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Monday, May 31, 2004
USA Today digs deeper into the prison scandal:
More than a third of the prisoners who died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan were shot, strangled or beaten by U.S. personnel before they died, according to death certificates and a high-ranking U.S. military official.More grim details follow in the story.
This was not a case of a few bad apples, as the apologists desperately want you to believe. This was a system that had spun completely and tragically out of control.
Oh, and the same shit was almost certainly going down at Gitmo too. Damn, what an ugly, ugly mess.
Anyone want to guess what Rush Limbaugh will have to say about this? I don't even think Delta House had hazings this rough.
If you need to have someone connect the dots, Billmon's the man. He does a masterful job of summarizing the reporting so far, and then offers this damning conclusion:
What's astounding, though, is the way the Pentagon and the White House have continued to stick to the "few bad apples" story line -- even as the evidence to disprove continues to pour out. It's as if in the summer of 1974, Richard Nixon was still trying to blame everything on Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, even as the Ervin Committee was exposing his own taped self incriminations.I keep coming back to Watergate, too. The parallels between this scandal and Nixon's are uncanny. Unfortunately, the Republicans don't seem to have the fortitude to investigate their own, which means we, the voters, are going to have to toss this S.O.B. and his crooked crew out ourselves.
Saudi commandos surround a walled compound where Al Qaeda terrorists have taken more than 200 hostages. The commandos drop onto the roof from helicopters and perform a dramatic rescue. Tragically, more than 20 foreigners are killed. Somehow, though, three of the four gunmen get away.
Wait, can you back that up? The compound is surrounded by crack commandos. With helicopters. And the gunmen drive away?
New York Times reporter Neil MacFarquahar is as puzzled as you and I are:
While the 242 residents rescued from the upscale Oasis compound here were departing the country as quickly as possible, the way the hostage drama ended Sunday, with three militants escaping and with 22 people dead and 25 wounded, left more questions than answers in the heart of the kingdom's oil industry along the Persian Gulf.Billmon raises similar questions, albeit on a larger scale:
[W]hy is Al Qaeda still fooling around with these attacks on foreign workers? Is it because they don't want to alienate Saudi popular opinion by destroying the goose that lays the petroleum eggs? Are they hoping to inherit the oil infrastructure intact once they take power? Do they have a implicit deal with the royal family (or some faction within it) to limit their attacks to the infidel devils and leave the valuable stuff alone?But the Saudis are our friends and close allies in the War on Terror. Surely they wouldn't betray us...
The Official John Kerry Blog
If you've been wondering why George Bush hasn't done anything about soaring gas prices, our candidate has an idea. He tells US News & World Report in its June 7th issue: "I figured out Karl Rove's political strategy–make gas so expensive, no Democrats can afford to go to the polls."
Answering the musical question Why does George W. Bush accentuate the negative?
At this point, the only way that Bush can win is by destroying John Kerry. Even if one of the much discussed 'external events' take place, I doubt bush will gain from it. As a result he is forced to run the most negative campaign in modern memory. Unfortunately for the country, if there's one thing the Republicans have perfected, it's negative campaigns and character assassination. The Bush family specializes in it. They are the Borgias of our time.If you're not reading Digby regularly, well... you should be.
Juan Cole catches Bill Safire in a horrific distortion:
Bill Safire in his New York Times column today begins with a litany of unreported good news. One item is that attacks on US troops were half in May what they had been in April. This sort of statistic is profoundly dishonest. In April, the US launched assualts on both Fallujah and the Shiite south with specific goals in mind. In both cases, the US military failed for political reasons and had to back off. May saw instead negotiation and background military maneuver, including increased dependence on local proxy fighters. Of course the attacks on US troops were many fewer in May. But that datum is useless in a vacuum. April had seen the greatest violence since the end of the war in April of 2003. Safire's way of putting makes it seem as though there were a linear, secular improvement of the security situation. There is no such thing (see above), and it is a form of lying to imply that there is.Given the number of times Safire has just completely gotten it wrong in recent months, it's hard to say whether he's an idiot or a tool. Either way, it's a disgrace that he gets to publish this crap in the New York Times.
The press is finally calling Bushco on its bullshit.
Shorter WaPo: They lie. About everything.
Sunday, May 30, 2004
Will someone please tell me why the fuck Stephen F. Hayes was on Meet the Press this morning?
MR. RUSSERT: You have written a book called 'The Connection: How al-Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America.' The president has gone out of his way to say there's no evidence of Saddam Hussein linked to September 11. What's your thesis?With his very first question, Russert establishes that the title of Hayes's book is an outright lie, one that even George W. Bush doesn't have the chutzpah to stand behind. And then Hayes has the gall to wish that Bush would return to those halcyon days when he and his senior advisors were manufacturing a new lie every 10 minutes to justify the war. Mind-boggling.
