Thursday, June 30, 2005

Malkin Out to Burn Brian Williams
For Telling It Like It Was

All day I have been saying I just do not understand the shock over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad alleged involvement in the 1979 take-over of the US embassy in Tehran. It is only logical that a leader in the student movement would move on to leadership positions in that country, even the Presidency. Even if he was who the former hostages say he was.....So What? Leaders of revolutions have gone on to lead their countries for centuries. But don't point out such Facts to Michelle Malkin who is preparing her minions for a full-on assault.... er excuse me Durbinazation Alert...(more like a wingnut Mafia hit) of Brian Williams of NBC news for saying this of the story:
"What would it all matter if proven true? Someone brought up today the first several U.S. presidents were certainly revolutionaries and might have been called 'terrorists' by the British crown, after all."

This is so inane it's hard to even write more than a few sentences on it but....

What Williams said is true. What does it matter? Are we going to persue regime change? Do the wingnuts want us to bomb Tehran or just send in some CIA types to kill the new president? Or do they just want to whip up hate because that's what fuels their blogging existence?

The Founding Fathers WERE revolutionaries. Or do the wingnuts want to re-write the dictionary and all US history books? I guess though it's the "Terrorist" word that has them spinning. So do they want a constitutional amendment stating no one can make any analogy or observation that would in any way equate any American, past or present to be a Terrorist, or any behavior of any American to be terrorism? Would that take care of it? The Wingnut Politically Correct Language Amendment?

Or is this just another assault on what they perceive to be the "Liberal Media"? Ah now we're talking. Malkin and crowd has to keep up this meme until they have rendered our media so impotent that the public will be so ignorant, that future polls will show 73% of Americans believe Saddam Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Osama bin Ladin are brothers, who plotted 9/11 at the behest of Hillary Clinton, at a garden party in Brian Williams back yard with Dan Rather and every New York Times reporter and columnist (except Judith Miller) in attendance.

Yes they want their Americans Ignorant, Angry and Frightened. And if they can't get the first 2, then Frightened will due just fine...especially when it comes to the "Liberal Media" types. So they'll go after Brian Williams and try to relive Rather-Gate..... their supposed great shining moment.

Well I have a message to Mr. Williams. Don't let them "Durbanize" you.
My first thoughts were I hope he tells them to go to hell.
Then I thought no, perhaps just ask them.... SO WHAT! It'd be fitting to see the Malkins of the world reduced to insignificance.
But I'm thinking Brian Williams could pull off the "no decency" moment:

"You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir(maam), at long last? Have you left no sense of decency"

Cause we are in desperate need of that moment.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

What Evidence?

From Reuters:

Several Republicans supported Bush's focus on the Sept. 11 attacks, and North Carolina Rep. Robin Hayes said he had seen evidence that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was linked to al Qaeda.

"There is evidence everywhere. We get access to it and unfortunately others don't," he told CNN.

I think we have a right to hear this evidence. If the Rep is going to say such things on CNN, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, then perhaps a call to any of the offices of Rep. Hayes is in order. Ask if he'll elaborate on the evidence:
Concord, NC
137 Union Street South
Concord, NC 28025
(704) 786-1612
FAX: (704) 782-1004
Toll Free in NC:
(888) 207-1311

Rockingham, NC
230 East Franklin St.
Rockingham, NC 28379
(910) 997-2070
FAX (910)997-7987

Washington, DC
130 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3715
FAX (202) 225-4036

Friday, June 24, 2005

First Do No Harm Unless....
You Practice at Gitmo

The NYT has interviewed Guantanomo interrogators who revealed doctors provided:
advice on how to increase stress levels and exploit fears, according to new, detailed accounts given by former interrogators.

In addition, the authors of an article published by The New England Journal of Medicine this week said their interviews with doctors who helped devise and supervise the interrogation regimen at Guantánamo showed that the program was explicitly designed to increase fear and distress among detainees as a means to obtaining intelligence.

Do I dare conceive of a new word here .... Mengalize without apology?
Well the Pentagon says it's no problem:
Pentagon officials said in interviews that the practices at Guantánamo violated no ethics guidelines, and they disputed the conclusions of the medical journal's article, which was posted on the journal's Web site on Wednesday.

Now the Pentagon's perview is war not medicine which is probably why they call the good doctors "biscuits":

Several ethics experts outside the military said there were serious questions involving the conduct of the doctors, especially those in units known as Behavioral Science Consultation Teams, BSCT, colloquially referred to as "biscuit" teams, which advise interrogators.

And besides as a Pentagon spokesman said:
that while some health care personnel are responsible for "humane treatment of detainees," some medical professionals "may have other roles," like serving as behavioral scientists assessing the character of interrogation subjects.

OK just don't call them Doctors and just pull the 'ol switcharoo on the Role they play and it's just fine.

Do we really want to go down this Slippery Slope trail? Will these pratices migrate to the mainland? Have they already? Do you want them consulting the "biscuits" on how to handle your tough ass some day? You say we'd never do that. Wake up! This is how, dare I say, Nazis did it. a slow erosion of values, ethics and laws. No matter how low a human can sink (Karl Rove holds the bottom at present but will surely out do himself again) we do not deserve to lower our standards to the level of biscuits or to be Mengalized.
Oh the (w)horror!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Chinese Take-over Move

From the NYT:
SHANGHAI, Thursday, June 23 - A Chinese state-controlled oil company made a $18.5 billion unsolicited bid for Unocal today, igniting the first-ever takeover battle between corporations in China and the United States.

