Monday, May 31, 2004

Still No Leader in Iraq

And from the looks of things Brahimi is nothing more than a figurehead:

"The Americans have asked for the meeting to be delayed until today," said Dr Mahmoud Othman, a leading member of the US-appointed council. "The coalition seems to be trying to interfere in every single decision, in every cabinet post and every ministry.

"If the new administration is not elected by Iraqis then at least it can be appointed by Iraqis ... the way Mr Bremer and Mr Brahimi are behaving is not a good model for the future."

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Four Soldiers Die Over The Weekend

We need an exit strategy. Badly.

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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Bush Keeps Saddam's Pistol in the Oval Office

The little boy likes showing off his toys:

..."He really liked showing it off," says a recent visitor to the White House who has seen the gun. "He was really proud of it..."


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Miramax Heads Can Distribute 'Farenheit'

Bob and Harvey Weinstein will control the complete distribution of Michael Moore's new film, Farenheit 9/11.

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Saturday, May 29, 2004

Four More U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan

This is going to get much worse unless we get our act together.

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Art Gallery Owner Attacked for "Abuse" Painting

Some people are just broken.

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CNN Sues FL for the Right to See Voter Rolls

Greg Palast has done tireless work to bring the story of Katherine Harris and the Florida voter-purge debacle of 2000 to the world. It was given little attention in the States when Al Gore was robbed. But recently, thankfully, the story is making a comeback. This article in The Nation a couple of weeks ago reminded people that the problem is still very much in existence and may have actually spread to other states.

CNN has just sued the State of Florida for the right to see their list of purged voters:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As Florida county election boards review a list of thousands of potentially ineligible voters -- including some who may be felons -- CNN is suing the state, claiming the public and media should also be able to review the list.

The move comes four years after the state's voter rolls were at the center of one of the closest elections in U.S. history.

The state Monday denied a CNN request for a copy of the list of up to 48,000 people. These people, according to the state, could be ineligible to vote because they are felons or have multiple registrations -- or have died since the last election...

Here's hoping that this brings illegal voter purges to the forefront of the media landscape and helps to bring attention to the other potential problems with electronic voting machines & Diebold.

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WaPo Calls it Like it is: Homicide

Prisoner abuse? I think murder is a more appropriate description. The first and last grafs from an editorial in today's WaPo:

PRESIDENT BUSH'S persistence in describing the abuse of foreign prisoners as an isolated problem at one Iraqi prison is blatantly at odds with the facts seeping out from his administration. These include mounting reports of crimes at detention facilities across Iraq and Afghanistan and evidence that detention policies the president approved helped set the stage for torture and homicide. Yes, homicide: The most glaring omission from the president's account is that at least 37 people have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and that at least 10 of these cases are suspected criminal killings of detainees by U.S. interrogators or soldier


It is horrifying to contemplate that U.S. interrogators have tortured and killed foreign prisoners and that their superiors have ignored or covered up their crimes -- and yet that is where the available facts point. Pentagon officials say they will pursue investigations vigorously and that those guilty of crimes will be brought to justice. It is essential to the preservation of this country's fundamental values that they do so. It is essential also to examine the consequences in the field of policy decisions made by the most senior officials in Washington. But the sorry record of the Bush administration -- and the president's own refusal to speak the truth about it -- suggests that justice will require vigorous and sustained intervention by outside parties, beginning with Congress.

Explicit details in between.

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Tillman Killed By Friendly Fire?

Apparently so, according to an unnamed Afghan official. This account contradicts what was originally reported, that Tillman's platoon had faced enemy fire.

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Friday, May 28, 2004

The Whiskey Bar is Open!

Do yourself a favor and read this post from Billmon. After a brief hiatus he's come back with one of the most informative, passionate posts you'll ever read about the Iraq war and all of the problems that face the "coalition of the willing."

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Let's not forget:

As of Thursday, May 27, 800 U.S. service members have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq last year, according to the Defense Department. Of those, 585 died as a result of hostile action and 215 died of non-hostile causes.

The British military has reported 58 deaths; Italy, 18; Spain, eight; Bulgaria, six; Ukraine, four; Poland, three; Thailand, two; Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia and the Netherlands have reported one each.

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Stupid Quote of the Week

Winning hearts & minds:

"...today, in Iraq as in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, we've tied ourselves to Muslim people. We're helping them. In the long run, they'll understand that and appreciate that."
- Rich Tucker, The Heritage Foundation

Does a hood on their head and electro-shock coercion count as helping them?

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They're Not Like Philly Fans

In this article a Tampa newspaper says Philadelphia sports fans are easy to hate...

You wanna say that to my face?

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Thursday, May 27, 2004

Janklow Pardoned Son

Former Congressman Bill Janklow's got some explaining to do:

Former Gov. Bill Janklow pardoned his son-in-law in 2002 for three drunken-driving and marijuana-possession convictions, according to documents unsealed Thursday on orders from South Dakota's highest court.

Of course you remember Janklow. He was convicted of manslaughter for running a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist.

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Spammer Goes To Jail

We'll miss you. Not.:

A New York state man who sent out millions of 'spam' e-mails was sentenced to 3-1/2 to seven years in prison, the state attorney general's office said on Thursday.

UPDATE: I heard on the news this morning that this guy sent out 850 million pieces of spam. He was also hit with a $16.5 million judgement.

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Michael Moore Filmed Nick Berg

I'm glad he's doing the right thing:

The footage, of an interview with Berg, "is approximately 20 minutes long. We are not releasing it to the media," Moore said in a statement. "It is not in the film. We are dealing privately with the family."

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Iraq Council Slams Plan to Destroy Prison

Does everything this Administration touch turn to merde?

Apparently, the answer is yes.

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More of This Needed

Comcast & T-Mobile have announced they will be launching one of the largest free outdoor hotspots in the country.

It will be located on Headhouse Square, just off South Street in Philadelphia.

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Terrorist "Facilitator" Caught in London

I hope this turns out to be the real deal:

Abu Hamza al-Masri, a Muslim cleric suspected of ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist organization, was indicted by U.S. authorities for his role in a 1998 hostage-taking plot in Yemen.

But then I saw this line in the story:

A new treaty that took effect Jan. 1 doesn't require the U.S. to provide evidence of al-Masri's crimes, British officials said.

Has the Patriot Act gone international?

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Neo-Cons Get Visit from FBI

We've covered Ahmed Chalabi's deception before and now we're seeing that investigations are under way to determine who provided classified information to this scallywag:

At a well-appointed conservative think tank in downtown Washington and across the Potomac River at the Pentagon, FBI agents have begun paying quiet calls on prominent neoconservatives, who are being interviewed in an investigation of potential espionage, according to intelligence sources. Who gave Ahmed Chalabi classified information about the plans of the U.S. government and military?

The Iraqi neocon favorite, tipped to lead his liberated country post-invasion, has been identified by the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency as an Iranian double agent, passing secrets to that citadel of the "axis of evil" for decades. All the while the neocons cosseted, promoted and arranged for more than $30 million in Pentagon payments to the George Washington manqué of Iraq. In return, he fed them a steady diet of disinformation, and in the run-up to the war he sent various exiles to nine nations' intelligence agencies to spread falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction. If the administration had wanted other material to provide a rationale for invasion, no doubt that would have been fabricated. Either Chalabi perpetrated the greatest con since the Trojan horse or he was the agent of influence for the most successful intelligence operation conducted by Iran, or both...

