"Gun Safety Presenter Shoots Self by Accident"

You won't be able to believe this, but he's from Florida.

There's clearly quite a joke here, but it's tasteless.

However, one of the MANY reasons I don't play with guns is because I'm clumsy. Perhaps this DEA agent should consider a career change (and I don't mean nuclear reactor technician either).

Another View of the Iraqi Abuse Story

This is a rather potent story in the Baltimore Sun from yesterday related to the above-referenced topic, with some written comments by some of the people involved as well as their families. Thanks to Buzzflash for the first link on it I saw.

New Yorker Piece

Reader CK posted this in comments, but I neglected to post it here. Let me do that now. It's from Seymour Hersch about the charges of brutality in Iraq and gives more background that the 60 Minutes II piece or most of the followup through the media since Wednesday night.

A fun read it's not but remember... every man and woman there in Iraq right now is in that position because of a course this country took. We own it.

California Removes Electronic Voting for November

The LA Times is reporting that the Secretary of State in California has pulled his support for electronic voting, a move that is likely to keep at least several counties from using some of the most controversial Diebold machines for the presidential election in November.

I'm actually waiting to hear what my state will do. I decided sometime back that rather than submit to an electronic vote on these machines considering the election of 2000, I'll apply for and submit an absentee paper ballot (in VT, most votes have always been done on paper or even by hand). As it happens, there's a significant chance I'll be traveling around election time so this move serves two purposes. If, however, we disallow "no trail" electronic voting, I'd make more of an effort to be here to cast my vote.

Mind you, ultimately, I think computerized voting will be fine. But we must protect the way it's done, and to have Mr. Bush push into law his "Help America Vote (for Me Whether They Planned to Or Not) Act" is ... uh.. worrisome. That's the word.


Well, in just a few days up, we've gotten some good comments. Thanks to those reading and contributing.

And while I've got a rosy glow (so to speak), congratulations to Jesse Taylor at Pandagon.net who's taken a paid position with the Jerry Springer group.

I know, I know... Jerry Springer, you think. I've never seen more than excerpts from his show, and that's a crock.

But Springer the man seems quite bright, honest (he knows exactly what his show is and pretends nothing lofty), talented, and an intelligent progressive voice. Whether he ends up running for politics again or just tries to give Dems in Ohio a step up, I'd like to hear more. With Jesse - and Ezra - so talented, I'm planning to check out the work. But I also hope Pandagon continues (I'm addicted, what can I say?).


When I was studying journalism in college, we were hit over the head repeatedly with the word,"alleged" and rightly so.

But my significant other and I were watching the news over lunch, and while they kept broadcasting images of torture and degradation of the prisoners, they kept, kept, kept using the word alleged. Frankly, I don't think the abuse quite falls under the category. It may be said "alleged to be Iraqis tortured at the hands of American soldiers", but you look at those pictures... and alleged abuse isn't the first word term pops to mind. Holy shit! and What the f--- came to mind first here.

Dick Meyers Says it Well

Although I'm a regular Dick Meyers' reader, Skippy found this first on CBSnews.com:

    What kind of absurd political twilight zone is it where George Bush and Dick Cheney can make John Kerry look like an unpatriotic chicken by focusing attention on his combat duty in Vietnam?

    It's a doublethink world of issues-ephemera, spin, and manipulated perceptions that Bush's technicians have mastered and that we the media and we the people aid and abet: Campaign 2004, a truth odyssey.

    What is the word that has more gall than gall? Nerve? Cheek, chutzpah conceit, arrogance, condescension? You name it -- the squadron of chickenhawks that steers both the campaign and government of President Bush's have pots of it. Where do these people come off impugning John Kerry's Vietnam era guts and patriotism? John McCain, Colin Powell, Tom Ridge or Chuck Hagel might have some moral standing, but not these chickenhawks.

I think I just died and went to Heaven. Or at least died and didn't get stuck in New Jersey.

Mistreatment of Iraqi Detainees

As Josh Marshall points out today, the excuse being offered - that troops were insufficiently trained in rules of the Geneva Convention - over the documented mistreatment of Iraqi detainees is really quite lame.

Humans should know to treat other living things better than that. And before you tell me, "well, what about the Iraqis?", let me add that we supposedly haven't been living under a brutal dictatorship (except, of course, that we hear about this kind of thing being done here to prisoners).

Like Josh, I feel that this is largely a matter of putting a lot of young men (and presumably women) in a situation like this, getting them juiced up on the concept of enemy and then requiring them to get information from these prisoners (and let's be honest, a lot of detainees have no information to give but perhaps we don't feel we can verify that until we've tortured them - yeesh) at any costs is likely a big factor in this. Nor was this limited to American troops. While British papers have profiled more than once the statements of Brit soldiers rather appalled at the way the Americans treated civilians, at least one case here involves a British soldier purportedly urinating on an Iraqi.

Put these young people with little experience in the world in highly alien and dangerous conditions, hype them on the concept that each prisoner is like a glaring symbol of Osama and Saddam, praise the troops only if they get results, and you end up with a lot of detainees mistreated.

Former Diplomats Protest Bush Policy

From the Financial Times comes this:

    Inspired by the attack of their British colleagues on Tony Blair's foreign policy, more than 20 former US diplomats have so far signed a letter to President George W. Bush protesting against his pro-Israeli stance.

    The letter accuses Mr Bush of reversing long- standing American policy in the Middle East by endorsing the demands of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, that Israel retain big settlements in the occupied West Bank and deny the right of return to Palestinian refugees.

    "Your unqualified support of Sharon's extra-judicial assassinations, Israel's Berlin Wall-like barrier, its harsh military measures in occupied territories, and now your endorsement of Sharon's unilateral plan are costing our country its credibility, prestige and friends," the letter says.