Read the rest:
This is going to get very interesting.

Dems Just Can't Compete on
Ohio Corruption Playing Field

There is something about this small story in the many Ohio scandals that seems very telling.

The 2002 Lucas County Commissioner's race featured Sandy Isenberg (Dem) vs. Maggie Thurber (Rep) in which Isenberg was the odds on favorite until it was learned "she accepted a free roof on her condo from a local developer who had appeared before her for a vote on the Lucas County Plan Commission." Not good of course but Thurber needed to capitalize on it. She didn't have the funds to pay for a big ad buy to expose Isenberg's apparent graft. So in steps Noe money.

Thurber got $40,000 to finance the TV ad buy from
GOP fund-raiser Tom Noe who is at the center of numerous scandals in Ohio. With the tainted money Ms. Thurber then ' seized on the roof deal, and it became the subject of a catchy television ad". In fact "The money flowed to the Thurber campaign because Ms. Thurber's race against Ms. Isenberg was the focal point of the 2002 election season in Lucas County" once Isenberg was seen as vulnerable. It was the turning point in the race and Thurber won.

So let's compare...... the Dem Isenberg got a roof (let's say $10,000) and the Rep Thurber got $40,000 of tainted Noe money. ($87k in all from the party). In a weird Faustian way it just isn't fair now is it. Thurber had the benefit of this huge Repug illegal money machine and all Isenberg had was a lousy roof deal (she ended up paying for the roof herself by the way).

From a story like this people get cynical and say so what, they are all corrupt. OK if that's where we are, then let's look that cycnism right in the face. We need to admit the crazy disproportionality that's going on here. It'd David vs. Goliath in the money game.
How's a Dem to compete?????? Be more massive and efficiently corrupt?
  • Do we blame the Dems for being the apparent rank amateurs they are when it comes to corruption?
  • Do we say if all you're willing to risk is a lousy roof then you deserve to be beat?
  • If all you got is 20th century 'ol boss under the table deals and aren't thinking 21st century hi-tech and national then that's your own damn fault?

Because if we are not going to clean up the whole mess and raze this corrupt playing field then leveling it for the Dems is the answer....take off the gloves and abolish campaign finance laws so Dems can have a fair fight. Let them go to school on Repug fund raising tactics. That's where we stand right now. Is that really where we want to be? From the lack of outrage and media coverage I guess so.

Is Houston an Al Qaeda Training Gound?

Did I miss something about Houston? We learn from Atrios that Tom Delay says:
"You know, if Houston, Texas, was held to the same standard as Iraq is held to, nobody'd go to Houston, because all this reporting coming out of the local press in Houston is violence, murders, robberies, deaths on the highways," DeLay said. "And if you took that as the image of what is a great city that has an incredible quality of life and an incredible economy, it's amazing to me. Go to Iraq. And see what's actually happening there.

"Everybody that comes from Iraq is amazed at the difference of what they see on the ground and what they see on the television set."

Now from the NYT we learn the CIA says:
WASHINGTON, June 21 - A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.

No I didn't miss anything but I think Delay has missed alot not the least of which is intellectual honesty. But then we knew that.

More Ohio

Dean calls on Bush to return money from Noe:

"Noe was given special status and special access by the Bush-Cheney campaign as a Pioneer donor, but there are now signs that the money he used to acquire this special status was tainted."

Mr. Dean yesterday repeated the Democratic National Committee's call for President Bush to return money raised by Mr. Noe. Ohio Democrats have also called on Ohio lawmakers who have received money from Mr. Noe to return the contributions.

"President Bush should immediately return all of the cash Noe raised to eliminate even the possibility that the hard-earned money of Ohio's workers was improperly diverted to his re-election campaign," Mr. Dean said.

I hope Dean and Dems keep the pressure on. Maybe Bush will have to admit a mistake for once.

And more in Ohio The Guardian reports today that:

Gov. Bob Taft failed to report a number of golf outings on his financial disclosure statements, the same omission that figured in the earlier resignation of three of his agency heads.
In a letter to the Ohio Ethics Commission, Taft wrote that it "has recently come to my attention'' that he failed to list the outings on required financial disclosure forms in past years. He released the letter Tuesday.
Ohio just keeps on giving ...too bad it's not on cabloid news.
UPDATE: More detail available on golf outings.

European Secularism

The Christian Science Monitor is running a 2 part article on the role of religion in Europe that looks interesting:.

Indeed, its secularism has led to jokes that Europe is one big "blue" state. But Europeans aren't laughing. Buffeted by the crosscurrents of secularism, Christianity, and Islam - and mindful of a history of religious violence - they are wrestling with their values and identity as never before.

"The clash between those who believe and those who don't believe will be a dominant aspect of relations between the US and Europe in the coming years," says Jacques Delors, a former president of the European Commission. "This question of a values gap is being posed more sharply now than at any time in the history of European-US relations since 1945."

