Followup to the Other

I was just listening to journalist Robert Fisk speaking on Democracy Now about the two sets of casualties today I posted about before. The picture he paints is very grim. Bodies purposely hung upside down over bridges, a body dragged through the streets, one body on fire, another being pushed around without its head.

One set of casualties are American military apparently, the other civilian contractors.

This is what Bush is praising himself for?

I know that if I were a family member - and remember, more than just our military is there; many from this country unable to find work to support themselves are taking jobs with subcontractors to Halliburton, et al, and get sent there - of anyone in there, I would be even more rocked by this than I am. And I'm pretty devastated now. Can you even begin to imagine what it's like to live there?

A Body Dragged Through the Streets

Here we go again and frankly, I'm almost surprised CNN is telling us the part about the body dragged through the streets because Bush&Co won't like that:

    A roadside bomb killed five American military personnel this morning northwest of Habbaniya in central Iraq, the U.S. military said. In a second strike in nearby Fallujah, at least four civilian contractors died in a grenade attack on two cars, the military said. At least one body was dragged through the streets, witnesses said.


Definitely Worth a Look

Check out the new and marvelous White House Props Department site. Beautifully done, folks.

Daniel Pearl

Remember Danny Pearl, the Wall Street Journalist editor and Bureau Chief who was executed by kidnappers in his efforts to gather information about terrorists and their plans during the late January immediately after 9/11?

His widow applied for 9/11 benefits on the basis of his death being related to the same Islamic terrorist efforts, but has been denied, according to CNN. Watch someone on the (cough) compassionate right mention that she's not only French, but biracial, as if these facts alone somehow justify the right to deny her any benefits.

Attack Rather Than Defend

As I was reading the piece I've quoted below over on the Democratic Talk Radio site tonight, I was thinking about how typical this behavior is for the Bush Administration. They can't defend us, but they can attack anyone who questions them.

    The recent controversy swirling around the Bush White House, the 9-11 Commission and the Richard Clarke book, Against All Enemies has been very enlightening. Sensing that Bush has almost nothing else to run on in the 2004 elections, the Bush Republican attack machine and their fellow travelers in the Corporate Media have been vigorously trying to change the subject away from their competency in dealing with terrorism before and after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

    Instead of publicly dealing with the serious issues involved, the Bush Republicans have been attacking the character of anyone who raises any questions about their poor performance on national security issues. This has been the Karl Rove approach to anyone standing in the way of Bush obtaining and retaining political power. This tactic was key in defeating John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina Republican Primary Election. The tactic was used in the 2002 Congressional Elections to give the Republicans control of Congress. The tactic backfired when used illegally by someone highly placed in the Bush Administration to out the CIA agent wife of Ambassador Wilson over the false “African uranium-nuclear weapons” claims that helped Bush sell his invasion and occupation of Iraq. Most recently, the Republican attack machine went after former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil, when the book The Price of Loyalty was published. This book confirmed many of the charge made against the Bush White House in the Clarke book.


Matthews has Dana Rohrbacher (R-OINK, California) on insisting that Clarke is a bad man, that he's completely responsible for 9/11 and should have apologized, that he never liked or trusted him, and it's not even Condi Rice's and Cheney's fault that they chose Clarke to lead the terrorism effort but Clarke's himself. He also implied that Clarke needs to give the proceeds from his book to the 9/11 victims' fund. Heh... I'd call Rohrbacher a pig (and have), but he really gives decent, clean, well-behaved swine a very bad name.

Is Karen Hughes' book sales going to the victims' fund? Or Bush's? Or Bill Frist's? Or David Frum's or Richard Perle's?

And Mr. Rohrbacher doesn't appear to have given up many fancy, rich meals to contribute himself.

Another Point

Another point I don't like about the agreement reached to get NSA director Condi Rice to testify is that instead of having private sessions each with Bush and Cheney, the commission must speak with them jointly in one session.

This shouldn't be a big point normally, but Bush and Cheney are rarely on the same page. I would think it would be far more illuminating to speak to them each separately. When police need to interview a couple or two siblings, for example, one of the first things they do I imagine - or gleaned from Court TV - is that they separate the two to see the differences in information presented. By the time they're interviewed, I imagine Condi will already have testified in public. This gives them a story line with which to adhere.

High Electric Bill? Watch Out

First, my apologies because I can't find the original source of this story, although it could have been from a link I saw at the San Francisco Chronicle.

