Friday, April 30, 2004

Baghdad Burning on the Iraqi Prisoner Abuse

There can be nothing more powerful than this from a blogger based in Baghdad:

...Seeing those naked, helpless, hooded men was like being slapped in the face with an ice cold hand. I felt ashamed looking at them- like I was seeing something I shouldn’t be seeing and all I could think was, “I might know one of those faceless men...” I might have passed him in the street or worked with him. I might have bought groceries from one of them or sat through a lecture they gave in college... any of them might be a teacher, gas station attendant or engineer... any one of them might be a father or grandfather... each and every one of them is a son and possibly a brother. And people wonder at what happened in Falloojeh a few weeks ago when those Americans were killed and dragged through the streets...


I want something done about it and I want it done publicly. I want those horrible soldiers who were responsible for this to be publicly punished and humiliated. I want them to be condemned and identified as the horrible people they are. I want their children and their children’s children to carry on the story of what was done for a long time- as long as those prisoners will carry along with them the humiliation and pain of what was done and as long as the memory of those pictures remains in Iraqi hearts and minds.

I can't possibly imagine being an Iraqi today. First, they're attacked by the U.S. "Coalition" without provocation. Then, after sacking Baghdad, the U.S. appoints a Governing Council that is so crooked and rife with corruption even OUR government has had enough. And now their "liberators" are abusing them with the pictures being front page news all over the world (except in the country that is responsible.)

We are fucking broken.

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Why Flag Draped Coffins?

A column by NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr from the Christian Science Monitor:

WASHINGTON - Occasionally an issue arises that causes me to lose my commentator's cool. Such is the controversy that has bubbled up in recent days over whether the flag-draped coffins arriving from Iraq and Afghanistan may be shown by the news media.

"No," says the White House, it's a matter of "privacy" and "sensitivity." No issue of privacy or sensitivity arose when a Bush campaign commercial showed a flag-draped firefighter being carried from ground zero in New York.

The Stars and Stripes occupies a unique role in American life, a symbol of national unity for a republic without a crowned head. The symbol is embodied in our national anthem, which found reassurance in the fact that after a night-long battle during the War of 1812, "our flag was still there."

The millions of flags that sprouted from lapels and car fenders after the 9/11 assault were tokens of unity in adversity. But the flag has also been used for commercial and political purposes, and few are the candidates whose stump speeches are not set against a huge flag.

So now the matter of the flag-draped coffins and whether showing them is a solemn tribute or a violation of privacy.

The Pentagon has reinforced its ban after several hundred pictures escaped to someone who had filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act. And a cargo handler has been fired by a military contractor for furnishing pictures to a newspaper.

Considering that no individual identification is visible in the pictures, it is hard to understand the justification for clamping the secrecy lid on the solemn procession of flag-draped coffins being carried off the cargo planes. I cannot avoid the suspicion that President Bush - who has yet to attend a funeral service for any of the honored dead that he sent to war - has no interest in calling attention to the mounting number of casualties in a battle that was far from over last May 1, when the president declared "major combat operations" in Iraq had ended.

I can see no other reason to screen from public view the daily arrival of the remains of those who have made the supreme sacrifice.

Unfortunately, the answer is a recurring theme in Bush's presidency. He and is administration will not tolerate anything that casts a negative light or make them seem as if they are anything except in complete control. This is why...

-You won't here the President admit he made a mistake.
-You will always see the administration attack a dissenting voice
-You won't see the President attend a soldier's funeral.
-You won't see the administration ask for international help unless the situation is seriously FUBAR and then they will try to spin it in their favor.
-You will always see Scott McClellan answer the questions he wants to.

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Bush, One Year After 'Mission Accomplished'

Appearing today with Canadian PM Paul Martin the President defended his aircraft carrier speech from a year ago:

...As to the carrier speech, Bush said, "A year ago I did give the speech from the carrier saying we had achieved an important objective, accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein."

"And as a result, there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq. As a result, a friend of terror has been removed and now sits in a jail," the president said...

Emphasis added because of recently discovered prisoner abuse in Iraq by American soldiers:

"This is the straw that broke the camel's back for America," said Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi. "The liberators are worse than the dictators."

"...They have not just lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis but all the Third World and the Arab countries," he told Reuters.

The CBS News program "60 Minutes II" on Wednesday broadcast photos taken at the Abu Ghraib prison late last year showing American troops abusing some Iraqis held at what was once a notorious center of torture and executions under toppled President Saddam Hussein.

The pictures showed U.S. troops smiling, posing, laughing or giving the thumbs-up sign as naked, male Iraqi prisoners were stacked in a pyramid or positioned to simulate sex acts with one another...

Pictures of the abuse here. Not for the faint of heart.

It's actions like this that will make an already arduous task in Iraq nearly impossible.

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Friday USA Today

Props to USA Today for the front page pictures of all the soldiers killed in Iraq this month. This total has risen to 128 after two more soldiers were killed today near Fallujah.

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Distortion Database

The Center for American Progress has a very cool database that dispels some of the lies shared by the Bush Administration and their purveyors of disinformation. The lies are sorted by topic(39) and speaker(45). As an example I chose the topic 'Education' and George Bush. I received nine prevarications in return. Here is the one from 1/5/04:

“Teacher training money is up. We've increased the teacher training and recruitment budget significantly."

In his most recent budget, Bush proposed to freeze Teacher Quality State Grants - cutting off training opportunities for about 30,000 teachers, and leaving 92,000 less teachers trained than called for in his own No Child Left Behind bill. - House Appropriations Committee Report, 2004

There is also a place to submit your own lies. Enjoy.

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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Pataki Passing the Plate for...Laura Bush?

At a "prayer breakfast" no less:

A just-released invitation to a special May 11 "prayer breakfast" with Gov. Pataki - featuring an appearance by First Lady Laura Bush - offers would-be participants the chance to buy 10 places at a "Blue Seating" table for $1,000, or 10 places at a "Gold Seating" table for $500.

Individual "unreserved" seats for the event at the state-owned Empire State Plaza are also available for $30 each.

Everyone purchasing tickets, besides being given a chance to pray with the First Lady, will be able to use a "complimentary coffee bar."

The invitation, which contains a quote declaring that "God governs in the affairs of men" - says checks should be written to "The Governor's Prayer Breakfast Trust Fund," which underwrites the cost of the event.

Longtime observers said the prayer breakfasts, which the governor and his wife, Libby, have sponsored for the past 10 years, have never before been so expensive.

A "Complimentary Coffee Bar"? That'll be free but I'm sure a packet of sugar and two cremes will be $450.

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Sinclair Broadcast Group to preempt Friday Nightline

Yes, this is the same program that will be reading the names of all the American combat deaths in Iraq.

Upon further review, Berry's World has found that the reason for this decision is a little partisan.

Call and tell them the death of our soldiers is not a partisan issue!

The main phone number for the Sinclair Broadcast Group is 410-568-1500.

Get to work.

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Roanoke Ballet

I heard the arts were dragging a little, but things must be really bad in Virginia:

Joined by the Roanoke Symphony playing the theme from the Dukes of Hazard.

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Another Bloody Day in Iraq

Ten more soldiers have been killed today.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Not a PEEP About This in the Northern Hemisphere

If Australia went to war in Iraq under false pretenses and suppressed intelligence reports then how would you describe the involvement of the United States?:

Over the past two weeks, the government of Prime Minister John Howard has faced a virtual revolt from within the Australian military and intelligence establishment, involving the leaking of damaging secret documents. Long-simmering opposition to the government’s manipulation and suppression of intelligence reports for its own political purposes has erupted, following the collapse of all the lies used to justify Australian participation in the invasion of Iraq.

One word: Fraudulent.

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Eye candy:

The flowers E-X-P-A-N-D.

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Video of the President

Follow this link to a video of the President during a commercial break when he was a guest on Letterman. He's wiping his glasses on a staffer's shirt while the person is talking to Dave. Amusing if he wasn't so arrogant. (Windows and Quicktime supported.)

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Al Gore Doing His Part

Al Gore will be donating $6 million to democratic groups to try and fight the GOP's "outrageous and misleading" smear campaign against John Kerry.

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Wes Clark takes on the GOP Slimers

A thoughtful opinion piece in the New York Times:

...John Kerry was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for his service in Vietnam. In April 1971, as part of a protest against the war, he threw some ribbons over the fence of the United States Capitol.

