That's a very good question in the case of files - related to the FBI surveillance of John Kerry's post-Vietnam War service "peace" activities - stolen from an author's home in California.

Since the files largely exonerate Kerry as being not at all radical while making it sound horrible that the GOP was desperate to watch vets who returned opposed to a questionable war, it really makes you wonder who took them. Like perhaps someone who didn't want some fact in them revealed... something that might embarrass the current administration perhaps when they make some nasty charge again Kerry that now couldn't be disproven as easily.

Home Ownership

Hey, one of the few things I agree with the president on is the fact that more people (from a total of about 68% now) deserve to own their own homes.

My problem with Bush's approach is that at the same time he spews this stuff, he knows that foreclosures and defaults on home mortgages are at an all time high under his presidency and "economic vision" (which seems to be limited to making the rich far richer). So while it's great to buy a home, it's sure swell, too, if you can hold onto it. Just spurring the incentive on one (buying) doesn't fix the other issue (an economy sucking so badly it deprives people of the needed funds to pay for that house).

Getting Clarke'd

Part of the reason I've been reticent to post is pure, unadulterated anger... mostly at the reaction of the White House and people like Bill Frist (someone suggested he return to murdering shelter kitties again this week) to Richard Clarke's testimony.

Frist, in particular, annoyed me to death when he says in the well of the Senate floor that Clarke did gave two different versions and only later to reporters, not reported as widely, that he has no idea whether Clarke told two versions. Meanwhile, Condi Rice has practically broken her lying little neck running around to TV stations to tell her side while not under oath and not within public scrutiny while she's questioned. Worse still is that some wingers are now insinuating that Clarke has a problem with Condi because she's African-American.

You know, probably the thing I notice least about Condi is the color of her skin. But liars and crooks come in all colors.


Just Seems a Tad Obscene

Watching coverage of Bush at the Correspondents' dinner tonight, with all the jokes and such seem obscene in the face of what we've heard before the 9/11 panel this week. I know that's the nature of the dinner but... Condi who could not appear in public before the 9/11 panel could appear in a guest spot at the dinner tonight.

Priorities, I suppose.

After 2 1/2 Years and Countless Lives Lost

Someone finally said it. That someone was Richard Clarke today before the 9/11 panel. It's something our president has refused to say, Condi Rice couldn't conceive to say, and no one else has said.

Clarke said:

    Your government failed you. Your president failed you. And I, ladies and gentlemen, failed you.

Mr. Clarke, you don't know how much this means to me to finally have someone with the guts come forward and speak those words. It's probably one of the greatest truths told since 9/11.

If Mr. Bush had only said them... at any point in the almost 1000 days which have passed since that beautiful, terrible Tuesday morning in September...

Another Opinion

From American Family Voices:

    This is certainly a time of testing for the Bush administration. An era fraught with political peril, marked by threats from all sides. So where's the strong leadership in these times of change? Former anti-terror chief Richard Clarke has launched scathing charges that the Bush White House has not done nearly enough to protect the American people. What's the first clue that he's right? Right now, the Bushies can't even protect themselves.

    As expected, the administration organized a rapid-fire assault on Clarke's character and credibility. But the Bush team has gone to the well one too many times with this type of ad hominem attack. The American public has watched it happen to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson when he spoke out against the yellowcake claim, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill when he charged that the administration was putting too much focus on Iraq, and now Clarke. The pattern is clear: slime the opponent and wrap yourself in the American flag. At this point it is disturbingly obvious that the administration's quiver is out of arrows – Bush officials are reduced to making the talk show rounds armed only with the grownup equivalent of schoolyard taunts like, "I know you are, but what am I?"

    Clarke's assertions have ripped gaping holes in the administration's defense, and even an all-out media assault by the White House did nothing to repair the damages.

These 9/11 Panel Hearings

are indeed enlightening... often for what is not said or - as in the case of Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld especially - what can't be remembered as said.