Although Hayes's book isn't out yet, HarperCollins has helpfully published the table of contents . Chapter One is about Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, the supposed link between Saddam and Osama. Hayes says the Wall Street Journal "reported" this week about new revelations having to do with Shakir. That's bullshit. The piece was in the Journal's opinion section, not on the news pages. You can tell, because the "story" lacked things you normally expect from a reporter, like sources, a by-line, and, you know, facts. Their source, although they didn't mention it, is an article in the Weekly Standard, written by Hayes himself last November and resurrected last week by NewsMax, probably with some help from HarperCollins publicists. And the source of that story? A memo by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas "Stovepipe" Feith, consisting of carefully selected raw intelligence data. Newsweek did a pretty good job of debunking the story last year.
In fact, Hayes got a big compliment earlier this year when Vice President Cheney referred to his November article as the "best source of information" about the Osama-Saddam connection. Anyone want to bet that the Feith memo, which is still classified, was leaked by someone in the VP's office? They might have wanted to repay Hayes for his October story in the Weekly Standard, entitled Dick Cheney Was Right.
I'm trying to establish what qualifications Stephen F. Hayes has to be on Public Access channel 143, much less on a major network. He is a staff writer for The Weekly Standard. He was a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute, which apparently involves spending a week or two in Newport Beach hanging out with other recent college graduates who were loyal Young Republicans. Further biographical details are nowhere to be found anywhere on the Web. Outside of his term papers in the Weekly Standard, I found only a pair of essays he did for the Claremont Institute in 2002. In this forgettable effort, he called Rick Santorum "one of the Senate's brightest and most articulate members." That's correct, if by "brightest" you mean "most hateful and divisive" and by "articulate" you mean "rabidly homophobic."
And yet this pathetic little putz gets to go on NBC and promote his book. Oh, and Hayes has not one but two books coming out this year. The other is called The Brain: Paul Wolfowitz & the Making of the Bush Doctrine. Can someone just put Russert back on his book tour so he can collect his royalties and retire, please?
Several times in the past week, Atrios has called out members of the broadcast media for either making dumb remarks or allowing bogus statements to go unchallenged. You might be tempted to write an e-mail to the offending member of the press. Before you do, I recommend that you read this excellent post by Steve Gilliard:
Just because she said something you disagree with... savaging her, calling her an idiot and generally implying she's taking her marching orders from Karl Rove is ineffective. How would you react if your e-mail box was filled with invective as her's is today? You'd probably either get really angry or blow it off. What you would NOT do is take it seriously.He also has good advice on looking for the right people to CC on your message.
Remember: The point of writing a letter to the media isn't to get them to fix the mistake they already made. That's history. The point is to make them think the next time they have a similar story to report. If they know that an army of fact-checkers are going to be watching, listening, and reacting, then maybe, just maybe, they might be more careful.
TIME gets a scoop:
Vice President Dick Cheney was a guest on NBC's Meet the Press last September when host Tim Russert brought up Halliburton. Citing the company's role in rebuilding Iraq as well as Cheney's prior service as Halliburton's CEO, Russert asked, "Were you involved in any way in the awarding of those contracts?" Cheney's reply: "Of course not, Tim ... And as Vice President, I have absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts led by the [Army] Corps of Engineers or anybody else in the Federal Government."Or he may have been misquoted. It's possible he said, "We assumed the press corps would continue to have their heads up their asses, the way they did for the last two years."
Worst. Administration. Ever.
If Cheney is going to drop out of the ticket for "medical reasons", he'd better do it soon...
Saturday, May 29, 2004
I wouldn't trust these people to run a 7-11, much less a war. And protect us from terrorists? Puh-leeze!
Discipline Takes a Break at the White House:Except, as Atrios notes, this is not amusing, it's FUBAR:
Can't our media comprehend that this stuff matters? This isn't snickering cocktail party chitchat about who is up and who is down. This is an executive branch which is entirely rudderless. There is no leader. Neither Bush nor Rice, whose job it is to get all the ducks in a row, can control their feuding underlings.Terrorists are plotting to attack the United States, and the people who are supposed to be protecting us can barely speak to one another and can't coordinate anything except a campaign rally.
Makes me want to move into one of these.
Dave Neiwert writes:
We knew all along that the Bush campaign would stop at nothing, stooping to even the most outrageous smear, to defeat John Kerry this November. Now it's happening."He makes a strong case. One thing that may save us is that Ashcroft is a ham-fisted bungler who leaves plenty of footprints.
The New York Post reports:
John Kerry yesterday rapped President Bush's handling of a dangerous world, as the Democratic contender put international terrorists on notice that he would 'crush' al Qaeda's networks if he wins the White House.Predictably, the Bush campaign responded with yet another effort to define Iraq as the leading front in the war on terror:
"John Kerry's approach to the war on terror has been filled with indecision and vacillation," said Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt. "He has consistently played politics with the war in Iraq."One more time: Osama bin Laden is not in Iraq.