Republicans have tried to use this event to question his patriotism and his truthfulness, claiming he has been inconsistent in saying whether he threw away his medals or ribbons. This is no more than a political smear. After risking his life in Vietnam to save others, John Kerry earned the right to speak out against a war he believed was wrong. Make no mistake: it is that bravery these Republicans are now attacking.

Although President Bush has not engaged personally in such accusations, he has done nothing to stop others from making them. I believe those who didn't serve, or didn't show up for service, should have the decency to respect those who did serve — often under the most dangerous conditions, with bravery and, yes, with undeniable patriotism.

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Cheney's Energy Task Force Documents had Maps of Iraqi Oil Fields

Does this mean that "Kenny Boy" Lay helped plan the war in Iraq? If so, that explains a great deal.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.”

Released by Judicial Watch 7/17/03.

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No Recording of BushCheney 9/11 Testimony

The 9/11 Commission is allowed a note taker but not a recording device:

WASHINGTON — The White House said on Tuesday that there would be no recording or formal transcription of the historic joint interview of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney by the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The interview, to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday at the White House, will be recorded by two note takers, one from the White House. Under a pact with the White House that allowed all its 10 members in the interview, the commission is permitted to take a note taker, but not a recording device. The panel said it did not press for a formal transcription of the session, letting the White House decide.

The White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, told reporters that the session would not be officially transcribed because the White House considered it a "private meeting" that would include highly classified information.

"Let's keep in mind that it is extraordinary for a sitting president of the United States to sit down with a legislatively created commission," Mr. McClellan said...

Mr. McClellan, it's also extraordinary that the President has spent 40% of his time in office on vacation.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Nightline on Friday

Ted Koppel will read the names of all of our soldiers killed in combat in Iraq. As Keith Berry says, I wonder if thirty minutes will be enough time.

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Blogs May Come Under Scrutiny from U.S. Intelligence

Nothing to see here. Move along:

People in black trench coats might soon be chasing blogs.
Blogs, short for Web logs, are personal online journals. Individuals post them on Web sites to report or comment on news especially, but also on their personal lives or most any subject.

Some blogs are whimsical and deal with 'soft' subjects. Others, though, are cutting edge in delivering information and opinion.

As a result, some analysts say U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials might be starting to track blogs for important bits of information. This interest is a sign of how far Web media such as blogs have come in reshaping the data-collection habits of intelligence professionals and others, even with the knowledge that the accuracy of what's reported in some blogs is questionable.

Perhaps we can change the format here to something that might be a little less controversial.

Some ideas:

A picture library of the berets that Rerun wore on What's Happening.

Lyrics to the entire Kajagoogoo library.

A collection of commencement speeches given by Bobcat Goldthwaite.

All of the different line-ups the Phillies have used this season. (Bad idea, not enough bandwidth.)

Other suggestions welcomed...

UPDATE: The link above is no longer good. In fact it's disappeared completely from the destinaion site, investor.com. Conspiracy!

UPDATE2: Saved! It was posted on Yahoo! News

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Sovereignty Has Many Meanings

In the worst kept secret of the year; perhaps Iraq won't be ready for a June 30th power shift after all:

The US has warned that the new government due to take power in Iraq on 1 July will have to delegate some of its powers to the coalition. Secretary of State Colin Powell said it was important that coalition troops continued to operate under US command.


The US has insisted it is sticking to the planned timetable of transferring power to an interim Iraqi government after 30 June despite the upsurge of violence in Iraq.

But in an interview with Reuters news agency, Mr Powell said that while the new government would take full sovereignty over the country, it would have to give some of it back to the Americans so that the US would still be in command of its own troops.

'I hope they will understand that in order for this government to get up and running - to be effective - some of its sovereignty will have to be given back, if I can put it that way, or limited by them,' Mr Powell said...

June 30th might still work. In 2005.

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Dad, What's a Terrorist?

Good question:

Dad ... what's a terrorist?
Well, according to the Oxford dictionary a terrorist is 'a person who uses violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims'. Which means that terrorists are very bad men and women who frighten ordinary people like us, and sometimes even kill them.

Why do they kill them?
Because they hate them or their country. It's hard to explain ... it's just the way things are. For many different reasons a lot of people in our world are full of hate.

Like the ones in Iraq who are capturing people and saying that they'll kill them if all the soldiers don't leave?
Exactly! That's an evil thing called 'blackmail'. Those innocent people are hostages, and the terrorists are saying that if governments don't do what they want the hostages will be killed.

So was it blackmail when we said we'd attack Iraq and kill innocent people unless they told us where all their weapons were?
No! Well ... yes, I suppose. In a way. But that was an 'ultimatum' ... call it 'good blackmail."

Good blackmail? What's that?
That's when it's done for good reasons. Those weapons were very dangerous and could have hurt a lot of people all over the world. It was very important to find them and destroy them.

From our Coalition partners in Australia.

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Note to self: Don't get pulled over in Tennessee

A little overkill, don't you think?:

CHATTANOOGA — Tennessee state troopers will soon carry Bushmaster semiautomatic AR-15-type assault rifles on patrol, the Tennessee Highway Patrol said.

The THP is buying 1,000 of the weapons to give troopers ''the ability, if they have to, to resort to deadly means of force that is also an accurate means of force,'' Lt. Rex Prince, supervisor of the patrol's ordnance division, said Friday.

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New Questions About Bush's Military Service

...and his family's relationship with a man named James Bath:  

Last month, before the 9/11 commission began its public hearings and Iraq exploded in renewed warfare, the White House tried to quell a gathering storm regarding President Bush's military service, releasing hundreds of documents about Bush's tenure in the Texas Air National Guard some 30 years ago. A close examination of the documents reveals that they not only fail to answer lingering questions about Bush's service but prompt a crucial new area of inquiry that could play a role in the presidential campaign -- a long and lucrative, but low-profile, relationship between Saudis and the Bush family that goes back 30 years.

The document that raises that question is dated Sept. 29, 1972, and notes that 1st Lt. George W. Bush was suspended from flying because of his 'failure to accomplish [his] annual medical examination.' Since he had just received hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of training as a jet fighter pilot, the fact that Bush let his medical certification lapse raises a troubling matter. Why did he allow himself to become ineligible to fly when he still had two years of service left? Given that random drug testing by the military had just started, some have suggested that Bush had not yet given up his partying ways and may have begged off because he had a substance abuse problem.

The records released by the White House last month fail to answer that question, but they do add one compelling fact to the story -- namely, that Bush was not the only man in his unit to be suspended for failing to take the physical, and that someone else at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston was suspended for exactly the same reason at almost the same time.

The link above is to a subsription service, please use the free day pass to read the full article.

This story is also covered in more detail over at Eschaton.

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Monday, April 26, 2004

Iraq Gets a New Flag

US-picked Iraq leaders declare new Iraqi flag.

Disrespectful. The thing might as well have a picture of Bremer on it.

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They need to up Scotty's dosage

Keith over at Berry's World uncovered this from today's gaggle. Incredible chutzpah.

This whole administration is starting to remind me of a one armed juggler trying to keep four chainsaws, three machetes, two torches and a watermelon in the air at once. The crash will be spectacular.

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Go Big John Go

John Kerry did say he would fight:

WHEELING, W.Va. - John Kerry, a decorated Navy veteran criticized by Republicans for his anti-war activities during the Vietnam era, lashed out at President Bush on Monday for failing to prove whether he fulfilled his commitment to the National Guard during the same period.

Conservative critics have questioned whether Kerry deserved all three of his Purple Hearts for battle wounds, an issue the Democratic presidential candidate sought to put to rest last week by releasing his military records. On Sunday, a top Bush adviser criticized Kerry for leading anti-war protests after he returned from the battlefield.

"This comes from a president who can't even show or prove that he showed up for duty in the National Guard," Kerry said Monday during an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America." "And I'm not going to stand for it."

Kerry's direct criticism of Bush's Guard record reflected an aggressive strategy to challenge the president. During the primaries, Kerry often deflected questions about Bush's military service although when asked in February whether Bush had fulfilled his Vietnam-era commitment, the Democrat said, "Just because you get an honorable discharge does not in fact answer that question."...

Our postscript courtesy of Mr. Tom Petty:

Well I won't back down
No I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down

No I'll stand my ground, won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin me down
gonna stand my ground
... and I won't back down

Give 'em hell John.

