In More Violence Saturday....

This from CBS News online:

    In other violence Saturday:

    --Polish troops clashed overnight with Shiite militiamen in the city of Karbala, killing five, a spokesman for the multinational peacekeeping force in south-central Iraq said. A day earlier, an attack on Bulgarian troops in the city killed one soldier.

    --A roadside bomb destroyed a car carrying Iraqis near a U.S. base on a downtown street in the northern city of Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam and a center for anti-U.S. resistance. Four Iraqis - two policemen and two civilians - were killed and 16 people were wounded, the U.S. military said. The top U.S. administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, visited Tikrit a day earlier for meetings with tribal leaders.

    --An Iraqi woman working as a translator for the U.S. military and her husband were fatally shot as they drove to a U.S. base, a hospital official said.

    --Gunmen attacked a U.S. convoy near the city of Kut, and an armored vehicle was reported burned. Witnesses also said they saw American casualties.

    --A roadside bomb exploded as a U.S. military convoy passed in the restive town of Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad, injuring a 4-year-old Iraqi girl, said Dr. Hussein Ali Hadi from city's main hospital. On Friday, a roadside bomb there blasted an Iraqi police patrol, wounding three officers, witnesses said.
    On Friday, U.S. commanders repeated blunt warnings that the Marine assault on Fallujah could resume, meaning a revival of heavy fighting that has killed hundreds of Iraqis in the city. Marines say guerrillas in the city have not been sincerely abiding by a call to surrender heavy weapons in their arsenals.

    Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt suggested Marines could storm the city within days.

    "Our patience is not eternal. ... We're talking days," Kimmitt said.

    On Friday, the United Nations' envoy said the 25 members of Iraq's U.S.-picked Governing Council should be excluded from a planned caretaker government that is supposed to take nominal sovereignty from the U.S.-led occupation on June 30.

    While a group of "technocrats" runs the interim government, the council members should spend the next nine months campaigning for elections due by the end of January, said the envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi.

    Washington has thrown its backing behind Brahimi's proposal, suggesting the United States is prepared to allow the removal of Iraqis it had put forward to run the country.

    Brahimi, who is helping select an interim Iraqi government, said the Governing Council should be dissolved as planned on June 30.

    The Washington Post reports in its Saturday editions that, "At the top of the list of those likely to be jettisoned is Ahmed Chalabi, a Shiite politician who for years was a favorite of the Pentagon and the office of Vice President Cheney, and who was once expected to assume a powerful role after the ouster of Saddam Hussein."

    The newspaper adds that, "Chalabi has increasingly alienated the Bush administration, including President Bush, in recent months, U.S. officials said. He generated anger in Washington ... when he said a new U.S. plan to allow some former officials of Hussein's ruling Baath Party and military to return to office is the equivalent of returning Nazis to power in Germany after World War II."

Tough Going - The Worst Yet to Come?

From a Chicago Tribune piece today that Buzzflash gave attention:

    WASHINGTON -- Pressure is building in Congress and the military for a significant, indefinite increase in the size of the U.S. force in Iraq, as the recent surge of violence shows little sign of abating and a crucial period in the occupation approaches.

    The Pentagon has portrayed the recent extension of the tours of duty of 20,000 troops through July--keeping the number of U.S. troops in Iraq at 135,000--as an emergency measure. But with more violence expected in the period between the transfer of power to Iraqis on June 30 and an election to be held early next year, experts inside and outside the Pentagon say the U.S. likely will need those 20,000 and possibly more on a permanent basis.

March for Women

To follow up a post of mine from 2-3 weeks ago, remember that the March for Women's Lives is tomorrow (April 25th) in DC. Read here for more.

Alas, I can't go to this but a couple of friends and associates are, along with some organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, that I support through regular donations. Thanks to all who are marching.

Pro-choice Catholics and the Vatican

As Atrios points out so ably on his site, John Kerry is hardly the only pro-choice Catholic. It's just that the Vatican's American contingent has singled out Kerry.

What about Schwarzenegger, Ridge, Pataki, and Giuliani, to name just a few? Oh, they're Republicans. I guess that makes all the difference.

More Success

Different bombings today killed 26 in Iraq, including 5 US troops. Yesterday's killed more Iraqis along with a Bulgarian soldier.


A CentCom Saturday briefing when I woke up. I have expected them to say Iraq imploded overnight as the result of our success. Most of it, however, seems to be about Bremer taking a ride into Fallujah.


Snitchy Hitchy

Juan Cole also points us to Christopher Hitchens' web site where Hitch boils the justification for the war down to these 8 questions (my replies appear in italics):

    1) Do you believe that a confrontation with Saddam Hussein's regime was
    inevitable or not?

    Inevitable? Not sure. Unnecessary? Probably.

    2) Do you believe that a confrontation with an Uday/Qusay regime would
    have been better?

    Better than what? What happened to a true society placing those charged with crimes on trial rather than proudly displaying their remains on video? A 14-year-old boy was killed with them.

    3) Do you know that Saddam's envoys were trying to buy a weapons
    production line off the shelf from North Korea (vide the Kay report) as
    late as last March?