A few stats:

  • 21% of Europeans say religion is "very important" to them

  • 59% of Americans say faith very important

  • 44% of American attend a place of worship per week

  • 15% of Eurpeans attend a place of worship per week

I hope they do not have to deal with the ruinous fundamentalism so prevalent here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Iraq Looting Goes On

From the BBC:
But now, one of the world's leading experts on the country's antiquities says there is evidence that archaeological treasures are being systematically plundered.
"What's going on here is worse than what happened with the Baghdad museum," says Professor Elizabeth Stone of Stonybrook University in New York
Satellite photo of one looted area:

Convicted of Manslaughter

I still beleive it should have been murder but...
To read the rest

Frist humiliated again...Alright!

This is how Lott must react each time Frist gets humiliated.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Reversing field after a meeting with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he will continue pushing for a floor vote on John R. Bolton for U.N. ambassador.
read the rest at CNN

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Justice Delayed?

Carolyn Goodman left court Friday after testifying in the case against Edgar Ray Killen, who prosecutors say orchestrated the killing of Mr. Goodman and two other civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner and James Earl Chaney.

As a young teenager I spent part of a summer doing Civil Rights work in Mississippi about 7 years after these murders. Though community leaders wanted us to help in voter registration the group leader who had brought us to MS wouldn't allow it. It was still too dangerous. We begged to be able to do so but to no avail. There was one college kid with us who was doing voter registration. I remember one night he told us that he had been at a home (these were run down rural shacks) talking about registration and 3 men in a pick up truck pulled up. One had a Machine Gun. They made it clear that he had to go, which he did. The fact that they had a machine gun shocked me and I've never forgotten it.

We were harassed by the police everyday. One evening they pulled over and threw us in the car after seeing us come out of a neighborhood bar. (We had gone there for cigarettes which was common for kids to do). But it was stupid of US as it gave them the excuse they needed. Once in the car I demanded to know why we were being arrested. No Answer. I then told them we had the constitutional right to know why we were being arrested. The cop turned around and got right in my face and said, "Do you know Mississippi law Girl cause you're in Mississippi now". I can't tell you how much I grew up in those 10 seconds and how frightened I became because I knew the story of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner. Ten seconds earlier I had been trying to figure a way out of being taken to jail. Now I was praying we were going to jail and not taken for a ride.

We were taken to jail, questioned and held for some time before being bailed out at $25 head. We went to court the next day and the DA dropped the charges. He seemed embarrassed especially since at that time everyone liked to talk about the so- called "New South". But as we filed out of court, the black owners of the bar remained to fight for their liquor license. They prevailed... barely. Something for which we felt terrible.

I went to Mississippi a young idealistic American. One seemingly long car ride changed me. I learned America isn't fair and justice is relative to who you are and where you are. I have heard a few people say leave the old man (Killen) alone. I cringe at that. Remember he has had a whole life. Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner never did. And Carolyn Goodman had hers ripped apart. She said of her son:
"He didn't come here to be a martyr, he came here to serve the people. And now I'm here in his stead."
I applaud her for it.
I hope Mississippi will do what is right but I've had a lesson in MS law in the New South. People say it's different Now. Well today there are 13 US Senators who are unwilling to go on the record against lynching ..... including both of Mississippi 's senators. That tells me alot about just how much has changed.

BBC on a Changing China

This BBC online page has some good stories on how China is changing including, consumerism, the wealth gap and more.

Aung San Suu Kyi Turns 60 on Sunday

The National League for Democracy (NLD) leader won the 1990
elections in Burma by a landslide but was never allowed to take power.
She has been under house arrest since May 2003.

Words Don't Express

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A convicted pedophile may have chronicled sex acts with children in 36,000 notebook entries over three decades as he moved across the United States, hiding his identity, police said on Friday.
Read the rest:

Thursday, June 16, 2005

WI "Missing White Women's" Law:
The Cheeshead Virgins Protection Act

While the media ponders how to end the out of control problem of missing white women and keep young women safe (and virginal) on their travels.... the WI Assembly took action. After a heated debate tonight, they passed a bill banning the morning-after pill on state college campuses. The First in the Country.
This all began when the UW-Madison Health Services clinic advertised in the school paper that students could call the clinic for prescriptions of the drug to use on spring break. Well that got the Republicans moving. Rep. Daniel LeMahieu, R-Oostburg introduced the bill. On the Assembly floor tonight he said:
"Are we going to change the lifestyle of every UW student? No," LeMahieu said. "But we can tell the university that you are not going to condone it, you are not going to participate in it, and you are not going to use our tax dollars to do it."
Democrats pleaded:
  • The bill was unconstitutional
  • Could stop UW pharmacies from dispensing all forms of birth control to thousands of college students
  • Would deny rape victims a chance to stop pregnancies
  • Predicted it would lead to more unwanted pregnancies and surgical abortions
  • Was a full frontal assault on the right to privacy, on the right of free speech, on the right of a free press.
But that's reasoning and that just doesn't go anywhere these days. The bill has to pass the Republican controlled state Senate (probably will). But Democrat Governor Jim Doyle has said he will veto it.
Without a Democrat for governor, WI would be passing a lot of Firsts.
So Aruba get ready....... here come the Cheeshead Virgins!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Tom Friedman's Tipping Point Line Tease?