(via Ezra at Pandagon, who also notes the irony that the New York Post is less biased than CNN these days)
Friday, May 28, 2004
The man has got to go.
MSNBC:Time to change the color on the national Terror Alert. I suggest brown, for bullshit.
There's now an "Open" sign at the Whiskey Bar. Could this mean Billmon is going to be back soon?
Update: Yes! Yes! Yes!
Go. Read. Be grateful.
Forty million Americans uninsured? Runaway inflation in health insurance premiums and pharmaceuticals? A Medicare program with significant long-term financing problems?Yes, in 10 years, you will be able to look on a computer screen and see that you're sick and you can't afford to do a damn thing about it because you don't have any money or health insurance.
The Wall Street Journakl (subscription required, so no link) says today:
This week's government warning of a possible terrorist attack in the U.S. has exposed and aggravated simmering tensions between the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security over which should act as the nation's main terrorism warning bell.Will someone please call Richard Clarke and get him to smack some sense into Ashcroft? Terrorists are planning to "hit us hard" and Ashcroft is flying around cutting ribbons. Shouldn't he be in Washington managing this process?
Do you feel safer now?
U.S. officials said on Friday there is no consensus yet on who will be Iraq's new prime minister after an aide to Iyad Allawi, a member of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council, said Allawi had been chosen.Last Monday, Bush said, "The special envoy intends to put forward the names of interim government officials this week." Week's almost over. It isn't that easy finding someone to paint a giant target on their back, is it?
U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and the U.S.-run occupation authority have not confirmed whether Allawi, who has long-time links to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, was the choice.That unnamed official better talk to the boss. Last month, Bush said: "That's going to be decided by Mr. Brahimi. That's the recommendation of Brahimi. He's in the process -- you're watching a process unfold. And you won't have to ask that question on July the 1st."
Yes, everything will be better on July 1st. Hey, maybe Brahimi will ask Al Gore if he wants the job.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Your tax dollars at work:
In Jordan's Scrapyards, Signs of a Looted IraqLovely. Oh well, on July 1 everything will be magically better.
Separated at birth?
Apparently Cheney's "undisclosed location" is actually Stalag 13.
(via Kevin Hayden)
Haaretz is a respected daily newspaper published in Israel. Its Engligh-language version is published in a package with the International Herald Tribune. I provide these details so you will understand that what follows is not crackpot raving from some unqualified source.
If all this Middle East stuff makes your eyes glaze over, then just scroll down and read the last paragraph.
"Road map is a life saver for us," PM Abbas tells Hamas (June 24, 2003):The summit meeting referred to was held in Aqaba, Jordan, on June 4, 2003. Hosted by King Abdullah of Jordan, it was attended by President George Bush, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, and Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas said "we were told that [President George ] Bush is committed to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state beside the state of Israel, so based on our saying that we are ready to try that experiment, that is what was determined."I guess God doesn't answer the phone in election years? Just in case He's listening, though, I have a request: Please, God, deliver us from this madman. Tell him whatever you need to tell him, but deliver us. Amen.
Thomas Schaller at The Gadflyer pays a visit to the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign site and notes a curious omission:
What's interesting is that, not only does the word Iraq not appear anywhere on the homepage, but neither the Homeland nor National Security links mention Iraq in their main text. I could only find one mention, in a sublinked story on the National Security subpage, of Iraq. It was a link pertaining to the president's major, nationally-televised speech from Monday night. That's how far they have to bury the news from Baghdad. I couldn't find video footage of the USS Lincoln landing either.Gosh, if you type Iraq into the Search box on the front page, you get 242 hits. Why don't they mention Iraq right up front? You'd think they don't really want to talk about it after all...
The Patriot Act is for pussies.
During a time of war, we should not be criticizing our President. In fact, any transition of power of any sort will simply expose us to the unacceptable risk that important programs and initiatives will be abandoned or lose their focus in the handoff of authority.
If George W. Bush were a real man, he'd be pushing the envelope and seeking to have himself declared President for Life. As Wikipedia notes, "President for Life is a title assumed by some dictators to ensure that their authority or legitimacy is never questioned."
Elections, criticism, and negativity of all sorts are horrible distractions in the War on Terror. By having a President for Life, we ensure that no such distractions get in the way.
There are plenty of great role models for this job. See the list at the bottom of this page, for instance.
Let's ask Rush and Sean to get the ball rolling.
A new one:
"How much you wanna bet Iraq tests its sovereignty by commanding the Coalition of the Willing to invade US???"
