Saturday, May 31, 2003

Hop on over to Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo and say hello. He's at least as fed up and disgusted with Bushco as I am.

Thanks for the plug, Skips.....

Scandal? What scandal? I don't see a scandal......

This is a gross scandal. The Center for Public Integrity has a stunning study out on the concentration of ownership in telecommunications. The even more stunning news is that the Federal Communications Commission, which theoretically represents you and me, is about to make all of it even worse. And behind this betrayal of the public trust is nothing but rotten, old-fashioned corruption. It's the old free-trip-to-Vegas ploy, on a grand scale.

The Public Integrity people examined the travel records of FCC employees and found that they have accepted 2,500 trips, costing nearly $2.8 million over the past eight years, paid for by the telecommunications and broadcast industries, which are, theoretically, "regulated" by the FCC. The industry-paid travel is on top of about $2 million a year in official travel paid for by taxpayers.

According to the center, FCC commissioners and agency staffers attended hundreds of conventions, conferences and other events all over the world, including Paris, Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro. They were put up at luxury hotels such as the Bellagio in Las Vegas and ferried about by limo. Vegas was the top destination -- 330 trips -- New Orleans second with 173, then New York at 102 and London with 98 trips. Why London, you may ask. Well, do ask.

So here's the result of our regulators getting all these nice freebies where they schmooze with the industry guys. The three largest local phone companies control 83 percent of home telephone lines. The two top long-distance carriers control 67 percent of that market. The four biggest cellular phone companies have 64 percent of the wireless market. The five largest cable companies pipe programming to 74 percent of the cable subscribers nationwide.

Oh THAT scandal. There are so many....
Sorry, Mr. Smirking Chimp. I ain't buying it:

President Bush, citing two trailers that U.S. intelligence agencies have said were probably used as mobile biological weapons labs, said U.S. forces in Iraq have "found the weapons of mass destruction" that were the United States' primary justification for going to war.

In remarks to Polish television at a time of mounting criticism at home and abroad that the more than two-month-old weapons hunt is turning up nothing, Bush said that claims of failure were "wrong." The remarks were released today.

"You remember when [Secretary of State] Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons," Bush said in an interview before leaving today on a seven-day trip to Europe and the Middle East. "They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two.

"And we'll find more weapons as time goes on," Bush said. "But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them."


U.S. authorities have to date made no claim of a confirmed finding of an actual nuclear, biological or chemical weapon. In the interview, Bush said weapons had been found, but in elaborating, he mentioned only the trailers, which the CIA has concluded were likely used for production of biological weapons.

The agency reported that no pathogens were found in the two trailers and added that civilian use of the heavy transports, such as water purification or pharmaceutical production, was "unlikely" because of the effort and expense required to make the equipment mobile. Production of biological warfare agents "is the only consistent, logical purpose for these vehicles," the CIA report concluded.

Hmmmmm. Empty trailers are the "weapons of mass dis-trucksion"? Come ON, Chimpy! You can lie better than that. Try this one:


Think that's funny?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A growing number of U.S. national security professionals are accusing the Bush administration of slanting the facts and hijacking the $30 billion intelligence apparatus to justify its rush to war in Iraq. A key target is a four-person Pentagon team that reviewed material gathered by other intelligence outfits for any missed bits that might have tied Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to banned weapons or terrorist groups.

This team, self-mockingly called the Cabal, "cherry-picked the intelligence stream" in a bid to portray Iraq as an imminent threat, said Patrick Lang, a former head of worldwide human intelligence gathering for the Defense Intelligence Agency, which coordinates military intelligence. The DIA was "exploited and abused and bypassed in the process of making the case for war in Iraq based on the presence of WMD," or weapons of mass destruction, he added in a phone interview. He said the CIA had "no guts at all" to resist the allegedly deliberate skewing of intelligence by a Pentagon that he said was now dominating U.S. foreign policy.

Vince Cannistraro, a former chief of Central Intelligence Agency counterterrorist operations, said he knew of serving intelligence officers who blame the Pentagon for playing up "fraudulent" intelligence, "a lot of it sourced from the Iraqi National Congress of Ahmad Chalabi." The INC, which brought together groups opposed to Saddam, worked closely with the Pentagon to build a for the early use of force in Iraq.

"There are current intelligence officials who believe it is a scandal," he said in a telephone interview. They believe the administration, before going to war, had a "moral obligation to use the best information available, not just information that fits your preconceived ideas."

Yuck it up, Rummy. Your time will come.......

Thanks to Political Strikes for the chuckle.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Let's have a look at things since George W. Bush was selected President in 2000:

Unemployment Increases to Eight-Year High

Tax Cuts, Economy Push Federal Deficit to Record Highs

Bush Withholds Information About State Funding, as States' Deficits Continue to Rise

Bush's Proposed Tax Cuts Will Decrease Federal Revenues

CBO Forecasts Increases in Deficit

Bush Placing Faith, Country's Future in Economic Theory His Dad Mocked as "Voodoo Economics"

Bush Devotes $89 Billion to Higher-Income and Healthy Workers, Shortchanges Uninsured Children

Bush Rewards Wealthiest One Percent with More Tax Cuts Than Bottom 60 Percent Combined

Bush Attempts to Give Tax Breaks Worth Hundreds of Millions to Corporations

White House Supports Bill That Would Result in Forced Overtime Without Pay for More Employees

Bush Proposal Would Have Given CIA and Military New Domestic Powers

White House Spokesperson Calls Gay-Bashing Senator an "Inclusive Man"

Bush Wants Judicial Filibusters Banned After Failing to Get His Way With Estrada Nomination

Changes to Medicaid, Medicare Would Be a Boon to Industry, Detrimental to Beneficiaries

Bush Administration Seeks to Exempt Pentagon from Environmental Laws

With the Elections Over, Bush & Co. Abandon Plans to Provide Prescription Drug Coverage to All Seniors

Bush's Faith-Based Legislation Discriminates against Gays, Infringes on Separation of Church and State

Security Bill Keeps Goodies for Bush Allies

Bush Shamelessly Uses Federal Government to Get Republicans Elected

Cheney, Bush & Co. Refuse to Release Energy Task Force Documents

Bush Gives $25 Million to Religious Groups

Dubya Changes Scientific Advisory Committees to Make Sure Science Is On His Side of the Issues

Administration Refuses Developing Nations Access to Low-Cost Medicines

Decline in World Opinion of U.S. Policy Coincides with Bush Government

Administration Opposes Measures to Increase Renewable Energy

Administration Opposes Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

Administration Underfunds AIDS Fund, Weakens AIDS Negotiations

United States Boycotts Conference on Racism

United States Booted off Human Rights Body

Administration Abandons Crackdown on Tax Havens

Bush Judicial Nominee Called Gays "Queers"

Bush Names Extremist Who Called AIDS "Gay Plague" to AIDS Panel

Administration Officials: Show of American Power Was Reason for War

White House Blocks Sept. 11 Report

'Coalition of the Willing' Includes Countries with Appalling Human Rights Records

Companies with Ties to Administration, Republican Donors Considered for Iraq Post-War Rebuilding Contracts

Weapons Inspector Chief: U.S. Government Used Forged Evidence Against Iraq

CIA, FBI Agents Baffled by Administration's Attempts to Link Iraq, al Qaeda

Bush Steps Up Involvement in Colombian Civil War

Bush Withholds Information about North Korean Threat

Bush Makes False and Misleading Statements about Iraqi Threat

Bush Administration Continues to Alienate Allies

Relatives of Sept. 11 Victims Criticize Administration

Ashcroft Criticized for Politicizing Justice Department Hiring Process

Ashcroft Wins Broad Powers to Spy on Citizens

Ashcroft Hides Behind Sept. 11 to Trample Civil Liberties

Administration Withdraws Funding for Family Planning

Bush Administration Tries Underhandedly to Designate Fetuses as Persons

Bush lies about aircraft carrier landing

Bush creates stringent proof requirements for earned-income tax credit recipients

Bush privatizes federal jobs

Bush exempts oil and gas industries from clean water regulations

Bush lies about economists' support for his tax plan

Bush proposes a tax break for the biggest SUV's

Bush implements faith-based initiative without Congressional approval

Bush makes it easier for timber companies to plunder national forests

Bush dismisses report from his own administration on global warming

Bush asks Brazilian president if there are any blacks in Brazil

Bush restricts Freedom of Information Act requests

Is a 50 state sweep coming in 2004? I don't think so........
One of these days the story of what really happened to Jessica Lynch is going to come out in the mainstream media. In the mean time Robert Scheer's latest column will suffice...

It is one thing when the talk-show bullies who shamelessly smeared the last president, even as he attacked the training camps of Al Qaeda, now term it anti-American or even treasonous to dare criticize the Bush administration. When our Pentagon, however —- a $400-billion-a-year juggernaut —- savages individual journalists for questioning its version of events, it is worth noting.