Is Tom Friedman moving the goalposts in the Tipping Point game? (Can I mangle a metaphor as well as Tom?)
  • November 19, 2004 " CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – Every time I visit Iraq, I leave asking myself the same question: If you total up all the positives and negatives, where does the balance come out? I'd say the score is still 4 to 4. We can still emerge with a decent outcome. And the whole thing could still end very badly. There's only one thing one can say for sure today: You won't need to wait much longer for the tipping point."
  • February 22, 2005 "And so, I like the way Malcolm has defined it because in that sense, Iraq -this election is a tipping point. I believe it has begun to reframe the issue."
  • June 15, 2005 "Well, we need to talk about Iraq. This is no time to give up - this is still winnable - but it is time to ask: What is our strategy? This question is urgent because Iraq is inching toward a dangerous tipping point-"
I think Tom needs to reframe the Tipping Point. Because a Point is........
  • (1) : a narrowly localized place having a precisely indicated position
And more on Point:
  • a geometric element of which it is postulated that at least two exist and that two suffice to determine a line
Therefore indeedy it is a TIPPING LINE!!!!!
(Is that mangling as good as Tom's?)
NO No No you say I am missing the Point. Tom doesn't give an exact point. He is only portending to predict a point, at some point in time in the future. So the game is still on. Therefore the goalpost has not actually moved at all.
But it will soon.
Not much longer...
Just wait.....
It's coming.
Inching closer....
Oh yeah....
I feel the urgency.....
Hold on....
Oh yes......
Hold it...
oh yeah.....
Hold it....
OH GOD......
Hold it...



Oh I get it......the Tipping Point is a...........
(Is THAT Okrent pleasing, mix-n-mangling as good as Tom NOW?)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

War Plan Now & War Plan Then

War Plan Now:
From the BBC:

In an interview for the BBC's Newsnight programme, Mr Rumsfeld said Iraq had passed several milestones, like holding elections and appointing a government.

But he said Iraq's military forces were growing in numbers and he was confident the insurgency would be defeated. He said that efforts had shifted from counter-insurgency to helping the Iraqi security forces.

"The important thing ... is to recognise that this insurgency is going to be defeated not by the coalition - it's going to be defeated by the Iraqi people and by the Iraqi security forces, and that it's going to happen as the Iraq people begin to believe they've got a future in that country," he said.

War Plan Then:
From Richard Nixon's Address to the nation on November 3, 1969:

The Vietnamization plan was launched following Secretary Laird's visit to Vietnam in March. Under the plan, I ordered first a substantial increase in the training and equipment of South Vietnamese forces.

In July, on my visit to Vietnam, I changed General Abrams' orders so that they were consistent with the objectives of our new policies. Under the new orders, the primary mission of our troops is to enable the South Vietnamese forces to assume the full responsibility for the security of South Vietnam.

We have adopted a plan which we have worked out in cooperation with the South Vietnamese for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. combat ground forces, and their replacement by South Vietnamese forces on an orderly scheduled timetable. This withdrawal will be made from strength and not from weakness. As South Vietnamese forces become stronger, the rate of American withdrawal can become greater.

I have not and do not intend to announce the timetable for our program.


My fellow Americans, I am sure you can recognize from what I have said that we really only have two choices open to us if we want to end this war.

-I can order an immediate, precipitate withdrawal of all Americans from Vietnam without regard to the effects of that action.
-Or we can persist in our search for a just peace through a negotiated settlement if possible, or through continued implementation of our plan for Vietnamization if necessary - a plan in which we will withdraw all of our forces from Vietnam on a schedule in accordance with our program, as the South Vietnamese become strong enough to defend their own freedom.

Time in Iraq: 2 years
US soldiers killed: 1706
US wounded in Iraq: 12855
At Time of Nixon's speech:
Time in Vietnam: ~ 5 years
US soldiers Killed: ~34,000

The Outcome We Know:
March 1972: Last US combat soldiers leave Vietnam
58,000 are dead,
1,000 are missing in action.
Some 150,000 Americans were seriously wounded.
April 30, 1975: South Vietnam falls
(Vietnam stats from)

Outcome Yet to be Learned:

Time will tell an all too familiar story. At least Nixon went on TV and laid it out for the American people in 1969 ...something Bush has yet to do. (And giving Nixon any credit is difficult for this liberal)

Fighting Bob La Follette's Anniversary

I spent the day at the Capital in Madison, WI celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Bob LaFollette.
So what you ask? Well read this:

"People are being unlawfully arrested, thrown into jail, denied the right to employ counsel, or to communicate with their friends, or even to inform their families of their whereabouts, subjected to unlawful search, threatened, intimidated, examined, and cross-examined. The most sacred constitutional rights guaranteed to every American citizen are violated in the name of democracy. It appears to be the purpose of those conducting this procedure to throw the country into a state of terror, to coerce public opinion, stifle criticism, suppress discussion of the issues of the war, and put a quietus on all opposition. ... It is time for the American people to assert and maintain their rights."

That was Bob La Follette speaking out about the atmosphere in the US in 1917 for those expressing opposition to involvement in WWI. Sounds like it could be spoken today.