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Former AK Governor Tony Knowles is a fraternity brother of the President. Oh, the stories he could tell:

...``I had kind of a checkerboard career; I'm sure your researchers will figure it out,'' Mr. Knowles said, explaining that he started at Yale before Mr. Bush, was kicked out (he did not state a reason) and then returned to graduate alongside the future president. ``I knew him,'' Mr. Knowles said, offering a simple ``mmm-hmmm,'' when asked if they were friends.

He did not elaborate, but given DKE's reputation, the next question was obvious: Did they party together?

``Well, yeah,'' Mr. Knowles said, dragging out a long, uncomfortable pause. ``There were, uh, social activities.''

And with that, the taciturn former governor of Alaska tilted his head back, curled his right hand into a fist and lifted it to his lips, in a gesture that anyone, Democrat or Republican, who has ever attended a fraternity keg party would understand.

Inside Edition should be all over this guy with $even figures.

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More Athletes Named in Steroid Case

The names of track & field stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery have been added to the list of athletes who've allegedly received steroids. Previously named athletes included Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield & Jason Giambi.

There's a name that hasn't been mentioned yet and I pray it never is. Big Tex.

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Four Iraqi Children Killed

When will this end?

BAGHDAD—ONE day after a wave of attacks that left at least 40 dead, four Iraqi children died after being shot by U.S. soldiers in Baghdad. According to hospital sources quoted by news agencies in the capital, the children were shot after the U.S. troops whose vehicle had been hit by a grenade opened fire.

The deaths of the four children come in addition to the deaths of another two Iraqis who lost their lives when missiles from an unknown source attacked the city of Mosul, in northern Iraq, leaving another 10 people injured. The two killed were officials in the city’s hospital. A total of three missiles hit the hospital – the main one in the city – the Ashur Hotel and the local radio and television building.

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Fas•cism: A political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

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Tony Blair in Deep Trouble

OfficialPoll: 79% say Blair should go now:

LONDON, ENGLAND -- 04/26/04 -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair is facing growing skepticism over his ability to lead his country. Clearly he has lost considerable political capital following his government's reversal over the EU referendum, and the manner in which that policy change was handled. Many within his own party and scores of British voters are beginning to question Blair's ability to lead the party and country going forward.

According to a former Labour Party leader, Neil Kinnock, Blair may quit the UK's top job after holding a referendum on the European constitution.

Speaking to the BBC, Kinnock is the first senior party official to speculate about the PM's long-term political future...

Amazing what can happen when the people are informed.

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Scott Ritter Delivers the Truth

In a speech this past Wednesday the former chief weapons inspector had some unflattering things to say about the War in Iraq:

Former chief weapons inspector to Iraq Scott Ritter said Wednesday that President Bush created an extremely turbulent situation in Iraq.

“President Bush poses the greatest threat to America that we have seen in modern history,” Ritter told an audience in the University Union's Potomac Lounge.

Though his accusations were extreme, Ritter— an unabashedly conservative Republican—argued they are not unfounded.

Ritter, a former intelligence officer for the US Marine Corps who served as the UN's Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, said the U.S. government “brought us into this war on false pretenses.”

Although the Bush administration says it is looking for weapons of mass destruction, Ritter explained, the government has a hidden agenda.

“Our real policy has been regime change,” Ritter said. “Our plan was to dethrone Saddam, not to find weapons of mass destruction.”...

I guess the question now is who isn't saying these things? (BushCo excluded)

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Sunday, April 25, 2004

The March

I was at the store a little earlier and saw a couple of women wearing pins from the March for Reproductive Rights in Washington, DC. I asked how many people were there and they heard the number was 1.1 Million. They called it, "The Largest March in the History of the United States."

Regardless of what the media says, that's good enough for me.

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FUBAR has a website!

I didn't realize the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority had a website.

From the homepage:

"You could take the path which leads to a new Iraq, a peaceful, democratic Iraq, an Iraq of political freedom and economic opportunity, an Iraq where the majority is not Sunni, Shia, Arab, Kurd or Turcoman, but Iraqi. This is the path to a bright and hopeful future.   Or you could take the path which leads to the dark Iraq of the past where violence and fear rule, where power comes from a gun, and where only the powerful and ruthless are secure."

With these words, Amb. Paul Bremer offered the Iraqi people the essential choice.  In a speech delivered on April 23rd, he told the people of Iraq that the choice was theirs to make.  On June 30th, Iraqis will be fully sovereign over their nation and the choice will be theirs to make.

Propaganda extraordinaire.

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Karen Hughes Equates Abortion Rights and Terrorsism

This lady is a piece of work:

..."'I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life,' she said. 'President Bush has worked to say, let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions. And I think those are the kinds of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy and, really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life.'"

Go to Amazon and write a "review" of her book.

Thanks to Kos for the heads up.

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Saturday, April 24, 2004

Encouraging Sign

Voting panel recommending that CA do the right thing and not use Diebold touch-screen voting machines:

SACRAMENTO — California should ban the use of 15,000 touch-screen voting machines made by Diebold Election Systems from the Nov. 2 general election, an advisory panel to Secretary of State Kevin Shelley recommended Thursday.

By an 8-0 vote, the state's Voting Systems and Procedures Panel recommended that Shelley cease the use of the machines, saying that Texas-based Diebold has performed poorly in California and its machines malfunctioned in the state's March 2 primary election, turning away many voters in San Diego County


Panel member Marc Carrel, an assistant secretary of state, said he was "disgusted" by Diebold, which has "been jerking us around." The company, he said, has disenfranchised voters in California and undermined confidence in the new and developing technology of touch-screen voting...


The secretary of state's investigative report of the March 2 elections found that 573 of 1,038 polling places in San Diego County failed to open on time because Diebold voting machines malfunctioned. Voters were told to come back later or try voting at the county's elections headquarters.

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Our Heroes

We know how the Bush Administration feels about publishing the photos of our returning fallen soldiers:

..."'America knows full well that our men and women are serving and serving brilliantly both in Iraq and around the world. ... America is aware this is a war against terrorism,' Bush spokesman Trent Duffy said. But, he said, 'The message is, the sensitivity and privacy of families of the fallen must be the first priority.'"...

But it isn't their children being shipped home in flag-draped boxes.

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Friday, April 23, 2004

Pat Tillman

I remember reading this 1997 article in Sports Illustrated. I'm happy they reposted it:

"As a senior safety-tailback-kick returner at Leland High in San Jose, Tillman so detested leaving the field that once, after his coach pulled the starters at halftime of a first-round playoff romp, he took the field for the second-half kickoff and ran it back for a touchdown. The coach, Terry Hardtke, confiscated Tillman's helmet and shoulder pads and put them under a bench lest Tillman get the urge to score again. One month later, on his recruiting visit to Arizona State, one of three Division I-A schools willing to risk a scholarship on a 5'11', 195-pounder classified by many college coaches as a too-slow, too-small tweener, Tillman was asked by Sun Devils coach Bruce Snyder what he thought of the recruiting process. 'It stinks,' Tillman shot back. 'Nobody tells the truth.'

Taken aback, Snyder filed the comment away. He remembered it the following August when he sat Tillman down to discuss--as he does with all freshmen -- the concept of redshirting. 'I'm not redshirting,' Tillman said. 'I've got things to do with my life. You can do whatever you want with me, but in four years, I'm gone.' Snyder thought, This kid is different."

Pat Tillman was always a man. He died at the age of 27.

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Pat Tillman Killed

Former NFL player Pat Tillman was just killed in Afghanistan. Tillman turned down a multi-million dollar contract last year to represent his country. Voluntarily.

A true patriot. More soon.

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Must read.

..."More important, the 'Marketplace' report confirms what is being widely reported: that the common view in Iraq is that members of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council are using their positions to enrich themselves, and that U.S. companies are doing the same. President Bush's idealistic language may be persuasive to Americans, but many Iraqis see U.S. forces as there to back a corrupt regime, not democracy"

Now what? There's a growing sense of foreboding, even panic, about Iraq among national security experts. "This is an extremely uncertain struggle," says Mr. Cordesman, who, to his credit, also says the unsayable: we may not be able to "stay the course." But yesterday Condoleezza Rice gave Republican lawmakers what Senator Rick Santorum called "a very upbeat report."

That's very bad news. The mess in Iraq was created by officials who believed what they wanted to believe, and ignored awkward facts. It seems they have learned nothing. 