Electoral College and Vote 2004

Ezra at Pandagon makes this point (note the article link within to a discussion of Rasmussen at Matthew Yglesias' site):

    I would just like to mention that in the context of this election, being tied is not necessarily a good thing. Now I don't know if Rasmussen is compensating for electoral votes, but my feeling is their national tracking poll is simply a snapshot of the general mood and is only trying to represent the population's opinion. As we remember, Gore won by this measure and lost (after the hijinks, etc) despite it. Since Democratic votes are in population-rich areas whose electoral influence is not necessarily equal to its votes while Republicans find dominance in rural communities who command more power-per-head, simply having more voters isn't enough. We need to either be way ahead, or ahead where it counts. Assuming recent trends hold true, and they probably will, tied is a bad thing.

However, I'll say what I told anyone who would listen in 2000: we should END the Electoral College. That no serious attempt to do so has been made in the four years since is an abomination.

(But, to be fair, I also wanted to disband the Supremes who decided it was more important to end the recounts to be fair to Bush than it was to continue the counts to be fair to the will of the goddamned people.)

O'Brien's Take

On a final note tonight, Conan O'Brien has his announcer read off a list of programs Sinclair has found acceptable to show, including "Temptation Island", several really strange episodes of Jerry Springer and Maury Povich, and "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!"


Just FYI

I remember seeing Ted Koppel interviewed at some point last year, and was quite surprised to see him take what seemed like a rather pro-war stance. This seems in direct contradiction to what Sinclair is suggesting. Frankly, I'd believe Ted over some right-winger true red-white-and-blue GOP donor who picks up prostitutes (and the pro said he was a regular customer).

Sinclair Broadcasting's Home Page

As it happens, the same David D. Smith picked up for prostitution in 1996 (see the Atrios link earlier) still works (as in CEOing) for Sinclair, and responded to Senator John McCain's note on the home page of their Web site today (without showing McCain's letter questioning them).

While you're there reading, check this out:

    The ABC Television Network announced on Tuesday that the Friday, April 30 edition of "Nightline" will consist entirely of Ted Koppel reading aloud the names of U.S. servicemen and women killed in action in Iraq. Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show, the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq. [Note: bold face type is at it appears on their site]

    There is no organization that holds the members of our military and those soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in service of our country in higher regard than Sinclair Broadcast Group. While Sinclair would support an honest effort to honor the memory of these brave soldiers, we do not believe that is what "Nightline" is doing. Rather, Mr. Koppel and "Nightline" are hiding behind this so-called tribute in an effort to highlight only one aspect of the war effort and in doing so to influence public opinion against the military action in Iraq. Based on published reports, we are aware of the spouse of one soldier who died in Iraq who opposes the reading of her husband's name to oppose our military action. We suspect she is not alone in this viewpoint. As a result, we have decided to preempt the broadcast of "Nightline' this Friday on each of our stations which air ABC programming.

    We understand that our decision in this matter may be questioned by some. Before you judge our decision, however, we would ask that you first question Mr. Koppel as to why he chose to read the names of 523 troops killed in combat in Iraq, rather than the names of the thousands of private citizens killed in terrorist attacks since and including the events of September 11, 2001. In his answer, we believe you will find the real motivation behind his action scheduled for this Friday. Unfortunately, we may never know for sure because Mr. Koppel has refused repeated requests from Sinclair's News Central news organization to comment on this Friday's program.


Happy Anniversary

A year ago tonight, Mr. Bush declared an end to all combat operations in Iraq.

It's amazing, however, how many people shown on the Koppel broadcast tonight lost their lives after that announcement, more than 100 of them the month of April 2004 alone.

Sinclair Exec Arrested for Prostitution?

This and other interesting tidbits appear via Atrios, starting with this tidbit, about Sinclair Broadcasting, the ones who pulled the Nightline episode tonight. These folks sound like just lovely people.

No wonder John McCain today called them "unAmerican" (I hate that phrase because it's too often used with ignorance and hate, but this is one time it seems a bit apt).

PBS Frontline: Bush's Christian Beliefs

PBS' Frontline tonight had a fairly interesting program tonight about the evolution of George Bush as a born-again Christian and politician. My partner and I argued back and forth about various points. In fact, about the only thing we certainly agreed upon was that Mr. Bush thinks he's a good Christian.

If you're interested at all, I'd recommend trying to catch it.

Rowland Closer to Impeachment

NBC is reporting that Connecticut Governor John Rowland (R) is one step closer to impeachment, with a state politician ordering up at least one article of impeachment based on what he perceives as non-compliance by the governor in providing evidence from his financial records. Rowland's lawyers say there's nothing more to give.

However, state legislators, while frustrated, will not necessarily vote on - and certainly not necessarily vote in favor of - that article of impeachment when it reconvenes next week.

Still, polls have indicated for some time that a majority of state residents feel he is either corrupt or at least quite dishonest (I guess it's a matter of degree), and feel he should resign. Rowland is not likely to go on his own and still enjoys strong support behind the scenes from the Bush organization (which has no connection, of course, to Tony Soprano's waste carting business).


Hesiod at CounterSpin has an interesting er... interpretation... of Bush in his flight suit from his "Mission Accomplished" speech last May 1st.

Personally, I think chickens everywhere should sue (not Hesiod, the purveyor of chickenhawkdom). I don't think they'd support Bush or Cheney either.

"Mission Accomplished"

Just consider what has occurred in the year since we heard that message delivered on the deck (poop?) of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.

Just the other day, for example, was one of the bloodiest days (for American troops) since we marched into Iraq. That same day, we saw the mainstream media begin to report on the abuses we've committed on Iraqi prisoners. Tonight, on the eve of the anniversary, a major broadcasting company (one which has given almost exclusively to Republicans) will not air Ted Koppel's Nightline program listing the US war dead.

These, sadly, are just snippets of a quite horrible year.

Mission accomplished indeed.

