Monday, May 31, 2004

Well well. Looks like the conservatives are now turning against ChimpCo:
Consider also what it says about the administration as a whole when, on top of the many previous outright lies, false promises, failed predictions, abrupt changes of course, and multiple evidences of bad or no planning, corruption, confusion, and failure that have already plagued the occupation of Iraq, this supremely ugly scandal breaks, and no one at the highest level—not Richard Meyers or Wolfowitz or Rumsfeld or Rice or Cheney or Bush—takes responsibility, resigns, is fired, demoted, or even publicly reprimanded. In a government like that of Japan or some other countries, a sense of shame alone would suffice to bring about resignations; in an earlier era it might have meant suicide. But to this crew apply the words that brought Sen. Joe McCarthy down in 1954: “Has it come to this, at long last? Have you no shame—no shame at all?”

Consider finally what it must say about the American public, or at least a major portion of it, if this does not at last produce an overdue and overriding sense of revulsion against leaders and a policy that have led their country to this shameful pass. The Republican slogan in 1996 was “Where’s the outrage?” That outrage, understandable given the disgusting though essentially private misdeeds of President Clinton and important in the 2000 election, today seems strangely absent on the Right. Liberals can now ask conservatives, “Where’s the revulsion?” What must it mean if good, loyal, religious, family-values conservatives—the segment that George W. Bush overwhelmingly commands and that this journal appeals to—find even this degrading spectacle something they can swallow? What if at least a sizeable contingent does not deliver to Bush in November the message that Oliver Cromwell addressed to the English Long Parliament in 1649: “You have been here too long for any good that you have done. In the name of God, go!”
Pity, really......

Thanks to the new, improved Blah3 for the link

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Thank gawd....Billmon is back. Go drink in his take on the World.

AND I'm gonna spam myself. I've been working all day on getting the pictures from my Thai holiday this past winter online. Go take a look.

Yes. It's really that nice.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

This alone is reason enough to deny Chimpy another 4 years:
The prospect that the U.S. was lured into a disastrous war in Iraq as part of an intelligence scheme hatched in Tehran would be another humiliation for the Bush administration. The image of the United States paying millions of dollars to Chalabi’s operation to buy bogus information from Iranian intelligence follows on the heels of the international opprobrium over the photographs of Iraqi prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.

But the alleged Iranian intelligence trap could only have been sprung because key Bush advisers were inclined to believe the bogus information in the first place, since it fit their own agendas. In addition, Bush lacked the sophistication and the knowledge to bring adequate skepticism to what he was hearing, assuming that he wanted to. Though his father has that depth of understanding, the younger Bush says he hasn’t sought out his father’s counsel on Iraq. Nor is advice from his father’s top confidants welcome.
Can you imagine the roar from The Right had this been a Clinton operation?

And just to pile on:
WASHINGTON, May 25 (UPI) -- Officials of Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority are suspected of having leaked extremely sensitive CIA and Pentagon intercepts to the U.S.-funded Iraqi National Congress which passed them on to the government of Iran, according to federal law enforcement officials and serving and former U.S. intelligence officials.

These sources also acknowledged that the Bush administration has been the victim of an enormous Iran-perpetrated intelligence fraud that worked to provoke a U.S. military invasion of Iraq in order to defeat Iran's bitter, long-time enemy, a campaign of deception which one U.S. source called "positively a most brilliant and extraordinarily successful operation."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a full field investigation into the matter, these sources said.

"The Iranians took us to breakfast, lunch and dinner," said former CIA operations chief Vince Cannistraro, declining to elaborate.


Monday, May 24, 2004

The plot thickens:
The information that Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi exile leader, is believed to have passed to Iran was so highly classified that federal investigators have intensified their inquiry to find out whether anyone in the American government gave the material to Mr. Chalabi, government officials said Sunday.

Federal investigators now suspect that Mr. Chalabi funneled a wide array of Pentagon and C.I.A. secrets to Iran — much more material than they believe he might have obtained through his political contacts with Americans, they said. "This was not the kind of stuff that he would have gotten by accident," one official said.

Intelligence officials have said the investigation centers on a handful of officials in Washington and Iraq who dealt regularly with Mr. Chalabi, and an even smaller number who also had access to the compromised information. Most of them are at the Pentagon, which was Mr. Chalabi's main point of contact with the Bush administration.

Asked in the Fox interview how much senior Bush administration officials relied on him before the war in Iraq, Mr. Chalabi said that he "met Mr. Rumsfeld less than four times, I believe," adding that the meetings with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld were not "substantial." He said he recalled meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney twice and had a "general discussion."

"There was no exchange of intelligence," he said.
Yeah. I can believe that one...


Sunday, May 23, 2004

Well now those crazy traitorous French have gone and done it. They've awarded Michael Moore's newest movie Fahrenheit 9/11 the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
"What have you done? I'm completely overwhelmed by this," an emotional Moore said in his acceptance speech.

"The last time I was on an award stage in Hollywood, all hell broke loose," he added with a laugh.

Moore won a special award in Cannes two years ago for his anti-gun documentary "Bowling for Columbine," which went on to win an Oscar. Moore drew criticism for his extended acceptance speech in which he spoke out against President Bush.

What's up with Quentin Tarantino's head? He is such an odd looking man...

Frank Rich has a review:
In one of the several pieces of startling video exhibited for the first time in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," we catch a candid glimpse of President George Bush about 36 hours after his mother's breakfast TV interview - minutes before he makes his own prime-time TV address to take the nation to war in Iraq. He is sitting at his desk in the Oval Office. A makeup woman is doing his face. And Bush is having a high old time. He darts his eyes about and grins, as if he were playing a peek-a-boo game with someone just off-camera. He could be a teenager goofing with his buds to relieve the passing tedium of a haircut.

"In your wildest dreams you couldn't imagine Franklin Roosevelt behaving this way 30 seconds before declaring war, with grave decisions and their consequences at stake," said Moore in an interview before his new documentary's premiere at Cannes last Monday. "But that may be giving him credit for thinking that the decisions were grave."


Whatever you think of Moore, there's no question he's detonating dynamite here. From a variety of sources - foreign journalists and broadcasters (like Britain's Channel Four), freelancers and sympathetic American TV workers who slipped him illicit video - he supplies war-time pictures that have been largely shielded from our view. Instead of recycling images of the planes hitting the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, once again, Moore can revel in extended new close-ups of the president continuing to read "My Pet Goat" to elementary school students in Florida for seven long minutes after learning of the attack. Just when Abu Ghraib and the savage beheading of Nicholas Berg make us think we've seen it all, here is yet another major escalation in the nation-jolting images that have become the battleground for the war about the war.


Perhaps the most damning sequence in "Fahrenheit 9/11" is the one showing American troops as they ridicule hooded Iraqis in a holding pen near Samara in December 2003. A male soldier touches the erection of a prisoner lying on a stretcher underneath a blanket, an intimation of the sexual humiliations that were happening at Abu Ghraib at that same time. Besides adding further corroboration to Seymour Hersh's report that the top command has sanctioned a culture of abuse not confined to a single prison or a single company or seven guards, this video raises another question: Why didn't we see any of this on American TV before "60 Minutes II"?
The movie is scheduled to open here in Bend sometime in the Spring of 2007...
It's Sunday! so let's blog some "Naked British Rollercoaster Riders".

Because we can....

UPDATED: The Apostropher has more on the story and (more importantly) more pictures. MORE MORE MORE!!
82 university students set the record today for the most people riding a rollercoaster in the nude. Braving chilly weather, the students took their spin on the Nemesis Inferno rollercoaster at Thorpe Park in Surrey, England. The ride occured before park hours, so as to spare impressionable young children the trauma of seeing naked college students. Also for their sakes, let's hope the cleaning crew was a little extra meticulous before the gates opened.


Saturday, May 22, 2004

War is all hell, especially the way the US is fighting it:
Amid the welter of ugly pictures from Iraq last week were images worse than those of the humiliation and torture of detainees in Abu Ghraib prison. These show chunks of flesh and hanks of women's hair scattered across a scene of devastation. Among the few recognisable objects are musical instruments.

This is the scene of an incident that has divided Iraqis from their occupiers like few others. It has highlighted an issue more significant, yet far less discussed, than mistreatment in prisons: the degree to which indiscriminate use of American firepower has made enemies of the Iraqi population. According to independent estimates - none are available from the coalition - about 11,500 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the start of the war in March last year.

The footage of flesh, hair and musical instruments was filmed by a video crew that reached the location of what local people say was a wedding party attacked without warning by the Americans, killing women and children. The instruments belonged to the band of Hussein Ali, one of Iraq's most famous wedding singers, whose relatives buried him in Baghdad last week.