There was a panel discussion and I got to ask this question:
As you said Bob LaFollette would be against the War in Iraq if he were alive today. Of course Fox News and the right wing bloggers would smear him and try to marginalize him.Do you think he would have a more effective way to deal with this and what would that be?

His biographer Nancy Unger said he would continue to speak truth to power. (Sounds like Dean)
Ed Garvey wasn't so sure LaFollette would be able to survive in today's media.
John Nichols believed speaking truth would win out in the end.

It was a great event and would urge you to read some about Fighting Bob at The Capital Times.
And do check out Ed Garvey's Blog........

Monday, June 13, 2005

So When do We Demand Americans Pay Attention

There's a bumper sticker something to the effect, If you aren't outraged, you aren't paying attention. The question in the back of my mind for some time has been at what point do you fault the American people for not paying attention?

Yes the Republican administration is corrupt and broken. Yes the media is corporate owned and out to lunch. We could write on those 2 forever. But when and how do we really hold the American people accountable?
When do we say if you don't even vote then you really can't expect anything from your government other than the opportunity to let it screw you over.
And if you don't get involved in the least in local or national politics well don't complain when your views are not represented.
If you do not watch ANY news then you haven't the right to get plead ignorance when your government commits crimes and misdemeanors here and abroad.
If you only let the MSM wash over you 2-3 times a week, with no questioning or researching on your own, what they broadcast, then don't wax on about Your Democracy and how much you love it and Everyone in the world should be practicing it.

If people want good government they have to demand it and watch over it. They can't be asleep at the wheel or busy with the latest electronic toys, reality television and celebrety infotainment. They have to be SERIOUS Watchdogs of Their Interests.

Would you just say things are so great now I guess it is safe to leave my money and everything I cherish out on the fronch porch? Hell no because you know there will always be wolves at the door. Well the same holds true with government. If you don't watch over it there is someone who will come on in and take it For themselves, By themselves, To enrich themselves. So when do we say to the people....What the Hell You Gonna Do About it?????

Are you going to go to Washington and male your Representative accountable? Huh? If your bank made a Huge mistake in calculations and it meant all your savings were gone plus you owed them money... ( say like charging you $200 Billion for a war that turned out to be unnecessary and wiped out all surpluses) You mean to tell me you would just sit at home wondering where the white girl in Aruba was, while you waited for the MJ verdict and planned a get together to watch American Idol?
Fuck'd be screeching down to the bank and you wouldn't leave until they admitted they screwed up and gave you a plan for fixing writing. So why do we not expect the same of the American people when it comes to government? This is our government in the end. That's the great idea of democracy we say we are giving to the rest of the world. And the time is coming when we the people have to take either the responsibility or the rap for what happens. It's time we do so....that's what it is going to take if there is to be change. So hey I'll ask it...... Americans when are you going to pay attention and what are you going to do about it?

Yes I can here the objectiosn. You expect too much of Americans. They work so hard. They are so busy. And what about poor Americans.
And yes I hear the cacophony of right wingnuts. See this just proves you hate real Americans you liberal elitists.
And of course you won't win the American public over by blaming them.
Well bullshit to all of that. Americans should be held responsible for their actions and in-actions period. We're adults and the most priveledged in the world. If anyone should be expected to put in some work and effort it Should be us. People really have died forever for freedom and many less powerfull and privelegded die everyday around the world for the littlest things we take for granted. And the big things we take for granted (our gov't foreign policy) is killing a bunch more. So I don't think it is asking too much of Americans....What are you going to do about it??????

The Other Side of the Good News

Sunday on Face the Nation Senator Lindsey Graham was asked if the situation in Iraq is better or worse than 2 months ago. His reply:
I've been there three times. The security environment is much worse. The political environment is better. Iraqis are making decisions about their own future. When you kill a politician in Iraq, somebody else runs for the same office. When you blow up a recruiting station for police, other people come and join. That's the good news.They're trying to work out a constitution. They're making progress. But the insurgency is alive and well. We underestimated the viability of the insurgency. It's hurting recruiting and retention. We need better health-care benefits for the Guard and Reserves. This is the time to adjust. The war in Iraq, I think was the correct thing to do to replace the dictatorship with a democracy.
Here's the bad news:

Bound bodies of off-duty Iraqi soldiers were found along a roadside near Qaim, Iraq, a town near the Syrian border on Friday, June 10. They had left their base near Qaim two days earlier in civilian clothes aboard two minivans, headed to Baghdad for a vacation

Friday, June 10, 2005

UPDATE on Christian Group Representing
WI Legislature in Gay Rights Case

I have posted previously on the WI state legislature hiring a Christian group to represent them in a lawsuit concerning same sex partner rights at the UW system. Today it was learned that the group is James Dobson's, Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Ariz. The Capital Times reports:
An Arizona-based Christian group that provides legal help to fight same-sex marriage and similar causes asked Wednesday that the Wisconsin Legislature be made a co-defendant in a lawsuit seeking benefits for gay partners of state workers.
It's beleived this is the first time that a state legislature has asked a Christian group to represent them. The article continues:
The Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Legislative Organization voted in May to ask the Alliance Defense Fund in Scottsdale, Ariz., to represent the Wisconsin Legislature in the lawsuit. The ADF promotes itself as a defender of family values and offers legal aid to fight against such issues as allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military.

