07 December 2006


Bush says new approach needed in Iraq
By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent

...Bush's meeting with Blair came a day after the Iraq Study Group headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton issued a stinging report saying the Bush policies in Iraq had failed and a major course correction was needed, including beginning to withdraw combat troops.

...The study group concluded that a stable, democratic Iraq was still possible, but Baker said: "We do not know if it can be turned around."

Bush was more upbeat, but gave no hints about whether he was contemplating a major policy shift. At the same time, Bush said that he didn't think Baker and Hamilton "expect us to accept every recommendation."
If El Presidente had bothered to put forth even a minimum effort and take the time to sound his way through the Cliff's Notes "Executive Summary" section of the ISG report, he'd find that that's exactly what is expected:
It is the unanimous view of the Iraq Study Group that these recommendations offer a new way forward for the United States in Iraq and the region. They are comprehensive and need to be implemented in a coordinated fashion. They should not be separated or carried out in isolation.
Standing before the U.S. and international media and lying is testament to one's utter lack of character and credibility.

That said, choosing a lie that is exposed by even the most cursory examination of the relevant material calls in to question your basic powers of judgment. That sort of decision, on that scale, is a sign that you, A.) don't see the risk--and are abjectly stupid--or, B.) simply don't care, believing yourself beyond all reproach.

At the end of the day--along with the bodies and limbs lying in the sands of Iraq--we're left with one thing: an unprincipled liar, and a poor one, at that, irredeemably crippled by either staggering ignorance or the soaring arrogance of personal infallibility.

A liar whose hands grow bloodier by the day.

Now THAT's consistency

From CBS:
But this president may not be in much of a hurry to accept (ISG Chair) Baker's ideas about that — or much else. Asked if Baker would help implement the report, a spokesman for Mr. Bush said, "Jim Baker can go back to his day job."
Even the spokespeople for the pledgemaster-in-chief sound like arrogant, fratboy pricks.

01 December 2006

Still waiting for the cure

"This is for any of you who knows anyone who has lost anyone.

This is a song about Wendy, by a friend of ours named Andy Prieboy, of Wall of Voodoo.

This is a song about a woman with AIDS, which someone in this room has, a few of these people in this room has...

And you'll go through it, you'll know it, we should stop it...this is for Wendy." --Johnette Napolitano
Tomorrow, Wendy

It is complete now, two ends of time are neatly tied.

A one-way street, she's walking to the end of the line.
And there she meets the faces she sees in her heart and mind.

They say, "Goodbye."
Tomorrow, Wendy's going to die.

Underneath the chilly grey November sky,
We can make believe that Kennedy is still alive.
We're shooting for the moon and smiling Jackie's driving by.

They say "Good try."
Tomorrow, Wendy's going to die.

I told the priest, don't count on any second coming,
God got his ass kicked the first time he came down here slumming.
He had the balls to come, the gall to die and then forgive us -
No, I don't wonder why, I wonder what he thought it would get us.

Hey, hey, good try.
Tomorrow, Wendy's going to die.

But God says jump, so I set the time.
'Cause if he ever saw her it was through these eyes of mine.
And if He ever suffered, it was me who did His crying...

Hey, hey, good bye...

08 September 2006

Friday Night Movie

Good Night, and Good Luck.

The only thing more depressing than wishing life were like a movie, is realizing life WAS like the movie.
We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

...This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful.

Stonewall Jackson, who knew something about the use of weapons, is reported to have said, "When war comes, you must draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." The trouble with television is that it is rusting in the scabbard during a battle for survival. -- Edward R. Murrow at the Radio and Television News Directors Association Convention, 10/15/1958

Even a broken clock...

"One of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror" -- George W. Bush in the 09.06.06 interview with CBS' Katie Couric
You don't say...
Senate: Saddam saw al-Qaida as threat

By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Saddam Hussein regarded al-Qaida as a threat rather than a possible ally, a Senate report says, contradicting assertions President Bush has used to build support for the war in Iraq.

Released Friday, the report discloses for the first time an October 2005 CIA assessment that before the war, Saddam's government "did not have a relationship, harbor or turn a blind eye toward" al-Qaida operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his associates.

...As recently as an Aug. 21 news conference, Bush said people should "imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein" with the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction and "who had relations with Zarqawi."

...According to the report, postwar findings indicate that Saddam "was distrustful of al-Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime."

It said al-Zarqawi was in Baghdad from May until late November 2002. But "postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi."

In June 2004, Bush defended Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that Saddam had "long-established ties" with al-Qaida. "Zarqawi is the best evidence of connection to al-Qaida affiliates and al-Qaida," the president said.
The Iraq/terror connection was a hard part of El Presidente's job, alright.

As it stands tonight, in addition to $300,000,000,000 (and counting), it has taken 2,700 U.S. soldiers killed, 20,000 wounded, and the lives of over 40,000 civilians in order to connect Iraq to the war on terror.

06 September 2006

After all, we are talking about the distant past...

You can't expect them to get ALL the details right from the late 90's.
9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized as Inaccurate and Biased

Published: September 6, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 5 — Days before its scheduled debut, the first major television miniseries about the Sept. 11 attacks was being criticized on Tuesday as biased and inaccurate by bloggers, terrorism experts and a member of the Sept. 11 commission, whose report makes up much of the film’s source material.

The six-hour miniseries, “The Path to 9/11,” is to be shown on ABC on Sunday and Monday. The network has been advertising the program as a “historic broadcast” that uses the commission’s report on the 2001 attacks as its “primary foundation.”

On Tuesday, several liberal blogs were questioning whether ABC’s version was overly critical of the Clinton administration while letting the Bush administration off easy.

In particular, some critics — including Richard A. Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar — questioned a scene that depicts several American military officers on the ground in Afghanistan. In it, the officers, working with leaders of the Northern Alliance, the Afghan rebel group, move in to capture Osama bin Laden, only to allow him to escape after the mission is canceled by Clinton officials in Washington.

In a posting on, and in a phone interview, Mr. Clarke said no military personnel or C.I.A. agents were ever in position to capture Mr. bin Laden in Afghanistan, nor did the leader of the Northern Alliance get that near to his camp.

“It didn’t happen,” Mr. Clarke said. “There were no troops in Afghanistan about to snatch bin Laden. There were no C.I.A. personnel about to snatch bin Laden. It’s utterly invented.”

Mr. Clarke, an on-air consultant to ABC News, said he was particularly shocked by a scene in which it seemed Clinton officials simply hung up the phone on an agent awaiting orders in the field. “It’s 180 degrees from what happened,” he said. “So, yeah, I think you would have to describe that as deeply flawed.”

ABC responded Tuesday with a statement saying that the miniseries was “a dramatization, not a documentary, drawn from a variety of sources, including the 9/11 commission report, other published materials and from personal interviews.”

“The events that lead to 9/11 originally sparked great debate,” the statement continued, “so it’s not surprising that a movie surrounding those events has revived the debate.”

Former Gov. Thomas H. Kean of New Jersey, the chairman of the Sept. 11 commission and a consultant on the miniseries, defended the program, saying he thought the disputed scene was an honest representation of a number of failed efforts to capture Mr. bin Laden.

“I pointed out the fact that the scene involving Afghanistan and the attempt to get bin Laden is a composite,” Mr. Kean said, adding that the miniseries format required some conflation of events. But, he said, “The basic fact is that on a number of occasions, they thought they might have been able to get bin Laden, and on those occasions, the plug was pulled for various reasons.”

Mr. Kean conceded that some points might have been more drama than documentary. “Some of the people shown there probably weren’t there,” he said.

Online commentators seized on remarks made last week by Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio host, who said “The Path to 9/11” had been written and produced by a “friend of mine out in California” named Cyrus. “From what I’ve been told,” Mr. Limbaugh said, according to a transcript on, “the film really zeros in on the shortcomings of the Clinton administration.”

...ABC said it planned to run a disclaimer with the broadcast, reminding viewers that the movie was not a documentary.