Especially if you're that journalist.

Last week, this column reported the findings of a British Broadcasting Corp. special report that accused the U.S. military and media of inaccurately and manipulatively hyping the story of U.S. Pvt. Jessica Lynch and her rescue from an Iraq hospital. The column was also informed by similar and independently reported articles and statements in the Toronto Star, the Washington Post and other reputable publications.

Expected —- and received —- was a hysterical belch of outrage from the right-wing media, led by Rupert Murdoch's Fox empire, which has already committed a huge book advance to the telling of this mythic tale. A fiery and disingenuous response from the Pentagon, however, was quite a bit more sobering.

Calling the column a "tirade," Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke wrote in a letter to The Los Angeles Times that "Scheer's claims are outrageous, patently false and unsupported by the facts."

"Official spokespeople in Qatar and in Washington, as well as the footage released, reflected the events accurately," the Pentagon letter continued. "To suggest otherwise is an insult and does a grave disservice to the brave men and women involved."

Actually, what is a grave disservice is manipulating a gullible media with leaked distortions from unnamed official sources about Lynch's heroics in battle. That aside, it would have been easier to rebut the Pentagon if its spokeswoman had actually questioned any of the facts the BBC or this column reported. In particular, the Pentagon turned down the request by the BBC and other media to view the full, unedited footage of the rescue.

Perhaps Clarke is frustrated that in the days since the BBC report, several major publications such as the Chicago Tribune and the London Daily Mail have independently verified much of the BBC's disturbing account of what the broadcasting corporation called "one of the most stunning pieces of news management ever conceived."

The distortions concerning Lynch began two days after the rescue with a front-page Washington Post story by veteran reporters Susan Schmidt and Vernon Loeb. They cited U.S. officials as the source of their information that Lynch "fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition" and that she "continued firing after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds." The Post quoted one of the unnamed U.S. officials as saying "she was fighting to the death. She did not want to be taken alive."

Despite their current defensiveness, Clarke and other Pentagon honchos had to know that the story attributed to U.S. officials was false because Lynch had at that point already been rescued and examined by U.S. military doctors, who found no evidence of a single gunshot wound, let alone multiple gunshot wounds. Yet they did nothing to challenge the Post story, which was carried worldwide and quickly became the main heroic propaganda myth of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

It was only last week, after the BBC-initiated brouhaha, that the Pentagon finally launched its own investigation of what actually occurred when Lynch was taken prisoner. According to the Washington Times, the investigation came about after top Pentagon officials cast doubt on the Lynch battle-scene account, of which she has no memory.

However, the Pentagon investigators were not asked to look into the circumstances surrounding Lynch's subsequent rescue. Much of the BBC's account has now been supported by other media investigations, which confirm that a U.S. attack on an unguarded hospital was spun into the stuff of Hollywood heroics.

The Tribune's Monday story, for example, provided new details of how slickly a tale of derring-do was created, enhanced for television by that five-minute Pentagon-supplied night-vision video. The Tribune also added details supporting the BBC account that hospital staff members had placed Lynch in an ambulance and tried to deliver her to a U.S. checkpoint before being turned back by random American fire.

What is particularly sad in all of this is that a wonderfully hopeful story was available to the Pentagon to sell to the eager media: one in which besieged Iraqi doctors and nurses bravely cared for —- and supplied their own blood to —- a similarly brave young American woman in a time of madness and violence. Instead, eager to turn the war into a morality play between good and evil, the military used —- if not abused —- Lynch to put a heroic spin on an otherwise sorry tale of unjustified invasion.

The truth hurts, but that's no excuse for trying to shoot the messenger.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Thanks to The Onion for keeping it real....

I'm not an economist but this makes it sound like we're being had:

Our government is going broke. The feds face bills that are far beyond our capacity to pay -- by $44 trillion to be precise. The longer we ignore them, the bigger they get. Yet President Bush is working overtime to deepen our fiscal trap. This $44 trillion figure is not ours. Nor is it some other academics' calculation. It was produced last fall by economists and budget analysts at the US Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Congressional Budget Office. The study was ordered by then Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil and was slated to appear in the president's budget, released in February.

O'Neil instructed his team, led by Jagadeesh Gokhale, Federal Reserve senior economist, and Kent Smetters, then deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury, to answer the following question: Suppose the government could, today, get its hands on all the revenue it can expect to collect in the future, but had to use it, today, to pay off all its future expenditure commitments, including debt service net of any asset income. Would the present value (the value today) of the future revenues cover the present value of the future expenditures?

The answer is no, and the fiscal gap is the $44 trillion. Now, that is big bucks by anyone's definition. It's four times current GNP and 12 times official debt. Imagine everyone in the country working for four years and handing over every penny earned to pay this bill, and you'll grasp its size.

Unfortunately, we can't ascribe the $44 trillion calculation to overly pessimistic assumptions. On the contrary, the assumptions are optimistic with respect to future longevity as well as growth in federal health expenditures, discretionary spending, and labor productivity.

Gokhale and Smetters asked a follow-up question: By how much would taxes have to be raised or expenditures cut on an immediate and permanent basis to generate, in present value, the $44 trillion? Their ''menu of pain'' is mind-boggling. Entree A is raising federal income tax collections (individual and corporate) by 69 percent. Entree B is raising payroll tax collections by 95 percent. Entree C is cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits by 56 percent. Entree D is cutting federal discretionary spending by more than 100 percent, which, of course, is not feasible. Combination platters are also available. For example, we might select quarter portions of entrees A through D. But no matter what combination we order, digesting this medicine is going to be plenty painful.

Oh my. Well at least the tax cuts will be helping the poorest Americans. Right?

A last-minute revision by House and Senate leaders in the tax bill that President Bush signed today will prevent millions of minimum-wage families from receiving the increased child credit that is in the measure, say Congressional officials and outside groups.

Most taxpayers will receive a $400-a-child check in the mail this summer as a result of the law, which raises the child tax credit, to $1,000 from $600. It had been clear from the beginning that the wealthiest families would not receive the credit, which is intended to phase out at high incomes.

But after studying the bill approved on Friday, liberal and child advocacy groups discovered that a different group of families would also not benefit from the $400 increase — families who make just above the minimum wage.

So we are going to pretty much help the rich and screw the poor? Ahhhh Bushinomics in action! How can we not re-elect this guy?

According to the Chimpies, everything is just peachy in Iraq:

HIT, Iraq — In the third straight day of Iraqi violence against the U.S. military occupation of the country, residents enraged over house-to-house searches in this western town ransacked the police station, stoned U.S. armored military vehicles and set police cars on fire Wednesday.

With a large, uncontrolled mob still roaming the streets as dusk fell, it was impossible to determine exactly what triggered the riot, but in a series of chaotic interviews laced with anti-American rage and threats of vengeance, residents said the problems began when police assisted the U.S. troops in searching local homes for weapons.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!! Isn't that what the sign on the USS Lincoln said?

Via The Left Coaster]
Not fed up with the Way Things Are yet?

Read this.
It's all about the weapons of mass destruction.

Or not.

[Via Atrios]
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo continues his wonderful coverage of the the document shreding scandal after the Texas Department of Public Safety's manhunt for the missing Democrats:

On Thursday afternoon, I spoke to Burnam. He told me that he has "multiple sources" at the DPS who told him about the alleged document destruction. He also says he will identify his sources at the deposition on Monday, though he is currently trying to arrange some sort of whistleblower protection for them. When I asked Burnam why he thought the AG's office placed such importance on finding out the identity of his sources, he said he thought "they are trying to find out what I know and who I know it from and how they can get to them."

This could be a huge story if the mainstream media were to pick it up. More:

Why won't this once scandal-obsessed city take what happened in Texas seriously? Sure, it involved neither sex nor money. But it involved something more serious: the blurring of the line between the power of the state and the partisan interests of those who run it--a line that represents the fundamental separation between a democracy and a dictatorship. When FBI files showed up in Bill Clinton's White House, Republicans, with the help of the press, screamed with outrage, even though no evidence that they were used for any partisan purpose was ever uncovered. Yet, in this case, when we know that police powers were harnessed for partisan gain, the issue elicits laughs.

If you care about what's happening in your country you'll take the time to read this stuff. It goes to the very heart of our democracy.

The Homeland Security Department's power is virtually unchecked. It can operate at will and delve into every nook and cranny of ordinary life in virtual secret. Homeland Security can be a good and necessary aspect of government in these troubled times, but its scope, reach and power deserve scrutiny because the department is ripe for abuse.


Wednesday, May 28, 2003

As I suspected, it's a plot....

The lunatics are now in charge of the asylum." So wrote the normally staid Financial Times, traditionally the voice of solid British business opinion, when surveying last week's tax bill. Indeed, the legislation is doubly absurd: the gimmicks used to make an $800-billion-plus tax cut carry an official price tag of only $320 billion are a joke, yet the cost without the gimmicks is so large that the nation can't possibly afford it while keeping its other promises.