Lawmakers aren't a party in the Dane County lawsuit, but ADF wants to insert them as co-defendants along with the state. ADF attorneys argue in a court motion that Lautenschlager, a Democrat, can't adequately defend the Legislature's interests because she supports benefits for workers' gay partners.

This is a great quote:

Lautenschlager spokesman Scot Ross issued a statement saying the ADF was the one trying to inject politics into the case. "It will be up to a judge to decide what, other than political venom, these Internet lawyers from the other side of the continent would bring to a Wisconsin courtroom," Ross said.

I will continue updates on this story. This is an important, perhaps seminal case. If you want to be of help consider donating to Action Wisconsin. This group is fighting this and numerous anti-gay initiatives in WI.

WaPo Article a Must Read

Atrios points out that the WaPo won't be getting Christmas cards (or Turkee) after publishing "Building Iraq's Army: Mission Improbable". Everyone in America should be reading this:

They (Iraqi soldiers) complain bitterly that their American mentors don't respect them.

In fact, the Americans don't: Frustrated U.S. soldiers question the Iraqis' courage, discipline and dedication and wonder whether they will ever be able to fight on their own, much less reach the U.S. military's goal of operating independently by the fall.
"I know the party line. You know, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, five-star generals, four-star generals, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld: The Iraqis will be ready in whatever time period," said 1st Lt. Kenrick Cato, 34, of Long Island, N.Y., the executive officer of McGovern's company, who sold his share in a database firm to join the military full time after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "But from the ground, I can say with certainty they won't be ready before I leave. And I know I'll be back in Iraq, probably in three or four years. And I don't think they'll be ready then."


The men (Iraqi soldiers) spoke of the insurgents with a hint of awe, saying the fighters were willing to die and outgunned them with rocket-propelled grenades and, more fearsome, car bombs. Zwayid, a father of three, looked in disgust at his own AK-47 assault rifle, with a green shoelace for a strap.

"We fire 10 bullets and it falls apart," he said. Zwayid patted a heavy machine gun mounted in the bed of the Humvee. "This jams," he said. "Are these the weapons worthy of a soldier?" He and others said it was a sign of the Americans' lack of confidence in them.

"We trust the Americans. We go everywhere with them, we do what they ask," he said. "But they don't trust us."


The battalion dispatched McGovern's platoon, about 35 soldiers, to work exclusively with the Iraqis. But the effort was immediately beset by problems. Due to a mixup in paperwork, dozens of Iraqi soldiers went without pay for three months. Many lacked proper uniforms, body armor and weapons. To meet the shortfall, U.S. forces gave the Iraqis rifles and ammunition confiscated during raids in Baiji. Of six interpreters assigned to the company, two quit and two others said they were preparing to.


Almost to a man, the soldiers said they joined for the money -- a relatively munificent $300 to $400 a month. The military and police forces offered some of the few job opportunities in town. Even then, the soldiers were irate: They wanted more time off, air-conditioned quarters like their American counterparts and, most important, respect. Most frustrating, they said, was the two- or three-hour wait to be searched at the base's gate when they returned from leave.

The soldiers said 17 colleagues had quit in the past few days.

"In 15 days, we're all going to leave," Nawaf declared.

The two-dozen soldiers gathered nodded their heads.


Shortly after the ambush, a sniper shot a U.S. soldier standing on the roof of a police station, inflicting a severe head wound. The Americans suspected that the fire had come from the nearby Rahma mosque. American and Iraqi troops surrounded the building. Fearful of inflaming resentment, U.S. soldiers ordered their Iraqi counterparts to search the mosque. They initially refused, entering only after McGovern berated them.
"But I don't know if they searched it that well. They were still tip-toeing when they were in there," said Sgt. Cary Conner, 25, of Newport News, Va., who was among the first soldiers on the scene.
U.S. forces then ordered the Iraqis to arrest everyone inside the mosque, including the respected elderly prayer leader. The Iraqi platoon leader refused, U.S. soldiers recalled. The platoon leader and his men then sat down next to the mosque in protest.
"We wanted to tell the Americans they couldn't do this again," Dhanoun said.


Quotes from members of the the US plattoon training Iraqi soldiers:

  • "We can't tell these guys about a lot of this stuff, because we're not really sure who's good and who isn't," said Rick McGovern, a tough-talking 37-year-old platoon sergeant from Hershey, Pa., who heads the military training for Charlie Company.
  • "Honestly, I don't think people in America understand how touchy the situation really is right now," McGovern said. "We have the military power, the military might, but we're handling everything with kid gloves because we're hoping the Iraqis are going to step up and start taking things on themselves. But they don't have a clue how to do it."
  • "We like to refer to the Iraqi army as preschoolers with guns," he said.
  • "As Arab men, they want for us to think that they're just the same as us as soldiers, that they're just as brave," Cato said. "But they show cowardice. They'll say to me, 'I wasn't afraid.' But if you're running, then you were obviously not just afraid, you were running away."