Nancy Says No to Ronnie Raygun University

As someone who's not a particular fan of Nancy Reagan, I have to say I do admire the adamant "no" she's offered up everytime the extreme right decides to do something like put Ronnie's image on money or name a university for them. I also appreciated her speaking out in favor of stem cell research, despite how the right wing made that sound like courting satanism at its worst.

I sometimes wonder, actually, if the true Reaganites don't shudder a bit about the Bush Administration that likes to say it fashions itself after the "best of Reagan". Bush and Cheney, after all, are not conservatives in the traditional meaning of the word. Many conservatives think their GOP has been usurped - a point I happen to agree upon.

Now, Question Iraqi Policy=You're a Racist

From Talking Points Memo:

    Perhaps it is a sign of the more general desperation. But watch how the president now routinely accuses critics of his Iraq policy of being racists.

    This is from a brief press availability the president gave this morning with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin ...

    There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern.

More Killed

It's been difficult to find real news around Michael Jackson's court date and the supposed racism of "American Idol" voting, but this from CNN:

    FALLUJAH, Iraq (CNN) -- Two Marines were killed and six others were wounded Friday in a suicide bombing, near Fallujah, where U.S. Marines are preparing to pull back so Iraqi forces can take over.


Not a Mickey Kaus Fan

It always amazes me at the ire Mickey Kaus draws.

Yes, he's rather a poor writer (yet gets paid reasonably well for the honor).

Yes, he doesn't seem like one of the great brain trusts of all times (and yet he's rather famous/infamous in the pundit/scribe realm).

Yes, for someone who calls himself a Democrat, he seems to spend an incredible amount of energy going after Dems almost exclusively. Sorta like that really strange woman on Faux News (Esterhaus, is it?).

But call me irresponsible, call me whatever, I simply don't read him. Oh, yeah, I read a lot of work by people who do not share my own visions of how the world should be (I learn from some, shout at others).

Yet Mickey has never struck me as anything other than a colossal waste of bandwidth. I don't see what he adds to the debate. I can't even comprehend why anyone has him on the payroll, let alone pays any attention to him whatsoever.

Heck, I'd even hazard a guess that if we all collectively ignored him, Kaus would dry up and blow away.

Sinclair-Owned ABC Affiliates

The above have announced they are cancelling tomorrow night's Nightline broadcast, where Ted Koppel will just read the names of US soldiers dead in Iraq for the full period, because it is against the national interest.

Excuse me?

That's right, Sinclair. Wave the flag, but never think about what it means.

The Wilson Book Releases Tomorrow

Title: The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity

Sounds like one to buy. Rememeber, too, to support your local bookstore. I love Amazon, but small bookstores need to survive as well.

Rumsfeld on Hardass Hardball

Chris Matthews is practically twittering with delight over his own brilliance, but Rumsfeld is dancing adroitly around him. At one point, Rummy suggested Chris get a life rather than spend all this time reading pesky little news details.

This has been an extraordinarily odd day for Bush Administration comments in an administration that is noted for same.

However, as much as I would like Mr. Rumseld not to be head of the DoD, you have to almost admire his ability to dissemble with a warm smile, dancing light years around the press corps.

Now Rummy is telling us that the chain of command in Iraq is so aggrieved about charges run on 60 Minutes II last night that the information can't be true. Well, gosh, that makes perfect sense.

Addition: Rummy also sorta said that the president really never consulted him first to ask if we should go to War in Iraq. Then he said he thought it was "kind of interesting" that he didn't ask. Now... I'll buy all of that. What I don't buy is Rummy's follow-up statement that Bush must have asked 5,000 different questions over the next year about what to do or how.

The prez works less than 40% of the time, leaving 60% of 365 days (219 days tops) which, when divided by 5000, means Bush asked Rummy an average 23 questions per day. I know Rumsfelt didn't intend to be exact, but no way in hell.....

Barry McCafferty (on MSNBC now) says he really can't believe the statement (about the non-consultation). He even used the word "dissembling".

More on Comments

I'm not sure if I did this quite correctly. I see a couple, but one (now two) I tried as a test has not appeared. I do have to say CommentThis! was easy to install (the developer steps you right through it) and certainly looks like it could handle the job, at least until traffic builds here. If it does.

But then, since I have to drive net traffic as one of the hats I wear for work, I'm not too worried about doing so for this blog. Those who find it are welcome but I'm not big on self promotion.

OK, New Idea

Rather than set Billy Joel up as Osama's chaffeur, what if we force Osama and Saddam to live in a small apartment with Michael Jackson and Jessica (not Jennifer, as I incorrectly identified her yesterday) Simpleton Simpson? We could toss in Donald Trump for good measure.


I'm giving a Comments system (CommentThis! by Nik Martin) a try here. We'll see how this goes.

I'm not sure readership here yet requires the use of comments, but I'm nothing if not... er... uh... um... adventurous.

Israeli Press: US Committed Terrible Acts

From Ha'aretz, the Israeli newspaper (I encourage you to read it in its entirety), via Buzzflash:

    During the first two weeks of this month, the American army committed war crimes in Falluja on a scale unprecedented for this war. According to the relatively few media reports of what took place there, some 600 Iraqis were killed during these two weeks, among them some 450 elderly people, women and children.

Some 450 women, children and elderly? All insurgents? My God. And this from an Israeli press about a war going on in a predominantly Muslim land.

And more from the same article:
    The sight of decapitated children, the rows of dead women and the shocking pictures of the soccer stadium that was turned into a temporary grave for hundreds of the slain - all were broadcast to the world only by the Al Jazeera network. During the operation in Falluja, according to the organization Doctors Without Borders, U.S. Marines even occupied the hospitals and prevented hundreds of the wounded from receiving medical treatment. Snipers fired from the rooftops at anyone who tried to approach.