I'm fuming as a citizen. I can't imagine what it must be like for some of the 9/11 families as well as the GIs and support staff (a lot of the civilians who've gone in have died, too). Iraqis and Afghans would be interested, too, but we seem to be keeping them too busy with not being bombed into oblivion to pay attention to such things.

Any Shred of Doubt

As Richard Cohen wrote in the Washington Post:

    The White House has opened its guns on Clarke. He is being contradicted and soon, as with poor O'Neill, his sanity and probity will be questioned. It's getting to be downright amazing how former White House aides tell the same tale -- a case, the White House wants us to believe, of hysteria or unaccountable betrayal. I'd like to believe my president, but as Clarke quotes him in a different context, "I'm looking for any shred."
    As with Saddam Hussein, it doesn't exist.

Sheehy on the Families of 9/11

Once again, Gail Sheehy through The (NY) Observer sheds the spotlight in the people seemingly often forgotten in the matters of 9/11 - the families and specifically, the widows who have pushed and pushed to get an idea of how 9/11 was allowed to occur. Read it. Here's a passage:

    "Why did it take Condi Rice nine months to develop a counterterrorism policy for Al Qaeda, while it took only two weeks to develop a policy for regime change in Iraq?" Ms. Kleinberg asked rhetorically.

    Dr. Rice has given one closed-door interview and has been asked to return for another, but the commissioners have declined to use their subpoena power to compel her public testimony. And now, they say, it is probably too late.

Reuters Says Same Thing

Read this Reuters piece from 24 hours ago:

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Criticism of President Bush's motives and decision-making in attacking Iraq last year may be acquiring critical mass with voters following criticism by former top counterterrorism official Richard Clarke.

    Political consultants and analysts said Clarke's allegation that Bush ignored the al Qaeda threat before the Sept. 11 attacks and was obsessed by a desire to invade Iraq were especially damaging because they confirmed other previous revelations from policy insiders.

White House Tailspin

Read the American Progress take on the post Richard Clarke fallout, including:

    One day after counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke's well-documented criticism of the Bush Administration's lackadaisical attitude towards terrorism, the White House is deploying top officials in a vicious barrage of personal attacks on a man with 30 years of public service under four Presidents.


More Blasts in Baghdad

The Sheraton Hotel downtown has been the recipient of some rocket propelled grenades and such just now, according to Keith Ohberman.

Anyone Care to Estimate

exactly how bad the Middle East is about to get now that Palestinians are promising to make Israel feel like it's being struck by an earthquake while Israel is saying it may take out all of Hamas and that it isn't necessarily inclined to keep Yassir Arafat's name off the list?

Just in a very practical sense, let me point out that the Hamas spiritual leader just assassinated and Arafat are both men of advanced age. They've already outlived what unfortunately tends to an early death statistical age for Muslim males. Neither was/is likely to last all that much longer on the planet.

But the intentional murder of these men (one already carried out) is going to incite far more outrage and violence than simply allowing them to die from old age. Arafat has been so drastically minimized that the only way to bring him out of exile would be to make a serious attempt on his life. Whether he survived the attempt or not, he gains a much greater status of martyr than he has now.

Rumsfeld's Appearance

I'll give Mr. Rumsfeld credit for at least appearing in public before the 9/11 panel today. That's more than can be said for Bush or Condi.

But when he said today that killing Osama bin Laden before 9/11 certainly would not have prevented 9/11, I found myself both in agreement as well as asking this question: So why the hell was it so important to spend about a billion dollars a day bombing the hell out of Afghanistan immediately after 9/11?

I mean, the Taliban is back. Al Qaeda's still around. So's Osama and al Zawahiri. More than 200 people are dead in Spain in just the past two weeks.

It's legitimate at this point to ask: what exactly is the War on Terror doing besides making Halliburton, Bechtel, and many other friends of the Bush-Cheney team very, very, very rich and even more powerful?

Bush and Culpability

Since I'm writing a lot about the White House and 9/11, it only seems fair that I spell out my specific take on the above-referenced topic.