But Richard Ben-Veniste, a member of the Sept. 11 commission, said genre confusion would not be a problem for commission members, several of whom saw part of the miniseries last week.

“As we were watching, we were trying to think how they could have misinterpreted the 9/11 commission’s finding the way that they had,” Mr. Ben-Veniste said. “They gave the impression that Clinton had not given the green light to an operation that had been cleared by the C.I.A. to kill bin Laden,” when, in fact, the Sept. 11 commission concluded that Mr. Clinton had.
That sound you hear would be so-called "conservatives" forfeiting any right to complain about how "the memory of the victims of 9/11" is used by anyone.


And only eight weeks in front of an election. Who woulda thunk?

If this sort of crass exploitation is within the bounds of acceptability, then we might as well start hawking "Let's Roll Lager" right between the Budweiser and High Life.

This hatchet-job transcends mere "spin" and lands squarely in the realm of "fabrication" and "lies." Of course, those are two things the current GOP has become well accustomed to, so it's easy to understand why they couldn't tell the difference.

05 September 2006

Condi's caught Rumsfeld's insanity

Condoleezza Rice is a disgrace. From the NY Daily News:
"I'm sure there are people who thought it was a mistake to fight the Civil War to its end and to insist that the emancipation of slaves would hold," Rice tells Essence.

"I know there were people who said, 'Why don't we get out of this now, take a peace with the South, but leave the South with slaves?'"
61% of Americans want some degree of Iraq withdrawal by the end of the year.

How about it America?

Your government likens that to appeasing nazis, and now, turning a blind eye to slavery.

183,000,000 of you.

If you agree, vote Republican.

31 August 2006

I always wondered what an aneurysm felt like

"The security of the civilized world depends on victory in the war on terror and that depends on victory in Iraq. So the United States of America will not leave until victory is achieved." -- George W. Bush

30 August 2006

Quote of the Day

Countdown's Keith Olbermann. Forgive the length and lack of original commentary. IMO, none is needed, and such things should be disseminated, in full, and in as many areas as possible.

C&L has the video.
The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald S. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable comments to the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday demand the deep analysis - and the sober contemplation - of every American. For they do not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence - indeed, the loyalty — of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land; Worse, still, they credit those same transient occupants - our employees — with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; And not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as "his" troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq. It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile… it is right — and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For, in their time, there was another government faced with true peril - with a growing evil - powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the secret information. It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s - questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted policies, conclusions - and omniscience — needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all - it "knew" that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile - at best… morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name… was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History - and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England - taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty - and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy. Excepting the fact that he has the battery plugged in backwards. His government, absolute - and exclusive - in its knowledge, is not themodern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government… of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscients.

That about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused… is simply this:

This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely. And as such, all voices count — not just his. Had he or his President perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience - about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago - about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago - about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago - we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their omniscience as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to enveloppe this nation - he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have - inadvertently or intentionally - profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes.

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised?

As a child, of whose heroism did he read?

On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight?

With what country has he confused… the United States of America?

The confusion we — as its citizens - must now address, is stark and forbidding. But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note - with hope in your heart - that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light… and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this Administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism:"

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that — though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute… I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow. But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed, "confused" or "immoral."

Thus forgive me for reading Murrow in full:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," he said, in 1954.

"We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law."

"We will not walk in fear - one, of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men; Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular."

29 August 2006

Secretary of the Indefensible

Rumsfeld Lashes Out at Bush's Critics

Tuesday August 29, 2006
By Robert Burns
AP Military Writer

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday the world faces ``a new type of fascism'' and likened critics of the Bush administration's war strategy to those who tried to appease the Nazis in the 1930s.

In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the administration's critics as suffering from ``moral or intellectual confusion'' about what threatens the nation's security. His remarks amounted to one of his most pointed defenses of President Bush' war policies and was among his toughest attacks on Bush's critics.

Speaking to several thousand veterans at the American Legion's national convention, Rumsfeld recited what he called the lessons of history, including the failure to confront Hitler. He quoted Winston Churchill as observing that trying to accommodate Hitler was ``a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.''

``I recount this history because once again we facesimilar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism,'' he said.

``Can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?'' he asked.

``Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America - not the enemy - is the real source of the world's troubles?''

Rumsfeld spoke to the American Legion as part of a coordinated White House strategy, in advance of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to take the offensive against administration critics at a time of doubt about the future of Iraq and growing calls to withdraw U.S. troops.

Rumsfeld recalled a string of recent terrorist attacks, from 9/11 to deadly bombings in Bali, London and Madrid, and said it should be obvious to anyone that terrorists must be confronted, not appeased.

``But some seem not to have learned history's lessons,'' he said, adding that part of the problem is that the American news media have tended to emphasize the negative rather than the positive.
At the risk of being labeled "shrill," or "lacking civility," the only conclusion I can come to, is that our Secretary of Defense is an unscrupulous bastard, without a shred of decency, honor, or respect for this country and its citizens.

There are points that can be argued and debated, but this is not one of them. To address Rumsfeld's odious comparisons with anything other than derision and abject contempt is to confer upon them a legitimacy that they do not merit in any way, shape, or form. And for all the negativity the traditional media allegedly emphasizes, they are guilty of doing just that, again and again. Calling this venom a "pointed defense" of administration policy, as is done in the second paragraph of the article, is akin to urinating on someone's shoes and calling it a "rebuttal."

Sometimes, "bugfuck insane," is just that.

Rumsfeld's comparisons are both intellectually and morally bankrupt. This type of mendacious demagoguery is the product of years of failure and mismanagement that carry with them, a stench that no amount of perfume can cover. Unable to defend his own record, he lashes out--foolishly and incorrectly--at everything else.

No American should have to explain why he isn't like a nazi-era appeaser because he disagrees with the president. And right now, that's the majority of the population. According to Donald Rumsfeld, more than 150,000,000 people are "confused" about the challenges facing the country, and want to give terrorists a pass and hope for the best.


And you neither can, nor should, reason with that.

Scary T-Shirt! Code Red, Code Red!!

T-Shirt Inscription Keeps Iraqi Man From Boarding Flight
WNYC Newsroom

NEW YORK, NY August 29, 2006 — An Iraqi architect says he was not allowed to board a Jet Blue flight at JFK because of the Arabic inscription on his t-shirt.

REPORTER: Raed Jarrar was wearing a T-shirt that read "We Will Not Be Silent" in Arabic and English, when he was approached by security officers. The officers said the Arabic script was upsetting other passengers, and told Jarrar to either turn the shirt inside out or wear something else. Jarrar protested but finally wore a T-shirt provided by a Jet Blue employee.

JARRAR: I grew up and spent all my life living under authoritarian regimes. and i know that these things happen. But I'm shocked that they happened to me here, in the U.S. Especially that I moved from Iraq because of the war that was waged in Iraq under titles like democracy and freedom.

REPORTER: A spokesman for Jet Blue says the airline is investigating to see if the security officers were with the airline, the Transportation Security Administration or the Port Authority. He also said the airline does not forbid Arabic T-shirts, but that it does take into account the concerns of its passengers.
We are becoming a nation of bedwetters.

If a single line of Arabic script has you trembling and flagging down security, that's not "concerned," that's paranoid. It's also staggeringly stupid, unless you subscribe to the notion that it's conventional hijacker wisdom to wear things to call attention to yourself before you even get onto the airplane.

By handling this the way they did, Jet Blue validated the "concerned passengers'" paranoia and ensured that it will happen again. The guy had already been subject to the same security procedures as everyone else. His shirt was nothing more than a convenient excuse for the passengers to act on their fear of any Arabic-looking man. Again, unless they think a bomber is going to be strolling up to the gate with "Death to America" emblazoned on his chest, it's fairly clear that their problem was with the individual, not his clothes.