(Emphasis mine. From Salon, Free daypass or subscription needed)

I think the NEOs were so desperate to have things go our way in Iraq that they "overlooked" some of the more unsavory aspects of Chalabi's character. They figured if we give him a total of $30 million he'll make sure we're taken care of. Alas, this is more than just a nasty case of buyer's remorse. It's a tragedy whose effects won't be felt for another generation.

This also brings the number of espionage investigations against the Bush Administration to two. We should've never learned the name of Valerie Plame. And I suspect W and the boys are starting to wish they'd never heard of Chalabi either.

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Bush Knew Violation of Geneva Conventions Likely

From Intervention Magazine:

President George W. Bush knew for over two years that his administration has been promoting policies that qualify as war crimes under the 1996 federal War Crimes Act, the international Third Geneva Convention, and the Torture Convention.

An article in the May 24 issue of Newsweek titled 'The Roots of Torture' reveals that White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales wrote a January 25, 2002 memo to Bush, urging him to disregard the 'obsolete' and 'quaint' provisions of the Geneva Convention. He advised the Bush administration to do this precisely because the interrogation methods it was already using on prisoners captured in Afghanistan violated the Convention, leaving US officials open to prosecution for war crimes.

If you're looking for more information that Alberto Gonzales was "thinking ahead", check this out:

In his January 25 memo, Gonzales urges Bush to declare the war in Afghanistan, including the detention of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, exempt from the provisions of the Geneva Convention. This could be accomplished, Gonzales advised Bush, by inventing a technicality: declaring the detainees arrested in the "war on terror" to be outside the Geneva Convention -- and by extension, beyond the Torture Convention and the U.S. War Crimes Act. He gave his assurances that such a technicality "renders obsolete the Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners." Thus the ambiguity of Bush's newly created and constantly repeated "war on terror" gave his administration carte blanche to do anything it pleased with anyone labeled an "enemy combatant."

War on Terror=Arrest whom you please, with or without proof, torture them and then let them rot.

America. Home of the Brave.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Another Blog

It's time. The subject I wrote about in this space before has inspired me. My new photoblog is called passyunk and is hosted by Phlog. For starters, I'm going to focus on Philadelphia. I work about five minutes from some of the most picturesque areas of the city. So I figure during my two-and-a-half-hour lunches I can get some good pictures. By good, I mean subject matter. I'm hoping to become a better photographer. We'll see if that happens. Regardless, I'll try to update it as often as I can.

I'll be adding the link to my blogroll on the right. I'm not sure what possessed me to think someone would buy me presents just because I had an 'Amazon Wish List' link at the head of my blogroll. My photo blog link now takes it's place.

(If you're in the giving mood, I've moved it down with my email address.)

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1,000 Boots

These symbolize the 500+ troops killed in Iraq. Brought to you by the American Friends Service Committee. This display will be at the Capitol building in Washington for another couple of days.

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Health Savings Accounts

Thanks to David Sirota for digging up this:


"We've passed what's called Health Savings Accounts...It's a good way to help control costs."
– President Bush, 5/25/04


"Sharply higher health insurance deductibles may hit workers in the next two years as employers embrace newly created tax-free Health Savings Accounts...widespread adoption of the plans could drive up the annual deductible paid by workers.”

– USA Today, 4/25/04

It's funny the way the President just throws out these statements. It's almost like, "I'm saying this. I'm the President. Don't question me. It's true." He's probably given a list of talking points for the week, no more than three or four points per policy/topic. He then just regurgitates them from memory. He's given the mantra and he chants it at every opportunity.

That's the way his press conferences are too. Karl will tell him, "...stick with what you know." So he'll answer the questions he wants and nothing more.

Do you think he could explain the Health Savings Accounts?

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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Happy Day

Ever since Christmas I've been ripping CDs into iTunes and then transferring them into my iPod. I was finally able to get the iPod working in my car. The sound is a little off, but it was good enough to do a little jamming on my way home from Best Buy.


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Quote of the Year

From Iraq Dispatches:

“The Americans brought electricity to my ass before they brought it to my house!”

Dark humor seems somewhat apropos for the quaqmire we've immersed ourselves in.

UPDATE: Fixed a spelling error. Thanks to loyal reader and Bush devotee Hoges for pointing this out.

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NEWS FLASH: I agree with the RNC Chairman!

I think Ed Gillespie needs a prescription refill:

"Unfortunately for angry Democrats like Tim Johnson, Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy, terrorists aren't responsible for the deaths of U.S. soldiers, their commander-in-chief is."

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Webster Winces

Hatchet job during his speech last night. President Bush took the "phoenetical collar," going 0-3 in trying to pronounce Abu Gharib, the prison where U.S. soldiers tortured Iraqi prisoners.

Here's the box score (quoted pronunciations are from Bush's speech on 5/24):

Bottom of the first: "abugah-rayp" - Struck out, looking
Bottom of the fourth: "abu-garon" - Grounded out to 1B
Bottom of the seventh: "abu-garah" - Lazy fly ball to RF

For those scoring at home the correct pronunciation is "abu-grabe".

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Sanchez: Perjurer?

1. A soldier is accused of torturing an Iraqi prisoner.
2. General Ricardo Sanchez testifies (under oath) that he was unaware of the abuses at Abu Gharib prison.
3. In preparation for a trial, his lawyer says that General Ricardo Sanchez was present at Abu Gharib prison during a torture session.
4. The Pentagon denies the charge.
5. The Pentagon will replace Sanchez with a yet to be named military official.
6. Rumsfeld is, "...is very mindful that the perception (of punishment) might arise. But it simply is not the case."
7. One, Two, Three: Everybody lie!!!

Ah yes, the "perception" of punishment. Perception is something our government is working very hard at right now.

Rummy should be canned, although my blogging might suffer. But I'm willing to pay that price.

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Monday, May 24, 2004

Light-to-Zero Blogging Today

I'll be away from the computer all day at a golf outing. I'll update late tonight if I win a car or a trip to Bora Bora.

If they have a "closest to the lake" prize I'm sure I'll be in the running.

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Sunday, May 23, 2004

Filmmaker Ken Burns Picks His Spot Wisely

As the commencement speaker at Yale University, Ken Burns knew the President's daughter was graduating. And that he would have an audience that would be tuned in to whatever he said. So what did he do? Without naming the President, he criticized Bush's policies:

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- With presidential security helicopters circling over the Yale University campus, filmmaker Ken Burns denounced the war in Iraq on Sunday and told graduating seniors to remember history as they work to repair divides in American culture.


'Steel yourselves. Your generation must repair this damage, and it will not be easy,' Burns told the seniors.

Burns quoted famed jurist Learned Hand as saying, 'Liberty is never being too sure you're right.'

'Somehow recently, though, we have replaced our usual and healthy doubt with an arrogance and belligerence that resembles more the ancient and now fallen empires of our history books than a modern compassionate democracy,' Burns said, to applause from the 1,300 graduates and their families and friends.


Students also poked fun at Bush, who spoke at Yale's 300th commencement in 2001.

The president earned a history degree from Yale in 1968, earning what was politely called "gentlemen's C's."

Bush told the class of 2001: "To the C-students, I say, you too can be president of the United States".

In seniors' spoof of the class of 2004's history Sunday, they recalled the quote as: "To all the C-students out there, I'd like to say, you too can be president , if your dad was president."...


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Bush Twins Quit The Boozing to Help Dad

That was the headline on this article from The Australian. Of course there was no reference at all about them getting off the sauce. The first two grafs:

NEW YORK: George W. Bush's daughters, 22-year-old twins Barbara and Jenna, are better known for their underage drinking busts than their love of politics.