But then maybe that's the point. The Financial Times suggests that "more extreme Republicans" actually want a fiscal train wreck: "Proposing to slash federal spending, particularly on social programs, is a tricky electoral proposition, but a fiscal crisis offers the tantalizing prospect of forcing such cuts through the back door."

Good for The Financial Times. It seems that stating the obvious has now, finally, become respectable.


TORONTO, May 27 -- The Canadian government introduced legislation today to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, a move that U.S. officials said could increase the amount of marijuana smuggled across the border. Under the bill, possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana, about half an ounce, would become punishable by fines of up to the equivalent of about $290 U.S. for adults and $182 for minors. Backed by Prime Minister Jean Chretien's ruling Liberal Party, the measure has a good chance of passing because of the party's strong majority in Parliament, political analysts said.

Chretien is proceeding despite firm opposition from the Bush administration, which views the measure as encouraging drug use and creating an environment of permissiveness. "Some of the strongest and most dangerous marijuana on the U.S. market is coming from Canada," John P. Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in a telephone interview today. "That production has been rapidly expanding and is largely unchecked."

Some of the strongest and "most dangerous" marijuana on the U.S. market is coming from Canada? And here I thought California had the "most dangerous" ganja. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em!

Unfortunately, if Chimpco has his way, Oregonians will lose their right to medical marijuana:


There's been a most interesting battle these past couple of years, pitting John Ashcroft, the U.S. attorney general, against states in the union. If states allows medical marijuana, Ashcroft and company are after them.

And Oregonians have supported -- you guessed it -- medical marijuana.

The attorney general hasn't chalked up many victories. Just this week, Maryland became the 10th state since 1996 to ease or eliminate sanctions for medical use of marijuana. A total of 13 state legislatures have considered medical-marijuana bills since fall 2002. The governor of Maryland was getting stiff-armed pretty good by the Bush administration not to sign the legislation. Thing is, Gov. Robert Ehrlich is a Republican. And his message to Washington, D.C., was much the same as the message sent by former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, back in the day: Hands off. Our state's citizens know what they're doing.

Anyone remember the good old days, when Republicans were the party of states' rights and the Democrats were the party of big government dominating little government? It's getting so you can't tell the players without a scorecard anymore. But I digress.

A quick history of Oregon's medical marijuana act: It was approved by voters in 1998. Oregon is now one of nine states that allows medical use of marijuana. Patients in all those states, except California, have to produce their own marijuana or receive it as a donation. Not everyone is eligible. Patients must have specified medical conditions, such as cancer, glaucoma or AIDS. Or they must have conditions resulting in severe pain or nausea, seizures or persistent muscle spasms.

So far, about 4,500 Oregonians are registered with the program through the Department of Human Services. Each patient can produce three mature and four immature plants, and patients can possess up to 7 ounces of weed.

None of which pleases Ashcroft.

The Bush administration's fight against marijuana took a somewhat weird turn last week. House Republicans, on behest of Ashcroft and Bush, pressed for a bill that would strip federal anti-drug money from local police in states that have passed medical marijuana laws. According to a May 22 article by Associated Press writer Larry Margasak, groups opposed to strict criminal enforcement of marijuana laws said more than $11 million could be eliminated from state and local police budgets in "high-intensity" drug trafficking areas. The money would go, instead, to federal law-enforcement officers because local police could not enforce all marijuana laws in states that legalized the drug for medical use.

So basically, if you've passed a medical-marijuana law, this bill would strip your state of money needed to crack down on methamphetamine or cocaine or heroin. U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley, who represents the Salem area, disagrees with the bill. She has vowed to fight the bill in Congress. And she has bragging rights on the tough-on-drugs issue because she helped three Oregon counties, including Marion County, become designated as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. That made them eligible for extra federal bucks. She also garnered federal money for the Marion Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team, which focuses on meth sales.

Bush, Ashcroft and House Republicans want to focus attention on marijuana use, even for glaucoma and cancer patients, at the expense of programs to fight coke and meth and such.

Hooley probably would refer to such a policy as a pipe dream.

So much for that "Compassionate Conservatism" bullshit.......

Sadly, I agree with every word from Arianna Huffington's column in todays LA Times:

"I a little bit disagree with Chairman Roberts on that."

That was Jay Rockefeller, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, kinda, sorta, uh, not really taking exception to committee Chairman Pat Roberts' assertion that we've turned the corner when it comes to keeping the peace in postwar Iraq. But it could just as easily serve as the motto for the whole Democratic Party: "Vote for us — we kinda, sorta disagree."

Party leaders are so timid, spineless and lacking in confidence that to call them jellyfish would be an insult to invertebrates.

These dithering poltroons are so paralyzed by the fear of doing or saying something that could be turned against them in GOP attack ads that they've castrated themselves when it comes to presenting any kind of challenge to President Bush on the two most important issues of the day: tax cuts and Iraq.

The Dems have got to get off their asses and start fighting back, or they are going to be beaten and beaten badly next November.
Sadly, I agree with every word from Arianna Huffington's column in todays LA Times:

"I a little bit disagree with Chairman Roberts on that."

That was Jay Rockefeller, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, kinda, sorta, uh, not really taking exception to committee Chairman Pat Roberts' assertion that we've turned the corner when it comes to keeping the peace in postwar Iraq. But it could just as easily serve as the motto for the whole Democratic Party: "Vote for us — we kinda, sorta disagree."

Party leaders are so timid, spineless and lacking in confidence that to call them jellyfish would be an insult to invertebrates.

These dithering poltroons are so paralyzed by the fear of doing or saying something that could be turned against them in GOP attack ads that they've castrated themselves when it comes to presenting any kind of challenge to President Bush on the two most important issues of the day: tax cuts and Iraq.

The Dems have got to get off their asses and start fighting back, or they are going to be beaten and beaten badly next November.
Doesn't anybody in the Bush regime listen?

In the months before the Iraq war the Pentagon ignored repeated warnings that it would need a substantial military police force ready to deploy after the invasion to provide law and order in the postwar chaos, US government advisers and analysts said yesterday. Some 4,000 US military police are now being deployed in Baghdad, but only after most Iraqi government services have been crippled by a wave of looting and arson.

The anarchy and crime in the Iraqi streets was predicted by several panels of former ambassadors, soldiers and peacekeeping experts, who advised the Pentagon and the White House while the invasion was being planned. They urged that lessons be learned from previous US-led military interventions and a post-conflict police force be established before the war.

The current chaos in Iraq (the chaos that Chimpco was sure wouldn't happen) was avoidable if this Administration had been paying attention. This is what happens when you only listen to those in your close circle of ideologues.
Say bye-bye to the 1st Amendment:

According to reports from protestor Brett Bursey and the press, police officers arrested Mr. Bursey for standing with thousands of Republicans welcoming the President at a Columbia, South Carolina airport because Mr. Bursey refused to change or put down his sign. Mr. Bursey reports he was told that if he wanted to protest the President, he would have to go to the designated protest site half a mile away near a highway and outside the sight and hearing of the President. “It’s the content of your sign,” officials said.

The sign in question said "No More War for Oil". Congress appears ready to start fighting back. In a letter to John Ashcroft Barney Frank and other Democratic congresspeople said:

In the letter to Ashcroft released today, the Members of Congress called the prosecution of Mr. Bursey for carrying his sign outside the designated free speech zone “a threat to the freedom of expression we should all be defending”:

“As we read the First Amendment to the Constitution, the United States is a ‘free speech zone’. In the United States, free speech is the rule, not the exception, and citizens’ rights to express it do not depend on their doing it in a way the President finds politically amenable . . . . We ask that you make it clear that we have no interest as a government in “zoning” Constitutional freedoms, and that being politically annoying to the President of the United States is not a criminal offense. This prosecution smacks of the use of the Sedition Acts two hundred years ago to protect the President from political discomfort. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. We urge you to drop this prosecution based so clearly on the political views being expressed by the individual who is being prosecuted.”

[Via Kos]

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Senator Robert C. Byrd calls 'em as he sees 'em on the floor of the Senate on Friday. Read the whole thing:

Since the war's end, every subsequent revelation that has seemed to refute the previous dire claims of the Bush Administration has been brushed aside. Instead of addressing the contradictory evidence, the White House deftly changes the subject. No weapons of mass destruction have yet turned up, but we are told that they will in time. Perhaps they yet will. But our costly and destructive bunker-busting attack on Iraq seems to have proven, in the main, precisely the opposite of what we were told was the urgent reason to go in. It seems also to have, for the present, verified the assertions of Hans Blix and the inspection team he led, which President Bush and company so derided. As Blix always said, a lot of time will be needed to find such weapons, if they do indeed exist. Meanwhile, bin Laden is still on the loose and Saddam Hussein has come up missing. The Administration assured the US public and the world, over and over again, that an attack was necessary to protect our people and the world from terrorism. It assiduously worked to alarm the public and blur the faces of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden until they virtually became one.