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Thursday, April 22, 2004

GOP Congessmen angry at WH

It turns out the White House is playing politics with (much needed) funding for Iraq. This is my favorite quote:

Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., said the Army had told his subcommittee that it had nearly $6 billion in unfunded budget requests. "I think the budget request that is provided to us is short-sighted and, in the case of the Army, I think it is outrageous," Weldon said.

And that's a Republican speaking.

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Voting Problems Still Unsolved

The problems of the 2000 Presidential election are far from being solved according to a new study from the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights. Some details:

...The commission's criticisms focused on the failure to implement President George Bush's Help America Vote Act (Hava), passed in October 2002, which promised $4bn (£2.3bn) to help states overhaul antiquated voting machinery - notably the notorious punchcard devices that caused so much trouble in Florida - and sought to set up a nationwide system of provisional voting for people who believe they have a right to vote but find themselves omitted from the official list.


Almost half of the states have requested exemptions from updating their voting equipment, and 41 out of 50 have requested extensions until 2006 to consolidate voter registration lists at state level so they can more easily be checked for accuracy. "It will be difficult if not impossible for states to build the necessary election infrastructure by November," it concluded.

The commission report can only heighten the anxieties of an electorate already alarmed by a growing controversy over touchscreen voting machines being introduced - with Hava money - in many parts of the South and West. The machines make meaningful recounts impossible and rely on software developed by companies with strong ties to President Bush and his Republican Party. California is expected to decide this week whether to decertify its touchscreen machines.

The debate over the health of America's electoral procedures is turning into a partisan fight, with Republicans dismissing the concerns as Democratic politicking unworthy of serious examination. When the Commission on Civil Rights convened an expert panel in Washington this month to discuss its report, the Republican Party delegation walked out before the proceedings began, one panel participant, Rebecca Mercuri, a Harvard University voting machinery expert, said.

Perhaps I'm just wasting my breath here, going on about the direction our country is headed. What if the "electoral process" is a sham and Diebold has voting machines in States that will swing the election to Bush, regardless of actual ballot counts? I keep telling myself that there is no conspiracy that big. And then I read this and feel helpless again.

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Bush: Iran Will be Dealt With

From today's WaPo:

"President Bush told newspaper editors in Washington yesterday that Iran 'will be dealt with, starting through the United Nations' if it does not stop developing nuclear weapons and begin total cooperation with international inspectors.

Bush said he will encourage allies to insist to the Iranians that they live up to commitments to cooperate with U.N. inspectors and end any enriching and reprocessing of uranium.
'The Iranians need to feel the pressure from the world that any nuclear weapons program will be uniformly condemned -- it's essential that they hear that message,' he said. 'The development of a nuclear weapon in Iran is intolerable, and a program is intolerable. . . . Otherwise, they will be dealt with, starting through the United Nations.' "...

"Nucular" weapons. Check.
Cooperation with inspectors. Check.
Outside pressure. Check.

Sound familiar? When I read stuff like this I want to print and save it. It would be nice to refer to it after we go to war with Iran and we find that their weapons cache is as fortified as Iraq's.

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Earth Day

Our President has a habit of bowing to big business at the expense of the environment and our natural resources. Here's a list of his 2004 "accomplishments", to date. Courtesy of the National Resources Defense Council:

Bush budget cuts lead poisoning prevention funding (04/11/04)

White House altered scientific findings on mercury threat (04/07/04)

Pentagon again seeking immunity from environmental laws (04/06/04)

Investigator resigns in protest over Interior's cheating Native Americans out of energy royalties (04/06/04)

Mining company gets price break on federal land (04/02/04)

Court orders Energy Department to release more Cheney task force records (03/31/04)

EPA chief Leavitt failing to lay down the law (03/31/04)

Yellowstone bison slaughtered to please ranchers (03/31/04)

EPA letting Clean Water Act violators off the hook (03/30/04)

EPA uses utility company memos to craft controversial mercury policy (03/30/04)

Interior Dept. defends loosening of ESA import ban (03/29/04)

Montreal Protocol shirked for U.S. pesticide interests (03/26/04)

Army Corps bends to pressure on Missouri River (03/26/04)

More drilling slated for Padre Island (02/27/04)

DOE holds nuke cleanup funds hostage (02/26/04)

More industry materials borrowed by EPA for its mercury rule (02/26/04)

Missouri River management plan ignores fish protections (02/26/04)

Fish and Wildlife Service gives sucker fish a break (02/25/04)

Bush cuts funding for endangered species (02/25/04)

Federal mining whistleblower silenced, demoted (02/24/04)

Get the lead out: EPA fails to protect D.C. drinking water (02/23/04)

EPA's mercury pollution plan mirrors industry's recommendations (01/30/04)

Bush administration leaves nuclear plant safety up to contractors (01/29/04)

Energy Department promoting carbon sequestration (01/27/04)

White House wants to let EPA ignore pesticide consultations (01/27/04)

EPA touts new, cleaner cars (01/26/04)

White House offers small funding boost for Northwest salmon recovery (01/26/04)

Forest Service to boost logging in Appalachian forests (01/23/04)

Forest Service drops "survey and manage" rule for loggers (01/23/04)

Links for all of these atrocities at the NRDC web site.

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Pentagon Deleted Rumsfeld Comment on Web Site

From today's Washington Post. Page A-1:

The Pentagon deleted from a public transcript a statement Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made to author Bob Woodward suggesting that the administration gave Saudi Arabia a two-month heads-up that President Bush had decided to invade Iraq.

At issue was a passage in Woodward's "Plan of Attack," an account published this week of Bush's decision making about the war, quoting Rumsfeld as telling Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, in January 2003 that he could "take that to the bank" that the invasion would happen.

The comment came in a key moment in the run-up to the war, when Rumsfeld and other officials were briefing Bandar on a military plan to attack and invade Iraq, and pointing to a top-secret map that showed how the war plan would unfold. The book reports that the meeting with Bandar was held on Jan. 11, 2003, in Vice President Cheney's West Wing office. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also attended.

I think someone may be trying to hide the truth.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Krugman on Air America Radio

A nice quote from Scoobie Davis Online:

I heard the Paul Krugman interview on Air America’s Morning Sedition last week. A caller asked Krugman why Clinton was investigated from the begining of his presidency to the end and George W. Bush has received little scrutiny. Krugman summed it up succinctly:

The short answer is “Yes Virginia, there is a vast right wing conspiracy.”

[Laughter from hosts]

The Clinton scandals--none of them, except for Monica—was there anything to it. And it was this constant era of scandal that was fomented by a network of think tanks, publications—of which were funded by a handful of angry and personally dysfunctional billionaires. And that’s basically what happened and the media fell for it and continue to circulate it. . . So that’s what happened to Clinton and the same machinery is now turned not against the man in the White House but against anyone who criticizes the man in the White House and that’s the big difference between the two."

Doesn't that make you feel better? Me neither.

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Military Record: Kerry vs. Bush

And the GOP wants to raise this issue? Excellent comparison by Kos.

I think we haven't heard the last of W's military "career".

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Bush Speech

Through the power of the internet, you can now do your own Bush TV address at this web site. Fun for the whole family.

Until the RNC shuts it down.

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Poland is Next

Spain, Honduras and the Dominican Republic have signalled they will withdraw their troops from Iraq within the coming month. Next is Poland:

A senior adviser to the Polish government confirmed to The Irish Times that Warsaw's decision had been influenced by the Spanish move. "Given the circumstances [in Iraq], we will probably diminish significantly the forces at the end of 2004," said Prof Tadeusz Iwinski, secretary of state for international affairs in the office of the prime minister.

I don't think we'll be seeing Polish President, Mr Aleksander Kwasniewski in Crawford anytime soon.

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Nancy Pelosi Goes on the Offensive

Hopefully we have more than just a Minority Leader here:

“The Bush administration has gone about the transfer of sovereignty precisely backward. Instead of fostering a legitimate government and choosing a date to transfer sovereignty, the administration picked a date off the calendar without any idea who the new government would be,” according to an advance copy of the speech.

Elsewhere, her indictment will be more explicit in its criticism of Bush.

“It is ironic that in a nation obsessed with reality television, we have a president who is increasingly divorced from reality. The president’s resolve may be firm, but his lack of an effective plan for Iraq’s security and stability has been fatal,” Pelosi will say.