    ...The only conclusion that has been drawn thus far from the indiscriminate killing in Falluja is the expulsion of Al Jazeera from the city. Since the start of the war, the Americans have persecuted the network's journalists - not because they report lies, but because they are virtually the only ones who manage to report the truth. The Bush administration, in cooperation with the American media, is trying to hide the sights of war from the world, and particularly from American voters.


Are you listening to Bush's post-911 panel remarks? I'm appalled.

It's the strangest damned series of remarks that don't seem to lend themselves to the very serious situation at hand or what was important to learn from the questions today.

"We're workin' long hours to protect America," Bush just said, as he probably prepares to go on another long weekend again; the same man who since 9/11 has spent more than 40% of his presidency on vacation.

NY Times is Unimpressed

From today's editorial page:

    It would have been a pleasure to be able to congratulate President Bush on his openness in agreeing to sit down today with the independent commission on the 9/11 attacks and answer questions. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush conditioned his cooperation on stipulations that range from the questionable to the ridiculous.

    The strangest of the president's conditions is that he will testify only in concert with Vice President Dick Cheney. The White House has given no sensible reason for why Mr. Bush is unwilling to appear alone. (When asked at his recent press conference, the president gave one of his patented nonresponses: "Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9/11 commission is looking forward to asking us, and I'm looking forward to answering them.")

    Given the White House's concern for portraying Mr. Bush as a strong leader, it's remarkable that this critical appearance is being structured in a way that is certain to provide fodder for late-night comedians, who enjoy depicting him as the docile puppet of his vice president.

    Mr. Bush's reluctant and restrictive cooperation with the panel is consistent with the administration's pattern of stonewalling reasonable requests for documents and testimony and then giving up only the minimum necessary ground when the dispute becomes public. Today's testimony will be in private in the White House, away from reporters or television cameras. The session will not be recorded, and there will be no formal transcript. The president's aides have defended this excessive degree of secrecy with the
    usual arguments about protecting highly classified information and not wanting to establish dangerous precedents.

At Least 2 500lb Bombs Dropped

From CNN:

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A new wave of violence surged Thursday evening in Fallujah, Iraq, as military officials were trying to arrive at a deal to bring stability to the city west of Baghdad.

    As insurgents clashed with U.S. troops, a U.S. F-18 fighter jet dropped at least two bombs on the southwest part of the city -- the latest move in the ongoing U.S. effort to end fighting there.

Ten More Soldiers

CNN reports 10 more soldiers have been killed in fighting in Iraq. What they're not reporting is that a poll released late yesterday says a majority (57%) of surveyed Iraqis want us out. Now, I suspect a lot of Iraqis are afraid to talk, so seeing that high a number probably represents more like 70-80-90% of the population. In fact, we might be down to Chalabi and his nephew wanting us there.

Interesting Headline

CNN had a headline this morning that said, "Bush, Cheney to be Quizzed by 9/11 Panel". Gee, I'd like to think this is more than a game of Trivial Pursuit.

Another Country May Say, "Sorry, George"

It looks like Poland is making plans to make plans to get the hell out of Iraq,too.

What's the coalition down to now? I think it's us, England, and two people from the Solomon Islands.

An Interesting Note

Why do you think WH spokesman Scott McClellan went out of his way today (actually, now yesterday) to point out that it was anticipated that Mr. Bush, rather than Mr. Cheney, would probably answer the majority of questions put forth by the 9/11 panel to them in private?

It seemed like an odd thing to say out of the blue, sort of similar to saying, "No, I know she's blonde and speaks like Jennifer Simpson, but really, she's a nuclear rocket scientist."


So Funny You'll Cry

CNN's poll right now asks:

    Did President Bush jump the gun when he declared major combat in Iraq over last May?

Gee, how to vote... how to vote?

This is Bad But....

If we really want to punish Osama bin Laden, we might want to consider having Billy Joel serve as his current chaffeur. Word is Osama's last chaffeur is in Guantanamo Bay.

What the hell does a tyrannical religious madman drive anyway?

Well, I know Mr. Bush drives a pickup truck. Ahem.


Many, especially wingnuts (it seems), are questioning ABC and "Nightline" for the decision to run Friday's show presenting just the names (read by Ted Koppel) and images of dead US soldiers. Wingnuts call it a stunt to drive up outrage about the war, to force people to question the cost of the war and this president.

I don't buy that. Nor am I sure how this is a ratings stunt (it coincides with the beginning of the May sweeps period where viewers are counted to help determine ad rates). If anything, I could see Nightline - sadly - losing a lot of viewers that night. People too often don't want to be reminded. Sadder still, I'm sure Misters Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Negroponte, Wolfowitz, Perle, et al plus Ms. Rice will NOT watch.

Me? I'm going to try to catch it. I understand that whether or not I agree with this war - and I don't - that each of these men and women are there representing the country. I hate the war, but I'm very sad they've lost their lives and the great sacrifice their families are going through.

Let's Have a Pool

Try to guess how many members of the Iraqi National Congress will still be free - as in, not arrested for serious corruption - before power is turned over on June 30th. Then try to guess how many people, besides Mr. Bush who made him an honored guest at the latest state of the unions speech, would like to have Mr. Chalabi anywhere near either their money or their intelligence gathering process.

I suspect the numbers are in the single digits on both.

In the "No Great Surprise" Department

Iraqis spent today burning that new flag I noted yesterday. Once again, Mr. Bush proves he's a uniter, not a divider. D'oh.

Bill Clinton's Book

They're saying it's supposed to come out in late June, but that he actually hasn't finished writing it yet. On a totally selfish note, I rarely get more than 3-4 months to pound out even a 600-800 page book. Bill's had years.

OK, granted, I've never been president but sheesh. And God knows he gets much larger advances than I do. Grumble. Grumble.

I don't buy, however, the criticism that Clinton's book will somehow overshadow the Dem National Convention or Kerry's campaign. I think the timing is actually quite good for this summer. As David Gergen just pointed out on MSNBC, this is going to give Clinton a lot of attention and he, in turn, can turn the spotlight onto Kerry and why it's so important to get away from the Bush Administration.