[Via Uggabugga]
A joke:

Attorney General Ashcroft is visiting an elementary school. After a typical civics presentation, he announces, "All right, boys and girls, now you can ask me questions."

A young boy named Bobby raises his hand and says, "I have three

1. How did Bush win the election with fewer votes than Gore?

2. Why are you using the USA Patriot Act to limit Americans' civil
liberties and violate the Constitution?

3. Why hasn't the U.S. caught Osama Bin Laden yet?"

Just then the recess bell sounds and all the kids run out to the playground. After recess, the kids come back to class and Ashcroft says, "I'm sorry we were interrupted. Now you can continue with your questions."

A young girl raises her hand and says, "I have five questions:

1. How did Bush win the election with fewer votes than Gore?

2. Why are you using the USA Patriot Act to limit Americans' civil
liberties and violate the Constitution?

3. Why hasn't the U.S. caught Osama Bin Laden yet?

4. How come the recess bell went off 20 minutes early?

5. Where's Bobby?"
We are winning the war on terror just like we are winning the war on drugs. Ted Rall weighs in:

We've killed thousands of Muslims and taken over two of their countries. We're spending billions of dollars to make it easier for our government to spy on us. But we haven't caught Osama, Al Qaeda is doing better than ever and airport security is still a sick joke. So when are Americans going to demand a real war on terrorism?

Recent suicide bombings in Riyadh and Casablanca proved with bloody eloquence that Al Qaeda and similar extremist groups are anything but "on the run," as George W. Bush puts it. Bush's tactics are a 100 percent failure, yet his band of clueless Christian soldiers continues to go after mosquitoes with shotguns. "So far," Bush furiously spun after the latest round of attacks, "nearly one-half of Al Qaeda's senior operatives have been captured or killed," promising to "remain on the hunt until they are all brought to justice."


Rarely have incompetence and cheapness been wed with such impressively disastrous results. In Afghanistan, we paid off warlords whom we should have dropped bombs upon. Puppet president Hamid Karzai is threatening to abdicate his Kabul city-state because "there is no money in the government treasury." One of Karzai's ministers warns The New York Times: "Very soon we will see armed conflict."

"Governance is a long-term process," says Bush Administration reconstruction official Chris Milligan, but that's just another lame excuse. The truth is that we haven't even tried to restore law and order, much less govern. The Pentagon (news - web sites) plans to leave just two divisions--30,000 men--to patrol Iraq. That's significantly fewer than the 50,000 peacekeeping troops NATO (news - web sites) stationed in Kosovo--a nation less than one-fifth the size of Iraq. 95 percent of Afghanistan has no peacekeepers whatsoever, with fewer than 8,000 in Kabul.


It's still early in this game. Shut down the bloated and pointless Homeland Security bureaucracy--since it doesn't include the CIA and FBI, it didn't stop interagency squabbling--and apply the money we'll save into a fully-funded rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan. Stop squandering money and our civil rights on boneheaded data-mining schemes like Total Information Awareness (now renamed Terrorism Information Awareness), and recruit some old-fashioned spies to infiltrate extremist groups. Charge the Guantánamo detainees with a crime or send them home; their legal limbo is an international embarrassment. Stop fingerprinting Muslim tourists--it's insulting and does nothing to prevent terrorists from entering the country. Quit supporting brutal anti-American military dictators like Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf, whose oppressed subjects rightly blame us for their misery.

The usual hilarity from Tom Tomorrow:

Little wonder the Shrub doesn't want to bother with having news conferences where he might have to answer a few uncomfortable questions like "So, Dub, how goes things?

Alas, the evidence for George's self-deception is stronger still, because this is without even a blush of apology, or acknowledgement of error, from the same Bush who has been insisting for months that Al-Qaeda is on the run, finished, kaput, dead in the water. Turns out that in deserts, water is often a mirage; who knew?


Meanwhile, all that any Arab or Muslim needs do to reach a very unflattering conclusion about America's foreign policy intent is look at the last two beneficiaries of American "liberation": Afghans, now trapped in a war zone ruled mostly by brutal, warring Northern Alliance warlords with a long and despised history of mass theft, rape, torture, mutilations, and murder, all of it still suffused with Taliban-style religious intolerance but now coated with a thin veneer of oil-soaked, American-approved puppets in Kabul; and Iraq, where after only six weeks ordinary Iraqis' life savings have evaporated with the abrupt currency transition from the dinar to the U.S. dollar; the U.S. has done virtually nothing to curb weeks of widespread looting by people alternately looking to enrich and/or feed themselves, or to arm themselves to protect what assets they have left; Iraqis are now approaching 100% unemployment, with few stores open -- they don't have any currency to buy inventory, and nobody else has the money to buy it from them, and nobody dares to leave their homes for something as trivial as shopping anyway; the Americans have shown no interest in either establishing democratic institutions or infrastructure, collecting evidence of the crimes of Saddam's regime, finding the large number of remaining high officials, including Saddam himself, or finding those still-mythic illegal weapons of mass destruction (hint: look in this year's federal budget); disease is spreading, hospitals are nearly useless, food and water are in sporadic supply, and a severe health crisis looms; American censorship is alive and well; various Iraqi factions are turning on one another, just like in Afghanistan; and the Americans have made it abundantly clear that they will impose their own puppets rather than allow ordinary Iraqis any voice at all in either public policies or who enacts them.

Never at a loss for words, Molly Ivins latest.

Much as I hate to interrupt what is apparently a deeply felt triumphalism on the American right, now that it's over, does anyone see any reason for our having invaded Iraq? I realize that's what we all kept trying to figure out before the invasion, but don't you think it should at least be visible in hindsight? Good thing we won the war, because the peace sure looks like a quagmire.

These are early days, certainly, to attempt a full historical evaluation. Could be a case of the forest and the trees. Perhaps we're well along the road to having everything work out magnificently, and I'm just missing it. Still, I can't see anything that's going right.

Iraq is in chaos, and apparently the only way we'll be able to stop it will be to kill a lot of Iraqis. Just what Saddam used to do. The other day, we announced we were going to shoot looters, and when that produced nightmare scenarios of children dead for stealing bread, we had to cancel that plan. Now we're going to try gun control -- that should have the enthusiastic support of the NRA. Meanwhile, the chaos in Iraq seems to be costing us whatever goodwill we earned for getting rid of Saddam Hussein, the one unmitigated good to have come from all of this.

I hate to be picky, picky, picky, but there are still no weapons of mass destruction. In fact, we've apparently even stopped looking for them. Since Iraq never had anything to do with Al Qaeda or Sept. 11 -- despite American public opinion on this issue -- it was certainly no surprise to see Al Qaeda back again, with strikes in both Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Bush's announcement that we had broken up the organization seems to have been a trifle premature. There was much un-muted griping from American intelligence about the total Saudi failure to cooperate before the attack there. (As one antiwar sign reminded us before the recent events, "Sept. 11 equals 15 Saudis, 0 Iraqis.")

Meanwhile, one of the other sales pitches we were given was that, for reasons never explained, getting rid of Saddam Hussein would make it easier to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It's not looking promising. Didn't look promising before the war, doesn't now.

President Bush came out with his Roadmap for Peace, and the Israelis took the first exit. Ariel Sharon, so memorably described by Bush as "a man of peace," wasted no time undercutting that proposal. The always-unhelpful Palestinian terrorists attacked, and Sharon counter-attacked and then cancelled his trip here to discuss the peace plan. The usual ugly pictures and refueled resentments ensued; the same-old, same-old of this 50-year-old cycle. So far, getting rid of Saddam seems to have had zero effect on this old deadlock.

Meanwhile, Iraq looks more and more as though it will be costing us the high-end estimate of $20 billion a year, for which they have yet to appear noticeably grateful. The Shiites hate us, the Kurds are killing the Arabs, we're hiring old Ba'athite thugs to run things and generally becoming about as popular over there as a whore trying to get into the SMU School of Theology. As John Henry's cousin Eddie used to say of the Vietnamese, "If they don't like what we're doin' for ‘em, why don't they just go back where they come from?"

OK, if this is the situation -- and it's certainly what's being reported -- I don't get why we're still hearing Bushies saying, "Ha, ha, ha; we won the war." Was there anyone who said we wouldn't?

Since I am in the happy position of having predicted a short, easy war and the peace from hell, I think I'm looking like a genius prognosticator about now. I can't figure out why the Republicans are happy about this. Sure, it was a great photo-op for the president on the aircraft carrier, but if you think the American people won't notice $20 billion a year because of some nice pictures, you have sadly underestimated the common sense of this nation. I realize that what we see depends on where we stand, but there is a substantial body of emerging fact here, none of it encouraging for optimists.