    Were they? According to more "intelligence"? Is this anything like the "yellow cake"? Could someone on the pro-War side prove something for a change instead of just performing mass speculation?

    4) Why do you think Saddam offered "succor" (Mr. Clarke's word) to the
    man most wanted in the 1993 bombings in New York?

    Saddam would have offered to make Michael Jackson the Iraqi Ambassador to Boy Children if it would have pissed off the US. Plus there's the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" theory.

    5) Would you have been in favor of lifting the "no fly zones" over
    northern and southern Iraq; a 10-year prolongation of the original "Gulf

    Honestly not sure. I liked what the no-fly zones achieved for the Kurds in the north, for example. But whether it was our right to do this remains rather questionable.

    6) Were you content to have Kurdish and Shiite resistance fighters do all
    the fighting for us?

    Do all the fighting for us? Oh give me a break. They didn't fight for us. They thought they were in 1991, and learned that no, we were just letting them take the fall. Saddam slaughtered as many as possible. So let's not pretend we waged the war for them.

    7) Do you think that the timing of a confrontation should have been left,
    as it was in the past, for Baghdad to choose?

    Why was a confrontation required at all? You keep posturing that a confrontation was inevitable and necessary. I don't think it was either. If Saddam had remained in power another 20 years before he keeled over from heart disease, I doubt he would have lifted more than a pinky at us in derision. And isn't this the point where you should argue again that we did it to "free" the women and children? I mean, it's bullshit, but you folks like to toss it out.

The Perle-Chalabi Connection

From Kevin Drum (formerly "Calpundit) at The Washington Monthly, taken from a post by ">Juan Cole:

    It would be really interesting to know the list of secret promises Chalabi has given Perle (and presumably the Israelis through Perle) that would explain this Neocon fervor for the man.

    Yes it would. It really would. The depth and intensity of neocon loyalty to an obvious fraud like Ahmed Chalabi is hard to explain if you limit yourself solely to benign and altruistic motivations.

Also in Juan's post:
    It was quite an experience to be on the same panel on Tuesday with Richard Perle and Toby Dodge, before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Perle wasn't added until the last minute, and it is mysterious why he was there, since ours was supposed to be an "expert" panel. Dodge has an important book on Iraq. Originally Ahmad Hashim was going to be on with us (he came Wednesday instead), and then we heard Perle had been put on. Perle, of course, is no Iraq expert. He doesn't know a word of Arabic, and has never lived anywhere in the Arab world.

    Perle's entire testimony was a camouflaged piece of flakking for Ahmad Chalabi. He complained that the State Department and the CIA had not created a private army for Chalabi and had not cooperated with him. Perle did not mention Chalabi's name, but it was clear that was who he was talking about (State and CIA famously dropped Chalabi in the mid-1990s when they asked him to account for the millions they had given him, and he could not).

    In fact, Perle kept talking about "the Iraqis" when it was clear he meant Chalabi. He said the US should have turned power over to "the Iraqis" long before now.

Is Perle going to help Chalabi run Iraq or just take his 25% off the top as agent?

On a Lighter, Earthier - or at least Smuttier - Note

    "In the event of erections that last longer than four hours, seek immediate medical attention."

I've been watching news discussions on MSNBC for more than two hours, and I can't tell you how many times I've heard this (thankfully, no Bush ads) from the Levitra commercial.

Yeah, I'd think a 4+ hour hard-on would be a bad thing but maybe that's just because I'm female. Cough.

    "Help! I'm trapped inside my wife and I can't go down. No! She's not enjoying it."

Four-hour erection discussions are suitable for TV even during the dinner hour, but Michael Powell's innocence is corrupted by Janet Jackson's pastie. Strange, strange world. You know that if Timothy Leary were alive, he'd be whipping up one hell of a drug right now.

Amen, Brothers

From Atrios, working from a discussion by David J. Sirota in the American Prospect:

    David Sirota discusses the legal and important constitutional issues surrounding the $700 million the Bush administration illegally siphons off. He correctly argues that congress cannot abdicate its reponsibility to investigate this situation. Otherwise, future governments will feel unencumbered by pesky things like "the constitution" or "laws."

    This story is astounding. What's more astounding is the fact that there is been no outrage from the op-ed pages or from the TV bobbleheads. Let me try and explain it to them very carefully.

    After 9/11, we went to war in Afghanistan to punish those responsible as well as to remove support for the al Qaeda network more generally. We didn't put enough troops on the ground either finish the job of rounding up the terrorists or to rebuild and install a stable governmenment. The consequence of this is that Bin Laden and many other al Qaeda members were allowed to escape, and much of Afghanistan has reverted to their Taliban-era existence. We know now that part of the reason was that the Bush administration was diverting resources allocated to that purpose in order to attack a country which posed no threat to us or its neighbors. They stole money allocated to make us safer, and used it to make us less safe.

    Shame on them. Shame on Republicans in Congress for not being outraged. Shame on our media for not being outraged.

    This administration always says that everything after 9/11 changed. What changed is that they decided they could do anything they wanted to, in violation of law and Constitution, and the media wouldn't hold them accountable. So far, they've mostly been right.