Despite this evidence - and earlier pictures filmed by al-Arabiya television, showing two dead babies wrapped side by side in a blanket, and a headless child lying next to the body of his or her mother - American commanders continue to insist that their strike, on a remote village in the desert close to the Syrian border, was against foreign fighters crossing into Iraq.

"These were more than two dozen military-age males," scoffed Maj-Gen James Mattis, commander of the US 1st Marine Division. "Let's not be naive." What about the video footage? Maj-Gen Mattis said he had not seen it, but added: "Bad things happen in wars. I don't have to apologise for the conduct of my men." Although an investigation has been promised, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Richard Myers, said in Washington: "We feel at this point very confident that this was a legitimate target, probably foreign fighters."

Not only that: the Americans are now also dropping hints that the "foreign fighters" could be linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an Islamist militant leader and ally of Osama bin Laden who is in Iraq, and who is accused of personally beheading the American hostage Nick Berg. Although such a connection was "still to be determined", said General Myers, it was "not out of the question".

More telling, however, was the reaction of the occupation authorities to the damaging video footage. US officials demanded al-Arabiya give them the name of the cameraman who shot the pictures. Al-Arabiya refused.

As the Abu Ghraib scandal has proved, shocking images can lead to investigations not only in Iraq but in Afghan-istan, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, and cause trouble not only for the military but for the CIA and the White House as well. Until they saw the pictures, Americans were unaware of what was happening to Iraqis in custody; they remain ignorant of the reasons for the mounting toll of civilian deaths, both during and since the invasion last year, despite the evidence of those few Americans who have witnessed them, such as Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey, reported opposite.

Ever since the occupation began, there have been regular stories of American soldiers who were attacked by insurgents on the streets of Iraqi cities and reacted by spraying the entire area with wild, indiscriminate gunfire, killing and maiming innocent Iraqi bystanders. Other accounts, however, are even more sinister.

Before he was jailed for a year last week for failing to return from leave, another soldier who served in Iraq, Sergeant Camilo Mejia, said a friend of his, a sniper, had shot a child about 10 years old who was carrying an automatic weapon. "He realised it was a kid," said Sergeant Mejia. "The kid tried to get up. He shot him again." The child died.

Few images exist of such incidents, not least because journalists seeking to record them have ended up dead themselves. Thanks to the persistence of one or two news organisations that have lost employees in Iraq, these deaths are among the few to have been independently investigated. After an award-winning cameraman, Mazen Dana, became the second Reuters employee to be killed, the agency hired a security company and carried out an exhaustive inquiry which found few differences of fact with the military investigation, but which differed radically on the conclusions.

The soldier who shot Mr Dana claimed he had made "sudden movements" which made him think the cameraman was about to fire a rocket-propelled grenade, that he was blinded by the sun at the time, and that he could not distinguish at a distance of 75 metres between an RPG and a television camera.

Despite pages of evidence proving the sun was not in the position claimed, and photographs demonstrating the visible difference at 75 metres between a camera and a large weapon, the US military is sticking to its finding that the journalist's death was "justified based on the information available ... at the time".

If an organisation with the international clout of Reuters cannot get the Pentagon to admit an error might have been made, the survivors of last week's slaughtered wedding party have even less chance that their version of events will prevail. But the incident illustrates several of the concerns expressed about the operations undertaken by US forces in Iraq, including their ignorance of Iraqi culture, their isolation from local people and their over-dependence on firepower.

"How many people go to the middle of the desert 10 miles from the Syrian border to hold a wedding?" demanded Maj-Gen Mattis.

The answer is plenty, if you come from a clan of livestock herders and that is where you have lived all your life. The clan straddles the Syrian border; even distant relatives would be expected to turn up from there, as well as the far corners of Iraq.
Pretty gruesome stuff. Our guys are probably scared shitless and big fuck-ups like this are bound to happen.

But are the actual methods of the US occupation strategy part of the problem? The Brits are getting on much better with the locals:
"The British military tends to have far more open dealings with the local population than the Americans," said Christopher Bellamy, professor of military science at Cranfield University. "While the British rely more on local intelligence to warn them of trouble in advance, US forces have a 'stand-off' posture, which means trouble tends to erupt without warning. As a result they need to deliver enormous amounts of firepower to overcome it."

Eleanor Goldsworthy, UK forces specialist at the Royal United Services Institute, said the approach taken by British forces in Iraq was: "If we behave, we earn their goodwill." The American attitude, by contrast, was: "If they behave, they earn our goodwill." And if they don't, others might add, US forces will punish them - the policy that appeared to be adopted when the Marines moved on Fallujah last month in the wake of the deaths of four American private security men.

The insistence of the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, on a "war lite" policy, said Professor Bellamy, meant that "American forces have to make up in firepower what they lack in manpower". Because US soldiers specialised early in their careers, and received less overall training than their British counterparts, the majority were not effective combat troops, and had to be protected by those with the appropriate training.

"The philosophy is almost that of the wagon train, and tends to lead to the 'spray and slay' behaviour we have seen," said the analyst.

"It is hard to over-estimate the lack of awareness of most American soldiers in Iraq," said a military source. "Many, perhaps most, have never been abroad before. They see their mission as giving democracy to the Iraqis and enforcing stability, and find it very difficult to understand why the Iraqis aren't grateful. They have no idea that they are seen as arrogant and aggressive."

In the view of British forces, the source added, such attitudes had led to a succession of "fundamental mistakes", and had made senior officers extremely hostile to being put under American command. This is one of the options reported to be under consideration by Downing Street this weekend as the deployment of more British forces is weighed.
Lessons I doubt very seriously we'll ever learn...

Just when he needs them most, it looks like Smirky is fresh outta friends:
LONDON: A leaked Foreign Office memorandum has exposed deep misgivings within the British government over America's "heavy-handed" behaviour and tactics in Iraq.

The document discloses for the first time the extent of private reservations within Tony Blair's government about Washington's approach. It blows apart Blair's public insistence that there are no differences between Britain and America over military tactics in Iraq.

Under the heading Problems, the memo says: "We should not underestimate the present difficulties ... Heavy-handed US military tactics in Falluja and Najaf some weeks ago have fuelled both Sunni and Shi'ite opposition to the coalition, and lost us much public support inside Iraq."

The detailed memo, intended for senior ministers and top officials, talks of "the need to redouble our efforts to ensure a sensible and sensitive US approach to military operations". It admits that the "scandal" of mistreatment by American soldiers of Iraqi prisoners "has sapped the moral authority of the coalition inside Iraq and internationally".

The memo acknowledges that Britain is struggling to get the Americans to adopt the more tactful approach that it wants and that there is a need to stop the United States doing anything "which would jeopardise our objectives".

It also discloses that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering two options for troop deployments to reinforce southern Iraq, both of which would involve extending the area patrolled by British soldiers.

Since the abuses of prisoners at the American-run Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad came to light, Blair has been scrupulously careful not to criticise the Bush administration - although Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, has been less restrained.
Oh man. This just sucks. Could it be that the Bush/Blair Axis is nackered?
Fake to the left. Fake to the right. FAKE FAKE FAKE!!!
American businessman Nicholas Berg's body was found on May 8 near a Baghdad overpass; a video of his supposed decapitation death by knife appeared on an alleged al-Qaeda-linked website ( on May 11. But according to what both a leading surgical authority and a noted forensic death expert separately told Asia Times Online, the video depicting the decapitation appears to have been staged.

"I certainly would need to be convinced it [the decapitation video] was authentic," Dr John Simpson, executive director for surgical affairs at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, said from New Zealand. Echoing Dr Simpson's criticism, when this journalist asked forensic death expert Jon Nordby, PhD and fellow of the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, whether he believed the Berg decapitation video had been "staged", Nordby replied: "Yes, I think that's the best explanation of it."


In a May 13 article, the Arabic newsgroup Aljazeera reported that a Dubai-based Reuters journalist first broke the story, "but while Fox News, CNN and the BBC" were able to secure the video from the "Arabic-only website" that hosted it, Aljazeera was unable to locate it. And also on May 13, the Associated Press (AP) reported that the US Central Intelligence Agency had determined that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was the individual who beheaded Berg.

Since Secretary of State Colin Powell's United Nations presentation of February 5, 2003, al-Zarqawi has been portrayed as the single most dangerous element facing the Bush administration's "war on terror". Powell's UN presentation has since been widely accepted as empty; nevertheless, al-Zarqawi appears to have surpassed even Osama bin Laden as the administration's No 1 terror target. And on May 15, Brigadier-General Mark Kimmitt, the Coalition Provisional Authority's chief Iraq military spokesman, declared that al-Zarqawi will be eventually caught, though that may prove particularly difficult.

On March 4, Brigadier-General David Rodriguez of the Joint Chiefs of staff revealed that the Pentagon didn't have "direct evidence of whether he's [al-Zarqawi] alive or dead", providing commentary on the nature of prior "evidence" linking al-Zarqawi to attacks and bombings. But that same day, AP reported that an Iraqi resistance group claimed al-Zarqawi had been killed the April prior in the US bombing of northern Iraq.