FBI -- Fucking Blew It

From WaPo:
In one particularly notable finding, the report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine concluded that the FBI missed at least five chances to detect the presence of two of the suicide hijackers -- Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar -- after they first entered the United States in early 2000.
Although many of the missteps surrounding Alhazmi and Almihdhar have become well known, Fine's report adds significant new details about the FBI's role in fumbling the case.
Read the rest

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Tonight on CNN International.

Just letting you know what a real News station is broadcasting tonight. I will be bringing CNNi Tonight each night:
  • Bolivian President resigns and protests in Bolivia
  • Italian Aide Worker held hostage in Afghanistan is released
  • President Mugabe (Zimbabwe) explains gov't crackdown
  • Business in Nigeria--Interview with Nigerian Finance Minister
  • Iraq Offensive
  • Serbs increasing efforts to arrest war crime criminals
  • EU-China Talks
  • Syrian Politics

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Downing Street Memo

Here is the full text of the memo about which you don't hear nearly enough:

*** FULL TEXT ***

As originally reported in the The Times of London, May 1, 2005

From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.

The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72-hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.


(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)


[Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide]

[emphasis added]


OK I'm blogging on this just for the title I admit.....GasGate. I could not resist that one!

But seriously it's one more reason for outrage or corruption fatigue. From the NYT:
Philip A. Cooney, (WH aide) removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.
And what did "science editor" Cooney do prior to coming to the White House:
Before going to the White House in 2001, he was the "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training.
Details, Details:
In a section on the need for research into how warming might change water availability and flooding, he crossed out a paragraph describing the projected reduction of mountain glaciers and snowpack. His note in the margins explained that this was "straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings."
Now that's how you solve global warming! (GOP style)

I Have Corruption Fatigue!!!!

Ohio Coingate,
Ohio Money Laundering,
Pentagon Report on Quran mishandling,
Pentagon Report on Boeing,

And the week isn't over.......

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Pentagon Report: Boeing Deal Was A "Bailout"

Well another unflattering Pentagon Report from the Pentagon Inspector General who is awfully busy and probably none too popular. I wonder how many Acts of Corruption constitute a Corrupt Administration?

Besides documenting precisely who was responsible, the new report details the Air Force's vigorous efforts on Boeing's behalf. It also shows how Air Force leaders and Boeing officials jointly manipulated legislation to authorize the deal and later sought to suppress dissenting opinion throughout the Pentagon.

Just go read WaPo.

1000 WI Guard Ordered Up

From Duluth News Tribune .com:

The Wisconsin National Guard's troop commitment during the war in Iraq reached a new peak after the military ordered 1,020 members to active duty.

The order would bring the total number of Guard soldiers and airmen on active duty to more than 2,950, the highest level since the Berlin Crisis of 1961, Lt. Col. Tim Donovan said Monday.

One of them is my relative, the son of my cousin. (who BTW served in Iraq One)

Live 8 Too White African Concert

Bob Geldof is coming under fire for his Live 8 concert line-up in London. This from Black Information Link:
Black activists and musicians were outraged at the choice of rock and pop musicians for the Live Aid-style extravaganza in London's Hyde Park. Sir Bob said the Live 8 free concert would showcase the "Crème de la Crème" of musical talent. But the list of acts failed to include a single Black British, African or Caribbean artist. Only one of the 22 acts, Mariah Carey, can be counted as an ethnic minority.

Musician and author of BBC's 'Babyfather' drama Patrick Augustus said: "We are being totally excluded. "It seems like the great white man has come to rescue us while the freedom fighters never get a mention. They're just big-ing up their own people. "The organisers need to engage British, African and Jamaican artists who have been dealing with these subjects for a while. Where are the reggae artists that have been campaigning for truth and justice over all these years?"

An all white line up for an African benefit. Yeah that's a great idea. And to make matters worse:
The Make Poverty History campaign suffered a blow yesterday when it was revealed that the white wristbands were being manufactured 'unethically' with forced labour and poverty-wages in China.

Blair Seeks Backing on 2 Issues

Blair is coming to Washington to meet with Bush Tuesday. The 2 issues on Blair's agenda are Africa and global warming. But this paragraph from a BBC article says it all I think:
Before the PM left the UK, his official spokesman downplayed expectations for the meeting with the US president.

First, in an interview, Blair has said he has given up on trying to get Bush to support
Gordon Brown's plan to help Africa . So now he says he is hopeful for a "breakthrough regarding climate change."

Boy are his hopes going to be dashed. As the NYT says
"On climate change, the administration and Downing Street are far apart." Surprise heh.

All this is in advance of the G8 Summit in Scotland next month. Basically Blair is trying to keep Bush from ruining the summit with his petulance and get a little pay back for all his support in the past (ie IRAQ).
I just don't see it happening.

Hillary is Speaking Some Truth

Sen. Hillary Clinton took some good swipes at the Republicans and the media at a fund raiser today.
From the NYT:
"There has never been an administration, I don't believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda," Mrs. Clinton told the gathering.

"I can tell you this: It's very hard to stop people who have no shame about what they're doing. It is very hard to tell people that they are making decisions that will undermine our checks and balances and constitutional system of government who don't care. It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth."

But I particularly like what she said about the press/media:

"It's shocking when you see how easily they fold in the media today," Mrs. Clinton said, again to strong applause. "They don't stand their ground. If they're criticized by the White House, they just fall apart.