Sharon on Arafat

Sharon said today that he told Bush - and that Bush understood - that he will no longer stand by his pledge not to extend the targeted assassinations to Yassir Arafat.

I expect that unless there's a reversal in the next several days, we'll see at least a serious attempt Arafat's life, if not a successful assassination. And I'm very, very afraid of what that will mean, considering events since 2001 (and even before). That single event could ultimately become the most disastrous attack yet in terms of the future of the Middle East. I think it will ultimately hurt the people of Israel far more than Sharon could even begin to believe it will help.

The Vatican Be Messing With Us

From Hesiod at Counterspin:

al-Sadr Warnings

While a CNN poll has 73% of respondents (more than 50K) right now saying the military should resume the offensive in Fallujah (and I wonder how many of them have family in the military or understand the issues), another CNN story tells us that offensives elsewhere could result in many casualties:

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The militant Shiite Muslim cleric whom the U.S.-led coalition has vowed to capture or kill warned of suicide attacks Friday if American forces conduct military action in the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.

    At a prayer service in Najaf, Muqtada al-Sadr said his followers would "shed blood to keep our holy city," according to Reuters.

    The U.S. military has massed troops around Najaf, a south-central city controlled by al-Sadr's militia, the Mehdi Army. Al-Sadr is wanted by Iraqi authorities in connection with the killing of a rival cleric

    "Lots of believers, men and women, came to me and asked permission to become martyrs and to execute martyrdom operations. I keep telling them to wait," Reuters quoted the cleric as saying.

About the Fired Contractor

While I feel badly for the contractor and her husband who were fired by their military contractor employer after a picture she took of flag-draped coffins was widely published after it appeared in a Seattle newspaper, I don't know what else could be expected.

I mean, if you choose to work for a military contractor, you agree to the rules. Everyone knows there is a specific rule about even permitting the press to take and publish such photographs, so the military isn't going to be pleased when someone working for its own contractors does so. The real news, sadly, would be if she were not fired.

Was it an important photograph that both showed a certain solemn indignity (along with an eerie warehouse nature) and some of the true costs of this war? Indeed. And this woman sounds like a very nice lady who goes above and beyond her usual job description by helping the grieving GIs who've just lost a comrade. She did us a service.

I'd like to think she'll be hired by someone else with greater vision and integrity than the contractor/Rumsfeld/the White House, but I can't be surprised that she was terminated. I can't even believe she should be terribly surprised by it.

"Moved" Indeed

The White House today released a statement that says the president was moved by images of the flag-draped coffins of the service dead. I know this will sound ill-spirited, but he damned well should be moved. In fact, it should go without saying that he should be moved. I think it's sad that we have a president so distant from the reality of normal mortals that he would need to release a statement telling us he's moved... especially since he doesn't read newspapers or watch news on TV, so we might think perhaps he had not seen them in his insulated little world.

But I do not think for a moment that, as the statement tells us, the policy of not allowing such images is done only for the privacy of the families. This administration, in particular, has little concern for the families or for the soldiers. Or lies would not have been told to get us to this point where so many flag-draped coffins are returning.

Note, too, that this policy was instituted in 1991, by another Bush president, also covering those returning dead from another Iraq war.

Another Loss

This one in Afghanistan, and the casualty is Pat Tillman, a man who walked away from a lucrative sports contract ($3.2 million) to join the Army Rangers. I don't agree with the war, but I acknowledge what he believed in enough to make that kind of sacrifice in the first place, and respect the ultimate sacrifice he paid.

To be fair, however, it makes me even angrier that Bush has again and again gotten us into battles on false information and for different agenda than he publicly presents.

More on Coffins

Skippy has more, as do several other blogs. We should be seeing them, and I really don't care if the Pentagon is pissed (and probably just because Karl Rove is mad).

Flag-Draped Coffins

One of the few good things to come of the pictures published in a Washington-state paper, taken by a military contractor (who has since been fired along with her husband), of the flag-draped coffins of military personnel coming back from the war is that at least for some, it confirms the idea what war often means death. Too few people, untouched by loved ones in the military, seem astoundingly insulated from this fact.

Another "good" thing, however, is a discussion. Should we be insulated from the images of the war's dead when they went to fight for us? In a representational Democracy, we charge our elected officials with making the decision to go to war, but that doesn't remove us from responsibility to those who die as a result.


Omarosa Update

The Kimmel show is saying that Omarosa bucked out of there because she saw they were using a polygraph machine in one of the bits tonight. Even though it was explained that it was not for her, Omarosa probably should be concerned with the results of a lie detector test (her versions of facts change frequently).

In fact, Omarosa would seem like an EXCELLENT replacement for just about any senior member of the Bush Administration: she's thin-skinned, seems to know precious little for someone who presents herself as a know-it-all, and takes zero responsibility for anything she's involved in, even when presented with clear evidence of her culpability. Yup. Sounds like a Bushie.


As Roger Ailes points out on his blog - but not in quite the same words - it's bad when the conservative shills at Town Hall turn against our feckless leader. This from Bruce Bartlett:

    On Monday, The New York Times reported that growing numbers of conservatives are turning against President Bush on Iraq. This follows an inarticulate defense of the Iraq operation by Bush in a press conference last week and growing attacks on our troops. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the basic rationale for the war was not well thought through and that postwar planning was deeply flawed at a minimum. These may result from a basic weakness in this White House's policy-making and decision-making processes.