We may yet see hopeful developments, but damned if I can see any cause for celebration now, or even for building a presidential re-election campaign around footage of our triumphant pres flying out to the aircraft carrier. There's a very real possibility that by November 2004, Republicans will very much want everybody to forget the war now called Dubya Dubya II. (Sorry, I don't know whom to credit for that one, but it's not original with me.)

I've got an even-money bet out that says more Americans will be killed in the peace than in the war and more Iraqis will be killed by Americans in the peace than in the war. Not the first time I've made a bet that I hoped I'd lose.

"Dubya Dubya II"? I hadn't heard that one before....

Today in Baghdad:

Iraqi soldiers complained bitterly today of the allies' plans to disband the country's armed forces, with some threatening to take up arms against occupying American and British troops unless their salaries were continued. About 50 Iraqi soldiers marched to one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces here in this southern city to air their grievances. They were turned away without incident by heavily armed British soldiers at the front gate. Similar complaints were raised by soldiers in Baghdad.

"If they don't pay us, we'll start problems," said Lt. Col. Ahmed Muhammad, 41, a 25-year navy veteran based in Basra and a leader of the disgruntled Iraqi soldiers. "We have guns at home. If they don't pay us, if they make our children suffer, they'll hear from us."

This could become a problem for US troops. So, what has Chimpco decided to do about it?:

In Baghdad today, the American military issued an order giving Iraqis three weeks to hand in any automatic and heavy weapons they have. "After June 14, individuals caught with unauthorized weapons will be detained and face criminal charges," the order said. Iraqis will still be allowed to have pistols, shotguns and some other light firearms.

Ok so you can keep the handguns and the shotguns, but ya gotta fork over the rocket launchers. Makes perfect sense to me. I wish them luck trying to enforce this new ordanance in a country where everybody probably has an AK-47 in the closet....

How the hell are things going in Afghanistan this morning?

About 200 people chanted "Death to Americans" and threw rocks at the U.S. embassy in Kabul on Saturday in protest against the killing of four Afghan soldiers by U.S. troops at the same spot earlier in the week. The protesters also smashed windows of cars belonging to the international peace-keeping force parked nearby. U.S. special forces guarding the embassy pointed guns at the crowd but did not fire.

The crowd later dispersed and there were no immediate reports of any injuries.

U.S. troops shot dead four Afghans and wounded four outside the U.S. embassy on Wednesday when they mistakenly thought they were about to come under attack.

The protesters, who initially numbered almost 50, were joined by more people as they moved toward the U.S. embassy. They chanted and threw rocks and bricks at the mission building. They also shouted slogans against U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai and called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

We want (revenge for the) blood of our martyrs," some shouted.

The shooting on Wednesday came just after Washington raised its terror alert status to high after bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco. The embassy said it regretted the incident.

Good to see things are just cruising along according to plan. What was that plan again?

[Via Buzzflash]
Chimpco is probably glad Christine Todd Whitman resigned last week as the head of the EPA. Now they can put an industrialist in charge of our environmental policy.

But there was little reason to believe Bush would put environmental protection over the interests of his corporate supporters and friends. Skepticism abounded when he promised during the campaign that he would seek mandatory power plant reductions of carbon dioxide, and that skepticism was well placed. Three months into his presidency, Bush undercut Whitman's pledge that America would help combat global warming when he reneged on the carbon dioxide pledge and rejected the Kyoto Treaty, which calls for mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Whitman has struggled ever since to defend a succession of environmental rollbacks initiated by her boss. Though she denied being at odds with Bush, the strain finally reached the breaking point Wednesday, when she announced that she was stepping down. As Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said: "Christie Whitman must feel like her long national nightmare is over." Over the past two years, Whitman kept peace with Bush by abandoning environmental stances she had backed as governor, including support for the "polluter pays" method of paying for Superfund site cleanups and plans to cap toxic emissions, two policies rejected by the Bush administration.

Whitman also promoted a number of other egregious administration proposals, including relaxing industrial pollution regulations and handing the Defense Department several major exemptions from environmental laws.

Whitman did put up a fight occasionally but it's doubtful her replacement will. Bush's true colors as a hard-core anti-environment, pro-industry president have never been more vivid.

Emboldened by his success in pushing his right-wing agenda on so many fronts, the president may feel no need to put a so-called moderate in charge of EPA. The front-runners to replace Whitman include auto industry lobbyist Josephine Cooper and Florida Environmental Protection Secretary David Struhs, who recently backed sugar-industry-promoted moves in his state to postpone a cleanup of the gravely polluted Everglades.


Saturday, May 24, 2003

Over the last couple months I’ve really started to like C-Span. Not only is everything they do commercial free, they are just about the only place on TV where you can get what I consider unbiased information on the Democratic Party candidates running for President. C-Span2 has been running a series on Saturday afternoon called 'Hear It From the Heartland' which has so far showcased Howard Dean, John Edwards, and John Kerry in a format hosted by Sen. Tom Harkins (D-Iowa) from Davenport.

It’s a very comfortable format for the candidates. They get the stage all to themselves to chat with the audience, who almost always ask solid questions, and there is no obnoxious George Streptococcus to compete with for camera time. Senator Tom keeps it folksy and down-home and if you get the chance to tune in some Saturday afternoon if you’re interested in what the Dems have to say it might change your mind about some things. I know it changed my mind about Howard Dean, who was as dynamic and funny in Iowa as he was dour and angry in South Carolina. It really showed him in a very positive light.

It had been a couple years since I had heard anything more than a sound bite from Bill Clinton, but C-Span has been running a show on Friday nights called “The Clinton Presidency” and it’s also worth a watch. This past Friday it was the former president at the University of Arkansas answering questions from a group of students and it really was fun watching him do what he does best: talk.

Say what you will about Bill Clinton (and most everybody has an opinion about him, either good or bad) but he is absolutely in his element when he is relaxed and leaning against the podium, just letting the stories unfold. He kept those students, and Barb and myself too, totally transfixed on his every word and it showed me once again why I was proud to vote for him twice. His cadence when he really gets going is like listening to a preacher on Sunday and I’d forgotten what it was like to hear a president who could speak without stumbling over every other word.

He had some interesting things to say about his Presidency and the world since he left office. He made some good points about the failure of the Bushies to destroy al Queda and Osama when we had them cornered in the mountains in northeast Afghanistan last year, and he noted that it was probably the lack of US troops in the area at the time and the resulting inability to surround the mountain hideouts that gave bin Laden the chance to slip away to terrorize another day. He also mentioned that, in his opinion, we pulled the troops out of the country way too early in order to buildup for the Iraq invasion when the job was not completed, and now we’ll probably have to go back into Afghanistan and fight our ex-allies, the Northern Alliance, and a reconstituted al Queda.

During the coming election when you hear about how Bush screwed up in the war on terror, this is what they mean. He got sidetracked in his obsession with Saddam and it could be argued that he let Osama get away when he had him in his grasp.

Yet, he supports Dubya’s decision to go into Iraq and he doubt’s whether Bush lied about the weapons of mass destruction. Afterall, his intelligence agency had been telling him the same thing for years.

Clinton also talked extensively about his own mistakes that he made while President. He takes the blame for the disaster in Somalia, even if it was a problem he inherited when he took office. He spoke quite candidly about his naiveté about the level of meanness that permeates Washington politics and he was taken by surprise how quickly the Press seemed to turn on him and Hillary. He said his biggest mistake was trying to do too much too fast during the first 100 days, and if he had to do it all over again he’d concentrate on passing welfare reform before he even thought about trying to pass health care reform.

He said his greatest regret was that he wasn’t able to do anything to stop the slaughter in Rwanda (where about 350,000 people were killed in tribal fighting) because by the time the stories about the genocide became known to the world it was too late to ramp-up a troop deployment to do any good. It was already a done thing, and he seemed genuinely sad that he couldn’t stop it.

It was a fascinating two hours of television. Ok so he’s a bit of a goober and a snake. Call him what you want, but you can’t call him a crook. From an interview in Buzzflash with the author of The Clinton Wars, Sidney Blumenthal.

BUZZFLASH: You mention that Starr basically, in our words, had decided with his staff that the President and Mrs. Clinton were guilty. All the Independent Counsel had to do was find a crime. And in the absence of a crime, they were still guilty. What were they guilty of in the mind of Ken Starr?

BLUMENTHAL: In the course of writing this book, I interviewed Sam Dash, who was hired by Ken Starr as his counselor to advise him on his prosecution. Dash was a Democrat. He was the Majority Counsel in the House Judiciary Committee in the impeachment hearings of Richard Nixon, and he was one of the early proponents of the Independent Counsel Act. Dash later quit to protest Starr's advocacy of impeachment before Henry Hyde's House Judiciary Committee because he thought that the Independent Counsel should never act as an advocate, but simply present the facts.