For anyone who might claim that the passengers were just being vigilant, doing their part to thwart terrorism, I have one thing to say:


Terrorist acts are a tactic, part of strategy, not a goal unto themselves. The goal is for fear to supplant reason as the ruling principle in our lives. So, check your watch and mark the date, folks, because when urine-soaked, borderline racist douchebaggery like this is legitimized--and in this case, it most certainly was--then the terrorists just won.

28 August 2006

Good thing there wasn't anything else going on

Like a President being found in violation of his oath to uphold the Constitution.
Prosecutors drop case in JonBenet slaying

By Jon Sarche, Associated Press Writer

BOULDER, Colo. - Prosecutors abruptly dropped their case against John Mark Karr in the slaying of JonBenet Ramsey, saying DNA tests failed to put him at the crime scene despite his repeated insistence he killed the 6-year-old beauty queen.
A wonderful, weeklong use of the sum total of MSNBCNNFOX's "reporting" resources, wasn't it?

26 August 2006

The gulf between Presidential sycophant Katherine Harris and anything resembling reality continues to widen

Apparently there ARE some GOPers who won't be campaigning for Joe Lieberman.

Brace yourselves, the wingnuttery gets very deep, very quickly.
"If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," she told interviewers, citing abortion and gay marriage as two examples of that sin.

"Whenever we legislate sin," she said, "and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don't know better, we are leading them astray and it's wrong . . ."

...In reality, she said, "we have to have the faithful in government" because that is God's will. Separating religion and politics is "so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers," she said.
Praise Jeezus.

23 August 2006

Not only don't we know, but we hardly KNOW we don't know

From Reuters:
Congress report faults U.S. intelligence on Iran
Wed Aug 23, 2006
By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. intelligence community is ill-prepared to assess Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities and its intentions for developing weapons of mass destruction, a congressional report said on Wednesday.

Noting "significant gaps in our knowledge and understanding of the various areas of concern about Iran," the House Intelligence Committee staff report questioned whether the United States could even effectively engage in talks with Tehran on ways to diffuse tensions."
This is what happens when you have an administration that views "engagement" as a reward for obeying a demand on pain of death, rather than as the means to attaining the requested outcome.

The only thing more discouraging than the U.S. finding itself in this situation 3+ years into the Iraq debacle, is that, thanks to BushCo's enthusiasm for its famous "One Percent Doctrine," the likelihood that any lessons have been learned is nil.

21 August 2006

Quote of the Day

Jon Stewart: "Now I often look to you for perspective, so assessing the Middle East situation from a more mathematical way, on a scale from 'fucked' to 'motherfucked' would you say..."

Reza Aslan: "I'd go with 'motherfucked.'"

18 August 2006

The Boy King stomps his feet after his spanking

The idiocy knows no bounds.
"I would say that those who, um, um, herald this decision simply do not understand the nature of the world in which we live." -- George W. Bush, on the ruling striking down the NSA's illegal spying program
Similarly, anyone offering that opinion simply doesn't understand the nature of the government he allegedly heads.

Think about this for a second. The Chief Executive of the United States is responding to a question of Constitutional law with what amounts to the Radiohead Defense: It doesn't suck, you just don't "get it."

Sweet Jesus.

If El Presidente's job was working the counter at a McDonald's, and he exhibited the same depth of knowledge of that institution, the manager would have his nametag and paper hat by the end of the shift.

The suggestion that ANYONE'S "understanding of the nature of the world," has the slightest relevance to whether or not a process is constitutional reveals a level of ignorance--or, possibly, arrogance--that is, simply, staggering. What's worse, in this case, it's impossible to determine which condition is more responsible.

17 August 2006

Remember that illegal domestic spying program?

It's illegal.
NSA eavesdropping program ruled unconstitutional
Judge orders immediate halt to program

Thursday, August 17, 2006

DETROIT, Michigan (AP) -- A federal judge ruled Thursday that the government's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.

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

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers who say the program has made it difficult for them to do their jobs. They believe many of their overseas contacts are likely targets of the program, which involves secretly taping conversations between people in the U.S. and people in other countries.

The government argued that the program is well within the president's authority, but said proving that would require revealing state secrets.

The ACLU said the state-secrets argument was irrelevant because the Bush administration already had publicly revealed enough information about the program for Taylor to rule.
Once again, a victory for the rule of law and the Constitution, but what sort of tangible result can be expected from people who clearly cared nothing for those things, to begin with? Either way, Glenn Greenwald does his customary top-notch job on this one.

Fearmonger of the Day

Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
"They're (Middle Eastern terrorists) waiting for the Democrats here to take control, let things cool off and then strike again."
A pathetic lie from a small, petty man in the service of a smaller, pettier man and his criminally negligent administration.

10 August 2006

A severe risk of fading domestic support

Through the night, authorities in the UK disrupted a plot to blow up commercial airliners using liquid explosives.  About 20 people have been taken into custody and, according to the BBC, "most of the 'principle characters' were British born" and officials have reason to believe the "main players" have been detained.  Coverage from the Guardian and the BBC can be seen here and here.  The most notable difference with coverage in U.S. outlets:
Chertoff: Plot 'suggestive' of al-Qaida
By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON -  Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the terror plot disrupted in Britain is "suggestive of an al-Qaida plot," but noted the investigation was ongoing and no final conclusion could be made.
...A senior U.S. counterterrorism official said authorities believe dozens of people were involved or connected to the overseas plot that was unraveled Wednesday evening. The plan "had a footprint to al-Qaida back to it," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
What a surprise. 
"Suggestive" of al-Qaida.
An al-Qaida "footprint."
No "al-Qaida involved," though, is there?
The Brits don't even mention it--there not being any, y'know, EVIDENCE--but the U.S. officials make sure to float that connection to the press by 8:00am.  In a country where 50% of people still believe Saddam had WMD, the administration knows that's all they need to do to revitalize a boogeyman that's lost its mojo.  Their involvement in Iraq having given way to the sectarian civil war, Al-Qaida's been exceedingly quiet, lately, doing little more than piggybacking media statements on top of the crisis in Lebanon so they don't get overshadowed and forgotten. 
Now, Chertoff is doing their PR work for them so that El Presidente and the rest of the GOP can go back to invoking that dread name in the "Dems are soft on terror" segments of their stump speeches leading up to November.  And we all know how that hackneyed formula goes:
Fighting in Iraq = Fighting Terror
Al-Qaida = Terror
Wanting plan to leave Iraq = Wanting Al-Qaida to blow up planes with liquid explosive
Will that fly with--or even possibly influence--the 60% of Americans who oppose the war and want to begin some level of withdrawal by the end of the year?
Who knows.  The only certainty is that the GOP chickenhawks are going to try.

09 August 2006

Quote of the day

"I am a sports fan, so I am going to use a sports comparison. As I see it, in this campaign we just finished the first half and the Lamont team is ahead." -- Joe Lieberman, 08/08/06

"Here's a sports comparison: There was a game...and YOU LOST!" -- Jon Stewart, 08/09/06


You know those days, when, everytime you try to do something, forces conspire to interrupt you? The phone...the doorbell...somebody stops by your office, that sort of thing? I anticipated a big news day as the reactions to Holy Joe's non-concession in the Connecticut Senate race rolled in, but every time I tried to rub two thoughts together, something else came up that made him look like even more of an arrogant, out-of-touch, self-important weasel than he did just minutes before.

And he was looking awful to begin with.

First, this gem from his "screw you" speech to Connecticut Dems:
"I am disappointed not just because I lost, but because the old politics of partisan polarization won today. For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand."
"That result." What Joe seems to have forgotten is that "that result" is the will of the Democratic voters of the state he represents. THAT, not so-called old politics, is what he has deemed himself entitled to supersede. The intent of the process takes a backseat to what Joe wants. GREAT way to set himself apart from his BFF, El Presidente, no?