Asked once whether she was a Republican, Barbara is said to have made a face, rolled her eyes and replied: 'I really wouldn't label myself that.' On a visit to Paris, Jenna let slip that she was against the bombing of Afghanistan...

Underage drinking busts?

Read the short article. It looks like the Melbourne Junior High newspaper is now online.

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Bush Keeps Interrogation Rules Classified

How is the Senate Armed Services Committee supposed to do their job if the deck is stacked and they don't know it?

The Bush administration is doing its best to keep secret the policies it has developed for handling foreign prisoners and to stifle congressional examination of the issue. Rules for the interrogation of detainees used to be published in widely available Army manuals. But the Bush administration has classified the procedures it has approved for the Guantanamo Bay prison, Afghanistan and Iraq -- even though it claims that all are in compliance with the Geneva Conventions. It has been slow to release the procedures even to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is leading the way in investigating the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. The Pentagon still has not met the committee's request for the legal memos that supposedly justify such techniques as hooding, putting prisoners in stress positions, sleep and dietary deprivation and intimidation by dogs...

At this rate, the Bush Administration will have the left, right and everyone in between alienated by July 4th. Happy Birthday America!

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New Nickel

I can't be the only one who didn't know the Mint was printing new nickels along with the state quarters. I got a funny looking coin back at Arby's and was about to protest them pawning off a Canadian coin with the...uh...Louisiana Purchase featured on the back. My laughing 10 and 8 year old boys knew about the new money, but not me. Shouldn't they announce this stuff? Alas, they probably did, it just wasn't in the blogosphere or on Sportscenter.

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Wall Street to Throw Parties for GOP at Convention

Doesn't this sound a little untoward?

Despite the talk about protesters overwhelming the Republican National Convention in New York City this summer, one sector of the city is rolling out the red carpet: Wall Street and its investment banks. They are showering the conventioneers with money for parties and other events to make the Republicans feel right at home.

Some of the main parties will be for Republican members of Congress who oversee the financial services industry. There will be brunches, dinners, dancing and late-night concerts for the conventioneers throughout the city.

One of the most celebrated guests will be Representative Michael G. Oxley of Ohio, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, which oversees Wall Street, banks and the insurance industry. Mr. Oxley will be toasted at a dinner party in the Rainbow Room, at a loft with sweeping views of the Hudson River and at a financial services round- table brunch, according to people who work in the financial industry, who say their firms plan to contribute to the three events...

Many more examples in the article.

Sounds like good old-fashioned payola.

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Saturday, May 22, 2004

Ice-T To Produce Hasselhoff Rap Album

Yes, that Hasselhoff:

The pair are neighbours in Los Angeles and are said to have struck up a close friendship.

Hasselhoff has had some success as a singer, releasing seven albums. He's also said to be very popular in Germany.

I hear they're trying to coax "Kitt" from Knight Rider to be on the wheels of steel.

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Friday, May 21, 2004


They're just statistics but I like these statistics:

...Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton, in 1972, 1984 and 1996, all had approval ratings above 50 per cent five months before election day. They all went on to win in November. Presidents Ford in 1976, Carter in 1980 and Bush senior in 1992 all had approval ratings below 50 per cent five months before election day. They all lost. In the most reliable polls out in the last week or two, Mr Bush's approval ratings stand in the range of 45 to 49 per cent...

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Chalabi Shares State Secrets

Lesley Stahl reported tonight on CBS News that Ahmad Chalabi was given classified information that only a "handful" of U.S. government officials had. He allegedly passed this information along to Iran, while the U.S. was paying him over $300,000 monthly:

...On Friday, Stahl reported that senior intelligence officials stress the information Ahmad Chalibi is alleged to have passed on to Iran is of such a seriously sensitive nature, the result of full disclosure could be highly damaging to U.S. security. The information involves secrets that were held by only a handful of very senior U.S. officials, says Stahl...

Is this absolutely fucking absurd? How can you give a convicted criminal access to any sensitive intelligence, let alone the highest of classified information? Sure, they raided his house. So what.

We got played by a diplomatic double agent. I'm sure Iran rewarded him handsomely for the information too. How can we be safe when the neo-cons will give away anything to anyone in order to achieve their agenda.

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Lady Liberty

Look for this image in a MoveOn.org TV ad soon.

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Very Cool

My day job consists of placing advertising for clients all over the country. One of the fringe benfits is that sometimes we get tickets/gifts from the media. Much to my surprise my NPR rep stopped by today and presented me an autographed copy of Bob Edwards' new book, Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism.

Evidently he spoke at the local affiliate last night and was very gracious. You'll remember that Bob Edwards was relieved of his duties last month as the host of Morning Edition on NPR after hosting the show since its inception in 1979. He is now a senior correspondent for NPR.

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RNC Outsources Jobs to India

This is amazing.

According to the Hindustan Times of India, over a 14 month period in 2002 and 2003, the fund-raising and vote-seeking campaign for the Republican Party was done, in party by two call centers located in India. According to the report, the Republican National Committee sent the India operation its voter database and used 125 staff there to "solicit political contributions ranging between $5 and $3,000 from thousands of registered Republican voters." While the contract for running the campaigns was originally awarded to Washington-based Capital Communications Group, "for cost and efficiencies gains, the company outsourced the work to HCL Technologies that in turn sent it offshore."

If you haven't seen his blog already, be sure you check out David Sirota regularly.

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Our Military Still Disputes This

Posted on this before.

If the 'Wedding Massacre' isn't true then this person has a very active imagination.

For you Hoges.

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Thursday, May 20, 2004

GAO Calls Medicare Ads Illegal

Not that it matters. The "Executive" Branch ignores them anyway:

Bush administration TV ads to promote changes in Medicare's prescription drug coverage broke two federal laws because they were disguised as news reports but didn't identify who was sponsoring them, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress has ruled.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) said the ads, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, did not make it clear that the announcers were paid by HHS and weren't real correspondents, the Washington Post reported.

The GAO's 16-page opinion says the ads violated a federal law that bars the use of federal funds for propaganda, and a separate statute that covers unauthorized use of federal monies. The ruling doesn't carry legal weight, however.

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Nancy Pelosi Smackdown

Good stuff:

..."Not to get personal about it, but the president's capacity to lead has never been there. In order to lead, you have to have judgment. In order to have judgment, you have to have knowledge and experience. He has none."...

Read the entire article. Ouch.

Look for the GOP smear machine to gear up again.

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Bo and Luke Duke Would Be Proud

Strangest way someone has found their way here.

Now where's the General Lee?

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Richard Land is a director of the conservative evangelical Southern Baptist Convention and he relates a conversation with George W. Bush:

The day he was inaugurated for his second term as governor in 1999, there were several of us who met with him at the governor's mansion. Among the things he said to us was...he said, 'I believe that God wants me to be president."...

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Photo Blogs

During my travels around the internet lately I've discovered several wonderful photo blogs. I've added a section to my blogroll with some of my new favorites. The above photo of New York City is from Quarlo

My good friend Alex is a photographer. I hope she finds some inspiration from these pictures.

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U.S. Attack Kills 40 At An Iraqi Wedding


BAGHDAD, Iraq - A U.S. helicopter fired on a wedding party in the remote desert near the border with Syria, killing more than 40 people, most of them women and children, Iraqi officials said. The U.S. military said it was investigating.

Associated Press Television News footage showed a truck containing bloodied bodies, many wrapped in blankets, piled one atop the other. Several were children, one of whom had been decapitated.