I still don't side with the conspiracy theorists who actually believe Bush or people close to him actually helped orchestrate 9/11 as part of the way to redefine our country in the neocon image. The very first time I heard this theory put forth, I was completely incredulous. No one could possibly do this, I thought except that, of course, as time wore on (and the shock began to wear off), it was clear someone did but exactly whom and exactly under what circumstances and motivation we can still only guess).

However, while I'm far more willing to believe that these people are willing to do great evil than I was three years ago (when I didn't like them and thought they would be bad for the country but... what the heck.. I figured we could survive four years somehow), I'm not ready to believe Bush or his people seriously and directly orchestrated the horror even as I've seen them inflict horror and grievous harm throughout our country and our world since then.

But something went wrong on 9/11. Not just what happened but that not just one mistake in the system that allowed more than one plane to be hijacked and crashed into significant landmarks. A whole long series of errors had to occur to allow the massive damage that occurred. The damage should have STOPPED at least by the time the second plane struck.

Think about it. These are just a scant few of the facts we know for certain:

    Bush continued to sit in that classroom in a school in Florida for a long time after he was informed that planes had struck.

    The World Trade Center may have been designated just because of the frailty of its design.

    Why was Rumsfeld just sitting at his desk as normal when the plane struck there well after the two struck in NY?

    How can Condi Rice even claim she hadn't heard of Al Qaeda when the rest of the world had? This would seem like gross imcompetence. If a then apolitical tech writer way up in the boonies knew the name and rep of this organization pretty well for at least two years before 9/11, why didn't the head of the National Security (ahem) Agency?

    Why was no protection afforded the Pentagon once they knew planes hit in NY?

    Many different former employees substantiate the claim that Iraq was sought as a target immediately, well before 9/11 and certainly immediately thereafter.

    We are still not sure of the actual identities of the hijackers on those planes on 9/11. I know names get used, but several of the names issued have been discounted.

    This White House has done everything possible to block a full and complete investigation into 9/11. Why?

Those Unwashed Daily (White House) Briefs

Wouldn't you dearly like to know what Mr. Bush was being told - in that it reflects what was known or suspected by the people "in the know" - in the days before 9/11? Why, after all, was Ashcroft (and other cabinet members, I believe) told to fly privately rather than through commercial airliners during the summer before?

More importantly that each of us knowing, wouldn't you dearly like for the 9/11 commission to see them? They won't. But they should.

Skippy Caught One

The venerable Skippy notes that WH spokesweasel Scott McClellan (I'm not sure I agree with Jonathan Chait's assessment that McClellan is a basically honest man and that's why he prevaricates so badly) is now telling us that our beloved leader was nowhere near the crisis strategy room on 9/12/01 as you almost think the leader of the free world should be. This is in reference to charges security honcho Richard Clarke made about Bush pulling him aside and making it clear he wanted to find a link between Saddam and 9/11.

Show Us the Jobs Bus Tour

Hail to a great idea - a busload of people going to key political battleground states asking where all those jobs are that the Bush Administration keeps telling us are out there.

Clarke or Clarke Kent?

Billmon has a very interesting take on former top security watchdog Richard Clarke.

Jimmy Carter Speaks

And he isn't happy either. This from The Independent (Britain):

    Jimmy Carter, the former US president, has strongly criticised George Bush and Tony Blair for waging an unnecessary war to oust Saddam Hussein based on "lies or misinterpretations". The 2002 Nobel peace prize winner said Mr Blair had allowed his better judgement to be swayed by Mr Bush's desire to finish a war that his father had started.


Distinctly Not Good

Carbon dioxide levels are rising dramatically. Read this.

Notably, during Bush's stint as governor of Texas, air quality decreased dramatically, too. Bushies are NOT good for life on earth.