As the reporting on last night's event went into full swing, we were treated to headlines like this:
Democrats abandon Lieberman, back Lamont

By STEPHANIE REITZ, Associated Press Writer

HARTFORD, Conn. - Top Democrats on Capitol Hill abandoned Sen. Joe Lieberman one by one Wednesday and threw their support to Ned Lamont, the anti-war challenger who defeated him in the primary. But Lieberman said his conscience demands that he run as an independent in November.
Framing this story as anyone abandoning Lieberman is either some of the laziest--or, alternately--most deceitful reporting we've seen in awhile. After declining to follow Lamont's lead in pledging support to the eventual nominee, he hedged his bets with petitions and "conceded" by...not conceding and, instead, running against "his" party's choice.

You weren't abandoned, Joe, you jumped ship.

As if that weren't enough, as national Dems lined up behind the legitimate nominee, a Lieberman aide let ABC News in on one vote of confidence that his vanity party DID receive:
According to a close Lieberman adviser, the President's political guru, Karl Rove, has reached out to the Lieberman camp with a message straight from the Oval Office:"The boss wants to help. Whatever we can do, we will do."
Only fitting, I suppose, since Joe's been looking to the GOP's script for most of his campaign against Democrats Ned Lamont. Tony Snow(job) followed it up by devoting time in today's White House presser to recycle the "influence of the extreme left" canard before saying "the president's going to stay out of that one." It seems Tony's forgetting he's supposed to speak for the president, not editorialize for Tony Snow. Must be another FauxNews flashback.

Finally, when you thought the Lieberman's GOP tongue-bath couldn't get any more egregious, Kenny Mehlman got on Hardball and REPEATEDLY declined to endorse the GOP nominee in the Connecticut general election. (From A-blog, with the vid at PoliticsTV):
MATTHEWS: Do you want Republicans in Connecticut to vote for the Republican candidate or do you want them to vote for Joe Lieberman, which one?

MEHLMAN: I'm letting Republicans in Connecticut make that decision.
You're the party chair for chrissakes! How do you demure on whether or not your constituents should vote for the party's candidate? This is beyond unthinkable.

Of course, pledging to support your party's nominee, whoever it may be, should be a no-brainer, too.

Rove. Snow. Mehlman.

Good luck shedding that DINO label now, Joe.

08 August 2006

Lieberman concedes to Ned

...if "conceding" means hoisting a big middle finger to the Democratic voters of Connecticut and pledging to go full speed ahead with his bullshit Connecticut Lieberman for Lieberman independent run.

He can call himself an "independent Democrat" all he wants. That doesn't change two things:

The majority of Democratic voters in Connecticut want another candidate.

Holy Joe is going to try and defeat that candidate.

If you're actively attempting to beat your own party's candidate in a general election, that puts the lie to your alleged affiliation. The only interests that Lieberman has in mind are personal.

Leadership needs to strip him of any and all leadership positions, immediately.

Fingers crossed...

The gap has narrowed some, but it's still looking pretty cosistent--and good--for Ned Lamont in CT.

Lamont: 51.7%
Lieberman: 48.3%

07 August 2006

Adventures in speechinating

Once again ensconced in the comfy confines of his Crawford ranch, the vacationer-in-chief took time out between his 10:00 and 11:30 brush clearing sessions to respond to some of those uninformed amatures who've seen fit to spout off about the violence engulfing Iraq. (You might've heard of them: Gen. John "the sectarian violence is probably is as bad as I’ve seen it" Abizaid of U.S. Central Command, and Gen. Peter "we do have the possibility of that devolving to a civil war" Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs).

Before reading further, you might want to steel yourself for the stupid rays, lest you become lightheaded and fall to the floor.

So sayeth El Presidente:
“You know, I hear people say, Well, civil war this, civil war that. The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box.”
Which is not unlike staring at a raging, five-alarm blaze, only to offer, "You know, I hear people say, well, inferno this, inferno that. The warehouse owner decided against infernos when he put in those smoke detectors."

04 August 2006

Collective Punishment, by the numbers

This week, the Lebanese Minister of Justice started laying the groundwork for going after the Israeli government for war crimes.
Lebanon is planning to file a lawsuit against Israel in the International Criminal Court. Tuesday, Lebanese Minister of Justice Charles Rizk made a written petition to the Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, asking him to bring up the issue in the next meeting of the Lebanese cabinet, so that the prime minister will be able to collect witnesses in preparation before filing of the complaint.

The minister wrote to the prime minister: "The repeated Israeli attacks on Lebanon, on its infrastructure, its citizens, women and children, since July 12 are a grave breech of international law and international agreements. As such, they clearly constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity."
Of course, as far as our government is concerned, anything done in the course of a "lasting peace" is A-OK. A few parties--like the rest of the world--tend to disagree. But, then again, all THEY have on their side are those oh-so-"quaint" Geneva Conventions. One of them just happens to address procedures "relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War." (Unlike Israel today, some actually make that distinction). From the wild Wiki-people:
Article 33. No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.

Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.

Pillage is prohibited.

Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

"Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions collective punishments are a war crime. Article 33 states: 'No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed,' and 'collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.'

By collective punishment, the drafters of the Geneva Conventions had in mind the reprisal killings of World Wars I and II. In the First World War, Germans executed Belgian villagers in mass retribution for resistance activity. In World War II, Nazis carried out a form of collective punishment to suppress resistance. Entire villages or towns or districts were held responsible for any resistance activity that took place there. The conventions, to counter this, reiterated the principle of individual responsibility. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary to the conventions states that parties to a conflict often would resort to 'intimidatory measures to terrorize the population' in hopes of preventing hostile acts, but such practices 'strike at guilty and innocent alike. They are opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice.'"
Not surprisingly, the Administration and traditional (U.S.) media explain Lebanese civilian casualties, not as collective punishment, but the inevitable result of combatting the Hezbollah fighters hiding among them. Setting aside the question of whether or not that's even the case, there's a few things that aren't open to interpretation or alternate points of view:

Population of Lebanon: 3,874,000

Hezbollah Fighters: 600-1000 active (with 3,000 - 5,000 available and 10,000 reservists)

Lebanese civilians/military killed (as of 08/04/06): 675

Lebanese civilians/military wounded: 2,327

Lebanese civilians displaced to date: 800,000-1,000,000
3,000 assorted casualties and a quarter of the country's population driven from their homes.

Doesn't get much more "collective" than that.

02 August 2006

Joke of the Day

Someone needs to get Talabani a slot at the Improv. Seriously.
Iraq Vows to Handle Security This Year
Aug 2, 8:16 AM (ET)


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - President Jalal Talabani said Wednesday that Iraqi forces will take over security of all provinces in the country by the end of the year. Currently U.S. forces handle security in 17 of Iraq's 18 provinces.

The optimistic statement by Talabani comes at a time when the country is reeling under intense sectarian violence, mainly involving Shiite and Sunni militias. On Tuesday, more than 70 people were killed in one of the worst days of bloodshed...

"We are highly optimistic that we will terminate terrorism in this year... the multinational forces' role is a supportive one and the Iraqi forces will take over security in all Iraqi provinces by the end of this year gradually and God's will, we will take the lead," he said.
Either that, or get him into rehab. Because he sounds like he's on some of the sweetest dope our other pet narcostate "Freedom on the March" poster child, Afghanistan, can produce. Here's a ONE DAY roundup from those reality-based folks at Reuters:
BAGHDAD - A U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb on Monday south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

BASRA - A British soldier was killed when a mortar round landed on the British military base in Basra, 550 (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, the British military said.

MOSUL - Gunmen killed a student in the college of Islamic law and wounded another in Mosul, 390 km north of Baghdad, police said. Gunmen killed a man in a separate incident in Mosul, police added. The reason was unclear.

BAGHDAD - Gunmen attacked two minibuses carrying civil servants in the electricity department of Baghdad, killing four and wounding seven, police said.

NEAR KUT - A roadside bomb exploded beside a fuel truck wounding its driver in an area near Kut, 170 km southeast of Baghdad, police said.