As long as this keeps happening, mistake or not, they'll continue to hate us. Continue to resent our presence. Continue to murder out soldiers.

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Int'l Red Cross: No One Above International Law

I posted on this before, detailing George Bush's asking of various countries to waive their right to press charges against US soldiers in an international court of law. This is especially important in light of the prison torture scandal that has created widespread attention around the world.

Now the ICRC is saying that won't fly:

...In order to tackle violations of international humanitarian law committed in armed conflicts, simply paying lip service to the protection of human life and dignity is not enough.

It is possible to achieve a balance between the two, the article said. One can control a territory while respecting its population, and one can detain those threatening public order while respecting their physical and spiritual integrity and without degrading or humiliating them...

In all seriousness, if we worked really hard would it be possible to alienate the international community more than we already have?

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Tom Delay Equates Israel's Fight With Our Fight


WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said Monday the war in Iraq and Israel's battle against Palestinian terrorists are two fronts in the same global conflict, 'and we will win it.'

'The survival of Israel is essential to America's victory in the war on terror, and America's victory in the war on terror is essential to Israel's survival,' the Texas Republican told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

'We will never leave their side.'


DeLay also challenged Sharon's critics and Bush's.

"We are told Israel's decision to target leaders of those terrorist organizations that target her citizens only puts the Israeli people at greater risk," he said.

"We are told the war on terror -- whether waged by the United States and our coalition of the willing or by the people of Israel -- was a mistake, is a quagmire and will be a regret.

"Ladies and gentleman, we are told ... wrongly."

Who wants the Jewish vote? Or perhaps the better question is: Who needs the Jewish vote? These guys are getting desperate. Failing international support, failing domestic policies & several brewing scandals will leave the GOP grasping for anything. Including politicization of our wars.

To me, Delay's statements confirm what the administration has been denying all along. Our war on terror when joined (by Delay) with Israel's battle with Palestine is a war on Islam. Scary but predictable, unfortunately.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Sign of the Times

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Sarin Munition Found In Iraq

How in the world could that have gotten there?

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Question From Monday's Gaggle


Question: About a year ago, April 24th, last year, the President went to Canton, Ohio. He went to the Timken Company. I don't know if you remember the trip, I wasn't on it. He went to a bearings factory, part of the Timken Company, touted his economic plans and talked about jobs and growth. Timken announced today that they're shutting down that plant that the President visited a year ago. I just wonder if that's ironic, that the President touted his economic strategy, doesn't appear to be working?

I've noticed enthusiasm (one glaring example here) across the blogosphere after this became news. I realize the happiness is for the irony of the situation and how it portrays Bush's (failing) policies in a negative light. But, I think some of the ways bloggers are greeting this news is inappropriate.

Yes, Bush made a speech on the strength of his economic policy at a company that has since shut down. But when 1,300 people lose their jobs in a state where it is happening all too frequently, it's not a reason for celebration.

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He was a stock character in 19th-century fiction: the wastrel son who runs up gambling debts in the belief that his wealthy family, concerned for its prestige, will have no choice but to pay off his creditors. In the novels such characters always come to a bad end. Either they bring ruin to their families, or they eventually find themselves disowned.

George Bush reminds me of those characters — and not just because of his early career, in which friends of the family repeatedly bailed out his failing business ventures. Now that he sits in the White House, he's still counting on other people to settle his debts — not to protect the reputation of his family, but to protect the reputation of the country.

One by one, our erstwhile allies are disowning us; they don't want an unstable, anti-Western Iraq any more than we do, but they have concluded that President Bush is incorrigible. Spain has washed its hands of our problems, Italy is edging toward the door, and Britain will join the rush for the exit soon enough, with or without Tony Blair...

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Halliburton; At It Again

$160 million here, $160 million there, pretty soon you're starting to talk about real money:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pentagon auditors have recommended withholding nearly $160 million in payments to Halliburton Corp., saying the company charged the military for meals in and around Iraq that were never served.

Vice President Dick Cheney's former company released a statement Monday night saying it hoped to persuade Army officials to reject the auditors' recommendation.

The alleged overcharging for meals last year is one of several suspected improprieties with the contract work in Iraq of Halliburton subsidiary KBR, formerly known as Kellogg, Brown & Root. Authorities are investigating allegations of overcharging for fuel delivered to Iraq, kickbacks involving two former KBR workers and other management problems....

When you give a company like Halliburton several billion dollars of tax payer money how can we expect them to act without impropriety? Particularly because this is the third public discovery of wrongdoing by the big "H" or KBR. It might be easier to overlook if they just did it once or if the Vice President still wasn't collecting a check from them, but repeat offenses are unforgivable and should be met with criminal charges. Of course you remember the fuel overcharging by KBR and the kickbacks taken by two Halliburton employees from subcontractors.

I give full credit to the bean counters at the Pentagon for discovering this padding of Cheney's portfolio overcharging.

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Monday, May 17, 2004

Is that non-fat sour cream?

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski says we was "misled" about WMDs in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

When asked about this by a reporter, President Bush was waiting in the chow line at Fort Campbell in Kansas with soldiers. His response?

"I'm here to eat.''

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Bush Pushes to Have Americans Above International Law

What makes us better than everybody else?:

The Bush administration is pursuing its campaign to protect Americans from International Criminal Court jurisdiction even as it deals with the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal that may involve some of the very war crimes the court was created to handle.

So far 89 countries have signed agreements with Washington promising that Americans accused of grave international offenses, including soldiers charged with war crimes, will be returned to U.S. jurisdiction so their cases can be decided by fellow Americans rather than international jurists.

I'm sure the Iraqi Governing Council will be signing on the dotted line soon. After all we're the ones who gave them "power."

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Yesterday I took part in a one day golf school put together by ESPN. It was an excellent experience and got some great instruction from some top level teachers. It was a wonderful deal as well. The cost is $495 but you get three top-of-the-line Cleveland Clubs (driver, wedge & putter) for free ($700 value.)

If you want to improve your game I highly recommend it.

I also recommend applying sunscreen.

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Sunday, May 16, 2004

Will Return Tonight

I have a welcome diversion scheduled for today.

I've come to the realize that it is quite appropriate that this diversion spelled backwards is flog.

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Saturday, May 15, 2004

Blogroll Infusion

Please notice I've added the reader blogs from the Daily Kos to my blogroll. The community over at Kos is the most thoughtful, funny, knowledgeable and inspiring group on the net. One of my favorite things about the site is that the conversation never degenerates into name calling or slander. It's always constructive and the commenting system keeps it that way. And what better way to pay tribute to this community than to visit their blogs.


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Friday, May 14, 2004

Unheard Of

I've watched baseball on TV for almost 30 years and I've never seen what I just saw (thanks Yogi.)

Phillies at Rockies: In the bottom of the 4th inning with a runner on first and no outs Rockies LF Holliday pops a foul beside first base. Easy play. Thome drops it. One pitch later Holliday pops another down the first base line. Easy play. Thome drops it. Again. Finally Halladay puts the ball in play with a pop-up to second. Phillies 2B Tomas Perez intentionally "short hops" it letting the ball bounce off his glove (negating the infield fly rule) throwing to first and getting Halladay. Meanwhile the runner who was on first (Charles Johnson) had walked into foul ground at which point Thome tagged him out. So, two out no one on for Pellow. And he pops out to Rollins to end the inning.

Phillies Baseball. It's Fantastic Maddening.

UPDATE: Thanks to Undelay for indicating that this wasn't a case of the Infield Fly rule. That will be the last time I listen to Phils colorman, Larry Anderson. (I know, excuses, excuses.)