Speaking off the record, intelligence community sources have previously said they believe it "very likely" that al-Zarqawi is indeed long dead. Such a fact makes al-Zarqawi's alleged killing of Berg difficult to reconcile, and there has been broad speculation that blaming al-Zarqawi is an administration ploy. Further anomalies surrounding Berg's death have fueled added speculation.
Might al-Zarqawi be long dead? Our gov't wouldn't lie to us purely for political gain, would they?

Asked, and answered...

Via Hullabaloo, who's been really really good of late.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Like you really need another reason to go read The Poor Man:
A few days ago in Iraq, however, we learned - if anything - that one gallon of sarin gas is enough to make two people slightly ill. Maybe one gallon of sarin could kill 60,000 people, much the way my pillow could also kill 60,000 people, if they lay down and let me smother them. In reality, though, neither one is a particularly useful estimate of lethality. For a more realistic measure, we can look to the Tokyo sarin attack in 1995, where 6 liters of sarin were released from 11 release points in a confined, over-crowded subway. Twelve people were killed, and over 5,000 injured, most of these of the "mild illness" variety. It's not fun stuff, but 60,000 is a completely unserious nember, offered by completely unserious people. Expect to see a lot of it.

We can, however, offer a very serious estimate of how many people had to die in order to find the (supposed) sarin gas shell, which we find by having it used on us. This estimate is somewhere around 20,000 and counting. This estimate is so accurate that we can actually tell you the names of many of the victims. These people died so a (maybe) sarin gas shell couldn't make two people sick, other than the two people it did. This is the wingnut justification which the NY Times shamelessly won't run with. I'm just glad that William Safire isn't alive to see it.

Like everything in life, the war has to be assessed in terms of costs and benefits. Through some combination of dishonesty and stupidity, this was not done; not seriously. If you will recall, the war was sold with a cost of essentially zero - the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms, oil would pay for reconstruction, Chalabi would handle all the detail work. The benefits were to be incredible - world peace, an end to terrorism, dispersing the threatening mushroom clouds, and showing up the French. When reality intruded, and costs came up, they were ignored. Don't you want Iraqis to be free? Do you want Saddam Hussein back in power? Promises were treated as hard currency, no matter how outlandish, because they know they'll never have to pay the bill. The more far out the better. Yesterday, millions of Iraqis were given a life free from terror. Today, tens of thousands were saved from deadly sarin gas. Arthur Andersen would be proud.

Nothing has changed. Treat any speculation which buttresses your political position as hard fact. Inflate all the benefits, and ignore all the costs. Spin any event as a vindication of your position. And if your spin is so lame that no one will buy it, blame the Times.

Go say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jake over at Utterly Boring. He's 26 today.

Sheesh. I got toenail fungus that old....
Honestly, when I saw this today, I laughed:
WASHINGTON -- The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that a U.S.-funded arm of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress has been used for years by Iranian intelligence to pass disinformation to the United States and to collect highly sensitive American secrets, according to intelligence sources.

"Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein," said an intelligence source Friday who was briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency's conclusions, which were based on a review of thousands of internal documents.

The Information Collection Program also "kept the Iranians informed about what we were doing" by passing classified U.S. documents and other sensitive information, he said. The program has received millions of dollars from the U.S. government over several years.

An administration official confirmed that "highly classified information had been provided [to the Iranians] through that channel."

The Defense Department this week halted payment of $340,000 a month to Chalabi's program. Chalabi had long been the favorite of the Pentagon's civilian leadership. Intelligence sources say Chalabi himself has passed on sensitive U.S. intelligence to the Iranians.

Patrick Lang, former director of the intelligence agency's Middle East branch, said he had been told by colleagues in the intelligence community that Chalabi's U.S.-funded program to provide information about weapons of mass destruction and insurgents was effectively an Iranian intelligence operation. "They [the Iranians] knew exactly what we were up to," he said.

He described it as "one of the most sophisticated and successful intelligence operations in history."

"I'm a spook. I appreciate good work. This was good work," he said.
Oh my. What chumps our guvment be.

Charles Pierce weighs in with the punchline:
In the course of working on the John Kerry profile for Esquire, I spent a lot of time wading through the various tributaries of the Iran-Contra era. The more I read, the more I realized what a pivotal moment-- and missed opportunity -- that was for anyone who believes in accountable democratic government, which some of you geezers in the audience may recall as having once been an important thing. It's not just that so many of that period's Undead walk again among us, instead of being in pre-release programs at Leavenworth where they belong. It's that Iran-Contra serves now as the template for Getting Away With Stuff that the Avignon Presidency has used ever since Uncle Nino picked the locks to the executive mansion.

Do it in secret. Avoid accountability, all accountability. Leave it to low level incompetents to make the blunders and commit the crimes. Depend always on crooked locals --Manuchar Ghorbanifar, shake hands with Ahmad Chalabi (Count your fingers afterwards, though.)-- to sell you a bag of magic beans. (Given what we now know, I'm shocked that Oliver North isn't walking around D.C. wearing a barrel.) Then, when the con breaks down, you can plead being a rube as a defense against being called a crook. Rely on a compliant press, and on the efforts of Blue-Ribbon Important People to keep the investigations from running out of control. And, most of all, make sure you sell very hard the story that the whole mess is just...too...complex for ordinary folks to understand.

Oh, and just for the purposes of set decoration, make sure Colin Powell is standing nearby, probably with pigeons landing on his head.

The greatest price we paid for not throwing the lot of them into the federal sneezer (and in not running a bill of particulars against Uncle Ronnie, for that matter) is that we publicly consented to -- and thereby empowered -- unaccountable secret government, which is pretty bad on its best days, but unfathomably worse when it's run by a collection of manifest incompetents. Plus ca change, plus ca bagmen, I guess.

It's wonderful to see America coming together as one, in peace and harmony forever and ever:
With his latest best-selling book, my colleague Michael Savage has come up with a term that describes the real threat to America – "The Enemy Within."

There are some other terms I could use to describe Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and the senior senator from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy – traitors, leaders of the blame-America-first crowd, immoral cowards, treacherous appeasers to name a few.

But recognize that Kerry and Kennedy are not part of a loyal opposition within our country. They are leaders of a disloyal enemy within.

They are like a Trojan Horse within our midst. They are capable of doing more damage to this country than the Sept. 11 suicide attackers did. In fact, they may have already accomplished that.
Hold me. I'm frightened....

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Lead Balloons over at Bad Attitudes has what I think is good analysis of what's happening in the Kerry campaign:
Yes, it was annoying when Dean, demonstrably the most moderate and business-friendly of any major Democratic candidate, was tarred as crazy and somehow dangerous by duplicitous Democratic rivals and sleazy journalists who knew that particular line of attack was fundamentally dishonest. But Big Howard had already inflicted on Bush wounds that may in the end prove fatal.

Now, the nomination has fallen to one of these rivals, a long, grave and serious man with an apparently inexhaustible store of patience whose principal tactic is that of the constrictor — give the other fellow enough rope to hang himself. Drive your enemy into the tar pits, and then coil on the shore to watch that he doesn’t get out.

Now, I want to win. And so, I want to fight. And I want to fight like Ulysses S. Grant or Big Howard: never stop moving, find the enemy, hit him, repeat.

But sometimes you fight hardest by waiting motionless. One question this raises is, is John Kerry really that self-assured, or is his sober, unexciting approach just a result of sloth and a general lack of direction?

As interesting as this question is, I can’t disagree with Interesting Times: at this point, it really doesn’t matter whether Kerry in fact has a brilliant and incredibly disciplined, patient plan to give swing Bush supporters room to become disaffected without alienating them. Dean-like attacks might cause them to rally ’round the GOP flag.

Kerry keeps telling us that he is a “good closer.” If that means that he’s going to let Bush continue to fuck up as president for a long time, and then unleash after lots of Bush supporters have become psychologically available, when it is too late for his more powerful victim to fight back, and before they have grown tired of Kerry attacking Bush, then I would have to say that’s a good plan. Just ask Howard Dean.
I tend to agree with this. I've always thought that when they write the history of Campaign 2004 it will (rather, should) show that it was Howard Dean that kicked down the door and it was Kerry who strolled thru it.

In fact, Hoho is still swinging, pointing out the obvious in this piece from TomPaine:
What the Founding Generation feared most has come to pass in America today. economic power has seized control of political power. The multinational corporations, financial interests and special interest lobbyists who Harry Truman called the "special privilege boys" are writing the rules for the economy, while the rest of us are struggling to make our voices heard.