KIRKUK - A member of the Arab Consultative Assembly, a gathering for Arab tribes and political parties, was gunned down in northern Kirkuk, 250 km north of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - Seven people were wounded, including three police commandos, when a car bomb targeting a U.S. patrol exploded on Zayouna district, eastern Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - Nine insurgents and 25 suspected insurgents have been detained by the Iraqi army forces in the past 24 hours in different areas of Baghdad, the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

BAGHDAD - A suicide car bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol exploded on Palestine Street, northeastern Baghdad, wounding two civilians, a police source said.

BAGHDAD - Gunmen shot at an Iraqi Army checkpoint in the northern outskirts of Baghdad, wounding five, including one civilian, an Interior Ministry source said.

NEAR TIKRIT - A roadside bomb went off near a bus carrying Iraqi soldiers, killing 20 of them and wounding 13 near Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad.

BAGHDAD - At least 10 people were killed and 22 wounded when a car driven by a suicide bomber exploded near an army patrol in the mainly Shi'ite Karrada district of Baghdad, a source in the Interior Ministry said.

MUQDADIYA - Seven people were killed and 15 wounded when a car bomb exploded beside a police patrol near a hospital in the town of Muqdadiya, 90 km northeast of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - A civilian was killed and another wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in northeastern Baghdad, police said.

BAQUBA - The bodies of three people were found in Baquba, 65 km north of Baghdad, police said.

KIRKUK - Two policemen were killed and another wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, police said.
But the Iraqis will be able to go it alone by Christmas. No problem.

26 July 2006

What Deaner Was Talkin' About

(With apologies to Mickey and Aaron)

Frankly, I haven't the slightest clue.
Dean calls Iraqi PM an 'anti-Semite'

By BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 15 minutes ago

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean on Wednesday called Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki an "anti-Semite" for failing to denounce Hezbollah for its attacks against Israel.

Al-Maliki has condemned Israel's offensive, prompting several Democrats to boycott his address to a joint meeting of Congress and others to criticize him. Dean's comments were the strongest to date.

"The Iraqi prime minister is an anti-Semite," the Democratic leader told a gathering of business leaders in Florida. "We don't need to spend $200 and $300 and $500 billion bringing democracy to Iraq to turn it over to people who believe that Israel doesn't have a right to defend itself and who refuse to condemn Hezbollah."
With an excellent opportunity to make gains in the fall elections, it's absolutely baffling why Dean (and the rest of the Dems who skipped Al-Maliki's address) would try and out-Republican the Republicans by going after the Iraqi PM under these circumstances.

Is it good that he won't officially take a stand against Hezbollah's actions that provoked this disaster?


Is he an anti-semite for not parroting the U.S. position on Israel?

No, and that puts him in the same boat as virtually every other country on the planet.

You've got to pick your battles and this is one of the poorest picks I've ever seen. Not only does this really come across as the Dems being "the party of 'no,'" but it parrots the tired, bullshit freeper-land charges of anti-semitism so frequently levied at progressives who happen to disagree with Israeli policies.

24 July 2006

The poodle bites

British split with Bush as Israeli tanks roll in
· Minister attacks 'disproportionate' raids
· 2,000 troops cross into Lebanon

Ned Temko, Conal Urquhart in Tel Aviv and Peter Beaumont in Beirut
Sunday July 23 2006
The Observer

Britain dramatically broke ranks with George Bush last night over the Lebanon crisis, publicly criticising Israel's military tactics and urging America to 'understand' the price being paid by ordinary Lebanese civilians.

The remarks, made in Beirut by the Foreign Office minister, Kim Howells, were the first public criticism by this country of Israel's military campaign, and placed it at odds with Washington's strong support. The Observer can also reveal that Tony Blair voiced deep concern about the escalating violence during a private telephone conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, last week. But sources close to Blair said Olmert had replied that Israel faced a dire security threat from the Hizbollah militia and was determined to do everything necessary to defeat it.

Britain's shift came as Israeli tanks and warplanes pounded targets across the border in southern Lebanon yesterday ahead of an imminently expected ground offensive to clear out nearby Hizbollah positions, which have been firing dozens of rockets onto towns and cities inside Israel.

Downing Street sources said last night that Blair still believed Israel had every right to respond to the missile threat, and held the Shia militia responsible for provoking the crisis by abducting two Israeli soldiers and firing rockets into Israel. But they said they had no quarrel with Howells's scathing denunciation of Israel's military tactics.

Speaking to a BBC reporter before travelling on for talks in Israel, where he will also visit the missile-hit areas of Haifa and meet his Israeli opposite number, Howells said: 'The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people: these have not been surgical strikes. If they are chasing Hizbollah, then go for Hizbollah. You don't go for the entire Lebanese nation.' The minister added: 'I very much hope that the Americans understand what's happening to Lebanon.'
The Americans probably do.

The American government...not so much.

The Brits have bailed and even the Iraqi puppet government that we created thinks our position is absurd.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has called on the US and Britain to change policies in order to bring about an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon.

Mr Maliki said the destruction had reached "unacceptable levels" and he would be using talks with Tony Blair in London to make it clear that he disagreed with the powers' tactics for dealing with the crisis.

Speaking through a translator, he said: "What I can say about what is happening now is that I can't find enough justification for what is happening here." He continued: "The destruction of the infrastructure is even not consistent with the rules of law, even if we can say that there is a war.
The Decider has yet to see a course that can't be stayed.

20 July 2006

Unintentional comedy of the day

Bush acknowledges racism still exists

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - President Bush acknowledged persistent racism in America and lamented the Republican Party's bumpy relations with black voters as he addressed the NAACP's annual convention Thursday for the first time in his presidency.

"I understand that racism still lingers in America," Bush told the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "It's a lot easier to change a law than to change a human heart. And I understand that many African-Americans distrust my political party."

That line generated boisterous applause and cheers from the thousands in the audience, which generally gave the president a polite, reserved reception.

"I consider it a tragedy that the party of Abraham Lincoln let go of its historical ties with the African-American community," Bush said. "For too long, my party wrote off the African-American vote, and many African-Americans wrote off the Republican Party."
And in further developments, water is revealed to be wet, and fire, somewhat hot.

It's not often I'm left speechless, but this pretty much does it.

Can you think of any other person, let alone any other national political figure who could get a similar headline and have it NOT be in The Onion?

One step forward, two steps back

The NYT had a decent story today regarding the flood of money that Joe Lieberman has been getting from traditionally GOP-specific sources. Really no surprise given how often Holy Joe serves as the GOP's "bipartisan" fig leaf for their policies and initiatives, but it's good to see it in print. Unfortunately, that's not all that Times writers, Mike McIntire and Jennifer Medina, put in print. From their introduction to the story (emphasis added):

"...But that donation and others like it have fed a perception, stoked by the Lamont campaign and its supporters on the Internet, that Mr. Lieberman is too cozy with Republicans. It is a vexing assertion for Mr. Lieberman, whose centrist politics and pragmatic style, once a source of pride, are now being held against him by liberals and antiwar Democrats."

Once again, an all-too-popular fiction about the Lamont-Lieberman primary repeated as if it were fact.

Centrism and pragmatism have nothing to do with the reason so many democrats--of all stripes--have a serious problem with Joe Lieberman.

Taking to the Wall Street Journal's op-ed page to scold the administration's critics that their doing so imperils the nation, is neither centrist, nor pragmatic. It's contemptuous of dissent and--in a day where the charge is thrown around baselessly--truly unamerican.

Refusing to support Connecticut Democrats' nominee in the primary and choosing, instead, to run as an independent should he lose, is neither centrist, nor pragmatic. It's an exercise in unrestrained ego and entitlement demonstrating his low opinion of the will of the voters.

Voting to oppose Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court after voting for the cloture measure that would ensure it, is neither centrist, nor pragmatic. It's a cowardly attempt to have his cake and eat it, too, avoiding rocking the boat while still keeping nominal claim to his pro-life bona fides.

Telling rape victims that it shouldn't be a problem to take "a short ride" to another hospital if the one they arrive at won't dispense emergency contraception on so-called "moral" grounds, is neither centrist, nor pragmatic.