    I have to say that my own feelings on the war parallel those of many others who previously supported the war but now feel deep misgivings. Although I don't often write on foreign policy, I felt I had an obligation to take a stand on Iraq before the war started. In a February 2003 column, I reluctantly supported the war because at the time I thought there was credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. With that country being ruled by a lunatic dictator with known ties to terrorist groups, I felt that President Bush deserved the benefit of a doubt.

    Since then, I have been very disturbed by the lack of WMD's. I am not yet convinced that President Bush manufactured evidence for their existence as a pretext for war. But I do believe that he has fostered a White House culture that contributes to error with a stifled internal debate, a decision-making process that seems to short circuit research and analysis, and an obsession with loyalty and secrecy that makes the Nixon White House appear as a model of openness and transparency.

Kangaroo Wisdom

Some wisdom from Skippy, our favorite bush kangaroo:

    we know, we are committing lefty hari-kari by saying it outloud, but we were thinking last night how sorry we were that john edwards didn't get to be the dem nominee (assuming really weird crap doesn't happen and kerry gets it this summer).

    sorry, deaniacs, and we do acknowledge people-powered howard's effect on the dem message. but golly, no sooner had the vermont governor pulled the party back to its roots, then mr. ketchup goes completely out of his way to sound like bush lite.

Ornery Omarosa

As I keep mentioning, I don't watch Reality TV, but The Apprentice's Omarosa has been everywhere.... everywhere, that is, except a live appearance on Jimmy Kimmel live that she walked out on tonight (I wouldn't know this if I'd been able to find the remote control in time to change this to a Letterman re-run).

Omarosa is a hoot if you like watching someone have a narcissistic paranoid mood swing with homicidal tendencies on television. I saw someone the other day ask her how she felt about "Herbal Essences" backing out (possibly) from some shampoo commercials with her, and I thought Omarosa was going to rip the interviewer's heart out with her teeth. I've known a woman like this before. But I was hoping that old dame was one of a kind and limited to Seattle.

Rumsfeld and the Draft

From Oliver Willis:

    We All Know How Honest He Is
    For the record, please notice in this "denial" that Rumsfeld uses his usual parsing to bat away the question of a military draft:

    "I don't know anyone in the executive branch of the government who believes it would be appropriate or necessary to reinstitute the draft," Rumsfeld told the Newspaper Association of America's annual convention.

TUI Offense

This may be explained perhaps because I'm typing under the influence of this "non drowsiness" formula antihistamine that makes me think Jerry Garcia would have loved dropping this stuff, but I find TBogg's "body" count post today hilarious. Just remember:

    Kerry: 20
    George Bush: 0
    Laura Bush: 1

Maybe, however, you have to appreciate the fact that Laura Bush killed a schoolmate with her car in an accident in high school. The Bush family seems terribly accident prone.

You Can Smell the Brimstone Coming off Ashcroft Now

From CNN:

    A judge on Wednesday ordered the federal government not to raid or prosecute a California group that grows and distributes marijuana for its sick members.

    The decision from U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose was the first interpretation of an appeals court's December ruling that federal prosecutions of medical marijuana users are unconstitutional if the pot isn't sold, transported across state lines or used for non-medicinal purposes.

    Nine states, including California, allow medical marijuana use, but the Justice Department contends that federal drug laws take precedence.

Smacking Head Repeatedly into Wall

All the media wants to discuss today is Michael Jackson's indictment by a grand jury on child endangerment charges today. The chances of this affecting any American personally is so statistically small compared to so many of the other newsworthy events today not being covered, such as Chuck Hagel's discussion of reininstituting the draft yesterday, of Bush daring to appear as an Earth Day president, of continued problems in Iraq (and let's not forget Afghanistan even if the Bushies have), and some type of acknowledgement by the public that they're sick to death of chickenhawks like Bush, Cheney, and Rice target shooting at real vets like John Kerry and Max Cleland.

Here's Something Different

A USC pediatrician said she has seen good results using ingested - not smoked - cannabis for the treatment of children with ADD and ADHD (attention problems), primarily because it does not offer anywhere near the side effects of what she called heavier duty drugs such as Ritalin.

I found this a little interesting because years ago, I happened to overhear a conversation between 2 or 3 doctors at Yale (I was there attending a cancer conference) who were discussing a similar study being done in Canada or England or some such place related to children for whom Ritalin either didn't work or had miserable effects. Never heard a peep about it after that, until the spot on "Countdown" on MSNBC tonight.

Freedom of the Press

May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day, organized to celebrate the free presses throughout the world.

Now, a free press isn't available everywhere. Some feel (including myself) that it's been seriously affected even in this country since 9/11/01. The current uprising in Iraq has a lot to do with Coalition forces shutting down a newspaper written by Iraqis for Iraqis that sent many out into the streets in vocal, angry protest.

I don't know about you, but I'm going to take a few minutes out of the day on May 3rd - and everyday around then, too - to give press freedom some careful thought.