More Smart Words from a Vet Army Nurse

I've mentioned Maureen Griswold, a retired military nurse, the sister of a young man lost in Vietnam, and one heck of a smart-on-her-toes writer. Let me copy her latest note, and please, check out her article:

    My new article: "Brooks, Novak, and Coulter: Show Some Respect." Three pundits who belittle Vietnam veterans are given "points of light" regarding their attitudes and professionalism: David Brooks, Robert Novak, and Ann Coulter. Here is the link...

Bush and Cheney Appear Secretly with 9/11 Panel Tomorrow

Ah, to be a fly on the wall (with a very small camcorder, of course).

More Fallujah Antics

I'm just pleased to see we haven't moved into either Fallujah or Najef on the ground. While it's not getting much attention in the mainstream media, the humanitarian crisis is mounting.

Madrid Bomb Suspect Tied to 9/11?

I'd get more excited about this BUT how many suspects have been charged and indicted, only to have the authorities have to grudgingly admit they just made up connections out of whole cloth?

I'd love to see those responsible for 9/11 brought to justice, as any sane person would. But I have this unreasonable tendency to want the real people charged and convicted, and not just any warm body they find.

Joe Conason on Bush and Karen Hughes

From Salon (which finally got a subscription out of me) and Joe Conason:

    With amazing chutzpah, the Bush flack says reporters should ask more questions about John Kerry's military history. What they really ought to explore is her role in covering up Bush's spotty National Guard record.

    For George W. Bush's surrogates to question John Kerry's war record, as they have continued to do in recent days, requires a special Republican brand of super-high-octane gall. Why would the president want to draw additional attention to the most unflattering contrast between him and the Democratic challenger? Why would his flacks reopen the painful issues of that era by questioning Kerry's undoubted heroism? If anyone ever earned the right to talk about what he had seen in Vietnam and why no more Americans should kill or die there, it was the young, highly decorated Navy lieutenant who had volunteered for duty.

    ...On that chapter's concluding page, Bush proclaims: "I am proud of my service. Yet I know it was nothing comparable to what our soldiers and pilots were doing in battle in Vietnam." Having written those words, Hughes should remember them whenever she feels the urge to demean Kerry, who still carries a piece of shrapnel in his left buttock. And should she open her mouth about this subject again, someone should ask her what the president did with his medals.

Spam as WMD

One has to hand it to spammers, who've come up with a new campaign after all that discussion of missing weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

I got several overnight offering a penis enlargement pill that will allow me to "find a WMD right in your shorts." Of course, as a female, I would be especially disturbed if I found a WMD in my shorts.... under most conditions. Ahem.


More About Bush's Swiss Cheese Military Files

Here from Josh Marshall, and here from Salon. Read it and [bleep].

For example, from the Salon piece by James C. Moore:

    Two hundred forty pages, unavailable to us during the presidential campaign, had suddenly been discovered. Nonetheless, the most important documents were still missing. Reporters just didn't know what was absent.

    In April of 1972, the young lieutenant made a unilateral decision that he was no longer going to fly. Although he had taken an oath to serve for six years in his privileged position in the Texas Air Guard, George W. Bush left for Alabama two years before his hitch was up. Taxpayers had spent close to a million dollars training him to fly a fighter jet, but he was intent on working in a U.S. senate campaign. Bush's Guard file shows that he did not request a transfer until a few months later, and it was turned down. Bush, who was due to report to his Houston air base for a physical on or before his July 6 birthday, failed to return from Alabama. He was subsequently grounded on orders from Maj. Gen. Francis Greenlief. And this is where the mystery begins.

Update on that CNN/Cheney Task Force Poll

With more than 200,000 respondents now, 74% are still saying Cheney should release the information.

Thankfully for Cheney, however, his pal, Noni (Scalia) will be helping to decide the issue. Now, how many of us can boast of being best pals with a SC justice, let alone funding their hunting trips? I certainly can't... and the only thing I ever hunt for is a decent snack in my kitchen.

(Now where is that cheddar popcorn I bought?)

Show Us the Complete Bush Military Records

No, really. Not just little parts. The whole thing. If the Bush folks want to make Kerry's medals an issue (at least he earned some), then I want to why Bush was grounded and then released prematurely. See? I'm being reasonable, I'm not even asking for why he was allowed to jump over 750 more qualified candidates and allowed to fly when he seemed to have neglible flying skills.

Come on, Karen (Hughes). You have time to run your mouth. Offer up the goods.

Refugee Crisis

Growing concern tonight about at least 60,000 refugees already flooding out of Fallujah, starting before the attacks began today. Considering what's happened with humanitarian workers, it would be awfully hard to ask people to go in to help. I have to admit, as much as I'd like to help, I'd be hesitant to sign up (no, I am not happy about that either).

Student Questioned for Anti-War Artwork

Have we really come to this?

Cheney's Energy Task Force

A CNN poll right now asks whether information from VP Dick Cheney's "secret" energy task force meetings (the ones that excluded energy groups but included folks like Enron's Ken Lay, someone we'd all just love deciding American energy policy) should be made public. With close to 150,000 respondents thus far, 74% say YES.

You have to hand it to Solicitor Ted Olson appealing before the Supremes regarding it. The nerve required to say this was an unprecedented intrusion into the presidential office is really funny considering Olson was one of the "elves" behind all those years of Clinton conspiracy theory, where we focused on the blue dress instead of bleeping al Qaeda. Nice work, Ted.

Door to Door Combat

Now they're talking about troops amassing at the borders of Fallujah possibly planning to move in to conduct door-to-door combat, perhaps on the heels of the 20-25 canons shot with each airstrike. I don't pretend to understand the specifics of military talk.

I hope the talk of door-to-door combat is wrong. This could mean incredible numbers of casualties on all sides.