Dash told me that he reviewed every single prosecution memo on Whitewater, on the FBI files case, on the travel office -- on every single thing that they were investigating. And as he told me -- quote -- they had nothing. And he also told me that he told them that. He said: Zero plus zero plus zero equals zero. He urged them to drop it and to wrap up the investigation. That should have been their due diligence as professional prosecutors. They should have concluded the matter. That was their responsibility, their obligation. But they didn't listen to Dash.

Instead, as he explained to me and another prosecutor in Starr's office -- who spoke to me at great length on background -- they believed that the Clintons had to be guilty of something. Why? Because they had to be corrupt. They had to be evil. They had to be morally suspect, both of them -- both Bill and Hillary Clinton -- because of a matter of faith on the part of Ken Starr and his prosecutors that they were. It was the view not of American jurisprudence but of the Spanish Inquisition. In other words, identify the target and find a crime.

BUZZFLASH: But what was it that was motivating them, whether or not it was part of the right-wing conspiracy -- and we certainly would ascribe to that? But let's just look at Ken Starr and his chief assistants, who you say were self-described members of the Likud faction of the prosecution.


BUZZFLASH: What did they think? Given that they didn't have a crime, what did they think the President was guilty of?

BLUMENTHAL: They didn't know. They couldn't quite put their finger on it, but they kept trolling for it. And they were driven by deeply seated, conservative, cultural and partisan views toward the Clintons, which overrode their professional responsibilities to wrap the whole matter up. And that's what happened when the office of the Independent Counsel was captured by Starr, who filled the office with these kinds of hard-charging right-wingers.

Starr had NOTHING on the Clintons. Still doesn't..........

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Let's see. Who's less patriotic, the Dixie Chicks or Dick Cheney's long-term meal ticket, the Halliburton Company?

The Dixie Chicks were excoriated for simply exercising their constitutional right to speak out. With an ugly backlash and plans for a boycott growing, the group issued a humiliating public apology for "disrespectful" anti-Bush remarks made by its lead singer, Natalie Maines. The Chicks learned how dangerous it can be to criticize the chief of a grand imperial power.

Halliburton, on the other hand, can do no wrong. Yes, it has a history of ripping off the government. And, yes, it's made zillions doing business in countries that sponsor terrorism, including members of the "axis of evil" that is so despised by the president. But the wrath of the White House has not come thundering down on Halliburton for consorting with the enemy. And there's been very little public criticism. This is not some hapless singing group we're talking about. Halliburton is a court favorite. So instead of being punished for its misdeeds, it's been handed a huge share of the riches to be reaped from the reconstruction of Iraq and U.S. control of Iraqi oil.

A Democratic congressman, Henry Waxman of California, has raised pointed questions about the propriety of rewarding Halliburton with lucrative contracts as part of the U.S. war on terror when the company has gone out of its way to do business in three nations that the U.S. has accused of supporting terror: Iraq, Iran and Libya.


"Since at least the 1980's, federal laws have prohibited U.S. companies from doing business in one or more of these countries. Yet Halliburton appears to have sought to circumvent these restrictions by setting up subsidiaries in foreign countries and territories such as the Cayman Islands. These actions started as early as 1984; they appear to have continued during the period between 1995 and 2000, when Vice President Cheney headed the company; and they are apparently ongoing even today."


Now, with the U.S. takeover of Iraq, Halliburton has hit the jackpot. It has only recently been made clear that an "emergency" no-bid contract given in March to the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root covers far more than the limited task of fighting oil well fires. The company has been given control of the Iraqi oil operations, including oil distribution.

"It's remarkable there's been so little attention paid to the Halliburton contracts," said Mr. Waxman. In addition to doing business in countries that have sponsored terrorism, the congressman said, Halliburton has been accused of overcharging the U.S. government for work it did in the 1990's. And last year the company agreed to pay a $2 million settlement to ward off possible criminal charges for price gouging.


Meanwhile, the flag-waving yahoos are hyperventilating over nonissues like the Dixie Chicks.

This (Halliburton, not The Chicks) is going to become a big deal for the Chimpies. I hope the entire Democratic Party PILES ON this story and forces the media to report it, not ignore it.

Men are pigs. It’s true….

My girlfriend has been following this whole American Idol thing and she forced me to watch the final last night. Now, I don’t give a rats tookus about reality TV as I find the reality of just living day-to-day exciting enough, but being the consummate good-guy boyfriend, I relented.

Well I just wasn’t going to sit there for two whole hours and watch those two warbling bozos sing ad nauseum and since I wasn’t going to feel the same tension rising as a prepubescent girl might, I spent my time commuting back and forth between the backyard smoking cigarettes, the computer checking out the blogs and the ice hockey board I admin, and the futon in front of the TV.

I was bored with the whole thing after about 10 minutes and didn’t care who won anyway so about 9 o’clock (midnight on the east coast where the contest was already over) I strolled on over to one of the message boards I lurk at to see, ya know, like who won.

Lo and behold! The WINNER was the black dude.

Sooooooo I keep this little piece of information to myself and go back into the living room and start an argument with The Goddess as to who is going to win, and did she want to place a small wager on the outcome? She had been saying all night long that twerp white guy was going to win because he was soooooo much better and soooooo cute and sure, she’d bet me.

LOL so we bet a full on steak dinner for tonight and the loser had to do the dishes every night for the duration of this long holiday weekend. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA girls can be so trusting.

Needless to say, the outcome was preordained and when the winner was announced she got really PISSED OFF! That’s understandable because being who I am I just couldn’t resist rubbing it in by dancing around the living room like a ballerina with a burr stuck in my tutu for about a half-hour after the show……

ROTFLMFAO it was hilarious, altho Barb might tend to differ on that assessment.

Well, I let it go for a while until she told me to NEVER BRING IT UP AGAIN and it was then that I told her the truth about my deception and my lies. It’s a good thing she hasn’t lost her sense of humor and just to show that she’s a good sport about all this she’s making ME pay for the dinner tonight and do the dishes all weekend.

Love and lies. Life ROCKS!
Billmon thinks he's found the right man to be Shrubco's next Press Secretary:

From: Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf []
Date: Monday May 19, 2003 1:17:53 PM US/Eastern
To: White House Director of Personnel []
Subject: Employment Opportunity

Your Excellency;

It is my understanding that due to a pending departure from your staff, you are in need of a qualified press spokesman. I would like to offer myself as a candidate for this position.

As you will see from my attached resume, I have extensive experience as a government communicator, most recently as the Minister of Information for a major Middle Eastern country.

In this position, I took a lead role in defending my country's President against widespread allegations of corruption, abuse of power and gross violations of human rights and civil liberties. Using a variety of forged intelligence materials, I also planned and executed a comprehensive communications strategy designed to manipulate public opinion in support of aggressive war.

In the domestic arena, my team was responsible for obscuring the economic decline of our country and the pillaging of its natural resources by well-connected insiders. We also prepared reports, press releases and other disinformation materials designed to justify tax and regulatory policies that overwhelmingly favored those same insiders.

Finally, working with my country's controlled media, I helped create a cult of personality around our President -- portraying him to the nation as both a wise and benevolent leader and a heroic military man.

Unfortunately, due to a sudden regime change, I am currently seeking new employment opportunities -- ideally in a country outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. I believe my specialized skills could prove very useful to your administration.

If you would like to discuss your hiring needs further, please reply by return e-mail.


Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf

John Edwards gave a fine speach in Iowa yesterday. We'll be hearing more from him as his campaign for President progresses....

We have a crisis in rural and small-town America. And it is time to do something about it.

What has this President done?

He's watered down corporate reforms.

He eliminated the Rural Education Achievement program that helps smaller schools buy computers and school buses.

He cut the farm bill's support for rural broadband Internet service, which our farmers and small town businesses need to compete.

He cut programs that use cable technology to connect people in rural areas and small-towns with the best doctors and best hospitals in America-- a critical answer to the rural health care crisis. He wants to force seniors who want a real prescription drug benefit to enter HMOs—even though HMOs don't even serve many rural communities.

He's abandoned the fight for international workplace and environmental standards, to ensure that free trade is also fair trade.

And he's done it all at a time when small farmers are being squeezed out of business, small towns are dying and our young people are leaving.

Remember - the President's stood right here. He came here to promote his energy policy. Then he went back to Washington and cut millions for efforts like this, while fighting for billions more for the big oil industry. You know what they say about friends like these ....

Just because you have yourself a new ranch and wear a big belt buckle, doesn't make you a friend of rural America.

But let's be honest - yes, given the chance to take the side of big corporate interests over hard-working Americans, this President will take the side of corporate interests every time. But my party isn't perfect by any means. Too many Democrats too often act like rural America is just someplace to fly over between a fundraiser in Manhattan and a fundraiser in Beverly Hills.