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Captain Kirk's Milk

"Yesterday, true story, Pamela Anderson, who grew up in Canada, became an American citizen. As a result, the Canadian with the largest breasts is now William Shatner"

-Conan O'Brien, 5/13/04

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Flashback: 2000 GOP convention

MattS has posted a diary at the Daily Kos with some unbelievably ironic Republican Party Platform quotes from the convention four years ago:

"The arrogance, inconsistency, and unreliability of the administration's diplomacy have undermined American alliances, alienated friends, and emboldened our adversaries."

"The weak leadership and neglect of the administration have allowed America's intelligence capabilities, including space based systems, to atrophy, resulting in repeated proliferation surprises such as Iraq's renewed chemical and biological weapons programs."

"Republicans prefer an America that is far less dependent on foreign crude oil. A Republican president will not be so tolerant if OPEC colludes to drive up the world price of oil, as it has done this past year."

There are plenty more there. The GOP are kings of 'flip-flop' mountain.

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Thursday, May 13, 2004

The Plot Thickens: Zarqawi Doesn't Speak Arabic

Fascinating post from Hesiod saying they identified Berg's killer BY THE VOICE ON THE VIDEO TAPE.

What a joke. They should be able to come up with something better with this. There are rich smart people in the government.

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The First Year

Today is my son's first birthday. When I look him in the eye and he smiles it makes all of the political blogging and partisan warfare seem insignificant. I've been chided by close friends (and my wife) recently for focusing too much on the coming election and foreign affairs. After going through my archives I can see they're right. I've been blogging for about 2-1/2 months and 95% of my 310 posts have been about politics. I didn't plan for it to happen like this but because of the ineptitude in the government leadership I have to express my self and try to spread the word about the direction our country is going. But I think this has to change. Moving forward I'm going to try to write at least one non-political post per day. We'll see how it goes. Let's start with the big man...

What an amazing job being a Dad is. Friends and co-workers told me my life would never be the same after the birth of my son. I gave them the, "yeah, yeah...no sleep...dirty diapers....constant bathing.....blahblahblah.....I read the books." All of those things are true but the profound change I felt in my life, in my being was that this little guy was all ours and we're responsible for helping to craft him into a respectful, caring, responsible man who is aware of his surroundings. I'd like to think we're doing ok to start. His first inclination is to smile, like his dad's and he loves to eat (above it's lasagna.) He'll be at cruiserweight in no time, he's currently tipping the scales at 27 pounds. He crawls to meet me at the door and cries when I leave. Someone once told me you don't know what love is until you're a father. I can say with conviction that is 100% accurate.

One of the things I love about blogging is the permanence of the message. One day I'll share this blog with him and the importance of having passion in one's life. If he can find something to believe in I'll be thrilled.

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More Than One Way to Skin an Administration

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Conspiracy? Mysteries about the Murder of Nick Berg

Via Media Channel are these questions/discrepancies about the death of Nick Berg:

1) Berg shown in video wearing orange jumpsuit known to be of U.S. issue (compare with pictures at Guantanamo).

2) Berg mysteriously captured by Al-Quaeda (still wearing jumpsuit). Either he escaped from U.S. captors or U.S. let him out -- with orange suit and all -- to be immediately apprehended by Al-Quaeda (before he had a chance to change). (DS: Was it Al Quaeda?)

3) Tape obviously spliced together and heavily edited. Goes from a) Berg sitting in chair talking about family, to b) Berg sitting on floor with hooded 'militants' behind, to c) blurry camera movement, to d) almost motionless Berg on floor as head cut off.

4) Audio clearly dubbed in ...

And this info coming out the morning that Richard Myers says that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is responsible for the decapitation.

Read more on the Blogosphere questioning what the U.S. Government is saying about Nick Berg's death.

Somebody needs to come clean.

UPDATE: This website offers a much more detailed accounting of the discrepanies involved in the death of Nick Berg. It also cites information on "alleged" prisoner torture committed by the CIA and Navy SEALs.

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Poll Numbers: WOOHOO!

Poll numbers from CBS News are out:

President Bush's overall approval rating has fallen to the lowest level of his presidency, 44 percent, in the latest CBS News poll, reflecting the weight of instability in Iraq on public opinion, despite signs of improvement in the economy.

Two weeks ago, 46 percent of Americans approved of the job President Bush was doing. On April 9, his approval rating was 51 percent.

American's opinion of Mr. Bush's handling of the economy is also at an all-time low, 34 percent, while 60 percent disapprove, also a high of the Bush presidency. Increasing employment is seemingly not affecting Americans' view of Mr. Bush's economic policy.

This is excellent news on several levels:

First, the implosion of the Administration policies on Iraq is taking attention away from "good" news on the economy.

Second, one of the things you learn on a campaign is that if your opponent is self-destructing: get out of the way. Kerry has done a good job at this by picking his spots to criticize the administration without "piling on", particularly regarding the prisoner torture fiasco.

Third, Bush's ineptitude and failed foreign policy is the best campaign ad Kerry can have. Thus allowing him to save his money until later in the election cycle. The value of this cannot be overstated because of the advatage the incumbent has in relation to the spending windows and the dates of the party conventions.

Finally, Kerry is renowned to be an excellent closer. Combining this with the fact that undecided voters vote overwhelmingly for the challenger give Kerry an edge as we enter the summer months.

It's still very early, but the Kerry camp must be ecstatic. I know I am.

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Moore's Film to Be Distributed in U.S.

The brothers Weinstein, honchos at Miramax, have bought the rights to Fahrenheit 9/11 and will see that it gets distributed in the United States. They will have to find a third party to distribute the film because their relationship with Disney prohibits Miramax from marketing it themselves.

From what I've read it seems as though this film is quite inflammatory. It's Moore's hope that this will be distributed before Election Day.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Former Iraqi Oil Embargo a Fake?

You could probably consider this anecdotal but the author probably wouldn't have included it in the New York Post if he didn't feel it was true. As a media guy, I can tell you the Post has a daily circulation of 652,426 (SRDS, 2004.)

The complete text:

A source in the intelligence community tells me that the U.N. oil embargo of Saddam Hussein was worthless because Iraqi oil was being shipped all these years to a Caribbean island called St. Eustatius, unloaded into onshore tanks and then reloaded into U.S.-bound tanker ships.
The same switcheroo is being done with Iranian oil, I'm told.

Oh, and the source says Washington would rather nobody know about this.

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Rep. Wexler Filing Federal Suit Over E-Voting in FL

Florida is the place that most needs to have a ban on the electronic voting machines:

FORT LAUDERDALE -- U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler's federal lawsuit over touch-screen voting machines is helping foster doubts about the upcoming election and is shaking people's faith in the new voting machines, attorneys for Florida elections officials told a judge Monday.


Wexler's attorneys argued that the elections officials were more interested in protecting the reputations of the multimillion-dollar equipment rather than looking out for voters.

Jeff Liggio, one of Wexler's attorneys, said state law allows for manual recounts, but there is no way to manually recount votes cast on touch-screen machines.

"The reason the statutes mandate a recount is to try to determine intent," Liggio said. "You don't have that [with touch-screen machines]."

Little Jebby Bush is rubbing his rabbit's foot now. If that doesn't work he'll turn to Daddy and brother.

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Armed Services Committee Hearings

Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall evaluates the latest hearings. He includes an appropriate takedown of Inhofe and descriptions of some pleasant surprises.

Must read.

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Appropriate Description of the Current Problems We Face

As posted here:

The story changes so fast you can't keep up with it.