Big Oil contributed $26 million to the Republican Party during the 2000 election cycle, and its executives are sitting in the vice president's office and writing the administration's energy policies. The pharmaceutical companies have made $60 million in campaign contributions over the past six years, and they're rewriting the Medicare laws. The financial services industry contributed $168 million to politicians, and the administration has proposed partially privatizing Social Security. And a majority of the reconstruction contracts in Iraq have gone to corporations headed by campaign contributors to the president.

After three years, Americans have seen what happens when Wall Street, Big Oil and Big Pharma dictate economic policies. More than two million jobs have been lost; most working Americans' wages have fallen or flatlined; more than four million Americans have lost their health insurance; and the national debt has soared to more than $26,000 for every family. Meanwhile, the wealthiest 1 percent of the population has received an average tax break of more than $50,000 per person this year alone.

Even the most misguided economic policies can be reversed. But this administration's foreign policies are costing American lives, our moral leadership and our most cherished liberties.


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Prez Pez:


Step up to the plate and take a Dean-size swing for John Kerry today. I got $25 to feed The Bat.

Monday, May 17, 2004

And in other news that has slipped under the radar:
Last fall, the United States and Colombia launched an extraordinary military operation that sent thousands of troops into Arauca, a remote region of this South American country plagued by warring rebel factions and the cocaine trade.

By outward appearances, Operation Red Moon opened a new front in the two countries' long war on drugs.

This time, however, the fight also was over oil.

U.S.-trained Colombian troops, backed by U.S. intelligence and private contractors, unleashed the offensive to stop rebel attacks on a pipeline that Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. depends on to transport oil. They also had another goal, company officials said: secure an area deep in the heart of rebel territory so Occidental could explore a new field believed to hold 20 million barrels of oil.

The three-month campaign was carried out under a little-noticed shift in U.S. policy in Colombia after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The United States had previously confined its role in Colombia to battling drugs. But with the Bush administration urging a global war on terrorism, Congress lifted restrictions on counterinsurgency aid to allow the U.S. to help Colombia fight its leftist groups, who are listed by the State Department as terrorist organizations.

Arauca and its oil were the first big test of the new policy. The U.S. regarded the hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties Colombia received from Oxy's oil operations as vital to shoring up its ally.

Colombia's stability, in turn, was seen as crucial to a region that had become one of the most important and reliable sources of U.S. oil imports. Latin America — including Mexico — long ago surpassed the volatile Middle East as the No. 1 supplier of oil to its northern neighbor.

Colombia and two of its neighbors — Ecuador and Venezuela — were among the top 15 oil suppliers to the United States in 2002, according to the Energy Department. If Colombia collapsed under the weight of civil war and the drug trade, the trouble could easily spread to those two countries. Venezuela, the biggest supplier of the three, poses a particularly acute problem for Washington. The U.S. has been tangling regularly with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fiery leftist.

"If the Colombian state can't assert itself and take care of its territory, then regional security is undermined," said a State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "A variety of U.S. goals in the region are compromised, and the overall security of the U.S. is undermined."

But human rights groups say the new U.S. policy in Colombia repeats a common error in Washington's dealings with Latin America: To protect its own interests, the U.S. is taking sides in an internal conflict and embracing a government with a spotty human rights record — echoes of its close alliance with former military regimes in El Salvador and Chile.

The groups acknowledged that the U.S.-backed crackdown in Arauca had resulted in fewer attacks on the pipeline, but at the expense of basic democratic freedoms.

Mass arrests of politicians and union leaders have become common. Refugees fleeing combat have streamed into local cities. And killings have soared as right-wing paramilitaries have targeted left-wing critics.

"Everyone here is terrified," said Martin Sandoval, a left-wing activist and former provincial assembly member. "There is no freedom of expression, no freedom of assembly, no freedom of anything."
It's Pretty Picture Monday at HDS:

Bush Approval Numbers

Thanks to Political Animal for the graph.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Don those tinfoil hats for this one, folks:
According to a stunning report posted by a retired Navy Lt Commander and 28-year veteran of the Defense Department (DoD), the Bush administration’s assurance about finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was based on a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plan to “plant” WMDs inside the country. Nelda Rogers, the Pentagon whistleblower, claims the plan failed when the secret mission was mistakenly taken out by “friendly fire”, the Environmentalists Against War report.


According to Al Martin, “the Agriculture Department has often been used as a paymaster on behalf of the CIA, DIA, NSA and others”. According to the Al Martin story, another aspect of Ms Rogers’ report concerns a covert operation which was to locate the assets of Saddam Hussein and his family, including cash, gold bullion, jewelry and assorted valuable antiquities. The problem became evident when “the operation in Iraq involved 100 people, all of whom apparently are now dead, having succumbed to so-called ‘friendly fire’. The scope of this operation included the penetration of the Central Bank of Iraq, other large commercial banks in Baghdad, the Iraqi National Museum and certain presidential palaces where monies and bullion were secreted.”

“They identified about $2 billion in cash, another $150 million in Euros, in physical banknotes, and about another $100 million in sundry foreign currencies ranging from Yen to British Pounds,” reports Al Martin.

“These people died, mostly in the same place in Baghdad, supposedly from a stray cruise missile or a combination of missiles and bombs that went astray,” Martin continues. “There were supposedly 76 who died there and the other 24 died through a variety of ‘friendly fire’, ‘mistaken identity’ and some of them—their whereabouts are simply unknown.” Ms Rogers’ story sounds like an updated 21st-century version of Treasure Island meets Ali Baba and the Bush Cabal Thieves, writes Martin.

“This was a contingent of CIA/ DoD operatives, but it was really the CIA that bungled it,” Ms Rogers said. “They were relying on the CIA’s ability to organise an effort to seize these assets and to be able to extract these assets because the CIA claimed it had resources on the ground within the Iraqi army and the Iraqi government who had been paid. That turned out to be completely bogus. As usual.”

“CIA people were supposed to be handling it,” Martin continues. “They had a special ‘black’ aircraft to fly it out. But none of that happened because the regular US Army showed up, stumbled onto it and everyone involved had to scramble. These new Iraqi “asset seizures” go directly to the New US Ruling Junta. The US Viceroy in Iraq Paul Bremer is reportedly drinking Saddam’s $2000 a bottle Napoleon-era brandy, smoking his expensive Davidoff cigars and he has even furnished his office with Saddam’s Napoleon-era furniture.
This is a story that's been floating around the blogosphere for a while now. The difference is that now there's a name attached to it: Nelda Rogers.

Normally I'd say this:

but I've come to expect the unexpected from ChimpCo...

A view from the front lines:
For nearly 12 years, Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey was a hard-core, some say gung-ho, Marine. For three years he trained fellow Marines in one of the most grueling indoctrination rituals in military life - Marine boot camp.

The Iraq war changed Massey. The brutality, the sheer carnage of the U.S. invasion, touched his conscience and transformed him forever. He was honorably discharged with full severance last Dec. 31 and is now back in his hometown, Waynsville, N.C.


Q: How many times were you involved in checkpoint "light-ups"?
A: Five times. There was [the city of] Rekha. The gentleman was driving a stolen work utility van. He didn't stop. With us being trigger happy, we didn't really give this guy much of a chance. We lit him up pretty good. Then we inspected the back of the van. We found nothing. No explosives.

Q: The reports said the cars were loaded with explosives. In all the incidents did you find that to be the case?

A: Never. Not once. There were no secondary explosions. As a matter of fact, we lit up a rally after we heard a stray gunshot.

Q: A demonstration? Where?

A: On the outskirts of Baghdad. Near a military compound. There were demonstrators at the end of the street. They were young and they had no weapons. And when we rolled onto the scene, there was already a tank that was parked on the side of the road. If the Iraqis wanted to do something, they could have blown up the tank. But they didn't. They were only holding a demonstration. Down at the end of the road, we saw some RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) lined up against the wall. That put us at ease because we thought: "Wow, if they were going to blow us up, they would have done it."

Q: Were the protest signs in English or Arabic?

A: Both.

Q: Who gave the order to wipe the demonstrators out?

A: Higher command. We were told to be on the lookout for the civilians because a lot of the Fedayeen and the Republican Guards had tossed away uniforms and put on civilian clothes and were mounting terrorist attacks on American soldiers. The intelligence reports that were given to us were basically known by every member of the chain of command. The rank structure that was implemented in Iraq by the chain of command was evident to every Marine in Iraq. The order to shoot the demonstrators, I believe, came from senior government officials, including intelligence communities within the military and the U.S. government.

Q: What kind of firepower was employed?

A: M-16s, 50-cal. machine guns.

Q: You fired into six or ten kids? Were they all taken out?

A: Oh, yeah. Well, I had a "mercy" on one guy. When we rolled up, he was hiding behind a concrete pillar. I saw him and raised my weapon up, and he put up his hands. He ran off. I told everybody, "Don't shoot." Half of his foot was trailing behind him. So he was running with half of his foot cut off.