With Congressman Leonard Boswell, I have sponsored a plan for an immediate infusion of $50 billion to help state and local governments, which have been ravaged by the recession and homeland security costs, and all-but-abandoned by this President.


Over six months ago, I offered a plan to bring our country back to fiscal responsibility. I said we should roll back the Bush tax cut for the wealthiest Americans and use attrition to cut the number of government employees and contractors by 10%. My plan would save over $1.6 trillion in the next 20 years.

Today I want to go further. The truth is, people in Washington find it far too easy to forget the folks out here, but they rarely forget the corporate lobbyists who swarm the Capitol every single day. Because of that, the government pays out billions of dollars to corporations that would already be making huge profits without a dime in government help. I've had about enough of this administration's crony capitalism—it's time to go back to the original kind. So I would cut corporate loopholes and subsidies.


This year, I will set out these ideas. Next year, I want to debate them face to face with President Bush. When I do, I will ask the American people a few simple questions: Do you believe our nation is headed in the right direction? Do you believe the policies in Washington DC today are good for your community? And do you believe you have a President who understands the real America and cares about regular Americans?


I am running for President to renew a sense of hope and opportunity and optimism throughout all America - not just a few islands of technology and prosperity and high finance.

And I am running for President so I can go toe-to-toe with George W. Bush and tell him that his policies, and the values they represent, are wrong for America

I'll tell George W. Bush that budget-busting tax cuts for millionaires are no substitute for a real economic policy; and that allowing CEOs to profiteer while their workers and shareholders suffer, offends our values.

I'll tell President Bush that an education policy long on slogans but short on support cheats our children; and that environmental policies written by and for the big polluters threaten our families and communities.

I'll tell him it's plain immoral to side with price-gouging health insurance and pharmaceutical giants over the interests of the American people.

And I'll tell George W. Bush that when it comes to speaking for rural and small-town America, he's all hat and no cattle.

If you haven’t heard John Edwards speak, it’s impossible to feel the passion he puts into everything he says by just reading his words in a newspaper. This guy can really get his point across and is able to put whole sentences together without stumbling over words that have more than two syllables. Make an effort to watch him on TV during the run-up to the primaries, because you’ll come away impressed with what he has to say and how he says it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Congress is becoming curious about Iraq deals and it's about gd time....

Top Republicans and Democrats in Congress are calling for greater scrutiny of the American effort to rebuild Iraq, and some want to investigate how huge contracts were awarded to Bechtel Corp. of San Francisco and Halliburton Co., a Houston firm once run by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Democrats such as Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a presidential candidate, and Rep. Sherrod Brown of Ohio expect that their calls for an investigation will be dismissed as attempts to score partisan points by embarrassing President Bush. But GOP Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, usually a firm Bush ally and chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said he is concerned with the "lack of transparency" that has surrounded the reconstruction program for postwar Iraq.

Hyde, speaking at a hearing Thursday, said a lack of basic information about the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs has hamstrung congressional efforts to find out what's going on, who's responsible, how contracts are awarded and the effectiveness of efforts to restore law and order as well as basic services in Iraq.

"I understand, for example, that the very charter of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs is still classified as national security information," Hyde said in asking for a General Accounting Office review of the Iraq situation.

I'm glad to see that my old home city of Baltimore is taking a stand against the Patriot Act:

The Baltimore City Council is taking aim at the U.S. Patriot Act. WBAL-TV 11 NEWS I-Team reporter David Collins reported that the City Council passed one of the most strongly worded resolutions in the country Monday night. The resolution is designed to protect the rights of city residents in the wake of federal laws passed in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Baltimore City Council is taking a stand against the Patriot Act, sending a strong message to the Bush administration -- putting the government on notice that they don't approve of where the policy lines are being drawn, Collins reported.

Baltimore now joins 108 other jurisdictions across the country in officially expressing concerns about the Patriot Act. Although it does not carry the weight of law, the resolution offers guidelines to police and even city libraries.

I would never live there again because of the crime, weather, and dirty air and because living in Oregon ROCKS, but I'm still glad to see them taking a very tough stand.
A John Edwards sighting:

WASHINGTON-Senator John Edwards on Tuesday called United States policy in postwar Iraq "confused and chaotic," and outlined steps America and our allies should take to make Iraq a stable democracy that is a model for the Arab world.

"Since that statue of Saddam Hussein came crashing down, America's postwar policy has been confused and chaotic," Senator Edwards said. "The American-led civil administration is under-staffed, under-equipped and unprepared."

Before the Bush administration "undermines all that we have accomplished," Senator Edwards said the United States should:

Involve our allies, the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in establishing a free Iraqi government with legitimacy in the region and around the world.

Create a NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force to ensure that the Iraqi people live in a place that is safe and secure.

Ensure that the Iraqi people - not some puppet government - shape the nation's future under a government that reflects the nation's diversity.

Help develop a prosperous economy by making clear that Iraq's vast oil reserves will not be exploited by the United States or others.

Unless the United States takes those steps to meet its ongoing responsibilities in Iraq, Senator Edwards cautioned, the victory that our military achieved could be squandered as radical clerics take advantage of a power vacuum in the postwar chaos.

A cosponsor of the resolution that gave President Bush authority to wage war in Iraq, Senator Edwards and others stressed during the run up to the war last fall that the administration needed to focus on what would happen in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was driven from power.

The senator first laid out his four-step proposal for postwar Iraq in a Senate statement on April 10, one day after the fall of Baghdad.

"It is in America's national interest to help build an Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbors because a democratic, tolerant and accountable Iraq will be a peaceful regional partner," Senator Edwards said.

Arianna Huffington unloads on the fanatics at the White House.

Maybe Karl Rove has moved his office into the "Matrix." Maybe Laurence Fishburne is auditioning for Ari Fleischer's job. Maybe it's all just a bad dream: "The White House Reloaded."

I've been racking my brain, trying to reconcile the ever-widening chasm between what the White House claims to be true and what is actually true. After all, we know the president and his men are not stupid. And despite the tidal wave of misinformation pouring out of their mouths, I don't believe they are consciously lying.

The best explanation I can come up with for the growing gap between their rhetoric and reality is that we are being governed by a gang of out and out fanatics. The defining trait of the fanatic -- be it a Marxist, a fascist, or, gulp, a Wolfowitz -- is the utter refusal to allow anything as piddling as evidence to get in the way of an unshakable belief. Bush and his fellow fanatics are the political equivalent of those yogis who can hold their breath and go without air for hours. Such is their mental control, they can go without truth for, well, years. Because, in their minds, they're always right. Oopso facto.

That pretty much sums up the White House m.o. on everything, from the status of al-Qaeda to the condition of post-war Iraq to the magical job-producing virtues of the latest round of tax cuts.

Who else but a fanatic would have made the outrageous claim, as the president did last Friday, just four days after the deadly reemergence of al-Qaeda in Riyadh, that "the United States people are more secure, the world is going to be more peaceful"? More peaceful than what? The West Bank? In the weeks before the attacks in Riyadh, the president had repeatedly maintained that "we are winning the war on terror," and that al-Qaeda was "on the run... slowly, but surely, being decimated." So he clearly wasn't going to let a little fact like 34 dead bodies -- the result of three closely coordinated suicide bomb attacks -- change his mind.

He was similarly unperturbed by that troubling new report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, an influential and non-partisan British think tank -- released a day after the Riyadh bombings and three days before the president proclaimed us "more secure" -- which found that al-Qaeda was "just as dangerous" and "even harder to identify and neutralize" than it was prior to 9/11.
And just 4 hours after the president strapped on his trusty blinders and delivered his rosy vision of a more peaceful world, the tranquility was shattered by the five simultaneous suicide blasts in Casablanca. Oh well, at least we still have the upcoming Jessica Lynch TV movie to make us feel good about ourselves -- give or take a few last minute rewrites by the BBC.

The president's evidence-be-damned fanaticism is equally apparent when it comes to the state of post-war Iraq. "Life is returning to normal," he proclaimed just two weeks after the fall of Baghdad. "Things have settled down inside the country." Really? Just who is preparing his morning briefing papers? Pollyandy Card? Little Condoleezza Sunshine? Did he bother consulting any Iraqis about "normal life" there? Probably not. Another key to being a flourishing fanatic is to surround yourself with those of a shared -- and equally deluded -- mindset. And according to that mindset, the definition of "settling down" can be expanded to include rampant looting, sporadic water and electrical service, hospitals in disastrous condition, outbreaks of cholera and dysentery, streets filled with uncollected garbage and raw sewage, half a dozen ransacked nuclear facilities, missing barrels of radioactive material, growing anti-American sentiment, and disparate ethnic and religious groups arming themselves. No wonder Don Rumsfeld called the media's reporting of all this "an overstatement." It's just another "normal" weekend at Camp David.