Canada Progressive and Compassionate

Canada is in the process of organizing a pilot program, modeled somewhat on a year-old plan in place in the Netherlands, to sell medical marijuana in pharmacies. From CNN:

    TORONTO, Canada (AP) -- Canada plans to make government-certified marijuana available in local pharmacies, a move that would make it only the second country in the world to allow the direct sale of medical marijuana.

I'm a strong proponent of compassionate use of marijuana for those who are ill. I've seen it allow patients who are so nauseated by treatments and disease that they are almost dead from not eating regain some stability in their lives.

By placing this in pharmacies, it's a step closer to making marijuana available to those who need and choose to use it. Kids aren't likely to get marijuana from the local drugstore either.

Thus, Canada proves once again that it's a more compassionate and progressive country than ours is allowed to be.

Miller on Clarke

Like Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo, I was very concerned to see that the New York Times piece on former US anti-terrorist lead Richard Clarke was written by none other than Judith ("I see WMDs everywhere!" Miller. Like Josh, I'll note that she spends little time reporting on Clarke and much of her space devoted to debunking him.

Miller has extremely unclean hands. She was the main jumper of all the WMD stories, and used Ahmed Chalabi like he was a gospel on the Iraq war. Later, we heard stories about how she interfered with the WMD hunt and got way too cozy with her "embedded" team, to the point where she tried to issue orders. I note that while Miller was a frequent guest as an expert on shows like Lehrer NewsHour in the past, she's been far less visible since the flap hit - and we're talking a lot of coverage in no less an august publication as Editor and Publisher.


I don't think I'm alone in being gravely concerned about how the death of Hamas' founder and spiritual leader will affect events in the Middle East. I was up listening to some overnight news, and it sounded like a powder keg in search of a match.


I can't imagine why millions of Spaniards are upset at Wolfowitz's comment:

    "The Spaniards are courageous people. I mean, we know it from their whole culture of bullfighting," Wolfowitz said.

And yes, I'm being sarcastic.


Clarke on "60 Minutes"

Sadly, I missed the episode tonight. Critiques of the former US terrorism leader under both Clinton and Bush have described it as "tearing Mr. Bush a new one" (See Counterspin). I'm trying to locate a transcript or even smart excerpts.

In the "Alley Oops" Dept:

Correction. That last piece was from Thursday's Washington Post (3-18-04), and the link I saw on Buzzflash.

Another Foreign Leader Heard From...

From today's Washington Post:

    MADRID, March 17 -- Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Wednesday described the U.S. occupation of Iraq as "a fiasco" and suggested American voters should follow the example set by Spain and change their leadership by supporting Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts for president in November.

While I'm sure Mr. Rumsfeld will jump in to now amend his portrait of "Old Europe" to include Spain, it rather makes you wonder what country there might exist who does respect us? OK, let me redefine this: some country we don't pay exhorbitant amounts of money to respect us. And even then, you have countries like Israel and Egypt who take large sums and don't respect us anyway.

    Trick: Here's your hundred dollars. But will you still love me in the morning?
    Prostitute: Hell, no! Now give me another hundred.

US Energy Policy Linked to Iraq War?

From a piece by Larry Everest in the San Francisco Chronicle today:

    As early as April 17, 1995, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. petroleum giants realized that "Iraq is the biggie" in terms of future oil production, that the U.S. oil companies were "worried about being left out" of Iraq's oil dealings due to the antagonism between Washington and Baghdad, and that they feared that "the companies that win the rights to develop Iraqi fields could be on the road to becoming the most powerful multinationals of the next century."

    U.N. sanctions against Iraq, maintained at the insistence of the United States and Britain, prevented these deals from being consummated.

OK, that sent a shiver up my spine. I've thought a lot about what the energy policy development was about that required so much secrecy besides hiding how much the energy corporations had contributed... but this.... if true....

Everyone Loves Antonin...

From The Times' editorial page yesterday:

    Using the dismissive tone he usually reserves for dissents, the justice comes across as more concerned with defending his right to accept "social courtesies," like rides on the vice president's jet, than with protecting the Supreme Court's integrity.