Q: After you lit up the demonstration, how long before the next incident?

A: Probably about one or two hours. This is another thing, too. I am so glad I am talking with you, because I suppressed all of this.

Q: Well, I appreciate you giving me the information, as hard as it must be to recall the painful details.

A: That's all right. It's kind of therapy for me. Because it's something that I had repressed for a long time.

Q: And the incident?

A: There was an incident with one of the cars. We shot an individual with his hands up. He got out of the car. He was badly shot. We lit him up. I don't know who started shooting first. One of the Marines came running over to where we were and said: "You all just shot a guy with his hands up." Man, I forgot about this.
How terribly sad that this young man will have to live with what he saw in Iraq for the rest of his life. Multiply that by 135,000...


Saturday, May 15, 2004

That sound you hear is The Other Shoe dropping:
Dozens of videotapes of American guards allegedly engaged in brutal attacks on Guantanamo Bay detainees have been stored and catalogued at the camp, an investigation by The Observer has revealed.

The disclosures, made in an interview with Tarek Dergoul, the fifth British prisoner freed last March, who has been too traumatised to speak until now, prompted demands last night by senior politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to make the videos available immediately.

They say that if the contents are as shocking as Dergoul claims, they will provide final proof that brutality against detainees has become an institutionalised feature of America's war on terror.
Oh how far the mighty have fallen....

Via the new, improved, and redesigned Blah3.
After the past you have any reason NOT to go give some money to this guy?

Sy Hersh may very well win a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the abuses of AbuGate and his latest column is a blockbuster.

SecDef Donald Rumsfeld was understandably upset that some of the bureaucratic redtape was stopping attempts to take out the AlQueda leadership overseas and they took a program that seems to have been working against the hard core terrorists in Afghanistan and tried it in Iraq.

If you read nothing else this weekend, read this one:
The Abu Ghraib story began, in a sense, just weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks, with the American bombing of Afghanistan. Almost from the start, the Administration’s search for Al Qaeda members in the war zone, and its worldwide search for terrorists, came up against major command-and-control problems. For example, combat forces that had Al Qaeda targets in sight had to obtain legal clearance before firing on them. On October 7th, the night the bombing began, an unmanned Predator aircraft tracked an automobile convoy that, American intelligence believed, contained Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban leader. A lawyer on duty at the United States Central Command headquarters, in Tampa, Florida, refused to authorize a strike. By the time an attack was approved, the target was out of reach. Rumsfeld was apoplectic over what he saw as a self-defeating hesitation to attack that was due to political correctness. One officer described him to me that fall as “kicking a lot of glass and breaking doors.” In November, the Washington Post reported that, as many as ten times since early October, Air Force pilots believed they’d had senior Al Qaeda and Taliban members in their sights but had been unable to act in time because of legalistic hurdles. There were similar problems throughout the world, as American Special Forces units seeking to move quickly against suspected terrorist cells were compelled to get prior approval from local American ambassadors and brief their superiors in the chain of command.

Rumsfeld reacted in his usual direct fashion: he authorized the establishment of a highly secret program that was given blanket advance approval to kill or capture and, if possible, interrogate “high value” targets in the Bush Administration’s war on terror. A special-access program, or sap—subject to the Defense Department’s most stringent level of security—was set up, with an office in a secure area of the Pentagon. The program would recruit operatives and acquire the necessary equipment, including aircraft, and would keep its activities under wraps.


One Pentagon official who was deeply involved in the program was Stephen Cambone, who was named Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence in March, 2003. The office was new; it was created as part of Rumsfeld’s reorganization of the Pentagon. Cambone was unpopular among military and civilian intelligence bureaucrats in the Pentagon, essentially because he had little experience in running intelligence programs, though in 1998 he had served as staff director for a committee, headed by Rumsfeld, that warned of an emerging ballistic-missile threat to the United States. He was known instead for his closeness to Rumsfeld. “Remember Henry II—‘Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?’” the senior C.I.A. official said to me, with a laugh, last week. “Whatever Rumsfeld whimsically says, Cambone will do ten times that much.”


In mid-2003, the special-access program was regarded in the Pentagon as one of the success stories of the war on terror. “It was an active program,” the former intelligence official told me. “It’s been the most important capability we have for dealing with an imminent threat. If we discover where Osama bin Laden is, we can get him. And we can remove an existing threat with a real capability to hit the United States—and do so without visibility.” Some of its methods were troubling and could not bear close scrutiny, however.
There is much much more in this article about some of the methods we use against the REAL terrorists in the WoT, not the cab drivers and innocent bystanders that got swept up in Iraq. Reading this gave me chills, and that doesn't happen too often.

It's no secret that I was a big supporter of Howard Dean. I liked his message and I liked the way that he delivered it. In fact, I had the opportunity to see Hoho in Portland last summer during the legendary Sleepless Summer Tour and the energy generated by Dean and his supporters at UoP that hot afternoon is something I won't soon forget. I left there with the feeling that YEAH! this is the GUY!!! When the wheels came off in Iowa, I was disappointed in a big way and I just could not figure out why things had gone so terribly wrong.

In the first of what I'm sure will be an avalanche of stories from the inside of the Dean Campaign Paul Maslin (who was Hoho's pollster) gives us a look at what can only be described as the dysfunctional family that was DeanForAmerica.

A must read....
Joe Trippi was the principal force in pushing the campaign to unprecedented heights of grassroots activism and small-donor fundraising. His brilliance was obvious to all, and it wasn't limited to his innovative use of the Internet, which defined so much of the Dean campaign. He was also a visionary of the highest order, able to see both the opportunities and the risks with which this campaign was constantly presented. Yet he was a poor manager—and in fact he was never even given a full opportunity to work as one, because Dean decided early that Trippi should not have budgetary authority. Joe was an irascible leader who rarely understood the need to buck up those around him when things went wrong; instead he either lashed out at the offender, usually with good cause, or often retreated to his corner office and behind his computer, giving off such strong vibrations of doom and darkness that even the most trusted and loyal members of his staff did not dare disturb him. Trippi was the one person other than Dean—and at times the only person, including Dean—who could be counted on to stay on message, yet he so jealously guarded his press contacts and attention that even his closest associates were wary of talking to the media for fear of alienating him. He believed passionately in Howard Dean's message, yet he allowed himself to become almost a rival messenger; he came to be viewed, by supporters and detractors alike, as the true core of the campaign, more so even than the candidate himself.

It should have been no surprise that normal petty jealousies and staff rivalries, when combined with a full dose of Trippi, led to a very dysfunctional organization. (Trippi would often joke, "If these other campaigns only knew what this campaign is really like ...") Slights, real and imagined, bred accusations that were hurled back and forth in our Burlington office or in hushed phone conversations around the country. Joe threatened to leave more than once, predicting disaster all along; those who were not fans of his threatened on several occasions to have Dean replace him. At one point he overturned a desk in rage in front of his personal assistant, Kristen Morgante, who not surprisingly walked out of the office and didn't return until two days later, after Trippi had apologized. Another characteristic outburst occurred in a hotel in Des Moines, when Dean balked at Trippi's idea of putting out a pamphlet aping Thomas Paine's Common Sense because he had been given only a couple of days to review it before the printing deadline. Trippi blamed Kate O'Connor, Dean's closest aide, for the holdup; he left the candidate's suite, threw his cell phone down the corridor, and screamed, "That bitch!"

Through it all, even on the good days, Joe would look at us with that intense and very dark glare of his and ask, "What about Iowa?" He had campaigned in the state at least three times before: as a young staffer for Ted Kennedy in his unsuccessful primary effort against Jimmy Carter, in 1980; as the Iowa director for Walter Mondale, in 1984; and as Dick Gephardt's deputy campaign manager, in 1988. He had certain ideas about how to win the caucuses and was increasingly frustrated that the Iowa staff seemed to be carrying out none of them. "You need a person running each county who is in that county, no matter how small it is," he said. "This campaign has a bunch of kids in regional headquarters that never go out into the counties. You need a precinct captain for every one of the nearly two thousand precincts. Jeani doesn't believe in that. I keep asking, and they can't tell me how many we have. And you need a hard count of ones [political parlance for strong supporters who have said they'll back the candidate]—that's what Mondale did. That's what Gephardt did, and he's doing it again. Our campaign doesn't know how many ones it has, and I keep asking for it!"


All of us involved in the Dean campaign made mistakes, for sure. But to be fair, our candidate's erratic judgment, loose tongue, and overall stubbornness wore our spirits down. He refused to be scripted, to be disciplined, or to discipline himself, in his remarks about everything from the Red Sox and the Yankees to Middle Eastern diplomacy. I later likened it all to repeatedly tapping an egg against the edge of a kitchen counter: eventually the egg would break. That's what happened in Iowa.