They first learned about this when the "courageous" soldier took the pictures to his superiors. And the pictures were all "personal."

But then stories came out that the pictures were ordered by MI for "intimidation" purposes.

And the ICRC reported it had told the Admin. about these problems months ago.

And it was limited to a handful of "bad apples." Except the same thing happened in Afghanistan.

And the photos were staged, not "snapshots."

And they knew something was up in November, but they fixed it. But they were surprised by the allegations in January.

But no one knew about it. But everyone knew about it, because there was a breakdown in command.

But there was no breakdown. And the Geneva Convention has always applied.

Except when it hasn't.

And we've always followed it. Except when we didn't.

And we don't abuse prisoners. Except when we do. It's not "American." Except it is expressly sanctioned by military regulations. Except it can only be sanctioned by the DoD, because Rumsfeld keeps tight rein on everything.

Except he doesn't. Because this was authorized in Iraq, not in Washington. Except it couldn't have been, because Rummy runs a tight ship.

Except he didn't know. But don't call it "plausible deniability." Because there's a chain of command.

Except Rumsfeld doesn't know what it is. He only knows about the PR campaign he's been conducting since these photos went public.

But he isn't lying. He just doesn't know anything.

But it's okay. Because he's doing a great job.

Even though everything is a shambles.

This is a recurring theme in this Administration. If something goes wrong they appoint an independent commission to investigate while refusing to fully accept responsibility. If there is a person who sheds an unfavorable light on them they attack by calling the perp a racist, liar, homosexual, "out of the loop" or incompetent. I have one question that may never be answered...

Where is the accountability?

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Still Pictures of Tragedy

The beheading video of Nick Berg is available online, but I will not be linking to that. The still pictures are graphic enough.


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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Government Officials Bought Degrees

The Government Accounting Office is saying that hundreds of federal employees got bogus degrees from "diploma mills." Some "students" used money from federal programs to buy their diplomas:

...it became a scandal last year when Laura Callahan, the former deputy chief information officer at the Homeland Security Department, resigned following disclosures that she had obtained three phony academic degrees.

If they ever name names you'll read it here.

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Rape in the U.S. Military

NPR aired an informative piece on All Things Considered this afternoon. Apparently this problem is more prevalent than many people realize:

May 11, 2004 -- Prisoner abuse in Iraq isn't the only explosive issue before the Department of Defense. More than 100 women have returned from war duty in the Middle East and Afghanistan and reported being sexually assaulted by male soldiers.

Late last month, a task force completed a report on the military's response to the problem; the results have not been released yet. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker told a Senate committee in February that the Army was addressing the issue "aggressively," adding: "It's a chain of command issue, it's a leadership issue, it's a discipline issue."

Despite the Pentagon's assertion that sexual violence has been cut in half in recent years, some female soldiers and rape counselors say the problem remains acute. In a Veterans Affairs survey published last year, three-fourths of the female respondents who said they were raped said they did not report the incident to a ranking officer.

Be sure to listen to the audio of the story. It will be available after 7:30pm EST.

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Retribution: American Beheaded

If this turns out to be true, it's only the beginning:

DUBAI (Reuters) - A video tape of a Qaeda-linked group in Iraq beheading a man said to be an American was shown on an Islamist Web site Tuesday and the group vowed more executions as revenge for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

The poor quality tape showed a man sitting on the floor with five masked men behind him. After one of the masked men read out a statement, they pushed the bound man to the floor, cutting off his head and holding it aloft.

It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the tape carried on Muntada al-Ansar Islamist Web site.


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Courtesy of Jerome Doolittle at Bad Attitudes:

A drawing by Marc Simont, one of the country’s foremost illustrators of children’s books, was born to Catalan parents in 1915 and came to this country at the age of 19. He has been a working artist ever since, even during his World War II service in the U.S. Army.

Marc has illustrated close to a hundred books in his long career, among them the works of James Thurber. He is a winner of the Caldecott Medal, the publishing industry’s highest prize for children’s books, along with numerous other honors.

As immigrants so often do, Marc has a clearer perception of what it means to be an American than many of us who were born here. And right now he fears that we are being led down a dangerous path that carries us farther and farther away from our highest and best ideals.

If you haven't found your way over to Bad Attitudes yet, I encourage you to do so. Wonderful analysis about all of the current outrages we are facing.

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Nancy Reagan Calls for Stem Cell Research

Going against the Bush Administration and the pro-life contingent, Nancy Reagan is hoping further research would help in battling diseases like Alzheimers, which afflicts her husband, former President Reagan.

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Inhofe The Idiot

From the blog Kicking Ass:

"From today's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing (rush transcript):

Sen. Inhofe (R-OK): First of all, I regret I wasn't here on Friday. I was unable to be here. But maybe it's better that I wasn't because as I watch this outrage that everyone seems to have about the treatment of these prisoners I have to say and I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment.

The idea that these prisoners, they're not there for traffic violations. If they're in cell block 1A or 1B, these prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents, and many of them probably have American blood probably on their hands and here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals."

And then there is this piece of information from the Red Cross:

Certain CF military intelligence officers told the ICRC that in their estimate between 70% and 90% of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake.

Evidently some Senators were aghast at this statement by Inhofe. Blame them?

UPDATE: According to CNN-TV McCain walked out after the Inhofe statement.

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Taguba Tesifies

What a mess:

The Army general who first investigated prisoner abuse in an Iraqi prison told Congress on Tuesday the mistreatment resulted from faulty leadership, a 'lack of discipline, no training whatsoever and no supervision.'


"A few soldiers and civilians conspired to abuse and conduct egregious acts of violence against detainees and other civilians outside the bounds of international laws and the Geneva Convention," Taguba told the Senate Armed Services Committee...

Imagine what's going to happen when John Negroponte takes up residence in Baghdad.

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Monday, May 10, 2004

There Goes The Chances of a Pirates Pennant

Evidently, Raul Mondesi owes someone some money and will not be playing baseball again this season.

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President Praises Rumsfeld

Today, at the Pentagon:

...With Rumsfeld at his side, Bush said his Cabinet officer was "courageously leading our nation in our war against terror... . You are a strong secretary of defense and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude."...

Debt of gratitude for what? This administration has already made sure that it will be at least another generation before we can righteously defend human rights abuses anywhere in the world. It's pathetic, I didn't think it was possible to alienate ourselves any further from the world.

To give you an idea of how much a (growing) portion of the world hates us read this post from Baghdad Burning:

...People are so angry. There’s no way to explain the reactions- even pro-occupation Iraqis find themselves silenced by this latest horror. I can’t explain how people feel- or even how I personally feel. Somehow, pictures of dead Iraqis are easier to bear than this grotesque show of American military technique. People would rather be dead than sexually abused and degraded by the animals running Abu Ghraib prison.


And through all this, Bush gives his repulsive speeches. He makes an appearance on Arabic tv channels looking sheepish and attempting to look sincere, babbling on about how this 'incident' wasn't representative of the American people or even the army, regardless of the fact that it's been going on for so long. He asks Iraqis to not let these pictures reflect on their attitude towards the American people… and yet when the bodies were dragged through the streets of Falloojeh, the American troops took it upon themselves to punish the whole city.

He's claiming it's a "stain on our country's honor"... I think not. The stain on your country's honor, Bush dear, was the one on the infamous blue dress that made headlines while Clinton was in the White House... this isn't a 'stain' this is a catastrophe. Your credibility was gone the moment you stepped into Iraq and couldn't find the WMD... your reputation never existed.