Hundreds of Thousands March

Although the mainstream coverage of this yesterday was scant and today, it's been referred to more parenthetically than authoritatively, several sources say that hundreds of thousands marched around the world yesterday to protest the invasion of Iraq by the US and coalition forces a year ago this week.

    In Montpelier, Vt., hundreds of silent protesters placed a pair of shoes on the Statehouse steps for each of the more than 560 U.S. soldiers killed in the war. In Los Angeles, one of thousands of protesters held photographs of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) with the words, "forget Janet Jackson's — expose the real boobs."

"I was proud to serve... BOTH days..."

I'll second Josh Marshall on this one: you have to see today's Doonesbury.

Church Acquits Gay Methodist Minister

An office of the Methodist Church in Washington state has acquitted a 47-year-old female minister who revealed three years ago that she was living in a committed lesbian relationship. These were brave men and women who, while realizing they could take some real heat for this, decided to do the right thing anyway. Sadly, that seems like rarity enough today to note.

In the Why Just Have One Person Rising From the Dead When You Can Have Thousands Dept:

For the first weekend since its release around the beginning of Lent, Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ" has been bested at the box office: by Dawn of the Dead.

Abortion Records Ordered Forth

New York-Presbyterian Hospital has been ordered by a Manhattan fed court to release abortion records to the DoJ. Right now, in a CNN poll, the results aren't too divided. With 80,000 voting thus far, people are against this DoJ mandate by more than 85%.

Apparently doctors failed to remove the deep burrowing bug from Ashcroft's ass while he was an ICU guest for better than a week. He's obviously still coating everything he touches with bile.

Different Treatment

Tonight, there's a top headline on CNN saying "Thousands Cheer as Bush Mocks Kerry."

First, we've known for a very long time that Bush's handlers vette his audiences. Only those who are "true believers" or cowed into submission get anywhere within camera shot.

Second, imagine the ruckus that would be heard tomorrow if the reverse of this headline appeared. Dean, Kerry, Kucinich, and other crowds have cheered long and hard when Dems mock Bush, but you'd never see that headline and certainly not on CNN.

Third, it's a shame our millionaire president can't afford antiperspirant. The armholes of his blue shirt were sodden. Probably the first time in his life he ever worked up a sweat.

Records Scrubbed?

Buzzflash offers a link to an article that appeared in a Spokane (WA) paper last Sunday (3-14-04) suggesting a possible reason Bush's records appear so shy of some details: that he was failing drug/alcohol tests and had been grounded under the Human Reliability Program.

In the Matter of Indecency

Unlike Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael ("you BET my dad got me this job so I could stop being a lobbiest media whore for communications corps") Powell, there are actual things I see and hear about on TV and in newspapers and on radio that I find more indecent than Janet Jackson's (it was covered) nipple, Bono saying the F word, and Howard Stern in general.

For example, I find the following pretty indecent:

    * Pat Robertson suggesting on TV that a truck filled with explosives should be used to take out the State Department because he disagrees with Colin Powell.

    * Bill O'Reilly lying night after night after night and then cutting off microphones to make certain no dissenting opinion is heard.

    * Two years of the right wing running to the media to talk about blow jobs related to Bill Clinton while they work to staunch any and all dissenting opinion they can.

    * Listening to CNN's Kyra Phillips interviewing a young Iraqi boy (who had lost his parents, his siblings, and his arms to American bombing on Iraq) through a doctor who asked the doctor why, when the boy said he was angry with the Americans, the boy failed to understand that we had only done it for the boy's own good.

    * Seeing Bush get his photo ops with the troops on safe American bases with hand-picked audience members while the media is not permitted to show caskets coming back from any of Mr. Bush's simultaneous wars.

    * Watching the FCC sell our airwaves and make certain media ownership is consolidated only in corporate America, so the American people will only hear what corporations like Halliburton, Kerr-McGhee, Time-Warner, Viacom, Clear Channel and others want us to know.

And this is just a tiny part of my list.