Blasts Now in Fallujah

After just reporting that Rumself said,"heck, why not try discussing the issue of whether we should act against Fallujah and Najaf?" [novel concept, btw], MSNBC is now showing some horrific explosions right now in the city of Fallujah. The pundits are saying it's new fighting that has erupted, and that coalition AC130 gunships are firing on targets in Fallujah.

One might ask what the [bleep] is going on today? One might also do well to ask how the Arab world is viewing all the violence today. Remember: 1.4 billion Muslims and climbing.

The Iraqi Flag

The new proposed Iraqi flag has been unveiled and the overwhelming reaction among Iraqis is quite negative.

Personally, I'm not sure a flag is the worst issue that Iraq faces right now. But yes, the new Iraq flag, referenced here in a Washington Post piece, bears a lot more similarity to the Israel flag (actually, Israel's, to me, is one of the most attractive flags of all the nations; its appearance as strong and peaceful as Ariel Sharon is strong and pig-headedly warlike) than to the traditional red, green, and black of most Arab nation flags.

While I can see some positives in somehow trying to advance the Iraqi flag, I think this one may represent too much of a break from their tradition. But how would they feel if they took the same flag design, but translate the colors into red, green, and black (whether or not with a white background).

And why try to alienate people through a flag? There's enough going wrong there.

Blasts and Shooting in Syria

What it's about, no one seems to know right now.

Negroponte as Iraqi Ambassador

While newspapers seem to be at least raising the topic of whether John Negroponte is the right choice of ambassador to Iraq, a role that would largely take over from CPA head Paul Bremer after June 30th, I was amazed just now listing to Colum Lynch of the Washington Post on MSNBC making it sound like really, nobody could have a problem with this man.




I kept hearing today - especially from pundits such as MSNBC military expert Rick Franconia - that we might have to attack Najaf in order to stop the tension.

Has anyone considered what happens if we go into Najaf and we're creamed? Sure, we can call in air power, something the so-called insurgents can't. But there will be a lot of people on the ground, including coalition forces as well as civilians. Going after the mosque in Najaf that is called that part of the world's Vatican seems like a recipe for even greater disastrous, both short- and long-term.

Re: JudiciaryGate

I note, too, that the Justice Department will not confirm Leahy's statement.

However, I would find it very encouraging if AG John Ashcroft could take time out in his busy schedule hunting down post 60-year-old bhong seller Tommy Chong, Planned Parenthood, and Janet Jackson's nipple to investigate real fraud and little issues like terrorism. This summer, I'll anticipate he'll lead a campaign against scantily clad 6-year-olds selling lemonade on Sundays when kids should be in church.


From CNN:

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top federal prosecutor in New York will lead an investigation into whether computer files of Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats were accessed improperly, the panel's leading Democrat said Monday.

    Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said the Justice Department had assigned acting U.S. Attorney David Kelley in Manhattan to pursue the politically sensitive case in which Republicans gained access to confidential Democratic files.

War on the Cheap

Word out today that hundreds of American lives could have been saved if we had only not tried to do war on the cheap - or, heaven's to Betsy, not go into this horrible war at all - by sending them to Iraq with insufficient armor. Remember, too, that lots of reservists and other non-standard military people were not sent with any armor at all.

Of course, I'm certain that the so-called insurgents know how to distinguish between a "real" soldier and a "weekend" warror so they don't shoot the un-armored folks. Thus, why would we need to bother to protect the plumber, the pro football player, or the accountant in the reserves and serving there.

Elsewhere, several others are stating that the Humvee just isn't designed to stand up to roadside bombs. What a surprise. The only bombs Schwarzenegger has to survive in his are the ones he makes for Hollywood.


Some fifty-two senior British analysts and former ambassadors have returned from Iraq to tell PM Tony Blair that American efforts there are "doomed" and to suggest Britain end its unholy alliance with the US ASAP.

And remember, those are our closest coalition supporters.

Incomparable Nerve, Bush GOP Style

Josh Marshall says this far better than I do, but I read with open mouth the article on ABCnews implying Kerry lied about his war medals when not one damned thing Mr. Bush does - however removed from verifiable truth - is ever referred to as a lie.

Bush, Cheney and Delay lied and cheated their way through their military obligations (Cheny and Delay were busy elsewhere, while Bush played a pilot when it was convenient). Yet none of them have an issue with ripping apart someone who did go, sacrifice, and serve. Any media who fails to recognize that is a toady.

[Ed. Note: I put the specific title "Bush GOP Style" for a reason. I don't believe the majority of Republicans think or choose to operate quite the way people such as Bush, Cheney, and Rove think and operate. I believe a lot of people joined the Republican Party because they saw it as a party of economic and perhaps even personal responsibility, of values that spoke of their own, etc. What the GOP has become under Bush/Cheney, Rove and Delay, however, is quite another matter. But just as Democrats often have quite an issue with their party leaders and still feel an affinity for the party, I suspect Republicans, uncomfortable with the rhetoric and meanness, still choose to align themselves with the party as a whole.]

Think About it

Yesterday, about one person in every 300 Americans appeared in Washington for the women's lives march. Imagine how many more wanted to attend but could not?

That's a very powerful message, I think...of course, to anyone who isn't as blindly partisan as Bush and Company.

New Reality TV Show Idea

Maybe it's because it's a rainy Monday or perhaps because of my allergies, but here's a reality TV show idea that I think many of us could get behind:

Take Wolfowitz, Cheney, Perle, and everyone else who assured us we would have a "cake walk" in Iraq, that we would be greeted with flowers and cheers, and set them up in an apartment in downtown Baghdad or Fallujah. Then these enterprising little spinners - without special protection or air cover - would proceed to go out onto the Iraqi streets helping to transform the country one heart and mind at a time.

Me? I'd give 'em six minutes. But maybe they'd come up with a better approach for Iraq after they had to suffer the way the people of Iraq and the coalition soldiers, contractors, and humanitarian aid workers do. Perhaps we could even let the Iraqis vote one of them at a time out of the apartment to live on the streets.