However, I was reading this morning about how a Carlsbad, California mom had her home and her son's school visited twice by police who were sure she was running a pot farm because of the family's high electric bills. According to the article, it's standard practice to monitor the size of our electric bills to determine whether we might be growing drugs (or plants used to make them) and to get a court order to perform a search on any home or building just on the basis of the high bill.

What police found, however, was a household where kids routinely left lights and appliances on and where the mother does an unusually large amount of laundry each day.

That one unsettled my stomach for a bit. I mean, my bills are - I suspect - higher than most homes in my neighborhood, but because I run power in three different buildings (each the size of a large full house) to operate two businesses. While not all of our computers are on all the time, there are at least four running - with a host of peripherals - at any given time. Electricity provides some of my heat. Several of our appliances are older, too, and probably not as energy efficient as I'd like.

The way power was set up here, there are no separate power accounts for each business as opposed to the household, so it's all lumped together into one bill. After reading that story, however, I'm inclined to rethink this. I mean, it just seems silly to get embarrassed and inconvenienced just because you have a high power bill.

But I'd also like the police and government to rethink a system where we're constantly presumed guilty of something before any evidence is offered. The police, in this case, apologized to the Carlsbad mom, but she wants a public, written apology, and the police don't feel that's warranted. They had a right to suspect her, they said.

Hey... remember to turn the lights off when you leave the office after reading this. Smirk.

Robbing Peter to Quiet Paul?

First, I'm very glad to see that the President and Vice President will now appear before all members of the 9/11 panel and not just the chair and vice-chair. Hopefully, they'll sit for more than 60 minutes each, as well.

However, one thing not being noticed in all the fury to discuss the fact that Dr. Rice will now testify in public and under oath is that the White House put some strict conditions, including that the 9/11 panel will not request any other White House official to publicly testify. That part bothers me quite a bit. Rice's words the last several weeks have contradicted both earlier words from herself as well as several members of the Bush Administration. It's within the realm of distinct possibility that her testimony could lead to additional questions that can and should be answered by the White House.

Has the panel agreed to this condition? We're supposed to hear them speak on the record shortly. I hope they don't accept Rice with this condition placed. Rice should testify, but it shouldn't be given with total immunity for everyone at 1600 Pennsylvania.

Tom Daschle

My gosh, Tom has actually been standing up and saying more than, "Yes, Mr. President," over the last few weeks. Pelosi is usually a bit more willing to be blunt than Tom but here he is today:

    Mr. President, last week I spoke about the White House's reaction to Richard Clarke's testimony before the 9-11 Commission. I am compelled to rise again today, because the people around the President are systematically abusing the powers and prerogatives of government...
    Richard Clarke did something extraordinary when he testified before the 9-11 Commission last week. He didn't try to escape blame, as so many routinely do. Instead, he accepted his share of responsibility and offered his perceptions about what happened in the months and years leading up to September 11...
    The retaliation from those around the President has been fierce. Mr. Clarke's personal motives have been questioned and his honesty challenged. He has even been accused, right here on the Senate floor, of perjury. Not one shred of proof was given, but that wasn't the point. The point was to have the perjury accusation on television and in the newspapers. The point was to damage Mr. Clarke in any way possible.
    This is wrong–and it's not the first time it's happened...
    Senator McCain, Senator Cleland, Secretary O'Neill, Ambassador Wilson, General Shinseki, Richard Foster, Richard Clarke, Larry Lindsay ... when will the character assassination, retribution, and intimidation end?
    When will we say enough is enough?
    The September 11 families – and our entire country – deserve better. Our democracy depends on it. And our nation's future security depends on it.

Pull Out the Kid Gloves

From MSNBC Breaking News:

    NBC News: Condoleeza Rice to testify publicly before 9/11 panel -
    NBC News has learned that Bush national security adviser Condoleeza Rice has now agreed to testify under oath in public before the commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Josh Marshall, Too

Is there anyway to nominate Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo as a national resource? Some of his information and insight is invaluable, like this last night regarding the Administration's decision to cherry pick through transcripts to find only issues that place Richard Clarke in a bad light, while leaving their own Teflon coating unscratched:

    Declassifying the transcripts is not compatible with national security. But taking the transcripts, cutting the individual words into scraps and pasting them back together into incriminating sentences might be okay.