Several times during the campaign we had attempted to change the cast of characters accompanying Dean, so someone could help shield him from increasingly tough or persistent media questioning or, at least, recognize and fix problems on the spot. We desperately needed an "adult" (preferably one the candidate knew and respected) to help provide some stability around him, or simply to take him to the woodshed when he did screw up, to reduce the chances of its happening again. Such a person didn't exist in Howard Dean's personal orbit, and the campaign never found one for the job.

But the bigger problem was Dean himself—the enemies he had made and the process that had made him a target. The other campaigns' responses to our success intensified in the fall. At one point Gephardt's campaign created a Web site,, reserved for attacks on Dean's record. John Kerry chafed at all the media attention we were getting and once muttered in frustration, "Dean. Dean. Dean. Dean. Dean," not realizing he was near a live mike.

I had never heard Dean's Iowa concession called his "I Have a Scream" speach before...

In an interview with Atlantic Online Maslin adds:
Everyone was very conscious of what we were doing at the time we were doing it—from the governor on down. You couldn't be part of this campaign and not be aware that we were making history. We were attacking the citadel. We were changing politics—maybe even revolutionizing politics—with the Internet and the grassroots activity. It ended up being a pretty quick and brutal demise. But that shouldn't in any way diminish the achievement.

Friday, May 14, 2004

I hadn't thought of it this way:
GIBLETORIAL: If Rumsfeld Resigns, America Resigns... to Terror!

Giblets is seein' a whole bunch of people yellin' for Rumsfeld to resign lately. And for what? A widespread pattern of atrocities? Some horribly botched war planning? Disastrous interference with the CIA and State Department? Okay yes, that is exactly why they want him to resign. And y'know sure, there are probably a lot of better qualified people to run the Pentagon than Donald Rumsfeld, a lot of people who could run the war without mucking it up as much as he has, and firing him would probably make those spoiled Iraqis a little happier. But at what price?

If Rumsfeld resigns the terrorists will win, because we will have done exactly what they wanted us to do. All of their suicide bombings and rocket grenade killings and getting tortured by guards have been leading up to the moment when they can trick American politicians to pressure Donald Rumsfeld into quitting. And if he quits it will be appeasement - appeasement to terror! It will be Madrid and Neville Chamberlain and "The Spaghetti Incident" all over again!

To everybody who wants a weak America, who wants a pansy-ass runnin-scared fraidy-cat America, Giblets has this to say: God bless Donald Rumsfeld because he is taking the fight to the terrorists, in some vague, ill-conceived sense that doesn't seem to be working out well but hey, Giblets is not a "details" person he is a "big picture" person. And even if you do get rid of this one good man, I am confident that there are a lot more where he came from.
Nothing beats a great pair of legs.

Unless, of course, it's a pair of nice tits...

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The ONLY reason I'd vote for the sonofabitch:

Jeepers, creepers...where'd ya get those Freepers:
What if President Bush gave this speech?

My fellow Americans:

As you all know, the defeat of Iraq's regime has been completed. Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.

This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American Forces from Iraq. This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning.

Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short. The United Kingdom, Spain, Bulgaria, Australia, and Poland are some of the countries listed there.

The other list contains everyone not on the first list. Most of the world's Nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening.

Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war.

The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world hellholes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption. Need help with a famine? Wrestling with an epidemic?

Call France.

In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home.

On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the Earth. Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize?

Try France, or maybe China.

To Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Yo, boys. Work out a peace deal now. Just note that Camp David is closed. Maybe all of you can go to Russia for negotiations. They have some great palaces there. Big tables, too.

I'm ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France, Germany, and Russia. Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bon chance, mes amis.

I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don't care about whatever treaty pertains to this. Pay your tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers, and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York.

A special note to our neighbors.

Canada is on List 2. Since we are going to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.
OH MY GOD!!!! Not the WORLD CUP TOO!! Jeez we win that puppy every year...or not.

Thanks to the usually witty Sadly, No!
OK I tried to enable the "comments" part of the New Blogger, but I guess I'll just have to take everybody's word for the fact that it "sucks".

In fact, it does....
The Freeway Blogger strikes again!!

Lots of people see The FB's work too. His art even made this AP article.

It's just about impossible to watch TV nowadays without having to endure another misleading Bush/Cheney commercial. Fortunately we have the Howler to translate the press accounts of these ads for us:
Last Saturday, Wilgoren reviewed the Bush campaign’s use of a now-famous statement by Kerry. According to Wilgoren, Bush’s campaign “scour[ed] Senator John Kerry’s three decades in public life in search of material to use against him. But they turned up nothing as potent as 13 words that spilled from Mr. Kerry’s mouth shortly after he effectively secured the Democratic presidential nomination.” Wow! That must have been some statement by Kerry! Wilgoren quoted the potent remark which spilled from the Democrat’s mouth:
WILGOREN (pgh 2): “I actually did vote for the $87 billion—before I voted against it,” Mr. Kerry said on a March afternoon in Huntington, W.Va.
According to Wilgoren, this potent remark is the greatest find of Bush’s opposition research. Early on, she let us know how comical Kerry’s statement really was:
WILGOREN (5): Ken Goldstein, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, said the quotation “just sounds ridiculous.”

“Say it to yourself, it’s funny,” said Mr. Goldstein, an expert on political advertising and communication. “It’s like something Comedy Central would do.”
Indeed, within 36 hours, the Bush campaign had turned Mr. Kerry’s inartful explanation of his stance on financing Iraq’s reconstruction into a devastating punch line for an advertisement claiming he is indecisive and weak on defense. Mr. Bush’s aides also seized on the statement to coin a new term, “foragainst,” which they use to ridicule Mr. Kerry in news releases.

Say it to yourself—it’s funny! According to Wilgoren’s expert, Kerry’s statement “just sounds ridiculous”—like something you’d hear on Comedy Central! And Wilgoren continued the imagery herself, saying the Bush camp had turned the statement into a “devastating punch line.” They were using to “ridicule” Kerry.

Yep! Wilgoren pulled no punches—no pun intended— as she told us how foolish the comment had been. But after engaging in so much fun, you’d think that she would be very careful to examine the merits of Bush’s ad. After all, Kerry’s statement shows that “he is indecisive and weak on defense,” the Bush camp has said. Just in case we missed these points, Wilgoren states them again:
WILGOREN (8): Mr. Bush’s team contends it is emblematic of the larger case they are making against Mr. Kerry: that he is a flip-flopping Washington insider unqualified to lead the nation in wartime.
Kerry’s statement shows that he’s a flip-flopper. And it shows that he’s weak on defense! These are surely serious charges. Sadly, Wilgoren isn’t up to critiquing them. Maybe we’re all better off when they just surf during ads.

Does Kerry’s statement show he’s a flipper? Rather plainly, no, it does not. After all, the solon voted on two different $87 billion bills—one of which was “paid for” through a tax increase, and one of which was not. Indeed, how transparently fake is the Bush camp’s charge that these two different votes make Kerry a flipper? As Kerry himself has often noted, Bush said, during debate on the bills, that he would veto the first of these bills—the one for which Kerry voted. In other words, Bush supported one bill and opposed the other—just exactly like Kerry did. Not only is Kerry not a flipper, Bush’s campaign is slamming him for supporting one bill and not the other—exactly the thing their guy did!
Thanks for clearing that up, Bob.
Another first! MoDo writes something I actually agree with:
Testifying before the Senate yesterday, General Richard Myers admitted that we're checkmated in Iraq.

"There is no way to militarily lose in Iraq," he said, describing the generals' consensus. "There is also no way to militarily win in Iraq."

Talk about the sound of one hand clapping. And they say John Kerry is on both sides of issues.

Sounding like Mr. Kerry, General Myers summed up: "This process has to be internationalized. The U.N. has to play the governance role. That's how we're, in my view, eventually going to win."

Hmmmm sounds like we've had a change of heart about the importance of those worthless (and occasionally indespensible) heathens at the UN. Too bad we just spent the last couple years calling them assholes.
Gripped in a "I can't look at them — I've got to look at them" state of mind, lawmakers grimly filed into private screening rooms on the Hill to check out the 1,800 grotesque images of sex, humiliation and torture.

"They're disgusting," Senator Dianne Feinstein told me. "If somebody wanted to plan a clash of civilizations, this is how they'd do it. These pictures play into every stereotype of America that Arabs have: America as debauched, America as hypocrites.

"Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz act like they know all the answers, almost like a divine right," she said. "They don't have a divine right, and they are wrong."

Doesn't Sen. Diane read the papers? Team Smirk can do no wrong!!
Officials blurred the lines to justify ideological decisions, calling every Iraqi who opposed us a "terrorist"; conducting rough interrogations, perhaps to find the nonexistent W.M.D. so they would not look foolish; rolling all opposition into one scary terrorist ball that did not require sensitivity to the Geneva Conventions or "humanitarian do-gooders," to use the phrase of Senator James Inhofe, a Republican.