Two trains carrying flammable liquids collide in North Korea, not long after dear Kim had travelled back through from a trip to China.

Goodbye and Thank You, Mary

Columnist Mary McGrory has died.

McGrory's "voice" was silenced more than a year ago, trying to handle criticism by her views about the then-upcoming Iraq war. She was despised by the first Bush (41) and made Nixon's enemies list, two standards on which to be proud considering the men involved.

Rest in peace... and I hope Heaven isn't an empire ruled by Bushes.

The Things That Glow

Between the missing nuclear fuel rods not so far down the road from me and the IAEA reporting that all that unguarded nuclear crap in Iraq is now showing up throughout Europe and the rest of the world.... gee, no, Mr. Bush doesn't get my vote as best Earth Day president. Saaaaad snicker.


More on the Draft

I wasn't entirely pleased with my previous post about the draft (a few down) because part of it sounds like Peggy Noonan fake hand-wringing while the other part implies I know what the right answer is supposed to be.

Of all the other wars in which I know the draft was called, this situation in Iraq and Afghanistan is one of the worst applications of it. Like the Spanish-American war that media giants at the time like Hearst helped fund to increase circulation, this one is being fought only for the benefit - and I say benefit, NOT security - of some elements within the United States.

We aren't going to wipe out terrorism because for every effort and action, there is likely to be a group vehemently and perhaps violently opposed to that effort and action. One person on one side of a two sided issue will always refer to the opposing side as a terrorist if they think they can get any political traction out of it. A terrorist - for most people who don't give it great thought - implies a dangerous loony-tune and not anyone with a legitimate gripe (and a legitimate gripe is, of course, different than blowing people up).

Now, much of the world - which means, not Bush and company - are wise enough to realize the War on Terror is a rather selective war where the sole definition of a terrorist often seems to be "anyone standing in the Bush party's way", and they don't expect 2, 5, 10, 20, or 50 years of fighting this so-called war to render anything but more terrorism.

Thus, there shouldn't need to be a draft because we shouldn't be fighting this kind of war this way. But we are. And as long as we're willing to allow Commander Jumpsuit-on-the-FlightDeck to keep bringing us into war, we're going to have to institute the draft. It shouldn't only be the poor who go. And it would not in anyway be fair to institute a draft without including able-bodied women in themix.

Both of the conditions I would like to set on the reinstitution of the draft would be seriously hated by the right wing. They don't want women in service - and wanted to make Jessica Lynch a poster girl for proving women aren't capable - unless they're in the service of servicing commissioned officers in the nice, safe officer's quarters. And Congress and the White House will do everything possible to protect their own kids, along with the kids of key political/financial associates, at the expense of their constituents' poorer kids.

But place both conditions on the draft and you get a) a more fair system and b) perhaps a little more thought in what's involved in keeping us OUT of war - or maybe I'm just c)stoned on antihistamines - it seems to be allergy season and everytime I try a new "no drowsy" antihistamine I end up hanging from the ceiling fan. Ah well.

The Wrong Approach to Drug Prices

From CNN:

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Leading senators Wednesday unveiled a bipartisan bill that would let Americans import cheaper U.S.-approved prescription drugs from abroad.

    Individuals would be able to buy 90-day supplies of medicines for personal use from qualified Canadian pharmacies. Larger commercial shipments to wholesalers or pharmacies would be limited to Canada for the first year and then expand to approved industrialized nations, including European Union members, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Switzerland.

    "We pay here in the United States the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world. That's not fair," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat.

I've been doing a fair amount of research into the issue of drug prices and our policies here vs. those abroad, and I have to say that this is a bone-headed way to approach the problem for anything more than a very short term bandaid.

Buying from Canada has led to the Canadian health care system beset by higher pricing, borne by their own citizens to support our schizophrenic health care system. We need to address this head-on, and directly, and resolve it for more than a month or two.

We call ourselves the best and the brightest, right? So why do we have to hang off other countries' prescription coat tails? We don't!

The Draft?

Whether it's CNN's daily vote, various blogs, or even several different newspapers around the country, much of the talk is about the draft: whether to reinstate it, when, and for whom.

I loathe the idea of the draft again for all it means. However, I also hate the idea that 90% or more of our military are poor kids without other options. Think, for example, how many of those with alien status joined the War on Terrorism just trying to get citizenship even if posthumously.

If Bush is going to declare war on different parts of the 1.4 billion strong Muslim world, I guess he's going to need bodies to do that. (Huge sigh.) The draft would be more fair than the current system.

But to reinstate the draft, it should be made far more fair by covering two points:

    * stripping the special outs for rich kids (Capitol Hill kiddies have to go, too)
    * including women

Ditto That

I'll join with Kos - some of whose remarks appear below - and others in being sick to death of hearing Bush and Company try to smear Kerry's military record when the Bush Administration - save for Colin Powell and a few others - is replete with people who used every advantage possible to avoid service.