Essential Paul Krugman

Who writes in The Times in his column today:

    Last week an opinion piece in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz about the killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin said, "This isn't America; the government did not invent intelligence material nor exaggerate the description of the threat to justify their attack."
    So even in Israel, George Bush's America has become a byword for deception and abuse of power. And the administration's reaction to Richard Clarke's "Against All Enemies" provides more evidence of something rotten in the state of our government.

He also mentions a quote from Dean's (John's, not Howard's) new book, titled or subtitled "Worse Than Watergate" that makes me want to pick it up along with Clarke's. Of course, Mr. Ashcroft won't like this when he reads our book buying or reading habits. Tsk tsk.

Sending Out the Smite Squad

Read Joe Klein's Time piece:

    The President fulfilled his biblical responsibility: he ignored both prophets, who then amped their rants and wrote books (these days, prophets are not averse to profits). And as with Clinton, the subsequent brouhahas have revealed the most distinctly unpleasant—and not very righteous—side of the President. Unable to defend his policies in a coherent way and unwilling to acknowledge his mistakes, Bush responds to criticism with ugliness.


It's amazing in light of what's come out recently, yet CNN is falling all over itself today reporting that Mr. Bush is climbing in the polls, which they interpret as a major sign that everyone loves Mr. Bush, regardless of what bad news comes out.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I suspect the people who agree to take polls - particularly those over the telephone - may not always be the most reliable sources of information. I mean, who picks up their phone anymore? Or maybe I'm the only one who still gets telemarketing calls.

It's amazing in light of what's come out recently, yet CNN is falling all over itself today reporting that Mr. Bush is climbing in the polls, which they interpret as a major sign that everyone loves Mr. Bush, regardless of what bad news comes out.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I suspect the people who agree to take polls - particularly those over the telephone - may not always be the most reliable sources of information. I mean, who picks up their phone anymore? Or maybe I'm the only one who still gets telemarketing calls.


Charges of Clarke Profiting

A couple of dissenting voices among the 9/11 families have done the rounds on TV, mostly on NBC properties that I've seen today, to say how terrible it is that Richard Clarke has a book and criticism now about 9/11. Of course, this was spurred by Sen. Bill ("No, this is NOT my real hair") Frist's comments on Friday.

But Clarke's book was held up in publication by the White House or it wouldn't be hitting the book stores at the time he testified.

And what of the other people who profited from 9/11?

Frist was one of the first people off the press with a book about terrorism. He promoted it heavily.

David Frum and Richard Perle coauthored a book that touched on the subject and David Frum wrote a book before all about how his killer "axis of evil" term helped Bush win the war on terror (ha!).

Karen (the canine bitch with the jaws of a pit bull) Hughes has just launched a 6 week book tour for a new book in which she waxes ecstatic about her boss, Bushie, related to his conduct on 9/11.

Rudy Giuliani has scored a fortune off 9/11 which is good because his third wife (Republican family values, you know) looks like she's expensive to keep.

Woolsey and a number of others have made oodles off 9/11, too.

So what's the difference between Clarke and all the others? Oh wait. I know. They're Republicans and Clarke was largely non-partisan.

Vision? What Vision?

I missed this rather blunt editorial in yesterday's Times, but Buzzflash kindly pointed me to it:

    George Bush's vision of the nation's future will undoubtedly be one focus of the presidential campaign. We suggest the debate start with the question of whether Mr. Bush actually has one. The White House has been driving Congress — and the nation — in wildly contradictory ways that suggest a deeply muddled, or perhaps nonexistent, set of domestic goals.

    Last year, for instance, the Republican House leaders desperately pummeled their more fiscally conservative members to get the Medicare drug program passed at the behest of the White House. Meanwhile, when the chief Medicare actuary tallied up the program's real cost, the administration did everything to keep him quiet but bury the man alive.

Uh... Dr. Rice?

You might want to check out this article from the Associated Press:

    WASHINGTON - There is no ironclad legal doctrine buttressing National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites)'s refusal to testify publicly before the panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, law experts said Monday.

On a Strange Note

Can we please STOP seeing and, more importantly, hearing William Hung, the early reject from American Idol? He's not the worst voice I've ever heard but ... some of us avoid reality TV shows for a reason, so we hate having them spill over into our world.

America Getting Condied... er... Conned

And yet Dr. Rice continues to appear in front of every television camera she can find, insisting that nothing would please her more than to appear before the 9/11 commission again, if only she could. Poor, poor Condi.

Today, too, the less than subtle charges keep spilling forward that terrorism czar Richard Clarke just has an issue with Dr. Rice because she's African-American, and not because she's a deceitful, nasty (look at the faces she makes), Bush brown-noser who would sell out America before she would speak ill of either herself or her president.