Pelosi’s concerns seemed to be widespread in the caucus, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also stepped up his criticism in response to the April casualties.

“There were 87 deaths in the first 15 days of the month, which as of April 20 is 101,” Hoyer told reporters.

He added, “As someone who supported the mission, and still believes the mission is a positive one, I have been very disappointed with the management by this administration of this effort from the fall, when General Shinseki indicated he needed to maintain at least 200,000 troops. There is no doubt that he was correct.”

Is anyone listening?

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Taxpayers Paying For RNC Propaganda


Thanks to Josh Marshall for the heads up.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

One Way to Clear a Room

What turned out to be the last question at today's Gaggle:

Question: Scott, Senator McCain is calling for congressional hearings on the $700 million that Woodward alleges was diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq. What's your position on hearings?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the Department of Defense briefed on that yesterday, and pointed out that that simply was not the case. Congress was kept informed and the funding, the emergency funding from the -- the emergency funding gave the Pentagon broad discretion in how funds were used. And they also pointed out that the funding specifically for Iraq came after the resolution that Congress passed. And Congress was kept fully informed of the funding.

We've got to go. Thanks.

Hold that thought. We'll evade it tomorrow.

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April is the Bloodiest Month

We suffered April's 100th U.S. Combat Death today.

That's an average of five a day if you're scoring at home.

From the President's Prime Time Press Conference:

Question: After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?

President Bush: I wish you would have given me this written question ahead of time, so I could plan for it. (Laughter.) John, I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could have done it better this way, or that way. You know, I just -- I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet.

I would have gone into Afghanistan the way we went into Afghanistan. Even knowing what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would have called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein. See, I happen to believe that we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we've sent up the independent commission. I look forward to hearing the truth, exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden, like the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm.

I think we should try to vote the President out of office.

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak speaks plainly::

..."Today there is hatred of the Americans like never before in the region," he said in an interview given during a stay in France, where he met President Jacques Chirac Monday.

He blamed the hostility partly on U.S. support for Israel, which assassinated Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi in a missile strike in the Gaza Strip Saturday weeks after killing his predecessor, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

"At the start some considered the Americans were helping them. There was no hatred of the Americans. After what has happened in Iraq, there is unprecedented hatred and the Americans know it," Mubarak said.

"People have a feeling of injustice. What's more, they see (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon acting as he pleases, without the Americans saying anything. He assassinates people who don't have the planes and helicopters that he has."

Should we be surprised?

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It's funny how our foreign policies are uniting people who've hated each other for thousands of years while at the same time dividing the citizens here.

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Worst Song Ever

As determined by Blender magazine:

We Built This City by Starship

I don't know about the worst song, but it definitely gets stuck in your head if you sing a few bars.

Give it a try.

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Big Series for the Phils

The World Champion Florida Marlins come to town tonight for a key early season match-up. The Phillies have lost 15 of the last 17 to the Fish and are hoping to increase their four game winning streak. Dontrelle Willis (2-0, 0.00) goes for Florida tonight, batting 1.000 for the season (6-6) against Vicente Padilla (0-1 4.91) for the Phillies. Philadelphia needs at least two from them to erase the bad memories of the stretch run last season and to avoid letting them get further into our heads. After this three-game set we don't play them again until late-July.

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Fables of the Reconstruction

This article by Jason Vest details a memo circulated to CPA officials that is damning of the work we're now doing in Iraq.

The first two grafs:

As the situation in Iraq grows ever more tenuous, the Bush administration continues to spin the ominous news with matter-of-fact optimism. According to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Iraqi uprisings in half a dozen cities, accompanied by the deaths of more than 100 soldiers in the month of April alone, is something to be viewed in the context of "good days and bad days," merely "a moment in Iraq's path towards a free and democratic system." More recently, the president himself asserted, "Our coalition is standing with responsible Iraqi leaders as they establish growing authority in their country."

But according to a closely held Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) memo written in early March, the reality isn't so rosy. Iraq's chances of seeing democracy succeed, according to the memo's author—a U.S. government official detailed to the CPA, who wrote this summation of observations he'd made in the field for a senior CPA director—have been severely imperiled by a year's worth of serious errors on the part of the Pentagon and the CPA, the U.S.-led multinational agency administering Iraq. Far from facilitating democracy and security, the memo's author fears, U.S. efforts have created an environment rife with corruption and sectarianism likely to result in civil war.

Read the whole thing. It sounds like Civil War could be on the horizon.

UPDATE: From Kos; Rumor has it that the author is Michael Rubin, card-carryng neoconservative and "scholar" at the American Enterprise Institute. Working out of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, he is a staff adviser for Iran and Iraq and a member of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. He is also an Iraq adviser for the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans.

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Cut 'n Run Nader


"WASHINGTON - Ralph Nader, the independent presidential hopeful, called Monday for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq in six months.

Nader, who has sounded an anti-war theme since announcing his candidacy in February, laid out a three-point plan for withdrawal. He said he would:

• Create an international peacekeeping force under United Nations auspices.

• Promote Iraqi self-rule through independent elections.

• Provide humanitarian aid to stabilize the country.

``How do you separate the mainstream Iraqis from the insurgents when the mainstream Iraqis now are increasingly opposed to our presence there and increasingly, quietly or otherwise, supporting the insurgents?'' Nader asked.

``The way you do it is you declare you are getting out,'' he said."

Hey everyone! Pay attention to me! I'm running for President!

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Shocker Coming?

From Editor and Publisher

"NEW YORK In an unusual move for the organization, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) will release what it promises will be a bombshell article related to the Iraq conflict at 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday. It will be made available free of charge for publication on all AAN-member Web sites, as well as for print, and more than 60 members papers have expressed interest in using it, according to Executive Director Richard Karpel."

I'll post excerpts upon release.

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Monday, April 19, 2004

Fantastic Combination

Dry wit and politics. Sweet!

The following is an example of art as crafted by Tom Burka at his site; Opinions You Should Have

I suspect we will.

"American Idol Viewers Vote President Off Show

Fans of the Fox television show 'American Idol' tuned in last night and voted immediately and resoundingly to bounce the President from the show.

'It was a one-note performance,' said Terry Ackerly of Dented Fender, New Mexico.

Bush performed 'Stay the Course,' but, according to some fans, was only capable of repeating the same tired phrases in a jerky, halting manner.

'Sometimes it looked like he had totally forgotten the words,' said Ackerly.

Simon Cowell was particularly harsh. 'I don't know why you think you have a chance in this business,' he told Bush, and called it 'perhaps the worst performance of Elton John I have ever witnessed.'

Randy Jackson said that he was 'disappointed' but that 'the vocals weren't there,' and added that the President 'didn't connect with him.' Paula Abdul told the President that 'she really liked his tie,' but that sometimes he was 'awfully smirky and a little pitchy.'

'You could be fresher and more sincere,' said Abdul."

Go take a look and concentrate on not horking your beverage all over your keyboard.

Thanks to tbogg for pointing us in this direction.

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Blair's Not Toeing the Company Line

If he's not careful, he won't get any more trips to Crawford:

"Tony Blair distanced himself from Washington yesterday by pointedly condemning the Israeli assassination of the Hamas leader, Abdel Aziz Rantissi, at the weekend.

George Bush's administration refused to criticise the killing and said Israel had a right of self-defence.

Mr Blair told parliament: 'We condemn the targeted assassination of Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al Rantissi just as we condemn all terrorism including that perpetrated by Hamas.' While Mr Blair in the past has been quick to condemn Palestinian suicide bombings against Israel, he has been less ready to criticise action against Palestinians.

What makes Mr Blair's intervention even more stark is that it is made on behalf of the leader of an organisation that has launched hundreds of suicide attacks against Israel over the last four years."

Mr Blair could easily have opted, as he has done in the past, to have left the criticism to the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, who at the weekend condemned the assassination.

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When Did They Plan for War?

Josh Marshall's got himself a source:

"When Centcom planners were tasked with preparing to seize Iraq's southern oilfields they took the existing plan for an all-out invasion and essentially whittled it down, since conquering southern Iraq was a smaller version of what would be needed to conquer the entire country.

The chatter around Centcom at the time was this gambit was being pushed by Wolfowitz and was not necessarily done on the say-so of the White House.

How do I know this? From a highly credible source with first-hand knowledge."

Read the entire post, and the one previous to it regarding Saudi Arabia (via the Scotty Shuffle.)

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Why Should Bush Go?