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Alan Wirzbicki writes in The New Republic Online:
It seems to have been mostly overlooked, but the co-writer [with General Anthony Zinni] of Battle Ready, and the man who gets top billing on its cover, is none other than Tom Clancy, the hugely popular author. Even if the general's criticisms don't make much of an impression, the identity of his Boswell might. Unlike Zinni, who is unknown to most Americans, Clancy is a cultural icon; his name is short-hand for the conservative, pro-military mindset typically associated with Republicans. By itself, Clancy's decision to lend his name to Zinni's book is not going to change any votes. But it's a telling indication of how precarious the president's carefully managed image as a friend of the U.S. military has become. When Ph.D. candidates of the future write the literary history of the Bush presidency, the day that a Republican administration became the bad guy in a Tom Clancy book will surely stand out as a cultural Rubicon crossed.Hey, you read it here first!
Isn't it funny that the Senators who actually went to Vietnam are speaking out against this President's actionsin Iraq? Kerry, McCain, and now Chuck Hagel:
The 57-year-old Republican senator from Nebraska said the appearance [an hourlong pep rally in a basement conference room at the Capitol] by the president left more than a little to be desired. Bush "talked for an hour and did not take a single question," says Hagel. "He didn't listen, and I think this president needs to listen more. If he had taken questions he would have heard some things that might have been helpful."(US News, via Matthew Yglesias)
In early 2003, during the forced march to war in Iraq and the apparent cakewalk by the U.S. (sorry, Coalition) military, it was hard to find a negative word about the future of Iraq. Judith Miller and Ahmed Chalabi hijacked the New York Times to make the fraudulent case for war based on the WMD that didn't exist. During the race to Baghdad, hundreds of embedded reporters told breathless war stories that rarely mentioned civilian casualties and certainly never showed pictures that would be considered disturbing. Official spokesmen were able to say just about anything and have it repeated on the air without question or challenge. Ah, those were the days.
We're in the second half of this particular Twilight Zone episode now. The critics who sounded like Cassandras last year now seem sensible, almost sober in retrospect. The reporters who passed along all those glowing predictions without contradiction were asleep at the switch, as it turns out. And the officials who sold it to us were liars and war criminals.
Lost in the kerfuffle over Judith Miller's extraordinary record of incompetence and deceit, for which the editors of the Times have now apologized, is the railroading of CNN's Peter Arnett.
On March 30, 2003, as American forces (sorry, I meant Coalition, I just keep forgetting about those brave Polish soldiers) approached Baghdad, Arnett did an interview on Iraqi TV. It wasn't a great career move, and he said one or two complimentary things about the Iraqi government that are guaranteed to make you wince. But still... In hindsight Arnett sounds like a prophet, or at least a shrewd and observant analyst, not a traitor. Was he right? You tell me:
I think American policy and strategy is the weakest when it comes to the Iraqi people. The U.S. administration is concerned with the possibility of killing civilians, because the international community is very concerned about the Iraqi people. President Bush says he is concerned about the Iraqi people, but if Iraqi people are dying in numbers, then American policy will be challenged very strongly.What? The military would lie about an attack on a civilian target? Shocking. They wouldn't do that now, would they?
[M]y Iraqi friends tell me there is a growing sense of nationalism and resistance to what the United States and Britain are doing.Iraqis who are determined to fight for their country, eh? An administration that refuses to listen to people who actually have some understanding of how things work in Iraq? The forces weren't loyal to Saddam, as it turns out, but Arnett was right: the army that melted back into the cities turned out to be fiercely loyal to their country, and they're taking a devastating toll on Coalition (hey, I remembered!) forces today. Peter Arnett has every right to say "I told you so."
I'm re-reading Al Gore's speech. It's one of the most powerful, moving documents I've ever seen. Despite his reputation for being a wooden figure, Gore is quite capable of moving, even spellbinding oratory, and I can't wait to see him deliver this speech.
In fact, as I read it the first time, I kept thinking it reminded me of something. When I read the opening paragraphs again, it suddenly struck me. This speech is eerily reminiscent of another famous indictment of another tyrant named George. Go ahead, read The Declaration of Independence and tell me if you don't agree.
This is an indictment of George W. Bush, of his key advisers, of the corrupt system that put them into power, and of the vicious partisan thugs who are working to cover up the evidence of their incompetence and malfeasance and deceive the American people into keeping them in power.
It's a damn shame that John Kerry isn't saying some of these things.
Just saw this story on the wire services: Bush Administration Blocked on Assisted Suicide. No, no! If they want to commit suicide (and that's a pretty good description for the way the Bush administration seems to be approaching, well, just about everything), then let them!
Oh. Never mind. I see the story is actually about something else:
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. Appeals Court on Wednesday ruled that a Bush administration directive seeking to stop Oregon doctors from helping terminally ill patients commit suicide was unlawful and unenforceable.Y'know, John Ashcroft is not having a good week in Oregon, what with the fingerprint fiasco and now the assisted suicide thing. Mr. Ashcroft, if it all gets to be too overwhelming, well, the people of Oregon just want you to know you have ... options.