That one's just fundamentally repugnant.

The Times carries with it a certain stature, a stature that it imparts to the stories contained within. The inclusion of this mischaracterization of Lieberman's opposition in the article only helps perpetuate a falsehood and legitimize it as conventional wisdom. As such, it has no place in "The Paper of Record."

19 July 2006

El Presidente finally finds something he will not stand for

Medical advancement.
Bush vetoes stem cell bill as promised

By MARY DALRYMPLE, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - President Bush cast the first veto of his 5 1/2-year presidency Wednesday, saying legislation easing limits on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research "crosses a moral boundary" and is wrong.

"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life of the hope of finding medical benefits for others," Bush said at a White House event where he was surrounded by 18 families who "adopted" frozen embryos not used by other couples, and then used those leftover embryos to have children.

"Each of these children was still adopted while still an embryo and has been blessed with a chance to grow, to grow up in a loving family. These boys and girls are not spare parts," he said.

The veto came a day after the Senate defied Bush and approved the legislation, 63-37, four votes short of the two-thirds margin needed to override. White House officials and Republican congressional leaders claimed it was unlikely that Congress could override the veto.

Bush's support was the strongest in the House, which was expected to take up the veto as early as later Wednesday.

Bush has supported federally funded research on only those stem cell lines created before Aug. 9, 2001, the date of his speech to the nation on the subject.

The president vetoed the measure shortly after it came to his desk. His position was politically popular among conservative Republicans, and it was sure to be an issue in the midterm congressional elections.

Announcing the veto, Bush was surrounded in the East Room by so-called "snowflake" families, those with children born through embryo donation.

"They remind us of what is lost when embryos are destroyed in the name of research. The remind us that we all begin our lives as a small collection of cells. And they remind us that in our zeal for new treatments and cures, America must never abandon our fundamental morals," Bush said.

He said the bill would have crossed a line and "once crossed, we would find it impossible to turn back."
America must never abandon our fundamental morals?

You mean our fundamentalists' morals, don't you?

This is arguably the most contemptible move we've seen from a truly contemptible man. My family has experienced, first-hand, what it's like to have relatives wither and deteriorate, ravaged by the effects of both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. To now see those who do--and will--suffer from such afflictions cast aside in favor of this utterly dishonest, opportunistic sop to the radical right is beyond revolting.

The fact of the matter is, this bill would still strictly regulate the research in question. The stem lines available for federal funding are largely useless due to past contamination with mouse cells. The new bill's eligible research would involve frozen embryos, not only from donors who signed informed consent releases for their use, but that were already subject to imminent destruction as medical waste.

George Bush values life so highly, that he would rather see these embryos literally washed down the drain, than a small portion of them, willingly donated, get used for research that could save countless people for decades to come. That fact, like many others, gets hidden behind the curtain while Dear Leader poses and gladhands for the cameras.

Similarly concealed?

The reality that disposal is absolutely necessary, since the number of embryos aging out of viability overwhelmingly dwarfs the number of families seeking to "adopt" them for implantation. For the vast majority, there is simply no possibility of so-called "snowflake families" here, which makes their inclusion as window dressing for this morning's staged veto photo-op all the more offensive, and inexcusably political.

Then again, if it weren't for empty gestures and shameless exploitation, what would the little dictator be left with?

18 July 2006

L'Etat c'est moi

Looks like "The Decider" is really the Dictator-in-chief.
Bush blocked eavesdropping program probe

By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - President Bush personally blocked a Justice Department investigation of the anti-terror eavesdropping program that intercepts Americans' international calls and e-mails, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday.

Bush refused to grant security clearances for department investigators who were looking into the role Justice lawyers played in crafting the program, under which the National Security Agency listens in on telephone calls and reads e-mail without court approval, Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Without access to the sensitive program, the department's Office of Professional Responsibility closed its investigation in April.

"It was highly classified, very important and many other lawyers had access. Why not OPR?" Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the committee chairman, asked Gonzales.

"The president of the United States makes the decision," Gonzales replied.
Once again, El Presidente sees an opportunity to turn our democracy into a banana republic and wastes no time in seizing it. Others had access to the information. But those with an oversight role? Kneecapped at the president's say-so. It really couldn't be more obvious if he were strutting about in cavalry pants with a chestful of fictional medals and ribbons. And his codpiece, of course.

When it comes right down to it, though, it was crystal clear from the beginning: the focus of the Boy King's ire was the Office of Professional Responsibility.

Everyone knows, there is no responsibility at BushCo.

For those with strong stomachs, here's Abu Gonzales giving the lowdown on his favorite lil' despot:
SPECTER: Now when you had the first line of review, Mr. Attorney General, by OPR, why wasn’t OPR given clearance as so many other lawyers in the Department of Justice were given clearance?

GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, you and I had lunch several weeks ago, and we had a discussion about this. And during this lunch, I did inform you that the terrorist surveillance program is a highly-classified program. It’s a very important program for the national security of this country –

SPECTER: Highly-classified, very important, many other lawyers in the Justice Department had clearance. Why not OPR?

GONZALES: And the President of the United States ultimately makes decisions about who ultimately is given access –

SPECTER: Did the President make the decision not to clear OPR?

GONZALES: As with all decisions that are non-operational in terms of who has access to the program, the President of the United States makes the decision because this is such an important program –

SPECTER: I want to move on to another subject. The President makes the decision and that’s that.

After all, what help could the army be?

Israel hits Lebanese army barracks, kills 9

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Israeli warplanes pounded Lebanese army barracks for a second straight day Tuesday, killing at least nine soldiers, Lebanese army sources said.

The Jamhour army barracks east of Beirut were one of several targets in airstrikes early Tuesday as Israel's campaign against Hezbollah guerrillas entered a seventh day.

On Monday, six Lebanese soldiers died and 28 were wounded when Israel bombed an army post in Abdeh, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Beirut, the Lebanese military said.

From the AP:

"The base in the southern area of Kfar Chima took a direct hit as the soldiers rushed to their bomb shelters, leaving at least 11 soldiers dead and 35 wounded, the Lebanese military said.

The Lebanese army has largely stayed out of the fighting, but its positions have been repeatedly attacked by Israeli warplanes, undermining Israel's call for it to help push back Hezbollah from the border."
More strategic brilliance that BushCo will doubtlessly feel compelled to remain silent on.

Upset over the Lebanese' inability to control Hezbollah guerillas, you attack what standing army they have. And Olmert has the gall to say, "We dream of peace," "We do not seek war or a head-on confrontation?"

I understand what they want to, but they've got to do it smart. By attacking the legitimate military (to say nothing of civilian neighborhoods) Israel is going far beyond the pursuit of the militants who have their two soldiers. Unless regional war is our larger goal--which, for some, it certainly is--the U.S. continues to give tacit approval at its own risk.

Maybe Israel's vaunted intelligence assets are slipping, because their recent actions are getting more and more inexplicable. Going after guerillas by devastating public infrastructure, sea and airports, civilian neighborhoods, and now organized military bases is a recipe for disaster.

Sure, the nature of combatting guerilla tactics might demand operations in civilian areas, but the rest? Not only is it far from a sure thing that the populace will turn on Hezbollah, but they're well on the way to Iraq-ifying the whole country, destabilizing the central government and turning it into a playground for Hezbollah and whoever else might want to take shots at Israel. To appropriate a phrase, you fight the enemy you have...not make him more unmanageable.

If the region, itself, weren't so crucial--and we were less strategically tied to Israel--I'd say they can deal with terrorists any way they see fit. Unfortunately, the way it's going, Olmert is writing checks our troops are going to have to cash.