Now I remember.

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You Can Do It George!

Courtesy of the Presurfer.

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Australia's Possible Next PM is "Hip"

Labor Party Leader Mark Latham is looking to unseat Bush ally John Howard by appealing to Australia's younger folks:

"Youth of Australia, Labor's policy is bling-bling," Mark Latham, Labor Party leader, said in a radio station interview last week, according to the London Daily Telegraph. The 42-year-old left-wing politician then declared: "Bling-bling is the best policy I have had so far."


He mocked Howard's staid image, saying the 64-year-old premier, a staunch ally of George W. Bush who sent Australian troops to Iraq, had eyebrows nearly long enough for a comb-over.


After his interview, the radio station gave Latham a baseball cap and T-shirt and played a rap song that called him "Lath Daddy."

Well.....he's.....um.....possibly.....er....surely.....he's.....trying too hard.

(Sorry for the Fox News link. Unavoidable.)

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Duke Eliminates 8am Classes

It would seem to me the $25,000 tuition would make the parents sleep deprived:

DURHAM, N.C. - Duke University is eliminating 8 a.m. classes and trying to come up with other ways help its sleep-deprived students, who too often are struggling to survive on a mix of caffeine, adrenaline and ambition.

The school is also considering new orientation programs this fall that would help freshmen understand the importance of sleep.

"Generally, the people I know, we don't see sleep as that important compared to what school and the curriculum have to offer," said Marcel Yang, a Duke freshman from Chapel Hill."...

I think Duke student/spokesperson Yang is a subscriber to the theory that, "We'll get all the sleep we need when we're dead. Or if we're waiting for basketball tickets."

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Paging Dr. Freud! Please report to the West Wing!

Condi Condi Condi:

...Rice was reportedly overheard saying, “As I was telling my husb—” and then stopping herself abruptly, before saying, “As I was telling President Bush.” Jaws dropped, but a guest says the slip by the unmarried politician, who spends weekends with the president and his wife, seemed more psychologically telling than incriminating. Nobody thinks Bush and Rice are actually an item. A National Security Council spokesman laughed and said, “No comment...”

No column inches used up in the National Enquirer on this. Yet.

UPDATE: Atrios posted on this too and one of the comments was: Ploy for the "swing" voters? Heh.

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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Woodward on 60 Minutes

No big surprises, even this wasn't a huge shocker:

”Saturday, Jan. 11, with the president's permission, Cheney and Rumsfeld call Bandar to Cheney's West Wing office, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Myers, is there with a top-secret map of the war plan. And it says, ‘Top secret. No foreign.’ No foreign means no foreigners are supposed to see this,” says Woodward.

“They describe in detail the war plan for Bandar. And so Bandar, who's skeptical because he knows in the first Gulf War we didn't get Saddam out, so he says to Cheney and Rumsfeld, ‘So Saddam this time is gonna be out, period?’ And Cheney who has said nothing says the following: ‘Prince Bandar, once we start, Saddam is toast.’'

After Bandar left, according to Woodward, Cheney said, “I wanted him to know that this is for real. We're really doing it.'

But this wasn’t enough for Prince Bandar, who Woodward says wanted confirmation from the president. “Then, two days later, Bandar is called to meet with the president and the president says, ‘Their message is my message,’” says Woodward.

Prince Bandar enjoys easy access to the Oval Office. His family and the Bush family are close. And Woodward told 60 Minutes that Bandar has promised the president that Saudi Arabia will lower oil prices in the months before the election -- to ensure the U.S. economy is strong on election day.

Woodward says that Bandar understood that economic conditions were key before a presidential election: “They’re [oil prices] high. And they could go down very quickly. That's the Saudi pledge. Certainly over the summer, or as we get closer to the election, they could increase production several million barrels a day and the price would drop significantly."


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ExxonMobil Awarded Bid for Iraqi Oil

Not surprising:

BAGHDAD - Four European firms and one from the United States were awarded bids for the purchase of six million barrels of oil from Iraq (news - web sites)'s northern fields, a spokesman for the Iraqi oil ministry said.

Assem Jihad said US major ExxonMobil had acquired a third of the offer in its second purchase in a month of oil from the Kirkuk fields.

The others, which each took up one million barrels, were named as Spain's Repsol YPF and Cepsa, Hellenic Petroleum from Greece and Tupras of Turkey.

Of course ExxonMobil has put themselves into an excellent position to receive these contracts:

Since 1992, ExxonMobil has donated at least six times as much as Enron to lobbying government officials, over $41 million. In the 2000 election cycle, the company and its employees donated more than $1.22 million to Bush. They still donated to other candidates, aggregately $150,000. ExxonMobil donates money to make its political friends happy, and in return they receive help from government organizations and access to otherwise restricted lands. They give more money to lobbyists than any other competitor and came in second to campaign contributions next to Enron. In return, they have received over $5 billion in taxpayer subsidies over the last ten years. They have received money from the US Export-Import Bank and the World Bank for a total of $1.17 billion for oil field development in Western Siberia, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, from which they received $116 million for oil field development on Russia’s Sakhalin Island. They have received other forms of help from the Bush/Cheney administration such as having a National Energy Strategy drafted, which increased the US reliance on oil and the head of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change changed.

As if this payola wasn't enough, ExxonMobil have been accused of human rights abuses in Indonesia.

How greedy can these people get? Actually, don't answer that...

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Spain to Withdraw Troops 'ASAP'

From bad to worse:

April 18 (Bloomberg) -- Spain's new Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez ordered the country's soldiers home from Iraq, saying there seemed little likelihood that the United Nations will assume control of the occupation in that country.

Zapatero, who was sworn in yesterday after winning the election March 14, said the troops would return to Spain ``in the least time and with the most security possible,'' in a meeting with the media in Madrid, according to government spokesman Manuel Roca.

There is grumbling about more CPA troops to follow. Soon.

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PA GOP Sen. Primary Shows Party Differences

Pat Toomey and Arlen Specter will face off on 4/27 in the Republican primary. The winner will face Joe Hoeffel in November. This Los Angeles Times article details some fundamental GOP problems in this race:

The party's philosophic tensions have been obscured by the absence of a primary challenge to Bush. But the president has been unable to paper over fault lines opened by his vast expansion of Medicare, the growth of government spending and other policies that have angered many conservatives.

The Specter-Toomey fight is a cautionary tale for Bush, a reminder of the balancing act he has to perfect to win reelection. He needs to generate enthusiasm among the kind of conservatives represented by Toomey. But in a swing state such as Pennsylvania — where Democrats narrowly outnumber Republicans — Bush cannot afford to alienate the centrist Republicans and Democrats attracted to Specter. That's why some analysts argue that Bush was wise to endorse Specter and would have a harder time winning Pennsylvania if Toomey was on the ticket.

"Bush and Specter are joined at the hip," said G. Terry Madonna, a political scientist at Millersville University, near Lancaster, Pa. And as Republicans strive to maintain or expand their 51 seats in the 100-member Senate, this is an unwelcome fight. A Toomey victory in the primary, some analysts say, should boost the general-election prospects of the expected Democratic Senate nominee, Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel.

"The truth is, if Toomey wins this nomination, this seat is a lot more difficult for Republicans to hold," said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

Still, for conservative activists concerned about the party's direction, the primary fight is about something even bigger than control of the Senate: It is about the soul of the party.

Specter has infuriated more conservative Republicans over the years by blocking President Reagan's nomination of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court, refusing to vote for the impeachment of President Clinton and joining with other centrists in efforts to scale back Bush's tax cuts. Backing Toomey is a phalanx of conservative heavyweights who include Bork, former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes and commentator Paul Weyrich.

Toomey also is a marquee candidate for the Club for Growth, an anti-tax political group that finances primary challenges to Republicans it considers insufficiently conservative. The group hopes that by spending $1 million for anti-Specter ads — and urging its members to contribute to Toomey — it will at least intimidate other centrist Republicans into moving to the right.

Some people say that Hoeffel would have a better chance against Toomey, but the thought of Toomey & Santorum representing PA makes me shudder. Bush will be in Pittsburgh Monday raising money for Specter.

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Bush Denies College Newspaper Admittance to Event

This sounds more like Justics Scalia than our esteemed leader:

Reporters and photographers from two college newspapers said Thursday White House officials denied them access to President Bush's appearance in Des Moines.