    Funny how the GOP attack machine is going after Kerry's military record attempting to pull another Max Cleland. They are not only chickenhawks, but dammit, they will do what they must to smear those who actually did make real sacrifices for their country.
    But if the GOP wants a comparison, then a comparison they'll get. The comparison below is culled from a DNC report about to be released on their site comparing the Bush and Kerry service records:

    While at Yale

    Enlisted in the US Naval Reserves. Feb. 18, 1966
    Bush received student deferments until June 1968; that year marked the height of the Vietnam draft. [Washington Post, 7/28/99]

    Applied for spot in Texas Air National Guard in January of 1968, before graduation. Before he graduated, Bush personally visited Col. Walter "Buck" Staudt -- the commander of the Texas Air National Guard -- to talk about the Guard.

    After Bush met with Staudt, he applied and was quickly accepted -- despite a waiting list of over 150 applicants.

    Contrary to Bush's denials of special treatment, it was later disclosed that a personal friend of Bush's father had secured the spot in the Guard for Bush.

    Bush later acknowledges he entered Guard to avoid going to Vietnam: "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes." [Houston Chronicle, 5/8/94]

Respectfully Disagree

On a lighter note, I was perusing the list of worst songs of all time put out by Blender Magazine

Granted, I'm no musical aficianado, but I'd say that "Built This City on Rock and Roll", while pedantic and sloshy, isn't the worst of the worst. I'd say the top honor should certainly go to "Achy Breaky Heart" or anything by Toby Keith, both of which were runners-up.

But Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence"????? No way. It's not the best song they ever did, but man.... it doesn't belong on a worst-of list. Uh unh.

    Hello darkness my old friend....
    I'm here to talk to you again....

Our "Success" is Killing a Lot of People

Including at least 18 school children here and more in the Saudi city.



What does a congressman hunt with a 9 mm. Glock pistol? You usually hear more about it in murder and armed felony cases than in hunting.

Patriot Act

Right now, the CNN poll question is, "Should the Patriot Act be renewed?" Also currently, it's running close to 2:1 against, with more than 50,000 respondents. Let's face it, some of the most progressive folks in the country aren't usually CNN devotees (unless they're really sexually attracted to Wolfie and really.. who wouldn't be?).

Ted Olsen

I'm again bombarded today by news that Ted Olsen, Solicitor General, had to argue a case for the government today related to terrorism when the poor man lost his wife on 9/11.

Now, I was never a big Barbara Olsen fan. The woman spewed vile; Ann Coulter with less plastic surgery. But she didn't deserve to die that way. No one did. I'll skip, too, the irony I feel that a woman who tried so hard to torpedo the government during the Clinton years would happen to be on the plane to hit the Pentagon, when it was partly her and her husband's crew that kept the country completely distracted by the blue dress of Lewinsky's so no proper attention could be paid to the attacks that were to come.

But here's a wild suggestion re: Ted Olsen. Indeed, having his wife on one of those four planes on 9/11 would seem to represent both pain for him as well as one heck of a conflict of interest. No one could come away from that situation unprejudiced. So why is Mr. Olsen still Solicitor General?

Worth a Bit of Concern?

Now, I'll admit - as I have many times - that I'm not warm and fuzzy over John Kerry. Nor do I have to be. I just have to feel he's the best choice of the candidates who will be on the ballot in November (and considering the incumbent... ahem).

But here's something that happened today that bothered me at first, I tried to dismiss it, yet it keeps coming back.

I happened to see someone I know in the grocery store, and as I came closer, I figured I would say hi. But then I noticed she was mostly turned away now and speaking with another woman. No biggie.

That's not the point of concern. It's what I overheard the woman say. Not sure what the exact topic was, but she said, "Isn't that funny? I can't think of the other fellow's name who's running. The Democrat."

Now, I know the woman just well enough to know that she's pretty smart and certainly pays attention to the national and world news more than most. I also know from previous conversations with her that she seems to be rather progressive.

I found it incredibly worrisome that she couldn't name John Kerry. Sure, we all draw a blank on something we know occasionally. But we're awfully close to an election and the stakes this time are pretty high.

It's also not the first time I've run into this situation, where people simply had a hard time naming Kerry. Granted, this was true of Clinton at this stage in the 1992 election as well. And granted, I doubt anyone who really feels Bush is doing a bad job will accidentally forget and vote for him (again).

But if the country is so divided - will polls pretty close to even on a score of major points, not just whether Bush or Kerry should win - why is it the opposing candidate isn't better remembered now?

There are days when I have to go looking for any mention of him. What he says isn't always that memorable either. In fact, I hear stronger rhetoric from Ted Kennedy, and a few others (including John McCain) than I hear from Kerry. And Bush is running ad after ad after ad. I can't tell you when I last saw a Kerry ad (but I'm in Vermont, and nobody is apt to mistake Vermont for a red state this election). It doesn't even seem to matter that the Bush ads are so flagrantly untrue on various points.

It's Hard

No, it really is hard to know where to start in all the great things the US success in Iraq is producing, whether it's the 22 dead prisoners, or the tortured "truces" in Najaf and Fallujah, or the fact that our media decided to forget today about word that Prince Bandar and Bush may have conspired to reduce fuel prices around the time of the election (strange, considering Cheney's recent told us that low oil prices aren't good for America). Oh yes, and the King of Jordan suddenly cancelled plans to visit while Mubarek spoke ominously about America's credibility with Arabs and the rest of the world.