And don't bother trying to make the case that everything isn't hunky-dory in Baghdad to rabid acolytes such as Jay Garner. Like the president, the demoted viceroy doesn't care what the facts indicate -- to him even a looted and punctured glass can be half-full. "We ought to be beating our chests every day," he said, dismissing the notion that any of us should feel bad about the problems besetting Iraq. "We ought to look in a mirror and get proud. We ought to stick out our chests and suck in our bellies and say, 'Damn, we're Americans.'" That's sure to win us some more goodwill around the world. Hoo-rah, and pass the Kool-Aid, General Jay!

And if you think the president is saving his fanaticism only for the international sector, think again. His dogged devotion to selling his latest round of tax cuts for the wealthy as a "jobs creation plan" -- despite an avalanche of evidence that it will do nothing of the sort -- proves that he can be just as fervent on the home front. "Jobs are on the line," said Bush after the Senate passed its version of the tax cut. "I call on Congress to resolve their differences quickly so I can sign a bill that will help create jobs, boost take home pay and spur economic growth." And for those with "...illionaire" as part of their economic description, it probably will.

It obviously makes no difference to the president that 10 Nobel Prize winning economists have condemned his tax cuts as "not the answer" to high unemployment, or that a new Congressional Budget Office study found that the "jobs and growth package" will actually have very little effect on long-term growth. Not interested. Not listening. The 1.4 million jobs the White House repeatedly says the tax cuts will create are more a matter of a fanatic's faith than of dispassionate forecasting. The fact is there are now 2.1 million more unemployed Americans than when Bush took office -- the vast majority of them having lost their jobs after the president's initial $1.3 trillion tax cut was passed in 2001. Difficult evidence to ignore -- unless "ignore the evidence" is your eleventh commandment.

A popular definition of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Well, that seems to be the White House theory on the power of tax cuts to produce new jobs: It didn't work before; let's try it again.
Welcome to the D.C. Matrix.

Patriotboy's take on the Annika Sorenstam controversy at the Colonial golf tourny this weekend:

Like many Americans, I'm pretty upset about this here foreign Annika Sorenstam woman trying to play in a PGA tournament. She's going to ruin golf. It'll become some kind of sissified girlie game. Can you imagine being forced to golf with a woman? You wouldn't be able to partake in one of life's greatest pleasures, taking a leak on the green. Where's all that beer going to go?

All the great rituals will have to go too. There will be no more bare bottomed spankings of the guy with the most strokes after the first nine holes. No more amateur prostate examinations after someone bogies. No more getting naked and tucking your "little soldier" between your legs while singing songs from "HMS Pinafore" after finishing the 13th hole. All this because some woman wants to be treated equally.

No wonder Vijah Singh --who I hope isn't French--is so angry. This Annika woman is draining all of the fun out of the game. Thank God Fuzzy Zoeller won't be there to see it.


World class rich guy, Warren Buffett, has a few choice words about the latest Chimpco tax cut:

Now the Senate says that dividends should be tax-free to recipients. Suppose this measure goes through and the directors of Berkshire Hathaway (which does not now pay a dividend) therefore decide to pay $1 billion in dividends next year. Owning 31 percent of Berkshire, I would receive $310 million in additional income, owe not another dime in federal tax, and see my tax rate plunge to 3 percent. And our receptionist? She'd still be paying about 30 percent, which means she would be contributing about 10 times the proportion of her income that I would to such government pursuits as fighting terrorism, waging wars and supporting the elderly. Let me repeat the point: Her overall federal tax rate would be 10 times what my rate would be.

Overall, it's hard to conceive of anything sillier than the schedule the Senate has laid out. Indeed, the first President Bush had a name for such activities: "voodoo economics." The manipulation of enactment and sunset dates of tax changes is Enron-style accounting, and a Congress that has recently demanded honest corporate numbers should now look hard at its own practices.

When you listen to tax-cut rhetoric, remember that giving one class of taxpayer a "break" requires -- now or down the line -- that an equivalent burden be imposed on other parties. In other words, if I get a break, someone else pays. Government can't deliver a free lunch to the country as a whole. It can, however, determine who pays for lunch. And last week the Senate handed the bill to the wrong party.


Texas agency destroyed records related to search for Democrats. YEEEHAH! Rope 'em and shread 'em, boys...

One day before Democrats ended their boycott of the Texas House last week, the Texas Department of Public Safety ordered the destruction of all records and photos gathered in the search for them, documents obtained Tuesday show.

A one-sentence order sent by e-mail on the morning of May 14 was apparently carried out, a DPS spokesman said Tuesday. The revelation comes as federal authorities are investigating how a division of the federal Homeland Security Department was dragged into the hunt for the missing Democrats - at the request of the state police agency. Addressed to "Captains," the order said: "Any notes, correspondence, photos, etc. that were obtained pursuant to the absconded House of Representative members shall be destroyed immediately. No copies are to be kept. Any questions please contact me."

It was signed by the commander of the DPS Special Crimes Service, L.C. "Tony" Marshall.

"I'm appalled. It would appear as though there is something to hide," Bailey said. "And based on some information we've been told inside DPS, it just concerns me more that there were some overzealous people inside the agency. The question is who was driving them so hard. I really am shocked that they would be destroying any internal information."

More of the usual tripe from The Wolfman:

Here's what worries me so much. So many Americans already have a rather low regard for journalists; so many of our viewers, readers and listeners simply don't trust us. Many of them, according to public opinion polls, believe we have political agendas and biases that taint our reporting. And many of our news consumers, no doubt, suspect we often make things up -- whether to advance a political cause, or settle personal scores, or sell newspapers and increase ratings on television. What has now happened at The New York Times has simply fueled those suspicions.

WHAT!!! Americans don't trust journalists??? When did this happen? I guess we're just lucky that we have CNN and FoxNews around to keep us fully informaed with accurate, unbiased reporting....

Journalism is not a perfect science. It is often referred to as a first draft of history. And as all of you know, a first draft can occasionally be sloppy. Yes, we will make mistakes. But those are unwitting mistakes.

Now wait a minute. Didn't he just get done saying that "what has now happened at The New York Times has simply fueled those suspicions"? I mean, Jason Blair flat out made all those stories up and printed them as facts! However, when CNN makes a mistake, it's an unwitting the Jessica Lynch story, right Wolfie?

Healthy skepicism is critical in doing our job. In my experience, if a story sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. Check and re-check and triple-check those sources. There are people with agendas trying to use us for their own purposes.

That's really some statement coming from a guy who works for the network who spends a great deal of time on it's own pro-Bush agenda.....

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Is Iran next on the menu?

A budding coalition of conservative hawks, Jewish organizations and Iranian monarchists is pressing the White House to step up American efforts to bring about regime change in Iran.

For now, President Bush's official stance is to encourage the Iranian people to push the mullah regime aside themselves, but observers believe that the policy is not yet firm, and that has created an opportunity for activists. Neoconservatives advocating regime change in Tehran through diplomatic pressure — and even covert action — appear to be winning the debate within the administration, several knowledgeable observers said.

"There is a pact emerging between hawks in the administration, Jewish groups and Iranian supporters of Reza Pahlavi [the exiled son of the former shah of Iran] to push for regime change," said Pooya Dayanim, president of the Iranian-Jewish Public Affairs Committee in Los Angeles and a hawk on Iran.

Meanwhile, in Congress, Democrat Rep. Tom Lantos of California is sponsoring a resolution supporting the people of Iran against the regime. Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas has introduced an amendment that would set aside $50 million to fund Iranian opposition television and radio stations in Los Angeles — most of which promote a restoration of the shah's monarchy — as well as human rights and pro-democracy groups.

Supporters of the shah's son, Pahlavi, have been supporting Brownback's amendment, know as the Iran Democracy Act. So has the main pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

So the drumbeating begins.

An end to the threat of Islamic terrorism requires, not just the toppling of one state sponsor of terrorism in Iraq, but the toppling of the regime that is the Middle East's most active promoter of terrorism--and the most virulent center of the ideology behind Islamic terrorism: the theocracy that rules Iran.

The most recent evidence for the urgent need to confront Iran is the simmering conflict in southern Iraq. Post-war Iraq has been touted by the administration as an attempt to create a free, peaceful, and prosperous society as a model to be followed by dissidents in neighboring countries like Iran. But Iran also wants to turn Iraq into a model--a model for American humiliation and the triumph of Islamic fanaticism.

The evidence of meticulous Iranian planning is everywhere. Note that Shiite demonstrators showed up just days after the fall of Baghdad carrying elaborate, professionally made banners proclaiming their theocratic agenda--with slogans printed in both Arabic and English, for the benefit of the Western media. This is not the work of poor, uneducated Iraqi peasants. It is the work of well-funded political operatives. Indeed, U.S. forces have already begun to capture Iranian agents in Iraq and believe that thousands more Iranian-backed fighters have flooded over the border in the past month.