Student newspapers at Des Moines Area Community College and Iowa State University were turned away from the noon event at the Marriott hotel in downtown Des Moines after submitting requests for media credentials on time, they said.

Reporters and photographers for the DMACC Chronicle and Iowa State Daily said their organizations were not on the list of approved media when they arrived, despite faxing their request for credentials ahead of the 2 p.m. Wednesday deadline.

Chronicle reporter Mike Allsup said White House advance staff told him his time would be better spent in school. "It really is not fair that we represent 14,000 students at my college and I'm disregarded and sent away," said Allsup, of Des Moines.

A news crew from WQAD television in Moline, Ill., was not on the approved media list but was allowed into the event, Iowa State Daily photography editor Eric Rowley said.

White House officials did not immediately reply to repeated requests for comment.

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Saturday, April 17, 2004

Too. Nice.

80 degrees. Must. Leave. House.

Casper. Must. Get. Sun.

Phils. Win.

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Atrios Turns Two - Enjoys Solid Food*

Congratulations to Atrios on reaching his 2nd anniversary. Go visit him and drop some coin on Joe Hoeffel, the Dem Challenger to Senator Specter.

You remember Arlen Specter, don't you? He was the defense attorney who got convicted murderer Ira "Unicorn" Einhorn freed on bail, who then fled the country for twenty years. Read more on the Unicorn here.

*Joke. I don't know the mystery man/radio star, but it stands to reason that he likes solid food.

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Baseball Season

Please notice the addition of some Phillies Blogs recently entered on my b-roll. These are the ones I look at frequently and will undoubtedly add more as the season progresses. Feel free to leave a Phillies or baseball blog suggestion below.

Now all we need is a lead-off hitter to show his face...

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Friday, April 16, 2004

Plan of Attack: The Beginning of Something Big?

It looks as though Bob Woodward's new book is going to have all kinds of interesting revelations:

WASHINGTON, April 16 — Two months before the invasion of Iraq, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell warned President Bush about the potential negative consequences of a war, citing what Mr. Powell privately called the "you break it, you own it" rule of military action, according to a new book.

"You're sure?" Mr. Powell is quoted as asking Mr. Bush in the Oval Office on Jan. 13, 2003, as the president told him he had made the decision to go forward. "You understand the consequences," he is said to have stated in a half-question. "You know you're going to be owning this place?"


Mr. Powell is described as having clashed in particular with Vice President Dick Cheney, whom Mr. Woodward describes as a "powerful, steamrolling force" advocating the war who was preoccupied with reports of links between Saddam Hussein and the Qaeda terrorist network. Mr. Powell regarded Mr. Cheney's intense focus on Mr. Hussein and Al Qaeda as a "fever," the book says, and he believed that the vice president misread and exaggerated intelligence about the Iraq threat and supposed terrorist ties.

Mr. Woodward's account quickly provoked speculation in Washington that Mr. Powell might have cooperated with Mr. Woodward as the book was being prepared in an effort to distance himself from the Iraq war.

It looks like Colin Powell has a chance to do the right thing. Will he follow through?

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This Could Get Dicey for our President

"Mr. President, is it true you funded Iraq war planning with money appropriated for the War in Afghanistan? Isn't it written into the Constitution that no money can be taken from the Treasury without Congressional approval?"

That's what I thought.

Thanks to Atrios for the link.

UPDATE: It looks as though the press is latching onto the planning aspect of the Iraq war, which isn't bad because it just confirms everything Snow/Suskind and Dick Clarke have said. They haven't grabbed the misappropriation of funding, yet.

From Friday's Gaggle:

Q Scott, the President said he couldn't recall whether it was in November, 2001 when he asked Secretary Rumsfeld to draw up war plans for Iraq, and he said he was going to check and try to refresh his memory. Do you know whether it was -- that's the correct date, November?

MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, I think what he was referring to was the September time period in the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks, and when he was meeting with his national security team. And at that point in September, all our focus was on Afghanistan and removing the Taliban regime from power and taking away the safe harbor for al Qaeda that existed in Afghanistan.

Certainly, late November it was becoming increasingly clear what direction things were headed in Afghanistan. It was clear that the Taliban was no longer going to have a hold on Afghanistan. We began combat operations in Afghanistan in the earlier period of October, and by November and early December things were winding down. And the President did talk to Secretary Rumsfeld about Iraq. But there is a difference between planning and making a decision. Emph. Added

Here's a link to an All Things Considered story from Friday's program, including a good, "I don't recall the date" quote from Bush. (Third audio link down: Woodward Book Details...) Don Gonyea, fresh off his stymying of Bush at the Presser, tries to get us some answers.

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Iraq: From The Inside

For those unfamiliar with Baghdad Burning, it is written by a woman who lives in Baghdad. She gives a perspective to the war in Iraq that most Americans will never see. I had kind of forgotten about her site in the past couple of months and am thankful to my friend (and future blogger) Steve who pointed me in the direction of this post from Wednesday. The post began with the media coverage of Iraq and morphed into something more:

...What I'm trying to say is that we don't need news networks to make us angry or frustrated. All you need to do is talk to one of the Falloojeh refugees making their way tentatively into Baghdad; look at the tear-stained faces, the eyes glazed over with something like shock. In our neighborhood alone there are at least 4 families from Falloojeh who have come to stay with family and friends in Baghdad. The stories they tell are terrible and grim and it's hard to believe that they've gone through so much.

I think western news networks are far too tame. They show the Hollywood version of war- strong troops in uniform, hostile Iraqis being captured and made to face "justice" and the White House turkey posing with the Thanksgiving turkey... which is just fine. But what about the destruction that comes with war and occupation? What about the death? I don't mean just the images of dead Iraqis scattered all over, but dead Americans too. People should *have* to see those images. Why is it not ok to show dead Iraqis and American troops in Iraq, but it's fine to show the catastrophe of September 11 over and over again? I wish every person who emails me supporting the war, safe behind their computer, secure in their narrow mind and fixed views, could actually come and experience the war live. I wish they could spend just 24 hours in Baghdad today and hear Mark Kimmett talk about the death of 700 "insurgents" like it was a proud day for Americans everywhere...

Still, when I hear talk about "anti-Americanism" it angers me. Why does American identify itself with its military and government? Why is does being anti-Bush and anti-occupation have to mean that a person is anti-American? We watch American movies, listen to everything from Britney Spears to Nirvana and refer to every single brown, fizzy drink as "Pepsi".

I hate American foreign policy and its constant meddling in the region... I hate American tanks in Baghdad and American soldiers on our streets and in our homes on occasion... why does that mean that I hate America and Americans? Are tanks, troops and violence the only face of America? If the Pentagon, Department of Defense and Condi are "America", then yes- I hate America.

After you read the entire post, read the archives as well. Then think about ABCNNBC.

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Cheney Demands Pay Raise for Providing Bush's Voice

Veep marches with outraged Simpsons voiceover artists.

From Borowitz report.com:

Vice President Dick Cheney today joined the cast of the animated series “The Simpsons” on the picket line, demanding a substantial pay raise for doing the voice of President George W. Bush.

“Vice President Cheney has been providing the voice of President Bush since January of 2001,” a spokesman for the Vice President told reporters. “All he wants is a salary that reflects that contribution.”

While it is not known what precise dollar figure the Vice President is seeking, his spokesman said he was looking for “a salary in line with other performers who provide voices for cartoon characters.”

The administration certainly seems like a cartoon a lot of the time.

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Thursday, April 15, 2004

The Fightin' Phils

Light blogging for the rest of the afternoon as I make my second trip to "The Bank" to see if Jim Thome can collect his first RBI of the season. The wind is blowing so we should get a good idea of how the ball will fly in Philadelphia's new ballpark. I'm sure Ken Griffey Jr. will be the one hitting it.

The Phillies have scored only 16 runs in seven games. For those keeping track that's good for a .220 average. Yech.

UPDATE: Phils win! Powered by homers from David Bell and Mike Lieberthal the Phils overcame a 4-0 deficit to win their first game at the new ballpark.

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Stupidity/Hypocrisy Alert

Some good ones in here:

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
- George W. Bush, discussing Kosovo, Houston Chronicle, 04-09-99

"I don't understand how poor people think."
- George W. Bush, confiding in the Rev. Jim Wallis, New York Times, 08-26-03

"The White House has bombed its way around the globe. International respect and trust for America has diminished every time we casually let the bombs fly."