No, the media had just two things to focus upon today: Colombine (I'm sorry, but I'm deadly tired of the subject, and holding a mass grieving ceremony each year for it is just fostering more Colombines in the future) and the fact that the more Bush screws the US, Iraq, and the rest of the world, the higher he goes in polls.

I'll be kind and not mention the study of brain scans of Republicans and Democrats to see if there are any perceivable differences. I mean, some of these jokes are just too easy to be any challenge.

This Should Remove Any Lingering Doubts re: Our Intentions

When Negroponte gets appointed top dog in Iraq, I suspect even the most hopeful Iraqi will consider their goose cooked. We freed Iraq apparently simply to turn it over to Halliburton, Bechtel, the criminal Chalabi, and the human rights abuser Negroponte.

Dr. Rice: Who Could Have Imagined Using Planes as Weapons?

Apparently, Norad did.... sometime before it happened.

Is Condi's doctorate in ass kissing?


Baffling Bush--it

Read this transcript from Josh Marshall on the press gaggle at the WH over the allegations in Woodward's book concerning Prince Bandar and the "fixing" of oil prices to aid the president politically. I think they're turning Scotty (the spokesman) into a Stepford Eunuch.

Interestingly enough, as I made myself sit through Larry King to watch an hour-long interview with Woodward, Prince Bandar himself called the live broadcast - supposedly unsolicited - and said he had only one time correction to what Woodward had said about him and the Bush WH. And it wasn't about offering to fix the price; it had to do with taking the decision to go to war "to the bank." So why didn't Bandar - who's apparently keeping track of discussions today - refute the story about helping Bush politically? It seems like a much more important point to clear up. No?

Busy, Busy, Busy

Well, probably everyone and everything but the president, that is.

Spain is pulling out its troops as fast as it can. While the right wing is screaming here (calls of "Old Europe" and "traitors in the War on Terrorism") about it, Spain and its citizens have every right - and dare say, reason - to get the hell out of there. God knows several of the independent contracting firms - like those providing food, supply, and security services to our troops and other coalition authories - are doing so, and they have far more financial incentive to stay.

The British are said to be considering removing their troops - the largest contingent at about 44,000 after the US's 120,000 or so - if a key Shia group asks them to do so.

Russia's gone at the end of the week, and both Italy and Poland are said to be considering it.

All the buzz is on Woodward's new book. Interesting that Woodward was able to get so much access, first to write the earlier book which seems like a real PR piece for Bush, while the second blows the lid off a few things that are downright illegal and/or unethical. But watch - the Bush Admin will show its Teflon coating once again. It's bloody amazing.

Powell and Woodward

From the "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" daily roundup:

    Secretary of State Colin Powell has re-emerged as the pouty-mouthed spoiler of the Bush administration, not playing very nice in the sandbox of neocons and vulcans that prodded George W. Bush into the war in Iraq. The new book by Bob Woodward, "Plan of Attack," is making headlines, but Powell's critics say he gave far too much to Woodward, in an effort to paint himself as the clear-headed diplomat.

    Whatever Powell's motives, there's plenty of juice in Woodward's narrative of the ramp-up to war. And there's plenty of sources other than Colin Powell.
    A sampling:
    * The Bush administration took $700 million from appropriations the U.S. Congress had earmarked for the war in Afghanistan and used it for Iraqi planning, a move which could be illegal.
    * Saudi Prince Bandar learned of the attack plans on January 11, 2003, two days before Powell was told of the decision.
    * Bush on his father: "...there's a higher father that I appeal to..."
    (Here's the link.)

Today is the Anniversary

Roger Ailes reminds us that today is the anniversary of two quite horrible events in very recent American history:

    Today is the anniversary of two terrible events:

    On April 19, 1993, the end of the standoff at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas occurred when David Koresh and his followers set their dwelling, themselves and their children on fire. The beginning of the standoff occurred 51 days earlier, when Koresh and his followers brutally murdered four ATF agents executing a search warrant. Every death that occurred at the Waco compound in February and April 1993 is the responsibility of Koresh and his followers, and no one else.

    On April 19, 1995, terrorist Timothy McVeigh and his accomplice, Terry Nichols, murdered 168 men, women and children when McVeigh detonated a truck bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Contrary to the claims of fantasists like Laurie Mylroie and Janya Davis, the bombing was the product of home-grown racists and bigots, not Saddam Hussein. (Sadly, some of the survivors and victims' families have bought into that tripe.)

And he's right about no one noticing. I've been reading and watching news since very early today, and finding Roger's update today was the first notice I've seen of it.

Atrios Again

Another point on which I fully agree with Atrios, relating to the contracting out of security details, some of which are pulling out of Iraq because it's just too damned much a success (according to the WH), for anyone to feel safe.

    Anyone with an IQ over about 60 could have told you that having the military contract out security operations would be a) hideously expensive and b) cause serious problems for the military. The companies can cut and run whenever they want. There's no code of conduct or military justice. Military personnel have an incentive to quit as soon as possible and go work for private companies, at a much higher cost to the military - and to you, the taxpayer.