The Rot Deepens

The only amazing part of all of this is with all the incredible corruption that has come out about John Rowland that he remains governor of Connecticut. Or perhaps it's not so amazing, considering Mr. Bush and the Bush family are very close to Mr. Rowland.

This from the Norwich Bulletin:

    HARTFORD -- A contractor who gave gifts and vacations to Gov. John G. Rowland took a trip in 1998 with top gubernatorial aides for an exclusive look at an Ohio reform school that Connecticut would use as a model for its own project.

    Months later, the contractor won the $52 million contract, bypassing the traditional competitive bidding process.

    Another contractor lavished the governor with Cuban cigars and Dom Perignon, figuring it would help out come contract time. He says it did.

    One of the state's largest architectural contractors, who is awarded frequent state work, provided free blueprints for a state official's home.

    And an employee of Connecticut's largest environmental contractor told federal investigators that it was his job to clean the pool at the home of a state official who oversaw company contracts.

Sorry for Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer in Time this week takes on the issue of whether the president should apologize for all that's gone wrong. He even goes so far as to try to make us feel sorry for poor, poor, misunderstood Paul Wolfowitz.

The problems inherent with this, however, is that neither Krauthammer nor Bush see Bush as culpable for anythingand that Krauthammer takes a pretty strange view of just about everything. But then, so do Bush and Wolfowitz.

Was he really a psychiatrist? I certainly hope he doesn't still inflict himself upon unwitting patients. It's also disturbing that someone with that kind of education and training could be so blindly partisan.

Pro-Choice Equals Pro-Terrorist

I'm stunned and appalled by what I read at the Daily Kos of Bush advisor, Karen Hughes, equating the right for women to have control over their own bodies to be the same as loving al Qaeda:

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

While you're surfing, check the picture Atrios has up of the March for Women's Lives in Washington, DC, today. Very good turnout. Ashcroft must be unhinged (let me clarify: even more unhinged than usual).

On an added note: Bush values every life, so long as that life is white, male, Christian, outrageously wealthy, and willing to give the money to him. Women... they're those lumps in the bed, to him.

Really? It's Only Developing Now?

From CNN:

    Coalition officials in Iraq today warned that a "dangerous situation is developing in Najaf," the holy Shiite Muslim city controlled by wanted radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Iraqis are stockpiling weapons in mosques while U.S. forces remain deployed outside the city, a senior coalition spokesman said.

I'm not sure, but I think this is the CPA's way of saying something like, "she's a tiny bit pregnant."

Day Off, So to Speak

I was wondering what accounted for my relative good mood this afternoon, and I finally realized it's because I skipped Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, Howie Kurtz, and Wolfie today. Heh.

AP Cover

The American Prospect magazine (from when, I'm not sure) features a marvelous cover that shows Bush standing there, appearing to shrug, while the world, apparently having slipped from his hands, hits the ground and fragments. You get the impression our feckless leader is saying, "Oops, my bad."

To me, that cover just about sums up Bush's 3+ years as president. He's meddled, mortgaged, and messed up everything, while taking not one scintilla of personal responsibility. He couldn't care less if the world is a much worse place after his tenure than before.

Repeat after me: We need to get this moron as far from the Oval Office as is humanly possible. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to the world.

Senate Shutdown?

From Jesse at Pandagon.net:

    Well, according to Robert Novak, Senate Republicans are urging Bill Frist to shut down the entire Senate in response to what they perceive to be Tom Daschle's obstructionism.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is being urged by colleagues to threaten to close down the Senate for the rest of the year unless Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle ends his disruptive tactics.
In addition to menacing all judicial nominations, Daschle is now preventing legislation from being sent to Senate-House conferences to resolve differences in bills passed by both Houses unless the outcome is guaranteed.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, and other conservatives want Frist to counter Daschle by bringing the business of the Senate to a halt. This would mean passing an omnibus appropriations bill and then awaiting the outcome of the elections. Democrats could not offer their pet amendments, but it also would prevent passage of a budget resolution and, therefore, kill any chance of making the Bush tax cuts permanent.

    So, in order to save it...you must destroy it. Of course, maybe Frist has an idea here - the Republican leadership shutting down the Senate for the rest of the year would ensure that next year's Senate is free from Democratic "obstructionism". After all, when Frist has engineered a Democratic takeover of the Senate, Daschle doesn't have to get in anyone's way but his own.

Town Hall and Frist's GOP are just filled with smart, dynamic thinkers, aren't they?


Tens of thousands (at least) have shown up for the march on Washington for women and women's lives, according to CNN.

Smarter Alternative to Patriot Act?

Also from Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft comes this link to an article in The Daily Herald (Colorado, I believe), discussing the above.

Clarke in The Times

Richard Clarke has a thought-provoking op-ed in The Times today.

Not Good

From the great folks at TalkLeft come at least two disturbing bits of information. First, a national ID card goes into trial in England this coming week (lovely), and this:

    Delbert Meeks, 52, had lived on the streets for the past year. He has AIDS. His last felony, for a robbery, was in 1991. In 2000, he failed to register as a sex offender. This week, the California Supreme Court upheld his 27 year to life sentence on the failure to register charge, because it was his third strike.

On the Baathists Being Welcomed Back

This from Billmon:

    By rushing to coax former Baathists back into the Iraqi security ministries and the new Iraqi army, the Coalition may be creating conditions that will boost that percentage of back shooters next time around -- and make sure the next rebellion is both better coordinated and better informed about the Coalition's countermoves.

    I don't know who's calling these shots -- Bremer, the Pentagon or the White House -- but whoever it is, their behavior is starting to remind me of a behavioral pattern common among less sophisticated investors. Rattled by a sudden, unexpected drop in the market, they sell. When the market rebounds (as it has a tendency to do), they buy -- usually at about the point the recovery falters and the market heads back down. Then they sell again, taking another loss.

