know, the one no one worried about, the one titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" - will evidently be released as soon as it can be officially declassified.

Out of Touch

The Brits weren't impressed with Ms Tanker either. Today's leader in The Guardian is titled Losing Touch with Reality and argues:

The idea that President Bush was fully briefed about al-Qaida, and that the White House understood that it "posed a serious threat to the United States", simply does not ring true. That feeling is supported by the fact that both the administration and Dr Rice were more interested in pushing for a pointless missile defence shield in the months before September 11. To say that a memo entitled "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States" did not warn of an impending attack, according to Dr Rice, suggests the administration has begun to lose touch with reality.

I suppose I would have to question whether they ever, from day one, were in touch with reality.

President Dim Watches from Vacation

Maybe it's a good thing that, given his incompetence, President Caligula has spent most of his administration sitting on his dead ass in Crawford. Bob Herbert comments dryly:

The president called Ms. Rice from his pickup truck on the ranch to tell her she had done a great job before the panel.

It doesn't get more surreal than that.

Mr. President, there's a war on. You might consider hopping a plane to Washington.

It's also incredibly surreal that in a country where most people are lucky to get a week off a year, President Caligula takes several months off from his not very demanding schedule to clear brush at his ranch and, presumably, sit around watching videos, since he clearly doesn't read.

But maybe we're safer that way.

We Had No Idea, But.....

Others will dissect Ms Oil Tanker's testimony far better than I, but this is what strikes me hardest; we knew nothing that could stop the 9/11 attacks, BUT the briefing given to President Caligula on August 5, 2001, was entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the United States".

Also, this is clearly a lie:

The very first major national security policy directive of the Bush administration was not Russia, not missile defence, not Iraq, but the elimination of al-Qaeda

According to very good internal evidence, the first major national security objective of the necrocons had to do with the elimination of Sodamn Insane. Al Queda wasn't even on the back burner; it was stuffed in the corner of a cupboard somewhere. This is also clearly a lie:

Intelligence analysis on the possible use of planes as weapons was never briefed: "I do not remember any reports to us or warnings that planes might be used as a weapon", however "I cannot tell you there wasn't a report here or there about it"

Information that terrorists, including al Queda, were planning on using hijacked airplanes to attack targets was endemic throughout much of the 90s, so much so that Richard Clarke organized air defence for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. If Condi didn't know about this, she's either stupid or not doing her job.

Another obvious lie:

Following 11 September 2001 attacks, none of Mr Bush's advisers counselled doing anything against Iraq, the focus was on Afghanistan
On September 12, Bush personally buttonholed Richard Clarke to find out if Clarke had anything - anything that could be used to justify a strike against Iraq. Rum Dum suggested bombing Iraq on the specious ground that there was just nothing worth bombing in Afghanistan.

Condi Rice's official title: Liar in Chief.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Scalia: Nazi

In the brouhaha over Condi Oil Tanker's dubious testimony, this happy act of Nazi behavior may go unnoticed:

Two reporters were ordered Wednesday to erase their tape recordings of a speech by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at a Mississippi high school.

Scalia has long barred television cameras from his speeches, but does not always forbid newspaper photographers and tape recorders. On Wednesday, he did not warn the audience at the high school that recording devices would be forbidden.

During the speech, a woman identifying herself as a deputy federal marshal demanded that a reporter for The Associated Press erase a tape recording of the justice's comments. She said the justice had asked that his appearance not be recorded.

The reporter initially resisted, but later showed the deputy how to erase the digital recording after the officer took the device from her hands. The exchange occurred in the front row of the auditorium while Scalia delivered his speech about the Constitution.

SIEG HEIL! SIEG HEIL!

Who in the hell does Scalia think he is? Evidently the irony of behaving like this during a speech about the constitution - in the process shitting all over the Bill of Rights - does not occur to Justice Duck Blind. These people have to go.

Intel Dump

Intel Dump is always a necessary blog stop, and even more so now when Phil Carter's thougthful commentary on the events currently ongoing in Iraq is a useful antidote to so much brainless TV screaming. As SecDef RumDum tries frantically to downplay the current uprising, Phil comments:

I respectfully disagree. This is the most intense combat that American forces have seen since the war, and in many respects, it is more intense than the combat seen by American forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The casualty reports support this argument. The most intense fighting of the war occurred in two places: Nasariyah, where the Army's 507th Maintenance Company was ambushed and 18 Marines were killed in one day; and Baghdad, during the final assault on the city by the 3rd Infantry Division and the Marines. Those engagements included thousands more troops than the battles being fought right now, and yet the casualty numbers were lower than they are today. Moreover, U.S. troops did not engage in this kind of bloody streetfighting during the war -- they simply backed off and used standoff firepower to respond to dug-in threats. The need to minimize collateral damage and win decisively has meant the increased use of infantry to do the job this time, and the result has been more American casualties.