In Madrid

The purpose or possible message here just escapes me. He lost his life. Why desecrate his dead body?

    MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- The body of a Spanish police officer who was killed in a raid on suspected Islamic terrorists was removed from its tomb Sunday night, dragged across a cemetery, doused with gasoline and burned, a Spanish police official told CNN.


May We Change Her Title, Please?

With Condi racing about to every available microphone and reporter to disavow any truth to Bob Woodward's book - with Woodward again given remarkable access to this White House to write this book - I propose we change her name from National Security Advisor to Presidential Bulletproof Vest.

It's pretty clear that the only security that interests Condi is her boss'. But that's not the job we pay the National Security Adviser to perform.

As the US Military Death Toll Surpasses 700...

A new CNN poll asks:

    Do you think targeted killings can stop terrorist attacks?

Right now, 68% of more than 100,000 respondents say NO.

Woodward on "60 Minutes"

What he said was powerful and without being terribly partisan or strong-worded either way, it seemed rather damning. If it's true about Colin Powell not knowing until so late in the process, however, and Powell supposedly telling Bush to consider the ramifications, one wonders why Powell didn't draw a line in the sand rather than lie before the UN Security Council.

Yes, up until that February '03 UNSC meeting, I expected far more from Colin Powell. I was willing to buy the line told by some that he was simply trying to fight from within, but no intelligent person could listen to his testimony that day and feel he was in any way telling the truth. He'd become Bush's good soldier determined to win at any price.

Atrios Sums it Up

I was chomping at the bit over something I read about Gorelick, was starting to post here, when I saw Atrios summed it up nicely:

    Frankly, even in this media climate, I cannot believe that our whore media didn't respond with near-universal outrage and derision over Ashcroft's shameless display of partisan hackery when he appeared to testify. After spending his first 8 months in office paying absolutely no attention to terrorism - ranking it below covering up boobies as priority of his JD - Ashcroft had the nerve to try and ratfuck the committee by bringing up a memo from 1995 outlining a policy which his own JD ratified in the summer of 2001.

    It's a complete embarassment that we have such an unprofessional partisan buffoon as our AG. It'd be funny if he wasn't so utterly unequipped to do what is a rather important job.

Arab Reaction

Spent the morning reading a few Arab and Muslim-oriented papers, and there seems to be some sentiment that the death of the brand new Hamas leader so soon after Sharon's summit with Bush leads to the conclusion that Bush gave Sharon the thumbs-up.

I'm not sure whether that's true or not. Sharon cuts his own path, and when it goes along with Washington, fine, but if it doesn't, he doesn't skip too many meals in angst over it. I don't think it in anyway helps the Israelis, however. Israel isn't anymore just a country of rabid, righteous settlers as Arab lands are just extremist Islamic fundamentalists (or people like Tom Delay - but not Tom Delay himself because he really is a wacko nutjob - are just Christian extremists whose actions and behavior seem to have little tie to Christ.

I think perhaps, however, that extremist religious fervor is in dangerous control over large parts of the world right now, and it would behoove those of us moderate and to the left of same to try to insert a bit of reason. But then, hey, I don't think Jehovah, Allah, or Christ would be too thrilled with any of this shit.

Richard Meyers on Wolfie

Did I just hear correctly? The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - someone who, I'm sure, wears a hearing piece to pick up remote broadcasts from Rumsfeld's strange little mind and just parrots them back - just said that it's only our great successful that made a revolution by a joint group of Shiia and Sunni forces inevitable. No. The DoD told us those were two groups who would never band together. And I'm having a problem seeing any of this miasma as a success.

Second, Meyers' says that it's the "few rebel forces" responsible for so many deaths of women and children. I doubt that, too. I think that women and children are getting involved because there's such a mess and, sorry to say, we're not exercising as much caution as we could in making sure we don't target them. I don't think this is the decision of the men and women on the ground. I think this comes straight from "win at any costs" Washington.

And if we don't recognize that the situation is only going to deteriorate more with so many exhausted forces being ordered to stay another 90 days or more...

On a Personal Note

I never, never, never like my book covers.

Bush Ads

If you're a regular watcher of CNN and MSNBC - it may also be the case on Faux but I just can't bring myself to watch them since 9/11 - you can't help but notice all the Bush ads. I mean, they're constant.

Now, I don't watch TV constantly nor do I watch CNN and MSNBC exclusively, but in a two day period (and I know I missed some), I saw 17 Bush ads. The irony is the one about "some people have so wacky ideas about energy". In it, the Bush folks criticize John Kerry for wanting to institute a 50-cent-a-gallon tax addition to discourage people from driving as much. I don't believe the act is actually factually correct - what a surprise - but even if it is:

Mind you, Dick - I put the Hell in Halliburton - Cheney just appeared before a refinery industry association saying that we can't delude ourselves into thinking low gas prices are good for America. Dick would love to see $3 and $5 a gallon prices after November's election and especially in the blue states.

The difference between Kerry and Cheney on this is that Kerry proposes increasing the cost for specific purposes, while Cheney just wants to line his own personal pocket and that of all the fatcats who support his re-selection (why is it I feel we might get up with the Supremes involved again?).