We heard about it all… we heard stories since the very beginning of the occupation about prisoners being made to sit for several hours on their knees… being deprived of sleep for days at a time by being splashed with cold water or kicked or slapped… about the infamous 'red rooms' where prisoners are kept for prolonged periods of time… about the rape, the degradations, the emotional and physical torture… and there were moments when I actually wanted to believe that what we heard was exaggerated. I realize now that it was only a small fragment of the truth. There is nothing that is going to make this 'better'. Nothing...

Rumsfeld talked about reparations. I don't know if Iraqis or Afghans would take anything from us. I don't blame them.

I feel helpless.

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Quote of The Day

"I know how important voting is."

Former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris after failing to sign an absentee ballot in a local election.

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Saturday, May 08, 2004

Travelling Men

Tomorrow is Mother's Day so I'm going to Happy Valley and present my Mom with her grandson(above) and then go drinking with my friends see my Uncle and Aunt before they move to FL. Rumor has it my Mom has Wi-Fi so I'm going to bring my iBook and hope to do some blogging. If I can, it will most likely be late because my Uncle is at the head of the Bush "Kool-Aid line." Alas, we all can't be enlightened.

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Friday, May 07, 2004

Today, Rumsfeld Takes The Heat. Tomorrow?

"These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them. I take full responsibility," [Donald]Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee

Donald Rumsfeld committed virtual hara-kiri today accepting full responsibility for the prisoner torture scandal. Like a good soldier he covered his bosses tail.

Now, the question is, when more pictures and video make there way into the media will Bush continue to stand by his man? The GOP Congress is closing ranks even giving Rummy a slight commendation today from Bill Frist for, "...taking responsibility of what happened." That may not be enough.

Dead man walking?

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History Lesson

Danny Schecter is the proprietor of Media Channel.org. Today he shares this story on his daily blog:

"Class: it is time for a history lesson. Let's get in our time machines and go back fifty years to May 7 1954. The place is a small town called Dien Ben Phu in the mountainous region in the north of Vietnam. The French colonial army had been convinced that its long war with Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh soldiers was on the verge of victory. But they didn't count on the military genius of a General named Vo Nguyen Giap. On this day, after a 56 day siege, the French surrendered in defeat. 16 years later Giap's forces would drive the Americans out.

The western press spoke then of the Dien Ben Phu's 'fall;' the Vietnamese, of its liberation. Fifty years later, Giap, now 92 is giving interviews in the garden of his home in Hanoi. He was asked about Iraq. His response:

'Any forces that would impose their will on other nations will certainly face defeat,' he said. 'All nations fighting for their legitimate interests and sovereignty will surely win.'

AP reports: 'Giap emphasized the powers of today shouldn't underestimate weaker countries' desire for independence Vietnam 'proves that if a nation is determined to stand up, it is very strong.' There were commemorations of this anniversary today in Vietnam and France. "

This is an excellent resource that features links to many stories that ABCNNBCBS doesn't cover. Worth a look.

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Limbaugh Rationalizes Torture

Big Pharma is at it again:

Media Matters for America has posted Rush Limbaugh's comments (May 4, 2004, Rush Limbaugh Show) about the Abu Ghirad prison torture in Iraq. In discussing the torture of Iraqi prisoners, Limbaugh claims the U.S. Guards were "having a good time" and compares images of the torture to Madonna and Britney Spears concerts.

"Rush Limbaugh's consistently extreme commentary has operated with almost total impunity for far too long," Media Matters for America President David Brock said today. "Media Matters for America now has in place a system to monitor, analyze and correct conservative misinformation in the media -- including Rush Limbaugh, one of America's most influential political commentators."

A link to the Media Matters for America web site is on the left.

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Thursday, May 06, 2004

Rumsfeld Should Resign

Call your senator and ask them to support the dismissal of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

This action is eloquently argued by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin:

"For the good of our country, the safety of our troops, and our image around the globe, Secretary Rumsfeld should resign," Harkin said in a statement. "If he does not resign forthwith, the president should fire him."

"He has to go. Nothing, I think, less will suffice," Harkin told CNN. "It's not enough just for Secretary Rumsfeld to say that some people in the lower ranks are responsible for this -- this goes all the way up."

Others calling for Rumsfeld's ouster:

Rep. Charles Rangel
The Economist
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman

This number will grow.

The main number for the U.S. Senate is 202-224-3121.

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Apology! (big deal)

This doesn't mean a thing. If he truly meant this:

..."sorry for the humiliation suffered" by Iraqi prisoners at the hands of U.S. troops in Iraq...

...he would've apologized as soon as this scandal broke not after pressure has been applied by citizens of the world.

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Joseph Wilson with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on 5/4

A member of the media outing the White House:

OLBERMANN: You do know that they are still going after you, right? We promoted the fact that you would be on this show tonight. Today we received three separate copies of the same e-mail with talking points from the White House, one asking a contact here “Can you please get this to the Olbermann people. Wilson is on the Olbermann show.” Misspelled my name, by the way, but that‘s neither here nor there. Another one asks one of our producers “I understand you have Mr. Wilson on. Can you please call me on this?”

Are you surprised by that?

WILSON: No, I‘m not surprised at all. I tell you this administration has tried to manage and direct the news from the very beginning. As I point out in the book, they have made the lives of journalists very unpleasant. One journalist said he was afraid to go to print because he might end up in Guantanamo, which I take to be a metaphor for being cut out. Another journalist said I‘ve got kids in a private school and a mortgage to pay. So I‘m not surprised at all.

Nice. (Apologies to Biz Stone.)

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U.S. Hiding Prisoners from Red Cross

I haven't seen this reported anywhere in the States:

US military policemen moved unregistered Iraqi prisoners, known as "ghost detainees", around an army-run jail at Abu Ghraib, in order to hide them from the Red Cross, according to a confidential military report.

The report on abuses at Abu Ghraib prison - a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian - described the practice of hiding prisoners as "deceptive, contrary to army doctrine, and in violation of international law"...

From the UK Guardian.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Great Timing!

Bloodiest month since war started
Rampant corruption within U.S. appointed Governing Council
Still no Weapons of Mass Destruction
Torture of Iraqi prisoners violates Geneva Convention
Virtually no control over Fallujah or Najaf
Still nothing in the Federal Budget allocated for Iraq or Afghanistan
Halliburton shares slip slightly

We need $25 billion more.

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No, Really?

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Major League Baseball to get in bed with Spiderman

From June 11-13 webbed logos for the movie Spiderman 2 will appear on bases and on-deck circles at select MLB stadiums.

What a joke. I don't even want to guess what's next...

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Michael Moore Getting Hosed

Disney is trying to prohibit Miramax from distributing Moore's new film, Fahrenheit 911. As you can imagine, the movie will shed an unflattering light on the Bush Administration's responses to September 11th.

On his web site Moore has a letter describing what's happening with the censorship of his new film. He gives much credit to Harvey Weinstein & Miramax for sticking by him as he readies his film for the Cannes Film Festival.

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That's My Senator!

Buried in this story about Bush going on Arab TV is a quote from Joe Biden:

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said Wednesday that if adequate answers to questions about the abuse of prisoners are not provided, then top officials, including Rumsfeld, should resign.

'If it goes all the way to Rumsfeld, then he should resign,' Biden told 'Today' on NBC. 'Who is in charge? I mean, look, every single, solitary decision made almost since the fall of Saddam Hussein has been mistaken. Who's making these decisions?'

I'm hoping this gains steam. But the odds of him resigning are slim-to-none.