    This is called getting "whipsawed."

From Oliver Willis

(I'm something of fan of Oliver's --- and love the pictures of his dog, too):

    I really hope the GOP campaign folks keep making a big fuss about Sen. Kerry's war records. It makes him look better each time, especially compared to the activities of his fellow politicians at that time.

Attack Fallujah? At What Cost?

From yesterday's NY Times, courtesy of David Sanger and Thom Shanker:

    Facing one of the grimmest choices of the Iraq war, President Bush and his senior national security and military advisers are expected to decide this weekend whether to order an invasion of Falluja, even if a battle there runs the risk of uprisings in the city and perhaps elsewhere around Iraq.

    After declaring on Friday evening in Florida that "America will never be run out of Iraq by a bunch of thugs and killers," Mr. Bush flew to Camp David for the weekend, where administration officials said he planned consultations in a videoconference with the military commanders who are keeping the city under siege.

    In Iraq on Saturday, a day of widespread violence, at least 14 Iraqis were killed in Baghdad when mortar bombs and rockets were fired into a crowded market in Sadr City, the poor neighborhood that is the stronghold of a rebel Shiite cleric who has declared solidarity with the Sunnis fighting Americans in Falluja.

    A roadside bomb killed 14 Iraqis traveling in a bus south of Baghdad. At least seven American soldiers were killed in two attacks by insurgents. [Page 10.]

    As Mr. Bush discusses strategy for Falluja, administration and senior military officials portray his choices as dismal.

    "It's clear you can't leave a few thousand insurgents there to terrorize the city and shoot at us," one senior official involved in the discussions said in an interview on Saturday. "The question now is whether there is a way to go in with the most minimal casualties possible."

    No decision to begin military action has been made yet.

    The chief of the American occupation authority, L. Paul Bremer III, visited Falluja on Saturday with Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior commander in Iraq, to consult with frontline commanders. They appeared to be making a last-ditch effort for a negotiated settlement.

    But in Washington, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has expressed strong doubts that the Falluja political and business figures the Americans are talking to hold any sway over the insurgents.

    On Saturday, as a blinding sandstorm swept across a sprawling former Iraqi Army base near Falluja, Marine commanders were getting assignments for potential targets, studying maps and planning lines of attack for a battle that they expect could come in the next few days. The Marines have encircled the city, awaiting Mr. Bush's decision....

Explanation for Kerry on the Quiet?

From Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo a short while ago:

    There's an article by Ryan Lizza in the current New Republic that I strongly recommend you read. The upshot of the piece is that there's some wisdom -- and certainly a strategy behind John Kerry's relative absence from the airwaves over the last six to eight weeks.

    The conventional rule of campaigning is that you don't let your opponent define you before you get a chance to define yourself.

    Yet, as Ryan describes it, the Kerry plan is to do something very near the opposite. The plan is to take these punches from the Bush campaign and let Bush burn through a lot of his money. Hopefully, in the view of the Kerry campaign, Kerry comes through that without having suffered too much damage. Then Kerry fights back with hard-hitting ads through the late spring and summer with Bush having squandered his huge money advantage.

I guess we'll see if this strategy works.

What concerns me more is that Bush, Cheney, Condi, and Company keep telling us to expect a major attack before the election. Which makes me wonder, "Are they planning one?"

Explanation for Kerry on the Quiet?

From Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo a short while ago:

    There's an article by Ryan Lizza in the current New Republic that I strongly recommend you read. The upshot of the piece is that there's some wisdom -- and certainly a strategy behind John Kerry's relative absence from the airwaves over the last six to eight weeks.

    The conventional rule of campaigning is that you don't let your opponent define you before you get a chance to define yourself.

    Yet, as Ryan describes it, the Kerry plan is to do something very near the opposite. The plan is to take these punches from the Bush campaign and let Bush burn through a lot of his money. Hopefully, in the view of the Kerry campaign, Kerry comes through that without having suffered too much damage. Then Kerry fights back with hard-hitting ads through the late spring and summer with Bush having squandered his huge money advantage.

I guess we'll see if this strategy works.

What concerns me more is that Bush, Cheney, Condi, and Company keep telling us to expect a major attack before the election. Which makes me wonder, "Are they planning one?"

"The DaVinci Code"

For those of you who a) may not have heard of it yet or b) haven't read it, go pick up a copy (used is fine, borrowed is good, too).

While I won't give it strong points for character development and sometimes even plot, the information in there about the "sacred feminine", DaVinci's encoding in artwork, and such is highly interesting. Until I do more research, I'm trying not to get majorly,royally pissed with The Church... but yes, I do think it's possible that a deliberate effort was made to hide the role of women in Christ's teachings. I also see some nasty parallels with the Vatican ordering pro-Choice candidates not be granted communion and the way the Bush Administration thinks of women as fourth class citizens.

Back from the Black

For whatever reason - and the reason why remains unclear at this unGodly hour - we're just coming back from a 12+ hour power failure which occurred immediately after I had exhausted my laptop battery on another project and was about to recharge it.

Power failures up here in never-never land are especially fun because a) there's really no place to go to get something to eat b) it's hard to pick up any TV or radio reception without satellite assist so it's difficult to establish whether this is a freak blackout or whether the world's coming to an end and c) once the light of day fades, what the hell do you do? In my case, we went to bed hours early and read "The Da Vinci Code" by light of wind-up flashlight. Then, almost as soon as I turned out the flashlight, I noticed there seemed to be light coming from somewhere and... of course... electricity was restored. So here I am at 3 AM eating a defrosted McMuffin and sipping coffee.

Still, after more than 12 hours without any news, I was a bit nervous about what I would log into find. As usual, it's not good (2 dead sailors, and the part of N Korea where the two trains supposedly exploded the other day has been "flattened" according to the Red Cross).