We also should not minimize the threat this poses to the long-term goals and objectives of the U.S. and Coalition Provisional Authority. The Pentagon has responded by tweaking its force rotation plan to keep more boots on the ground in Iraq. And The Post also reports that the U.S. has asked more than 12 nations to contribute forces to protect the U.N.'s mission in Iraq. Yet despite those measures, I think this uprising has the potential to do several things. First, it can (and probably will) derail the U.S. plan to transfer sovereignty on 30 Jun 04. Second, it can and probably will require elections to be postponed, because it's hard to see how any meaningful democratic elections can take place amidst this violence. Third, this violence will certainly delay any U.S. exit from Iraq, and require us to keep large numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq for the duration of 2005 and possibly 2006. Army planners are already working on the contingency plans for that eventuality.

How does this end? I don't know. At this point, I'm not even sure how we define victory or success in Iraq, and how we conceive of an exit that will allow us to achieve that victory without seeing it vanish 6 months later in a bloody civil war. This is an issue that absolutely must become part of the 2004 presidential election debate -- how do we win in Iraq, and how do we get out?

Indeed, how? Bookmark Phil's site and check it frequently.

Saint-Exupery's Aircraft Found

Beloved author Antoine de Saint-Exupery was lost on a reconnaissance mission during World War II when his Lockheed P-38 Lightning aircraft disappeared over the Mediterranean. A few years ago, an identity bracelet worn by the author was found in a fisherman's nets off Marseille. A shattered aircraft was found on the ocean floor nearby, and now recovered pieces of the aircraft have been matched by serial numbers to Saint-Exupery's Lightning.

"No further doubt is possible, this is St-Ex's plane," said Patrick Granjean, head of the French undersea archeological research centre DRASSM. "It plunged into the sea off the island of Rioul. We don't know why and we probably never will, but it is definitely his plane."

Mr Granjean said a panel of what proved to be the P-38's turbo-compressor casing, brought to the surface last September, bore a series of four numbers - 2734 - engraved by the manufacturer, Lockheed. Records held by the National Air and SpaceMuseum near Washington showed the series correspond to the US air force registration number allocated to Saint-Exupéry's plane.

"I had tears in my eyes when it was finally confirmed," said Patrick Becker, the managing director of the undersea survey firm Geoscan which located the wreckage, reportedly spread over a strip of sea bed more than 1km long and some 400 metres wide.

The aircraft is so badly destroyed that it is doubtful the cause of the accident will be identified, and it is also probably doubtful that any remains of the author will be found.

Condi Perjures Herself Today

At least I presume she will, although perhaps she's a good enough Christian to take her oath before the 9/11 commission seriously....nah. The Bushies wrap themselves in the Bible, but when push comes to shove, their satanic antecedents pop out like little horns.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

"I'm a Uniter, Not a Divider"

And it's working, too!

My Excuse Was...Duh....

Madam Oil Tanker is busily concocting her excuses for her upcoming 9/11 testimony and has apparently come down to "Wow! We just couldn't imagine such a thing!" - this in spite of the fact that in the summer of 2001 "chatter," as Ms Tanker likes to call it, was afoot about an attack using airplanes, Al Queda had previously discussed using airplanes to attack targets, and in the early 90s a terrorist plot to crash an airplane into the Eiffel Tower had been revealed.

It's going to be something to see - Condi Rice lying away against the backdrop of a civil war in Iraq caused by Dubya and the necrocons. All in a day's work in an age like this.

Good for Them

Voters in Inglewood, California, have told Wal-Mart to take their store and shove it. The story behind this is very interesting, and pretty typical of Wal-Mart, the most egregious example of corporate giantism and irresponsibility currently lumbering around America like a 600 pound cretin. When Inglewood's city council would not accede to Wal-Mart's demands, Wal-Mart shoved a resolution onto the ballot that would basically give them the right to do anything they wanted with their chosen site while ignoring zoning, environmental, and other laws. Fortunately, in spite of the over $1,000,000 that the evil people from Bentonville spent, Inglewood's voters told them to pack up and leave.

No town needs Wal-Mart. This country doesn't need Wal-Mart. I no longer shop there. You shouldn't either.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Top Ten Conservative Idiots Update

Democratic Underground has a brand new list of the useful idiots who brought you the Iraqi death machine. The winner this week? Why, it's Madame Oil Tanker!

It looks like the Responsibility President is down to his last line of defense. Last week George W. Bush threw Condoleezza Rice to the 9/11 Commission in a final attempt to cover his own ass, but it appears that the buck is moving slowly and inexorably towards Our Great Leader's desk, where, fingers crossed, it will stop. Unfortunately it'll probably just sorta slide right off the desk, leave quietly through a side door, and end up scotch-taped to the ass of some low-level bureaucrat - but we shall see. Meanwhile, Condi is likely to face some tough questioning from the 9/11 Commission this Thursday. To be fair, the questions might not have been so tough if she, oh, I dunno, hadn't lied her ass off since September 11 - just a thought.

Hey, and CNN is #2! Check it out! Love their little icons, too.