There's too much good stuff here to even try to excerpt. Just go read Al Gore's remarks yourself. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, just read the beginning and the end.
John Kay writes in the Financial Times:
As the myth of the new economy has dissolved, however, two new illusions have emerged: not only are the businesses we have created worth more to future generations than we had previously supposed, the houses we have built are also worth far more. Better still, the beneficial effects of tax cuts on productivity and growth are so large that not only are George W. Bush's friends better off today but everyone, including the federal government itself, will be better off in the future. The American dream that the power of positive thinking alone will make you rich has finally been brought to fruition.There's your word of the day.
(via Crooked Timber)
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Newsweek's Michael Hirsh reports:
Things may be heating up in the prison abuse scandal for Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former Guantanamo Bay commander who is now in charge of detainees in Iraq. In a harshly worded letter, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence committee questioned the "candor and accuracy" of Miller's responses in a classified briefing to the committee last week.In the civilized world of Congress (I exclude Tom DeLay from that description, of course), this is about as close as it gets to saying, "YOU LYING WEASEL, YOU'RE GOING TO SWING FOR THIS."
This is not your father's government. Or your mother's. Or even yours, unless you're a wealthy industrialist.
The Denver Post has been doing Pulitzer-quality work lately, including this study of the cozy transition from lobbyist to regulator. According to the paper, "President Bush has installed more than 100 top officials who were once lobbyists, attorneys or spokespeople for the industries they oversee." By way of contrast, the Clinton administration "peppered the federal bureaucracy with Democratic state officials, lawyers and advocates from various environmental or public-interest groups. Only a handful of registered lobbyists worked for Clinton..." The corruption extends across many agencies:
Daniel E. Troy, lead counsel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, extended the government's help in torpedoing certain lawsuits. Among Troy's targets: claims that medications caused devastating and unexpected side effects.We cannot get rid of these people soon enough.
Ralph Nader is calling for George Bush to be impeached for his actions in taking the nation to war in Iraq:
Ralph Nader, the independent candidate for president, condemned President George W. Bush yesterday as a 'messianic militarist' who should be impeached for pushing the nation into a war in Iraq 'based on false pretenses.'Ooh, ooh, ooh, I have an idea! Ralph, why don't you quit this misguided and destructive run for the presidency and instead work full time to impeach George Bush? I would donate to that cause.
Dave Johnson at Seeing The Forest positively wears out his thesaurus with this most excellent rant:
Jeeze. These stupid, incompetent, ideologically insane, hateful, arrogant, cultish, corrupt, right-wing, ignorant CLUCKS got duped, sold us out, made fools of us, betrayed us, destroyed our honor, besmirched our good name, bankrupted us, sold us up the river, destroyed our reputation, undermined our integrity, and killed thousands.What has him so worked up? It's this article in the Guardian, which lays out the latest on the Cheney-to-Chalabi-to-Tehran triple play:
US intelligence fears Iran duped hawks into Iraq warAs Dave notes, "Not to mention, getting Iraq's oil fields. Ha Ha I Told You So!"
"It's pretty clear that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner," said an intelligence source in Washington yesterday. "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi."Mission accomplished!
Fourth-year student George W. Bush presents his senior project, "Terra! Terra! Terra! How Do You Put the Whoop-Ass Back in the Can?"
Final grades aren't due to be announced until November.
Stirling Newberry says, Justice Must Be Seen To Be Done:
It is time for someone, someone with something to lose, come forward and state the obvious: we have, installed in our oval office, a man who is so unfit for the duties - by reason of a pathological dishonesty and complete disregard for the welfare of the citizens of this country - as to demand that we remove him, and his party, from power - and then use every law and organ of government to investigate the nakedly criminal underpinnings of that party. And exact precisely the punishments that they have so gleefully inflicted upon others.How desperately will this Administration cling to power? How aggressive will their successors be in pursuing justice?
If Bush is still President in February 2005, what will you do?
That must have been some really powerful Kool-Aid that Andy was drinking with Christopher Hitchens the other day. His reaction to Bush's performance last night:
I was reassured by the president's speech. It's a beginning. He now has to make a version of it again and again and again. He is up against a press corps determined to make this transition fail, in order to defeat a Bush presidency. He will need true grit to withstand it.Um, Andy, if you want the President to say it again and again and again, you're supposed to put your fingers in your ears and go "la la la la la" real loud while he's talking.
Oh, and then there's this:
But I must also add some comments about the manner of Bush's speech. He seemed exhausted, which is hardly surprising. But he also seemed defensive. He doesn't want to concede errors, because, in this polarized climate, the opposition will seize on them for their own narrow purposes. But he should trust the public and dwell more on the inevitable setbacks and failures of warfare. He should not be afraid to tell us when we have suffered losses. He should not be wary of conceding that he and everyone else under-estimated the strength and tenacity of the insurgency. He still seems brittle to me in his accounts of what has transpired. It makes optimism less credible and hope more elusive.Ah yes. But it makes despair and fatalism downright easy. See how this works?