Senator Fritz Hollings made it clear yesterday that Rummy has left us undermanned and undertrained in Iraq — another factor in the torture scandal. "Now, in a country of 25 million, you're trying to secure it with 135,000," he scolded Mr. Rumsfeld, adding: "We're trying to win the hearts and minds as we're killing them and torturing them." At least, he said sarcastically, Gen. William Westmoreland never asked a Vietcong general to take the town, "like we have for Falluja. We've asked the enemy general to take the town."

Donald Rumsfailed. Best DoD we've ever had.....


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Well the Bend Blogger Meetup at Bend Brewing was a hit. Jesset, Barney, Simone, Dane, Kerry, Jon, Kasey and Jake all made an appearence and I'm pretty sure everybody had a good time.

I know I did. Thanks to everybody who blogs in Bend. We really are lucky to live in a friendly place.

Simone: as per our travel convo, here's my site with the Thai pix.

Barney: "Around the Blogs". Think about it. Here's Left Blogistan, or some of it anyway. That's my homepage.
Oh boy oh boy oh boy! The first meetup of Bend (Oregon) Bloggers is this evening. We'll be meeting at the Bend Brewery around 7:30.

I'll have my camera with me, so I'll post up some pictures later tonight or tomorrow.
Pep talk time:
My fellow Democrats, this endless criticism of the Party for being too timid is naively playing into their hands. The problem is not the Democratic Party. It is the Republican Party and the media that serves them. This "Democrats are a buncha pussies" meme comes right out of the Mighty Wurlitzer.

The Party's identity is as clear as its ever been. It's the party of fairness, freedom, opportunity and equality for all Americans, not just the few. That this has been distorted by 30 years of highly focused GOP propaganda is not surprising. But, this is what we've stood for since FDR and the only thing that's happened is that the Republicans have managed to convince a whole lot of people that Democrats are too cowardly to keep their towns and country safe, it is in their best interest for rich people not to pay taxes and that they won't be able to practice their religion if civil society doesn't become more religious.

This whole "we have met the enemy and he is us" business is looking inward when the most important thing we can do is start to look outward and deal practically and pragmatically with the real problem we are confronting --- an American public that is incresingly subject to right wing propaganda and a media that is more than happy to give it to them.

I don't have a problem criticizing outrageous examples of appeasement in the Party, like those of Lieberman and Miller. They are what they are and we have nothing to lose by exposing them. Neither do I have a problem criticizing Kerry or his advisors on strategy or policy. That's politics.

But, what I object to is criticizing the character of the Democratic Party in general and insulting the characters of Democrats specifically, who don't need to be called cowards all the time when they are in there fighting the good fight while we sit safely behind our keyboards and monitors dispensing advice.

There are real problems to be solved if we do win this election. And it is going to be very tough to do what needs to be done in the current environment.

Thanks for that, Digby.

Monday, May 10, 2004

I'm not sure I buy all this, but after the bad news lately I'll grasp any straw I can:
I have made a career of taking bungee jumps in my election calls. Sometimes I haven't had a helmet and I have gotten a little scratched. But here is my jump for 2004: John Kerry will win the election.

I'm not a praying man, but I might start...

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Maybe it's just me, but Traci Lords is looking pretty hot nowadays:

She turned 36 on Friday. Jailbait never looked so good....
Let's remember the Good Ol' Days, shall we?

Unless you were around and following events in the 1980s, especially Central American affairs and later, the Iran-contra scandal, you probably won’t know who Elliot Abrams is. More’s the pity too. As Reagan's Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs he used to oversee US foreign policy in Latin America, and was active in covering up some of the worst atrocities committed by the US-sponsored Contras. According to congressional records, under Abram's watch, the Contras "raped, tortured, and killed unarmed civilians, including children," and that "groups of civilians, including women and children, were burned, dismembered, blinded and beheaded."

His partners-in-crime include John Negroponte, the new ambassador to the UN, who served under Reagan as ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985. He is known for his role in the cover up of human rights abuses by CIA trained paramilitaries throughout the region. Coincidentally, Honduran exiles associated with the paramilitary forces that had been living in the US, were exported to Canada prior to Negroponte's Senate confirmation hearing, thus rendering their testimony unavailable.

Another partner from the ‘good ol’ days is Otto Reich who has been appointed as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (which includes Latin America). The Bush administration used a "recess appointment" during January 2002 to side step the Senate confirmation hearing otherwise required of the appointment. Democrat opposition to Reich's nomination had been predicted.

But they are still up to their old tricks:

"The coup in Venezuela against Hugo Chavez sports the sticky fingerprints of all three men and the modus operandi of a long line of US-led cold war interventions.

But if these covert ops were tragedy, the Chavez plot was farce. The rapid unraveling of the coup suggested that the Venezuelan plotters would have done better seeking advise from Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist rather than from Reich. It soon became public that Bush officials maintained a web of connections with the conspirators and appeared to have foreknowledge of the plot. Using the same conduit Reagan used to fund the contras, the National Endowment for Democracy, the administration had funneled money to Venezuelan opposition.

According to British media, Abrams gave a nod to the plotters; Otto Reich, a former ambassador to Venezuela, met repeatedly with Pedro Carmona and other coup leaders. The day Carmona seized the presidency, Reich summoned ambassadors from Latin America and the Caribbean to his office and endorsed the new government.

Abrams pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress in 1991, for which George Bush senior subsequently pardoned him in December 1992."

It's Sunday. Time to proudly go give John Kerry $25. Here's a good reason why:

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Lots of good stuff in the blogosphere this week:

Iraqalypse Now.
Here's the latest thinking from The Right:
Such is what has passed for culture for many of the kids now populating our military. My point: There's not much difference between what those soldiers enacted in Abu Ghraib for digital cameras and 15 seconds of instafame back home and what America's increasingly debased culture embraces as good harmless fun.


How did such depravity come to pass? How could our bright and brave young people come to behave so stupidly? While some claim they were merely following orders, surely those orders didn't include posing for pictures. At the same time they're displaying for their pictorial diaries, the soldiers seem bereft of historical conscience, unburdened by any awareness of larger - and lethal - contexts into which their frat-house scrapbooks might be placed.

To them, it seems, Abu Ghraib was just another photo op, an after-hours party sans grown-ups to inhibit their jaunty trip through a Heronymous Bosch garden of perverse delights. Farrelly, farrelly, farrelly, farrelly life is but a dream.

We can't blame America's culture entirely, but as we're trying to change the hearts and minds of others, we might take a closer look at our own. You can't steep a teabag in sewerage and expect it to taste like Earl Gray.

Got that? It's like a big frat-party and all harmless fun. HEEEEYUCK!!

I can't wait to see what Ms. Parker writes when the videos are released showing those wacky, fun-lovin' frat boys at AbuGate actually killing people. Maybe we should get a keg....

Link via Norbizness.
TO: Joe Lieberman
RE: 9-11
FROM: The guys who did it

Dear Sen. Joe:

We're sorry for what happened with the World Trade Center. A couple of our more enthusiastic members did a bad thing. Believe me when I say that it started out as nothing more than a fraternity prank but it got out of hand. The guys were just trying to blow off a little steam and got carried away.

You know boys will be boys!

We consider this kind of behavior unacceptable and will punish those responsible as soon as we can retrieve what's left of their bodies.

I hope you understand that we're a lot better than that and with this apology we sincerely hope that all will be forgiven and forgotten.

Sorry. Our bad. Won't happen again.

See you in Iraq!



Another English warmonger comes to his senses:
The whole planet has been seething with anger and disgust at these photos: the murdered Iraqi prisoners, the man wearing a hood and a set of electrodes, the naked Iraqi soldiers being tormented by American servicewomen - an image that could have been devised by Osama bin Laden himself for its capacity to inflame Arab feeling.

But I have felt the extra rage of one who has been a mug. Up and down the country, I have given the same defence of the operation. "Of course Saddam never had anything to do with September 11, and of course he never had any weapons of mass destruction. But there is one powerful reason for supporting the liberation of Iraq," I say, "and that is that we rid the world of an odious tyrant, and we have made life better for the Iraqi people."

Well, look at what is happening now. As Julian Manyon reports from Baghdad in this week's Spectator, many main highways are no longer under American control, because the Iraqi police have melted away. Reconstruction has come to a halt, and half of all foreign workers have fled the country. As the siege of Fallujah has gone on, it has become more and more obvious that poor Tony Blair is engaged in yet another hopeless exercise in mendacity. These are not just "foreigners and terrorists" who are putting up resistance to the coalition forces; they are Iraqis, who believe that their country is itself under occupation by foreigners who sometimes do little to distinguish themselves from terrorists.