Atrios makes the case

Atrios lays it out in the LAT, slamming the door on the enablers--right and left--who are providing cover for Holy Joe's whiny ass titty baby-hood. Who knows, it might be simple enough so even those jokers might get a clue:
Why the Left Is Furious at Lieberman
A blogger's blast at the embattled Connecticut senator. Hint: It's not just Iraq.
By Duncan Black, July 18, 2006

SOME TIME AFTER having lunch in Iraq with the junior senator from Connecticut, Time magazine Baghdad bureau chief Michael Ware told an interviewer, "Either Sen. Lieberman is so divorced from reality that he's completely lost the plot, or he knows he's spinning a line."

Although Ware was referring specifically to Joe Lieberman's observations about Iraq, his characterization perfectly summarizes the former vice presidential candidate's whole political approach, and it explains why so many Democrats are eager to see him lose in a primary election next month.

Many political observers have tried to paint the candidacy of Lieberman's challenger, Ned Lamont, as merely a referendum on the invasion of Iraq, which Lieberman supported. This newspaper's editorial board declared it "disturbing" that the senator has been "targeted for defeat by national fundraisers based on his foreign policy views." The reason for Lamont's popularity, explained the Washington Post's David Broder, "is simple: the war."

The war is certainly a reason — and given how events continue to devolve in Iraq, a perfectly sufficient one — but those who focus only on that miss the broader opposition to Lieberman and the kind of politics he represents.

For too long he has defined his image by distancing himself from other Democrats, cozying up to right-wing media figures and, at key moments, directing his criticisms at members of his own party instead of at the Republicans in power.

Late last year, after President Bush's job approval ratings hit record lows, Lieberman decided to lash out at the administration's critics, writing in the ultraconservative Wall Street Journal editorial pages that "we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril." In this he echoed the most toxic of Republican talking points — that criticizing the conduct of the war is actually damaging to national security.

Lieberman has a long history of providing cover for the worst of Republican actions while enthusiastically serving as his own party's scold. After the Senate acquitted President Clinton on all impeachment charges, Lieberman called for his censure. More recently, he rejected a call by Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.) to censure Bush over the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program, calling the attempt "divisive."

Lieberman looks happiest when playing a "Fox News Democrat," as he did in a February appearance on Sean Hannity's radio program, during which the two exchanged compliments and expressions of friendship and Hannity offered to campaign for him. The senator seems to enjoy Sunday talk shows more than actually doing his job. New Orleans could have been spared the hacktastic performance of Michael Brown, the unqualified former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, had Lieberman not shooed him through the confirmation process in a breezy 42-minute hearing.

Lieberman's relationship with the Democratic Party has been one of convenience, not principle, as was proved definitively in late June when he declared his intention to run as an independent if he loses the Aug. 8 primary. Proclaiming that he had loyalties "greater than those to my party," he decided he would deserve a do-over if rejected by Connecticut Democrats. In what could be the final tragic act of his political career, Lieberman might soon discover that Republicans don't love Democrat-bashing Democrats enough to actually vote for them.

Much of the interest in this race is not because of Lamont but rather his perceived base of support from bloggers, including me. One prominent pundit claimed that Lamont's online backers were practitioners of "blogofascism"; another called the campaign an "inquisition." Online political discourse can indeed be caustic and combative, like talk radio. But too many in the Lieberman wing of the party have elevated civility and the illusion of bipartisan comity over challenging Republicans' failed policies. In the process, they have echoed GOP jargon in dismissing critics as "angry" and "hate-filled."

Politics is a contact sport. Those who would paper it over with a veneer of false propriety are pretending it's something that it is not. More than that, loud and raucous debate is a healthy part of our democracy.

Lieberman's problem isn't bloggers, it's the voters of Connecticut, who seem to be increasingly tired of his support for some very uncivil policies, including federal intervention into the Terri Schiavo case, the administration's operations at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay and, yes, that disastrous invasion of Iraq.

17 July 2006

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise

US cool to immediate Israel-Hezbollah ceasefire

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States declined to join calls for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah, insisting such a pact would only be a temporary fix for the worsening crisis.

"What ... everybody wants to see is a cessation of violence," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

"But nobody wants to see a cessation of violence done in such a way that you end up back where we are today at some point in the future."

A United Nations team, European Union foreign ministers and other key political players have called for a ceasefire, but Hezbollah has already rejected such a step on terms laid down by Israel.

A senior State Department official meanwhile spelled out Washington's objections to an immediate ceasefire.

"A ceasefire is a very specific term," the official said. It implies some sort of temporary status.

"You want to get to a place where you actually have a cessation of violence not only in the immediate term, but the longer term. Ceasefire implies a state of suspended hostilities which is not what you want," the official said.

"In order to have a lasting cessation of hostilities, you have to take those steps where the government of Lebanon exercises control over its entire space and Hezbollah is dismantled," the official said.

The official's comments bolstered the view of analysts who have interpreted Washington's statements on the crisis to mean that the Bush administration wants to allow Israel space to wipe out Hezbollah's infrastructure.
So, by all means, let's work out the longer term solution while major public infrastructure is being destroyed and neighborhoods are being bombed, killing civilians and militants, alike. After all, isn't that the ideal situation for Lebanon to "exercise control over it's entire space?" Assuming the government survives Israel's preposterously out of preportion muscle-flexing, I'm sure it'll do just that.

14 July 2006

Holy crap

No,'s holy crap. Here's a reflection on the Israel/Lebanon situation from the "Rapture Ready" message board as noted by the wonderful folks at ThinkProgress:
Is it time to get excited? I can't help the way I feel. For the first time in my Christian walk, I have no doubts that the day of the Lords appearing is upon us. I have never felt this way before, I have a joy that bubbles up every-time I think of him, for I know this is truly the time I have waited for so long. Am I alone in feeling guilty about the human suffering like my joy at his appearing some how fuels the evil I see everywhere. If it were not for the souls that hang in the balance and the horror that stalks man daily on this earth, my joy would be complete. For those of us who await his arrival know, somehow we just know it won't be long now, the Bridegroom cometh rather man is ready are not.
If you haven't clicked the link to see the original post, it might be worth your while, if only for the emoticons appended to the message: a shit-eating grin smiley face next to a waving smiley that gets elevated off the screen, apparently "rapturized."
Everybody's entitled to their faith, but there's something inherently creepy about getting spiritual wood over headlines about neighborhoods being bombed and civilians killed.

Lord, save us from your servants.

NARAL (not really) explaining their Liebermania

See me write to NARAL:
I was deeply disappointed to note that NARAL has decided to endorse Joe Lieberman in the upcoming Senate race in Connecticut. I am at a total loss as to how this support can be reconciled with his performance on issues of reproductive rights.

When Samuel Alito was nominated to the Supreme Court, it went without question that the GOP majority would rubber-stamp him onto the bench. That much was simple mathematics. Therefore, the only vote that mattered was the vote to invoke cloture on debate which, once approved, would lead to the foregone conclusion of Alito's confirmation.

Joseph Lieberman, then, had two votes to cast: one which could support women's rights and one which was, essentially, meaningless. Instead of taking a stand, he voted to end debate and allow the formality of a confirmation vote--where he then cast his useless "nay" ballot so he could claim to support groups like NARAL.

Further, Lieberman went on to support hospitals' right to refuse to provide emergency contraception to *rape victims* based on so-called "principled reasons." His logic being, "it shouldn't take more than a short ride to get to another hospital."

Joe Liberman doesn't see the problem with making a woman who's already been brutally assaulted go looking for an EC-compatible hospital if--for some strange reason--she doesn't want to risk carrying her attacker's child.