And people read this tripe every day? Sheesh.
Monday, May 24, 2004
The Bakersfield Californian, for crying out loud, has this brilliant poll on the front page of its Web site:
What did you think of President Bush's speech Monday night and his 'blueprint' for Iraq?This is Buck Owens country, Redneck USA. Right now choice 2 (quagmire) is at 46%, and choice 4 (impeachment) is 38%.
Bush is toast.
Lawyers for one of the soldiers accused of abusing prisoners in Iraq said Monday they will ask a military judge to throw out her confession, because they contend military investigators pressed her to talk after she had asked for an attorney.Oh, the irony. Yes, she does have rights, and the fact that she allegedly deprived a bunch of Iraqi people of their rights and their dignity doesn't mean she surrendered her rights in the process. Despite Ashcroft's attempts to overturn it, the Bill of Rights applies to all Americans, at all times.
It will be interesting to watch the right wing try to spin this. If they hew to the "six or seven bad apples" line, then you'll hear a lot of bloviating about how she deserves none of this coddling and she should simply be tried and convicted quickly, to get this mess out of the way.
Good news for fans of the truth. Ruy Teixeira looks at the latest Annenberg survey and says: "Wow! Not only has Bush's approval rating on handling the war on terrorism been dropping like a stone, the Annenberg Election Survey has now measured it in net negative territory: 46 percent approval/50 percent disapproval (May 17-23). That's a first and a very significant first. It means Bush's area of greatest strength is rapidly turning into political liability."
In a remarkable essay on The American Street, Mary Ratliff writes about the nature of good and evil and the roots of immorality. In the midst of her essay, she makes an offhand observation about how callously the Bush administration treats its fighting men and women. I think this point deserves to be called out, so I've done so here, in (irony not intended) bullet points.
George W. Bush's administration is filled with people who seem to care not a whit about the soldiers that are fighting on their behalf as shown by their disregard for the soldiers' well being. This is seen:I wish the Kerry campaign would put together a well-documented white paper on these themes, to out these chickenhawks and cowards and let America see what they're really made of.
Here's some stuff to get the ball rolling:
DoD News: Defense Department Operational Update Briefing: "SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, come on. People are fungible. You can have them here or there. The fact of the matter is, we've made a judgment and we've announced the judgment. It's very clear. You understand it -- everyone in the room understands it -- that we needed additional -- the commander decided he would like to retain in-country an additional plus or minus 20,000 people, and that's what we're doing."
What You See Is Not What You Get: "The Bush administration has recently considered cutting hazardous duty and family separation pay for our troops on the front lines fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, again saying it is too expensive. VA hospitals are being closed and funding for health care for veterans is far short of what is needed to maintain it. Some vets are waiting six months or more just to get an appointment. Thousands of others are waiting to be evaluated for disabilities by the VA. And this will only get worse with an expected 30 percent increase from the present conflicts. Promises made are not being promises kept. "
Molly speaks, you listen:
It's pretty easy to get to the point where you don't want to hear any more about Abu Ghraib prison and what went on there. But there are some really good reasons why Americans should take a look at why this happened.(via Corrente)
I'm sure Ann Coulter will be all over these actual instances of what appears to be treason. Meanwhile, the New York Times will have to do:
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.The Times doesn't actually name any of Chalabi's supporters in the Pentagon, but the list of people who have publicly supported him in the past includes Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Feith's boss, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz; and the Big Kahuna himself, Donald Rumsfeld. Oh, and some guy named Cheney.
Update: Josh Marshall adds this useful note:
Perhaps we'll find out that Chalabi got his classified info from some obscure analyst at DIA or a Colonel in the field. But both of those possibilities seem highly unlikely.If the acronyms aren't self-explanatory, maybe this will help.
Michael Kinsley reviews the new book by David Brooks, who he calls "every liberal's favorite conservative".
Shorter version: Brooks never lets a thesis get in the way of a good joke. Or a bad one.
Also: Kinsley's IQ is higher than Brooks's, by much more than the margin of error.
Oh, and Kinsley's punch line is devastating.
Adam Mordecai says Don't Call the President a Liar:
I have spent many an endless hour futilely attempting to convince conservatives that their President is a liar and a thief. In my foolish and naive attempts to sway them from the party line, all I've done is convinced them that they were right to vote for him in the first place. In this post Clinton world, where partisanship trumps moving the country forward, any indication that you are gaining the ire of the opposing party is a sign of doing something right. Every attempt at showing them the corruption of this administration, the utter contempt for the law that the Bush administration has shown, the endless conflicts of interest, and the monetary influence of corporate America on them does nothing but affirm their belief in the man and his mission. Clinton lied about his immoral sexual encounters. George Bush is a man of God, a moral leader in times of depravity, a man who holds true to his beliefs, always on the side of right and good. Calling a man of such faith a liar is illogical and unjust. People shut you off before the conversation starts when you make accusations like that.But there's a ray of hope. Those who can't be convinced that Bush and his administration are liars may finally be willing to accept the premise that they are simply incompetent and must go.