How would we feel if Britain had been overwhelmed by a vastly superior army, and we then saw pictures of our relatives stripped naked and tortured by smirking jezebels from the Appalachians? I must be careful what I say, but I think many Englishmen would feel an immediate urge to go to the cupboard, get out the 12-bore, and join whatever resistance we could find.

If it were just the Daily Mirror, with its dodgy photos, the impact would not be so disastrous. But these American photos are manifestly not stunted up, and this is the Abu Ghraib jail. This is the jail that was at the centre of the pro-war propaganda. This is the place where - or so we were told - Saddam's torturers fed people into industrial shredders and then chucked the remains in the fish ponds.

It later turned out that no one had actually seen this human shredding taking place; which is not to say that it did not take place, only that it is, to say the least, a pity that we have irrefutable photographic evidence of what the Americans have done in that jail, but no such photos of the victims of Saddam.

How could the American army have been so crass, so arrogant, so brutal as to behave in this way? The trailer-trash troops said they had no idea what they were doing. They weren't even aware of the existence of the Geneva Conventions. They didn't have any orders to obey, only vague instructions.

Was this really the operation I had voted for? Did I really think, when the House of Commons voted to support the American action on March 18, 2003, that it would be carried out with such boneheaded stupidity?

These people seem not only to lack the faintest idea of how to bring peace to Iraq; they also seem not to understand the values - such as basic human rights - which we hoped to bring to that country.

Via Hullabaloo.
Orcinus: spot on.
But even beyond the bias is the way this framing really corrupts and trivializes the national debate, so that we find ourselves constantly arguing about the "morality" or "character" of politicians, an issue that is by nature a product of spin and propagandizing. This has never been more clear than in the current election, when the "character" of a pampered fraternity party boy who couldn't be bothered to serve out his term in the National Guard and who went on to fail miserably at every business venture he touched is successfully depicted as that of a sincere and patriotic regular guy, while that of a three-time Purple Heart winner who voluntarily left Yale to serve in Vietnam, and whose ensuing three decades of public service have been a model of principle and consistency, is somehow depicted as belonging to a spineless elitist.

If the press were properly reporting on this election, the public would have a clearer picture of how John Kerry's economic, environmental and education policies would affect their lives differently than those purveyed by the Bush administration. It would understand the significant differences in their approaches to national security, and it would be far clearer just who in fact has more serious and credible credentials when it comes to the "war on terror" and keeping the nation safe, particularly when it comes to matters of basic competence and knowledge. These are issues that affect us in concrete ways.

But the press doesn't deal with those issues. Instead, we get peanut butter.

This is just a sample of David Neiwert's insightful, and ultimately depressing, 6000 word "Media Revolt: A Manifesto". Probably the best post of the year.

Any year...

Friday, May 07, 2004

And now for a completely different view of AbuGate:
LIMBAUGH: All right, so we?re at war with these people. And they?re in a prison where they?re being softened up for interrogation. And we hear that the most humiliating thing you can do is make one Arab male disrobe in front of another. Sounds to me like it?s pretty thoughtful. Sounds to me in the context of war this is pretty good intimidation ? and especially if you put a woman in front of them and then spread those pictures around the Arab world. And we?re sitting here, ?Oh my God, they?re gonna hate us! Oh no! What are they gonna think of us?? I think maybe the other perspective needs to be at least considered. Maybe they?re gonna think we are serious. Maybe they?re gonna think we mean it this time. Maybe they?re gonna think we?re not gonna kowtow to them. Maybe the people who ordered this are pretty smart. Maybe the people who executed this pulled off a brilliant maneuver. Nobody got hurt. Nobody got physically injured. But boy there was a lot of humiliation of people who are trying to kill us ? in ways they hold dear. Sounds pretty effective to me if you look at us in the right context.

I'm astounded that nobody thought of that before. Torture is a GOOD THING and The Arabs will respect us for it, much like the repect we feel for Saddam when HE was torturing people in the same prison. I can't wait to see what Hillbilly Heroin Boy has to say when the SecDeaf releases the prison snuff films.

Hat tip: American Assembler.

Flag via uggabugga
This should come as no surprise.

Blue states smart. Red states maybe not...

Snark via TBOGG.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Now they are taking away our yucks:
Wingnuts induce satire crisis

INSULT-UPON-INJURY, New York (AP)-- Conservative commentators have induced a "satire crisis" for liberal and progressive bloggers in recent days, producing a stream of remarks so bizarre and unhinged that the blogosphere's sharpest wits are at a loss to respond, according to a statement released today by the newly-formed Association of Flabbergasted Liberals.

"It started, as it always does, with Rush Limbaugh," noted an AFL spokesman. "First he said that the torture and rape at Abu Ghraib was nothing more than you'd see at a Britney Spears or Madonna concert, or maybe Lincoln Center, and now he's saying that it was just a bunch of people 'having a good time.' What can you do with that? Look at Ezra Klein over at Pandagon-- all he can do is say he's speechless at this stuff. It's all any of us can do. Seriously, Limbaugh can work himself into a froth about Bill Clinton transferring some people out of the White House travel office, but when he's faced with systemic human rights atrocities-- and not just any atrocities, mind you, but really vile atrocities involving innocent Iraqi civilians, women, and children, atrocities that will damage irreparably America's moral standing and foster rabid anti-American sentiment throughout the Arab world, as even the most delusional neoconservative in the PNAC house knows by now-- first he associates them with Lincoln Center liberals and then he calls them 'a good time'?

"But it doesn't end with Rush," the spokesman added, on condition that he not be identified as one of the left blogosphere's many anonymous pundits. "Take Linda Chavez's recent argument that Abu Ghraib is to be blamed on women in the military. Did you know that that one column killed six Daily Show jokes that were already in production? What are we going to do now, blame Abu Ghraib on gay marriages in Massachusetts?"

The strain has been felt most severely at Tom Burka's site, "Opinions You Should Have," as Burka works overtime to try to stay ahead of the massive right-wing mental collapse. "It's like trying to outrun a tsunami," Burka might have said if I had interviewed him. "Yesterday I posted a story about Bush blaming Clinton for prisoner abuse in Iraq. But I'm well aware that before too long, someone in the Bush administration will have basically cribbed my work line for line-- particularly the line,

"President Clinton's failure to act directly caused the horrors we have discovered today," Bush continued. "If President Clinton had invaded Iraq when he should have, this would never have happened."

Oh we're toast, alrighty. Laugh, or die.....

Link via Pacific Views.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Yeah. Tom Burka is a funny guy:
Bush Would Have Kept Medals If He Had Earned Any, Says Hughes

Karen Hughes, in a withering attack on John Kerry today, complained that it was awful for Kerry to throw away or keep his medals or ribbons from the Vietnam war.

Hughes admitted that she was confused as to whether Kerry had said that he kept his highly prestigious medals, but had actually thrown them away, or the reverse. "I don't care about the facts," she said.

"Whatever Kerry did or didn't do with the medals he earned for saving men's lives in dangerous combat, it's a disgrace," she said. "His so-called defense of this country makes me puke."

"If George W. Bush had earned a medal for anything that he did, you can bet he wouldn't have faked throwing out any award that he would possibly have earned," she said. "If they gave out medals for running out on National Guard duty, for disregarding a direct order, or for practically flunking the National Guard pilot's exam, you can bet the President would have taken a principled stand on them, if he had had any principles."

Hughes derided the bravery and valor that led Kerry to get the medal in the first place. "Anyone can get medals," she said. "It's keeping them or throwing them out that's the hard part."

"I don't know if you can get a medal for driving drunk," she said defiantly, "but if you could, the President would have a whole deskful."


Monday, May 03, 2004

Fun with the truth:
Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been charging that John Kerry would be a dangerous president because he opposed many key weapons that the military now relies on, himself presided over the biggest cutbacks in defense programs in modern history when he was secretary of defense under the first President Bush.

As Pentagon chief from 1989 to 1993 Cheney canceled or cut back many of the same weapons programs ? bombers, fighter planes, battle tanks ? that he says Kerry tried to deprive the armed forces of.

Many of the Cheney-era cuts were made at the end of the Cold War, when the administration of President George H.W. Bush was seeking to reduce the size of the military. But some of these downsizing efforts would have affected the military of today.

Cheney proposed, for instance, disbanding part of the Army's Fourth Infantry Division, the unit that captured former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein last December, according to Congressional Quarterly.

The latest Bush-Cheney campaign ad depicts weapons such as the B-2 stealth bomber flying over a battlefield and then disappearing into thin air, attempting to convince voters that if Kerry prevailed back then, U.S. military forces would be underequipped.

Yet Cheney canceled the B-2 bomber program after 20 planes, even though the Air Force insisted it needed 132. He opposed upgrading the M1 Abrams tank, recommended killing the latest model of the F-14 fighter jet and opposed buying more F-15s.

Link via Democratic Veteran.