In an interview yesterday Rummy said, ""Any American who sees the photographs that we've seen has to be feel apologetic to the Iraqi people who have been abused and recognize that that is something that is unacceptable."

I think this is as close to an apology as this administration has ever come.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

First Torture

Now murder:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military has investigated the deaths of 25 prisoners held by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and determined that two prisoners were murdered by Americans, one an Army soldier and the other a CIA contractor, Army officials said on Tuesday.

An Army official said that a soldier was convicted in the U.S. military justice system of killing a prisoner by hitting him with a rock, and was reduced in rank to private and thrown out of the service but did not serve any jail time.

We need answers and we need them soon. Very soon.

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Rumsfeld: Prisoner Abuse 'Un-American'

Apparently Mr. Rumsfeld is quite concerned about the already tarnished image of the U.S around the world:

Rumsfeld was asked about the damage to U.S. credibility done by the worldwide distribution of photos of Iraqi prisoners being abused. The episode is "unhelpful. In a fundamental way, it's harmful," he said. Emphasis mine.

Look who just fell off the turnip truck!

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Bill of Rights Defense Committee

This organization is responsible for, "encouraging communities to take an active role in an ongoing national debate about the USA PATRIOT Act and other antiterrorism measures that threaten civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights."

To date, they have organized 306 communities and states with a population of 51 million people in opposition to the Patriot Act.

I think it's useful to reflect on what's at stake:


Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Ratified on December 5, 1791 and every word of it applicable today.

Don't let Ashcroft steal it from us. Get involved.

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Cheney Visits Wal-Mart HQ; Trolls for Cash

Vice President Dick Cheney visited the home office of the retail giant in Bentonville, Arkansas yesterday. Sticking to his theme he continued to criticize Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee also piled on.

This nugget from Gov'nor Huckabee:

Huckabee's introduction made repeated references to Kerry, calling the senator an "Eastern elitist" with a "silver-spoon lifestyle he's taken for granted."

The highlight of the day came from Cheney:

"This is one of our nation's best companies," Cheney told a cheering crowd of about 700 employees. He reminded the crowd that former President Bush, the president's father, had given company founder Sam Walton the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest decoration awarded to civilians by the federal government.

"Free enterprise, lower taxes and fiscal discipline from Washington" is what the American economy needs, the vice president said. "Our economy has been through a tough three years, with recession, terrorist attacks and the uncertainty of war," he said.

Interesting Wal-Mar tidbits:

Did you know that Wal-Mart has their own Political Action Committee? Through this organization they are currently the largest corporate donor in the country.

Most of their money goes to the GOP:

"Wal-Mart's political contributions have been spread widely in Congress, with more than 220 members of the House and Senate receiving checks of $1,000 to $17,500 so far this election cycle. About 85 per cent of the money has gone to Republicans."

It stands to reason that the majority of their contributions go to politicians on the local level. They need all the help they can get for zoning and permits in their bid to further their domestic imperialism. A little cash goes a long way toward greasing the wheels of another Grand Opening.

And then there is the Wal-Mart manager mantra:

Stack it deep; sell it cheap; stack it high and watch it fly; hear those downtown merchants cry!

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Blonk Organ

Just move your mouse over the pictures.

Beautiful Music*

*Your results may vary.

(Thank you Presurfer.)

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Monday, May 03, 2004

Incredible Post

Go check out this post at the Whiskey Bar. There is a list of sourced quotes about prisoner abuse, including several from the past 72 hours. Some contradictory.

Appropriately named, Scenes From a Cover-up.

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Bremer Knew About Prisoner Abuse

Holy crap:

FORMER Iraqi human rights minister Abdel Basset Turki said today US overseer Paul Bremer knew in November that Iraqi prisoners were being abused in US detention centres.

"In November I talked to Mr Bremer about human rights violations in general and in jails in particular. He listened but there was no answer. At the first meeting, I asked to be allowed to visit the security prisoners, but I failed," Turki said.

"I told him the news. He didn't take care about the information I gave him."

The coalition had no immediate comment about Turki's meeting with Bremer.

The minister, whose resignation was formally accepted by the coalition yesterday, said he told Bremer about his meetings with former detainees.

What if Bremer did know in November, as the Iraqi human rights minister says? First, he should be sacked now. Second, a full independent UN supported investigation by non-CPA countries should take place to find out how pervasive this problem is. Third, Rumsfeld & Wolfowitz should lose their jobs for being uniquely unqualified to re-build a nation they so thoroughly helped to destroy. (Not as easy as it looks on paper, eh boys?)

Of course none of this will happen. The President is already "outraged" about the entire situation and will "get to the bottom of the situation." Baloney. He will ask a five-star to look into what's happening, a couple of the "old boys club" will have a beer and that's the last we'll hear of it. I can already see the story buried in the Times and WaPo now: .....regrettable actions by few......not representative of our military.....isolated incidents.....the guilty have been punished.

The thing that frustrates me the most is that the ones who are most guilty will never be punished.

It also makes me sad to be this cynical. Thanks W.

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Bush Campaigns in Ohio

According to this article President Bush had a tough day:

During Bush's town-hall meeting in Niles, people who benefited from the president's tax-cut policies asked him questions.

I was able to track down the final question...

Question #1: President Bush, thank you so much for all that you do. Did you notice I'm wearing a flag in my lapel?

President Bush: Yes. Excellent question. That's what we're trying do do. Gen-er-ATE the economy. My tax-cut has given middle America hope. And after I'm re-selected we're going to make the tax-cuts permanent and bring more recovery to the places that truly are in need of more recovery. This is the way it works.

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Vanishing Votes

This is a scary article from Greg Palast in The Nation.

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New Media watchdog

Launching today, Media Matters for America is a new web site that will keep tabs on the Limbaughs and O'LIEllys of the world. Here is a sample of what you'll find:

Hannity & Colmes guest compared U.S. soldiers' maltreatment of Iraqi POWs to "frat hazing"

Two days after CBS's 60 Minutes II first broadcast photographs of U.S. military police posing and smiling next to naked, hooded Iraqi prisoners of war, Hannity & Colmes hosted a guest who compared the maltreatment of the Iraqi POWs to "frat hazing." On the April 30 broadcast of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, former U.S. Army sergeant and former interrogation instructor Tony Robinson stated that "frat hazing is worse" than "what [was] happening in these pictures"...

More to be outraged about. Blogroll/Bookmark it.

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Sunday, May 02, 2004

White House Corresponents Dinner

I was able to catch some of the event on CSPAN last night.

Did anyone see the Presdient lift a wine glass to his lips? I thought I saw a wine glass with dark liquid go to his mouth on two occasions. It may not be that big a deal, but I thought he quit drinking.

Anyone else notice this?

UPDATE: Here is our President giving an "interview" as a 1992 wedding guest. Only In America.

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Saturday, May 01, 2004

Step Away From The Computer

Light to zero blogging for the next 24 hours. My in-laws have stepped to the plate and will be watching the kids tonight so my wife and I can celebrate our wedding anniversary. We'll go out for a nice dinner (jacket required!) and spend the night at an Inn about a half hour away. I think they have web access, but thought better of it as my wife would give me the one-eyed-jack (AKA the stink eye.) We can't have that.

Blog you tomorrow.

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New month, same result

One year ago the President stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in a Rovian photo-op of vastly comical proportions:

Of course we know we are far from "Mission Accomplished" and the Administration's errors in Iraq are far from funny. May 2004 has begun the way April ended, with 2 U.S. troops dead.

Who is going to come up with the plan to stabilize Iraq?

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