In light of his actions, Joe Lieberman's commitment to women is clearly nonexistent, and NARAL's continued support is as shameful as it is inexplicable.
See NARAL write to me:
I have read your note, and I know you are not happy with us for endorsing Senator Joe Lieberman. Here at NARAL Pro-Choice America, we're very proud of our high standard for endorsement. That having been said, from time to time, it does occasionally occur that a pro-choice elected official will take a position against our recommendation - and when that happens, it's always a disappointment. Senator Lieberman's vote (and the same votes of other fully pro-choice senators) for cloture on the controversial Alito nomination is one case in point. And his comments about emergency contraception caused us concern, as they undoubtedly did you as well - but he has since clarified his position, to our satisfaction. [Ed. They never do get around to that clarification, now do they? --V]

But taking all facts into consideration - including many years of pro-choice votes in the Senate - we believe Senator Lieberman has continued to earn the NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsement. With so many relentless attacks on choice, and an anti-choice president determined to see this right taken away from American women forever, we must prioritize our work, and we need all the friends we can get. We treat him no differently than any other pro-choice senator - Democrat or Republican. I know we disagree on this one point, but our challenge is so monumental that I hope we can continue to stand together against our real opponents: President Bush, congressional leaders, and anti-choice senators who oppose us on every single vote.
See Ned Lamont's views on Reproductive Freedom:
I absolutely support women’s right to complete and appropriate health care and to reproductive freedom. I will fight to make the morning after pill available over the counter, to make emergency contraception available to all rape victims, and to support the nomination and appointment of pro-choice judges.

I would have led the opposition to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Alito, since he fundamentally tilts the balance on the court and jeopardizes a woman’s right to choose. South Dakota recently passed a bill which outlaws a woman’s right to an abortion even in the case of rape and incest; this law is certain to be decided by the newly-reconstituted U.S. Supreme Court.

Oh, I forgot. NARAL didn't see them. From FDL:

It’s official — NARAL has endorsed Joe "short ride" Lieberman. According to Ned Lamont’s campaign manager Tom Swan, Ned was not even asked to take part in the process.

13 July 2006

And as the angel opened the second seal, the idiot man-children thought as grown men, and the puppets were as real boys...

It's a harbinger of the apocalypse, all right.

Not the conflict in the Middle East. That's just par for the course.

But the common sense that floweth forth--at least temporarily--from he with the ear of tin and the fists of ham when it comes to anything related to foreign policy: El Presidente, himself:
"The democracy of Lebanon is an important part of laying a foundation of peace in that region," Bush said. "We've worked very hard to get Syria out of Lebanon" through various U.N. resolutions.

"Israel has a right to defend herself," Bush said.

"The concern is that any activities by Israel to protect herself will weaken that government," he said, referring to Lebanon.
As a friend of mine once remarked, "Jesus Christ in a chicken basket!"

Memo to Israel: When you've embarked down a road that is so clearly fraught with peril and potential for disaster, that it manages to pentrate through the dense strata of even THAT man's skull, maybe some re-examining of your options is in order.

They really only need look across their own region to see where this leads. Iraq has turned into a case study on the hazards of a power vacuum in the middle east. It's a lesson that all nations--especially Israel and its ill-advised desire to show it "means business"--ignore at their own peril. Making a statement does precious little good if the end result sets up a situation where Syria and Iran could do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, throughout Lebanese territory.

And for what?

Two kidnapped soldiers and a raid that killed six more.

Of course it demands a response. No one's foolish enough to suggest that it doesn't. But it must be one commensurate with the provocation. The German chancellor with whom Dear Leader met today, hit it on the head:
(Angela) "Merkel said the kidnappings of Israeli soldiers -- which sparked the recent hostilities in Lebanon and also in Gaza -- "is not acceptable." But she added that "parties have to use proportionate means" in their response.
Once again, look who's talking. The cowboy-in-chief and the Germans think that you're pushing the aggression envelope. If the consequences weren't so dire, that'd be a helluva punchline.

Instead, kidnappings begat tanks, and tanks begat rockets. And now?

Bombed airports, blockaded ports, assaults bombing runs on suburban neighborhoods based on suspicions about one man?

That's not going to break Hezbollah in Lebanon, it's going to MAKE Hezbollah-non.

Rather than an orgiastic display of military might, you need a response that affects the militants responsible without strangling an entire country and risking the collapse of the government. Creating a playground for your enemy to which you'll have to commit your own resources to police, is a deeply flawed, intensely shortsighted strategy.

Trust us, we know.

As is, a truly boggling turn of events. Given the alleged proficiency of the intelligence and strategic operation capabilities that Israel possesses in Mossad? Absolutely unfathomable.

11 July 2006

NARAL ♥'s Rape Gurney Joe

Joe Lieberman is NARAL's choice in the '06 Connecticut Senate race.

They're clearly feeling the Joementum, and who can blame them? After all, this is the same guy who cemented his "friend to women everywhere" reputation by casting a catagorically meaningless vote against Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court--after voting FOR the cloture motion that the GOPers needed to fulfill their rubber stamping obligation to El Presidente's anti-Roe court packing agenda.

The very same "centrist" responsible for this gem:
"Lieberman said he believes hospitals that refuse to give contraceptives to rape victims for 'principled reasons' shouldn’t be forced to do so.

'In Connecticut, it shouldn’t take more than a short ride to get to another hospital,' he said.
After all, what's "a short ride" in the middle of the night to obtain emergency contraception after being sexually assaulted and brutalized? I'm sure that's a fair compromise that every rape victim can appreciate.

The masochism of NARAL's leadership is mind-boggling. Again and again, Holy Joe has stabbed them in the back, and yet they continue to buy into his cult of incumbency.


10 July 2006

Jeeze, an atrocity here, an atrocity there and, the next thing you know, people want "justice" and stuff

Iraq says to ask U.N. to end US immunity

Mon Jul 10, 2006 5:07pm ET10
By Mariam Karouny

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq will ask the United Nations to end immunity from local law for U.S. troops, the government said on Monday, as the U.S. military named five soldiers charged in a rape-murder case that has outraged Iraqis.

In an interview a week after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded a review of foreign troops' immunity, Human Rights Minister Wigdan Michael said work on it was now under way and a request could be ready by next month to go to the U.N. Security Council, under whose mandate U.S.-led forces operate in Iraq.

"We're very serious about this," she said, adding a lack of enforcement of U.S. military law in the past had encouraged soldiers to commit crimes against Iraqi civilians.

"We formed a committee last week to prepare reports and put it before the cabinet in three weeks. After that, Maliki will present it to the Security Council. We will ask them to lift the immunity," Michael said.

"If we don't get that, then we'll ask for an effective role in the investigations that are going on. The Iraqi government must have a role."

Analysts say it is improbable the United States would ever make its troops answerable to Iraq's chaotic judicial system.

Asked to respond to Michael's remarks, White House spokesman Tony Snow dismissed that as a "hypothetical game".

But Snow said: "We also understand Prime Minister Maliki's concerns and we want to make sure he's fully informed and also that he is satisfied, regardless of what the treaty situation may be on these issues, that justice truly is being done, and that he can make that demonstration to his people as well."
What a shock, an ugly situation may get immesurably uglier thanks to BushCo's poor planning and irresponsible rhetoric.

Given the rather embarrassing position of having to use our security council veto to block the request of a government that we put into place, I'm rather surprised at Tony Snow's somewhat flip, VERY public dismissal. Call me crazy, but is seems it might've be a good idea to avoid calling such a request "a game," and just play it cool in the hopes that enough assurances could be made to the Maliki government to avoid that scenario, altogether.

Instead, Snow Job gets up there and babbles whatever comes to mind, like a half-drunk kid explaining why he's sneaking in after curfew.

Clearly, the likelihood of the U.S. allowing the security council to end troop immunity is about the same as John Bolton's chances of sprouting wings and flying circles around the UN building while singing La Marseillaise. That said, there's an enormous difference between--privately--discounting that possibility and casually blowing off governmental calls for direct accountability immediately after soldiers have, allegedly, raped a 14 year-old girl and murdered her and her family to cover the crime.

Preventing local prosecution might very well be a necessity for military operations, but the strategy (or lack thereof), in this instance, is incomprehensible.

Given the particulars of the culture, an incident involving sexual assault has long been predicted as one of the most damaging things that could happen for an occupying force. Beyond that, following the handling of the massacre at Haditha, this request was not only foreseeable, but very nearly inevitable.

A far better response should've been crafted and ready to go long before the word "game" had the chance to cross Snow's mind.
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