Time after time after time, no matter the circumstances, no matter the result, he stays consistently on course, damn the consequences. If he were a CEO, this would be easy. He'd be fired for not making profits, for not adapting. (Or, possibly, in our current business friendly environment, he might be given a porsche and and a fat bonus. On second thought, ignore the CEO analogy.) He simply refuses to learn, adapt, change or try something new. The only course is the present course. Trump would fire this guy by episode three, if this were the Apprentice.It's worth a try. I know that I have to practically take Thorazine when talking with my many Republican friends and family members. Without my meds, I begin raving and drooling...
Sadly, No! has a response to the latest load o' crap from Instapundit:
Members of the 101st Keyboarders are cranking up the engine on the old "Blame the Media" Train. The distinguished professor from Tennessee [that would be Instapundit, for those who aren't regular readers - Sid] offers:The Poor Man has more, including an excellent rant on the subject:
Congressmen who don't have the integrity to say the truth that everybody already knows need to be driven out of office. Pundits who continue to shill for these liars and fools need to be marginalized, ridiculed, and fired. People who refuse to deal with reality need to be outnumbered and outworked. If Jeff Sessions (or whoever) wants to be a grown-up, that's great. Welcome aboard. But it's not going to change anyone's mind. They've got too much invested in their mythology about evils of the French, liberals, the UN, the NY Times, and whoever quit the Administration in disgust this week. They're never going to be able to go back on this stuff, not ever.
Sunday, May 23, 2004
The colorfully named Scheherezade Faramarzi, with the help of lots of video footage, picks apart the United States military's story that it attacked guerrillas in last week's massacre at a wedding party near the Iraq-Syria border.
AP Exclusive: Video Film of Wedding Party Captures Revelers Dancing, Singing:Do you think we'll ever hear the truth?
(via Suburban Guerrilla)
Corrente quotes a Bush spokesman in a WaPo story about the bike accident: "It's been raining a lot, and the topsoil is loose." Oh really? Acording to the National Weather Service, there has been no rain for nine days in Waco (just around the corner from Crawford), and temps have been in the 88-90 degree range for the past week or so, which should have dried out anything lingering. Weather.com says the same thing: zero precipitation for the past week.
Do these guys lie about everything, big and small, just to stay in practice?
Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter of California was on Meet the Press this morning. His two talking points:
And then there's the Kurds. They were gassed in the 1980s, when our government, with Donald Rumsfeld as the front man, was shaking hands with Saddam Hussein and making nice with his government. (See this picture, taken in December 1983.) The other massacre occurred in 1991, after the end of the first Gulf War, when Bush's dad encouraged the Iraqi Kurds to revolt and then refused to support them as Saddam's forces massacred them with helicopters. During the runup to Gulf War II, no one in the White House described any current threat to the Kurds or listed that as a reason for the war. In fact, as CNN reported in 2002, the Kurds controlled northern Iraq, and the skies over that area were patrolled by United States fighter jets. Professor Ned Rinalducci noted in 2002: "The no-fly zones have allowed the Kurds to create an economically and politically prosperous autonomous region in northern Iraq. As tensions between the primary Kurdish groups have decreased, a liberal mini-state has arisen that allows freedom of religion and press, an elected parliament, and stimulated other progressive steps."
Congressman Hunter can stare at that picture all he wants, but it won't bring that woman back to life, and the war that he continues to support did nothing to save any Kurdish lives. Only after all the other justifications for the war were proven false did apologists like Hunter play this humanitarian card.
In fact, the Kurdistan Observer, in an open letter to George W. Bush, says the war is actually costing the Kurds more lives -- not in Iraq, but in Syria:
[A]s a result of that support for the liberation of Iraq by the leader of the free world, the Syrian Kurds have become more of a target for the Bashar al-Assad dictatorship that, through its alliances with terrorists and the anti-American Iraqi Baathists, remains a major obstacle before human rights, democracy, liberty and peace in the Middle East.Is Congressman Hunter ready to call on the U.S. to invade Syria next?
Kevin Drum provides a link to and commentary on today's WaPo story that reveals how the "brain trust" running the Iraq reconstruction effort throughout the past year was made up of kids fresh out of school and chosen because they had applied for jobs with the Heritage Foundation, a noted Republican front:
All kudos to the kids who went to Iraq and put in 100-hour weeks on this stuff, but you just have to shake your head at the supposed adults who allowed this to happen. Instead of going the extra mile to seriously work with NGOs and other experienced reconstruction experts, they preferred to hire inexperienced college grads who happened to be ideologically pure. Unfortunately, it's sort of a metaphor for this entire operation.The story itself provides ample evidence of why Iraq is the mess that it is. Oh, and Atrios has uncovered a delightful (and I use that word in the Orwellian sense, where it means "disgusting" or "vile") essay by one of those kids in Iraq.