"...no one wants us to be there" and that the president's effort "has harmed [our] standing in the world."
- Both quotes from Tom Delay in 1999 in regards to Kosovo

And more here:

Unless Clinton finds "a way to get the bombing stopped" and to "get Milosevic to pull back his troops" voluntarily, NATO faces "a quagmire ... a long, protracted, bloody war," warned Lott. Clinton "only has two choices," said DeLay--to "occupy Yugoslavia and take Milosevic out" or "to negotiate some sort of diplomatic end, diplomatic agreement in order to end this failed policy."

"Once the bombing commenced, I think then [Slobodan] Milosevic unleashed his forces, and then that's when the slaughtering and the massive ethnic cleansing really started," Nickles said at a news conference after appearing on Meet the Press. "The administration's campaign has been a disaster. ... [It] escalated a guerrilla warfare into a real war, and the real losers are the Kosovars and innocent civilians."

And my favorite, from House Republicans in 1995:

"The runaway national debt has much the same impact on our nation's financial condition as termites do on the structure of a house."

The same could be said for present day.

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1996 - Memories of Blocked Terrorism Legislation

Always informative to take a look back.

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One Man in the Water: Two Souvenirs

This is amazing:

Larry Ellison paddled out to McCovey Cove, not bothering to wear his Arnold Schwarzenegger disguise for his second straight catch of a milestone home run by Barry Bonds.

Ellison, a 53-year-old sales director for a computer company, retrieved both of the balls hit by Bonds this week. The first was on Monday when the slugger tied godfather Willie Mays for third on the career list; the next came 29112 hours later when Bonds passed Mays with another sensational shot into the water.

Ellison usually dresses in a Schwarzenegger mask and T-shirt of the California governor and former movie star. But on Tuesday, Ellison jumped from his blue kayak into San Francisco Bay with the mask, which could be seen splashing in the murky waters along with his cooler, according to an Associated Press story.

Ellison returned No. 660 to Bonds after Monday's game, but wasn't about to hand back No. 661. Bonds wanted him to have it anyway.

"We're Giants fans, and I thought this would be important for Barry and Willie to have that ball,"

Ellison said. "It's important to them. I wasn't interested in selling it to the highest bidder."

Anyone trying to reach Ellison yesterday was having a hard time.

"My cell phone is dead since it got wet in McCovey Cove last night and got soaked with salt water," his phone message said.

There was no mention of Bonds giving the man a signed BALCO affidavit in return for the first ball.

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Like sands through the hour glass...

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Planting WMDs in Iraq?

I've covered this topic here before and it looks like there is more evidence that it's still happening:

An Iraqi source close to the Basra Governor’s Office told the MNA that new information shows that a large part of the WMD, which was secretly brought to southern and western Iraq over the past month, are in containers falsely labeled as containers of the Maeresk shipping company and some consignments bearing the labels of organizations such as the Red Cross or the USAID in order to disguise them as relief shipments.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that Iraqi officials including forces loyal to the Iraqi Governing Council stationed in southern Iraq have been forbidden from inspecting or supervising the transportation of these consignments. He went on to say that the occupation forces have ordered Iraqi officials to forward any questions on the issue to the coalition forces. Even the officials of the international relief organizations have informed the Iraqi officials that they would only accept responsibility for relief shipments which have been registered and managed by their organizations.

The Iraqi source also confirmed the report about suspicious trucks with fake Saudi and Jordanian license plates entering Iraq at night last week, stressing that the Saudi and Jordanian border guards did not attempt to inspect the trucks but simply delivered them to the U.S. and British forces stationed on Iraq’s borders.

I received a bulk email from Michael Moore today saying he has a camera crew on the ground in Iraq surreptitiously filming for an upcoming movie. I sure hope he's on top of this.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Pretty straightforward:

Mr. Bush was grave and impressive while reading his opening remarks, which focused on the horrors of terrorism and the great good that could come from establishing a free and democratic Iraq. No one in the country could disagree with either thought. But his responses to questions were distressingly rambling and unfocused. He promised that Iraq would move from the violence and disarray of today to full democracy by the end of 2005, but the description of how to get there was mainly a list of dates when good things are supposed to happen.

There was still no clear description of exactly who will accept the sovereignty of Iraq from the coalition on June 30. "We'll find out that soon," the president said, adding that U.N. officials are "figuring out the nature of the entity we'll be handing sovereignty over" to. In Mr. Bush's mind, whatever happens next now appears to be the responsibility of the United Nations. That must have come as a surprise to the U.N. negotiators and their bosses, who have not agreed to accept that responsibility and do not believe that they have been given the authority to make those decisions.

Mr. Bush did concede that the Iraqi security forces had not performed well during the violence and that more American troops would probably be needed. But his rhetoric, including the repetition of the phrase "stay the course," did not seem to indicate any fresh or clear thinking about Iraq, despite the many disturbing events of recent weeks.

Was there anything good about it? No questions about domestic policy. If there were Bush's head would've exploded.

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Lil' Kim could go up the Lil' River

Lil' Kim was indicted today for lying to a grand jury investigating a shoot-out in New York City:

Lil' Kim, 28, whose real name is Kimberly Jones, was among four people named in the indictment unsealed on Wednesday in Manhattan federal court. She is expected to be arraigned later in the day.

She is charged with one count of conspiracy, three counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction. The obstruction count carries a possible maximum prison term of 10 years and all the other charges carry possible five-year terms.

This could boost record sales and spur the marketing of the inevitable "Free Lil' Kim" t-shirts.

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PRESSER: Iraqi Natural Resource

Was it me or did it look like the President was just short of breaking into a wide grin when he said, "...the oil revenues are higher than we expected."

We'd like to thank Cheney's boys Kellogg Brown & Root and parent company Halliburton for making this post possible.

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John "Pinnochio" Ashcroft

That's just a nice way to say: PERJURER!

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Bush's Presser: Same Old

William Saleton over at Slate has done us a service by pointing out that Bush didn't say anything new last night. In fact, he repeated the same old rhetoric: Stay the course, Freedom makes the World a better place and Saddam was a threat to the world while giving aid to terrorists.

A portion of his closing statement:

One thing is for certain, though, about me, and the world has learned this: When I say something, I mean it. And the credibility of the United States is incredibly important for keeping world peace and freedom.

The credibility of the U.S. in the world today is far from what it once was. And if Bush does not come up with a plan for transfer of power in Iraq within 78 days his credibility will be shot too.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

US Military Families on Food Stamps

God Bless America:

Market forces ensure that a volunteer army will necessarily be an army of the poor. The trouble is, enlistment does not do a whole lot to brighten one's economic outlook. Frontline battle troops, most of whom have been in the military for about a year, earn less than $16,000 a year--which puts them at about the level of theater ushers and Wal-Mart clerks. Even second lieutenants, at a starting salary of $26,000 a year, earn less than pest control workers and shoe repairers. So when the Bush Administration, in its frenzied rush to transfer more wealth to the already wealthy, hurts the working poor, you can count the troops among them. The 2003 Bush tax cut for the rich, for example, failed to extend a child tax credit to nearly 200,000 military personnel.

Well, they get all kinds of special benefits, don't they, like free housing and medical care? Yes, and that's a powerful attraction to the young men and women of America's working poor. But no one should confuse the U.S. military with a Swedish-style welfare state. The mother of a Marine reports that her son had to charge nearly $1,000 on her Visa card for items not issued by the military, like camouflage paint and socks. In 2003, Defense Department overseas schools for the children of military personnel closed a week early due to a lack of funds.

You might imagine that our "war President," as he styles himself, would be in a rush to enrich the frontline troops, but last August his Administration proposed to cut the combat pay bonus of $150 a month. Somebody must have pointed out that an election year was just around the corner, because this little trial balloon was quietly punctured. In fact, the 2005 budget offers to double the military death benefit received by families of the fallen from $6,000 to $12,000.

Sounds good. In fact, it may make death financially preferable to surviving in a damaged state. Bizarrely enough, veterans' disability benefits are deducted from their military retirement pay, giving the wounded a powerful incentive to die while they're young. The sorry condition of VA health services seems designed to accomplish the same thing, and those services are about to get a lot more inaccessible. In his 2005 budget, Bush proposes to raise veterans' health care costs--through increased drug co-payments and a new "enrollment fee"--thus driving an estimated 200,000 vets out of the system and discouraging another million from enrolling.

Read every word of this article then vote.

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