"I mean, c'mon, toughen up, guys, it's only our Constitution and country at stake."

I hope to hear more of this kind of talk from more Dems.

Monday, June 06, 2005

My Man McGovern

Lookee what I old McGovern for President poster. Decided it's time for me to pull it out given the Deep Throat disclosure and now Sen. McGovern's op ed in the Boston Globe today (via First Draft).

One thing, however, is clear: Washington cannot determine Iraq's destiny. It doesn't matter how many times Condoleezza Rice or Donald Rumsfeld visit. It doesn't matter how many soldiers we deploy. The myriad factions in Iraq themselves must display the political will to demand a system of government that respects the diversity that exists in their country.

There are no easy answers in Iraq. But we are convinced that the United States should now set a dramatically different course -- one that anticipates US military withdrawal sooner rather than later. We should begin the discussions now as to how we can bring our troops home.

Seems like old times........

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Class Wars:
Haves & Have-mores Have At It

And it is enough to make me sick. NYT continues it series on class with a look at old money Vs new money battling it out for supremecy like 2 alpha male pit bulles on tony Nantucket. They snipe at each other with my ________ (insert any large , I mean LARGE toy) is bigger than yours. Take this:

"Money makes a lifestyle," he said. "It creates a division between the old money and the new. It is a little bit of class jealousy. We go to a cocktail party and a guy is telling my wife about his airplane. So finally the question comes up: 'How do you get over to the island?' and she says, 'We come by plane.' And he says, 'What kind of plane?' and she says, 'A G-IV.' And so the wind comes out of the guy's sails."

"The old money guy has a twin-prop airplane and that is pretty incredible," Mr. Kittredge continued. "For his time, that is pretty great. Now he is talking to a guy who is half his age who has a transcontinental jet. That is the end of the conversation.

Yes..... Doesn't that bring tears to your eyes to see one man's triumph. At last the measure of a man is obvious. His life work is upheld as right and just and noble....oh wait

"Or you meet someone and they start telling you about their boat. He has a 45-foot boat and he is very happy with it. Then he'll say, 'Do you have a boat?' And you say, 'Yes.' 'Well, what kind of boat do you have?' And you say, 'A Fed Ship.' And he says, 'How big is it?' That's how people rank them. So I have to say, 'It's 200 feet.' It's the end of the conversation. Is there envy? Yes, could be. Was he a wealthy guy in his day? Absolutely, but relative to today - no. The two worlds can mix as long as they don't talk too much."

Someone from "old wealth" put it succinctly:

"Shame has somehow gone out the window," Mr. Thomas said. "There is no incentive to exercise control."

That's for damn sure and it makes me wanna puke. We're living in the god damn Gilded Era Redeux. These rich pricks have lost all perspective and I wish someone or something would bring them under control. I'd like to start a huge whisper campaign about The Reign of Terror Redeux....remember that period of time after the French Revolution when all the rich and powerful lost their heads...literally. Get everyone whispering that whenthis economy goes to hell and all us poor folk lose everything we'll be crossing that moat to come get them. If these fucks have no conscience or class then maybe fear of facing a guilotine (televised on CNN of course) will instill a little grace and class. At a bare minimum could you at least not flaunt it for chris sakes.
OK I'm just dreaming. I know they're hopeless. But I love what the local taxi driver says of the pretentious, amoral, pricks (and in turn the rest of us):

"Class has a certain grace," Ms. Briard said. "Just because you can go to Chanel and buy a dress does not mean you have class. A person who just pays their bills on time can have class."

Yeah Everyone I KNOW shows more class than these rich fucks.
And I fucking paid my phone and electric on time this month......beat that bitches.

Friday, June 03, 2005

War Machine Rolls On & On:
L-3 buys Titan

I know everyone is breathlessly waiting for a verdict in the Michael Jackson story and the following story isn't sensational or sexy but it is very telling of why war is profitable and maybe how to slow the machine down (not sure it could be stopped).
L-3 Communications bought Titan Corp today for 2 billion expanding it's defense-intelligence company.
L-3 earnings will increase 5% per share and Titan will increase 1.4% per share.
All of this despite both companies having been in legal trouble.
  • In March, Titan pleaded guilty to making illegal payments to officials in Benin and paid $28.5 million to the federal government to settle the matter.
  • Titan, which provides translators and interrogators used by the U.S. Army in Iraq, has also come into the spotlight for work at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, which became notorious for abuse of prisoners.
  • L-3 is also the subject of a federal investigation after one of its units supplied defective parts for emergency radios to locate downed military pilots.
Titans past legal trouble led defense giant Lockheed Martin to pass on a planned $1.66 billion acquisition of Titan. But hey so what, now Titan gets bought up for even more (once they cut a deal with the US government) . And so what if they were implicated in one of the worst scandals for the military. And so what if L-3 isn't doing right by downed pilots. You can still make money. War is profitable.

With over a dozen deals since 1997, L-3 is one of the leading defense contractors today. But who has heard of them? Yeah everyone knows of Haliburton but L-3? These companies and their legal travails need to become known as well as Haliburton. In fact holding stock in such companies needs to become a source of shame and ridicule. Maybe then we will see a light at the end of the Iraq war tunnel and keep our troops out of Iran.