Poor, Poor Condi

I'm listening today - now on Wolf Blitzer's CNN program on Sunday but also throughout the last few days - that Clarke's criticism is just oh, so terribly unfair to Condi Rice and that she deserves a chance to rebut him.

Unfair to Condi? Or was Condi's behavior directly responsible for events that helped conspire to allow the level of damage that occurred on 9/11 to be carried out?

The people in the White House and beyond are supposed to serve us. They did a damned poor job of it on 9/11. Condi would never consider apologizing for what she allowed to happen. Fine. Insincere apologies matter little in any situation, and certainly wouldn't help this one. But to treat this like poor Condi is the only one injured.. or is injured at all compared to what happened to this country... is egregious.

The only thing Dr. Rice deserves is to lose her job, be publicly branded as the partisan shill that she is, and maybe lose her rights to go shopping (as she constantly does) at all of DC's upscale stores. Of course, public flogging would be nice, too. Cough.

Clarke on "Meet the Press"

Despite Tim Russert's best efforts to the contrary, Richard Clarke is coming off as incredibly earnest, believable, and knowledgeable this morning. After more than a week of taking an outrageous pounding by everyone Bush, he's more articulate and more composed than he was as this began.

Clarke showing that letter from Bush in response to Tim's grilling about "what Clarke said back then" was beautiful, as is his note that the taxpayers are being forced to fund the attacks being conducted upon him. Too bad the Bush crew didn't defend this country on 9/11 with such vigor. And that's the point. They'll go to any length to protect Bush, and the rest of us can curl up and die.

Another Guantanamo Person Charged

This one is forbidden from speaking Arabic to his parents and fiancee, who speak no English.

After the case against James Yee fell completely all to hell, it's hard to look at this fellow the same way. Maybe the case against him is as fabricated and baseless as Yee's.

Which is it?

Can we safely assume that al Zawahiri is not cornered by Pakistani and American forces if he's free to make tapes? Sometimes, you're just left feeling that Osama and al Zawahiri are just laughing at us every bungled step of the way. Bush and Company keep feeding directly into their hands.

I mean, what better way to get more Muslims to turn against America than invading a Muslim country like Iraq (secular under Saddam but fairly Muslim regardless)?

Bush and the 9/11 Charges

Do you think Karl Rove is staying awake this Saturday night sweating the results so far of a poll by Newsweek that shows that following Clarke's testimony, lots seem to be placing the blame for the 9/11 attacks and the post-Iraq mess squarely on our beloved leader's shoulders?

The Web results (through MSNBC.com) differ significantly in most cases from those actually garnered through Newsweek.

Take the poll yourself (found courtesy of Atrios).

Economy Trumps Security

With a whopping 160,000 people already voting, CNN reports that 65% of Americans feel that the economy is a bigger issue than national security.

Sounds valid to me. Our "safety" as it relates to national security is a rather nebulous thing. Even those who don't pay attention have to realize that it's probably more a matter of luck and low determination on the part of terrorists that we haven't had a bloody if lesser repeat of 9/11 because our Homeland Security Department can't even get the color scheme right in their alert chart, let alone protect all points of entry into the US. As my friend's ultra-Republican and conservative mother in Jersey likes to say, "Mr. Ridge just doesn't seem terribly bright to me."

Also, did you realize that Homeland Security is undergoing a hiring freeze? Heh! Remember that next time we go on super-duper red alert or we get a terrorist attack. They're good at spending money on crony programs and DHS, but that's about it.

Another Let 'em Eat Cake-ism

Bush also proposes that all households have broadband Internet service by 2007. It's another nice idea.

Of course, it's missing any real details on how that will be accomplished. But Bush isn't a real detail man, is he?

While we're talking about broadband, there are some significant issues here: many broadband companies have gone belly up, many rural areas may be without broadband for many years yet to come and... a point the president would never understand (since he says he "doesn't understand poor people" and thinks them lazy)... many people still do not have computers.

Sure, here in cyberspace, people already here assume everyone is here. But as someone who's made most of her living the past decade-and-a-half out of understanding online processes and practices, let me assure you that there are LOTS of people who cannot yet afford the beasts. Or the ones they have are woefully outdated - patched together 486s and even earlier.

But, like I said, don't look to Bush to sweat the details or worry about how all those lazy poor can afford both a decent computer and broadband access.