Of course, this country needs adult supervision, too.
Jim Hightower: "Bush and the corporate kleptocrats have stomped on too many people and left too many people out of the system, and those people are now in rebellion. It's not just poor people they are holding down but the middle class, as well. I have a favorite bumper sticker I saw on a pickup truck last year in Austin. It said, 'Where are we going? And what am I doing in this hand basket?'"
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Political Animal Kevin Drum is rereading 1984. If you want to do the same, try the searchable online version at The Literature Network. (It's now in the public domain.)
Wow. This scoop comes from Knight-Ridder. Trucks made to drive without cargo in dangerous areas of Iraq:
Empty flatbed trucks crisscrossed Iraq more than 100 times as their drivers and the soldiers who guarded them dodged bullets, bricks and homemade bombs.Drivers with colorful names like "Thor" and "Nitro" described their experiences and why in some cases they quit in disgust. They were under constant armed attack; two civilian drivers were killed. And for protection? "Nitro" says, "We didn't have no weapons; I had two rocks and a can of ravioli to fight with."
Remember, Cheney is still being paid by Halliburton.
Watch this video clip (from German TV - Real Player version here) of George W. Bush clowning around in the minutes before he addresses the American people to announce the beginning of the war on Iraq.
It's ... mind-boggling.
(via Daily Kos)
The New York Times reports that Demand Grows to Require Paper Trails for Electronic Votes:
A coalition of computer scientists, voter groups and state officials, led by California's secretary of state, Kevin Shelley, is trying to force the makers of electronic voting machines to equip those machines with voter-verifiable paper trails.Anyone who doesn't understand the need for a verifiable audit trail just doesn't understand how computers work. I don't care whose side you're on -- this issue is critical to democracy.
Bush Campaign Lies, documented, up to #53 so far.
From one of my loyal readers (the total is rapidly approaching double digits):
Q. How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to replace a lightbulb?
A very personal tale: "On being unemployed"
There but for the grace of God....
Salon has gradually become one of my favorite sources of news and analysis. I think it's worth paying for, but you can visit for free with a "day pass" in exchange for watching one ad. This storygives a vivid perspective on what's happening in southern Iraq, where the reporter interviewed a newspaper editor troubled by recent developments:
"'When I watch the news from all over the world, I feel that we have returned to the Stone Age. The people fighting cannot stop and return to peace.' This observation had been on his mind and he wanted to make sure the translation was correct. 'All of humanity is suffering right now because of fanatics.' This is exactly what he wanted to say and he had written it down to make sure we got it right. For Shabbar, Bush and Muqtada were manifestations of the same fault in human nature, the mysterious blown fuse that leads people to destruction. We considered what it took to make such a person, the banishment of doubt, the ugliness of absolute belief without reason. Najaf and Karbala were two places where the fanatics of the world were duking it out, a small stage that represented the greater world.It will take a generation to undo the damage that has been done in the Middle East.
Senator John McCain on Larry King last night:
KING: Has the Pentagon told you everything you need to know?You have to believe by this point McCain is getting royally pissed off at just about everyone in the Bush Administration. Whoever made the decision to hold back part of this report didn't know who they were dealing with.
Friday, May 21, 2004
Ezra weighs in on the Hastert vs. McCain wrestling match:
I think the significance of Hastert's denunciation of McCain is being largely missed. Most are picking up on the stunning chutzpah required for someone to lecture John McCain on sacrifice, but that's just a surface absurdity. Rippling under the surface of the Speaker's outburst is a deliberate choice; a realization that the Republicans have to head off the coming revolt of the moderates before it begins. By taking on a figure so revered by the press as McCain, fully aware that he was going to lose to the media's favorite politician, Hastert sent a message to all moderates. Quite simply, if he was willing to suffer the potential damage of angering John McCain, a revered figure who might assure Kerry victory by jumping ship, there was to be no mercy for Republicans who weren't smoothing the way for the president.I agree, but I think something else is at work here. So far, the opposition is primarily coming from the Senate (McCain, Graham, and a few others who appear to at least have a partially open mind). These are the people who serve alongside John Kerry. They know he's not insane, and I suspect they understand that they can work with him. The grown-up Republicans in the Senate know that a Kerry Presidency might actually make it possible for them to get back to the business of helping to govern this country, rather than wondering what hideous fuck-up they're going to read about on tomorrow's front page.
Also, Senators get the luxury of six-year terms, unlike Congressmen who have to run every two years.
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